The Beginning of White
Mud Blues Band
As told By Dr. Greg Hormone 02/25/02
1965-69, the Vietnam War raged on but it made little sense to us. It was just part of the Purple Haze we called our life at the time.
Detroit was a Mecca of rock and roll energy and we were standing in the middle of it all. The British Pop explosion and the Motown greats had driven Detroit’s youth to play music! Detroit area punks were abandoning model cars and Stingray bicycles and instead buying drums and guitars!
The basements and garages of homes all over Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County were being converted into practice studios for young wannabe musicians. Grosse Pointe, St. Clair Shores, Roseville, Ann Arbor, Warren, and Mt. Clemens as well as Southfield, Lincoln Park (home of the MC5) were spawning grounds for the 1st generation of punk rockers! http://www.myfirstband.com
Everybody aspired to play music but not everyone was a great musician. There was a lot of replication, and a lot of good and bad music. Some of the bands had a unique and original energy, and got a local following in a short time. White Mud was one of them.
Some of the original White Mud members were already playing in local bands for a while by 1966, The City Limits, The Tish, Decembers Children, The Frut of the Loom, and Every Pig and His Brother, to mention a few.
However White Mud wouldn’t emerge on the scene for a while yet…and wouldn't stay long due to the expense of destroying expensive equipment, their own and otherwise!
We practiced as smaller bands, in several basements in St. Clair Shores. 21406 Willow Wisp was a great studio in those days. There was relative privacy, it was cool in the summer, The basement was finished with wood paneling and tiled floors, and we could smoke a little pot without too much fear of being chased out of the house.
There was a code however as there is in any basement studio. If the telephone rang, the band member's parent was allowed to switch the stairway light on and off to indicate an immediate stop of all practice in order to answer the phone.
Normally this was ok. One day however, Every Pig & His Brother (a sibling band of White Mud Productions) was practicing at Vondy’s house at 22833 Euclid Street, in St. Clair Shores. In the middle of an exceptionally good song, Vondy’s mom flashed the lights. This meant stop. We did. http://www29.addr.com/~vondyc/Html/index1.htm
Vondy was disturbed. Here is what followed:
We stopped playing. Vondy’s mom Irene came down the steps.
Vondy: "What Ma!!!!!"
Irene: " Are you hungry?"
Vondy: " God Maaaa did you stop us just for that?!!!!"
Vondy had just refinished his 1955 Gibson Melody Maker with a dozen coats of white paint and some psychedelic white vinyl contact paper on the face, with a black velour pattern running through it. It was really f-ugly Remember this was 1967.
Vondy: " Yeah Ma! Yeah! Is that why you stopped us?!!!!!"
Irene: (still trying to make the peace) " Does it play better with that on it?"
At this point it is probably appropriate to say, you needed to be there to appreciate the scene. Chris and I were silent as best as we could be. Yeah right...
From that point forward if Vondy was ever having a bad day at practice or during a gig, we would ask him if he needed to add another layer of contact paper to his axe! Watching the Vond get pissed off was one of my favorite pastimes!
White Mud's 1st show:
White Mud’s first gig was what I believe to be a "True Spontaneous Cosmic Occurrence." Here’s what happened…
There was a community of musicians growing up together. As I mentioned, many of the Mudders to be, played in smaller "more serious" bands.
While we were playing in these smaller serious bands, one of the fledgling band’s members got a gig to play at a battle of the bands at St. Margaret’s Church in St. Clair Shores. I don’t remember which band got the gig… ( Hank, the 60’s were pretty good to me too.)
The rest of us insisted on being included in this entry band, mainly because we were bored. It was a fusion that occurred almost totally void of planning or preparation.
We scrambled like the Minutemen, foraging every piece of band equipment we could pull together in the next few hours before the battle of the bands would occur.
It would take the next hour to set up our equipment, a Fender Bassman amp, my Ludwig Classic 60’s drum kit, three or four other amps including a couple Marshall heads, five or six cabs (speaker bottoms), assorted guitars which included Vondy's 1955 Melody Maker, a Hoffner Bass cheap copy, and several microphones.
