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IN THE MID-80's when the Cave was torn down the Vancouver Sun published a list of the top 25 acts that had ever played at Western Canada's premier showroom and the Glass Packs made the cut.

Meanwhile, how'd those bunny ears get in our wardrobe case...

This history would not be complete without the admission that we, the Glass Packs, were on Hugh Hefner's payroll. Yes, we shared tight quarters with the bunnies in the Mother Hutch - the Chicago Playboy Club. For three weeks in January of 1975 we ducked and dodged (or at least some of us did) young women our age dressed as rabbits carrying trays of cocktails, bunny-dipping to the customers while balanced on stiletto heels. Two shows a night six nights a week, we played to the Glitterati of the Windy City. Quick show of hands, who can still bunny dip? (BTW, we followed Henny Youngman -- how many rock bands can make that claim?)

Meanwhile, back in San Francisco (yes we also played at the San Francisco Playboy Club), we played at what in some of our humble opinions was the best San Francisco club of them all - the long gone Boarding House. The Boarding House is now the lobby of an apartment building at 945 Bush Street, but in 1974 it was an intimate wooden 250-seat playhouse with perfect acoustics and Old World class. In a two-month stretch preceding the Glass Packs debut, the following new acts played the Boarding House- Steve Martin, the Manhattan Transfer, Bette Midler, Bob Marley & The Wailers, The Tubes.

We later headlined, but our first time at the Boarding House we opened for Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen - the nicest guys we met in all of our travels. Lousy basketball players but nice guys; and oh man could they play. In fact, they taught us how to play like professionals. Glass Pack Gary Murphy will tell you he learned to sing at the feet of rockabilly madman Billy C. Farlow, lead singer of Commander Cody and an unsung hero of rock & roll. They were fans of our showmanship as were devotees of their musicianship.
One night at the Boarding house we brought tears to the eyes of the Lost Planet Airmen watching us off stage as we silenced the foot stomping crowd with an encore rendition of Graduation Day, an odd, but effective choice that reversed expectations and met them at the same time -- a soft, low volume good night kiss. It was eerie to walk off stage under the spell of such a powerful silence and tell Commander Cody "Its all yours boys".

In mid 1975, we finally got our record deal. When we returned from our Fall trip to Vancouver, we got to work writing a musical comedy album. The subject matter was absolutely forbidden - the Beatles. Nobody at that time covered the Beatles, let alone parodied them; after all they were the Fab Four and it was only four years after they had broken up; and they were not to be made fun of. Their songs were sacred texts and you just don't kid around with serious art. That didn't stop us, though as we started with the album jacket - a huge apple with eight worms coring out the center featuring each of our smiling faces.

The idea was to re-create the Ed Sullivan show, and substitute the Glass Packs on the bill for the four mopheads (with Bob Sarlatte's spooky Ed Sullivan impersonation announcing that "Right here on our stage . . . ladies and gentlemen a big round of applause for . . . Jack Ruby"; followed by circus fire sound effects and "Timba the elephants are coming" screaming); then follow the Beatles career path with radically different arrangements of the Liverpudlians' songs. For example, the first track we cut was from the early Beatles "Act Naturally" session where the Fabs also cut some other country songs that never made it to vinyl, like the original "Ticket to Ride", sung by Bob Sarlatte as Johnny Cash doing Folsom Prison Blues; i.e., a countrified version of Ticket to Ride with nasal hillbilly background vocals -- "Ma biby dun't keer, Ma biby dun't keer", the same guitar licks, with a Tennessee Three rhythm feel and the Big Fella's basso Johnny Cash voice.

Meanwhile, it is 1976, and the airwaves are alive with the sound of disco. We on the West Coast did not experience Disco music the way it was meant to be experienced. A year before Saturday Night Fever, the Glass Packs toured the South, playing in Miami, Atlanta, Greenville South Carolina . . . The Swinger Lounge on the strip in North Miami Beach is part of the Marco Polo Hotel, virtually next door to the Fountainbleu. Our job was to play two sets six nights a weeks for three weeks -- one at 10:00 p.m. and one at 2:00 a.m. When we weren;t out on the intercoastal waterway getting sunburned, we shared the stage in alternating sets with Cook E. Jar & the Crumbs, Cook E. Jar being a fantastic, but unheard of, white soul singer, along the lines of Tommy James, Eddie Money and the Young Rascals. His wife was quite the show-woman herself, making quite the glamorous entrance and bows when he introduced her at the end of his set.

The Swinger Lounge had a large seated area in front of our stage and beside it a huge dance floor. On the dance floor there appeared legions of women from Montreal, Boston, Philly and the Big Apple, with white blouses (which appeared iridescent under the ubiquitous black lights) and big hair dancing in eight by eight rows, like a phalanx of Persian warriors doing "the Hustle". A really fascinating phenomenon, because these women had no interest in dancing with men at all. They had figured a way to avoid drunken guys who couldn't dance anyway slobbering all over them - so they danced with each other in complete lock step oblivious to everything except the beat.

Disco was everywhere, and the trip to the South and the East was our last. We didn't know that when we left home, but by the time we finished the two month our, it became apparent that greater success still meant the road -- more of the Chicago Playboy Club, more of Miami Beach, living out of a suit cases, late hours, no home life - just better hotels. The bottom line was that there was no market for visual musical comedy act like ours, as video and cable T.V, were more than 10 years away. So four years after college -- enough time to become priest, a lawyer, a doctor -- we decided that it was time for each of us to throw his own pies in life. And Butch Whacks & the Glass Packs was no more. And what's so good about goodbye?


  © 2005 Butch Whacks & the Glass Packs