Friday Knights Page 3
SF Giants 1973 highlight film
Once we finally finished recording and mixing the song, it was time for us to all listen to the finished version downstairs in the family room to see how it sounded. I still remember it was a scorching hot day (we had no A/C in the house) and Paul commented on how cool and comfortable my parent’s mustard-colored loveseats were, just perfect for debuting our latest song! We were all in heaven listening to our song through large 12 inch speakers, 8 feet above and 10 feet apart in full fidelity, stereophonic sound for the very first time! Afterwards we were all smiling from ear to ear, as proud as could be! This (like most everything at that time) called for a celebration and a beer, and then another, and then another and, well you know, that’s what usually seemed to end our sessions anyway! All except for Rick that is, he wanted no part of extracurricular activities, his focus after practice was polishing and putting away his guitar which took longer than it took us to finish a couple six packs. He was the Serious George (Harrison) of the group, which every band needed!
Friday Knight’s Tribute to The Giants
( Fernandez/Friedland )
They beat The Dodgers, they beat The Mets
They beat St. Louis at their best
Other teams have played baseball
But none compare to The Giants at all
Houston Astros have their dome
But they can’t beat The Giants, even at home
No one comes close in The Giants race
Because San Francisco belongs in first place
The Giants are number one
The Giants have just begun
The Giants are on their way
The Giants will win today
For a strong defense that’s really tough
The Giants will always come up with enough
With McCovey, Speier and Fuentes
Any grounder’s a double play
At home plate the confident nine
Will always make their hits combine
Bonds, McCovey, Kingman and Rader
Where can you find an offense that’s greater?
(Lon Simmons: Giants vs.Cardinals May 8, 1973):
“Pitch to Bonds...swung on and hit to deep left…
Going back is Brock and you can TELL IT GOODBYE!
The fourth home run for The Giants,
And the second for Bonds, his eighth!”
A Giants pitcher kicks and throws
The batter frowns because he knows
With Marichal, Moffitt, Sosa. McDowell
The best he’ll ever hit is a fowl
If a pitcher starts to fade
One of his friends will come to his aid
When the contest is over and done
Everyone realizes both pitchers won
Young Giants, you’re number one
Young Giants, you’ve just begun
Young Giants, you’re on your wary
Young Giants, you’ll win today
They’ve got quite a manager, Charlie Fox
Who knows who to choose for the batter’s box
If he’s needed to stand up and fight
He’ll make sure the umpire is right
If you can’t make it out to the game,
Listening to it is almost the same
There’s Lon Simmons calling the plays
His unique phrasing is never the same
Sometimes The Giants may look a bit dim
And their hopes get mighty slim
So they say, You can’t win ‘em all
This Is true in the game baseball
But with The Giants, that’s seldom the case
For soon a young Giant will get on base
No matter what inning, no matter what out
The Giants never have a doubt
Our final recording on BASF tape.
It MUST be the best tape, it’s from Germany! -Pat Queen
In the third chorus we changed the wording from “The Giants” to “Young Giants” because that was the slogan the team was using that year, so of course we were all over that.
When Cory and I would party, and we did it regularly, we would continually sing our favorite songs (Hit the Road Jack was our favorite, and our own competition “You Know”) and we’d also make up stories and sayings that would often catch on for months. One of Cory’s favorite lines (using some sort of strange accent) was “And ‘theeese is true!” which would follow each of his wildest made-up stories. When he was first writing the original lyrics to this song, that phrase found its way into the last verse. If you listen closely to that part you might detect just a little bit of that accent he threw in just for a laugh between us all.
In the play-by-play section of the song, Lon calls Bonds' fourth home run of the season. Of course, this was long before the Barry Bonds days, who was only nine at this time) so give the credit here to his (steroidless) father, Bobby, a real hero.
Around 1979, I wrote a letter to The Giants’ front office requesting an opportunity to meet and interview Willie McCovey (for a fictitious college midterm). A week later, my wife Sylvia called me at work to tell me I had received a call from Willie’s agent and that if I came over to Mr. McCovey’s office right away, I could interview him and bring my video cam and Betamax recorder! Frantically I told my boss I just came down with the Hungarian Flu and in the interest of the rest of the employees I thought it best that I go home. I hopped in the car, picked up Cory, and together we dashed off to Willie’s office in Daly City where Willie sat waiting in his office filled with Giants memorabilia like I’d never imagined. I nervously did the interview while Cory operated the camera for the very first time. What an honor, I was ‘Lon Simmons interviewing Stretch for an hour! The tape was later accidentally erased. I never lived that down. Even the autographed rookie baseball card that Tim Rhoem donated, was stolen, frame and all from my wall many years later.
