Richard Marsh moved to Los Angeles from Salt Lake City to start a band and become a rock star. In doing so he first changed his name to Sky Saxon.  After his move he looked in the newspaper and saw an ad from a keyboardist named Daryl Hooper. Hooper was the first person ever to wear his hair in a “mullet”. Together they formed in 1965 the first psychedelic band in Los Angeles and called themselves The Seeds. They played throughout the L.A. area and they finally got a record contract with a local company, Crescendo Records. Their first release in 1965 was a heartfelt song about unanswered love, “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine”. The yearning for returned affection lyrics overshadows the tracks simplicity. The song received meager national airplay with the exception of local L.A. radio station KHJ.

The song always sounded to me as if The Doors could’ve written it. The lyrics reeked of Jim Morrison poetry;  especially when it was easy to use the double entendre, “Mind” rather than “Mine”. Ray Manzarek could’ve easily improved Hooper’s piano break.  This track was hot, sultry, sexy and  perfect for burlesque..

Infamous KHJ night D.J. “Humble” Harve Miller would talk this song up every time he would play it. Miller had a business relationship with The Seeds and promoted many of their shows in the Los Angeles  area.

As a sidebar Mr. Miller was tried for the murder of his adulterous wife and was charged for manslaughter and went to jail for a brief stint. Folklore states that his wife had called him while he was on the air and provoked him regarding her current lover. He was so enraged that he vacated the studio and drove home immediately to commit the hanus act.  Not soon after his  meager sentence was complete  he we rehired to be a evening D.J. on a major  L.A. radio station as an air talent and later was inducted to the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. Justice certainly has strange ways of working!

The Seeds captured the psychedelic image with their biggest hit “Pushin’ Too Hard”; which every garage rock band in Los Angeles covered. The track was actually released twice when it’s popularity started to grow nationally and peaked at #37 on Billboard’s Single chart. Sky Saxon wrote this song in 15 minutes in a car while his girl friend was food shopping. Once again Saxon uses a double entendre to mean pressure from one’s aggressive woman or about a rant against society. Either one works for me! The folks of Crescendo Records  are currently producing a film highlighting  Sky Saxon and The Seeds trek to stardom. Saxon later went to his record company and settled for an undisclosed amount of money to sell the rights to his music.

He was often called a Mick Jagger rip off but Saxon would perform while wearing a “wizard’s” cape; yet Jagger wore the same style cape during the Get Your Ya’ Ya’s Out tour many years later.

Their third and least popular single was “Mr. Farmer” because from the onset it was banned by radio due to its drug references. Saxon explained that the song was only about a city kid who was tired of a big metropolis and decided to move to the country and start a farm. The song went to 86 on Billboard and ran out of steam. Despite it’s poor chart showing it is still a classic.

Unfortunately after “Mr. Farmer” The Seeds seemed to fall apart. People assumed that psychedelic drugs had taken its toll on Saxon . In 1973 he became involved in a religious commune based in the Hollywood hills called “YaHoWha” where he was given the name “Sunlight”. While involved with this unusual religious group he had recorded a 13 C.D. set of inspirational music.

What struck me as interesting was that many pictures of Saxon during these years he would always give the “pyramid” sign. This is the same “pyramid” sign that followers of the EDM band, Daft Punk would do. While performing the audience would raise their hands to gesture the pyramid. I’m not assuming that there’s any correlation but I do find it interesting that the pyramid hand gesture is the same.

Saxon in 2008 met up with Smashing Pumpkins leader, Billy Corgan and recorded a song together called  “Chose to Chose Life”. The song was over 10 minutes long and Saxon’s vocal were just dribble. Cogan insisted that Sky Saxon appear in the Smashing Pumpkins video “Superchrist” which created greater mysticism to the 7-minute track.

The great Sky Saxon finally left the musical vortex of Los Angeles and moved to Austin, TX. where he passed unexpectedly from a serious infection on June 25th, 2009, the same day that Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died.

Billy Corgan’s still fascinated with Saxon started a side band called “Spirits in the Sky” and performed dates on the west coast. The proceeds were donated to the Saxon family to be used for Sky’s cremation.

Spirit in the Sky would play only Sky Saxon material. In this video Corgan is assisted by Dave Navarro in an acoustic version of “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine”.

 

The saga of Sky Saxon and the Seeds reflects our musical dedication here at Rock Bands of LA.com