Cherry Red Records' double CD compilation ‘The Legendary Gold Star Album’ (CD BRED 142, 1997), compiled from lost acetates of a session recorded by one of the earliest line-ups of The Misunderstood in Hollywood during 1966, neatly slots into place the final missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of one of the most innovative and enigmatic bands of the Sixties. Recorded shortly before they left for England under the tutelage of John Peel, the album is accompanied by a CD entitled ‘Golden Glass’ which was recorded by a completely re-vamped line up, still based around steel guitar player Glenn Campbell (no, not that Glenn Campbell!), during 1969. ‘Golden Glass’ originally came out as an LP, on Cherry Red’s Time Stood Still imprint, during 1984; two years before that, the label had assembled what was for many the first taste of the music of what’s become one of the psychedelic era’s best loved groups, a series of tracks recorded in England and America between roughly 1965 and 1967 by variations on the original line-up collectively entitled ‘Before The Dream Faded’ (also reissued on CD by Cherry Red, catalogue number CD BRED 32. Until 1982 however, very little was known about the band at all, and if it weren’t for the sterling services of a certain Mr. Nigel Cross of this parish, I daresay little still would be known. The level of interest generated even caused a brief reunion amongst band-members; Brown and Campbell recorded an EP for Cherry Red under the name The Influence during 1981.


Despite therefore the story of the Misunderstood being unravelled by Nigel at least once a decade across the past quarter century, as far as I can recall a full-length interview with Glenn Ross Campbell has never previously appeared. Trust your trusty Terrascope to put that one right! It’s been a project I’ve been promising myself we’d do for a few years now, but the opportunity finally presented itself only a few months back when an acquaintance of mine, Richie Unterberger, announced he was interviewing Glenn as part of a chapter on the Misunderstood for his book about sixty “cult rock” artists, scheduled to be published by Miller Freeman Books in early 1998. Richie was kind enough to grant us permission to publish the full transcript of his interview, and here we are.

First though, some background information, a necessary evil since Campbell himself wasn’t actually a founder member of the Misunderstood. Their origins can be traced back to 1963, when George Phelps (guitar), drummer Rick Moe and rhythm guitarist Greg Treadway formed a surf band called The Blue Notes (who apparently sported blue guitars, blue shoes and even blue hair!). Lead vocalist Rick Brown and bassist Steve Whiting were added in 1964, and the band changed their name to The Misunderstood, whereupon George Phelps left (to join Rod Piazza and his Dirty Blues Band) and was replaced by Glenn Ross Campbell, veteran of such local (Riverside, California) bands as the Goldtones. Shortly before Campbell joined, the band cut a six song acetate at the William Locy Sound Co. Studio in Riverside consisting of British-styled R&B numbers with an added dash of vintage U.S. garage punk, written by Rick Brown and Greg Treadway, four of which (one uncredited on the sleeve) are included on Cherry Red’s ‘Before The Dream Faded’ collection. On Campbell’s arrival the new line-up recorded their first single, a cover of Jimmy Reed’s ‘You Don’t Have To Go Out’ backed with Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Who’s Been Talking’ for the Blues Sound Records label. In 1966, travelling English disc jockey John Ravenscroft (a.k.a. Peel) heard them incorporating feedback guitar and unusual arrangements into their live act and, excited by the possibilities, hatched plans to get them into the studios again, and at Gold Star in Hollywood they recorded the tracks - mostly R&B covers again, with John Peel producing - which Cherry Red recently released as the somewhat hopefully titled ‘The Legendary Gold Star Album’. Sadly at least one song recorded at the session has failed to resurface, an epic version of ‘I’m Not Talkin’’ during which the band reputedly walked out of the room for a smoke leaving their instruments to feed back into the microphones! Shortly afterwards, the band made it over to England, secured a record contract and replaced Treadway with guitarist Tony Hill (from Co. Durham by way of London and formerly a member of the Answers). There they began the best documented part of their career, cutting such psychedelic masterpieces as ‘I Can Take You To The Sun’ (their debut 45 for Fontana), again included on ‘Before The Dream Faded’. After recording another handful of songs for Phillips in Paris during April 1967, tapes of which have never been found, the band split up in early 1967, Hill going on to critical success with High Tide (whose story was documented in Ptolemaic Terrascope issues 2 and 12) and, with the UK immigration department breathing down the necks of the remnants, Campbell, after a final attempt to keep the Misunderstood name going with an entirely new line-up (from whence the ‘Golden Glass’ material, uh, stems), formed Juicy Lucy, who went on to have a brush with chart success via their (inferior, to my mind, to the Misunderstood’s own) version of ‘Who Do You Love’. He subsequently worked through a variety of bands including Joe Cocker’s backing group and the Greaseband circa. 1972/3 before returning to California, and thence to New Zealand. But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Glenn Campbell himself takes up the story:

PT: When you first joined the Misunderstood, they were playing in a more straight-ahead blues/rock style than a psychedelic one.