Cory and had written the lyrics to this song before the game had ever been played that I recorded the play-by-play segment from. It’s interesting to note that the lyric, They beat the Cardinals at their best, Is exactly what The Giants did during that very game. Final score: Giants 9 Cardinals 7.
Depressed for years about the loss of my interview with Willie, on July 6, 1980, I was determined to try to make up for it. On the last day of McCovey’s baseball career, I convinced my friend Steve Kelleher to bring his video camera (he owned his own videography business and a battery-operated camera) so that we could capture another meeting with Willie and I on this historic day. He did, and we did. I am now searching for the VHS tape, I plan to post here if and when I find it!
A few years after this, one night while I arrived early by myself to see a Giants game, I got the idea of paying another visit to Lon in his broadcast booth. It was much easier this time, and he was very nice again and allowed me to sit in the booth right behind him (as long as I promised to be quiet) while I experienced an entire Giants broadcast with the master himself. That night I was living the dream.
1973 “Young Giants” yearbook
It had to be the next day or two when Cory and I were back at our second home, Candlestick Park to see Willie McCovey and the Giants and listen to Lon Simmons on our transistor radios. This was heaven to us, what could be better? Most anytime we wanted to, my father was able to get us free tickets from his friend who was Willie McCovey’s lawyer. Willie would leave our tickets at the box office with my name on the envelope complete with his signature on the back of each ticket. Wow, Willie McCovey’s autograph just for us! We were tempted to save the autographed tickets and take them home, but there were two seats waiting for us right next to first base and Willie wouldn’t be happy if we weren't there to cheer him on!
My Giant hero’s picture was on my wall ever since I was ten.
I think it was the third inning, and more than likely our third beer when we came up with an idea to try to somehow sneak up to the broadcast booth where Lon Simmons (our favorite announcer in the world) was calling the game. We would find him and convince him to play our song before a Giants game! With our combined charms and magnetic personalities, how could he refuse? I don't know whether the thought of actually meeting Lon Simmons was more exciting or scary, but nothing would stop half of the Knights from finding out!
Cory and I always tried to speak creatively with lots
of anecdotes just like our muse, Lon Simmons did.
Lon, our other baseball idol, (second only to McCovey) with his deep, booming voice and great wit were something we both looked forward to hearing every chance we could together. We’d turn the sound down on the TV so we could hear him on the KSFO radio feed to maximize the Giants experience. The KTVU TV broadcast was very good too, because the announcer was Al Michaels, who now does Sunday Night Football better than anyone else today in my opinion, but I bet even Michaels would concede he could never compare to the master, Lon Simmons’ booming voice and great sense of humor. Lon was loved by all ever since he started doing play-by-play for both the Giants (along with Russ Hodges) as well as 49ers for decades beginning in 1957.
Anyway, as soon as the ninth inning began, these two nervous high school seniors left our seats to search out the Broadcast booth where every great Giant from Mays, to McCovey to Marichal had sat with Lon and Russ before and after games for years. The search was On for Lon. We had to be there before he finished the post game show but before he could leave the park. I think it took us the entire 9th inning to figure out where the booth was, all we knew was it was somewhere in the middle of the huge mezzanine somewhere between the first and second deck. We knew that because we would always look up at him from our McCovey seats below. We found an elevator hoping it would help take us there, and when the doors opened it looked like we were in “the right ballpark”, so the search began.A
We had no idea which way to go so we began going downward, because “there were doors down them there stairs!” There were lots of doors leading to booths which all looked down over home plate below. Surely Lon had to be behind one of these, we figured. One-by-one we began turning each knob but every single one we tried was locked. Without signage to our destination it was hard to identify where we were, much less where the broadcast booth was. I assume this was intended to keep fans away, but it wasn’t going to work with even half of The Knights. After a lot of trial and error and asking for directions, we finally found it!. Although this door, too, was locked, the security told us Lon was still inside and we’d have to wait until he came out to even have a chance of talking to him. If we weren’t nervous enough before, we certainly were quaking in our boots now! It must have been two hours that we stood by the door waiting for that door to open, but we didn’t care we’d have camped there all night if we had to.
Finally after what seemed like all eternity, there he was, LON SIMMONS IN PERSON, RIGHT IN FRONT OF US! All six and half feet of the Giant’s giant, bigger than life! As soon as he came out, we walked up to him and I started chattering as fast as I could to try to keep his attention before he could walk away. As I remember It went something like this: “Hello Mr. Simmons, I’m Rich Friedland and this is Cory Fernandez, you may have heard of us, we’re in The Friday Knights rock band and all of us are the biggest fans of you and The Giants in the sixteen years you’ve all been doing your crafts! Together, we wrote and recorded a song about the Giants, and you’re in it too! It’s a really great song, so can you play it on the radio before tomorrow’s game?”
