Solstice Chronicals

Solstice Chronicals

Solstice Mark III formed during late 1974, and rehearsed at singer Bob Teegarden's home, in a sound proofed rehearsal studio that Bob created using his mother's detached garage, in Woodland Hills, CA. Bob had worked with drummer Jim Lofrano a couple of years earlier, in a local cover band known as "Buster", which also included guitarist Jerry Strull and bassist / vocalist Mark Thorsell.

For Solstice Mark III, we focused on all original songs, all composed and rehearsed at the rehearsal studio, and quickly recorded in very early 1975. We were all in our late teens, but out of high school, and formost of us, this was our first band experience in a professional, mutlitrack studio.

Solstice Mark III concluded shortly after these recordings were completed, and the Stronghold tapes were basically "lost" to the band members, up until February 15,2007, when Bob Teegarden found a copy of the masters in his garage and worked with guitarist Rich Hunter to transfer them to these digital copies. All five original members were "present" for an online reunion, for the official unveiling of these fine pieces of musical entertainment. After all this time, we were all a bit taken aback at how wonderful these turned out. Ok, perhaps the sample group was biased.

So, at long last, after (then) 32 years, the demo tape had been unearthed containing 5 all original compositions by Hunter / Teegarden / Clancy / Webb & Lofrano. The demo was recorded on a 2" 16 track machine at Stronghold Sound Recorders in January / February 1975. We think the engineer's name was Dennis something, but during the 2007 on line reunion, Rich Webb remembered a Jay somebody that he knew at Stronghold, at the time.

Update, 2015: According to his memoir, Gary Wright would record his all keyboard album, including his huge hit "Dream Weaver", at Stronghold Sound Recorders in 1975, just a couple of weeks or months after Solstice Mark III made their demo. Gary's memoir also mentions an engineer called Jay somebody, which lines up well with Rich Webb`s 2007 recollection.

Ways in Change


Song written by John Clancy, Bob Teagarden, Rich Hunter, Rich Webb and Jim Lofrano

Song performed by Rich Hunter (guitars), Bob Teagarden (Vocals), Jim Lofrano (Drums) , Rich Webb (Bass) and John Clancy (Keys)

Ways in Change


"Ways in Change" started as the keyboard riffs and accompanying bass lines heard in the verse and chorus. When originally presented to the band, I recall that it was Rich Webb that made the first contribution, by alternating my walking repetative bass line in C with an answer based on F. Transitions, arrangements from the entire band, along with most appropriate lyrics and vocals from Bob, turned this into a song...one of the very first original songs of mine ever recorded with a band. - Clancy, October 2015

Can't Hold On


Song written by John Clancy, Bob Teagarden, Rich Hunter, Rich Webb and Jim Lofrano

Song performed by Rich Hunter (guitars), Bob Teagarden (Vocals), Jim Lofrano (Drums) , Rich Webb (Bass) and John Clancy (Keys)

Can`t Hold On


The opening synth riffs were an original counterpoint of mine, my recollection is that the "heavy" riff that follows was written by Rich Hunter, with the dropped beats and our attempts at syncopation coming from Rich Webb and myself...all 3 of us were very influenced by Gentle Giant at the time, I think that was what we were going for there. It was a lot of fun to play, when we had our dirtier tones on guitar and organ, but the studio engineer could not accomodate us overdriving the tone, At all. Consequently, both the guitar and the organ have a much "cleaner" sound than we intended, We were all in our late teens, and we did not fully realize that we should be telling the engineer how it needed to sound, not the other way around. Live and learn. - Clancy, October 2015

Silent Side


Song written and performed by Rich Hunter (guitars), Bob Teagarden (Vocals), Jim Lofrano (Drums) , Rich Webb (Bass) and John Clancy (Keys)

Silent Side


Another decision we made - heavily influenced by our engineer - was not to record any of the planned tracks with my Chamberlain 200. The Chamberlain was a tape based sampler, a very early Mellotron prototype. Our engineer said that it sounded to him like an old Italian Horror movie; to which I should have replied - why yes it does, and that is precisely the point~! I remember Dennis the Engineer complimenting us on the quality tracks we had done so far, and saying that the Chamberlain's poor sound would degrade the overall product we were going for. We were very aware of the clock, with limited funds, so even experimenting for an hour or so was not considered. We tried to fill in with synthesizers, and perhaps a few extra vocal screams. (With all the money I had invested in that Chamberlain, I know I wanted to scream.) I did not argue the point. Although I made a small contribution - my recollection is around 5% - to the overall budget, most of the financing was coming from our Manager, Terry, and our singer Bob.

