The Freedom Highway at first set out with electric guitars to play a combination of ragtime, American folk music, with few original compositions.
The tall thin blonde-haired lead singer Mike Lamb was the focal point and he had a modest following who loved his Lonnie Johnson-styled blues shouting.
My slide guitar on the Dylan song "Oxford Town" was also a hit with audiences. Filling out the sound on a Farfisa organ was Howie Lazzarini, Kurt Eichstaedt on drums and Scott Inglis on bass.
It was Scott and I in 1967 that set the group on a completely different path by firing everyone else and hiring the very talented lead singer and drummer, Bruce Brymer.
Playing strictly as a trio, we wrote our own music which was both influenced by the Who and emphasized singing.
The following year Gary Philippet joined and gave us a tremendous boost with his fine singing and imaginative guitar work.
The day that Scott Inglis decided to enlist in military service our jaws hit the floor, but we soon found a more than satisfactory volunteer on bass, guitar and vocals in Dave Schallock.
Seasoned as he was from various groups (the Pullice where both he and Bruce had previously played together) Dave completed what would be the final and best line-up of the Freedom Highway.
We moved into a house together so we could eat, practice, live or die with our music.
While the unpopular Viet Nam war raged on, and then assassinations devastated entire political movements it became a symbol for almost every band to openly smoke illegal drugs.
Ours was certainly no exception. In that sense, never before or since has it mattered so little that we weren't yet of legal age and couldn't drink in a bar. We lived to roll, smoke, gig and rehearse.
It was our way of keeping our minds occupied while we waited for something, anything to happen in our career as band. That something never happened.
Adding to my despair was my military draft notice. Managing to thoroughly convince the induction officials of my inability to follow any kind of orders, I was relieved to be told I wasn't "army material".
There seemed to be no work or record label interest. We'd been managed for years by a team at West Pole Agency who had overseen the careers of Quicksilver Messenger Service and Big Brother.
Oddly, as the group improved musically, the amount of high profile shows decreased to the point where we had to take a hotel gig, work better suited to a "cover" band.
In 1970, when I turned twenty, the Freedom Highway ended forever as did that kind of hopeful, euphoric "love can save the world" philosophy that had spiked the party juice in San Francisco for five years (earofablankplanet.com).
01.Chico (Smoke El Ropo) (5:33)
03.Don't Look Back (4:55)
04.The Waltz For Prime Tunas (4:45)
05.New Connections (6:33)
06.Heaven Train (2:32
08.Real Eyes (5:04)
09.Head In The Fire (4:29)
10.Be My Friend (4:46)
11.lack And White (3:34)
12.Reese Returns (3:41)
13.Spirit Passing 'Round (2:30)
The Freedom Highway:
*Bruce Drymer: Drums, Vocals
*Richi Ray Harris: Guitar, Vocals
*Dave Schallock: Bass, Vocals
*Gary Philippet: Guitar, Vocals
*Scott Inglis: Bass, Vocals
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