RIP Spirit drummer Ed Cassidy: w/ Spirit in San Diego concert archive
Exclusive Spirit comic strip bio and complete history of local shows w/setlists, photos, more
RIP Ed "Cass" Cassidy - the drummer and co-founder of Spirit died yesterday (Dec. 6) at the age of 89. Damn. He'd been in a nursing home, having been diagnosed with prostate cancer several months ago.
Here's my Spirit Rock 'N' Roll Comics story, plus a complete rundown of every time Spirit ever played in San Diego (including quite a few shows I attended, having some of the best times of my life) --
Spirit has been my favorite band for over 30 years now. I’ve come to feel the same way about guitarist/bandleader Randy California that Deadheads feel about Jerry Garcia, a performer inexplicably linked to Sprit only by virtue of both bands having dedicated jam-fan followings. I can’t stand the Dead, or most jam bands for that matter, but Spirit were far above and beyond mere hippie trailz and melting muzik.
Before discovering Spirit’s 12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus in 1979 and playing it over and over in my little corner room at the Palms Hotel on 12th and Island downtown, I had heard jazz bands that rock (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Spyro Gyra, the Headhunters, et al).
But I had never heard a rock band that, well, jazzes --
It's hard to explain why their music continues to appeal to me so, even years after Randy California’s tragic death in 1997 and the band’s final dissolution. It evokes an emotional response that's difficult to put into words.
28 years ago (August 6, 1984), I was lucky enough to catch one of the handful of reunion shows the entire classic lineup did, beginning at the long-gone Rodeo nightclub in La Jolla, the group's first performance in nine years to also include original members Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes (who were having hits as Jo Jo Gunne) and John Locke. It was the opening date of their first tour together in 14 years (tho the reunited ensemble ended up playing less than a dozen shows).
Cassidy was 61 years old, Ferguson and Andes had tasted considerable post-Spirit success (Andes had also played with Firefall and was still with Heart), and California had clearly taken his version of Spirit in a more hippie-jam direction since the original lineup fractured.
My balcony seat afforded me a great view of both the band on fire and a wildly enthusiastic audience stoking the flames. Even if it weren't a historic occasion for Spirit (in my opinion the best and most underrated band ever to emerge from L.A.), I'd still rank it among the top fives shows I've seen.
However, despite the five-album deal they'd just signed with Mercury Records, and regardless of the demonstrative sellout crowd in San Diego, the reunited Spirit only played a handful of subsequent gigs.
Members soon went their separate ways -- again -- leaving only core members Ed Cassidy and Randy California to carry on the name. For a while. California drowned in 1997, while saving his son from an ocean riptide in Hawaii (his son survived). Locke died in 2006 from complications due to lymphoma.
SETLIST: (My tape of this show is incomplete, but Spirit biographer Bruce Pates supplied probable missing numbers, given the other few reunion shows): Black Satin Nights, Mr. Skin, 1984, Fresh Garbage, Rasta Girl in a Ferrari, Prelude - Nothing to Hide, Nature's Way, All Over the World, Dark Eyed Woman, Mechanical World, I Got a Line on You, Uncle Jack, Pick it Up, Miss This Train, I Got a Line on You (reprise)
Here’s a backstage Rodeo interview done for the Reader ----
Now for a rundown of all Spirit's San Diego appearances, many of which I attended, beginning in 1979, accompanied with memorabilia from my own collection and followed by a Spirit comic bio I wrote several years ago for the Doors issue of Rock 'N' Roll Comics.
RANDY CALIFORNIA AND SPIRIT IN SAN DIEGO: 1968 - 1996
8-13-68 - Spirit, with Jello's Gass Ban, downtown Community Concourse
11-27-68 - Spirit, with the Moody Blues, Framework - Grossmont College Gym
9-20-69 - Spirit, San Diego Sports Arena, with the Grass Roots, Smith and Denny Henderson:
According to [email protected], “They played Fresh Garbage, Brown Eyed Woman [probably meant Dark Eyed Woman], Nature's Way, and the impressive Mechanical World. Which was written about a bad sushi experience by Jay Ferguson - so he said when he introduced the song.”
However, after I posted above, I heard from Bruce Pates, who worked with Spirit in the '80s and '90s and is currently working on a book about the band.
"There's NO WAY that Nature's Way was performed at this gig. It was first performed in San Francisco on May 16, 1970. Randy introduced the song as 'a song I wrote this afternoon.' Possibly [email protected] has confused this with the 1970 show?"