GC: Yeah, definitely. A contemporary at the time was Rod Piazza's band the Mystics, playing very much the same material. But the Misunderstood were, even before I joined them, playing stuff like Them and Pretty Things. George Phelps was the guitar player at that time. I'm not sure why he left the group or why they wanted him out, but they actually came looking for me. It stemmed from one gig I did with a band called the Answers. I'd had trouble getting jobs because I was a steel guitar player, I literally used to get beat up when I went to auditions for other bands. But the Misunderstood didn't seem to have any reserves on that point at all. They had big old house on Magnolia Avenue. When I went over there, I took about eight people with me. I didn't want any fights if I could help it. It was quite a funny situation. All my friends were lined up on one side of the room, and the band were lined up on theirs, as I unpacked my steel guitar. And of course the legs screw in the old Fender lap steels, and you could hear the squeaking of the legs as I screwed them in. You could hear a pin drop. Finally I got set up, and we went into it, and the first song, everybody just started laughing, and said it was great, and that was it. And from that time on, we started doing regular rehearsals. I had to learn their material, of course, first. I had been listening to a whole bunch of different kind of stuff. A lot of Library of Congress records. One was really primitive music from tribes in New Guinea. I even had an early Maharishi or something, that had some Indian music on it, and him spieling away about transcendental meditation. There were a lot of concepts in so-called primitive music that were fascinating to me, and I thought could be incorporated in the stuff that we were doing. I would introduce some of these little ideas every now and then to the group. Usually I would meet with resistance from most bands that I'd been with. But with Misunderstood, there was none of that. They were fascinated, as much as I was. Anything new at all, Rick just jumped on it straight away, and he would immediately develop either a technique or style that bent around our particular problem or innovation. There was just such an energy and a willingness to try new things. Steve Whiting was quite interesting because he really wanted to be a guitar player. But, like so many frustrated guitar players, he ended up playing bass, 'cause it was the quickest way to get into a band. In actual fact, he was a brilliant bass player. But because of that, because of the guitar interest, he often played it in an unconventional way. It turned out to be very similar to the approach a lot of the British bass players had. Greg Treadway played a little keyboard. He could have been quite good on keyboards, he seemed to be a natural for that. But he was also the rhythm guitar player. Didn't do a lot of lead. But there again, he provided a really good humour base for the group too. If there was ever any tension, he'd just come across with something that broke everybody up and later in England, when he left or got drafted or whatever, it was quite hard for me, because he was my sort of grounding, my touch stone. Nothing ever got too heavy because you'd just laughing for hours with Greg. Everybody had their particular talent, but I think the thing about the Misunderstood that was kind of magic was that they were willing to try anything. It was a perfect ground for experimentation, which we did a lot. Of course, we'd do it at rehearsal, and if we got something to work, we would build a song around the little experiment and work it into the show, and try it on the audience.

PT: You told me that at one time the Misunderstood had pretended they were a British band?

There was an article in the paper before I ever joined the Misunderstood. They had evidently tried to pawn themselves off as a British band, and actually did it. They got an interview in the local newspaper, and all the kids knew it was bull. But I mean, it was funny. And I thought, now these are the kind of guys-entrepreneurial, cheeky kind of guys-I'd like to be with. So when Rick Brown called and said he was with the Misunderstood, that's when I got the guys to make sure I got heard. When I got the gig we just shot off. Everybody had a lot of energy and enthusiasm, and they were adventuresome. That's why when the idea to go to England came up, it wasn't just summarily knocked aside.

PT: It seemed the Yardbirds in particular were a big influence on the Misunderstood around 1966. To what extent was this true, and what were the group's other principal influences/inspirations?

