January, 1973 - February 3, 1974
Base of Operations: Findlay, Ohio
Manager: Musician's Management Service (Malcomb Richards)
Agents: Arden Cooper Agency (Fred John)
Reuben David Ferguson - Organ, Piano, Vocals, Percussion
Robert Leo Ferry - Guitar, Vocals
Michael Berry Osborn - Piano, Vocals, Flute, Guitar, Percussion
Timothy Micah Meyer - Bass Guitar, Vocals
Edward Mansfield Bonham - Drums, Percussion
Joey Hopkins - Roadie
Curt Bishop - Drums
Bob Terry - Drums (briefly)
Randy Marsh - Drums
Click on Woman From Tokyo
by Deep Purple as performed by Foundation II to listen to
Woman From Tokyo features Reuben Ferguson (Hammond Organ), Robert Ferry (Guitar), Michael Osborn (Vocals, Piano), Timothy Meyer (Bass Guitar), and Edward Bonham (Drums)
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411 Clinton Street
Michael, Timothy (sometimes), and I lived at 411 Clinton Street in Findlay, Ohio. Robert and his wife Sandy had stayed there for a while at first, but got their own place as soon as they could. Timothy's parents lived in Findlay, so he alternated between staying there and at 411. Eddie and his wife lived in Toledo, Ohio. 411 Clinton Street was right next to a railroad. I kind of got used to it, but whenever a train would go by visitors would always have a look of terror on their faces, keeping their eyes riveted to the front door as if expecting the huge machine to come bursting through any second. I think the place has been demolished by now.
The Spiral Staircase
We played frequently at the Spiral Staircase in Morgantown, West Virginia, so named because of a large, cast iron spiral staircase that went up three stories. I suppose the club used to be a huge house, because of the way it was constructed, and we had rooms on the third floor. We really liked playing there because we didn't have to rent a motel, and consequently could actually take home some money. The first time we played there I had a bit of trouble while setting up. The stage was rather small, and it took a carefully planed layout in order to fit all of our equipment (and us) on the stage. We had unloaded all of the equipment onto the dance floor, and I was standing, looking at the stage with a practiced eye and not a little concentration. My reverie was broken by an unusual sound right behind me. I turned around and beheld a huge dog, an English mastiff, taking a whiz on my Leslie speaker cabinet. It was a veritable river; it looked as if he hadn't gone in days. Now, I've always been very protective of my music equipment; the stuff's darned expensive and my livelihood depended on it. Something inside of me snapped. Without thinking, I hauled back and kicked that dog with every ounce of strength in my 126 lb. body. Its hind legs left the ground entirely and landed about a foot away. The vast yellow stream came to a quick halt. The dog nonchalantly turned its huge head in my direction, looked me over once, and ambled away as if nothing much had happened. I became aware of a profound silence. I realized that all motion in the room had ceased. Everyone in the band and the owner of the club stood frozen, as if Medusa herself had come strolling by. Everyone followed the dog's movement until he had left the room. The owner turned back to me with a pasty, bug-eyed, frightened look on his face, and let out a long breath. I figured he was going to give me hell for kicking his dog; maybe even fire us. That would be disastrous!
"Hey, I'm really sorry!" I started, "I didn't even think! All I knew was that he was peeing on my Leslie, and I guess I freaked out! I didn't mean to hurt him, I ..."
"Are you kidding? You didn't hurt him! I'm wondering why you still have both legs! Man, that dog is mean! Thank God he didn't attack you or you'd be on your way to the hospital!"
He was showing such obvious relief that it made me think about what I'd just done. That was one BIG DOG! I kind of just shrugged it off, and since my Leslie wasn't permanently damaged, figured it was because I'd been living right. (In retrospect, that couldn't have been the reason). However, I had mightily impressed the other band members; from that day on, thanks to the insistence of others, I became known as Reuben "Dog-Kicker" Ferguson, or simply "The Dog-Kicker". (I thought it had kind of a nice ring to it, actually).
