Mt. Everest

Approximate dates: 1980?-1982?
Base of Operations: Delray Beach, Florida
Manager: Self-managed
Agents: Buchi Artist Management, and others, many and forgotten
Original Live Act ...
    Reuben David Ferguson - Organ, Synthesizers, Vocals, Percussion, Bass Guitar (!?!?!)
    Harry James Hafferkamp - Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards
    Raymond Charles Murtha - Bass Guitar, Vocals
    Lawrence Friedrich Paris - Drums, Vocals

Later Studio Lineup ...
    Reuben David Ferguson - Organ, Synthesizers, Vocals, Percussion
    Harry James Hafferkamp - Guitar, Bass Guitar, Vocals,
    Tony Lavender - Drums

Brief History

The Live Performance Band

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    This was a darned good band; at times, we were really excellent.  We worked quite a bit for quite a while in many places all over Florida.  We played at the Holiday Lodge, the Big Daddy's, and the Beachcomber in Daytona Beach, Florida during Spring Break, Bike Week, and several other times.  We played someplace in Lake City, Florida, which is in the panhandle if I remember correctly, where the female club owner kept trying to put the make on Larry.  He didn't go for it, (we didn't blame him, this woman was ugly!), so we didn't get our two-week extension and never worked there again.  We played at the Holiday Inn in Key Largo, Florida where the original boat African Queen (the actual one used in the movie) resides.  The band was furnished with a "band house"; a dilapidated one bedroom place with a room added on.  Apparently, we were good enough to work at the Holiday Inn, we just weren't good enough to stay there.  This was where Annie (Anastasia), my cat, first met a chicken.  A live, clucking, pecking chicken, that is.  She was absolutely terrified, and ran away as fast as she could with every hair sticking straight out.  She ran directly to the bed that my suitcase had been tossed upon, hopped on the bed and whizzed all over it, announcing her objection at having to share the planet with such a horrifying creature.  I wrote a song about her, called, oddly enough, Annie.  She died at the age of fourteen about three years ago.
    We were playing at the U.S. Naval Base in Orlando, Florida the day that John Lennon was shot by that demented murderer whose name I won't mention.  We had been playing an entire set of Beatles music for quite some time, and we played it again that night.  People thought we had put the whole thing together in one day!  I suppose I should have been flattered, but all it did was irritate me that people could be so ignorant as to think that only one day's work went into it.  It had taken us months to really get it down.  Besides, I was depressed about John.
    We played, as I mentioned, a lot of Beatles songs: A Day In The Life, Drive My Car, We Can Work It Out, Day Tripper, Good Day Sunshine, Taxman, Paperback Writer, Lovely Rita, I Want To Hold Your Hand, She Loves You, Twist and Shout, Strawberry Fields Forever, Hey Jude, Back In The U.S.S.R., Get Back, Revolution, Girl, Nowhere Man, and probably a few more that I don't remember right now.  We played Hoedown, Emerson, Lake & Palmer's version of the movement from Rodeo by Aaron Copland (1900-1990).  We did the song Cars, by whom, I don't remember, but it was a riot.  We did some Devo, God forgive me.  I think we did some Yes, but I don't remember which songs. Pink Floyd's Us and Them, Charlie Daniels' The Devil Came Down To Georgia, on which I played "Johnny's" fiddle part on my MiniMoog.  It sounded really neat, if I do say so myself.  We did material from many other groups; we had over a hundred songs by the time we broke up.
    The breakup was probably long in coming, but was no doubt finalized by an angry, emotional outburst on my part, which I have always regretted.  Harry and I went on to form the studio version of Mt. Everest, and I still run into Larry and Ray now and then.