GC: As far as the influence from the British R&B things, the Yardbirds particularly, and the Who to a certain extent. The Yardbirds were almost to us like a kindred spirit. It was very much in the style that we were already doing anyway. Of course it was ready-made, and being human beings, we were basically lazy, so we covered their tunes. In one sense, our musical appreciation/education took off, especially when John Peel showed up. 'Cause he had a lot of that stuff. He also had the history and where they got their influences from. So we had a pretty good crash course there in a matter of months on artists and material and history. But the Who was interesting. Not so much that we copied any of their songs directly, but the drumming technique interested me, the way they recorded it, and how the drums was used in the group. It was funny-when we went to England, we were walking down Oxford Street, I believe it was, and the Who were playing during lunch hour in this underground sort of basement club. We were just amazed. England didn't even like the Who at that point very much. They considered them sort of teenybopper kind of stuff. But we didn't hear them that way. We heard them as being rather innovative and that kind of amazed us. Of course, later on they ended up becoming very popular indeed.

PT: When the group started to play its most innovative original material live-with the feedback, guitar effects, and so forth-what was the reaction like among audiences?

GC: Pretty much stunned, really. The local kids come to expect bizarre from the Misunderstood, because that's what we're famous for. I remember we played Pandora's Box in L.A. and the audience just didn't know how to take it. They came to a standstill and would stare, mouths hanging open. With the feedback and everything, they just never heard anything like it. Riverside was very much the same way. I remember, I wanted to start incorporating light into our show in different ways. I was in contact with some engineers and I wanted to make a unit, which now you can get in almost any store, what they now call a colour organ, which as you play would divide the musical frequencies up into three colours, and pulsate the lights accordingly. That had never been heard of at that point. We were told it was impossible to make it. But I refused to give up, so I got some motorcycle light bulbs and car tail lights, and hooked them up with guitar jacks, and stuck them into the external speaker connections of our amps. And lo and behold, they worked like a charm. They were only white, but as you played and got louder, they would ebb and flow with the volume and frequency range. We just cracked up laughing. It was a really great effect. We did a gig at a huge concert-like place, and got the owner of the club to turn the lights off. He didn't want to do it, 'cause he was afraid people'd start stabbing each other or something. Anyway, we got him to turn all the lights off, pitch black, and we went into this song with these lights and feedback. We got the instruments feeding back, and left the stage. The feedback would go into harmonics and octave changes and so on and so forth. It was kind of eerie, because the lights were going up and down, the audience’s faces would come into focus and stuff, and they were like hypnotised, stunned, just standing there. And we thought, man, hey, we've stumbled onto something here. It left a mark with the audience, and the word got around, and from that time on, we were considered the sort of alchemists of the music scene at that time. It did a lot for our reputation.

PT: What was John Peel's role in the Goldstar sessions (from early '66)?

GC: It seems to me he was there at the recording, or had something to do with it. I can’t remember. But it was at Goldstar, and I remember we made up two acetates. One of the acetates had a real long version of, I think, ‘I'm Not Talking’ on it. An extremely long version, like half an hour or something like that.

PT: Much longer than the five-and-a-half-minute one that eventually came out on Cherry Red.

GC: Yeah. That [the long version] was on a separate acetate, and we had another acetate with the shorter version on it. I can't remember the rest of the songs that were on them. But that one acetate has gone missing. The other acetate is the one they've been using, I guess, on most of that reissue stuff; we found that one.

PT: What were the reasons the group decided to move to England from Riverside?

GC: Probably boredom, really. We'd done everything we could do in that local area. L.A. was hard to break into, unless you had an agent of some sort. We hadn't had any luck on that scene. We were just half-joking really, I said, jeez, maybe we oughta go to England. And they'd go, yeah, that'd be great, that's where it's happening. So we called the airlines, and found the cheapest way to go there would be to fly to New York, and then catch a boat from there to England. We found out how much it would cost, and then we started pooling our money together and of course, we didn't have enough. I think it was around this time that we ran into John Peel. Of course, he was from England, and one day we sort of timidly asked, well, what do you think our chances would be in England? And he'd go, hey, that'd be a great idea! You should go there, by all means. Everything was pointing towards England. There was the music, the covers we were knocking off, and there was a style that people would seem to appreciate. Also, I'd been chased through department stores in public because I had long hair. The Misunderstood all had long hair way before the Beatles. It wasn't the Beatles I was copying, it was American Indians I was emulating, 'cause I was really into Indian history and culture. So John said, look, you guys gotta get to England. And that just clinched it for us. We went full ahead on that idea. We used John to sort of placate the parents, 'cause they all thought we were going to get sold to white slavers or something, and he tried to convince them it was all reasonably civilised. We put together a battle of the bands, which was virtually fixed. I mean, there's no way we could have lost it. But we probably would have won it anyway. The only other band that was really serious competition would have been Rod Piazza and the Mystics. We did about three of these battle of the bands, and John collected the money for us. That got us our tickets, and we were on our way there. It was an incredible group effort.


