I never thought about singing until we moved to New York in 1954. I discovered radio. Rock’n’roll and doo wop became my food. By ’56 my diet was Elvis, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, the Crows, Turbans and Flamingos. That was what I wanted to do. Dad was a former world tennis champion, so I got to meet Frank Sinatra. But when Mom brought home the first Elvis album from her PR job at RCA Records I was hooked.
I used to sing to rock blaring from my Zenith transistor radio and “American Bandstand”. A ham at heart, I began lip-syncing at parties. That’s where I met Carl Hauser. Who knew we’d go on to be life-long friends? After high school I left for Syracuse University and football stardom. That dream lasted one play. I was nursing a bruised ego and cracked ribs when the dorm pay phone rang. It was Carl. He asked if I was interested in auditioning for a band: I was on the first Greyhound home and to a life in music. I had no expectations. My classically handsome audition competition hit all the Beatles high notes. But I was delighted when Carl let me know the band had decided I was their man. I got the nod because my taste in music and enthusiasm for it matched that of The Druids, the band name they had chosen. I had no idea what a druid was but, as I’ve discovered, it’s a lifetime commitment.
(Photo by Neil Zlozower)
After rehearsing in Carl’s bedroom on E86th St and BT’s basement on W114th St. we got our first gigs at frat parties. I made mistakes, but compensated with a frenetic performance style I adapted from my favorite singers; Mick Jagger and James Brown. During those early Druid times I also met “the competition” - Billy Cross fronting the Walkers. We competed for attention and work, but our friendship blossomed and we attended each other’s gigs.
My life in the music biz all began with Druids. In the summer of ’66 we were house band at NYC’s hottest club, Ondines. The world came to see us. The Stones were there. So was Jimi Hendrix, and Jimi and I became pals. Later in life, when the Druids had gone off in separate directions, I shifted from front man to behind-the-scene music exec. I started at Cash Box. Then CBS Records. That got me to EMI Records where I ran press/artist relations. After EMI, I started an indy PR business that’s still active.
Carl and I stayed in touch through the years and making a “real” Druid record came up frequently. Last year when I told him I would have to undergo a risky heart operation, Carl decided that now was the time. Carl literally globe trotted to make this record. His heart and soul come through in every track. He taught me I didn’t have to sing like Mick, Sting or Otis—just find a character, inhabit it and be myself. Making this record with Billy and Carl has been a transformative experience.
Sometimes I wish I could turn back the clock, but I live now, not in the 60s. As I tackled the songs we recorded, I recognized my opportunity and I’m proud I grabbed it. I’ve recaptured my mojo and I’m sharing a timeless spirit and energy with two of the guys I love most in this world.
(Photo by Doug Quade)
Like half the middle-class kids in suburban NYC, I grew up playing piano on the family Steinway. I had a Polish piano teacher. He smelled of cigars and B.O., but he was a sweet man who was proud of me and would have me play for the parents of possible new students. When we moved to an apartment in Manhattan though, there was no room for a piano. Shortly thereafter I discovered that guitars helped skinny, gangly boys meet cute girls. At first I hung around Greenwich Village playing guitar, getting exposed to the early Folk Music culture of New York City. Around 1963, my friend Roger brought over the first Beatles album (on Parlophone) and I learned to play all the songs by heart. So when all of a sudden the Beatles hit, I could play in any band I liked!
My interactions with what would become the Druids began when a UN school friend, Alan Subin, introduced me to Billy (BT) Tracy. BT, Alan and I formed a band called "The Black Sheep" and played a couple of high school mixers doing Buddy Holly and Beatles songs. When Alan died in a boating accident, BT and I went on to find Tommy Workman and David Budge and founded the Druids.