The Studio Band

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    After bumbling about for a bit, Harry and I decided that we were going to do an original project together.  I had some money coming in from the sale of my father's nursery, so I could actually afford to pay for the studio time.  I thought.  I ended up having to take contributions from a benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous so we could pay for promotional costs.  I knew it was a big gamble, but if I hadn't tried, I'd always be wondering what would have happened if I had.  So I did.  $10,000.00 + later, Harry and I each have a single, custom pressed, CD, and a complete set of master tapes if anyone wants to distribute it.  We did the project at Triad Recording Studio in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida over the course of several months.  Harry played all the guitar parts, all of the bass parts (except for a few measures of synth bass on Human Progress), and sang.  I played Hammond organ, a Crumar portable organ, ARP 2600, MiniMoog, Yamaha CP-30, Mellotron 400, grand piano, and sang.  Tony Lavender played drums for us, and a real bang-up job he did, too.  Tony is one of the best drummers I have ever worked with.  We spent a total of 103 hours in the studio at around $70.00 per hour, and countless hours doing rehearsal recordings and other work at home.  One day at the studio, I was introduced to Jaco Pastorius, who was working on a project of his own at the time.  He was really nice, and offered to play on our project if we wanted him to.  This did give us something to think about.  I mean Jaco Pastorius with Mt. Everest?  Hmmmm....  However, we decided (wisely) that his style of playing and ours didn't really go together, and (unwisely) that it wouldn't make a whole lot of difference to the business end of things.  As it happened, I saw Jaco again just a couple of days later.  He had on an overcoat, a fedora hat which was pulled down low over his eyes, and dark sunglasses.  He was sitting by himself in a corner of the studio waiting room while his agent was on the phone.  That's putting it far too mildly - his agent was absolutely bellowing his lungs out at some poor soul on the other end of the line, using some of the foulest language I've ever heard in my life, (and I've heard a lot!).  Jaco completely ignored the agent, me and everything around him.  When the "conversation" was over, he followed his agent out of the building, brushing by me as if I were invisible.  Weird.

  I flew to Boston, New York, and Los Angeles in an effort to sell our music.  I talked to and visited about fifty record labels, from the giants to the independents.   New York City was a total bust.  Boston was, too. I froze in both places.  Los Angeles was different.  I had an appointment with the A&R guy at RCA Records.  He listened to a minute or two of our 40 minute tape,  told me that the band was really tight, the songs were really neat, and could he take the tape home and listen to the rest of it?  Of course I agreed, and, heart pounding, assumed the best.  Big mistake.  He continued to speak ...
    "Yeah, this is really great stuff!  Too bad I can't use it!"
    "I beg your pardon?"
    "Well, we're only going to sign three bands this year, Trapeze, and two others.  And we've already signed them.  Sorry, maybe next year..."
    At Geffin Records I was told that I had a really good group with a great tape, but ...
    "I don't hear a million-seller."
    "I beg your pardon?"
    "I don't think any of these songs will sell a million copies.  Work on it some more."
    "What's wrong with making a few hundred thousand the first time out?"
    "No, we only want groups that will make a big splash instantly."  Of course, if this had always been the prevailing attitude among A&R people, then we wouldn't have The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, Miles Davis, ad nauseam.
    At A&M Records, I thought I had hit pay dirt.  The guy was really interested, but didn't like our vocals.  "Not distinct enough.  You need someone with a killer voice."  So, I go back to Florida, get Chip Mills to go with us to Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida to record the lead vocals on three of the songs: Metal Bully, Flee the Unknown, and one more.  I fly back to Los Angeles and meet with Mr. A&R:  "This is it!  Great!  OK, I'm going on vacation for three weeks.  I've already got a meeting scheduled with my boss when I get back so I can finalize the deal.  Get in touch in three weeks."  I hardly needed an airplane to go back to Florida.  Three weeks passed.  I called A&M Records:
    "Hi, I'd like to speak to Mr. A&R, please"
    "I'm sorry, Mr. A&R no longer works for A&M"
    "I beg your pardon?"
    "Yes, I'm afraid he was fired as soon as he got back from his vacation."
    "Well, he was working on a deal ... " I explained the situation.
    "I'm sorry, apparently he took everything with him when he left.  We don't have any record of your existence."
    "I beg your pardon?"
    "I'm sorry.  But we're not signing any more groups this year anyway.  Good-bye."
At this point I was out of money, out of patience, and out of luck.

    Later, T minus 1 would perform Metal Bully on a T.V. show called Florida's New Video Beat.  It was the most requested video for weeks.

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Promo Photographs of the Live Band

Promo Photographs of the Studio Band


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