PT: The liner notes of ‘Before the Dream Faded’ say that the group arrived at John Peel's mother's doorstep in England, and you had to wait for eight hours while she called John in the States, as she wasn't expecting you. It's a great story-but is it true? When I spoke to John, he said he honestly couldn't remember.

GC: Eight hours? Hell, we waited three days! The whole affair, the story of the boat and the trip over, is a book in itself. But to make a long story short, we miraculously got all our equipment off. If customs had ever seen all our equipment, we'd have never gotten into England. But the crew on the boat really liked us, and they snuck it off. We didn't know where the equipment was, we were looking around and we go, that looks like all our stuff there. And it was actually loaded right by the baggage compartment of the train to London. It was exactly the same as the Beatles in that first movie they did, where they were sitting in that sort of caged compartment in the train. We just couldn't believe it. And there was even two girls that came along and they're going, are you guys a band or something? And we go, yeah. They rode with us to London in this baggage car. It was just like the movie, just incredible. So, we're riding high. And we got off and get a taxi to John's place. And we thought they were all informed and knew we were coming and everything. We get there, and there's nobody there. I mean, we got a mountain of equipment-amps, drums, everything, all in cardboard boxes, and clothes. We're standing out there, and all this stuff was lined up by their doorway on either side, along a wrought-iron fence. It starts raining on us, and we're pulling out raincoats and putting it over the equipment and getting soaked. Pretty soon the neighbours get curious, 'cause we'd been there overnight, and they come the next morning and bring us cups of tea and more blankets and stuff like that. We're all wrapped up like Indians on a reservation. We're there literally for a couple of days. Finally, John's parents come home. And they walked straight in the house, didn't even acknowledge our presence. We were kind of numb anyway, shell-shocked from being there. And we're all like, what the hell is this? So we kind of snapped out of it and went banging on the door, and said excuse us, but we're the Misunderstood. Quite obviously, they'd never heard of us, they claimed, or anything about it. And so they called John in the States, but they had to wait another eight hours to call because of the time difference. They wouldn't let us in until they checked it all out. Eventually they called and got it all straightened out, and they let us in. Which must have been horrific for them! I was really sick, feverish - if it wasn't pneumonia, it was pretty close to it. So they wrapped me up in bed. I was down for the count. In the meantime, we had a short-list of about three managers that John had given us, months before, of possible contacts who might be interested. We called the first one on the list, and he was interested enough to say come on down. That was Nigel Thomas, and we took our promo package and played it for him. He eventually got us signed up with Fontana Records. So yeah, that was a sort of less than momentous arrival. But as I said, it worked out all right.

PT: And Rick Brown followed on later?

Rick flew in about a couple weeks later. He was under the impression that we were already famous, and there was going to be a crowd waiting at the airport. I don't know where he got this idea, unless Greg, the prankster, set him up. Rick got quite a shock when we had to jump over the ticket gates, and try to crash through them to get on the subways. Actually the cops got called and we ended up having to split up. The cops were chasing us and jeez, this wasn't what Rick had in mind at all. But we ended up getting back to the little flat that the manager found for us.

PT: How did the group's sound change when Tony Hill joined the band?

GC: It certainly gave us more scope. Greg was a great rhythm player, and was complimentary to whatever we did, but he didn't really provide any solo input. So it was a big load off me, because I could turn around and do sound effects, as Tony was a great soloist in his own right. Plus he had other interests, which gave us a lot bigger palette to work with. He was at the time quite interested in classical gut-string guitar. In fact the ending of ‘I Can Take You To The Sun’, that really pretty ending with the acoustic classical guitar on the end, Tony had been mucking with that at rehearsal, we asked that he stick it on the end of the song and it became a really important piece of the song. It was like I really had something to bounce off of. We could do harmonies. It allowed for really a lot more detailed arrangements. So really for us it was just the sky was opening up. The whole thing with Tony in the band was kind of fortuitous. We were at I think a rehearsal hall, and he had been there with somebody else, either in another rehearsal room or recording, I can't remember. He just happened to hear us. I'm pretty sure Greg had already left, and we were just mucking around, trying out some ideas. And he started questioning us when we came out of the rehearsal room. And we said, well, we're looking for a guitar player. And he grabbed his guitar and sat in for a couple numbers, and that was about it. Right from the word go, it worked great. We were doing some bizarre things, and just asked him to throw some ideas in, and he was quick on his feet, which is what we needed. We needed someone who wasn't intimidated, or wasn't too stuck in a sort of style that couldn't come up with some ideas. Plus he was someone that understood the English market. So that was good for us.