Lon “Tell it goodbye!” Simmons in the flesh!
I couldn’t wait for his response, the silence was deafening... Lon didn't say a word! I knew he heard us, we were right in front of him although about a foot below his ears. “Huh Mr. Simmons? Please, Mr Simmons, we are your biggest fans! Ple-e-e-ease Mr. Simmons? Could you play our song for us?”, we both begged. He still didn’t say anything but he continued to look down into our beady eyes. What was he thinking? Finally, his mouth began to open and I’ll never forget his first words to us in his deep trademark Giants/Niners voice: “I’m just trying to think.” I wondered, did he really just speak to us, did we actually get his wheels turning? Think? Think about what? Then he told us he would call Jim Lang who was the morning DJ on KSFO as well as the host of “The Dating Game”, the world famous TV game show on ABC ever since 1965). He asked me for my phone number. That’s all we knew, and he excused himself. Now we were REALLY EXCITED, but we were on the road to fame and fortune, or what would happen, if anything? We couldn’t wait to tell Rick and Paul, who loved the Giants as much as Cory and I did! Our hopes were up!
A day or two later a nice lady from KSFO called and told me that Mr. Lang heard from Lon Simmons and wanted us all to come to the studio at 10am the next morning with our tape so he could play it on his show! What?? This didn’t seem possible, I thought things like this only happens on Leave it To Beaver! I was ecstatic and immediately shared the news with the rest of The Knights. Of course everyone was equally excited and instantly agreed to go to school the next morning and fein sickness and 9am, so we could get to the studio on time. I brought our tape to school in the cool BASF box that opened from the side, which helped remind us we were now becoming real recording stars.
OFF TO “ON THE AIR” TIME!
June, 1973 9:10 am
We all met (except Princess Laura) at Cory’s car where we piled in, I was hyped up and the first to yell “Shotgun!” ensuring I had the passenger seat on our trip to fame and fortune. This was tradition for anyone riding in anyone else's Knight Mobile when there was at least one more passenger boarding. There we were, heading north on 101 to downtown San Francisco off to stardom with stars in our eyes! This would be the beginning of our adventure to “Beat the Beatles”! We knew our song was great and since it was recorded in stereo at fast speed it was sure to blow Jim Lange’s audience of millions out of their carseats!
From the dating capital of the world…..Jim Lange!
The next thing we knew, we were in the beautiful luxurious lobby of one of the most important and popular radio stations in the country, KSFO...and we were invited! The receptionist politely asked us to be seated in the green room where we anxiously awaited whatever was to follow. We could hear Jim Lang’s radio broadcast from our seats, so we figured it wouldn’t be long until the next commercial, when Jim Lang would come out to greet us. Clutching our tape under my arm my foot tapped nervously. It was not long before the adjoining studio door swung open and there stood straight from the “dating capital of the world”, Jim Lange himself! This felt amazing, we were all ears and smiles, Jim, very businesslike shook each of our fight hands and told us he, upon the recommendation of Lon Simmons would soon be sending out our Giants song out on the airwaves for all of northern California to hear. I may have heard sweeter words in my life, but I really couldn't think of when. Soon he thanked us and shut the door behind him. We were left in a tiny room to listen through the speaker monitors for ourselves. This was excitingly nerve wracking! It seemed like forever, and he hadn’t played our song, nor did he even mention it.
It was quite a while before he came back out to give us the bad news. The recording we made was incompatible with their equipment! Although we had mixed the song down to two tracks, their machines played all tracks on every tape at once so all the other recordings that that tape had been used for on “the other” side were also playing simultaneously in reverse. The overall sound must have sounded like garbage trucks in a hurricane. Totally unplayable. Not really knowing what to say, I took a long shot. I told Mr. Lange that we are the biggest Dating Game Fans in the world and watched his show at the same time we listened to Lon Simmons calling the games while wearing our Giants caps as much as we could! I then asked him if we could take the tape with us, erase the extra tracks and bring it back all cleaned up at the same time tomorrow. Figuring we were out of luck, he agreed! So off we were to do a little more soundwork on my fathers Teak which is exactly what we did!
Jim Lange doing us the big favor!
The next morning we did the same thing all over again, went to our first class, each cough pneumonia, and were out the door back to Cory’s Mustang, onto the freeway and back at the station where Jim Lange greeted us and, yes this time we were in business! Jim announced that The Friday Knights had written a Giant fight song and it was written by Cory Fernandez and Rich Friedland, seconds later we were actually hearing the sound of our song which meant so were thousands and thousands of future fans at the exact same moment! Yes, our song was actually on the air, and we figured by the time we left the studio we’d be hounded for autographs by cute little perky Giant fanettes! We all shook one another’s hands as we listened (these were the days before high-fives). It was such an incredible feeling. Just as our song got to the part near the end where it slows down for a moment the music SUDDENLY STOPPED!
