As part of my wide research into Zabriskie Point, I managed to contact Ted Alvy and he was very kind to give us (Wromanus and Radiowaves) a copy of his original interview and answered questions that we asked him.
In the original interview, you can hear Nick and Rick talking about their concerts, about Interstellar Overdrive (not good enough for Ummagumma), about the making of Ummagumma and Meddle, about the next album and the next British Tour (it means that before the American tour the new Tour with new material was already planned to end at the Rainbow Theatre), about Zabriskie Point with interesting revelations (Don Hall's tapes, the Christmas Song) and more.
In the second half, you can see the interview that Radiowaves and I had with Ted. He (DJ Cosmos Topper of KPPC-FM) made this really interesting with his answers about his interview with Nick and Rick, about those times, KPPC-FM and his life, Don Hall and more.
TED ALVY INTERVIEWS NICK MASON AND RICK WRIGHT, KPPC-FM Pasadena CA, 16th Oct 1971.
(Transcript by Radiowaves 2008 October 27, 2008)
Ted Alvy: ...Pink Floyd's Meddle. We have Rick Wright and Nick Mason in the studio from Pink Floyd. Who'll be rapping a little bit, about Meddle and about their performance tonight and the American tour and ah, whatever else we might get into. We'll do a couple more commercials now and, ah, we'll do sort of a cruise for about an hour. This is Cosmos, with you right here, on KPPC. On your radio, 106.7. It's FM and it's in Pasadena.
Nicky Mason, hello [sound bang]. I just ran into the microphone trying to get your level! And Richard Wright.
Richard Wright: Hello.
Ted: Hello, erm, I'm just gonna congratulate you on Meddle. I think it's an incredible album. I've been hearing a lot of it, and, ah, the time is really right, ah, there's a lot of good music coming out right now, there was like a lull over the summer, and Meddle is just right there, and the Concert tonight is right there. And the [laughter]... How did it go at the Winterland last night?
Nick Mason: [Very low] Ehh, how did it go at the Winterland last night?
Rick: Okay, it was all right. We had a lot of problems, of course. It was a bizarre opening concert.
Ted: You'll be doing five weeks here in America. But ah, we'll get you out of here as quick as possible to do the sound check and everything.
Nick: Yeah, well, it's the, ah, American electricity we were using.
Rick: It's not as good as the English.
Ted: You got one of the most sophisticated ah, equipment set ups, of any group. There are an awful lot of people into it. I hear The Who and I remember Emerson, Lake and Palmer when they were here, had really sophisticated equipment.
Nick: Yeah, ah, quite interesting that, actually. The three bands that you mentioned, there has been quiet a lot of equipment swapping about.
Ted: Like the Putney, perhaps? The VCS3?
Nick: No, I wasn't really thinking of that. But eh, The Who had a mixer built, an extremely elaborate one which was a prototype of the one we are now using.
Rick: The requirements were different but...
Nick: The modules were the same, the quadraphonics.
Rick: They had quadraphonics? The Who?
Nick: Emm, yeah. I don't think they ever got it to work though.
Ted: Well you have being doing the indoor concerts. The last time around, I saw you in San Diego outdoors, and I've never seen you outdoors, you know, the Spaceship concept really happened. Then, erm, I guess the following weekend you where here, and the quadraphonic thing, which you had done a year ago, May as well, ah, was just right there, can I say. [L.A. Forum 18,000 capacity] (The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium seats about 3,000)
Nick: Well, they are two different mediums. There is something really nice about playing outdoors with any sort of atmospheric music, because, really, whatever the weather, it always relates, doesn't it?
Ted: Well, Atom Heart Mother. It would have been nice to see that outdoors, perhaps, with the cows in the pasture and everything [laughter].
Nick: [laughing] Yes, that would be incredible.
Ted: Well, I mentioned while we were listening to some of the, emm, music that you're only playing small halls, as opposed to going into large arenas because of the sound, and I was wondering if you could exist on a tour because tours are sometimes the group, will do the tour for publicity and then they end up not making any money, and they are coming down with mononucleosis or something by playing every other night, but you are sticking to small halls, which is nice.
Nick: Relatively, actually, it wouldn't be true to say entirely. One TRIES, obviously, to get the right halls, but it's frequently, extremely difficult.
Rick: Anyway, it's possible we haven't reached the stage yet where we could fill up huge sports stadiums anyway...
Rick: ...in America, and that's why we are in small halls. And we're certainly trying to keep it that way.
Ted: Well I kind of disagree. I think in this area, you could fill up a, let's say a forum, or whatever. I really feel that.
Nick: It would be nicer to get the place with the right sound, and spend longer there, maybe a week somewhere.
Ted: Yes, that would be nice, like, at the Civic for the week or perhaps a four day weekend or something.
Rick: Four or five days...
Nick: Anywhere, yes, emm...
Ted: Have any of you thought of, doing, perhaps, solo work, like performing as opposed to... I think maybe you'll be getting into albums of your own? When you... I mean, you just kept progressing. Some groups sort of, reach a standstill and they don't release an album for a couple of years, but you have been going through changes progressively, it seems, so maybe there might not be a need for it, but it seems that all your material is appearing on the albums. You all have compositions and influences.
Rick: Yeah. I would have thought, I mean, don't you think? At some point...
Rick: It's very likely that we will bring out individual albums.
Rick: But certainly, at the moment, it's just...
Ted: But Ummagumma in a way was, because you, the four of...