The Druids started playing in fraternities around Columbia University and that's where I met Billy Cross. Billy was my local rival as lead guitar for his band, but he was my best friend in every other way. When the Druids got "really hot" I dropped out of college to play full time. Then we were signed to Universal City Records (UNI) but never really got control of that enviable situation. Without experience or mature leadership, we were led off by a dishonest producer to play "psychedelic pop" using the formula of UNI's 'hit band'; The Strawberry Alarm Clock. As dark as the sound of our music was, that combination led to ...what shall we call it? ...a certain "lack of direction?" One reviewer I've read hit it on the head when she said "imagine The Chocolate Watchband jamming with Black Sabbath!" Well, we did drive North from LA to San Francisco and played some cool gigs in the "Summer of Love". But we had lost our "buzz", and we never really recovered it. We got a shot of new life for a short time that fall when BT went back to Grad School and Elliott Randall joined the band. Els was (and is!) a truly awesome guitar soloist. The thing playing with him taught me, once and for all, was that what I really loved was being the rhythmic engine of the band - not a hood ornament. But it's was a very different skill set; so playing with Els started me back to playing acoustic guitars again. After the Druids broke up, I went off to England with Tommy Workman. We got signed there overnight by CBS records and started recording again. But then my father was killed in a holdup and I went back to NY to be with my family. There, in 1969, Billy and I started to work together and we met the incredible songwriting/production team of Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller. That was where we first began to learn the real business of creating songs and music. But we were still better friends than collaborators and again we split up. After that, Jerry Lieber steered a French director my way and I spent most of a year directing music in the French National Theatre in Marseille. *That* experience convinced me that I never want to work in music again!
So, I came back to NYC, finished college, went to NYU School of Medicine. I paid my way working in "wedding bands" where I first had fun performing other peoples' music. After that I studied surgery at a great place called Harbor/UCLA medical center and over the years I have become a 'respected' (though hopefully not too respectable!) surgical scientist. And arguably, I've become a leader in Surgery. But all through that time I have played music. In the 1980's as a practicing surgeon in Los Angeles, I found a writing partner, Jeffrey Laine, and we formed another group: The Hollywood Underground, which included Magic Kramer and recorded on Apache Records. But the Druids have continued to have reunions as often as we could do it considering our geographical separation and life's other responsibilities. But David's need for a significant cardiac procedure finally prompted me to finally say it is time to play and record the music that the Druids should have made in 1967.
So "Resurrection" is that gift to David Budge - my 'brother from another'. And the joy of making it with Billy as my collaborator as well as friend has been profoundly moving. I think the results reflect the amount of love that has gone into the music - love of the music itself, a profound respect for the form, and finally seeing music as the ultimate vehicle for human emotion.
I began playing music at the tender age of 11 at camp Robinson Crusoe in Sturbridge Mass. I was learning the ukulele and it got smashed so I turned to guitar with the help of my bunkmate, Marc Zussman.
Upon arriving home, I delivered newspapers an entire winter to earn the $135 for a Kay electric guitar and a Fender Champ amp. Two years later, together with my drummer, Dave Murdoch, we came in second place in a Ted Mack amateur hour contest at the County Center in White Plains, NY playing our version of The Ventures’ Lullaby of the Leaves. By this time my Kay was traded up to a Gibson ES-330 TD and together with Harvey Sadow and Ellis Disick, we formed The Esquires becoming one of the most popular bands in Westchester from 1961-64. We even garnered a second place prize at the Battle of the Bands at The World’s Fair Fender Pavilion in ’64 after having recorded (my first song) our single “No Parking” backed with Caravan with a drum solo. (Really!!) All this came to an end when we went away to separate colleges.
(Photo by Daphne Stern)
Upon starting at Columbia University in 1964, I formed a band with Tom Werman called The Walkers. We were the #1 band on the upper West side until The Druids came along, making it a tie.
Although playing in “competing” bands, Carl, David, BT, Tom and I began a friendship that has extended throughout our entire lives.
I was the only Druid to go on to a career in live music, playing and recording with Bob Dylan, Link Wray, Meatloaf, Jobriath, The Broadway show HAIR and lots more. I have lived in Denmark for the past 40 years enjoying the fruits of a fulfilling career as a songwriter, record producer, singer, guitarist, teacher and author. But in my heart: A Druid.
I began playing drums when I was 12 years old after seeing the Beatles movie “A Hard Days Night” while at camp in New Hampshire. One of my pals said “Let’s start a band…. I’ll play bass and you play drums.” That was the start of it all. I convinced my mother to buy me my first drum set at Manny’s Music on 48th street in 1966. My first real band was called the Origins, with Milt Reder on guitar, who can be heard on Shotgun Blues. In a case of “What goes around, comes around” I recorded all the drum parts on The Druids Resurrection album at Milt’s studio in Boston.
