Monday, June 29, 2009

Goodbye Sky

According to an LA Times blog post:

Sky Saxon, leader of Los Angeles 1960s garage-rock band the Seeds, died early Thursday morning in Austin, Texas. Born Richard Marsh, Saxon was hospitalized on Monday...for an undetermined internal infection and was reported to be in critical condition. A statement released last night revealed that Saxon ultimately died of heart and kidney failure due to the infection.

Sky and I weren't "bosom buddies" by any stretch of the imagination, but I did get to meet him once, and interview him, when the reformed Seeds toured with original guitarist Jan Savage. Sky was vibrant, full of life and one of the nicest, most genuine people I have ever met. I was really sad to hear of his passing, which fell on the same day that Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson both died.

Here is the article/interview I wrote for The New York Waste. It was probably published in the summer issue of 2003. (I don't know for sure because they never sent me a copy.)

The Seeds @ the Knitting Factory 5/11/03
by chuck.foster

Anyone who read the January issue of the WASTE may recall
my Love article (yeah, right) where I said (and I quote):
"Now if only someone can get the seeds out here in

Well, guess what? (Read the title again, Bozo.) On an
overcastMother's Day Sunday, I found myself sipping coffee
outside the Knitting Factory (not open yet) with my
partner-in-crime, Atom, because, well, there was nothing
else to do before the show. A van pulled up. "Wake up,
Sky, we have a show to play!" someone yelled. And there
stood Sky Saxon, in pin-stripes, velvet, platforms and
frills. Beside him was Jan Savage in Western American
Indian gear. Just as I'd hoped.

For those of you not "in the know" (97% of the readership)
I'll answer your "Who?". The Seeds were one of the top
LA bands in 1966/67. They played fast, angry, two-minute
songs about lousy girlfriends and apparently coined the
term "flower power", which sparked a well-known movement.
Their sound was the unique blend of Sky Saxon's sneer,
Jan Savage's post-surf guitar noodling, Daryl Hooper's
pre-Kraftwerk keyboard lines and Rick Andridge's
hard-hitting metronome drumming. The Seeds released five
excellent albums and a slew of great singles between 1966
and 1969. I highly recommend their work to anyone
interested in true punk and roll.

Anyway, I accosted the poor band as they entered the
venue and the following interview ensued (broken in
the middle by a soundcheck):

chuck: How's your tour been going?
Sky: The tour's been going great. I love the people
in New York, and I advise you all to do a rent strike.
chuck: How is it having Jan back in the band?
Sky: It's just amazing to have him back. He plays like
I remembered, like he used to play and he's part of the
magical sound of the Seeds, you know? He left because
he wasn't understood, but now he's back and maybe the
new generation will see what he really was about. He's
about a lot of excitement and he was really innovative
on the guitar.
chuck: He was.
Sky: He still is and he's gonna do it again. (Enter
Jan.) Here, Jan, would you like to say something to
his radio?
Jan: Hi, Radio!
chuck: Hello!
Jan: Hello! We're downtown...Where are we? This must
be New York!
chuck: SoHo. SoHo, somewhere...
Jan: So Low, So Low...Thank you, New York.
chuck: How is it being back in the Seeds?
Jan: I didn't think I would miss it and I planned to
retire a quiet little life and then...they kept calling
and calling and calling and calling and calling and, oh
my god, I've gotta go shut em up and...I'm back. And do
you know what? I love it, I love it.
chuck: Ya havin fun?
Jan: Yes, the fans are fantastic, but nobody has yet
kissed my tail. (Holds raccoon tail attached to belt.)
I haven't got anybody to kiss my tail...
Atom: I'll kiss your tail. (Kisses tail.)
Jan: Wanna kiss the tail?! You're the first, thank you,
now I got somebody to kiss my tail. Thank you, brother.

(Sound check break.)