Ted: ...you each had the studio...
Rick: In a way... hmm..
Ted: ...time to yourself...
Nick: Yeah, I mean we do... I think we probably did disagree a little bit amongst ourselves, how we feel about...
Rick: Yeah, I mean...
Nick: ...individual work... I think this... I think really, a lot of the best things we do are really, ermm, really come out of working together, rather than, and are made up from the individual... That doesn't make sense, does it? What I just said? It's nonsense.
Rick: No, No, Nick.
Ted: In the interpolating... Interpretation the "You'll Never Walk Alone" track, that was the first track that we heard this afternoon, from your album. "Fearless", and then going into that. How was the, ah, voices accomplished at the end?
Nick: Ah, yes. As a football fan, Richard will talk about that.
Rick: It's simply a hundred voices - a hundred thousand-voice choir.
Ted: And was Ron Geesin conducting?
Rick: [Laughing] Ehhh... No. Not that day. It's Liverpool Football Club. If you know anything about English Football...
Rick: Soccer. And it's called "The Kop Choir". And they just never stop singing throughout the whole match, and it's, in fact, it's much more incredible than it does on that record. Because you just wouldn't believe how loud it is from the start. I mean, we couldn't compete with a hundred-thousand voice choir. I mean, it's incredible.
Ted: Well, you weren't playing there the same day?
Nick: It would be quiet a good battle of the giants, wouldn't it? Liverpool Football club?
Ted: So, we really won't expect Roger's and Hammerstein music from you?
Rick: Looks good on the label, though?
Ted: You'll probably stay original.
[Summer '68 is played]
Rick: We built a place.
Ted: It's okay; we were talking about building a place in England, where an English band would play, for say, a week, and we'd fly over all the American rock fans to tour England. And they'd go from city to city, they would, eh, you see, I'm trying to see where the groups would do it? It would still probably be centred around London, I guess?
Nick: I guess so. But it could be just outside London.
Ted: I mean, that's out in the country?
Nick: Yeah, right. Country parts. Sussex. Yes, I think Sussex possibly for us. Get a bit of saving...
Ted: See, I wanted to, ah, find out one thing. On "One of These Days", he comes in and says "One of These Days...". I still haven't got the whole, the whole riff of what he says. He is sort of metallic, and is probably of one of you.
Rick: That's Nick.
Ted: And what exactly do you say, Nick?
Nick: I think I say "One of these days, I'm going to cut you into little pieces".
Ted: Ahhh, it's like "Careful with that axe, Eugene"?
Nick: Well, in a way, yes, I mean, it wasn't deliberately... I mean, yes, yes mmmm. We weren't thinking about axes at the time.
Ted: Except David, who was playing his axe?
Nick: Sounds like ripple. Er, [voice interrupts: Zachary Zenor: "I don't believe that I just did that"] Is that advertising?
Ted: It's organic apple juice, so it's cool. Tonight you will be performing at the Santa Monica Civic. About a year ago you did it, and you broke the programme into three parts. One was ehh, your set, then one was the Atom Heart Mother, and then one was an encore.
Rick: Do you include an encore as one part?
Ted: I think it deserves it, ahhh, it's always necessary, ahhh, it seems. Because
everyone wants more. I mean Interstellar Overdrive as an encore, at times, I've seen.
Nick: Yeah, yeah, in someways, it's almost a pity, really, encores. I mean, an audience, if they want to show their appreciation, the best known way for doing it, is to say more, more, more, really. The thing of saying, seven encores, and so on, top band etcetera, etcetera. Which is not necessarily the way to look at it.
Rick: Because if you planned your concert. I mean. If you've reached the end, you've reached the end. You know. You've planned it, so that is the end of the concert.
Nick: Yeah. It's not entirely satisfactory, is it?
Ted: Well it's sort of push and pull. Aren't there times that you want to play more?
Nick: There are occasions. But, but unless you, sort of, go into a thing of working, assuming there is always going to be an encore, which I can't really, because I don't. It's tempting to me.
Ted: Like, at the Santa Monica Civic, there is always going to be demands for an encore. There's people that will ask for an encore, just to get their money's worth, not really being into the music.
Rick: Well. That's what we mean.
Nick: That's what's really alarming. That's what we are talking about.
Ted: Like, your concerts in the past, I don't know what's gonna happen tonight, but there's been a very selective few people, that were like, into the Floyd back in '67. You know, done acid to Interstellar Overdrive, and will see Floyd wherever they are. And, ah, will seek out the, seats to the concert. Like, immediately. So you'll have a crew that's part of your spaceship immediately. It will probably happen tonight too, because of the fact that Van Morrison is doing a concert, drawing a lot of people, and he is more like a Pop artist, when you've come in through the underground to what is now, I guess, just outer space, or whatever.
Nick: It's, it's. Yeah. It's obviously nice to have people who've been with us all along they way. There's also danger in it. In so much that you can get trapped by your own greatest works, like Interstellar Overdrive.
Ted: Yeah. Like Interstellar Overdrive. I noticed that you didn't do it as a live track on Ummagumma.
Nick: No. In fact we recorded it, and then, just didn't put it on the album, for some reason, but I mean...
Rick: It wasn't good enough, I mean...
Nick: It was a very strange live album, in fact.
Ted: Are you gonna do any more live work? Or are you into your next project? Because Meddle seems, like, Echoes just seems almost definitive of wherever you've been, and wherever you're headed as far as like a five year period, or whatever, that you've been making music, at least, that I've been aware of.
