FM TO WEB - Two guys from the 60'S by Merrell Fankhauser

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Merrell Fankhauser is what is simply said as... the real thing. In these situations you don't have to say much. He comes from an era with a completely different aura and meaning. Let's enjoy his words...

I met Sky Saxon in late 1964 on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood before he had the hit "Pushin Too Hard". Sky was in The Seeds and I had my group Merrell And The Exiles. We both played at a nightclub on the strip called Pandora's Box, many groups got their start there and at The Whisky A Go Go. It was a very free and experimental time in the mid sixties where we were all pushing the boundaries of music and really trying to come up with something new and original to get out of the commercial mould that all the record companies wanted back then. Every group had a fear that their label, producer and managers wanted to turn them into a bubble gum group and we really had to fight to get our cosmic music released!

I remember Sky telling us he was recording this new song called "Pushin Too Hard" that was sure to go to the top of the charts... At the time we didn’t believe this would happen, especially my young guitarist Jeff Cotton who would later go on to join Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band and later re join me in MU. We were all surprised when we heard Sky’s "Pushin Too Hard" on the biggest station in L.A., KRLA, and we watched it go up the national charts. Merrell And The Exiles had a few singles that got national airplay and even won the Rate A Record contest on Dick Clarks American Bandstand TV show, "Sorry For Yourself" and "Tomorrows Girl". Neither song made the national charts but many years later in 2011 "Tomorrows Girl" was on the Rhino Records CD box set "Where The Action Is L.A. Nuggets 19965-1968" that was nominated for a Grammy! It just shows how popular and important the music from the 60's still is!

Around 1977 to my surprise Sky and I again bumped into each other on the Island Of Maui where we were both living at the time. I moved to Maui in 1973 with my group MU, named after the Lost Continent Of MU or Lemuria. I found some very interesting pre Hawaiian ruins in the jungle and even a pyramid in Haleakala crater. Photos of these discoveries are in the DVD documentary I did titled "Return To MU".



Sky would turn up and sit in with me and the band at some gigs we were doing and we even did a jam recording in a house on Maui that rumor has it came out on a Euro label as "Beautiful America" or something like that by Sky Sunlight Saxon....? I started travelling from Maui and played a lot in California and other states and Sky and I lost track of each other.

In 1990 I started doing a national satellite TV show called 'California Music' that went to 15 million viewers in the U..S. and parts of South America. The word got out that I was doing the show and I had everyone from Mike Love to Mars Bonfire on the show and one day I got a call from Sky! We did a great interview on the show and he performed his latest song "Flashback 66"! I later released his entire album "Flashback 66" CD on my Ocean Records label. Sky and I wrote a song together around this time called "Excited" that Spirit drummer Ed Cassidy and I would later record and it came out on our Fankhauser Cassidy CD "On The blue Road' in 1995.

After Sky appeared on my TV show he got sick and was hospitalized in San Luis Obispo California and his gall bladder ruptured and he almost died! He was on a ventilator for 10 days, a nurse told me most people don't make it when they take them off the ventilator after being on that long... I was there everyday feeding him ice and water on a sponge… Then one day I went to see him and he was sitting up in bed talking like a politician! Sky says "Get your guitar, lets write some songs"! They moved him to I private room and we started playing and singing and all the nurses gathered around for the show.. After about 2 more weeks he was released and went with his girlfriend back to Santa Cruz where he was living at the time. We would talk on the phone over the years but I hadn't heard from him in about 10 years or so before he died. He was definitely an original one of a kind guy. Global Recording Artists Records is releasing a tribute box CD set to Sky around May titled "A Tribute To Sky Sunlight Saxon", 'Reach For The Sky'. Spirit drummer Ed Cassidy and I did my tribute song to him "Two Guys From The 60's" for the CD set, it also features Iggy Pop doing 'Pushin Too Hard", The Bangles and many others. "Two Guys From The 60's" by Merrell Fankhauser is at youtube. And also on a DVD volume of my current TV show "Tiki Lounge' that includes Sky’s song "Flashback 66" on the U.K. label Gonzo Multimedia.

Warmest Alohas,

Merrell Fankhauser


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