BEN T. PHENS - Nick Schram
THE MYSTERIOUS 15-YEAR-OLD GUITAR PLAYER After the surrender of KPRI to Southwest Broadcasting's Merchant of Scheiss Dexter Allen and the Amazon Queen, during the wars of '69, we left the south and headed north. We being Jack Jacobsen, Rick Cutler, Steve 'OB Jetty' Brown, Mrs. Jetty, Rudy 'Sunshine' Luehs, Buck 'Acmad' Turner, Mrs. Acmad and child, and I and Mrs. Phens. Ron 'Inor' Middag, George Williams, Gabriel Wisdom, Preacher and other brave young Turks stayed to save San Diego. Rudy went back to San Francisco and started working for AT&T (just retired last year). Buck and family settled in Sausalito; Steve, Sandra, Marguerite and I settled for a time in Atherton then Redwood City; while Jack and Rick ventured to Gollywood for a stint as Edward James Olmos' band members. Edward was known as Eddie James and his band was Pacific Ocean. Marguerite and I moved to Redwood City and I went to work as a machinist and Steve and Sandy went to San Jose where Steve landed a spot on KSJO-FM. After a while, the Olmos band broke up, Eddie married Kaya Keel (Howard Keels Daughter) thus began the most fantastic little journey known to modern man in our Universe. Jack and Rick settled into a Spartan lifestyle in our one bedroom apartment, crashing on the floor for a brief time before striking out on their own. Apparently there was confusion at Elektra about how to promote a Duo and Show of Hands Management was solving the dilemma, I'm sure. Regardless, the Boys secured lodging in a vacant machine shop (herein after called 788) in Belmont California on 788 Old County Road, a street adjoining the busy Southern Pacific Railroad tracks. There they set up their keyboards and drum kit and proceeded to live their music. Living as New Age Minstrels, they raided the major grocers loading docks and dumpsters for vegetables and lived partially on brown rice (claiming to be macro-biotic) and partially on the Unklbun Beef Haus. Besides this lifestyle contributing to a very prolific songwriting period it placed the Boys in the middle of a 15 year old High School student's daily path home after classes.
This kid was a guitar playing son of a Jazz musician dad and had chops unlike any 15 year old in Rock and Roll history as of 1969. The history about how they met gets a little foggy but I feel that he heard this incredible cacophony of delicious sounds pouring from the 788 and simply went to the door and introduced himself. Nevertheless, it became routine for me to take my Western Gear Company truck, with my foreman, to go to the kids house after he got home from school, pick up the kid, his Les Paul, his Marshalls and drive him down to 788. Once there, the music that was played was other worldly and beyond belief. The kid idolized Bloomfield but his take on Bloomfield was incendiary. These guys actually played two gigs; one certain gig was the kids High School Spring dance which produced no dancing but staring in disbelief. The next gig is in a state of recollection by the Boys, as I write. Having no choice but to only be able to feed the Boys and provide semi-shelter as Marguerite and I desperately wanted to do the family thing, house, garden and child, they were semi-rudderless. Their management was apparently toiling without producing any real good answers to the Duo promotion with or for Elektra and so the Boys were left to self manage and in this environment chose to send the young phenom down the road. Later on in 1978, I took Jack Jacobsen to a debut showcase gig for a group’s new singer at the Old Waldorf in San Francisco. The showcase had an opening act, Peter Tosh which had just played their final gig opening for the Stones, at Oakland Coliseum. This was the gig where I met and began my professional relationship with Peter's guitar player, former Bob Marley lead guitar player Donald Kinsey. The gig was a NORML Benefit. I went backstage and I ran into the kid who was now the lead guitar player for the headliner that night. When we started chatting I asked him if I could bring Jack back to see him and he really got excited and said, hell yes, go get him. Jack was dressed in his anti-rock wear raggedy-assed sweater looking his usual forlorn but immediately embraced by a really happy seven years older and established musician named Neal Schon. After exchanging blah blahs they were deep in conversation when Gregg Rolie walks by and Neal grabs Gregg and introduces Jack to Gregg Rolie as, “THE BEST KEYBOARD PLAYER I EVER PLAYED WITH ". To which Gregg Rolie simply looked blankly but annoyed and said, “OH REALLY “and walked away.



