Tag Archives: Roxy

The Boys Are Back In Town

Rocktown Magazine (Let your eyes feed your ears)

By Leonard Bingo

Sunset Boulevard was still reasonably quiet when I sat down with master keyboardist Homer Gibson and the notoriously difficult yet ultra-talented Denny (Killer) Kane. After all, it was still mid-morning, but the news hit my ears like a thousand cars inching along the Strip with horns blaring on a Saturday night.

Gibson, wearing his trademark vest, Bermuda shorts, and Powell River Kings t-shirt, is almost unrecognizable now after decades of hard rock star living, but Kane, in his dapper business suit and shirt that reads ‘Welcome to Orillia, home of Lightfoot and Kane’, looks young and healthy, possibly because of having his blood drained and replaced in Switzerland a decade ago.

“We’re putting the band back together again,” blurted Gibson as I sipped green tea while the pair chugged beer and ate homemade brownies they said came from one of the many female fans who regularly sent the legendary Carnaby Knights  gifts from MILK (mothers interested in licking Knights). MILK members have dedicated their lives to the band since the rockers burst onto the scene in 1964 with their massive hit ‘You Don’t Know Me But I know You (Cause I look Through Your Bathroom Window), and never gave up hope of sleeping with at least one of them, preferably Kane.

Early Carnaby Knights, before they shook the world. “We had no idea” said Homer. “The girls, the money, the fame. We weren’t ready yet.”

The two of them waited while I digested the news. The Carnaby Knights hadn’t been together in many, many years, and it seemed unreal that the band  would consider such a thing now. All four continued to live lavish lifestyles, compliments of record sales and previous world tours, and they had their successful solo careers. But now this. They’re getting back together. My tea grew cold as my head swirled.

“Why now?” I asked. “You’ve nothing left to prove. The Knights were the best, but can you do it again?”

Kane ordered another four pints for him and Homer, and looked me square in the eyes. “You bet we can, because we rock. The Carnaby Knights folded up shop way too soon. We were neck and neck with Zeppelin, we had outsold the Beatles, and women voted us the hottest rockers on the planet, but we quit because, well, we didn’t see eye to eye on a bunch of things.”

The beer arrived, and I noticed Kane and Homer looking at each other. Getting the news out was big for them too. And they seemed like old friends once again, after all those public and insane quarrels we all knew about.

I finished my tea and ordered a double tequila. It was too early for beer, but I needed a something to fully take in what I was hearing.

The Carnaby Knights were my favourite band, there was no question. Gibson on keyboards, Izzy Brash on bass, Bobby Folsom on lead, and Dougie Jumpstarter on drums were groundbreakers. They had changed the world through their music, and had become known as gurus to the guys in Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Yes, even the Fab Four had asked for tips more than once.

And then there was Kane, whose vocals sent crowds wild and women into a frenzy. He was what Robert Plant aimed to be, with vocals that ranged from soft to ear shattering, melodic to punkish, sensual to violent. No one sang like Kane, and we always understood that this was a guy born to rock.

Together, the boys’ music was magical, the true inspiration for Pet Sounds and Sgt. Peppers, and of course the genius of Pink Floyd. Waters and Gilmour will certainly flip when they hear the news. Jann Wenner is gonna be pissed when he gets wind that I landed the scoop. But Rolling Stone was certainly no Rocktown, and the two legends wanted to tell the world through the biggest and best rock rag. So they had called me and I was there to meet them within the  hour.

“We were bored hanging out at our pads with all the dope and champagne and beer and entourages and swimming pool orgies” explained Kane. “So I rang Homer. I said, hey Homer, let’s put the band back together again, and after Homer slept on it and woke up in late afternoon a couple of days later, he called and said he was all in.”

I saw a problem though, and wasn’t sure if now was the time to bring it up. The world knew about the band’s fights over the years, the slandering of each other in the papers, the drunken episodes at the Roxy and Whisky, and the night at the Troubadour when they yelled out lewd remarks to Linda Ronstadt and were promptly thrown out into the street. Even worse, the club and Dan Tana’s restaurant next door pressed charges after Homer took a dump in front of the ticket window and drove his Harley through the high-end eatery.

“What about the other guys?” I finally asked, and the pair guzzled their beer and paused for a minute. Finally, Kane let it out after ordering four more.

“We don’t want them back,” he said angrily. “Brash was boring, he never drank or popped acid or anything that he should’ve been doing. Hell, he even stayed in his room and read books when we had our swimming pool orgies. Folsom could play, man could he play, but he was beginning to think he was bigger than the band. Don’t forget, he almost ruined us when he told the press the Knights were bigger than Sinatra. And Jumpstarter just wasn’t what we wanted in a drummer. We thought there were better guys out there, and it was a drag that he seemed to be liked by the groupies a bit too much. So after our last gig, the one when we headlined the Isle of Texada, I told Brian (Saperstein), to take care of it.”

“So now we’re looking for new members, but Clapton’s basically retired, Jack Bruce and Hendrix are dead, and Ginger Baker’s an asshole. But it’s okay, we’re starting to put the word out. Maybe we’ll be three-piece band now. Just me, Homer, and maybe Neil Peart. We’ll see. I might give (Jeff) Beck a call.”

