Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Giving Bill Wyman His Due and Other TAMI Tales

the lazy likes of you have your way, I’ll be unable to reach for nauseous when writing a song and need a two–syllable/first-accented word for sickening. Do not remove arrows from my quiver. Do not dare.

I’m wondering now if maybe we had the wrong guy. All eyes were, in descending order, on Brian Jones, Keith Richards, and Mick Jagger, but when I watch the Rolling Stones’ famous TAMI show performance, it looks like Bill Wyman’s the coolest of those standing. More than any of the other three, he had a style very much his own. Those buttoned–up round-collared white dress shirts worn tieless under black leather waistcoats, as he’d have described them, or vest, as Americans would!  

In playing bass at about 24 degrees from the vertical, he might be seen in retrospect as Townshendesque. Both musicians played their instruments in intentionally difficult ways, all in the name of style. Playing an electric bass at this angle is approximately like trying to play a keyboard while seated at a 166-degree angle to it. And then he had the wonderful idea of chewing gum and looking as though he couldn’t have been less impressed with the screaming his band was inspiring ­ though we know now that he could hardly have been more interested, in the sense of his having acquired carnal knowledge of more fans than the rest of the band combined. Crafty, priapic Bill!

History records that, if I’d had my wits about me, I’d have witnessed this performance, as it took place at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, around 500 yards nearer the Pacific than Santa Monica High School, at which I was at the time busy being a lonely, miserable, scholastically diligent 11th grader.

Forrest Piques (or maybe it was P. K. Forrest (I was never positive)), one of the whitest of the school’s not-terribly-many black kids, didn’t make that mistake. He is seen, with his straightened hair and surfer-chic short-sleeved sportshirt, looking extremely enthusiastic in the first frames of the It’s All Over Now video viewable on YouTube. 

A sad tale, Forrest’s. As drummer, he was one of the stars of the Samohi jazz band. After a trumpeter and trombonist from the band ceased being the lead singer and lead guitarist, respectively, in my first group, The Fogmen, they dashed off to form The Inrhodes, who had silver sharkskin suits, actual long hair, a manager with Connections in the Music Business, and a following that dwarfed even Ry Cooder’s Cajuns’. In the summer of 1966, they were the Civic’s de facto house band, opening for, and rubbing shoulders with, Them, The Yardbirds, and comparable gods who walked among men. Their drummer, in a black Beatle wig that I later inherited — and wore, to First Girlfriend’s infinite embarrasment, to an Animals/Herman’s Hermits show at the LA Sports Arena — was none other than Forrest Piques, who was invited to leave the group halfway through the summer because he…didn’t fit in. Wrong color, was the common supposition. The lads' manager apparently hadn't noticed that Joey Dee & The Starliters and the much-nearer-to-home surf group The Pyramids had earlier made the world safe for musical race-mixing. Love, with its 40-percent black membership, hadn't yet emerged.

That September, my second band, The 1930 Four, won the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce’s Battle of the Bands on what is now famous as the 3rd Street Promenade. Piques, apparently pals with Graveyard Shift, over which we prevailed in the competition’s final heat, heckled us quite acrimoniously. One might almost have gotten the impression that he was bitter, though I didn’t see a great many musicians of color in the Shift.

I like to imagine I’m half the drummer in 2015 he was in 1966.


  1. Great blog this morning. I was at the soundcheck for the T.A.M.I. show, but didn't stay for the actual performance or taping of the concert. I met the Stones that day, but also saw the strange mixture of seeing the Beach Boys in full uniform (white pants and stripped shirts) and the Surpremes (all in hair curlers). It was a magical afternoon. I can only hope that Forrest Piques is still drumming somewhere in the world.

  2. I find this blog amazing that anyone would write about such great musical history. I worked at the Santa Monica Civic during and after I attended Samohi.
    I was backstage with the likes of THE DOORS, The Stones, LOVE, Sky Saxon and The Seeds, Iron Butterfly etc. The Civic was a hotbed of 60's Rock 'n Roll talent. I didn't work the T.A.M.I.Show but I remember it well. One benefit of working there was attending concerts for free and even being backstage. I remember one concert when my boss said "Hey go to the west door to let in some band". So I did and as I opened the door who walks in but "Jim Morrison and The Doors". Wow! Yea "Some band was right!
    In those days they used to have what they called "Summer at the Civic". The Inrhodes were the standard opening act in most of those concerts. I remember when they performed "Yellow Submarine" almost to perfection. They were THE hot local band. Everyone thought they would someday be a famous recording band and end up on Ed Sullivan. But.....never happened. As a side note to that I remember that the drummer they ended up with was Don DeFore Jr from Pacific Palisades High. He was son of the, at the time, famous actor of Ozzie & Harriet fame.
    Anyway the "Civic" with its symbolic mid-century design was quite a hot spot where even The Academy Awards were presented. During the summers they also had several "Surf flicks" shown every week. My older brother managed the A&W at the corner of Main & Pico Blvd where after Surf flicks and concerts they would get mobbed with food orders. Wow! He also later was the rides operation manager at P.O.P. on the Ocean Park Pier. Another place where as a young teenager I could get in because of my brother.
    Wow! What memories!
    I did know Forrest Piques at Samo. He was always telling people that he was actually French. I just took him at his word but many guys made fun of that statement because at the time we never knew that a Frenchman could be black! Times have changed. He was good people and actually a rather entertaining guy at a few local parties that he and I were at. Since I also played drums in a local band when I was 14 & 15 yrs old I really appreciated the local talent coming to the Civic. 10 years later in the 70's I was asked to play drums with Ray Manzarek of the THE DOORS when he was writing & recording his Golden Scarab album in Lake Isabella with Daniel Baker keyboards from The Steve Miller band and Ray's brother guitarist Rick Manzarek. Can you believe I actually turned them down because I was to busy working on my new career with some company that went bankrupt in the 80's. Bad decision! My name could have been on the album cover next to Ray Manzarik. Oh well! Still it was a great time and I'm thankful for the experience!

  3. BTW - My name is Michael Apalategui. Thx for the memories!

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