Rick: My name's Rick, I play bass in the band, I've been
friends with Sky since the mid-80s. We were living in
Hollywood. He used to stay at my old band's house, a
one-bedroom apartment with the whole band and Sky.
Set my kitchen on fire twice.
chuck: How long have you been in the Seeds?
Rick: We just started this up about a year ago. At
first, Jan wasn't in the band, we couldn't find him, and
we found him driving trucks in Arizona under a different
name. And Sky I've known for a long time. He moved up
to Northern California in the mountain area called Mt
Shasta. I called him up and said, "Hey, what're ya
doing, man, let's play!" He loves to jam. He has a few
other bands. He does records every day. You make a
little tape like this of him just singing: Okay,
another record, got a new record, let's release it. And
if you guys jam, and he finds that out, he'll just go:
alright, let's go jam. We're constantly losing him, we
have to get a leash on him. In San Diego we went to
this guy's house afterwards and recorded until ten in
the morning. Partying, hanging out and Sky's singing
all morning, doesn't stop singing til the day he wakes
up. He's singing constantly.
chuck: So how is it?
Rick: A lot of fun. It's the real deal, you know. He
hasn't changed at all, it's still 1966 in his mind. He's
a smart guy, but he's like a child with a lot of ideas.
Then we found Jan here...(Enter Jan.) Dug him out and
found him under an assumed name.
Jan: Yes, many assumed names. I was hiding, I was
really hiding. You can't find me, you don't know who I
chuck: Hiding from the Seeds?
Jan: From everybody! The law, the Seeds, anybody who
asked. Wasn't me, I didn't do it, I wasn't there. It
was that other guy.
Rick: You wouldn't even talk to me the first couple
times. "Jan Who?"
Jan: That's right.
Rick: We're gonna be in Europe in a couple weeks. The
first show's in Athens, Greece, then we go to Spain for
six shows, but we found Jan, he's back, he's been
practicing, right Jan?
Jan: What?
chuck: Are you going to Europe, too?
Jan: Yes.
chuck: So you're in for the long haul...
Jan: Yeah, I'm in, it's all the way, it's all or nothing.
I gotta figure these boys out and then kick their ass,
and then...more tail kissing.
Rick: It's been great having these two guys back, it's
been mind blowing. Last time these guys played was in
'89. They did a Summer of Love tour with Love, Big
Brother and the Holding Company and they played six
shows on the West Coast. When did you guys play before
Jan: Before 89? Back in the 60s. 69. That was our
twenty-year anniversary reunion tour.
chuck: Do you know where the other two guys are?
They're just not interested?
Jan: No, one of 'em is sick and the other one's taking
care of him and so they couldn't come.
chuck: They were old friends, right?
Rick: Yes, Daryl Hooper and Rick Andridge-
Jan: They went to High School together and Sky and I
had already joined up together and we were auditioning
bands and we found Rick and Daryl, and they were so tight
together, we had to have them.
Rick: Manzerek and Densmore auditioned, by the way, and
were passed up for Rick and Daryl.
chuck: Wow.

One thing I'd like to state on record: Sky Saxon and Jan
Savage, two men who have been at the top of the music
industry, who have had Top 40 hits, who have paid their
dues, are two of the nicest people I have ever met in my
life. It was such a nice change from the arrogant idiots
who mosey about the Lower East Side like King of the
Molehill when they can't even call themselves has-beens
because they never were. That said, Rick the Bass Player
and John the Merch Man were damn fine folk, too.

The show:

Aytobach Kreisor opened, and they were a helluvalot better
then that crappy band I saw open for Love. This 72-style
power trio deserves more attention, so why doncha give it
to em, baby?

The Seeds? Well, they were nothing short of fantastic
(or a hundred other corny adjectives). The new band has
the songs down precisely. Jan can noodle like he used to
and he loves doing it. And Sky, well, Sky's the frontman
he always was--commanding, mesmerizing, and magical.

I hear there are plans to record a new Seeds album when
they get back from their world tour. I hope they do--
maybe it'll teach all these crappy new bands a thing
or two.

Visit to keep up with the Seeds.
I'll see you, Sky. Later on, man.


  1. R.I.P. S.S.
    Great Interview


  2. Bittersweet! Thanks for that blog, Chuck.