Yeah, remember another time when we were at Buddy's house on Sunset Plaza Drive, about four blocks from the Whiskey? We went there after his Buddy Miles Express set was done. Buddy kept his stereo gear in a closet and he had us follow him over to the closet and very excitedly showed us an acetate of some studio sessions he and Jimi had just done and of course, forced us to listen to them.


While we were backstage at the Whiskey, All the horn players were really high and Buddy was drinking his 'special' drink from a mason jar, brandy, tea, honey and lemon. (just like when we met him at the old race track in Cardiff at the DEAD, QMS, GRAHAM BOND and BUDDY MILES EXPRESS show)


Jimi came into the Whisky with two fantastic-looking blond girls. He was wearing a canary-yellow suit and a yellow silk shirt with ruffles, (w/o ridges ha ha) and he seemed to float by us without his feet touching the ground, like the nun in the Blues Brothers movie.


We were so fucking blown away when Buddy introduced us that I couldn't speak and I think Rudy said "really great to meet you Mr. Hendrix."




I seem to remember Rod on vocals, Ron Wood on bass, Jeff Beck on guitar, Nicky Hopkins on piano, Mick Waller on drums at that Shrine Auditorium gig.


Ten Years After had just finished their set with “Goin’ Home” and Jeff was up next with The Moody Blues as headliners.


The Shrine had a two-stage set up so there would not be long periods for setting up. After Alvin Lee ripped the joint, Jeff stood back stage and said, "fuck that shit, I'm not going on right after that" and left the auditorium in his hot rod.


That is when the Moodys went on as it looked like Jeff bailed on the gig. In the middle of the set the Moodys had just started “Nights in White Satin” when Jeff and company snuck back on stage like fucking burglars and Nicky was giving the band the notes to tune by, very loudly.


The entire crowd ran screaming from the Moodys stage to the Beck stage and they broke into, I think, “Ain't Superstitious.”


That was probably the single most DICKISH move ever perpetuated upon one rock band by another and it had its price for Jeff as he proceeded to blow the solos in “Beck's Bolero,” “Plynth” and “Hi-Ho Silver Lining,” and not just tiny little mistakes but fucking bombers.


God don't like no fuckin’ around with the ROCK and ROLL





Some discussion was held about the time of the big move of the station from "under drugs" on Fifth Street to 7th and Ash across from the El Cortez Hotel.


I showed up in the summer of 68 at about 6:00 am. OB Jetty found out he was shipping out and called me and ordered my ass to Sin Diego as his departure would leave a slot open. He told me to call Buck as soon as I got into town so he could take me to the station.


Buck took me straight to Fifth street, we woke Ron up, introduced myself, Ron asked if I was the dude Steve told him about, I said yup and he walked into the studio and fired Johnny G, the guy everybody thought was a narc with the Tasters Choice in the briefcase and the wraparound shades.


Johnny G left, Ron asked me if I was familiar with a studio and did I know that board? I asked him, “how hard can it be? and “no.” Ron threw up his hands and went out the room, but the printed story (article attached in photos) said he just went back to sleep. I asked which switch controlled which turntable and mike and sat down and did my first show.


I only did the station ID at the top and bottom of the hours and no spots. Three hours in, someone asked me if I was following the log and playing the spots and I replied; “what log?” I knew that if I was sitting at home listening to three straight hours of commercial-free radio, I wouldn’t want to hear 30 minutes of prerecorded spots so I split up the spots into small batches, found instrumental tracks that fit what bag I was in and did two to three spots at a time about 20 minutes apart and caught up.


This is when I started to get my first requests for certain spots, the audience favorite was Aaron Ambulance, the Ambulance Company that would take you to the hospital of your choice, not just the nearest one.


The move, was I believe, that weekend, Ron working round the clock since he was the only one with the 1st class license and the era where we could say KPRI, under drugs came to an end.