There was the time when we playing at the Evolution in Morgantown. The Evolution was a huge club owned by the same guys that owned the Zig-Zag Club. West Virginia is still a "semi-dry" state; only beer can be sold in stores. The Zig-Zag Club was a private bottle club - the members had to bring their own, and the bartenders served it to them. The Evolution was a beer-only club, and had huge crowds. The owners gave us a band house to live in whenever we worked there; a huge, old, wooden, old, two-story, old, rickety house. Did I mention it was old? It had no heat, of course no AC, and no phone. Fortunately, it did have electricity. It was our second night, I think, when the owner of the club came up to the stage and said he had to talk to me, RIGHT NOW! We ended the set rather abruptly. We were told that the band house had burned, along with everything of a personal nature we had brought with us, including all of our clothes, both stage and street. The next day we went out to take a look, (the fire department wouldn't let us enter it at night). The house was still standing, but all of the rooms were burned out. Robert lost a guitar or two, as did Timothy, but I think I was the worst hit as to clothing. I managed to salvage one shirt and a single bow tie, both of which had singe marks on them. Gone were my knee-high, lace-up, high-heeled boots, my metal-studded belt, some of my favorite bell-bottomed trousers, my shirts, socks, everything except what I had been wearing on stage the night before. Appropriately enough, I had been wearing all black. I wore the same outfit for a week, until we got paid, and I could pick up some new gear. There was supposed to be insurance, but we never received anything. The cause was always something of a mystery even though the fire inspector said it started in a bed mattress - my mattress. Now, at the time, I was no longer smoking cigarettes; Bob, Sandy, and I had gone through a torturous process of quitting by using a series of five cleanable, reusable filters (Dr. Grabow's Stop Smoking By Smoking Method. It actually worked; I quit for about three years). So it would seem that I was not responsible. We kind of suspected a situation involving jealous girls. There were two in particular whom we felt could have been responsible for setting the fire on purpose, but nothing was ever proven. The owner made no effort to repair the place, so from then on we had to rent a motel room, (with no increase in pay, of course).
We played at a place in Xenia, Ohio one week after the huge tornado that blasted a large part of the town to pieces. It was a one-nighter, and we were doing our third set I believe, when the owner came up to the stage, in no particular hurry, and handed me a note.
"Better read this over your P.A.!" he bellowed at me over the music, and turned and walked away. I was still trying to play, but wanted to see what the note said. I unfolded the paper with me left hand:
"TORNADO SIGHTED HEADING IN THIS DIRECTION. THE CLUB IS CLOSING. EVERYONE SHOULD TAKE SHELTER IMMEDIATELY"
Holy Cow!!!! I thought. I stopped playing and waved the rest of the band to a stop, then read the note. We had been playing to a packed house, but the crowd vanished as quickly as if the place had run out of booze. We started tearing down instantly. Now, usually it took us a couple of hours to tear down our equipment, load the trucks, and get on the road, but this night, I swear, we did it in ten minutes. I have no idea how. We didn't coil any wires or use any covers; we just threw the stuff in as fast as we could. Meanwhile, the club owner had come up to me again, and cool as a cucumber, asked me:
"Where you guys headed? Got a place to stay? If not, you can come down into my cellar; there's plenty of room."
"Thanks, but no, we're almost loaded. We'll head out of town at a right angle to the storm path."
"Well, that might work. As long as it goes in a straight line. Well, let me pay you, and you can be on your way."
"Uh, we're ready to go; can't you just send it to us?" The wind was really picking up now, with intermittent torrents of rain coming in almost horizontally. I desperately wanted to hit the trail. It was as dark as it could be.
"No, no! Too much trouble! I'll pay you now. Hold on a minute." He turned and went back into the club. I thought he was crazy. I knew I was for waiting. He came back out, leaned into the window of the van, and started counting out one dollar bills. Three hundred of them. Carefully. Slowly.
"Just give it to me! I trust you! I'll count it later!" I fairly screamed.
"No sir! I don't want any question that I paid you in full! Why, you could come back later and say I shorted you! No, I'll finish counting!"
