OF THE SUN: BILLY THORPE
Billy had just come to the States after ten #1 records Down Under. He was a stellar guitar player and a wild man with a brain. That night, Alan told Billy and me that he would no longer be working with third parties. He and his manager, Eric Wolfson, were going to write and produce their own transcendental works under the name of The Alan Parsons Project. Alan suggested that Billy and I hook up and possibly work together.
At the party, Thorpie and I shared our mutual interest in science fiction and existential philosophy. We talked about Carl Sagan's book "Cosmos," which was a bestseller at the time, Nostradamus and his 'out there' predictions - as well as the current proclivity and mania around STAR WARS, BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA and the publication of OMNI MAGAZINE. We decided to leave the party and go to the movies to see CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.
When we got out (after midnight) we asked each other "What happened after the aliens made contact?" Of course, we figured it out! We went back to my house in Coldwater Canyon (in the hills of Beverly) where we could pull out our guitars and be loud. By 5 a.m. we had written CHILDREN OF THE SUN together. The story chronicled the visit of extraterrestrials from an advanced benevolent race that saw the self-destruction of Earth after a nuclear blast. In our song, they came down and offered everyone left after the blast the choice of leaving with them on a crystal space ship, to start a new life on a crystal planet in another galaxy to start a new life.
When we woke up and listened to our tape-recorded saga the next afternoon, we thought it was very cool. So much so, that we decided to take the song to the ultimate and make a conceptual album that talked about the visit, the journey and the landing. We figured that if it were a hit, we would continue the saga and ultimately have our protagonist, the 21ST CENTURY MAN, have an affair with the Goddess of the Planet ("Caledrus"), get married in a lavish coronation ceremony and have a child who was the product of the two races. The conjoined new race would then go out into the universe and conquer other planets and galaxies.
I had just made a production deal with Polydor International Records in Hamburg, Germany. They liked me because I produced some international hit albums with Allan Clarke of The Hollies, Dave Lambert of the English group, The Strawbs (with John Entwhistle of The Who on bass and Denny Seiwell of McCartney's Wings on drums), and their hometown, European version of Steely Dan, Randy Pie. By the way, being German, most of the guys in Randy Pie did not speak English. Since I was born in Munich, I produced and arranged that record in a multi-lingual zone. Anyway, the deal allowed me to develop artists I believed in and give Polydor (a PolyGram company) the distribution rights for the world outside North America. PASHA retained the domestic rights. I then had them pre-pay seven album budgets, in the form of a loan, and went to a local Beverly Hills bank and got matching dollars to build my recording studios. I called them THE PASHA MUSIC HOUSE so that it would be a home - away - from - home to me and my extended family of artistes.
Billy's CHILDREN OF THE SUN album was the first complete album made at THE PASHA MUSIC HOUSE. It took eleven months, since we really went into the Twilight Zone to put our heads into the space and sonic spectrum to make it. Leland Sklar (who was playing bass on the road for Crosby, Stills and Nash) joined us, as did Alvin Taylor on drums. Alvin was George Harrison's drummer and was playing with Eric Burdon at the time. We synched up two 24 - track machines so that we would have enough vocal tracks to stack up what would sound like hundreds of voices. We needed to simulate the 'Sun Children' sound, especially when they were welcoming the earthlings to their planet. We had a blast, and felt that we had something very special. Hardly anyone else did!
After completing the album, I invited every record company president and head of A&R that I could (which were many) to come visit my new studio and hear what I believed to be not just a rock opera, but a multi-media work. I lowered the lights, lit candles and burned incense as our sonic journey blasted out of our custom - built speakers in Control Room A. Everyone passed on the project but wished me well. They thought the fumes got to me.
At another party (those were my party days), I met Phil Walden and Frank Fenter, who owned an independent label, Capricorn Records, based in Macon, Georgia. Phil had been Otis Redding's manager and developed a very hip rock conclave that housed The Allman Brothers, The Marshall Tucker Band and The Dicky Betts Band. These guys knew how to party and knew what rock and roll was about. They were not afraid to go out there. I invited them back to PASHA at three in the morning, and when the sun came up and they had heard our space extravaganza three times, our deal was done. They would release the album immediately - and even support our power trio out on the road to bring the album to life. Fortunately, their label was distributed by PolyGram in America, thus I caught a break, in that Polydor International had the album for the world ex-North America and one of their distributed labels had it here - so it would go through their pipeline.
Well, every station that had the balls to play the record got such tremendous phone response that within one month after release, we had the number one record on the only ten rock stations in America that would play the album - and particularly, the song "CHILDREN OF THE SUN."
Planetarium laser light shows had begun to spark the public's interest, but the music they played had nothing to do with the subject matter of outer space. I took a bold step in searching out and contacting the producers of the Griffith Park Planetarium's shows. I told them I had just put together the ultimate marriage of the mediums. I sent a car for their marketing staff, and after they heard the record (under PASHA's candlelit umbrella) we made a deal to create a computer animated laser choreography of our album. It ran in every observatory and planeterium in North America for over six months. Patrons would get press materials, and a discount on our album at the shows and the local retail record outlets and radio stations would mount cross promotions with these traditionally science-based institutions. Needless to say, it catapulted the album to the number #1 most played, requested and selling rock album in the country at that time. What a great time of my life!
Children Of The