PT: What was the reaction like from British audiences when you played live?

GC: In actual fact, we didn't do a whole lot of live gigs. We probably only did a handful, because it was illegal for us to. We didn't have a work permit, and the manager was afraid that the Home Office would find out about it, and send us out of there just as we were starting to roll. So we only did a handful of gigs, and very carefully chosen. The Marquee Club, I think, was one, and we did two or three others. But the one that was quite startling was a debut thing at Fontana Records. They had all the press there and everything, kind of like a record release kind of thing. We did our regular set and then we did this thing where we pulled out an envelope and we said, there's a piece of paper in the envelope with a word written on it. And what we want you to do in this next song, if you want to call it that, we'll play for approximately six minutes, and then we're gonna ask you questions about what you heard. What we want to know is what the song made you feel like, or makes you think of. Everybody goes, all right. So we did it. At the end, we asked people what they had felt. One person goes, for some reason, I kept getting flashes of when I was a kid in my father's apple orchard. And I go, yeah, okay, that's good. So we went to the next one, and she goes, oh, I had a craving for apple sauce. And we did about three or four, and they were all spot-on. And I thought, well, this is too good to be true, so I'll stop there. So we open the envelope, and of course the word in the envelope was “apple”. And the reaction to that - oh, man, the flashbulbs went off, and all these people there got spooked. They were throwing up their arms and running out and screaming, and oh jeez, it was just incredible. We were amazed. We'd been trying the sound at rehearsals on people and we'd get mixed results. Sometimes it worked a little bit, and most of the time it didn't. This time it worked incredibly well. The technique was that we'd kind of meditate before we did the song on the subject. Then we would play during a fixed set of time. And during that time, as a group, you could either not play at all, or play anything you wanted, as long as you felt it was relating to your experience of the subject. An apple, or whatever. It wasn't, truly speaking, meditation. But it was just a period to sort of clear our minds from any other thoughts. In fact, when it didn't work it was usually because something else was bothering somebody, like somebody was mad at their girlfriend, or extremely hungry, which was most of the time. You had to be really neutral and open, and then you would get a certain amount of success. But it blew us away. It was almost 100%. We couldn't believe the stir it caused. When it hit the papers it was good for publicity, but it also kind of spooked us a bit, because being Americans, we knew all the conspiracy stuff, we knew that if governments got hold of something like this, who knows what would happen. I had a book that was about two and a half inches thick. It was a notebook of various chords and rhythm combinations and all sorts of stuff, inversions, harmonies that would seem to produce certain effects. So we could write songs with these various already researched combinations, and expect a certain response from an audience. And of course, the idea was not to control an audience or anything. The idea ultimately was that we could set up healing centres to use music and lights in a sort of combination in a holistic kind of way. If there was a natural phenomena, it might be a very powerful instrument for healing. This is the kind of thing we were thinking about. But we all got a bit worried and we actually took the book and destroyed it. We felt we’d stumbled something we didn't really want to get in the wrong hands, and it kind of spooked us a bit. So that book just got tore up and burned.

PT: By this point, the group's sound had evolved into some of the most innovative early psychedelic music around. Compared to the other British and American groups of the time, how do you think the Misunderstood stood out/were unique?

GC: A lot of it was that we were approaching it like a trio. Much like Hendrix did later, and Cream. The way Tony and I were playing at that point, we kind of weaved and ducked and twisted around, but we were almost as one instrument when it worked right. That's the kind of sound we were looking for. Of course, the other thing was the steel guitar. In those early days, I actually had an advantage over the guitar in the sense that I had a lot of sustain. The only thing I couldn't really do was strum like a guitar player. As far as scales, the only thing that was holding me back was tunings. And I was pretty innovative on that. Also we were experimenting with fuzztones really early on. There was a guy named Bartel that made a fuzzbox called a Bartel Shatterbox. That's what I actually ended up taking to England. And that was really unique. It made all these horrendous noises, and we cranked it up like screaming and squawking and feedback, which was exactly what we wanted. So that was quite innovative for the time as well. Also just visually, the steel guitar had an odd look to it. I'd put it aslant and hump the legs and all that kind of malarkey. So it looked weird, and sounded bizarre, and that added greatly to the uniqueness of the band.

