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Pinkiny Canandy: '60s Psych-Superhero Unmasked as SD's Michael Chain

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“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 first turn at ’60s pop stardom came while fronting the original Knack, which released several singles on Capitol Records.

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“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.”

None

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.

None

Included is his account of touring and recording as pink-spandex-clad superhero rocker Pinkiny Canandy, whose 1969 album on the long-gone Uni label is one of the '60s most perfect (and most nearly forgotten) pop rock masterpieces. Nowhere on the album is Chain's real name mentioned, and few connected him to the now-obscure Pinkiny project until a Reader article first publicized the unlikely connection, around the time Pinkiny tracks first resurfaced on the Bubblegum MF compilation series.

None

Pinkiny Canandy was the first album I ever bought with my own money (the comic book layout caught my eye). I've had every word of every song memorized since I was still wearing Underoos (perhaps not as long ago as you might think....). The band also featured Gary Kato, from a great group called the Merry-Go-Rounds, and their big 1969 tour was masterminded by promoter Mike Tell, future husband of actress Patty Duke.

None

The album and superheroic alter-ego may be almost completely (and criminally) forgotten, but Pinkiny Canandy once opened for Led Zeppelin at the Las Vegas Ice Palace on August 11, 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.”

None

If you search "Pinkiny Canandy" on YouTube, you'll find songs from that amazing pop-rock masterpiece, as well as the earlier Knack singles. I was quite surprised when Chain told me the Knack originally recorded many of the Pinkiny songs before they split, but those tapes are falling apart and haven't been played since 1970.

I sher would love to hear Pinkiny Canandy songs by the Knack, instead of the solo versions that producer/dumbass Mike Post reportedly watered down for the actual Pinkiny album (which, IMHO, is STILL an amazing masterwork).

None

Aside from Pinkiny and the Knack, Chain wrote a Jefferson Lee song called "Bubble Gum Music" and later became a television writer (Punky Brewster, etc.), returning to the music biz in the late 1990s.

Being such a huge Pinkiny fan, I was privileged to get from Chain a preview copy of The Golden Book of Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: A Scratch and Sniff Guide to Touring in the Sixties.

I was impressed with how he captured the flavor of the era, from a side few were privileged enough to experience. The initial “Get With It” scene-setting was particularly evocative – and funny! – especially lines like how “Adults live at 33 1/3, you live at 45” (that's RPM, revolutions per minute, for all you vinyl-oblivious kiddies out there).

I would have enjoyed more such era-definition in History of My World, especially RE the part of L.A. where Chain lived, off Laurel Canyon below Mullholland Drive, since that seems like another planet to most of us who are from elsewhere. He's very matter-of-fact about a lifestyle and family background that would already boggle most minds, long before he even gets to his rock star phases.

That said, Chain gets to the meat of the titular topic quickly, on page twelve, with Capitol Punishment (heh heh) and his big Capitol Records label signing. Chain dishes on fellow ’60s scenesters such as Rodney Bingenheimer (“the bean-pole Rula Lenska of groupies”), as well as epically ego-driven producer Mike Post (“Napoleon had a Mike Post complex”).

Post is portrayed with the same lack of affection evident in the phone chats I've had with Chain (“The only way Mike Post and I could see eye to eye was if he stood on my kneecaps," "I suffered from Mike Post-production depression," "The Ooompa Loompa,” etc).

It’s funny to see how the “old guard” really was as clueless about rock and roll as they looked from the outside.

Also fun is the colorful phrase-turning language, from chap titles (Gullible’s Travels, Viva Lost Wages, et al) to themed asides like:

“It was the worst of times, it was the worster of times.”

“We weren’t healing the sick, but we were sure as hell raising the dead.”

“If bumblebees had jukeboxes on their backs, there’d be music in the air.”

There's a jaw-dropping Sly Stone swap that resulted in band poet Tommy announcing “Lid Pro Quo” (a catchphrase that should be in every stoner’s vocabulary), and the Led Zep Vegas encounter certainly deserves the lengthy attention given (especially since that concert, happening between Zep dates in San Diego and Phoenix, is rarely chronicled). Chain's account of the beaning of Zep drummer John Bonham with a flying drumstick should officially become part of the Zep lexicon ---

Also included are samples of Chain’s “Road Zen” observations:

  1. "When local bands play for free, they are overpaid."

