HERE IT IS EVERYONE! AS I PROMISED, AN INTERVIEW WITH SPACE
WIZZARD/GUITAR GURU BUDDY RICHARDSON! The first part of this interview took
place in a small garage that sits tucked away in the lush backyard of Buddy's Florida
home. As our exchange intensifies, Buddy and I find ourselves soaring off on
spaceship WW then landing back safely in the two lawn chairs by Buddy's garden.
Listen in space friends!
(DY) Do you remember what got you into music?
(BR) Yes, I remember my older brother had a guitar, he taught me how to play E, A
and B7 and that's all I needed at the time. I remember he used to be into Elvis and my
parents didn't like that. Also, my mother used to sing a lot around the house, she
would whistle all the opera's and play the piano, I was just a kid. Later we moved to
Idaho and I remember, I saw a band like a VENTURES style band, they wore blazers,
ties and slacks, all matching. They played a dance at the University Of Idaho and I
just peeked around the corner and got to see them. I was only 14 years old.
(DY) And that did it for you?
(BR) Yes, and that was also the year that my father bought a $14 acoustic guitar for
Christmas, it had a
little book with all the chords!
(DY) Do you remember the first record you bought?
(BR) Yes, it was "Wake Up Little Susie" by the EVERLY BROTHERS.
Their harmony's were always so good and they were the worlds greatest acoustic
(DY) It was always 45's back then it seems.
(BR) Yea, that was what you did, you go to parties, drink Coca Cola, play spin the
bottle and listen to 45's. There were no car jacking, home invasions or that kind of
behavior back then. I must say, when I was a junior in high school we moved to
Florida and oh my god, everybody was in a band! A guy came to my front door one day
and said "Hi, my name is Doug Winton and I heard you played guitar, do you want to
be in a band?"
(DY) So that is when you started getting into band situations?
(BR) Yes, in 1964 the BEATLES hit and that did it. I started my first band the
OUTSIDERS, the Tampa
We had to change our name because of the Cleveland band. They had that hit (Buddy
starts singing it) "Time wont let me la la" remember that? When that came out my
friends thought it was us! It sounded like me (I notice a suspicious look in Buddy's
eye's) I also had played a bit earlier in one of the "Adult" bands. We had the drums,
the horns the works and I played guitar, well, I didn't really know anything at the
time. I would turn my volume down sometimes and just fake it. I didn't care, I was
just there for the girls! I was in a band!
(DY) So the BEATLES played a role in you getting into the more "Rock" oriented
(BR) Oh yea, we were addicted. In 1964 everything suddenly changed. The British
invasion also weeded out a lot of the other bands, some of them hated the BEATLES.
They were all studied musicians and we were like the little brat's, the "new kids on
the block" who came seemingly out of no where to take the music scene by storm,
and that's what happened. I remember girls crying and screaming, they had to rope
them off at teen centers and for the first time they had to have serious security at
concerts. The kid's would go nut's for the music! You have to understand, back then a
guitar was your ticket anywhere, parties, what ever, now everyone has a recording
studio in there garage.
(DY) After high school how much of you time was consumed with playing music?
(BR) Well, after high school I went to college at USF, there I was listening to DYLAN
records with the long hairs, which meant, hair touching your ears.
but still, we couldn't walk across campus without getting heat! We just got into
music because we didn't want any part of this stuffy corporate world.
The musicians, poets and artist's were just so different from the establishment. We
believed in our cause of peace and love and they just didn't seem to get it.
(DY) Did your early bands ever do shows with the TROPICS?
(BR) Oh yes, so many of the bands played together. Tampa was like little London
back then. I know we played the DAVE CLARK FIVE show and the TROPICS played
that show as well.
(DY) Was it a rival thing?
(BR) No, but the media used to have you think it was, with terms like "Battle Of The
Bands!" Some of the girls and fan clubs would act like that as well. The bands didn't
really think like that, not too much anyway. It was such a time of innocence back
then, there were so many bands and we had a lot of places to play, teen clubs, no
alcohol and they were always packed with cheering fans. We would even play one set
at one club and then drive 100 miles to another club and play a second set.
(DY) When did you decide to move on from the cover band scene to projects that
allowed you to write?
(BR) Right away! The OUTSIDERS put out an original single early on, "Just Let Me Be"
It was just a local release but we sold more than 5000 copies right here in the Tampa
(DY) Oh yea, I saw a single in your house from an early project and I noticed you were
(BR) That was "Paper Man", That was done with my other band NOAH'S ARK, we all
put out singles back then. Paper Man was on a major label, Decca records.