I remember hearing The Druids for the first time at Ferris Booth Hall at Columbia. The original line up featured Dave Budge, Carl Hauser, Billy Tracy, Tom Workman and Dave Groshanz on drums. They were a hard rocking, incredible blues bland and knocked my 16-year-old socks off. Around the same time I also heard the Walkers, with Billy Cross on guitar, who played amazing Beatles and Byrds covers with great accuracy.
Some time later, Steve Tindall replaced Groshanz on drums. Steve was an amazing player with great technical skills and I would go see him play whenever I had the chance. I developed a great friendship with Stevie, who became my teacher and mentor. He had a tremendous impact on my playing and taught me how to play paradiddles inside of sixteenth note accents against time.
Immediately after graduation from college, I serendipitously found myself hired as David Bowie’s road manager for the summer of 1974 Diamond Dogs tour, including 26 shows up and down the east coast, from Montreal to Tampa Florida, a live album recorded at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia and two nights at Madison Square Garden. Shortly after the tour ended, I read an ad in the Village Voice that Bruce Springsteen was holding auditions to replace the original drummer in the E Street Band. It read “No Ginger Bakers please…” Despite the fact that I was about to start business school, I couldn’t resist answering the ad, and auditioned for Springsteen’s band, which was a total gas. Although I didn’t get the nod (Max Weinberg did), I was told I was the runner up (oh well). So off I went to business school and to a long and illustrious career as an investment banker, but I continued to play music with many old friends. I succeeded Stevie as the Druid’s drummer as a result of Stevie’s untimely passing, and played many reunion gigs with the Druids, including a memorable show at the West End Bar to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1968 riots at Columbia.
I was honored to be part of the Resurrection project with my mates David Budge, Carl Hauser, Billy Cross, Irv “Magic” Kramer and Milt Reder. Hope you like it!
Billy "BT" Tracy
Inspired by Buddy Holly and Richie Valens, I got my first guitar at age ten and was playing in a band by thirteen. My first electric guitar was a Fender Jazzmaster, which I later traded in for a Gibson Byrdland (prior owner Dion). My early bands played Friday night hops at temples and churches across NYC. I have played with Tommy and Carl since high school. Cross and Woody were added early in college. The story of David's arrival is told elsewhere. Over 50 years later these guys remain my best friends. The highlight of my Druid days is by far the summer of '66 at Ondine. Warhol and troupe were regulars. Tennessee Williams and the Stones came as well. Playing with Hendrix was euphoric.
It was the shady business aspects of the music industry that sent me back to Columbia for a Ph.D. in English. My early music career was followed by a stint in teaching and a more extended involvement in finance. Earning a living playing music was over but I never stopped playing guitar, except that it was more likely to be Bach than Jimi. Happy to report that two out of four grandkids are learning to play guitar. The Druids' Resurrection comes as a super great event. Song selection is superb! Accolades to Carl, David, Cross and others!
Maria J. Hauser
Maria here, spawn of Druid Carl Hauser. I was lucky to grow up singing and playing music with all these guys. It was through Billy Cross that my parents met —Cross was on tour playing guitar for Bob Dylan while my mom was also on tour as one of Dylan's three backup singers during the Budokan era.
So, when The Druids asked me to manage the band and help put out their music, I told them it would be an honor. I love the music the band has produced.
I sing on 'Nobody's Fault' as the female backup voices on the Resurrection album, and on two tracks ('Rock Candy' and 'Dance with the Devil') on the American Ghosts album. It is always a great pleasure to sing with David Budge, who I admire extremely as a performance artist and a person.
You can hear my music at my Soundcloud address.
One day, at age 4, I was wandering around our tiny Manhattan apartment when the doorbell rang. Mom lets in a shaggy young man in a corduroy jacket – my sister Wendy’s first piano teacher. Wendy was anxious and hiding and the shaggy guy sits down at the piano to pass the time. He absently starts to play — Boogie Woogie piano. He was really good.