  2. "Concerts are like sex — you shoot your wad, then pizza."

  3. "Never trust a map over a man — a man can be tracked down and beaten for giving you bad directions."

  4. "In the kingdom of assholes, club owners have their own phylum — classes: cheap, cheaper, cheapest."

  5. "On tour, you are either the headliner or the homeless."

  6. "In the record business, not only does one hand not know what the other is doing, it pisses on its own shoes."

  7. "You will only need what you didn’t bring."

  8. "The musicians’ union fights for your dues, not for your money."

  9. "Good bands put asses in the seats, great bands get asses out of ’em."

Michael Chain kindly answered some queries via email.

Can you describe your music for readers who may not have heard? "Mostly stuff with notes and chords in it and a word thrown in here and there for effect."

What’s in your CD player now? "Old radio shows: Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke, the Bickersons, Lyle Lovett Live In Texas, and anything Rat Pack."

Do you have any fears or phobias? "Yes, aderabuxephobia: fear of lunch boxes."

What was your first pet? "Elvis the dog. I was six. I had an imaginary friend before that, but we quarreled and stopped speaking."

Worst TV commercial ever? "Sugar coated catbox sand, 'Makes for yummy doggy treats.'”

Who should play you in a movie? "Orson Welles."

Psychics - real or fake? "Doesn’t work for me. I’m always trying to change the channeler."

Ever hear from anyone in the later band also named the Knack? "Yes, nice guys all."

Magazine subscription you always renew? "Lint Fancier, Necronomicon News, Better Holmes and Watsons."

Tell us something about yourself few would know or guess? "I’m am waiting to be canonized as a saint."

Here's one of the cooler Pinkiny tracks (audio only), "Sadie Godiva":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgr06Dj_Bmk

And a more recent Michael Chain track, with a video for his folk-ish anthem "Gettysburgh," strikingly cut to vintage Civil War photographs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lO2GOHh432I&feature=relmfu

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The memories floating in Judith Moore's mind

The small town, solitary holidays, the dad reading Babar, summers in Washington state, the gay uncle, granny's farm

None

“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 first turn at ’60s pop stardom came while fronting the original Knack, which released several singles on Capitol Records.

None

“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.”

None

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.

None

Included is his account of touring and recording as pink-spandex-clad superhero rocker Pinkiny Canandy, whose 1969 album on the long-gone Uni label is one of the '60s most perfect (and most nearly forgotten) pop rock masterpieces. Nowhere on the album is Chain's real name mentioned, and few connected him to the now-obscure Pinkiny project until a Reader article first publicized the unlikely connection, around the time Pinkiny tracks first resurfaced on the Bubblegum MF compilation series.

None

Pinkiny Canandy was the first album I ever bought with my own money (the comic book layout caught my eye). I've had every word of every song memorized since I was still wearing Underoos (perhaps not as long ago as you might think....). The band also featured Gary Kato, from a great group called the Merry-Go-Rounds, and their big 1969 tour was masterminded by promoter Mike Tell, future husband of actress Patty Duke.

None

The album and superheroic alter-ego may be almost completely (and criminally) forgotten, but Pinkiny Canandy once opened for Led Zeppelin at the Las Vegas Ice Palace on August 11, 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.”

None

If you search "Pinkiny Canandy" on YouTube, you'll find songs from that amazing pop-rock masterpiece, as well as the earlier Knack singles. I was quite surprised when Chain told me the Knack originally recorded many of the Pinkiny songs before they split, but those tapes are falling apart and haven't been played since 1970.

I sher would love to hear Pinkiny Canandy songs by the Knack, instead of the solo versions that producer/dumbass Mike Post reportedly watered down for the actual Pinkiny album (which, IMHO, is STILL an amazing masterwork).

None

Aside from Pinkiny and the Knack, Chain wrote a Jefferson Lee song called "Bubble Gum Music" and later became a television writer (Punky Brewster, etc.), returning to the music biz in the late 1990s.

Being such a huge Pinkiny fan, I was privileged to get from Chain a preview copy of The Golden Book of Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: A Scratch and Sniff Guide to Touring in the Sixties.