We went on second, and as we began setting up, I got the sense that a "Quantum Shift" was about to occur in the universe! It showed in the look of fear of the Priest’s face.
By the time we had nailed the second nail into the brand new oak wood stage floor to hold the bass drum down, it was clear to me that we were going to "Go Somewhere!"
In fact, about 15 minutes later, before we had even finished our second song ever played together as a new 15-18 member powerhouse band, we were being asked to leave the property immediately. To... "Go Somewhere!"
This would become a very familiar request asked of White Mud in months to come. The energy from that gig fed us like sharks in a shipwreck. We hadn’t even finished our second song! Were we really that bad? How bad could we get if we practiced?
From that point forward White Mud began to morph into something beyond just a band, a culture if you will…
Just as a professional boxer denies himself certain gratification prior to a fight so he can be primed, we too, had a discipline… sort of.
Soon, we were all sporting T-shirts with "WHITE MUD" spray painted on the front through the famous "WHITE MUD" stencil. The stencil caused some minor problems later with the local authorities when we painted our names on several overpasses of I-94 in the area, as well as cars in the Macomb Mall.
As many rock bands did during the period, costuming was an art to us. We had costumes ranging from 1940’s Zuit suits, to WHITE MUD T-shirts, to dressing Martin Preece (former drummer of the Frut of the Loom) up as Jesus. More on that later.
We even experimented with glo paint on our faces and black lights on the front of the stage. A favorite trick of mine at the time was to wash my hair with a bar of hard soap, then dry it in a warm oven. Noel Redding Jimi’s bassman, would have been proud!
The Notre Dame Gig:
Our Notre Dame High School gig was perhaps the greatest farce during our mini-career.
It began with the idea that we could simply walk into the Church-School of Notre Dame in Harper Woods Michigan in 1968 and present ourselves as a touring national band that was willing to stop off and privilege this local school with a visit!
We told Father "Hollywood" Bryson that we were a mix of Blood Sweat and Tears, Crosby Stills and Nash, The Beatles, Three Dog Night, and whomever else we thought would convince him to hire us.
I ain’t makin this stuff up! We knew we would have to find some trumpets now to at least show up looking like the Blood Sweat and Tears thing was for real!
I got elected to lie to the Priest and began to unfold this great story about us sounding like all of the bands mentioned above. Father Bryson and I sat down while I lied to him about our potential (anyone ever lied to a Priest before?) Father Bryson was impressed (or not) and immediately hired us for the following weekend. We somehow knew that we would soon be discovered as a fraud and moved forward anyway with great enthusiasm!
First, we told the entire world as we knew it at that time, about the gig. The Lake Shore High School Shorian newspaper staff included at least four Mudders so we wrote our own promo, stating that it would be, perhaps the greatest concert ever to occur in a high school in our time!
I think most of the kids who came to see us that weekend really just wanted to see an actual arrest occur.
We showed up for the most part, in a "Light Brigade Formation", ready to tuck and run! Even though we expected to be thrown out before the completion of our first song, crazy Brian Platte brought his full drum kit, and Hank Sobah even brought a tuba...A tuba? fucking why?.... (Chief, you were never right in the head! you maniac) Yes this is the Professor Hank Sobah!
Aside from the one small Fender amp we used to plug 4 microphones into, and the other small Vox amp we used to plug the Bass and two other guitars into, the rest of us carried only harmonicas and kazoos! We were prepared for a dramatic escape!
To make sure the appropriate level of blood and violence was included in the performance, Rudy Rocket Bonep would play one of the guitars and manage to smash his own lip open with it, further proving that he was not a guitar player!
After ransacking two classrooms that had been designated as dressing rooms, we dressed for the gig. We all donned our White Mud T-shirts as earlier described, and I overlaid my jeans and t-shirt with an expendable nerd 3-piece suit, which resembled an AM disk jockey's suit. My wooly shoulder length hair was tied back into a ponytail and tucked neatly into my white shirt collar and I wore a toss away tie too. As a finishing touch to the announcer outfit, I wore thick black rimmed glasses.
