Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Rastus house in Chardon, Ohio
The fact that I was so screwed up at the time I saw John at GRT, in 1970, is the reason I ended up in Ohio with Rastus. I think if I had stayed in L.A. a little while longer back then, I would have died for sure. I'd lost my will to go on, and I was looking for a way out of my dilemma, when by sheer chance I ran into John in Ron Cramer's office at GRT Records.
After putting my mother into a mental health facility in Palo Alto and returning to L.A., I had no plans or strength to continue breathing. The death of my father, Diane Linkletter, and my friend Geno Danello, had pretty much done a job on my sanity. When you combined it with all the other bullshit I'd been going through since 1964, I was pretty much done
So when I talk about meeting John Rhys in some office in 1970, you can see why this particular event has such meaning in the overall story I have been attempting to relate here. John Rhys came out of nowhere and reached out to me with just a tiny bit of hope and I took it willingly.
When I got to Cleveland, or Chardon, Ohio to be more exact, this house, which is now remodeled, is where I ended up with the band Rastus. It's about 20 miles outside of Cleveland, and was a good place for a rowdy band to live in and practice, because they could make all the noise they wanted and nobody ever complained.
I arrived there with John, and was pretty much accepted from the beginning by everybody there. It helped that I had had a big hit in Cleveland, "I'm So Lonely" in 1964, because some of them still remembered it. I didn't have to explain myself as a result. I was looked upon as a fellow musician, as opposed to a total outsider.
I was pretty lost because of all the suicides that had taken place, and I was still trying to come out of the haze from a long pill addiction I was kicking. As soon as I arrived, somebody stuck a bottle of beer in my hand, so I knew I was in the right place.
Rastus was mostly made up of neighborhood guys from Cleveland, who related to the Italian mob from birth. Some were Italian, some were Polish, everyone was a bad ass in their own mind, and funny as hell. It was a constant competition of wits, and some of the funniest shit I ever heard. For my part, it was exactly what the doctor ordered for the condition I was in.
Things seemed to be in a state of constant movement, so it was either sink or swim, I opted to swim, and go along with what was happening. There wasn't a lot of time to feel sorry for myself, because these guys were so animated. It was summertime, and I got there in the middle of a barbecue, a volleyball free for all, and keg party.
You either jumped into the mix, or turned around and left within the first five minutes, I stayed for almost a year. James Cantale was the roadie for the band, and was also everything else as well. Whenever somebody wanted something, or something didn't work, it was, "Where's Jimmy?" or "Hey Jimmy!"
Anyway, I quickly figured out that Jimmy knew where everything was, and where everything went, and that included where all the dead bodies were buried, and which skeleton was in what closet.