“Frank Sinatra gave me my first singing job, Bob Dylan encouraged me to pursue a recording career, and Buck Owens told me, ‘Cut your damn hair,’ ” says Temecula’s Michael Chain, whose turn at ’60s pop stardom came while fronting the original Knack.
“Capitol Records popped my band’s cherry but didn’t call the next day or even send us flowers,” says Chain. “They were building us up as their replacement for the Beatles, but then we got dropped and had nowhere to go but down.”
Chain is hoping to publish a memoir of those days, The Golden Book of Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: A Scratch and Sniff Guide to Touring in the Sixties. Included is his account of touring and recording as pink-spandex-clad superhero rocker Pinkiny Canandy, who opened for Led Zeppelin at the Las Vegas Ice Palace in August 1969. “With all their stuff crowding the stage,” recalls Chain, “finding an open spot wasn’t easy. Zeppelin intimidated you with their equipment.… A family of six could’ve lived in John Bonham’s drum set. We set up our equipment in front of theirs. We now knew how saplings felt in a giant redwood forest.”
Chain also dishes on fellow ’60s scenesters such as Rodney Bingenheimer (“the bean-pole Rula Lenska of groupies”), ego-driven producer Mike Post (“Napoleon had a Mike Post complex”), and Sly Stone, with whom Chain’s band negotiated a marijuana swap that allegedly spawned the catchphrase “lid pro quo.” Also included are samples of Chain’s “road Zen” observations:
- When local bands play for free, they are overpaid.
- Concerts are like sex — you shoot your wad, then pizza.
- Never trust a map over a man — a man can be tracked down and beaten for giving you bad directions.
- In the kingdom of assholes, club owners have their own phylum — classes: cheap, cheaper, cheapest.
- On tour, you are either the headliner or the homeless.
- In the record business, not only does one hand not know what the other is doing, it pisses on its own shoes.
- You will only need what you didn’t bring.
- The musicians’ union fights for your dues, not for your money.
- Good bands put asses in the seats, great bands get asses out of ’em.
Michael Chain appears nightly at Pala Casino through Thursday, March 25, and at Alpine Village in Torrance on April 1.