Looking somewhat like Casey Casen, I ambled through the broken wine bottles, overturned desks, cigarette butts, and spent condoms in our dressing room, and mounted the stage. The rest of the boys, already chomping at the bit with their White Mud T-shirts on, were onstage and ready to destroy yet another perfectly well constructed building....
I proudly announced us as one of the great bands of our time. The audience already knew… By then the chaperones and the Harper Woods Police knew… and we knew that they knew… that this was a fraud.
In a matter of 15 seconds, other band members raced over and stripped me of my pseudo DJ outfit. Waterballoon and Sean Kusroff had pulled the partial bridges of missing teeth out of their mouths for the occasion and looked like a couple of bikers from the Appalachians, as we ravaged the stage. Yeah! great stuff!
We began our first song "Shu". It was an early version of rap. Nine guys jammed up close to the microphones plugged into a fender Bassman amp, and sang a mix of "agh agh," and "umpa umpa, dow down" done in a "round." God, the noise was hideous! It wasn't even a slight resemblance to any music yet composed on the planet by any tribe or cult since the beginning of mankind! We were laughing at ourselves so hard we couldn't even sing.
We stood long enough to get a couple of "agh agh’s" in before the priest unplugged us and the police closed in, and chased us into the parking lot of Harper Woods most popular teen club at the time. (Punch Andrews Hideout, which was the actual 1st and most popular teen club in Harper Woods from 1965-66 had closed by this time.) We didn't even get a chance to perform our all time favorite hit, "Curlers in Her Hair..Oh..No!"
As the smoke cleared, (speaking of smoke clearing, does anyone remember when pot was about $12.00 for a lid/ounce?) Martin Preece formerly of Frut of the Loom, wandered into the school carrying an empty briefcase marked with the evil "White Mud" stencil and casually introduced himself to the priest as our manager. He asked the priest, who was by now frothing at the mouth, if he wanted the band for any future engagements!
I stared at this for a long time and wondered if God might strike us all dead for taunting a man of the cloth. Those of us who were smart enough to pack light, (carrying only harmonicas and kazoos) escaped without a police arrest. As usual, it was every man for them self! To hell with the groupies! Get in the car!
I remember escaping in Rodriguez's 59 Edsel that was so sun faded and rusty
that you needed a tetanus shot to dare to get in it. This was an ugly car when
it was brand new, and Jerry managed to own the ugliest one remaining on the
planet! What a beautiful getaway car!
It wasn’t over yet though, those of us White Mudders who were on staff with the Lake Shore High School newspaper, The Shorian, decided that a musical review would polish the whole affair off. The Lake Shore High School "Shorian" carried a small column that following week:
"White Mud’s concert at Notre Dame High School was a gigantic success! The crowd was so overwhelmed, that the band had to be escorted out of the school for their own safety. Kind of like the Beatles concert of 1965!"
The Crows Nest Show!
Some time passed before White Mud Blues Band was ready to appear in full assembly again. Keep in mind that the complete detail was now numbering at least 18-20 guys. And everyone in connection with White Mud wanted to be counted in any opportunity to terrorize the community that came along.
By July of 1969, our beloved Crows Nest East, located at 31059 Harper in the scenic Shores Shopping Center in beautiful downtown Saint Clair Shores, Michigan was about to close. Close forever! Our hearts were broken. The Nest was ours! It had become more like home than home to us. All we could think was, "If something that dear to us is going to be eliminated, we certainly want to have the first hand in smashing and razing it to the ground.
So we pleaded, begged and pressured the owners Tom Smith and Charlie Delisi to let us play before the club closed. They finally caved in and on July 18 1969, White Mud would play at the Nest.
For a week before as was the custom, we stopped shaving, showering, and brushing our teeth. Our groupies were strangely absent that week. Apologies to Sandy and Angie, Linda and others.
