Strawberry Alarm Clock, left to right: Ernie Morgan, Seve Bartek, Randy Seol, Richard Benedon, George Bunnell. "The last time I saw Dennis Wilson we were on Sunset rehearsing during the day at Whiskey."
(EDITOR: Two members of the band Strawberry Alarm Clock are now locals — George Bunnell of Pacific Beach and Randy Seol of North Park. The elusive Winifred talks with George Bunnell and his friend Rick.)
W: Do you know that guy Rodney who has a club on the strip where everyone who is anyone under sixteen, like Carol McKenzie of Grafitti, goes?
G: Everyone there looks like they are from Satyricon. Yeh, he used to be Davy Jones' double. Also he was in The Prince and the Pauper.
R: What do you want to interview this turkey for? He doesn't know anything... he's a has been. You know what I mean?
W: Now, I wanted to ask you... you were the song writer for the group before you joined the Strawberry Alarm Clock.
W: Did you write the song "Incense and Peppermint"?
G: No. No.
W: Oh, you didn't.
G: No, I wouldn't have.
W: Wasn't that the main hit?
G: Yeh, but it was followed by a flop, "Tomorrow:" it wasn't really a flop, it was a...
W: An almost made it.
G: It was a three quarters. It was almost as big as "Incense" actually; but really regional. Certain areas picked up on it... certain areas didn't know it existed. The rest of the singles that we released had the same problem. I wrote the flip side of that called "Birds in My Tree." It got good response in Frisco. Steve Bartek wrote it with me.
W: So how many albums did you put out?
G: We had a manager. He used to be the manager of a Safeway. He did it on All American which was his label. He had some money and started his own record company. He made a few copies and went around pluggin' it.
W: That seems like the hard way to do it. So how many records did the single "Incense and Peppermint" sell?
G: One million fifty thousand.
W: Was it a hit in Europe?
G: No, Japan, Paris and Germany got a reaction. It had good reaction in a lot of places, Morroco. But England didn't dig it at all. I kind of agree with them.
W: What year was this?
G: It was released May '67.
W: What was it contemporary with?
G: The Monkees. (laughter)
W: Were you the group that sledge-hammered the car?
G: Sure. We were on Laugh-In and we smashed a cadillac. The very first Laugh-In.
W: I remember seeing a car get smashed in color beside the freeway bridge.
G: Yeh, that was us, we were in yellow raincoats.
W: Well that was a weird thing for you guys to be doing. I always thought the Clock was really lightweight.
G: It was. Of course it was. But you don't think that Laugh-In bit was lightweight?
W: No, if film critics say Laurel and Hardy were anarchists when they smashed the cars, why not the Alarm Clock?
G: Well, we were lightweights in the sense that we were only 17 years old. But everyone had good potential.
W: Someone said that you were the narks of the psychedlic era. I think they meant that you were so straight.
G: We weren't straight at all. We got framed on a narcotics charge.
W: What state was that?
G: Peoria, Illinois. We were on tour and got framed. I don't know what happened but at about two in the morning there was a knock on the door and there was a bunch of police. There was a cameraman with all these lights and an Asst. D.A. with papers. It was a regular T.V. thing. We were on the six o'clock news.
W: Did you ever tour with any big bands?
G: Buffalo Springfield and the Beachboys.
W: That's how you got to know Dennis Wilson. What about the Airplane?
G: We played with all those bands like the Airplane but we never got to know them personally. Although one time we did a movie where we acted the part of a San Francisco band.
W: What movie?
W: Who did that?
G: Dick Clark. It starred Jack Nicholson, Susan Strasberg and Dean Stockwell. Strasberg's a deaf mute that takes acid and her brother thinks he's Christ.
W: Oh, I think I saw that. Does he burn a house down in the end?
G: I guess, all I remember is Dick Clark running all over. We were in the Cheetah playing while they are looking around.
W: A place with reflective stuff all over... 'ya it was the poor man's Trip.