Nick: Well... I don't know. I mean it's very difficult to examine what you have done, and talk about it or describe it or...
Ted: How long ago was Echoes completed?
Nick and Rick: Very recently.
Nick: About two months ago.
Ted: So it's the closest thing of... you're gonna be live. You haven't already interpolated into different areas, or...
Nick: Well, there are one or two schemes that we worked on for the, ah, for Meddle which we didn't put on it which were uncompleted, and so on. And when we started on Meddle, we went into it with, a very different, ah, working basis, ah, to any previous album in so much that we went into studios for a month, and, with nothing prepared, and did a month of, ah, well we just called them nothings, I mean, they were ideas that were put down extremely roughly, I mean, they might have been just a few chords, or they might have been a rhythm idea, or something else... and this was just put down, and then we took a month of, I think, and then examined what we got. And, in fact, Echoes came out of that, and Fearless, and One of These Days.
Rick: Right. But there are a lot of ideas.
Nick: But there are other things that we done at the same period that might be used else... on the next album.
Ted: Well, Meddle is the new Pink Floyd album. We are rapping with Nicky Mason; percussion, I guess, is the best way to describe what you do.
Ted: Cos it's not just playin' the drums, I mean there's...
Rick: What else do you play?
Ted: Bang a Gong, and Richard Wright, keyboards, and, ah... You handle the Quadraphonic trip, don't you?
Rick: Only on the...
Ted: As far as...
Rick: Only on the, ah, keyboards. Only on the organ. They are quadraphonic...
Ted: Well, you got the obvious thing that people can watch you move.
Nick: But that's not the only one. That's...
Rick: We have, in fact, on our mixer; we have four more now.
Rick: Miniature ones.
Nick: And there's a new one being built for you.
Nick: So he can work it with his feet... So he can be invisible.
Rick: This means I can play it with two hands.
Ted: That's just about real...
Nick: Instead of those one finger notes that...
Rick: I have to start playing it now.
Ted: And there's also, ahh, in case people aren't into you, there's Roger Waters on bass, and David Gilmour on guitar. He joined after, ahh, Syd Barrett left, and Syd Barrett left after Piper at the Gates of Dawn. And then there's ahh, other people in your crew. Several equipment people and a lot of equipment.
Ted: You've got more equipment now than you ever had.
Rick: Well as I was saying earlier, yes, but we are cutting it down. We just recently purchased a new... album... I mean, new album???
Nick: [Laughing] What?!?!
Rick: What's this? Ermm, a new PA. Which is, you know, smaller than the one we had?
Nick: I mean, the reason for all these conjunctives of equipment, really, is to try and get a better quality by not overdriving it, and so on.
Ted: Well, what happens is, you don't, you don't use your quadraphonic for... I think it's more sophisticated than that. You don't use it as a gimmick. Like, it will just come at the right moment in your music, as opposed to, ahh, just saying "we've got all the equipment and we can do just about anything". Almost like, if a Grand Funk would use quadraphonic or something like that.
Nick: Interesting to see what that's...
Nick: I don't know. There must be a lot of people who think that we do use it in a gimmicky way, I mean.
Rick: In fact, I mean, because it is, sometimes.
Nick: Yeah, yeah. It would be most interesting to see what other people would do with quadraphonics, in fact.
Ted: We mentioned Peter Townshend is putting together an incredible sound system. And Keith Emerson as well. I haven't see them doing a quadraphonic thing yet.
Rick: No... I know that The Who were working on a quadraphonic rig, and it didn't happen, and I don't know what went wrong, but, that's what I heard.
Nick: It just didn't.
Ted: And they are going to be playing The Forum, which is a large arena here. And I think that is going to be the beginning of December. They've got another album coming out, and it's gonna be sorta like Relics, I imagine. It's got a lot of old tracks, and a few new things that haven't appeared, and it'll come out in about a month. What groups in England are you into, as opposed to American groups that you might be into, and then what English groups are you not into?
Nick: Right, hmmmmm...
Ted: It seems like there's room for everybody, but then there's a definite good and bad influence that's as far as the musical trips that's going down. I mentioned The Grand Funk Railroad. Perhaps Black Sabbath, who I thought were going to get into some good things of of the first album, but now I'm really disappointed.
Nick: I've, I've, I mean, it sounds...
Rick: To tell you the truth, I mean, I don't... I haven't listened to it, groups, I don't think, for quite some time.
Nick: There's really not much that I know about.
Rick: We don't know.
Nick: I couldn't really attack Grand Funk. I haven't heard enough.
Rick: I've heard them.
Nick: Oh. Or Black Sabbath.
Rick: You can attack them quiet heavily...
Rick: ...if I wanted to.
Nick: But you are not going to dirty your hands. [Laughter in the studio]
Ted: Richard. Do you listen to a lot of music? I know its like; people have come over and... Marc Bolan was over, Ian Matthews. And sometimes they say that they don't listen to any other music because they are too busy making it, which I understand.
Rick: Well, it's true, in a way. I mean, I can never get to see a concert that I want to see, cos we are always working.
Ted: You can probably get passes.
Ted: Who would you wanna see, either of you?
Nick: I want to see The Band. Group outing.
Rick: I'd like to see The Mothers. Cos I've never seen them. Cos every time I... Concert... You know. The last concert at the Albert Hall was put off at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.