PT: Nigel Cross writes in his liner notes to ‘Before the Dream Faded’ that the Misunderstood were exploring some directions that would be followed by Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix on their first records, a few months later. Do you feel you might have influenced those bands, or other bands in England? If so, how?

GC: We kept getting reports from people that were seeing Pink Floyd that they were copying a lot of our stage act. The few times that we played, they obviously were in the audience and copied a lot of stuff. But they had a lot of money behind them. I know they were getting synths and stuff like that way before anybody else could afford to get 'em. And it was kind of bugging us, because the few times we played, people were starting to rip off our stage show, such as it was. This'd come from other people-I never even saw Pink Floyd live, so I couldn't say first-hand. But this is just coming from other people that'd seen both bands. I don't think Jimi Hendrix ripped us off. But I know he was at some of the gigs, because I talked to Jimi a couple of times in those early days, and he was I guess what you'd call psychedelic. But he was still heavily blues-based at that point. It wasn't people were ripping off, really. It was a time of sharing, really. Things were just popping right and left at that time in England. I don't think we really appreciated the time when we were there. England was great because nobody made a fuss over you on the street. You'd go in with long hair and bell-bottoms and talk [with] a bank manager, and he would give you a loan to start a business or something. That would be unheard of in the States. England was great, too, in the sense that you could be experimental. In fact, they didn't want people to be like cover bands so much. They wanted people to be creative. Everything was creative-clothes, music, art. God, every street had an art gallery on it. Just walking down the street and seeing some of the latest fads in the art world and stuff. You didn't even have to pay to go in. You could just look in the window, and it was just... it was really an inspiring town at that time.

PT: How do you feel about the tracks that you recorded with Fontana in the U.K.? Did they effectively capture the band's best material?

GC: Yes. I think they did a really good job. I mean, you have to keep in mind it was only four track, I think that's all Fontana had at that time. And the actual guy that ran the machines was in the basement. You had to phone him up to tell him to rewind or stop or whatever. And they never ever once told me how to play. They just said, do what you want to do, and we'll record it. Dick Leahy was the producer, he just bent over backwards. And the engineer, Roger, I can't remember his last name [that would be Roger T. Wake - Ed.] They just did incredible things for the times. I remember there was one that I was hitting some high notes, and they just disappeared. Their equipment couldn't record that high a note. And that was the only time, and they felt quite bad about that. They couldn't get it on tape. But they just did phenomenal things. Just bent over backwards. They'd try different mikes, or they'd try different baffling. The more bizarre and weirder it got, the more interesting it got. I remember the president of Fontana was talking with me and caught on that I'd done standards. He was gonna set up a whole big string orchestra, Nelson Riddle kind of thing, and he wanted to do a Christmas album with me doing steel guitar Christmas songs, kind of a little funkier. It sounds crazy, but I would have enjoyed doing that just for a new direction, something to try.

PT: Was there any material recorded for Fontana that was unused/unissued? If so, what was it like?

GC: I don't believe so. I think people pretty much gone into the vaults looking for that some stuff. I can't remember anything that hasn't been issued that Fontana had, any outtakes or anything. And most of the takes were usually first or second takes, so there wouldn't be many outtakes either.

PT: Is the account that Nigel Cross gives in his liner notes about the breakup of the group - Rick Brown's draft problems, the group's visa problems - accurate?

GC: Yeah, certainly. The draft problems got Rick, for sure. The upshot of all that was basically he went AWOL. He went into Haight-Ashbury and ended up dealing drugs to survive. I'm not quite sure what happened. He fell foul of some sort of syndicate or something, and they were after him as well, besides the FBI. He booked it to England. I don't know how long he was in England. The FBI was hot on his trail. He got out just literally by the skin of teeth, and he went to India. When he was there, he ended up joining up with the Hare Krishna sect under the head guru, the main guy. There was another American there studying, and they became friends. I don't know the details again, but they discovered a ruby mine, I believe, somewhere in India or someplace. Rick eventually came back to California, and he got lawyers to clear up the draft thing that was still hanging over his head. They actually stuck him back in the army and shaved his head for one day, and gave him some kind of discharge. That was the end of that. I think he went to live in Bangkok permanently. As far as I know he's still there, I haven't heard another word from him.