G: I have bad feeling about that whole trip cuz we ate it on that song, "Bird in My Tree." We didn't know anything and the people involved with Dick Clark took advantage of us. I was seventeen and Steve was about 15.
W: Well they have a tendency to do that sometimes. What about Art Laboe?
G: He had to do with us too because we recorded at his studio, Original Sound. There were people who had pieces of everything. Dave Diamond, the diamond mine, he started the whole LSD thing in L.A. Started the Doors, the Alarm Clock, the Seeds, The Jefferson Airplane, he really got them going.
R: He's a D.J. in Detroit now.
W: How much money was involved in all this?
G: I had $46,000 embezzled. (laughter) They double-talked us... sign here!
W: Why didn't your manager protect you?
G: Yeh, our manager, he's the one that stole the $46,000.
W: Dennis Wilson, when you knew him did he know Charles Manson?
G: Yeh, but let's not talk about it. Listed the last time I saw Dennis Wilson we were on Sunset rehearsing during the day at Whiskey and he comes walking down the street and I didn't even recognize him with a backpack and long hair.
W: He had just given away his house on Sunset.
G: Yeh, it was right at that time. We were going to get together but I don't know what came of it. I guess we broke up. Yes, that's what happened. Randy got in an accident and broke his pelvis and Steve got mono.
W: How about the fabled plaster casters?
G: Oh yeh, we ran into them in Chicago. They were two fat girls with t-shirts on that said plaster casters. They had a museum in their basement. Mick was there and Hendrix and Davey Jones' was in glass.
W: Don't tell me. I know whose image was the smallest. were they sisters?
G: No, just two girls who have this museum of all the rock stars in their basement with an old grandmother upstairs. One of the guys in the band went there. Saw this incredibly blown up photo of Jagger with his pants around his ankles. They don't sell any of this stuff.
W: How's it done?
G: With wax molds and then plaster of paris poured in.
W: Did you have to pay for your studio time, pressing, advertising? You know how they promote you sometimes and then charge it against your later earnings.
G: They pay for all the paper promotion... billboards etc. You also get paid for recording but we got cheated.
W: See, if they don't sell; they call them back... all these records and they make you pay for them and then they sell them real cheap through drugstores and supermarkets. That way they get paid twice for the same thing, at least this is what some people are suing them about. Do you still get royalties?
G: Only occasionally. I hate the business of it... I don't even like talking about it. It's always in L.A. I'm constantly shying away from it.
W: You mean you're exiled in San Diego.
G: I call on the phone.
W: It must have gotten pretty heavy up there when you had a lot of bucks and were famous. Like Bowie's wife. Jipp Jones says, "you pick up a lot of sluff."
G: I didn't go to things. When I had a lot of money I just stayed home and took LSD. (laughter)
W: Did you see David Bowie on T.V.?
G: I thought it was poor but I thought the group Carmen was amazing.
W: What? They were weird.
G: I know the group, Spanish rock and roll... flamenco rock. They played at a place El Cid, the lead guitarist's family owned it. It was a flash for me... they were in England. That one costume of Bowie's with the hands was great. They should have looked more real.
W: No, they didn't look very real, but then I saw that same idea as a pop art dress a long time ago. Did you see Angela, Jipp Jones?
G: Is that a guy?
W: No. That's Bowie's wife.
G: That blond girl that was announcing.
W: Oh no, that was a guy. Amanda Lear, I think.
G: Well I couldn't believe her.
W: She seemed to have accents that didn't come from anywhere. Bowie was doing that mime stuff with those dancers looking old avant-garde and Mariane Faithful, the Snow Queen looking like a young Peggy Lee.
G: She can't sing.
W: She never could. She was at a party and someone asked her if she wanted to be a rock and roller. So now she's a spacoid.
G: It was weird. I thought it was a total failure...
W: What's happening with you guys now?
G: By February you'll be hearing from us.
W: Oh my god.
G: But I don't know what name we're going to use. Maybe... Serious Arnold and the Norman Pumpernickel Choir.