top of page

John Adams


After SPARKY, I started looking to experiment more with free form improvisation, distortion, and tape delay. After the band's XOX sound system (see SPARKY) was divided up, Susie and I ended up with our Roberts 420X tape recorder and microphones that we had from before, 2 big Altec 100 watt A7 speakers, a Dynaco PAT-4 pre-amp and stereo 120 power amp, a Sony MX12 battery powered stereo mixer, a cheap battery powered condenser mic, and some headphones. Susie became the engineer once again.

      Around that time, hashish was becoming more and more prevalent, with exotic varieties like Afghani Primo, Persian water-pressed slabs, and Napalese Temple Balls. Through my pursuit of some of that good inspirational cannabis, I met a guy who had lived in India named CHITRA RATA. He had a circle of friends that he would gather around to smoke hash through a chilm. One guy that passed through that circle was JOHN ADAMS. John was a large, good looking black man a couple of years older than me. He played both tenor sax and flute. We recorded hours and hours of spontaneous music, overdriving the inputs with tape delay to create soundscapes. Unfortunately, the only surviving tapes are excerpts, but, on the other hand, the unedited, long tracks wouldn't appeal to most listeners, unless

they were tripping on acid like we were when we recorded them!

       Susie and I would drive to the top of Mount Tamalpias in Marin County with John and his girlfriend. I would play my acoustic guitar and John would play flute. We would drop acid,

smoke some hash-laced joints and play while the fog came in. Before long, the fog below covered everything but the mountain top that we were on, and was just like depictions of heaven.

        John told me a story about when he traveled to India by himself to buy some hash. John hooked up with a guy that after making sure John had money, led him up in the hills where this guy's friends were waiting. John had several guys pointing guns at him. He put up the international hand sign for "wait", pulled out his flute, and started playing some Coltrane. The would-be thieves then took John way up in the hills to play for all of their friends and relatives. John sat with an old man who predicted man would go into space some day. John told him it had already happened. The next day, they escorted him down the mountain with a kilo of top quality hash. He told me that when he went to pay for it, they wouldn't take his money. I have always kept that story to heart as an example of the universal power and magic of music……….and cannabis.

bottom of page