We heard Jim say to the world, “Somebody wake up the lead singer...a little more fire boys!” And that was that. 45 seconds of our song never got played so no one ever knew that the song soon picks the tempo back up and has a strong finish. No one at all………..except for four dejected would-be rock stars who were sunk down in their chairs quietly waiting for the next commercial break so they could get their tape back and hit the road back to the ordinary plain world. And that’s exactly what followed. Somehow the drive home wasn’t quite as exciting as the one we had an hour earlier. And that’s just what happened to our big song. We were humiliated. But by the time we got back to Millbrae we realized, Hey we just got on the radio, how many people can say that? We were happy again, and preparing for our next hill to climb together!
TIME FOR A BASS-IC CHANGE
After all the ordeal we’d been through we figured it was time for a little departure from the abnormal. The first thing I felt I needed was a better bass guitar, so Paul offered to drive me to Guitar Center on Van Ness in the heart of San Francisco, so I could try to find something I could afford. With very little money and a pretty undesirable bass, we were on our way back to the city that rejected us only days before. I tried lots of wonderful basses with and without frets, different types of strings through different amps, and I still played like a novice, but I kept looking anyway. Finally I stumbled upon something really different, it was a Vox Bass (that was the same company that made the “SuperBeatle” amps for The Beatles). How could I go wrong there? The action was so much smoother than the bass I had been playing and so was the tone. It had a long thin neck, and strings close to the fretboard that you barely had to press on. This was the bass for me! It even had a battery compartment in the back to power the built in fuzz. To this day I’ve never heard of any other guitar like this at all, I had to have it! It was $99 minus a very small trade-in discount for my Aria that Paul had given to me. I don’t remember if Paul lent me the difference, or if I wrote a bad check but I do know that minutes later my new guitar was in the same gunny sack my old one was in and it was just screaming to be taken to Carnegie Hall! I loved that bass, I really did.
Fireworks Knight, San Bruno
July 4, 1973
What goes best with a caravan of Friday Knights heading to Tanforan to watch the fireworks? Why, an unlimited supply of libations. of course!. After a few (too many) of those and a little coaxing from Paul’s girl, and some daring from the boys it was time for Professor Quay to entertain the unsuspecting troops, the innocent families parked in their cars waiting to enjoy the festivities. No matter, I had nothing planned, so all I remember is walking up to a car where the lady driver opened her window. I went on to explain the theory of unrelativity until I heard the other Knights' laughter coming from behind me. The lady looked at me like I was out of my drunken mind as she rolled her window back up, so I was on my way back to whichever Mustang would have me...just in time for the firework
Another uneventful audition, but it was practice, and we sure needed that, in front of people and a chance to get our chops down better.
Vallemar Station, 2125 Pacific Coast Hwy still looks the same today.
I don’t remember anything about this show except that it was quaint and dark inside, but Dave Aulwurm (our would-be trumpet player) only remembers driving all the way from Millbrae to Pacifica just to see us. Kudos to “doc” for making the trek to the coast just for us!
Our first full 4-set show. Apparently I didn’t research the palace very well, or more likely oversold us, because we found ourselves in a cowboy bar with a half a dozen plastered scoundrels that wanted no part of rock and roll. It didn’t take long before I realized I had oversold the band. Quick thinking, dad to the rescue. He said let’s play Folsom Prison Blues, and that won us over with the crowd. Won us over for three minutes and twenty seven seconds, and that’s about all. Now there’s an awful lot of three minutes and twenty seven seconds in four forty-minute minute sets, but we were about to find out how many there were, because they kept on requestin’ us to play that song again and again to the bestin; of our ‘bilities. Paul sang that one, so I’m sure his voice box got a workout that night while Rick got to rest his for a change. Well many of our songs may have been quite THE MESS when we walked into THE MESA, but we sure could play one song back and forth, upside down in our sleep by the time we walked out! And that’s just what these boys were aimin’ to do just as soon as we could git back to our ranches for some much needed shut eye.
The Mesa, 497 San Mateo Ave, San Bruno. A cowboy bar wasn't quite what we were expecting it to be!
Paul was very loyal to us, and as I found out later, he was even more dedicated than we knew because singing Johnny Cash all night cost him his would-be lifetime relationship with Carol as he had chosen us over going to her high school senior prom that same night. Carol never forgave him for that. I’m really sorry this happened for his sake, however I know he’s very happy in his current relationship of which they will be celebrating their 40th anniversary in 2022. So congratulations for that, Paul and Michelle!