I was impressed with how he captured the flavor of the era, from a side few were privileged enough to experience. The initial “Get With It” scene-setting was particularly evocative – and funny! – especially lines like how “Adults live at 33 1/3, you live at 45” (that's RPM, revolutions per minute, for all you vinyl-oblivious kiddies out there).

I would have enjoyed more such era-definition in History of My World, especially RE the part of L.A. where Chain lived, off Laurel Canyon below Mullholland Drive, since that seems like another planet to most of us who are from elsewhere. He's very matter-of-fact about a lifestyle and family background that would already boggle most minds, long before he even gets to his rock star phases.

That said, Chain gets to the meat of the titular topic quickly, on page twelve, with Capitol Punishment (heh heh) and his big Capitol Records label signing. Chain dishes on fellow ’60s scenesters such as Rodney Bingenheimer (“the bean-pole Rula Lenska of groupies”), as well as epically ego-driven producer Mike Post (“Napoleon had a Mike Post complex”).

Post is portrayed with the same lack of affection evident in the phone chats I've had with Chain (“The only way Mike Post and I could see eye to eye was if he stood on my kneecaps," "I suffered from Mike Post-production depression," "The Ooompa Loompa,” etc).

It’s funny to see how the “old guard” really was as clueless about rock and roll as they looked from the outside.

Also fun is the colorful phrase-turning language, from chap titles (Gullible’s Travels, Viva Lost Wages, et al) to themed asides like:

“It was the worst of times, it was the worster of times.”

“We weren’t healing the sick, but we were sure as hell raising the dead.”

“If bumblebees had jukeboxes on their backs, there’d be music in the air.”

There's a jaw-dropping Sly Stone swap that resulted in band poet Tommy announcing “Lid Pro Quo” (a catchphrase that should be in every stoner’s vocabulary), and the Led Zep Vegas encounter certainly deserves the lengthy attention given (especially since that concert, happening between Zep dates in San Diego and Phoenix, is rarely chronicled). Chain's account of the beaning of Zep drummer John Bonham with a flying drumstick should officially become part of the Zep lexicon ---

Also included are samples of Chain’s “Road Zen” observations:

  1. "When local bands play for free, they are overpaid."

  2. "Concerts are like sex — you shoot your wad, then pizza."

  3. "Never trust a map over a man — a man can be tracked down and beaten for giving you bad directions."

  4. "In the kingdom of assholes, club owners have their own phylum — classes: cheap, cheaper, cheapest."

  5. "On tour, you are either the headliner or the homeless."

  6. "In the record business, not only does one hand not know what the other is doing, it pisses on its own shoes."

  7. "You will only need what you didn’t bring."

  8. "The musicians’ union fights for your dues, not for your money."

  9. "Good bands put asses in the seats, great bands get asses out of ’em."

Michael Chain kindly answered some queries via email.

Can you describe your music for readers who may not have heard? "Mostly stuff with notes and chords in it and a word thrown in here and there for effect."

What’s in your CD player now? "Old radio shows: Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke, the Bickersons, Lyle Lovett Live In Texas, and anything Rat Pack."

Do you have any fears or phobias? "Yes, aderabuxephobia: fear of lunch boxes."

What was your first pet? "Elvis the dog. I was six. I had an imaginary friend before that, but we quarreled and stopped speaking."

Worst TV commercial ever? "Sugar coated catbox sand, 'Makes for yummy doggy treats.'”

Who should play you in a movie? "Orson Welles."

Psychics - real or fake? "Doesn’t work for me. I’m always trying to change the channeler."

Ever hear from anyone in the later band also named the Knack? "Yes, nice guys all."

Magazine subscription you always renew? "Lint Fancier, Necronomicon News, Better Holmes and Watsons."

Tell us something about yourself few would know or guess? "I’m am waiting to be canonized as a saint."

Here's one of the cooler Pinkiny tracks (audio only), "Sadie Godiva":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgr06Dj_Bmk

And a more recent Michael Chain track, with a video for his folk-ish anthem "Gettysburgh," strikingly cut to vintage Civil War photographs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lO2GOHh432I&feature=relmfu

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