Ted: They're into incredible things. We'll play a little from their new sound track "200 Motels". Are you gonna be in town, ah, like, are you gonna be using L.A. as a base, or are you just gonna...
Rick: No. We are leaving L.A. the 19th?
Ted: And you won't be back.
Nick: Well, no.
Ted: Cos... the "200 Motels" is opening.
Rick: Yeah. It's opening the day after we leave, or something.
Ted: And it's opening the 29th and we are going to do the premier on the 28th of this month, with Zappa and The Mothers attending, or whatever.
Nick: That's nice.
Ted: In Beverly Hills theatre and everything.
Rick: Yeah. Pity we are missing that.
Ted: We'll have to get some Mothers out. I'll get into that after we do another from Atom Heart Mother, okay? This is KPPC in Pasadena. We're rapping with, ah, Rick and Nick of Pink Floyd. [Music interval] Okay. That's from "200 Motels" from the Mothers of Invention. And that was Jimmy Karl Black. He's the Indian of the group. He's singing. This was done in England on video tape, the "200" movie. The ah, television in England I think has a number of lines that are different, has more lines per scan, or something?
Nick: Yes. That's right.
Ted: So the video tape transfer tape to film would be of a different quality as if it were done in America?
Nick: Well, they're a special conversion. I mean, I shouldn't think that...
Ted: It may just be some, just a little tinge. I don't know. Who's going to notice? What did you think of Penis Dimension, Richard?
Rick: Really good. I thought it was fantastic. I mean the whole thing was beautifully put together.
Ted: Is the London Philharmonic a good band?
Nick: Well... It did get a few gigs, when you think about it.
Ted: Have they ever been banned from Albert Hall?
Rick: Yeah, they're a good orchestra.
Ted: They've never been banned from Albert Hall, though?
Rick: Yes, well they have, of course.
Nick: Well I don't think that's quiet true. They wouldn't like you. [General sniggering and laughing] England, of course, has got a lot of good Orchestras, mainly in London.
Ted: This is KPPC. I'm Cosmos, and we're rapping with, ah, Nick Mason and Richard Wright who are about to head out to do a sound check on the equipment. How long does this sound check take to set up?
Nick: It varies. I mean, the desperation involved and the ah, well, as we said earlier, the quality of the electricity.
Ted: But there is a minimum, I mean; it's at least five hours, or something?
Rick: I mean, like...
Nick: It has been done in three.
Rick: I mean, last night, they got in the Winterland at half past one in the morning, and we were still balancing at nine o'clock the next evening.
Ted: You gonna be...
Rick: We had a lot of problems there.
Nick: We've got, we have just got a new PA system, and we got this new mixer. It's all, it's all Being-got-used-to.
Ted: So we can expect the best, if we have tickets? It is sold out. I guess San Diego tomorrow night is sold out. And then you're gonna leave California. There are still tickets in San Diego. Do you have any room in the airplane when you are going there? Are you gonna introduce any new material tonight, or basically premier "Meddle" to Los Angeles?
Nick: Basically, I mean, "Meddle" is the most, the most recent piece. We don't have a high velocity output of material, really. I mean they are our albums,
for God's sake. An annual album. We give... Every time we finish an album we say "Right. Now. Let's do another one", and we'll have... two a year... you know. We've never managed it yet.
Ted: Do you play a lot, as opposed to, ah, every now and then?
Nick: It runs in sort of spates. We do... The thing really is, the last, well almost two years we've done American tours, which are fairly short periods, five weeks or so, which we've really concentrated a lot of work. And then, ermm... Back in England. Working mainly in Europe, and not England. In fact, this, well, after the American tour, one of the next things will be a British tour, which will be the best one for a long time.
Ted: Do you mainly play Universities in Britain, or?
Nick: Umm... Yes. It's divided up a little. But, ah, it's sort of Universities and, emm, big civic halls, that sort of thing. It's... I mean, that's very new
to England, I mean it always used to be... this circuit has transferred almost entirely. The music circuit to, ah, the Universities. Whereas, it used to be run by the dance hall chain, with revolving stages and, ah, very fine gentlemen in evening dress, worrying about...
Ted: Did you do Scandinavia, at all? Zappa's very popular in Scandinavia as is Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band?
Nick: Yes. We've been to Scandinavia.
Ted: Cos they seem to be into, ah stranger things more often.
Nick: Err... Scandinavia. Fairly heavily into American bands. The places in Europe that we tend to play... Holland. I mean, Holland is a fantastic country.
Nick: France, as well, for us. But that's a bit unusual, cos France has its own music culture, Johnny Halliday, and all that gang, of, foreigners [Laughter]. But, ermm, Holland had a whole... the underground rock culture for longer really than England. I mean, we were just sort of starting; we used to work almost as much in Holland as in England.
Ted: What about the radio situation. Has there been any improvement, as far as having access to good music on the radio anymore?
Nick: It's a slight move now.
Rick: They are actually beginning to play one hour a week of rock music on FM.
Ted: Are you considered rock?
Nick: Definitely. Well we've got, I mean, in spite of our nice accents...
Ted: I mean, are you gonna get exposed? Are they still doing live, ah, where they tape you live [Nick laughing] for BBC television. Have you ever done one of those?
Rick: We just did a live radio show, in fact.
Nick: True enough.
Rick: Just before we came here.
Nick: There's just, there just is very little radio that's, ah. There are sort of four stations, all government stations. And, ermm, one is sort of just perpetual rubbish. Ermm, one has fantastic, so called, serious music. I mean really beautiful programmes. Very, very well put together. Very well presented.
