Approximate dates: February 1972-September
Base of Operations: Atlanta, Georgia
Manager: Self managed
Agents: one main agent based in Atlanta, the name of which I don't remember (Timothy was handling the business)
Originally (as Bittersweet) ...
Reuben David Ferguson - Organ, Vocals, Percussion
Robert Leo Ferry - Guitar, Vocal
Timothy Micah Meyer - Bass Guitar, Vocals
Stuart Fernstein (Vale) - Drums (kind of) (he didn't last long; he was a horrid drummer, and he ripped us off and split)
Roger Paul - Drums (most of our jobs were with Roger)
Michael Berry Osborn - Piano, Vocals, Flute
And as Bittersuite ...
Franz Nachod - Drums (he didn't last long either, but it wasn't his fault. He was quite good)
Click on Doctor My Eyes by Jackson
Brown or Locomotive Breath by
Tull as performed by Bittersuite to listen to that piece.
Both songs feature Reuben Ferguson (Hammond Organ), Robert Ferry (Guitar), Michael Osborn (Vocals, Piano), Timothy Meyer (Bass Guitar), and Franz Nachod (Drums)
You must have the RealPlayer G2 program installed in order to listen to the piece. If you don't already have it, you can download it from RealPlayer. You can get a copy for free, or get the deluxe version for $29.95.
This group was actually the same band as Bittersweet, but after Stuart left, Roger Paul (see Hudson Fairfax) joined, and Michael Berry Osborn (see Foundation II) was added, we decided to alter the spelling of the name. Franz Nachod had worked with Bob Ferry in Candy (see George and Bittersweet), and we persuaded him to come down from Philadelphia on the promise of steady work and a record contract, which is what we were promised by a lying container of excrement named Don Royal. We didn't get the steady work or the contract, as Don Royal turned out to be a real estate salesman with delusions of grandeur. One day I went over to Michael's place in the Roswell Road Apartments in Atlanta just in time to be dragged away from the scene by Timothy. It seems Michael was in the process of being arrested for pot, (he had only been smoking the stuff for about a month, and never did so again after this). Robert lived next door with Franz, and by the time I got there, Franz already had his van packed and was rolling out of the parking lot on his way back to Philadelphia. End of the band. However, Robert, Timothy, Michael and I would go on to form Foundation II.
This week (Jan., 2003) I received an e-mail from Franz. It was great to hear from him. I was amazed when he told me that he had several tapes of the band playing at the Down The Hatch nightclub in Columbus, Georgia. I had totally forgotten about their existence. He then sent them to me so I could preserve them for posterity on CD. After listening to some of my vocal performances, I found myself wondering if I shouldn't spare posterity the agony of listening to them. But, it sure makes my later vocal abilities seem downright miraculous. I guess it wouldn't hurt to point out that we had no vocal monitor system of any kind, and wouldn't have one for some time. Even when we finally could afford to buy them, it was years before we could get a system that actually worked, so try to keep that in mind while you're listening. Go to the CD Catalog to check out the disks.
We played several gigs at the Down The Hatch. Columbus was right across the river from Phenix City, Alabama. Phenix City had a reputation of being one of the roughest towns in the state; lots of people - the majority - carried a gun. In a holster. In plain sight. I was warned by my stepfather not to go there; apparently he had had some experiences there many years before, but I have no idea what they were. (Bittersweet had played several times at the Aztec Room in Phenix City, which was always a traumatic event. I still have an ashtray from the club). Anyway, it seemed pretty much the same in Columbus. Wearing a firearm was the norm. Made me think of the Wild West.
Down The Hatch was the location of many very interesting personal events. I fell madly in love with a girl named Jean, got chased by the police, had to hide from a collection agency so they wouldn't repossess my Ford van, then found out Jean was married. Life could have been better.
We were based in Atlanta, but I don't remember exactly where I was living at that time. I think it was the Ogalthorpe Apartments; a large, condemned, development of Depression-Era brick duplexes with controlled rent for poor people, and I certainly qualified. It was, however, the first place I ever had of my own with no roommate. Most of my furniture was constructed from left-over bales of phone books (I was delivering them to make money). You'd be amazed how comfortable they can be.
Franz wasn't with the group for very long; it was a friendly, reluctant parting on my part, and I'm sure on everyone else's as well. Musically and personally we clicked (he was a great drummer!), but fate had other plans for all of us.
The photo I used on the cover of the CDs is something of a fake. We never had a photo of the band with Franz and Michael. Franz wasn't with us long enough for us to get that far, and we waited until we got Eddie Bonham and started Foundation II until we had another set of promo pics done. The image of Michael (second from left) is actually from a Foundation II promo pic. Franz emailed me a photo he had of himself playing the drums, so I just used the head, and placed it over Roger Paul's head (far right). (No offense Roger, but you're not playing on this disk). I stripped the photo of any color information, increased the contrast to match up the various tones, then added the green layer.
I have two sets of memories about getting my Hammond down into the club. The room itself was in a sub-level of the building. We had a choice of manhandling the thing down a staircase with a switchback turn halfway through, or tilting it on its side to fit it in the elevator. Neither method was much fun. On the stairs, we had to lift it straight up at least four feet off the ground when we made the turn, and there wasn't room for more than four people to be in contact with it. I definitely got a workout when we did that. For the elevator, it was a problem tilting it on its side without damaging it, and it wasn't easy getting it up or down. I was also using two Leslie speakers at a couple of hundred pounds each, and we had huge and bad-sounding PA speakers (the deadly "folded horns") that also had to be lowered. The folded horns would have made a good PA, but I could never afford to buy any high-frequency horns for them, so they were horribly bassy and muddy. We would use them throughout this period, then with Foundation II and then Brutus. (The wood from them is now part of one of the recording tables in my studio). Those memories are one reason I quit performing. I hated being my own roadie, and it would only get worse over the years. The dreaded call of "ORGAN TIME!" was the low point of every gig for everyone in every band I was in for years to come. I still have the thing, but it doesn't travel any more.
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