We spent a lot of time at Gus Zoppi Music Center some days prior to the big gig. Martin Preece used all his influence as a former member of the band Frut of The Loom and also as a roadie for the Pleasure Seekers to convince Gus that he should loan us some amplifiers and other stuff.
We tried to convince Gus that someday we would be famous like Ted Nugent, Bob Seger, The MC5, Iggy and the Stooges and that he should take the opportunity to get on our good side or we would take all our business to Massimino’s Music instead.
Several hours later, Gus began to grow tired of asking us to leave the store and by now, we all had a bad headache from standing around without eating all day. (It was an effective measure to keep pressure on Gus)
Knowing our credit history, Gus finally caved in from exhaustion and we left with several thousand dollars worth of borrowed amplifiers, and a PA system. Gus’s last words as we streamed out the door that night were something like " Please don’t damage anything I don’t want to have to kill you."
This all really happened! I know that this sounds a lot like the theme to the Blues Brothers Movie, ...I'm not sure how they got our script but I swear to god, this was exactly how it happened! Belushi stole this whole scene from us! I have witnesses!
The next day we spent the entire day inside the Nest since we cleaned the joint during the week. Fellow White Mudder Walt (Batanicle) Galkowski had the key and hey, besides we practically owned the place anyhow. More about the Crows Nest East private parties later...
By the end of the day, we had completed our mission. Every member of the now 21-25-member band was involved in confiscating all the music equipment we could borrow or steal in the little city of St. Clair Shores, Michigan. The front stage of the Crows Nest East was decked out with wall to wall, floor to ceiling with amplifiers, and speaker bottoms. Picture if you will....wall to wall Marshall amps and speakers and Fender Bassman & Silvertone amps, Ampeg, Vox, Crate, Orange, and whatever else we could find! I think it was the Toby Wessle Fox Band that opened for White Mud! What a launch for their career!
Martin Preece was once again a key player in getting the band fitted with gear, due to his association with the all girl band, The Pleasure Seekers. Thanks girls for the loan of your PA system! I loved those Quatro sisters even if they didn’t like us that much…We set a mic into our PA system, that was piped into the club's house PA!
You couldn’t even take a crap without having to hear us!
Around 7:00pm on July 18, 1969, White Mud was dressing up to close the Crows Nest East. The usual stuff went on in the dressing room, only the dressing room wasn’t the one the MC5, Bob Seger, The Frost, The Rationals, The Stooges or Ted Nugent used when they played the Nest. No, we took over the owner’s office with the fancy desk, pleated carpet, and our own unlimited consumption of all of the medication that rock bands used in those days.
We took roll call. We didn’t really have to, but for fun we did anyway. Having 21-25 guys in a band even for one night was worth the fun of a roll call; it was a real ego boost!
Martin…here. Chief…here. Batanicle…here. Balloon…here. Festeris…here. Spic…here. Rocket…here. Vondy 14 here...Hormone…here. Fuller...here...Grub...here, Sliwinski...here. Spunky...here. Laws Brothers...here. Werner brothers...here...Rybars... here. Dennis Cowles...here. And so on….
We were too wrecked to remember everyone who was there, but calling off 21-25 names felt kinda cool!
As we dressed, we gave thanks to all of the great bands that played in the hallowed halls of the Nest over the last 2 years. We remembered all of the great music they had given us, all of the memories, and all of the sweet times we had getting stoned, growing up and throwing up in the Nest. Necking with girls in the basement and the attic, and in the coatrooms, and in the parking lot…
This night, we dressed Martin Preece as Jesus. He had longer than shoulder length hair. He had a beard. He was perfect to play the role of Jesus, except that he had a mildly psychotic personality and some pretty bad teeth.
He put on a white bed sheet for a robe, a rope belt, sandals and an authentic thorn crown. Charles Manson would be proud! Former Frut members would be proud! Mike and Suzi Quatro would deny knowing him. Martin looked…divine!
He led us upstairs with a guitar slung over his shoulder, like a cross. He appeared to be filled with Holy Spirit, although I think it was just the Ripple wine. Then we stormed up and immediately began destroying the stage.
