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As Yogi Phlegm started getting actual gigs in 1971, we ran into the obvious problem. We needed a truck.








I came up with what turned out to be a pretty good idea, although it didn't look that good when I had it. It looked more like desperation. I had met this fellow at a Fillmore show, a roadie for a group called Rock City from Ohio. We had kept in touch, and I knew he had an old Pepperidge Farms delivery truck. What the hell, I wrote him a letter, two sentences, which I can still quote from memory. "If you want a job, come out to California. Bring your truck, your dog, and some rolling papers." And on the basis of a short letter from a guy he had met one time, Tony Black left Ohio for what turned out to be the rest of his life. (So far at least.)

Tony got as far as Reno before he ran out of money, so he called me and Julie, and we found fifty dollars to wire to him and get him the rest of the way. Tony arrived with Rosie, his dog, and eventually shared the little rental house behind the Church with me.

Although we needed another roadie, a truck was a lot harder item to find than a guy, so it was more the vehicle than his abilities that got him the job. Sorry, Tony. But who CARES how you get where you get? Once Tony arrived, he was obviously part of the gang, because he had made a major commitment to be there, and you had to respect that. I know I wouldn't have moved 2000 miles with everything I owned on the basis of two sentences from a guy I barely knew.

The truck was no great deal. It had limited seating, and the third occupant had to ride on top of the engine cowling with his back to the windshield. The rear door was tiny, more suited to a guy stepping in and out with loaves of bread than a B-3. It had no gas gauge, so we kept a full gas can handy, because when it ran out, you had to jump right into the drill of getting some fuel into it. Fortunately, the fuel filler was at the bottom of the step by the passenger door, so you could reach it from inside the truck. One time it ran out on the Golden Gate Bridge, and we got it refueled before it even stopped rolling.

One other adventure in Tony's truck stands out. We had done a gig in Santa Cruz, and at about 3 a.m. we were headed up I-280 for home when we blew a tire. Damn, no spare, and on the big truck it took equipment we didn't have to change a tire. If you can't change the tire, what good is a spare anyway?

Complicating the picture was the presence of Steve, who caught a ride to the gig with us and had ingested LSD earlier in the evening. He was no problem as long as the truck was rolling, but when we pulled to the side of the road, the truck rocked from the air blast of every car passing us a few feet away. It was not a comfortable situation, and Steve started getting very anxious. "I can't take this." Like, what exactly are the options here?

Just then a car pulled up , and it was several members of the band, asking what our problem was.

"Steve is our problem. Take him, with you." So we got rid of Steve, which improved the situation only slightly. We were still stuck on the side of a freeway in the middle of the night with a flat tire and no money. We caught whatever sleep was possible, sacked out on top of the equipment, and when the sun came up, we staggered out to deal with the situation.

A Highway Patrol car pulled up to see what was up. Well officer, we have this flat tire. Can you help us? It turned out that Highway Patrol officers don't do tires The tire was our problem. He just didn't want us to be there. Well, gosh.

We ended up hanging out there most of the day. I finally walked a mile or so to an exit, found a house where a woman didn't want to open the door, and asked her to call the CHP for us. Another officer arrived, and in the absence of any other possibility, allowed us to contact a tire shop through his radio patched into a phone. The absence of any money was still a problem, so we somehow got Julie, now back in San Anselmo, to contact the tire store. I have no idea what means of persuasion she used, but they actually advanced us the $50 tire and came out to put it on. We really did pay them, too.

It takes a few seconds to tell about all this, but it was about twelve hours out there on the freeway, a long day, and there was no coffee shop handy.

Tony's truck got us through a critical phase, late 1971 to early 1972, but it was rapidly approaching the condition of toast. Good thing a new phase was opening up, the Wally Haas years.


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