(DY) Let's get the early projects in chronological order. You were the OUTSIDERS?
(BR) Yes, then we changed our name to the SOUL TRIPPERS around….66, yea, then
later I put together NOAHS ARK. (DY) What inspired the name SOUL
(BR) Well, we were into cosmic things, things that dealt with the soul, taking trips
into the cosmos, mind
(DY) Wow, you were thinking like that pre Sgt. Pepper? 1966!
(BR) Nobody knew what we were talking about! It was pretty early! Even in NOAH'S
ARK I had an STP sticker on my guitar and everybody just thought that I was really
into cars. We were always on the cutting edge. We wore clothes that we had bought
from England, we had clothes made, we had love beads and stuff like that back when
Tampa was really not into that. It wasn't until 68 that Tampa started getting into the
whole hippy movement.
(DY) I think it's funny that you called Tampa "Little London' because right now in the
UK there is a regenerated interest in Florida garage bands and Tampa psych. Your
band NOAH'S ARK is even mentioned on the DELIRIUM site. Your old songs are still
popping up on compilations.
(BR) That freaks me out.
(DY) Think about that Buddy, That little stone you dropped in the pond that was the
Tampa music scene, over 30 years ago, is still causing ripples that reach over all
these years, covering all this land and reaching over seas.
(BR) That is odd, I remember we used to believe the BEATLES "Don't trust anyone
over 30 years
old" Now the music is over 30 years old…
(DY) It was around the 68 time period that you had the NOAH'S ARK project going,
any hints back then as to the theatrical path you would later endeavor? (I liked this
question, I felt very…Tom Snyder)
(BR) Somewhat, we really wanted to be ahead of our time musically. We had a
Theremin in the band back then and we had the worlds greatest drummer (Bobby
Caldwell, not to be confused with the singer) He would tear up his bass drum! People
would come just to see his solos! All of my bands would always put on some kind of
show, with our clothing, hair styles, original and obscure cover songs. We even
started wearing thick chains around our necks and soon other people started doing
that, soon after that there was a band that called themselves the CHAINS and they
started wearing the chains like us. (DY) I love the Theremin! They are back in
(BR) Even with WHITE WITCH, I would bet that we were the first band in the southern
part of the US that ever used a MOOG synth. It used to freak everyone out. That is
why it is all over that first album. WHITE WITCH was very much a conceptual thing,
Ronn and I were really into the spiritual thing.
(DY) How did you meet Ronn Goedert?
(BR) I met Ronn back when he had auditioned for our new band, I remember, Ronn had
a book called "The Magic In Believing" In Ronn's old band, the ROCK N ROLL CIRCUS,
he used to paint his face half black and half white. He was already into the theatrical
thing! Anyway, I had a book called "Helping Yourself With White Witchcraft", So Ronn
and I were on that wave length. I remember we used to both carry bags and in our
bags we had our cosmic books. We decided to do that with the music, making it a
real cosmic thing. We were just into that cosmic "good vs. evil". We had studied the
Egyptian history, everything cosmic. I had a book called "The Mystical Life Of Jesus"
It goes into how he attained his great powers from the pyramids, we were really so
into spiritual awareness.
(DY) How did the other members of WW feel about the spiritual thing?
(BR) I told Pendergrass when we started, I don't really want to be in the TROPICS but
I would love to play in a band with you. He was such a GREAT player, he agreed that
we were going to form a new band. I feel that's what he wanted to do as well, I think
he was on the same page there. I did say, I want us to be a concept band and bring in
the spiritual aspects of it but, we all had to be into it or it would have never happened.
(DY) I noticed some of the photo's that you have many stage props and what appears
to be explosives?
(BR) Yea, we didn't just stand up there and do songs, we wanted you to experience
something. We wanted to be more than a juke box and also, it was just more fun for
(DY) So you and Buddy had another little band going for a bit didn't you?
(BR) Yea, We were called the DEAD BEAR BLUES BAND for a while.
(DY) And you guy's opened for JETHRO TULL?
(BR) Yes! We opened for JETHRO TULL in west Palm Beach.
(DY) So some of the elbow brushes with fame are a bit fuzzy?
(BR) Oh not really, We played a lot of gigs with ALICE COOPER and GRAND FUNK
especially remember playing the Spectrum in Philadelphia with GRAND FUNK
RAILROAD and BILLY PRESTON in front of about 30,000 people. That was a very
memorable show. We also played with
SUGARLOAF, TED NUGENT and so many others.
