Wolfgang, circa 1969 - L to R: Bryn Haworth, Rick Lancelot, Kevin Kelly, Leland Sklar, Randy “Israel” Zacuto, Warren “Bugs” Pemberton.
You may listen to a Wolfgang 1969 demo track by clicking → here.
Wolfgang is the band Lee was a part of during the years 1968/69 and 1970. This was after the Group Therapy period and before he became steadily involved as James Taylor’s studio- and tour- bass player.
The group’s line-up was as follows:
Leland Sklar - Bass
Bryn Haworth - Guitar
Kevin Kelly - Hammond B3
Rick Lancelot - Vocals
Warren “Bugs” Pemberton - Drums
Randy “Israel” Zacuto - Guitar
Wolfgang was a high-powered blues-rock ensemble resulting from the encounter of two British and four US musicians. Guitar player Bryn Haworth, from Blackburn, Lancashire, had previously played in the London band Les Fleur De Lys before relocating to California. Drummer Warren “Bugs” Pemberton came from the Merseybeat band The Undertakers, where he had been backing British singer Jackie Lomax. Both Haworth and Pemberton, along with Wolfgang guitarist Israel Zacuto, will later appear in various permutations as players on Lomax’s solo albums “Home Is In My Head” (1971), “Three” (1972), “White Lady” (credited to Lomax’s group Badger, 1974), “Livin’ For Lovin’” (1976) and “Did You Ever Have That Feeling” (1977). Vocalist Rick Lancelot had been a solo act and fronted early Sixties groups like The Peppermint Sticks and the 7 Knights: he will go on to play with Frank Zappa’s Mothers Of Invention in the Seventies. Organist Kevin Kelly would later become part of Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue.
Group was originally named after their manager, rock promoter/impresario Bill Graham, whose real name was Wolodia (Wolfgang) Grajonca. Wolfgang would find themselves rehearsing in venues like the Fillmore West Auditorium and being billed alongside acts like Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead. All in all, Wolfgang could rock big time, and would soon be recording a multi-song demo in 1968/69 harboring the promise of a record deal that eventually, however, would not materialize.
BeardBassman, who was so kind as to grant me the unforgettable privilege to listen to these Wolfgang recordings (besides supplying the above promo picture for the group), provides the following track list for the demo content:
1 - Cops & Robbers
2 - What A Woman Wants
3 - Get Myself Together
4 - Lay It Down Easy
5 - You Go Your Way
6 - Still She Keeps On Dreaming
7 - Instrumental
Browsing through the Bryn Haworth website you might find a slightly different track list:
1 - Cops & Robbers
2 - What a Woman Does
3 - No Reason
4 - Lay it Down Easy
5 - You Go Your Way
6 - Dues
7 - Liar
A close listen gives out “Get Myself Together” as an alternate title to “No Reason”. On the other hand, I have no way to establish whether “Dues” is an alternate title for “Still She Keeps On Dreaming” or if the instrumental track is actually called “Liar”. What is clear as day is that the group was deserving of much greater success and recognition than it ended up garnering: in very many ways, Wolfgang was the real deal.
You may now listen to one of the Wolfgang demo tracks at the related bassroutes post by clicking → here.
You may check out related articles about the recording of the Wolfgang demo at the following links:
www.crossrhythms.co.uk (interview with Bryn Haworth)
www.vickibrennerent.com (interview with co-manager Doug Tracy) (no longer active)
Wolfgang was also a participant in the soundtrack for a popular surf documentary produced in 1970 by drive-in movie company American International Picture entitled “Pacific Vibrations”. It does not look like a soundtrack album for this picture was ever put together or released, but according to the same Bryn Haworth website as above, Wolfgang supplied three songs that were not included in the demo track list. Please refer to same article for the song titles.
Also note that the Frank Zappa website www.united-mutations.com indicates vocalist Rick Lancelot as a further contributor to this movie’s soundtrack in the role of vocalist for the group Sky Oats, performing the movie’s title track.
You may also check out the Wolfgang page post in the Blog Archive under November 2011 - you will find it → here.
“Pacific Vibrations” (1970) - movie poster
Lee Michaels/Taj Mahal/Youngbloods/Love/Southwind/Wolfgang - New Year’s Eve 1969/1970 - Bonnie MacLean concert poster
source/pics: BeardBassman/the web
additional info source: