Friday, March 28, 2008
(part 43) "ROOGALATOR" WAY UP AND THEN WAY DOWN
"Gotta Find My Roogalator" by Bobby Jameson and Frank Zappa 1966
As I stated, Ken Handler was the heir to the Mattel Toy Estate. He could do anything he wanted and what he wanted was me. He began buying me instruments, amplifiers, etc. He provided a small house in the valley where I could live if I wanted. He bought me a brand new BSA motor cycle to get around on. He said he was going to make me a star!
I'd heard all this before, so I wasn't as impressed as I would have been, if it were the first time, but Handler was not all that up on my recent past history. I went along with it though, in hopes that it would lead to something concrete as opposed to just another story by someone trying to impress himself.
After Tony Alamo, it was going to be pretty hard for anyone to top his bullshit, but Ken did lay out some real money for the gear, so I went along. One of my complaints, which I vocalized to both Handler and Norm Ratner, was that they'd made a ridiculous mistake with regards to Zappa. "Freak Out", by The Mothers, had been released and had begun to make it apparent that Zappa was not just another run of the mill musician, but something special.
I told them that not giving Frank any credit at all for his work on "Reconsider Baby" was about as stupid as anything they could have done. Ratner was not impressed, but Ken listened to what I was saying and took it seriously. He asked me if I thought Zappa would do another record with me and I said I'd ask him.
The name "Roogalator" was something I picked up from Johnny Rivers. Phil Turetsky, who was River's business manager, had introduced us to each other along the way, and Johnny liked riding motor cycles. He had a 750 Triumph and I had the 650 BSA, so we started riding together. Anyway that's where I picked up the "Roogalator" thing. I believed it was similar to "mojo", like "I Got My Mojo Working." I started fiddling around with the word and told Johnny I had written a pretty good song, but never got him to record it. I think John may have written his own version, but I've never heard it.
I talked to Frank about doing another record, and told him Handler was sorry for not giving him credit on "Reconsider Baby." Frank really didn't seem to care all that much about it, but I assured him he'd get credit if we did anything else. I asked Frank to listen to "Gotta Find My Roogalator" and he liked the song. He said he knew exactly who he would use on the session.
Who he chose to use on "Roogalator" became known as the "Wrecking Crew." They were Louis Morell on guitar, Carol Kaye on guitar and bass, Larry Knechtel on piano, Gene Estes and or John Guerin on drums. Frank played guitar and arranged the song. In reality, Frank and I produced the record, but of course were not given credit, but Frank was at least credited as the arranger.
We recorded it at HRT Studios and got a good sound out of the that room. Another song was cut with it, which has never been released, and that was my song "Girl From The East" off the Chris Lucey album. It has never been used, so that is why "Low Down Funky Blues" is the b side of both "Reconsider Baby" and "Gotta Find My Roogalator."
I must not have been too happy with the way "Girl From The East" came out, or it would have been the b side of "Roogalator". "Low Down Funky Blues" was just a song I made up on the spot for the b side of "Reconsider Baby" when we cut that record, it got reused as the b side for "Roogalator" because we had a shortage of songs that I was willing to use. This is the best recollection I have of how that happened. Someday I will release "Girl From The East" by me and Frank.
Original H R acetate of "Girl From The East" by Bobby Jameson and Frank Zappa 1966
My brother Bill, "Jamie" was staying at the house out in the valley that Ken Handler had provided. This proved to be a bad thing, because Bill was pretty isolated out there and started a downhill pattern of mental illness that eventually led to a complete psychotic break with reality, causing me to have to put him in a mental hospital, so he wouldn't hurt himself. This with many other things was one of the miseries of my life.
After "Gotta Find My Roogalator" was finished and scheduled for release, I had a long conversation with Ken Handler about promotion. I told him that if he didn't promote, and I mean really promote "Roogalator" it was going to do exactly what "Reconsider Baby" had done, nothing. Surprisingly he agreed with me and said he wanted me to come to dinner at his house in Woodland Hills to discuss the details of what he had in mind. I immediately felt that we were on the same wave length and was eager to take him up on the invite.
I arrived at Handler's house on a Sunday afternoon by myself, and was greeted by his pregnant wife who was busy in the kitchen preparing food. Ken asked me if I wanted a drink and I said, "Yeah, a scotch and water." He made me a drink and asked if it were OK and I told him it was fine. He said, "Let's go upstairs to my office and talk about our plans for your future." "Wow," I thought, "This is going to be alright."
I followed Ken upstairs, as he yelled to his wife we were going to the office for awhile. She yelled back, "Ok," and we continued on to a small room on the second floor that had been furnished like an office. "Go on in Bobby," he said, and I went into the room followed by Ken. He closed the door and stood there smiling at me for a moment and then said, "I'd like you to spend the night here Bobby." I looked at him closely and said, "Why, what'd you have in mind?" He said, "I want you to stay here with me."
I was all of a sudden in a different world. He was asking me to sleep with him. "Well Ken, I appreciate the compliment, but that's not my thing," I said. He looked at me almost hurt in his expression and said, "Is that final?" I said, "Yeah pretty much Ken, that's final." "No chance that you'd change your mind in the future," he asked? "I don't think so Ken, sorry." "Well that's too bad Bobby, because my plans for you really depended on what you said at this meeting and you've been very clear." said Ken. "Yeah I'm pretty clear on this Ken, pretty damn clear." "Well you realize then," he said, "that my plans for you will have to change now." "I got it," I said, "I got it."
Ken just stood there looking at me with that, "You can still change your mind look." When I heard myself say, "Well I guess I better get going, eh?" As I opened the door to leave, Ken said, "Bobby you know the things I bought for you will all have to be returned in light of our conversation here." "Yeah, OK Ken, I'll make sure to bring all the stuff to your office at Mira," I said, wanting to punch his ass out at that point.
"I'll make sure you get it all back." I stumbled down the stairs and looked for the front door not wanting to be in that house a second more than I had to. "Honey, Bobby can't stay for dinner this time, something important has come up," he yelled to his wife. "Oh that's too bad," she said back... I was out the door and said nothing. I remember the feeling, it was getting to be a habit, it was getting to be my life. Way up and then way down...way up and then way down...way up and........