Thursday, April 8, 2010
The Green Fuz - Randy Alvey Interview
“Here we come, baby, and you’d better run. We’re The Green Fuz!”
60sgaragebands.com (60s): How did you first get interested in music?
Randy Alvey (RA):I can’t ever remember not being interested in music. I was exposed to music from a very early age. My maternal grandmother loved to play the piano, and I loved to watch and listen. My first instrument was a slide trombone at about age ten or so.
60s: Was The Green Fuz your first band?
RA: The first band I was in was called The Psychedelic Reactions. Mike Pearce, the drummer, and I were good friends and started this short-lived venture in 1967 or so. Later, with a few personnel changes, the band became The Green Fuz.
60s: Where was The Green Fuz formed?
RA: The band was formed in 1968 (?) in Bridgeport Texas. Mike, R.E. and I started the band.
60s: Our archives list the band line-up as:
Randy Alvey - Vocals
Mike Pearce - Drummer
Jimmy Mercer - Rhythm guitar
Les Dale - Lead guitar
R.E. (Buck) Houchins - Bassist
Is this correct?
RA: Yes. There were no lasting /major changes during this time, although we did switch instruments for different songs.
60s: Is it true that the band was named for a green fuzz box that you used?
RA: Yes. Leslie Dale got a very ugly green fuzz box, and the rest is a matter of record!
60s: When the band performed, was it billed as "Randy Alvey & The Green Fuz" or simply "The Green Fuz"?
RA: It was simply The Green Fuz. For some reason the record label added the name to the front.
60s: Where did the band typically play?
RA: We played at school dances and pep rallies. We also did private parties and openings, etc.
60s: How far was the band's "touring" territory?
RA: Not too far at first! Remember that we were very young and most of us didn’t even have a driving permit!
60s: Did you play any of the local teen clubs?
RA: We were pretty much regulars at the Bridgeport Teen Club, as were bands like The Chocolate Moose and The Last Sun Down. We used the building as a rehearsal hall during the week.
60s: Did The Green Fuz participate in any battle of the bands?
RA: Oh yes! Those things were pretty much mandatory for a local band! We enjoyed them, though. The Chocolate Moose and The Last Sun Down above were most always there, as was a band called The Ripe Olive. We all were friends and the competition many times turned into a giant jam session.
60s: How would you describe the band's sound?
RA: We had a very dirty, bottom driven sound. Besides the British Invasion, bands such as The Kinks and late soul icon Wilson Pickett come to mind. Man…we could do “Mustang Sally” all night! “Midnight Hour” was also a crowd pleaser!
60s: How popular locally did The Green Fuz become?
RA: We were pretty much in demand for a while. We seemed to have a fairly big local following. Some of our peer age group was extremely jealous of the band’s popularity. This made us out to be either celebrities or villains, depending on whom you talked to.
60s: Did you ever work with a manager?
RA: We went through a few managers; Shorty Hendrix comes to mind. He was also the producer of our 45. He was a great salesman, but was really used to promoting country music. He was likely to show up at a gig wearing a sequined cowboy jacket…or something! It was really pretty comical.
60s: How did the band become associated with the Wash-Tex label?
RA: We were recruited by Shorty, who was co-owner of the label along with his brother in Seattle.
60s: Legend has it that the single was recorded in an empty cafe.
RA: The deserted café was located on Hwy 199 and FM 920. It was a native stone building and had this funky echo about it. We had to play at a much lower volume than normal due to this characteristic. The drums had to be muffled with towels.
60s: Whose idea was it to record the single in the cafe? And what was your immediate reaction when you heard the pressing for the first time?
RA: I think Shorty set it up. We were under whelmed. It was a pleasant surprise when others were impressed. I wish I could tell you how many of those records we used as clay pigeons for shotgun practice by the band! Ha Ha!
60s: Do you recall the inspiration behind the writing of "Green Fuz"?
RA: We thought we needed a signature or theme song for whatever reason. It seemed that a lot of local bands did that at that time.
60s: R.E. wrote the flip, "There Is A Land". What are your thoughts on that song?
RA: Personally, I never was fond of that song. It was R.E.’s lyrical creation, and some people liked it. I never was much for any “ballad”-type tune. I played bass on that one.
60s: Did The Green Fuz write many original songs?
RA: We were all creative dreamers, and all originals were group efforts.
60s: Do you recall any of the titles?
RA: Not really. They were short lived as we were constantly changing!
60s: Did you ever perform "Green Fuz" live?
RA: Sure! It was our “theme,” so we played it often as an opener and closer. I think the local faithful really got stuck on it.
60s: Do any other Green Fuz recordings exist? Are there any vintage live recordings, or unreleased tracks?
RA: I hate to start rumors, but I’m almost sure that some lost tracks are out there. We were always messing around with reel-to-reel four-track.
60s: Did the band make any local TV appearances?
RA: No TV.
60s: What year and why did the band break up?
RA: The band seemed more to morph than break up. As our interests as individuals changed, so did our musical tastes.
60s: What did the band morph into?
RA: The Fuz more or less evolved into a band known as Natchez. Again, Mike Pearce and I were in this band as was Houchins. We met up with a great guitarist named Larry Branson. At one time we had two drummers playing at once. Our music took on a louder acid rock kind of sound. Our touring area grew and with it our popularity as a party show band type of operation. Personnel changed frequently as the gigs became more and more demanding.
60s: What did Les Dale do once the rest of you morphed into Natchez?
RA: Les had returned to California with his family.
60s: How long was The Natchez together?
RA: First let me say that there was no “the” on the band name. We recorded several masters at a studio called Star Recording in Ft. Worth in about 1972. The studio closed and then was destroyed by fire before we got the tapes. These were to be used as demos, and they included covers of “I’m a Man”, “Funk49”, and a couple of untitled originals.
60s: Do you still perform?
RA: We don’t play in public at this time...but there may be a change in that soon. I have been married to my best friend Debby for 32+ years now. We raised three great sons and I love playing with my four grandchildren. Debby and I vacation in the Caribbean as much as possible.
60s: “At this time”? It sounds like you might be considering a Green Fuz reunion performance?
RA: Jimmy, Mike and I are currently in touch. We may get together and discuss this possibility. Time and money are always a factor - time out of our everyday lives, and the money for equipment, etc. If we do it we want to do it right. But I can tell you that jam sessions are planned…
60s: When did you first learn about the cult reputation of "Green Fuz"? Was this prior to or after the Cramps released their cover version?
RA: I guess at about the same time as that great tribute by the Cramps came out. Collectors and affectionados about that time stormed me. I never would have believed it. I found out about Pebbles and the U.K. popularity after that.
60s: How do you best summarize your experiences with The Green Fuz?
RA: That was a really happy time in our lives. We would have never even cared if we recorded or not. We were privileged to express ourselves through our music. This made us very happy, and hopefully it made and continues to make some other people happy, too.
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