Nick and Rick: Yeah.
Nick: Modern drama, modern music, a lot of work...
Rick: I mean, it's excellent. I mean, it's really good.
Nick: But there's a lot of problems with needle time. I mean, that's what the radio problem is all about. That there is a very limited amount of time that the musicians union will allow... records to be played.
Rick: So the Pop programme has, in fact, the BBC bands, and...
Nick: Right. Who are all...
Rick: ...awful bands.
Nick: Ancient musicians, who we all disapprove of.
Ted: Are you in the union?
Rick: You have to be.
Nick: You can't work [unless you are].
Ted: Isn't there some way for maybe the Musicians Union and musicians like you do like get a commercial radio station together that would expose everybody 24 hours.
Nick: No. I mean the people are really hassling to go to, a commercial station. I mean, a commercial station might not be the answer for everybody. I could well imagine a commercial station being a drag. In fact, just playing genuine top forty...
Ted: Top forty, yeah. Weren't they flying a couple of jets over England with a bootleg pirate TV station?
Nick: There was a lot of talk, I mean, I, never actually switched my TV on to try and get it, but I don't think that ever happened.
Rick: Really? Oh, right. There was one man who tried to do it.
Nick: But, I mean, there were pirate radio stations for a long time, but they were pretty bad. A lot of that was top forty.
Ted: You get Radio Luxembourg, though.
Nick and Rick: Yes.
Rick: But again, is top forty.
Ted: Like I mentioned earlier, when Marc Bolan was over, he said he'd like to buy an island of England, and maybe just, ah, do a radio station, have an artist's colony and the whole thing.
Nick: Maybe Ireland.
Ted: Yeah. Maybe if Ireland defeats you in a civil war, or something.
Nick: Yeah. I think they've got rather a lot of...
Ted: Cos they could make a lot of money off of radio. They could sell time to the record companies in England who would probably buy time.
Nick: Yes. Actually maybe that's what England needs.
Ted: Cos that's what's happening in America with FM. FM is making money for the owners, who know nothing about radio or music, so all these stations are trying to play rock and roll, and most of it is just shit, awful, but, ah, you know, we're still trying to keep it together, whatever we feel is, is valid, and not have to, ah, get our hands slapped, or something. I've enjoyed this, it's been nice and relaxed, parts of the city probably have rain right now, which is kinda nice, ah, except for driving on the freeways, but it's kinda nice to listen to Pink Floyd, while it's raining, I guess to any music. I'll, ah, definitely heading to the concert tonight, and I'll definitely have...
Rick: Good, good.
Ted: ...my mind blown.
Ted: If you're in town again, which will probably be next year?
Nick: Our annual visit. Our annual state visit.
Ted: I can speak for at least Zack and myself, if we're on the air, you can have the microphones. Maybe you'd like to come down and play disc jockey for three or four hours?
Nick: Oh, great. That would be really nice.
Ted: You could bring a record, you know, maybe go down to...
Rick: That would be nice.
Ted: ...the other records stores and pick up some things. See what we have, in our world.
Nick: It would be nice to bring some tapes along, actually, because...
Ted: Don Hall has some tapes from Zabriskie Point out takes that he has played here. He was working on...
Nick: Oh! Did he play any of the things that never got onto albums?
Ted: Oh, he played all of them. He was here quite a while. He was just... He's just been in San Francisco about three months.
Nick: Did he play "The Christmas Song"?
Nick: I'd save it for nearer Christmas.
Ted: I don't know, cos I don't remember the titles.
Nick: If you. If you'd, ah...
Rick: Maybe he didn't have a copy of it?
Ted: I'm trying to...
Nick: Maybe we can send him a copy of "The Christmas Song"?
Ted: Send it to Don, and we'll get copies from him. He's keeping us in touch with everything.
Ted: Did you have fun doing "Zabriskie Point"?
Ted: I mean...
Nick: Err, Err. I think I'm gonna have a seizure.
Ted: Coz, the "More" movie was a little... The "More" movie was a different thing. You sorta did the soundtrack and, ah, and then gave it to the movie?
Nick: More was incredible. It was at extremely short notice. And they couldn't get us a studio with, ermm, viewing facilities. So we'd go to see the film in the afternoon, and then, ah, in the evening we'd all thunder into the studio and hammer away for a week. When that was done, everyone said, well, that's not bad. So, as with "Zabriskie Point", we all thundered into the studio again...
Rick: I kinda think... Amazing experience, working with, ah...
Nick: I don't think I've ever come so close to...
Rick: Mister Antonioni.
Ted: Did you see the film?
Nick and Rick: Yes [Laughs].
Nick: A number of times.
Rick: About six million times.
Ted: Did you see the one they released here? Do you know what they did here when they released it?
Nick: Not exactly.
Ted: After "Come in Number 51" and the whole final thing, they cut to a very cheesy Roy Orbison song that broke the mood. It's as if we went to see you tonight, and they'd put on Bobby Sherman to sing two songs, or something. It's just... I was there the night Don Hall saw it for the first time
and it was just America destroying artists.
Rick: I don't know really what's going on with that movie.
Ted: It just ruined...
Nick: I mean, it was a huge disappointment to us, err, really, because, like. There were things that we might have did which we really thought were better than what eventually went on.
Ted: You wanna do more movies, though?
Nick and Rick: Yeah.