Steve, Sandy, Rudy, Buck, Jack Jacobsen, Rick Cutler, Marguerite and I, all split from KPRI in late March or April of 69. Diane Feiner moved to SF a little later.


That wasn't my Torino parked in front of the station in the picture of our old studio as I had a dark purple Morris Minor Van that was custom painted by our friends in the MC club of the Red and White.


That space did cause Radio Unrest one afternoon when Fred Nurk was doing his best Channeling of Van Morrison and reading poetry as I watched and waited, that space became available.


I was watching the ON AIR sign for a break in the poem where Fred might switch the mike off for a second so I could move my Morris Minor Van, when someone zipped into the coveted (by me) space.


I broke out my usual string of “motherfucking, stupid square hillbilly fucking prick, taking my space yadda yadda” completely forgetting the poetry reading in progress. I looked up and the ‘ON AIR’ sign was still on. I thought Fred and I were gonna die. The look on his face was priceless, pure horror, Larry did not hear it but Karen and Joanne did."


Not my fault, I was excitable.

Nick proudly showing off his new hat. Oh, and there's a wife involved.



It was the early evening of October 10, 1968 and we ran to the airport, Sunshine\Rudy, Marguerite (wife of Phens) and we caught the last PSA flight to SFO where Rudy's brother Ted picked us up and drove us to Winterland for the late set by Jimi. We had maxed out our MasterCard paying for all the round trip tickets! It was Hendrix, man.


We caught the next two nights as well. Those are the famous Buddy Miles Express, Jimi OCT 10, 11, 12 1968 gigs. Bill Graham, (then not a prick) let us 3 in each night for free and early.


On the second day my wife, Marguerite, I and Rudy picked up Mrs. Jetty and we took her to the Saturday show since OB Jetty/Steve was still in Viet Nam and we thought it to be a cosmic law that mandated one of the Jetty’s should see Hendrix.


We were four, sitting on the sidewalk on Steiner Street at about 2 in the afternoon, waiting in line to buy tickets for that night’s Winterland show and the Wally Heider Remote truck was parked next to the side entrance with Eddie Kramer and the Band recording the sound check/rehearsal as well as listening to the previous night’s show.


That’s when Bill Graham was going to the truck to check on the band and Eddie when I stood up and thanked him for comping us the night before. He looked at me then the other three and said "San Diego dj, right?" I said yeah and thanked him again shaking his hand and he said "what are you doing sitting here like shmucks six hours early" I told him we just wanted to be sure we could buy tix and get close. He said "come with me for Christ’s sake" opened the side door the band was using motioned with his hand and said "go in there and disappear until show time and don't get caught by the staff and have a good time" laughing at us.




We did as he said and ran up to the balcony and hid in the dark like  and watched a two hour sound check at full volume with the Experience playing Beatles, Dylan, Beach Boys and a bunch of other complete songs, and we were the only other people in the auditorium.


Then they all left and we sat there stunned and satisfied for about five more hours.


When the place filled up we went backstage and found our friend Buddy Miles and he kept us back stage with his band until they played their set. We were all getting totally fucked up on Owsley THC capsules. Stanly had made thousands of them and had to unload them, no time for a sales campaign as the law was to go into effect banning THC on Jan 1, 1969


The Pranksters and Dead folks were running around with old #10 restaurant size mayo jars filled with capsules handing them out to everyone.


Buddy had us go on stage with his band and had us sit behind the side fill monitors opposite the monitor board side, so we could watch the Buddy Miles Express and he told us to not leave the folding chairs after his set and to save him one.


The idea was for him and us to sit in the same spot for Jimi's set. We did and holy-fuck was it the most awesome thing we ever did, to this day.


We're sitting there; me, Rudy, Buddy Miles, Jimi’s father and Herbie Rich and Boz Scaggs, when Jimi motions to Herbie Rich to play organ. Herbie played on three songs. Then Bill Graham comes up and with a big grin tells us to make room for him and he has a folding chair and a huge box of fried chicken for all of us to eat while we watched one of Jimi’s best ever shows. We had fun.


Below: Rudy and Nick chilllin' in the back yard today.