James Preston

MP3 AUDIO SAMPLE (1:15:07--1:26:16)
MZ000003, Transcript P. 29-32

Gillette Preston 1998

Champlin, Haggerty, and Schallock show up at the visitor’s booth at the jail and ask me if I want to be a member of the band. And I’m in jail. I’m in a jumpsuit. Now I was their guy, I was in the band, I was a good drummer. They knew who I was, I made it a point to cross paths with them. They’re who I wanted to be. At shows, I would just visit with ‘em. I knew ‘em, you know? So, plus Daniel Schallock, David’s younger brother and I were at College of Marin together. So I knew Dave pretty well. So anyway, they came and said “Would you be interested in being in the band?” I said absolutely, but there’s a problem. I’m in jail. If we can get these bars outta here, maybe we could start to do something. Three days go by, and Dan Weinstein, a friend of Wally’s, gets in it. I think he’s a federal judge somewhere now. But that’s when he was a top attorney. Wally Haas, you know, with the Levi’s money behind him, hires Weinstein to act as my attorney, and tries to get me out and modify my sentence. We end up in front of a Judge Henry Broderick. Henry J. Broderick. This guy was the head of the Republican Central Committee. A piss and vinegar, hanging judge who wanted nothing to do with hippies or me or anything remotely resembling anybody liberal at all. So Weinstein gets me a court date and we meet for an interview to try and figure something out. He looks at my police report and the subsequent pretrial stuff and he goes, “You were never in the same place with the dope at the same time,” which I knew because I’d given it to Johnny Otis (not R&B legend Johnny Otis). It was the move I made, absolutely conscious move. …You know, kind of old school rules. If we’re gonna go down you’re going down first. So anyway, they asked me to be in the band. Weinstein looks at my shit and he says, “I don’t see why you even spent one night in jail.” He said, “This is stupid. You pled out to something you didn’t have to.” I’m like, fuck me, man, you know? But I was having a good time so I really didn’t much care. Anyway, so three days goes by. We’re in court with this Broderick. I’ll never forget this part. You can ask Champlin about this one, it was too much. The guys were there and Wally finally joined ‘em in that thing, and Weinstein was there and it’s like three or four guys there and it was Hag, Champlin. I don’t know, maybe Hags. I know Schallock was there. Anyway Weinstein says, “Your honor, we have a defendant, Mr. Preston. He wishes to get out on a tour of Kansas City. Blah-blah-blah-blah.” And he wants me on work furlough after that. “We have an offer for him to join this band and become a productive member of society, blah-blah-blah. You know. And we’re gonna reform this guy. First, the guy’s just going on about how good it will be for me, and he says, you know, this is a national touring band, and so on. Then Broderick starts about a five minute tirade, saying, “You expect me to let this marijuana felon out to spread his litany of drugs all over the country? You’ve gotta be out of your mind!” He just goes through this whole thing for like five minutes about how bad I am and how bad it is, how everything’s bad… And this goes on, and finally he runs out of gas, he’s turning purple and spitting. Sweating, spitting. And we’re all there, I’m looking at him and going, ah, I’m fucked. I’m fucked. This is not gonna happen. I’ve never even thought that this could happen. I’m already resigned to going back in, because I wanted it so bad that I knew it was something I couldn’t have, you know? And I just thought, you know what? I can’t even get into this because I know it’s not gonna happen. I just had that attitude. So I just sat there. And the judge is spouting all his shit. Finally Weinstein says, I’ll never forget it, he stands up and he goes “The defense appreciates your comments, your honor.” And he filed everything that Broderick had said, and he was just like, “But we have a working band here.” And he’s got like, several record albums, including, Minus Seeds & Stems is in there, and he presents them. (The album cover photo is of marijuana plants) And so the judge is now looking at this stuff. “One of these song titles, is Get High? And what’s this picture of here?” And he’s freaking out. But then Weinstein says, “But we want him to contribute to the Marin County Probation Fund.” This piece of dough. I mean grease the wheels, you know? So, the next day I’m out on work furlough. I couldn’t believe it.

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Excerpts from the biography

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L  I S T E N   T O   T H E   M U S I C :

Sons of Champlin: Home Grown in Marin

1. 1982-A: from Loosen Up Naturally (1969)


2. Turn On Your Lovelight/Drum Solo/Goldmine: Live from Winterland Auditorium, San Francisco (October 4, 1975)

Turn on Your Lovelight/Goldmine

3. Hey Children: Final Band Performance, Kirkwood Meadows (1977):

Hey Children

4. Beggin’ You Baby: Live Performance, from Minus Seeds and Stems (1968):

Beggin' You Baby