Ted: Cos your like, you music is definitely, there's a movie right there, on the radio and everything.
Rick: I think what we really want to do, in the end, is to make our own movie.
Ted: Of course. Well we can just ask right now. We're looking for two or three things. We'd like someone to set up halls, with real fine acoustics, and everything. And good equipment that what would fly the people in, as opposed to having the bands doing one night stands. And we'd like someone to finance the movie for Pink Floyd to produce on their own.
Nick: I think they should just send cash with that, really.
Rick: Yes [Laughing].
Nick: I'll leave you my address and they can just send it in.
Ted: Thank you for dropping by.
Nick: Thank you.
Rick: Thank you.
Ted: And you're welcome anytime, and I really enjoy your music, and I'm really pleased that you are still together.
Nick: We'll die of embarrassment.
Ted: And still progressing and changing. Come back again.
Rick: We will.
Ted: OK. We've been rapping with Nicky and Ricky from Pink Floyd. This is KPPC in Pasadena.
Interview with Ted Alvy (Cosmos Topper) about the above interview, about those times, KPPC, and his life, Don Hall and more.
Interview by WRomanus and Radiowaves, 2008.
1. Starting the show, you named Nick as "Nicky". I have never seen or heard a person calling him this. Obviously he did not take offence at this. Where did you get that name from?
That was just an ad lib making it feel informal: Ricky and Nicky.
2. Nick seemed to answer all your questions. How was Rick's demeanour on the night?
I was a fan sitting down with two intelligent musicians. I remember the demeanour of Rick being similar to Nick: both seemed comfortable, but very impressed by our radio station being able to play what each deejay chose. No playlists. Entertaining commercials. And they both seemed in awe of our vast record library. Rick may have taken longer to relax than Nick, as he began to realize that it was fine to say anything and even make mistakes. KPPC had a great joyful consciousness that our listeners shared.
3. You said that you went to the concert that night. Did it live up to your expectations?
Very much so. My first mescaline trip had the rhythmic sounds of Interstellar Overdrive filling my brain everytime I looked up at the rock mountains in the Palm Springs desert with three levels of Waterfalls and wild life everywhere. After that experience, listening to Pink Floyd music always touches my deepest soul.
Other than the KPPC Interview with Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead on December 27, 1970, that was the only concert I attended that same day after doing an interview in the afternoon with musicians playing that night.
4. Your demeanour was very laid back. Was there any substances involved?
There were no refreshments in the studio. I tried to stay mellow most of the time. Usually just a weed high. I avoided other intoxicants and rarely drank alcohol (the drug of our parents generation), as they messed with the pure weed high that made good music sound, and feel, even better.
Free Form FM Rock Underground Radio was destroyed by cocaine abuse, as was the Record Industry, beginning in the early 1970s.
5. How well did Nick and Rick appreciate your interview?
They were very gracious and seemed to appreciate that it was not just another record company promotional interview, but rather a discussion with a few fans sitting around inside a very large radio station broadcast studio. Hopefully it was fun to experience for those two talented musicians.
6. Was there any after-show talk during commercials and intermissions for the playing of tracks?
We talked during the music and commercials about music and related stuff. My roommate and mentor, the audio production genius Zachary (Zach) Zenor, was in the studio during the interview and talked to Ricky and Nicky about music and related stuff. Zach was a very mellow and talented deejay. Zach Zenor and Don Hall were always hippie deejay faves of mine.
7. How and when did you meet Don Hall?
Don Hall was the Original All Night Hippie Deejay at KPPC.
Exactly 10 years after KFWB went Top 40 under programming genius Chuck Blore, Program Director Tom Donahue debuted his KPPC-FM hipster air staff on January 2, 1968 in the basement of the Pasadena Presbyterian Church:
6AM-11AM LES CARTER (KBCA-FM)
11AM-4PM ED MITCHELL (KFRC)
4PM-9PM B. MITCHEL REED (KFWB, WMCA)
9PM-MID TOM DONAHUE (KMPX-FM, KYA)
MID-6AM DON HALL (KPPC-FM)
The original 1968 KPPC air staff included TED ALVY (aka Cosmos Topper).
I met the legendary deejay B. Mitchel Reed at the Monterey Pop Festival (June 16-18, 1967) and became his Producer. He was a Number One Top Forty Deejay at KFWB Los Angeles (1958-63); a Number One Top Forty Deejay at WMCA New York (1963-65 near his Brooklyn hometown). He returned to KFWB early in 1965 wanting to play rock album cuts, something we were able to do after the Monterey Pop Fest.
I went to KPPC-FM on December 31, 1967 with B. Mitchel Reed as his Producer and Engineer (board op). I met Don Hall soon after that New Years Eve. The two weeks before the Great Hippie Radio Strike (starting 3am on Monday March 18, 1968), I followed five hours of producing B. Mitchel Reed with another three hours filling in for the legendary deejay Tom Donahue doing his 9pm to Midnight Airshift, followed at midnight by Don Hall, so we hung out together before his airshift and after mine. We got to know each
other even better during our 24 hour picket line around the Pasadena Presbyterian Church, with basement studios housing KPPC, during the 90 day strike.