PT: It's been reported that when he went back to England after the Misunderstood had broken up, Rick Brown shared a flat with Jeff Beck. But according to your recollection, this actually happened when Rick first came over here with the group.

GC: That was pretty early on. We were all living in a basement flat. It was really quite hideous. It was just freezing cold, and we used to have rats coming out of the boarded up fireplace. Big old ones, too - I'd never seen rats as big as they got in London. Rick couldn't put up with that. But he used to go out partying a lot. He was sort of the gadfly of the group, really. Somehow, he ended up flatting with Jeff Beck. He was living with him shortly after we first landed. As far as I know, when he went back to England, he went straight to John Peel's and was there, and then the FBI caught up with him, and he was out. Everybody was telling me that John turned him in, and I can't believe that. We'd been through too much back in the States. I can't imagine why he'd do it.

PT: How much time was there between when Rick Brown left and the time you left England?

GC: Not that much. It's all kind of cloudy, really. We were so hungry all of the time. All those pictures that were taken, if you look at us, we're all sort of drawn out and everything. It's actually just hunger, plain and simple. We were living on, like, ten shillings a week. Which was easier to do then than it is now, but it still wasn't that easy. It would have been weeks rather than months, probably. We auditioned a whole bunch of people to fill Rick's spot. That might have been at Ronnie Scott's. Somebody famous auditioned too, and went on to make it later on, and I can't remember who it is now. I got told about that years later.

PT: How was it that the group broke up after Rick Brown was gone?

GC: The rest of us went through just about as bizarre a situation. We never had work permits, it was all being done illegally. This was with Nigel Thomas. We had some equipment on order, and eventually it came in, these new Marshall amps, 200-watt Marshall amp stacks. They were dogs, really, but I mean, just as a point of interest, I think that Cream got 'em after us. But at any rate, Nigel had this minder, a sort of thug. We were kind of fed up with Nigel for whatever reason. He [the minder] says look, I'll manage you, I know all those contacts, blah blah blah. I wasn't going for it, but the other guys were. I thought the guy was full of shit myself. And as it turned out, he was. He said he had a whole bunch of work for us in France. We made contact at this record company that we were supposed to record at. To make a long story short, that guy [back in England] stole all our equipment, all those new amps and everything else. He literally stole it, put it in a van and stuck it in a garage somewhere. So we’re stuck in France. We went into the record company, and Tony had a bunch of songs that he'd written. I think he and Steve went in and made like a demo tape of all these songs, and sold them, and we split the money up. That gave us enough for, like, gas money. Steve knew this hooker back in England. She phoned up and said she was going to marry him. So they let him back in the country through her. Tony got in 'cause he's English anyway, and that left me and Rick Moe, the drummer. Rick got his parents to send us two pre-paid tickets to Paris, but to leave from London. So we figured, okay, that'll get us back in, and we'll go find this guy and get our equipment back to pay for the tickets. Of course, it didn't work quite that smoothly, although it did eventually end up happening. But we finally got on the boat, and they wouldn't let us off! We got to England, they wouldn't let us off, and went back again to France, they wouldn't let us off. We kept going back and forth. This went on for three days! And we were starving! So we started taking food off people's plates, and the captain had sent some goons down and more or less put us under guard. We told him our story, and he goes, okay, what side do you want off on? And we go, England side. So we get back to England, and the first thing we do, we break into this guy's flat and found the licence number of the van. We reckoned he had it parked in some public garage. So we just got the phone book and started dialling. And the first one we phoned, we gave him the licence number, and they go, oh yeah, it's parked here. Luck started happening for us. We took off and we found it. I just grabbed my steel [guitar] out of it, and Rick grabbed his drums. We went straight down and sold them.

PT: Had this lineup managed to stay together (with Rick Brown, Tony Hill etc.), what do you think it might have achieved, and what might future records have sounded like?

GC: I think we would have achieved quite a bit. I think it would have been a major group. There was nothing holding us back, no telling what would have happened if it had kept going. Especially with Tony in the band, because he had a lot more scope.

PT: How would you compare the sound of the Misunderstood that recorded in England for Fontana in 1966, and the lineup that recorded the material that ended up on the ‘Golden Glass’ reissue?