I scribbled in my pad at a furious rate and ordered another double tequila. Eleven in the morning wasn’t too early now. “What’s gonna happen when you’re ready?” I asked.

Homer put his beer down and looked at me. “We’re gonna be huge again, that’s what’s gonna happen. We’ll start by cutting an album, maybe call it ‘The Carnaby Knights Are Back in Your Face’, and we’ll tour. Probably kick it off here in L.A., and then New York, Chicago, Paris, London, Powell River, Drumheller, Moose Jaw. Really man, I can’t wait.”

Then, while I was still slightly dazed, they simply rose and left, leaving me with my thoughts and the bill. How I’d always wanted the Carnaby Knights to play again, and now it seemed it could happen. The Knights’ music was timeless of course, always innovative, and yes, definitely unequaled.

I paid the bill, closed my notebook, and walked out onto Sunset. I could picture them again, rocking the nearby Hollywood Bowl and hopefully the Carlson Club in Powell River, where it all started, all those years ago. The news made my day, my week, my year, and I hustled to the office to file my story.

Where they were now I wasn’t sure, they had quickly disappeared down the street, but I know where I’ll be when the time comes. At their first show of course. And I’ll be in seventh heaven.

It had been a long and winding road, but the Carnaby Knights will record one more time at least, stand on stage, rock the world like they used to, and drive women insane once again. It’s unbelievable. And it’s beautiful.

Below, the Carnaby Knights at the peak of their career. But the infighting was just beginning.


A Criminal Gets Busted

I’m cheering for the L.A.Kings in these playoffs. Not because of any player, or who they’re playing, or because they’re behind in the series, or any of that nonsense.

It’s because Los Angeles is where the Sunset Strip is. A great street. Where I got busted and spent a week in jail for doing something so despicable, so heinous, it makes Al Capone look like Scotty McCreery.

The Sunset Strip is part of Sunset Boulevard, a big honkin’ main drag which runs from downtown L.A., past Dodger Stadium, and all the way through Beverly Hills and Santa Monica to the ocean. The Strip is just a small part of the boulevard in West Hollywood, beginning at the Chateau Marmont hotel to the east, and ending just beyond the Roxy Theatre and Rainbow Bar and Grill, a mile or so away.

It’s a street of clubs, giant billboards, some real fancy restaurants, and a fair amount of good-looking women in short skirts.

Lots of great music. Lots of history, from the golden days of Hollywood, when Humphrey Bogart got the daylights beaten out of him by his third wife Mayo Methot on a sidewalk outside a Strip restaurant; through the crazy sixties with protests in the street; and into later years when John Belushi and River Phoenix died and where celebrities have always gone to be seen; and where the sordid Phil Spector mess began at the House of Blues.

Unfortunately, it’s also the place where I was picked up for breaking an 11 p.m. curfew set for anyone under 18, which isn’t exactly a horrendous crime, but it was enough to spend a week in jail for.

There was an 11 p.m. curfew in place for anyone under 18, because of riots there the previous fall. I was stopped by a cop at the curb, just after I’d come out of Whisky a Go Go, and when he saw I wasn’t 18, he cuffed me and took me to the local cop shop, and the next day they shuffled me off to this place with large walls where they gave me some institution clothes and said I’d get my stuff back when I was released.

So I found myself doing this. One minute I was on the Sunset Strip, movin’ and groovin’, and the next minute I was in a juvenile hall playing checkers with my new Chicano friends.

A week later they called out of the dining room and told me my parents had sent money for a plane ticket back to Toronto. So I got my own clothes back and a man drove me to the airport and actually walked me right to my seat on the plane.

When I landed in Toronto, I could’ve kissed the ground. Maybe I did.

I was 16. I had taken a train to Vancouver, and a bus to the border. Custom guards thought I was a runaway, but I told them I wasn’t and if they didn’t believe me, phone collect to Orillia and ask my parents. And they did. And when my mom informed them that no, I wasn’t running away, I just wanted to go to Los Angeles, they said okay and let me go.

From there I started hitchhiking, sleeping near the side of the highway every night, and I can remember the sound of cars zooming by as I lay in my sleeping bag with my eyes closed or looking up at the sky. I got lucky at one point when a potato farmer going through Oregon picked me up and took me all way down past San Francisco to Watsonville.

We hardly talked. Maybe he didn’t speak English very well.

Eventually I made it to L.A. I took a bus in from some point, and I was excited and anxious. Probably starving too. Probably smelled pretty bad. But it was all okay. It was the sixties.

I’d always wanted to go there, ever since I was a kid. Ever since I’d watched The Shaggy Dog and Leave it to Beaver and My Three Sons and cheered for Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale and rest who played at Dodger Stadium, where palm trees rose behind the outfield bleachers.

Then when the Strip became one of the hippest areas in the country, with club bands like the Doors beginning to explode worldwide, I decided I finally had to go there and I did.

Two weeks later I was in jail.

Last fall Luci and I spent a week on the Strip, and I took some pictures of some of the clubs, including the legendary Whisky a Go Go, the Viper Room, Rainbow Bar and Grill, and the historic Troubadour, which is down the hill a block or two away.