It was now Sunday, June 5, 1976. Stephen and I got right down to work and our singing was starting to sound a lot better. We played music all day while waiting for Steve and Alan to show up and composed a song list for this makeshift band to perform. By seven o'clock that evening the rest of the so-called band showed up with a new keyboardist who had brought up a Fender Rhodes and rehearsal began a half an hour later.
The phone rang in the kitchen and it was Larry calling from Sausalito saying that Kathy, Yadi and Richie had gone back to LA because Richie couldn't find a place to stay in San Francisco, his home town. Larry had remained there with Bambi and they were staying with a friend of his named John who lived in Marin County in a place with a 360 degree view. He could see the fog rising over the bay revealing the top of the bronze beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge. He had visited to the Record Plant up there and ran into Bill Halverson and Gary Kellgren (co-owner of the studio). He described the studio in detail saying that they had it built where you could play right in the control room, a design that would be used in future studios. Kellgren was ahead of his time. He had the singers performing on raised podiums and the piano was hung from wires that hovered ten feet off the ground. Larry said it looked insane but sounded great. It was dubbed The Pit was a 140-square-foot, acoustically dead room that had the engineer's controls sunk 10 feet into the foundation of the building, this pit surrounded on all sides by a ground level area intended for the musicians. Its appearance was futuristic, with bright maroon plush carpet on the floors, walls, ceiling, and stairs. Psychedelic murals and embroidery added to the visual atmosphere. There were no windows between the control room and the main studio area, previously considered a fundamental method of sound separation; instead, there was a partial cowling circling the control pit, also carpeted.
The quirkiness of the studio extended in many directions; for transporting musicians, Stone owned a limousine with the custom license plate DEDUCT, while Kellgren kept a purple Rolls-Royce displaying GREED on the license plate. This was the same Rolls that Jon Gries drove to Tower Records to purchase the Beach Boys record "Don't Worry Baby" in 1974. As in Los Angeles, the studio contained a jacuzzi, but Sausalito's conference room had a waterbed for a floor. For the musicians' meals, there were chefs ready to cook organic food, and for their sleeping quarters there were two guesthouses next to each other, five minutes away in Mill Valley. In back there was a basketball hoop, and in the nearby harbor a speedboat was kept ready. The studio obtained industrial-grade nitrous—oxide pure, not mixed with oxygen as it is for dental anesthesia—from a local chemical supply company under the pretext that the gas was critical to the recording process, and fresh tanks were delivered weekly. Gas masks hung from the ceiling for those who wished to get intoxicated on "laughing gas". Al Kooper wrote that during the few days that he was helping Nils Lofgren lay down tracks for the album "Cry Tough". Kooper was so taken with the novel drug experience that he wheeled one of the tanks around and kept it next to him for refreshment between takes. He breathed in so much of it that acid collected in his stomach, aggravating his ulcers, and for a few days he was too sick to work. Kooper said that the studio's fun with nitrous oxide was stopped forever when a friend of Kellgren's was found dead from asphyxia under one of the tanks, the tube still in his mouth.
Gary said he was building a replica the the Saucalito studio in his house in the Hollywood Hills and he had invited Larry to help build it. In return he was promised to get studio work as a keyboardist and would also try to get Richie a job as an engineer. Larry was back in the hustle and bustle of LA again while Stephen, Rick and I remained in Aptos trying to get this new band together.
I found out that Carl Faust was an ex-con who was given the opportunity to run this halfway house as a condition of his parole. he told us of how he had fatally stabbed this guy who was sleeping with his "old lady" while he was high on LSD. Another resident of the mansion was this guy named Don, who told me he had murdered two people and had once shared a cell with Charlie Manson. That night I slept on one arm of the "L shaped" couch while Don slept on the other arm. Needless to say I didn't get a whole lot of sleep that night and I came down with a mother of a cold.
Things were getting very bleak now because the phone was turned off as well as all the power at the mansion. It was time to get the hell out of Dodge, or Aptos as the case may be. We wanted to get back to LA because there was going to be a rebroadcast of "Helter Skelter" on TV and we wanted to be there so we could promote the band as well as having some credibility; not to mention we could probably get laid after bragging about our successes in the parking lot of the Rainbow Bar and Grille at 2 am. Stephen and Rick were in agreement, the only trouble was we only had about ten dollars in cash between the three of us. At this time Steve and his entourage had left the place and we had to find a way to get money to fill up the gas-guzzling Continental. I wasn't going to sell my guitar or anything like that but while rummaging through the desk in Carl's office I found a roll of stamps.
I took the roll of stamps to a local bank in Aptos where they gave me face value which was a whopping thirteen dollars (stamps in 1976 were 13 cents). It was enough to fill the tank of that beastly Lincoln as gas prices then were about sixty cents a gallon. I was feeling a lot better when we headed out of town to visit Stephen's father, Chick Adamick who still lived in Carmel, less than a hundred miles away. We stayed there for a few hours but I was getting anxious to get back to LA. Chick gave us another twenty bucks and we thought it would be just enough to make it back home. While coasting down the perilous hill at the grapevine on Highway 5, the needle was on empty. We finally got to Oakhurst Drive on mere fumes then I went in the house and borrowed another twenty from my mom and gave it to Rick for gas. Sanctuary at last.