GC: Totally different. Steve Hoard was the singer, I brought him over from California. He was with a band called Cock Robin, and they were just to sign up with Capitol about the time. But he opted to come over, and our influence was that we were listening to bands like Rhinoceros and Junior Wells who had an album out called Tuff Enough. When we got together, we wanted a certain R&B kind of thing. It wasn't our idea to use the name Misunderstood. In fact, we fought against it, because it wasn't anything like Misunderstood, except for me being in the band. But the record company insisted that we use it, for obvious reasons. Guy Evans was the drummer, from Van Der Graaf Generator, and Nick Potter on bass, who worked with Jeff Beck for quite a few years after us. And they were brilliant guys. It was a trio, with Steve singing. We wrote the songs, more or less, on the spot for the album. I liked that band. It was much better live than the recordings were. But for some reason, the powers that be didn’t like Steve. Unbeknownst to me, they were actually plotting to get him out of the band. That ‘Golden Glass’ thing was probably the last song we recorded. I think Dick Leahy was producing again. He kept asking me to do something psychedelic. And I said, man, that stuff's dead. It's not the same group. And he goes, no no no, just do it. So I turned to Nick and Guy and Steve and I said look, I'll just make something up. Just follow me the best you can. And Steve lays down on his back in the vocal booth, and pulls the mike out on top of him. And he has a bottle of scotch in there, with a glass and a bit of ice in it. That's where the title comes from, he's looking through the bottom of the glass up at the light. So I just started off on this sort of outrageous psychedelic thing, just making up a riff. And Nick and Guy followed me like it was telepathy. I don't think I even told them what key I was in. Steve made up the lyrics right on the spot. He was super-depressed, and that's what the song was about, this alcoholic depression, just looking through the bottom of the scotch glass. And the record company just loved it. Steve and I and the rest of the guys thought, jeez, there was no thought put into it or plan or anything. So we just went home shaking our heads. And I think the next day, the manager said that Steve was fired, and he was out, they were going to send him back.

PT: You had a reunion in the 80s?

GC: We had a reunion back in the '80s sometime at their old high school. Greg had a videotape going and everything, but he just messed it up, pushed the wrong button, and it didn't work, or else we'd have had it all on videotape. It was quite funny, because Rick [Moe] hadn't played drums since all that time. But we got together and rehearsed, and it was like nobody had ever been away. The same magic was still there. And the same things started happening again. I hadn't been sick in years, and all of a sudden, by the time the gig had come around, I had this horrendous cold just like I was back in England. Greg joined us and again he was the prankster and the clown of the band. And then Steve started getting antsy, he didn't want to play bass, he wanted to play guitar. Rick had an argument with him, said, well, do what you're supposed to do, play bass. It was exactly the same, we fell right into the old groove. It was just like we never broke up.

PT: Are you in touch with any other members of the Misunderstood? If so, what are they up to?

GC: I've completely lost touch with everyone. I don't have Greg’s address. Rick, as far as I know, is in Bangkok. Steve I've lost touch with. Last I heard, he was still in the Riverside area. Rick Moe has his own construction business up north somewhere. Tony Hill I've completely lost touch with. I got into country and western in the ’70s and was doing fairly well in California, till the drunk driving laws came in. Then all the bars closed down, and that's when I decided to move over here [Auckland, New Zealand]. Just about the same situation is happening now here. There's hardly any live venues any more. I'm working as much as anybody, but two, three gigs a week, is considered a lot. I work with N.Z. country artist Al Hunter - do a lot of TV & radio ads and session work on countless albums by other artists. I’m still out there trying to do stuff, and it’s not over yet. I’ve come up with a nine-string archtop jazz-like guitar, steel, with a special tuning which gets all these chords - ninths, sevenths, diminished augmenteds - out of one static lap steel tuning. That’s never been heard of before. They said it couldn’t be done.

PT: How do you feel about the reissues of your material? Does it come as a surprise to you that they have generated an avid cult following, since the group was largely overlooked when it was around?

GC: Yes and no. I think it's kind of neat in a way. I don't want to back track and go back to that now. I think it made its point, and that's basically what we wanted. That vibe and that feeling, we wanted people to know that that existed, and there were people thinking that way. Of course, we didn't get rich out of it, and we didn't become famous or anything like that, or any of the other trappings that other groups have got. But I think our main objective was achieved, to some degree. So that makes me happy. It wasn't completely overlooked. It wasn't that we were so much overlooked when we were around. It was just that nobody knew we existed! The people that heard us couldn't overlook us. We were just too different.

Richie Unterberger talked to Glenn Campbell during February of 1997. Editor: Phil McMullen, (c) Ptolemaic Terrascope 1997


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