Pates also informs "There was a review in the San Diego Door (Sept. 25, 1969)that mentions that they played 'Mechanical World,' 'I Got A Line On You,' 'Uncle Jack,' and opened with an instrumental (likely 'Fog,' later to be 'Trancus Fog Out' on the Feedback album)."
11-29-70 - Spirit, San Diego Sports Arena, with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Ten Years After:
Info on this date comes courtesy Bruce Pates, who informs "I've seen this listed as TEN YEARS AFTER being the headliner, which does not appear to be correct. I have a copy of the PAUL BUTTERFIELD contract for the gig, which lists SPIRIT as the headliner. Also, there are memories of this gig from a roadie and band members. It was a disaster!"
"They were trying out a new expensive PA system that blew out all the speakers. Lou Adler had fronted $10G for the PA, but the money was insufficient to get what was really needed, so most of it went to amplification. It was never tested at full power until the gig, and led to the speaker problems."
5-25-72 - Spirit, San Diego Sports Arena, with Ike and Tina Turner, Jesse, Wolff and Whings:
This gig featured the odd Feedback-era Spirit, one of the few lineups ever to perform withOUT Randy California.
12-4-75 - Spirit at San Diego State University (the Back Door) with comedian B. Altman (aka Uncle Dirty):
This Thursday night show featured California, Cass, John Locke, and bassist Barry Keene playing two sets: 8:00pm and 10:30pm, with tickets priced from $3 to $4. A student at the time, Mike Corlett recalled for the Reader "The Back Door was what used to be two or three lanes of a bowling alley in Aztec Center at San Diego State. Many great bands, both from the past, as well as up-and-coming ones, played there. It probably seated 200, with close to 300 crammed in at times."
"The show was heavy on Spirit of 76. The second set (the one I saw) had "Nature’s Way," "I Got a Line on You," "Like a Rolling Stone," "All Along the Watchtower," "Hey Joe," "Walking the Dog," and "Fresh Garbage," among others."
"During 'All Along the Watchtower,' Randy dropped to his knees, and played with his teeth as the was looking at a couple of pretty girls next to center stage. The stage was two to three feet in height, so they were practically eye to eye."
"It was about the time Son of Spirit came out. Randy California was in the hallway as you walked in, personally hawking the album, for which there was a poster of the album on the wall of the hallway: 'Son of Spirit, it’s a good album, you should buy it,' in his soft and spacey manner of speech as each person walked by."
"The Spirit show was great, and I feel lucky to have caught it. God bless all of them."
11-11-80 - Bacchanal: Two shows, 7:30 and 10
Setlist: Body For Sale, 1984, Shattered Dreams, All Along the Watchtower, Nature’s Way, So Little Time to Fly, All the Same, Got That Kind of Love, Come on Woman, Mr. Skin, I Got a Line on You
May 1983 - Kobey's Swap Meet, Sports Arena Parking Lot:
Imagine my amazement to walk up to the Swap Meet to find the three-piece Spirit, performing on the back of a flatbed truck! During “Hey Joe,” Randy jumped down from the flatbed with his radio-controlled guitar and walked around the crowd of 50 or so people, all just standing around, with no seats or anything – really odd gig! The lineup was Randy, Ed, and bassist Liberty.
"Liberty has memories of this being a one off show," according to Bruce Pates. "He had been fired in April 1982 because of the reunion of the original band. This would be the only known concert in 1983, as the original band was on hold and being paid by an investor, awaiting the release of the reunion album. Liberty thought the gig was at Jack Murphy Stadium."
Well, consider the actual locale of Spirit's only 1983 concert now confirmed for posterity as the Sports Arena parking lot, rather than the Stadium! For years, I couldn't find this show mentioned ANYwhere, tho I knew I hadn't hallucinated it (I even wrote down details at the time) -- of the few dozen or so people who watched Spirit play out in front of the ticket entrance that day, I suspect very few even knew who the band was...