The hippie deejays and the entire KPPC staff walked a 24-hour picket line around the Pasadena Presbyterian Church, where the KPPC-FM 106.7 broadcast studios were located in the Church basement. The KMPX/KPPC Strike began at 3 a.m. on March 18, 1968 (with most KMPX San Francisco deejays going on the air at KSAN-FM-San Francisco on Tom Donahue's birthday, May 21, 1968), as we picketed KPPC until the weekend before the 1968 Summer Solstice (the day the still automated KMET-FM 94.7 started playing some Rock And Roll airing taped programs by B. Mitchel Reed and Tom Donahue). I moved to KMET with BMR (B. Mitchel Reed) as his Producer and Programmer. Jolly Joe Yocam, the always happy KFWB deejay, was friends with 1968 KPPC deejay B. Mitchel Reed, who was also a former KFWB deejay.
A story in Daily Variety, Friday, April 12, 1968: “AFTRA Supports Strike Of Indie Union Against KPPC, Pasadena. American Federation of TV and Radio Artists has joined in support of a small local indie union of performers, currently striking KPPC/fm here and KMPX/fm, a sister Frisco station. Joe Yocam, prexy of local AFTRA chapter, said AFTRA "extends its hand of aid to all those who are working under sub-standard wage and working conditions". AFTRA members are requested not to accept work at
the struck stations. KPPC deejays and staffers walked off the job March 18, protesting firing of general manager Milan H. Melvin and program manager Tom Donahue, charging "unfair management practices". KMPX also has been striking in sympathy. Both stations are O&O'd by Crosby-Avery Broadcasting Co.
8. Is your producer still alive, and what other shows did he go on to do?
I never had a Producer. I ran my own board during my airshifts acting as Producer and Engineer. Don Hall never had a Producer either.
9. Did Pink Floyd ever send you any greeting by post, and did they ever take you up on your offer of doing a live show on KPPC?
Our entire Air Staff was fired at 11:30pm October 24, 1971 just eight days after the interview.
I soon after moved to Eureka, California, where the Coastal Redwoods live (the tallest, oldest living things on planet Earth). I was part owner of an FM Rock Underground Radio Station there sounding much like KPPC (Zach Zenor even came up with me to be a disc jockey and to do production work). I was a Disc Jockey and the Program Director and the General Manager. Our backers pulled out after 99 daze, so we went off the air completely (FM 96.3 was silent for over a year when it was sold). The ratings came out a few
weeks later and KFMI was Number One in Humbold County from 6pm until Midnight (even though the survey was taken after we were on the air only a few weeks with our Rock Music).
I was never in touch with anyone in Pink Floyd after that and I only saw Pink Floyd perform one time after that at the infamous Los Angeles Sports Arena Concert on April 23, 1975.
10. How did it happen they came on KPPC-FM radio?
I believe the record company set up the interview. I do not remember who brought them to KPPC, but it must have been someone with Capitol Records who would then take them to their sound check.
11. Where were Dave and Rog during the interview?
I do not remember if we knew in advance who was coming to KPPC for our interview. Dave and Rog may have been back at the hotel waiting for the sound check. I do not know if they did other interviews, but I do not think so.
12. Was Don Hall in someway in contact with Dub & Ken, the creators of Trade Mark of Quality bootleg label?
No. He has no tapes from Zabriskie Point. He never let any tapes go to bootleggers, so the source of OMAYYAD is someone else. They may have taped it off FM stereo radio.
Late Summer 1968, Don Hall went back on the air eight to midnight at KPPC. He was the original all-night man. During that stint at KPPC, he got a phone call from Michelangelo Antonioni, who was starting to put money together for hiring someone to do the music to Zabriskie Point, which he was willing to pay $50,000 for Patti Page’s Tennessee Waltz just to play it in a desert honky-tonk jukebox in the middle of nowhere. So Don Hall got to record Jerry Garcia playing solo guitar, and he hired Pink Floyd who did a
few tracks. A version of Kaleidoscope was put together, featuring David Lindley, doing a couple tracks. He put on a Youngbloods track. It's a great soundtrack. It actually was then reissued with outtakes, four by Jerry Garcia and the four by Pink Floyd. It was a great soundtrack.
Don Hall ended up working at MGM because of Zabriskie Point being released through MGM. So Don Hall and I go to see the screening of Zabriskie Point in Westwood. It's on Westwood Boulevard below Wilshire Boulevard at the Crest Theater. At the end of the film, after the Pink Floyd music was used during the multiple explosions filmed with sixteen cameras, a real cheesy Roy Orbison record is put on by Michael Curb, who's running MGM before he became the conservative Lieutenant Governor of California. He got rid of most of the MGM artists, but because he was selling, he kept Eric Burdon and the Animals. So Eric Burdon had a bumper sticker that said "Curb the Clap" on his car.
So, anyway, Don is just shattered. I'm there with him. I mean, this incredible soundtrack is ruined because Roy Orbison is supposed to have a hit single off of this, and it's a cheesy Roy Orbison song. And even if it was a great Roy Orbison song, it's taking Don Hall and going "up yours". It's taking Antonioni and just slapping both of them in the face. So Don Hall ended up working at MGM for a short time and and he worked part-time at KPPC.
I ended up taking over Don Hall's Sunday afternoon shift, noon to four, as right after Christmas 1970 I interviewed Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, of the Grateful Dead, and John Dawson, aka Marmaduke who was the main songwriter for the New Riders of the Purple Sage, along with NRPS member David Nelson. They had all known each other before the Grateful Dead were formed.