Waiting for the Solstice (#4)


Song written by guitarist Rich Hunter

Song performed by Rich Hunter (guitars), Bob Teagarden (Vocals), Jim Lofrano (Drums) , Rich Webb (Bass) and John Clancy (Keys)

Waiting for the Solstice (#4)


One positive result of losing the tape based strings of the Chamberlain, I was forced to improvise the synth break on this track, at around 3:10 and again at 3:55. This was a pretty simple idea, using 3 tracks to manufacture "chords" from a monophonic (one note at a time) synthesizer, which I knew would provide a very "thick" sound texture once it was done. The band, and even the engineer, were curious as to what I was doing, after hearing just the first track, but I kept promising them they would like the result, as I ran back & forth from the control room. Once they heard all 3 tracks mixed together, my recollection is that the band and engineer were quite impressed. Bob even complimenting our Harmony professor from High School, Dr Cedric Smith, to whom I attributed credit, and we did not miss the Chamberlain tape based sampler, at least not on this track.

As I write these notes 40 years on, here in October of 2015, and having just learnt today that we were very closely followed in Stronghold studio bookings by Gary Wright, and reading that his engineer Jay recommended Stronghold for the overdubbing of his "all keyboard / synthesizer" project... and recalling that when I did this, just a few weeks prior, that our engineer had never seen this done before...well, perhaps I am seeing more cause and effect than is due.

Floating in the Breeze


Song written by Bob Teegarden, thematic contributions from Rich Hunter on guitars, and John Clancy on Grand Piano.

Song performed by Rich Hunter (guitars), Bob Teagarden (Vocals - and acoustic guitar?), Jim Lofrano (Drums) , Rich Webb (Bass) and John Clancy (Keys)

Floating in the Breeze


This song - Bob Teegarden's masterpiece - still holds up pretty well, even as I write these notes some 40 odd years later.

The lead guitar solo on this song and a couple of others, was done in a 2nd round of overdubs - financed in large part by Bob's mom - by Bob and Rich, after we realized that the clean tone we all used throughout was not going to be acceptable. some of the lead solos had to be beefed up with a bit of over-driven amplifier tone, from the Quilter Sound guitar amplifier that Rich was using in the mid 1970's.

Once completed, the 5 song tape was pitched to a contact that the band had cultivated at Warner Brothers, someone connected in some way with the southern rock band, Little Feat. I was not present, but reports were that the representative listened politely, the band was told that the tape sounded ok, but that Prog / Synth based music was now considered "out of fashion", or words to that effect. We were still teenagers, and we were being told we were out of touch, already.

Discouraged by the result of this experience, the band re-tooled yet again, and a decison was made to change direction and perform covers as a power trio on the instrumental backline. This direction meant the composition and multi-keyboard services of Mr Clancy would no longer be required.

My first take away from this invaluable early experience was that I needed to improve my technique. A late starter, I had only been playing the keyboards for about a year, after all, at the point these demos were recorded. So I began studying classical piano with Anton Irek, who taught piano from his home in Encino, CA. I leased a Knabe baby grand for $25 a month, which I stored in my mother's quest house, and I began a regimine of practice that continued for a number of years.


PS - Drummer Jim Lofrano's 2007 assessment, after hearing the "lost" recordings: "We should have been signed on the strength of this demo. L.A. is a sewer, and that moron from Warner Bros should be beaten to death with his own shoe."


PPS - Gary Wright's aforementioned song "Dream Weaver", also recorded at Stronghold Sound Recorders in 1975, went on to reach #2 on the Billboard singles charts by 1976, and remained on the charts for more than a year. That is not too bad for an all synth based song, since this was the same year the synth based music on our demo went "out of style".