Friday, March 26, 2010

The Flock (Part 4)

In the liner notes for the oft-reissued anthology CD "Flock Rock: The Best Of The Flock", Fred Glickstein shares some of his other musical memories ... and thanks many of those who helped him along the way:
Once again, I, the Great and Powerful Fred "Shakespeare" Glickstein have been asked to pen liner notes for a Flock CD. I'm actually starting to like all of this attention. O.K., what the Flock was I talking about? Oh yes, The Flock, that highly unusual musical group from Chicago's 60s and 70s that did two record albums for Columbia in 1969 and 1970. Oh yeah, we had lots of fun with the name, like "who gives a flyin' Flock", or "let's get the Flock outa here", or "how the Flock are ya?" More info in next paragraph ... Shooting ahead a few years to 1992, I was working at The Hadley School for the Blind in Winnetka, Illinois, USA, when my office phone rang. It was a lady who asked if I was Fred Glickstein, THE Fred Glickstein who played in The Flock. I told her that I was and she said that she had Michael Caplan from Epic (Columbia) Records on the line and asked if I would like to talk to him. I said that I would so she asked me to hold the line for a moment. About three minutes later a voice said, "You guys are the reason I quit Law School!" Mr. Caplan went on to tell me about he and his buddies listening to Flock music while at college. Long story short, the company wanted to release a "Best of The Flock" package and asked if I would write the liner notes. Mr. Caplan also said that they had found some previously unreleased Flock music and was very excited about including it into the "Best Of ...", adding that it contained some awesome guitar solos and great jamming. Much of this unreleased stuff was from a third album we had done when the group was in the process of breaking up. It was to be called "Flock Rock" and consisted of all instrumental music. In 1970, Columbia rejected this album because it had no "real songs with vocals and lyrics." Now, in 1992, twenty two years later, I'm getting a call from New York telling me how awesome this once-rejected music is?!? Michael Caplan also described The Flock better than anyone had before. He said that "The Flock was a horn band with a sense of humor."
That reminds me of some of my favorite Flock stories.
We were playing in New York at a club called The Salvation. After just finishing a set, I heard a mellow voice saying," Hey man, I like the way you play guitar." The lights were low in the club so I had to look closer to see who had said this. It was Jimi Hendrix! I said, "Jimi?" and he said "Yeah, man". Well, that was it, freakin' Hendrix telling me that he liked the way I played. How long was I on Cloud Nine? Not sure ...

Then there was the time that we got busted in Oakland, New Jersey (is that related to Old Jersey)? Anyway, The State Troopers pulled us over for some reason or another, or did they even NEED a reason in 1969? One thing led to another and the Troopers decided to haul us into the station. Oh, did I mention that we were on our way to a gig? All of a sudden, four men wearing trench coats had appeared and began asking questions. The Troopers had called in the FBI. After all matters had been settled, The Flock was released and on its way to their performance, an hour and a half late. The audience had heard about our little visit with the authorities and waited for us to arrive.
And now, it's on to England's Bath Festival where Led Zeppelin was to go on after The Flock. It was early evening and the sun was beginning to set. Zeppelin's manager wanted them to go on during the sunset but The Flock hadn't finished their set so he pulled the power plug on us. I heard later that some punches were thrown between road crews. So much for Love and Peace. (Remember, this was 1969)