13. Pink Floyd Concerts Ted Alvy Remembers Attending:
I saw Pink Floyd at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Hall with the Jeff Beck Group (featuring singer Rod Stewart) July 27, 1968; I saw Pink Floyd October 18, 1970 Outdoors at the Intercollegiate Baseball Facility, University of California, San Diego, California (opening act was Hot Tuna) and at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium October 23, 1970 (Atom Heart Mother tour); I saw Pink Floyd at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium October 16, 1971 (Meddle tour); and I saw Pink Floyd at the Los Angeles Sports Arena
(April 23, 1975).
For reasons I will go into at a later date, I am unable to confirm if I attended the May 6, 1970 Free Concert by Pink Floyd at U.C.L.A. (I also do not think I attended the May 1, 1970 Santa Monica Civic Pink Floyd Concert). Pink Floyd wanted to perform a Free Concert at U.C.L.A. I worked with a Teacher of a great class on rock music (for example, we discussed each song on the album John Wesley Harding by Bob Dylan as literature) to try and get the concert in Royce Hall. We failed.
My memory is that the Free Concert took place outdoors on the grass below Royce Hall on May 6, 1970 with no prior advertising, just word of mouth. This feat was accomplished by a good friend of Don Hall named John Carpenter. Don Hall was working for MGM Records at the time and he has no memory of that Free Concert. I might have heard about it the next day, or I might have attended it with my memory mixed up with the concert of October 18, 1970: outdoors at the Intercollegiate Baseball Facility, University of California, San Diego, California that I did attend (and mentioned in KPPc Interview with Rick and Nick) and there was a Free Concert with Little Feat and Black Oak Arkansas during Fall 1970 at U.C.L.A. Outdoors on the grass below Royce Hall that I did attend. Both Don Hall and myself were influenced by John Carpenter.
John Carpenter (1941-1976) was the music editor of the Los Angeles Free Press (often called the Freep), a weekly underground newspaper established in 1964 and distributed throughout Southern California. He was the first Los Angeles correspondent of Rolling Stone Magazine. He was the first Rock deejay on KPFK-FM 90.7 Los Angeles (Pacifica Radio).
[Online Obit] JOHN CARPENTER, 45 yrs, Sept. 18, 1976, killed by hit and run driver, Ben Lomond, Calif. Part of the earliest rock scene, once managed Grace Slick, wrote for Rolling Stone from issue one through eight, disc jockey at KPFK, music critic for L.A Free Press. Got "totally crazed" and committed himself to a mental institution for a while. (Ben Lomond, California is North of Santa Cruz.)
Don Hall returned all ZP out takes to MGM vaults. Don Hall has been a good friend since we were both at KPPC-FM as deejays early in 1968. We lost touch in the late 1980's, but he found me this past Spring 2008 when Obama had about wrapped up the nomination (a sign, I believe, that we in America, and elsewhere on the Planet Earth, will begin to enjoy a new creative period that will include great music, as many minds will be open to sounds that have been missing from the radio for years).
The concert we talk about in that Rick Wright and Nick Mason interview is the October 1970 show on the Atom Heart Mother tour. I may have missed the May 1, 1970 concert, because on that date (until May 18th when I moved back to KPPC) I was the Midnight to 6am deejay on KYMS-FM Santa Ana (near Disneyland in Anaheim) and if I had worked that Friday May 1st at Midnight, I would not have been able to make the drive in time before the concert was over. If I had that night off, I may just have no memory left of
what must have been an amazing concert experience that I believe Don Hall attended.
In the interview, I suggest that a rock band should set up in a hall with excellent acoustics and a state of the art sound system. The fans would then fly in for the shows instead of having a rock band move their equipment around for a series of one night stands. This idea seemed to take place in 1975 (where I believe some Wish You Were Here songs were introduced before that LP was released) at the L.A. Sports Arena.
Bummer Alert: for the first of five concerts (April 23, 1975), the entire crowd was uncomfortably searched before entering the L.A. Sports Arena (next to Los Angeles Coliseum, where Olympics took place) by the uptight LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) and the concert started two hours late. I was in that long slow moving line and after the show the police almost arrested me because I had an ad on the back of my Levi jacket that looked like a gang colors (the ad was a felt patch painted for famous El Carmen Cafe that was created by my friend graphic artist Neon Park, who painted the album cover for the Frank Zappa album "Weasals Ripped My Flesh" and who created most of the Little Feat album cover art beginning with their "Sailin' Shoes" LP). There was outrage in the mainstream press and on FM Rock Radio about the police harassment, so the next four Pink Floyd shows at the L.A. Sports Arena had fewer people searched in a more polite manner (April 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27, 1975).
14. What about bootlegs albums?
I met the Original Rubber Dubber when he came by the hippie record store I worked at that was owned by legendary Jazz Disc Jockey and KPPC-FM Program Director, and Disc Jockey, Les Carter. It was called The Music Revolution and it was located on Santa Monica Blvd. a few blocks West of La Cienega Blvd. (just below the Sunset Strip). I purchased a few copies of the Double LP titled Great White Wonder by Bob Dylan. GWW is acknowledged as the First Bootleg Album in the liner notes booklet with the Bob Dylan double CD titled "Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8". We never sold any bootlegs through the store. We employees just each took a copy of GWW home for ourselves. Tower Records (sadly,
they went bankrupt a couple of years ago) had a book about bootlegs, but I passed on buying it.
When I lived in Seattle in the late 1970s, used record stores lined the main street near U Dub (University of Washington). One guy owned three stores there, one that had racks full of bootleg LPs, including most of the TMoQ titles. He was busted by the FBI after they found a small pressing plant in his basement.