By: Amy Haben
“I’ve never liked the idea of putting on some music before sex, but if I was gonna put on some music to have some sex with, I’d put on The Seeds.” —Iggy Pop
This March, my good friend Gary Farley, took me on a late night rock n’ roll mission to Neil Norman’s GNP Crescendo archives. His father Gene Norman had started the label in 1954 signing talent such as Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington. In 1965, the garage rock group The Seeds couldn’t get signed by anyone in Los Angeles, but Norman decided to take a chance on the shaggy haired rockers, even though he was mainly a jazz enthusiast.
Neil walked us around the treasure trove of master tapes by many well known musicians from the 60’s, but when Gary and I laid our eyes on ‘Pushin’ Too Hard’ by The Seeds, we were in awe. The music geeks inside us came squealing out. We asked if we could touch the master tape that Sky had held.
After we finished gushing, Neil told us about The Seeds documentary he was almost finished working on. Gary, who owns Third Eye Records in Long Beach, sold the tickets and helped set up the Long Beach screening. The premiere was set for The Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.
So this month I went to see the premiere, and was delighted by the comic relief and garage rock nostalgia that exploded on the screen. Not to mention Sky Saxon, Jan Savage, Rick Andridge, and Daryl Hooper’s far out style. Sky had the most unique voice– combined with sexy moans, as featured in ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine.’ He was a favorite amongst the girls and had a star presence that everyone noticed. His shaggy bowl cut and full lips made Sky quite the heartbreaker. In one scene, a fan was saying that Sky preferred dating bigger girls so she and her friends tried to gain weight, hoping for an extra hundred pounds. He was THAT sexy.
Keyboardist Daryl Hooper had his own Beethoven inspired look complete with fluffy white shirt and purple suede jacket with tail. He came up with the keyboard riff on ‘Mr. Farmer’, to which everyone built on. He also was a major factor in creating their sound as they were one of the first bands to utilize keyboard bass. The Seeds were also the first band to promote the idea of ‘flower power.’ As the only remaining Seeds, there are many scenes of Daryl and Jan sitting around reminiscing of the rock n’ roll stardom days. In classic Beatles fashion, girls would chase them down the street and rip off their clothing and hair.
Guitarist Dan Savage created that great sexy riff on ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine’, which is the first thing i hear when i think of The Seeds. Apparently, California farmers were thanking The Seeds for creating ‘Mr. Farmer’ and parents were up in arms do to the drug connotation. Dan points out, “Mr. Farmer could have been planting tomato seeds!!” The audience roared in laughter.
Drummer Rick Andridge, sported the cutest black frame glasses along side his heavy bangs and long straight hair past his shoulders. He was known to frighten parents and it was suggested that The Seeds wear suits and cut their hair a bit, but they would not conform to those rules. Iggy Pop gives props to Andridge as a fantastic drummer and lays on thick the importance of a talented drummer to any band.
There were many musicians who were influenced by The Seeds. Bruce Johnston claimed that The Beach Boys would warm up for concerts by playing ‘Pushin’ Too Hard’, and were always a little jealous that their sound wasn’t as dangerous. The Bangles play a tribute cover of ‘Pushin’ Too Hard’ at the end of most concerts. The beautiful muse behind the book, ‘I’m With The Band’, Miss Pamela Des Barres did a excellent job narrating the film.
“He (Sky) thought he was god.” –Kim Fowley
Kim dropped some words of wisdom on the evils of fame and decadence, relating mainly to singer Sky Saxon’s major drug problem and inflated ego. Fowley recognized the star quality in Sky and stole Saxon’s tan Native American fringe jacket, but was asked to give it back. Around the same time, he recorded with The Seeds doing back up vocals which got him laid to no end.
Funny tv show appearances make up some of the more laugh out loud moments of the movie, especially watching the awkward go-go dancing of a character from the show Mother’s-In-Law. Some funny editing made for a split screen where you see the view of the street rolling down Hollywood Blvd on bottom with Jan and Daryl’s heads on the top part of the screen talking with half a steering wheel in front of them.
The focus of the movie was on Sky Saxon and his drug problem/ possible mental disorder which eventually left him homeless. Daily acid and marijuana intake seemed to take him too far out, as he was most likely self medicating bi-polar disorder. He had purchased a beautiful Malibu home right on the beach at the height of his fame which was quickly run down by hippie squatters. Once the house was taken back by the bank, Sky took to the streets until 1973, when he signed his rights away for The Seeds to Gene Norman. Sky used the money to fly to Hawaii and join the hippie cult, The Source Family, where he changed his name to Sunlight and obtained three wives.
Eventually, he came back and had a Seeds reunion show in the 80’s. Then he had a brief world tour playing The Seeds music with two young musicians that fell short as Sky’s mental problems appeared and it would be hit or miss if he could hold together on stage.
Walking out of the theater, my friend Louis and I took pictures with Kim Fowley and Rodney Bingenheimer, who was also featured in the film. Rodney has been my hero since 1994, when I would stay up until midnight and tape the Rodney On The Rock show on local radio station, KROQ. He is responsible for my love of Pulp, Johnny Thunders, The Damned, not to mention other brit pop and punk rock musicians some underground, some well known. I am about twice the size of Rodney, literally, but luckily he was gracious about taking the picture as I tried bending down a bit.
All in all Pushin’ Too Hard is a movie you need to see if you’re a Seeds fan. Even my two friends that barely knew of them thought the movie was a lot of fun. Long live The Seeds!!!