Setlist: Prelude/Nothing to Hide, Dark Eyed Woman, Sister Tell Me, 1984, Hey Joe, I Got a Line on You, Nature’s Way, Animal Zoo
8-6-84 – Reunion at the Rodeo, La Jolla (see above):
Setlist: (My tape of this show is incomplete, but Spirit biographer Bruce Pates supplied probable missing numbers, given the other few reunion shows): Black Satin Nights, Mr. Skin, 1984, Fresh Garbage, Rasta Girl in a Ferrari, Prelude - Nothing to Hide, Nature's Way, All Over the World, Dark Eyed Woman, Mechanical World, I Got a Line on You, Uncle Jack, Pick it Up, Miss This Train, I Got a Line on You (reprise)
6-5-86 - Belly Up Tavern:
Rehearsal/soundcheck: Island of Roses, Sweet Child, Mr. Skin, jam
Setlist: Veruska, Mr. Skin, Nature’s Way, Island of Roses, Rasta Girl in a Ferarri, Sweet Child, 1984, Animal Zoo, Dark Eyed Woman, Like a Rolling Stone, Miss This Train, All the Same, drum solo, I Got a Line on You, Romance in Time, Body for Sale, Fresh Garbage
9-20-87 - Magic 102 Birthday Party, the Bacchanal:
3-piece Spirit Setlist: Fresh Garbage, Miss This Train, Nature’s Way, Animal Zoo, Dark Eyed Woman, Jackrabbit (from Randy California solo album), Sweet Child, Nothing to Hide
6-25-89 - Del Mar Fair, with Robbie Krieger (Doors) and Steve Hunter (both of whom performed with California for the later Night of the Guitars tours, which also included Steve Howe and others):
Setlist: Need Your Love Tonight, Mr. Skin, Dreams Come, Fresh Garbage, Nature’s Way, Rapture in the Chambers, Don’t Want You Around, Like a Rolling Stone, Hard Love, I Got a Line on You (this song and all but the final track are jams with Robbie Krieger and Steve Hunter), High Heel Sneakers, Back Door Man (Krieger vocals), All Along the Watchtower, Dark Eyed Woman
12-1-89 - Winstons, Ocean Beach:
This was such a last-minute show that pretty much no local ads appeared - as a result, the Ocean Beach bar (long known for its Deadhead vibe) was nearly empty. As you can see from my pics, the stage was pretty tiny, and the boys looked kinda cramped and forlorn all evening. That said, IMO, they played well ---
Setlist: Fearless Leader, Fresh Garbage, Love From Here, Nature’s Way, Mr. Skin, Jack Rabbit, All the Same, the Land of Bismo, I Got a Line on You, (unknown), Miss this Train, Like a Rolling Stone
1-30-93 - La Paloma Theater, Encinitas:
Setlist: Life Has Just Begun, Sadana, Mr. Skin, Hey Joe, I Got a Line On You, Prelude-Nothing To Hide, Going Back to Jones, Give a Life Take a Life, La Paloma Jam/Jamacai Jam/Super Paloma Jam
This show was recorded for live album, and a couple of songs were restarted due to issues with the recording equipment, with some l-o-o-o-n-g gaps between a few numbers. I got to meet with the band backstage briefly, where they signed an issue of Rock 'N' Roll Comics I'd done with a Spirit bio comic. Randy teased me about never getting any money for the comic story -
10-15-93 - La Paloma Theater, Encinitas:
Due to problems with the earlier La Paloma recording, THIS is the show that ended up being released as the Spirit: Live at La Paloma CD. Oddly, the La Paloma album was filled out by live tracks recorded elsewhere, between 1977 and 1993.
Setlist: Life Has Just Begun, Sadana, Mr. Skin, Hey Joe, I Got a Line on You, Nothing to Hide, Going Back to Jones, Give a Life, La Paloma Jam, 1984 (replaced on the live album by a version recorded in May '93 in Michigan), Jamaica Jam, Super La Paloma Jam, Nature's Way (live album's version was actually recorded August 1991 in Venice California)
7-23-94 - Flash Cafe, Mission Valley (formerly Coach House South), with Arthur Lee and Love:
For the longest time, I cited my pre-show chat with Arthur Lee of Love as my Worst Interview ever…
I met with Lee outside the now-defunct and then-funky Flash Café in Mission Valley . About ten minutes into what seemed like a perfectly normal chat, Lee - who has a reputation for being, um, mentally unpredictable - suddenly shouted that I was a "lying son of a bee-yach" and that I wasn't really a reporter, I was an undercover police officer trying to trick him into admitting he'd done something illegal, on tape (I hadn't said a word about anything other than music).
Lee snatched a $200 recording machine from my hands and smashed it to the ground, kicking it across the asphalt and leaving the unit in pieces before turning to flee into the building.