(DY) And then I understand that you guy's bought your own house?
(BR) Oh yea, We called it the "Studio" we stapled foam all over the walls and in the
summer time we would burn up. No air-conditioning. All we had for recording was a
rented, $5 a day, black plastic tape recorder and we recorded our new songs on that.
That's what we did, day after day. Then the roadies started sleeping there, making
there own little cubicles. But it grew, we had a camper that dated back to the
TROPICS and then we had a trailer behind that for a while, then we bought an
equipment truck then we started getting more roadies! At one point we had 8 roadies
and 5 band members we had to deal with. Then Lars, a roadie from Birmingham,
became our light guy. He was great! He does very well to this day, he makes the big
$$ now, he's even done light work for the president of the United States!.
(DY) What are the songs that you recall being among the earliest that WW wrote?
(BR) Ooh, That's hard, the reason it's hard for me. For example, "CRYSTALLIZE AND
REALIZE" I had already started a long time before the second album. But it did
develop over time, I think that's how most things happen. Everything in your life is
inspired by something else, something you've heard, you've tasted, you've touched,
you've smelled or seen. You've heard records, gone to concerts, heard classical
music, it all plays into the creative process. Even the ROLLING STONES would sit
around and listen to old 45s and get ideas. But what brought on our first song, or even
more, what was it?…"AND I'M LEAVING"? maybe? That would be my guess. OH NO!
One of the first ones was "ILLUSION" Because Buddy P was using something similar
to that when he was with the TROPICS. We took that and changed it around a bit and
created "ILLUSION" (DY) Let's go back the day RONN came into audition, what
did he have to do? Sing a cover song?
(BR) What Ronn actually did was show up at a band job. It was Mel Dryers last show
with the TROPICS and RONN just came up and sang some songs. We did a lot of
covers as well as originals so I am sure he sang covers with us. Probably the
BEATLES. We all noticed his range right away and we thought "uh-oh, this man is
(DY) I ask because I am curious how all of you guy's just started writing together!
(BR) Well, We wanted to do our own thing, we all had ideas from years gone by and
we had all written music in other bands at least the 3 of us had (Ronn and the two
(DY) So maybe you had a guitar part that you had been working with for a while and
you would show it to the band and they would just add to it?
(BR) Yes, sometimes and then other times if you had other parts worked out you
would say "I want you guy's to do this" There's a couple of songs that RABBI BARBEE
is on and...not to sound disparaging, but I am like this, I do not like to be alone, if I
am going to plant a garden I would like you to come with me, even if you just sit there
while I plant it, so I said "RABBI, come down to the studio, Iv got two songs I want to
do, "AUNTIE CHRISTY" "CLASS OF 2000" I said, I want to bounce them off of you, just
grab a chair and your bass, I had the songs worked out but I am sure I was seeking
approval, it's a psychological thing, you want someone to say "Yea man, that's really
good" But I told him, You are my brother, I am giving you equal credit on these songs.
I could have given him 10% but I said NO, I do not care about the money thing, your
brotherhood, your friendship and your family are the real things along with the music
and the art. That's like the Intro and the Outro on the first LP, you see all 5 names on
that, well, 5 guy's didn't get together and write all of that. But I would have been
happy if it had all been like that' I thought it should be a communal thing.
(DY) So you would have been happy if it had said, All music by WHITE WITCH?
(BR) Oh yes, Even if only a few took the money. Say you wrote a song all by yourself,
I don't mind if you keep 100% of the money. But it would have been cool to say that
WHITE WITCH wrote the music, I didn't think of that at the time but that would have
been a cool thing. But that's ok.
DY) What are your thoughts on BUDDY PENDERGRASS?
(BR) Buddy P was such a great keyboard player and he plays guitar as well. He had
years of experience writing songs. And when he brought that synthesizer in, Man! The
wheels really started turning! He was great!
(DY) Who's idea was it to add the Synthesizer?
(BR) I will have to find out, LARS knows this answer……LARS the light man! He had
little Dutch boy bangs and these wooden shoes so I named him LARS! (Laughter)
(Buddy was kind enough to call me back to answer this question after talking to the
electric Dutch boy himself, LARS!) BR- What happened was, we went shopping in
Gainsville at LIPHAM'S MUSIC. We saw the MOOG and said, "That's it! That's just
what we need" We were looking at that time for some instrument to give us a
different sound. (DY) Had you heard the MOOG being used in other bands?
How did you know about it?