Another favorite story: In the 60's one could easily cross the border from Germany into Holland, but going from Holland into Germany was another story. The German security was very tight because, in Holland, things like hashish, marijuana and other drugs were almost legal. Germany, however, had a different view of these popular items of the day. When driving from Holland to Germany The Flock was told by agents at the German border, "ve are going to bring out ze dogs to check for drugs." We thought that they would bring out German Shepherds or Doberman Pinschers but were totally shocked when the agents came in with Cocker Spaniels. We had a good laugh from that and the little Cockers found nothing illicit in our possession.
Couldn't forget the story about meeting Canned Heat at the airport in Amsterdam. As Flock approached them, I couldn't help but notice something interesting about their vocalist Bob "The Bear" Hite. He looked exactly like me, or I him. I walked right up to Hite and looked him square in the eye. He looked and me and then went crazy. Everyone was going bananas!!! The funny thing about our looking like identical twins was that he was three times my size. Flock's bass player, Jerry Smith, told me last night that I was the first "Mini-Me". Funny that Hite also sounds like "height".
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS: A special thanks to Mike Gott at Gottdiscs for having excellent musical taste and deciding to reissue "Flock Rock - The Best Of The Flock". It means a lot to all Flockers that this little piece of musical history has been given new life. It was originally released in 1993 and in February of 2006, Sony deleted it from their catalog. Do I need this aggravation? So, now that "Flock Rock is available again, we hope that you enjoy !!!More special thanks to Rick Canoff for being my perfect musical partner starting in the mid 60s. Without Rick, the Flock would not have blossomed as it did. And forever thanks to Rick's mom Shirley Canoff for her support going all the way back to 1962. Also a shout to Mitchell Canoff, Rick's older brother who acted as Flock's road manager and protector.Much love and many thanks to Rick Mann, who was in the original Flock as singer / songwriter / guitarist. Rick, who was asked to leave the group in order that it could change musical directions, will always be remembered for his humor, kindness and the ability to exit gracefully.My daughter, Jennifer, would like to personally thank Jimi Hendrix, who she met backstage while she was in the womb. He seems to have had quite a colorful influence on her! :)O.K., that's going to wrap it up for the old new liner notes. I could go on for days as there are so many stories and memories to share. Maybe one day someone will write a book about The Flock. Here's a title, "WE SURVIVED THE 60s IN A ROCK 'N' ROLL BAND".
-- Fred Glickstein

I asked Fred what piece by The Flock he would most like to see me feature at the conclusion of our article ... ideally, I wanted something from the '70's to show the latter-day sound of the band ... but I also wanted to feature something that Fred personally felt would best represent the sound of the band during this era and deserved to be heard ... maybe something that never quite got the recognition he felt it should have or something that he was especially proud of ... and then, if he was willing, to share a short story about this particular song and / or these sessions. Here is what he came back with:

I would like to see the song "Clown" featured. It was the second track on the first album, "The Flock". I think that this was the strongest song on the album and really showed the world that the Flock had arrived and was offering something very new. Most Flock fans really remember "Clown" and can even tell you where they were when they first heard it!
The recording sessions for "The Flock" were amazingly exciting because they were at Studio A of Columbia Records New York, NY. This included sending out for corned beef sandwiches and all of the pickles we could eat!! The whole experience was priceless. I may die, but the Flock will live on!
Freddy Glickstein

You got it, Freddy ... and thanks for your time and help in putting together this article for Forgotten Hits! (kk)

Here are a few Flock video clips currently circulating on YouTube that Fred sent along for our readers to check out:
From the early days:
Check out these YouTube Flock Videos ... CHICAGO'S VERY OWN - THE FLOCK
"Can't You See" (1966)
"Are You The Kind" (1966-67)
"Take Me Back" (1967)
"What Would You Do If The Sun Died" (1968)
And two songs from "The Flock" - our first Columbia album - 1969
And be sure to check out the official Flock Website:

Forgotten Hits would like to thank Fred Glickstein for taking the time to talk with our readers, Guy Arnston, original publisher of "The Illinois Entertainer" for giving us access to the EXCELLENT Jeff Lind article quoted throughout this piece, profiling The Flock from his "History Of Chicago Rock Series", and Rick Barr of The New Colony Six and Dean Milano (Author of "The Chicago Music Scene, 1960s and 1970s") for their assistance in putting all these key people together. By the way, copies of this series were sent to some of the other members of The Flock ... who knows ... with a little bit of luck, we may hear back from some of these guys to help shed some light on a follow-up piece! (kk)