Randy California and Spirit were also on the bill that night - California witnessed Lee's tantrum and the ensuing destruction from just a few feet away.
"You're lucky he only thought you were a narc," California offered casually as I bent over to pick up the busted remains of the most expensive tool of my trade. "He hates reporters a lot worse than he hates cops."
Setlist: Love From Here, 1984, (Randy raps about a photo shoot the previous day in Encinitas and about bamboo being good for the ecology), Fresh Garbage, Nature's Way, Pawn Shop Blues, Mr. Skin, Red House, Animal Zoo
5-20-95 - Catamaran Cannibal Bar:
Setlist: Love From Here; Nature's Way; Fresh Garbage; Pawn Shop Blues; Hey Joe; Animal Zoo; Red House; La Paloma Jam (Electro-Jam); I Got A Line On You; Prelude: Nothin' To Hide; Turn To The Right; Mr. Skin.
This was the second weirdest Spirit gig I ever saw, after the Swap Meet. Catamaran then was a yuppie bar inside a Mission Beach hotel, which had once been a rock venue but at that time was spiffed up like a disco for DJs. The servers wore stylized tuxedos, the drinks were all foofoo umbrella booze, and most all the patrons were hotel guests who wandered in and out and seemed oblivious to the live music.
A few dozen of us clustered around the stage, there for Spirit, but the rest of the bar kept its nightly meat market routine, including TV sets running in banks behind the bar (while the band played!).
7-4-96 - Del Mar Fair, with Moby Grape, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Terry Reid:
Epilogue: Bruce Pates writes "Just saw Mark Andes in February." A few years ago, Andes also played with Ian McLagan of Small Faces fame, as well as releasing a solo instrumental album.
"I'm currently working on a Spirit book with Mick Skidmore, the producer of the posthumous releases. I've compiled about 1500 Spirit gigs so far, and I'm always looking for more info. Didn't know about the 1980 Bacchanal or the 1989 Winstons gigs, so that was a bonus."
Former Reader columnist Josh Board emailed to say “I have a few Spirit stories that are fond memories. The first is from when I was around 12. I loved collecting autographs of my favorite basketball players in the NBA and my favorite musicians. The magazine Basketball Digest provided address to the teams, and I'd send letters with basketball cards, which most often were sent back autographed. Musicians were harder to get a hold of. I would have to have my parents drive me to, say, the Bacchanal. I would wait in the parking lot for Doors keyboard player Ray Manzarek or Animals singer Eric Burdon, and I'd have them sign a few albums for me.”
"A friend once told me he had an address for Ed Cassidy, the drummer for Spirit. I owned the Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, which was their Sgt. Pepper. But, unlike today where you could easily send a CD sleeve to someone, I figured it would be too much trouble to send the album. And what if this address wasn't even real? I'd lose one of my favorite classic rock albums.”
"I sent a letter requesting an autograph. I think I asked a goofy question, too. Well, Cassidy responded by sending not only his autograph, but a letter he wrote out answering my question, and asking me to support the band if they ever came to town. He also enclosed a photo-copy picture of his bald head, dressed all in black, behind the drumset. He autographed that as well.”
"A few years later, my friend told me to call this A.M. radio station that had this music trivia contest on Saturday nights, hosted by Country Joe MacDonald. First place would win a thousand dollars in prizes. I came in second. I lost out on the last question, when they asked me to name three groups that singer Jay Ferguson was in. I only knew him from Jo Jo Gunne. And his solo hit 'Thunder Island.' The other guy named Spirit, and won the prize. I was devastated. I thought I knew everything about those old 60s bands.”
"There were no Spirit questions the following week. And I won the thousand dollar prize.”
SPIRIT COMIC BIO
http://www.markandesmusic.com (Mark Andes new instrumental CD)
http://www.songsfromcalifa.com (Scott Monahan from 80s/90s Spirit, including solo CD w/cover of Randy's "Jack Rabbit")
BTW, didja know that Led Zep's "Stairway to Heaven" was a direct swipe from Spirit's earlier song "Taurus"? Zep opened for a lot of Spirit shows, so it's a pretty sure bet where he got that distinctive Stairway guitar part...here's a side-by-side comparison:
Finally, an extremely rare clip of the original Spirit lineup performing their apocalyptic anthem "1984" live at Germany's Beat Club (deleted from the band's official bio video, supposedly because Randy's guitar falls out of tune in the middle of his solo):
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