(BR) This is a great question! I hadn't heard it in any other bands at the time. But I am
sure it was us just looking for something new. We were always looking for something,
that's what we did, every day, we would sit and talk about, How can we move this
crowd? How can we move our selves. Their was a lot of thought put into our project,
we didn't just stumble around blind and let things happen. There were exterior forces
at play of course but we had to make things happen. Like if a car pulls up to a red
light and stops, the light didn't make the car stop, YOU did. The light played a role
but you were in control. You just have to look for things around you, read the signs
and make things happen. Like that 13/7 on my face,
people always ask, "What does that mean ?" Well, maybe those numbers on their own
mean nothing, but they did to the band because for some reason RONN and I kept
noticing, we're in room 333 again, we're in room 117 again! The address is 10370! And
we were looking to adopt symbols and signs that remind us of our cosmic training
and 137 was significant in that they kept popping up so I adopted those numbers.
(DY) Yes, I have heard all sorts of rumors about the 13/7 thing.
(BR) Well 7 is a cosmic number, 13 as well and we were looking for things with great
Make no mistake, WHITE WITCH was a well thought out thing, we wanted to say
something. The lyrics, the image, the flash paper, the stage props, everything! It was
fun! Coming out of the south especially. Everywhere we went back then people were
really freaked out. "What are you doing,
We're scared of you, We don't know what you are doing." Once in NEW ORLEANS, we
took everyone in the bar, even the patrons, and we all went out side to the parking lot
and looked up to the stars, we were all holding hands and chanting. Now imagine
what that was like, talking a bunch of strangers in a bar into doing that! They were
(DY) When was that?!
(BR) 71! Our album wasn't even out yet!
(DY) Speaking of album! How did you get the deal with Capricorn?
(BR) We were kind of "Discovered". We played a show with TED NUGENT.
I believe we may have even been called the TROPICS that night. The guy that came
and did the sound was named TERRY KANE and he was doing some work at the new
studio they were putting together in Macon Georgia for Capricorn records. This was
all cosmic, we did not know who he was or that he would even be there. We played
our set and then he came up and was jut freaking out over our sound and our looks.
RONN may have worn the make up that night. He went back to Macon and said, "Hey,
there is this band !" Of course they were all ALLMAN BROTHERS type music and I did
have my doubts about signing with that company, but, none the less, they did invite
us up there to do a demo session.
(DY) Do you remember what you played when you got there?
(BR) I knew you would ask that (Laughter) Take notes, between 5 of us I am sure you
will find out. It seems like we may have played "HELP ME LORD" maybe "DON'T
CLOSE YOUR MIND"? Probably "AND IM LEAVING" I cant say for certain. Damien, I
am out of water. Will you excuse me?
(At this moment I am alone in the garage of one of my childhood hero's. I keep
looking around the garage (Looking, not snooping) thinking I will spot something that
is very BUDDY RICHARDSON, Maybe a make up kit with a stencil pad with white
paint staining the 1 the 3 and the 7 on the number section. In my peripheral vision the
box of guitar picks and strings turn into nails and wires as I turn my focus on them,
just like any other garage. There is no hint of "ROCK GOD" in this garage at all. My
visions of old WW reel to reels laying around and maybe a few guitar parts have been
replaced by lawn mowers and leaf blowers. I wonder, when Buddy is using that leaf
blower, if in his mind, he ever transcends his domestic world. Suddenly, the blower
becomes his guitar and the rustle of the leaves that blow across the pavement to the
pile, take on the sound of audience applause as he is stands above them, pouring his
sound upon them, controlling their movement!!…Enough! That's crazy! What am I
thinking? This guy is like you and me! Well, maybe more like you than me. See what
my mind does when I am alone for too long? Hey, I hear Buddy coming back from the
house. You know, even though Elizabeth and I have hung out with him and his
beautiful wife the night before, I still think when that door opens I will see the Buddy
that we have all seen for years, all decked out in black with his long hair and painted
face. But as the door opens….I do still see that Buddy! The hair is cropped and
bleached like STING or BOWIE now, but that IS the guy on the album cover. He has a
look of wisdom that accompanies his intensity. The man has many faces. We thought
when we first saw him he had that "McCartney at his Scotland farm" look. As we had
a few drinks he became Anthony Hopkins in Silence Of The Lambs! (Except he didn't
kill us and stash us in his basement) And then there was a bit of Christopher Walken
him as well. Anyway, I will end part one of the interview here. When I pick back up,
Buddy R and I are about to go out by the garden and really get into the WHITE WITCH
LPs along with his thoughts on their future! Please join us!
Click on Buddy Richardson & he will take you to PART 2 of his interview!