Finally, he finished the never-ending task. The wind was blowing so hard he barely made it back inside the building, but we were already rolling out of the parking lot. Timothy had already left in his van, as had Bob in his station wagon; I had told them there was no sense in everyone sticking around. I got on a main road and floored it. My van was a 1971 Ford Econoline 250 with an automatic transmission and a V-8 engine, and was still pretty new and in good shape. Right after I bought it, Bill Gent had gotten it up to about 109 mph, once, just to see how fast it would go. This time it was fully loaded. I had a Hammond C-3 organ (450 lb.) two Leslies (about 200 lb. each), two P.A. speakers (about 150 lb. each), and an awful lot of other stuff besides. The van weighed 4200 lb. bone-dry & empty; we must have been close to three tons with everything aboard, and that made for a great deal of inertia. We would not be easy to stop. I really don't remember who I had in the van with me, but he was hanging on for dear life. The wind was still howling, powerful gusts buffeting the van and causing it to sway like a small boat in the ocean. Rain was coming at us in sheets, and I could barely see the road. Suddenly, I realized I was barreling into a railroad crossing. I glanced at the speedometer. I was doing 85 mph. I didn't have time to do more than look up again before I hit the tracks. They were elevated a foot or two above the road, with a steeply graded, short approach. I had heavy-duty shocks reinforced by coil springs; they bottomed out completely. The truck became airborne. We sailed all the way over the tracks; I don't think my tires touched the rails at all. We hit with a bone-rattling impact, the van's suspension bottoming out again. A fraction of a second later came another huge impact; it was the organ and the other equipment coming down after the truck itself. We were still blasting forward, going like the proverbial bat of of hell. I glanced at my passenger for a second (I think it was Eddie), long enough to see that he was still alive and conscious and hating every minute of it, and continued to tear on down the road, doing about ninety.
Everybody made it home OK, and we had gotten out of playing our last set. Only later did I find out I had broken one of my rear shocks in two. That was a good old truck, and I miss it still.
We played with some name acts, too. Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes, The Association, REO Speedwagon, and Ouicksilver Messenger Service come to mind, and there may have been some others. We played at the Boogie Hill Rock Festival on September 23, 1973. At over 20,000 people, it's the largest crowd we ever played for. Apparently, that concert was the source of some controversy. I don't remember much about the problems, other than the locals didn't want the concert to take place, but recently Charles Thaxton sent me a copy of the July/August 2000 Zig Zag ("Northwest Ohio's Premier Free Historical/Cultural Publication", according to the banner). The cover story is about the Boogie Hill Concerts (there were two, 1973 and 1976) and the sometimes violent reaction that the locals had. One farmer said he had to stay up all night and guard his property with a shotgun because of all the weirdoes around. Poor guy. Sounds pretty weird to me. The memories that I have about the concert are quite different. I remember I had the most fun of my life while I was on stage; I was really pumped up and crankin'! I also remember that poor Timothy was absolutely terrified, and had to be literally pushed out onto the stage. I think he went into some kind of terror-trance, or something, because, if I remember, he played fine. I remember seeing, for the first time, a girl with multiple piercings in her face. She had a nose ring in her right nostril connected to a gold chain, the other end of which was fastened to a gold post which penetrated her right cheek. I've always wondered how she managed to drink with a straw. She could probably do some pretty nasty water-squirting tricks, too.
I think that there were recordings made of the event, too, but I don't know for sure. If anybody knows of such recordings, let me know via e-mail.
The Foundation Crumbles
We had plans to start trying to market our original material - i.e. "land a record contract" - and had already been in the studio once. (That was a story in itself; thirteen songs in about 20 hours). Then came the day when Eddie told the band he was quitting and moving to Montana in an effort to save his marriage (Eddie was the "sailor" in the group - a girl in every port, so to speak). He said that he was going to become a forest ranger. Unfortunately, he had to start by squeezing eggs out of fish. Not exactly like the life he left behind. (The photo to the left is one he sent me several years after leaving the band. He made it as a ranger, if I remember). This, in retrospect, was really the end of the band; even though we auditioned many drummers, we never found one that "clicked" with us as Eddie had. We played a place called Coral Gables in Saugatuck, Michigan with Curt Day (where I met the nicest girl. I wonder what ever happened to her ...). After Curt came Randy Marsh. We played the Redd Frog in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Plus 1, W.J.'s, and finally, the Garage in Toledo, in what would be our last gig. Robert, who had been the major proponent for getting Randy in the band ended up physically attacking him on stage one night because of his shenanigans. I think that was the last straw for Robert, and he decided to quit. He was getting very much into jazz, and wanted to study it formally. He eventually went to Berklee School of Music in Boston, obtained his certificate, and has been living and working in the New York-New Jersey area ever since. He and Sandy are working on their crop of second-generation rock-and-rollers.
Timothy, Michael, and I stuck it out, and started what can only be called an experimental rock band. We decided that we weren't going to even look for another guitar player (Robert was a very hard act to follow), and have a group centered on keyboards. We did manage to find a great drummer named Richard Thomas Powell (see Brutus). It's a real pity that we couldn't have found him when Bob was still around. Anyway, that would lead to the formation of Second Foundation.
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