I was stunned. Before that music was just vague stuff in the air … boring classical pap, elevator music. But this …. Syncopation! .. Rhythm! --- a rumbling bass line and treble counterpoint -- I had never imagined such a thing – Endorphin overload! I was hooked, but I had no talent for the piano – Wendy, age six, was not easily located and did not learn piano either.
In high school at Bronx Science the hip thing to be was a blue grass musician (makes no sense but it was true) and I tried to learn to play guitar – not quite enough talent for that either. And then on a fateful day a friend says to me “Tommy we are going to start a rock band, and you …. are going to be the bass player” The motivation for this imaginary band … what else – girls. Somehow I knew that my skills would translate to bass playing just fine. I had never played bass and didn’t own one … so what? We formed… and I kid you not .. “The Ramrods”.
The bass I bought was a “Gretsch Bikini Bass”- the Web says only 300 were ever made. Mine was stolen or I would now be rich (not exactly). The next summer we landed a job as the house band at the Café Bizarre in Greenwich Village. Fake cabaret cards were needed and obtained. By that time the Ramrods had added a serious lead guitarist named Elliott Randall.
The other resident group at the Café Bizarre was “The Richie Havens – Tad Truesdale Trio Featuring Natoga on Drums” Richie Havens at that time had no teeth – recently clean from Narcotics – He was unknown and fabulous … Tad Truesdale appeared in only a leopard print thong. For reasons still unclear Richie decided I was “cool” and told me so. I was probably the least cool person in New York, I was 15 and looked 12, but I took his word for it. He was, after all, Richie Havens.
I played in a variety of local kid bands and practiced my craft, such as it was. Those left hand baselines from Boogie Woogie and Stride piano, were at the heart of it. And then of course, James Brown. We often practiced in the basement of my Manhattan apartment, inhaling asbestos dust as if we were WWII ship builders.
Eventually… a couple of years later… somebody knew somebody and Carl Hauser and Billy Tracy were looking for a bass player (anyone with a bass really) and my name came up. The rest is history.
I brought along, eventually, one of the best drummers ever on the planet … Stevie Tindall from Performing Arts High School, and he joined the group. After the Bikini Bass was stolen I bought a Fender Jazz Bass in Candy Apple Red – I sanded off the finish. I still have it (“Pre CBS” as we say).
We needed a name for the band. Various weak-ass faux English Nobility names were considered. I came up with “The Druids” Others will claim that they came up with the name— but they are Trumpian in their falsehood. When it turned out that “Druids” was taken I came up with “Druids of Stonehenge”. It stuck.
Many wonderful musicians have become Druids at one time or another… Billy Cross, Woody Lewis, Roger Kahn, Elliott Randall. There have been times when the music we were making (and are still making) was just as transporting as that Boogie Woogie Piano.
I'm still playing some; I was and remain a pretty good blues and rock and roll bass player. But eventually I had to face the fact that I am not a professional musician. I console myself with being an Emergency Physician, which is its own species of high wire performance art, believe me.
I first played with the Druids in 1968, when I subbed for drummer Steve Tindall on a road gig in Philadelphia. Later the same year, I switched to bass and started the band Alive and Warm with Druid singer David Budge. That group, later renamed Dakota, played clubs like The Scene and The Electric Circus. In the mid-80s, while living in LA's Beachwood Canyon near David and Carl Hauser, I played keyboards whenever the three got together to jam and write songs. Starting in the late 90s, I've played keys on Druid reunion gigs in New York and LA.
I first met Carl Hauser when I was playing in a band he founded with Jeff Laine called “The Hollywood Underground”. At the same time I was playing guitars, keys, and singing background vocals with all the original Knack guys. One thing led to another and I wound up co-producing the Hollywood Underground album with Carl for Apache Records. I met David Budge during those years. After the Hollywood Underground broke up, I kept up my friendship with Carl and David throughout the years I was on the road as a tech with Michael Jackson, and then through my years recording with Ray Charles, playing on most of the tracks on Genius Loves Company. Every now and then Carl and Dave would come over and we’d record a song or two. I was driving down the road not too long ago and I heard a blues recording that sounded REAL GOOD. Turns out I had forgotten it was one of the songs we recorded together, “Strongman Holler.”
I immediately called Carl to tell him we were onto something back then, and what the world needed was more blues from The Druids! Happily we proceeded to produce the Resurrection album.