There were way too many people on the stage for any concert to ever start or finish in a safe or professional manner! Given the attitude, we were lucky to not have an ambulance called at all. There were 2 drum kits, 3 bass guitars, at least 7-12 guitars, and some 1/2 dozen dancers, singers, tamborines, harmonicas... and assorted horn players! I don't remember the details of the noise!
I do remember that the stage ceiling came crashing down as every member jammed his or her guitar into it. Some of the boys actually tried to stop the damage so we would have something left to damage at the end of our set.
We opened with a heavy version of... oh I don’t remember, Heavy Music?… I think so, sorry Bob. It went over, "Like A Rock"
After a few more pathetic attempts of doing basement band songs that we could remember like, We Gotta Get Outta This Place… the audience took us literally and started fleeing toward the exit doors. One of the boys in the band, was smart enough to run over and lock the exit doors from the inside so nobody could leave. (We figured that if they could survive the first few songs, they might stay) This may have been the beginning of Spic's career as a cop, confining people against their will...
Finally we sauntered into a medley of Detroit music. No set would be complete without a rendition of "Baby Love" by the Supremes. Have you ever heard 21 men completely stoned out of their minds sing "Baby Love"? It was a' capella. Just 21 guys, singing what they could remember of the lyrics of the song.
The evening eventually spiraled into complete chaos with our grand finale of The Who’s "My Generation"
That’s when the set, the Crows Nest, East, and the era of the best memories of my life ended…
When the smoke cleared, the Crows Nest East was closed forever. White Mud had ejaculated its last great squirt on the ears of mankind! It was a zip file of the aftermath of Woodstock.
Rodriguez was still banging the remnants of some dwarfed oriental version of a guitar on the edge of the stage as the smoke cleared. The rest of us were trying to calm him down, but he just had to smash the damn thing into the next world…Jerry...it's over man! it's over! Jerry c'mon man...It's over! Jerry!!! C'mon Jerry it's over man! Jesus!...Jerry! Hey Jerry!...Jesus...Hey Rodriguez, end it man!
We eventually all walked away, with Jerry still banging the hell out of the Jap guitar he talked Gus Zoppi into giving him on a loan. "You are on your own fool!"
The next day, after we licked our wounds, we listened to the now "Lost Tape" of that entire gig, including Baby Love… Howling dogs being beaten with baseball bats. That’s all I can say…
Strangely, no lawsuits were filed, and Gus Zoppi got most of his gear back in "almost new" condition. Stranger yet, only two members of White Mud were arrested the following day for stealing what we thought was our own van.
Balloon’s amp was stolen by his own band members, and a couple of guys (I cant remember the names) landed on the moon that following Monday. Big deal!
Madonna was still wearing diapers when White Mud had left their majestic piss stain in the snow of Rock and Roll History.
No therapy or medical reparations were ever offered to the victims who came to observe White Mud. No apologies were ever offered to the often innocent bystanders who were physically and emotionally wounded by the band both before, during or after the shows! In fact, for a long time after, White Mud members would boast of their greatness and solicit compliments for their Rock N Roll Nightmare Events from everyone they met whether they saw White Mud play or not!
"What a great bunch of guys we are…hope were havin a good time!"
More White Mud Adventures:
Hey...Some new tunes!....how bout this?.....White Mud Tunes
Visit the new White Mud Blues Band Site...the official home of WMBB!...
Click the pic to see the late Great Vondy 14 & Doctor Hormone in days past...
Hey you clowns...any of you White Mud alumni that have stories or photos relating to this madness...submit them now! We have started a brand new White Mud Web site as of April 2004! Here are some topics for discussion that you may submit your fading memories on...We will publish anything that wont get us arrested...don't let that limit your contributions: send them to: email@example.com - Martin Preece, the mad webmaster...the website is at www.whitemud.us check it out!
* Already in progress or done...
Boat fights at Jimmy's on
Jefferson in Harrison Township