Friday Knights  Page 1

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Friday Knights  ( LTR: Paul, Cory, Rich, Rick aka Quanah ) 

The Friday Knights, My Attempt At Forming a Band Bigger Than The Beatles!

By Rich Friedland 

 

Chapter 1

(January-June 1973)

Practice location: 746 Clearfield Dr., Millbrae 


 

MUSTANGS FOREVER!

 

I was introduced to Rick Kelly through our common friend, Larry Schlesinger, they each owned 1965 Mustangs which was my favorite car. Larry wanted us to meet because the three of us were all huge Beatles and San Francisco Giants fans. With this much in common already it was only natural for the three of us to become such close friends. Rick was the best musician I knew (Fender Mustang guitar and set of pipes and wasn’t afraid to sing and play for anyone and everyone who was within ear-shot of him.)  I always looked up to him for his courage, and wanted to be like him but I had next to no experience except for just a few guitar lessons and a basic music class in high school. I was a junior when I met Rick and he had just graduated from my rival school. He was a Mills Viking and I was a Capuchino Mustang. It just occurred to me, I’m still on my first paragraph and already I’ve typed three entirely different uses for the word “mustang”. (Completely unintentional, honest!) 

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Cory, Paul, Laura and I would become 

The “Cap Mustangs” part of the band.

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Rick's blue Mustang

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...and we each had our own ‘65 Mustang*

 

* All four of us each owned a ‘65 Knightmobile as we fondly referred to them. Each, a different color. Mine was army green (I later bought a white one),  Rick’s was midnight blue, Paul’s, baby blue and Cory’s heaven knows what color it was before he and Paul got drunk one day and painted it with gray house primer using brushes and rollers. Not an inch was spared (except for a few places on the windows)-what a mess that turned out to be! Then I came along a few days to complete the job with our stencil and painted our logo on each door as well as the back of the car with the words “Friday” and “Knights” flanking the gas cap. 

 

GOOD OL’ QUANAH!

 

Although I was a novice musician at best, Rick was always unassuming,non-judgemental and very patient with me. He soon became the big brother that I never had. He had actually gone out with girls too, so he also became my muse/coach in that department, I felt I had struck gold when we met! Anyway, he took me under his wing and tolerated my quirky sense of humor and lack of musical abilities. He even treated me as an equal as he worked out melodies to my lyric book that I gave him free reign to do with what he pleased. Meanwhile I was trying to find my way around my new instrument, the tambourine. In addition to being the Bernie Taupin of the pair, I also advised some melody input at times.

 

 I’ll always remember our first very song, Can’t Get You Off Of My Mind which had a special place in my heart because I had written the lyrics for Janis, my first real crush and my first date. We were never romantic, but we’ve remained life-long friends ever since, still to this day. Long before I met Rick she and I used to talk on the phone for hours and one night we started making plans to start a band of our own. She played me a song on her guitar that whe had written, called Travelin’ On which I took home the sheet music to and started to learn the chords on my guitar, I was very impressed with her little number. We decided we would form a duet called The Wild Psychotic Shazam Band, but that never came to pass.

 

Anyway, Rick and I were inseparable buddies now and we worked hard to form some original songs. Music never came easy to me, as Ringo would say “It don’t come easy”, and I hated paying my dues just to sing the blues, which didn’t help either. I just wanted a free ride to the big time without much blood, sweat and tears. Having A.D.D. didn’t only add to these challenges  as it had made concentrating and learning difficult for me as it still does to this day. So my job was to try to learn bass and to come up with ideas while Rick got serious about creating new chord combinations. Somewhere along the lines, I felt it was time to add a couple more members to our duo, and become more Beatle-esque. After all, how else were we going to get bigger than The Beatles, when we only had half as many members? Being at that level was the most important thing to us, even more so than playing on The San Francisco Giants, which was a close second choice. When we talked about stardom Rick wanted to be known by his birth name Quanah instead of just plain Rick. Quanah, so Quanah, it was from then on.

 

GATHERING OUR ARSENAL

 

Trying to think of potential bandmates, I first asked the first real friend I ever made once we moved to Millbrae from San Bruno in 1966, Dave Aulwurm. He played trumpet in the Capuchino band, and he was really smart, so smart that he was about to graduate a year early, and wanted nothing to do with being in a band with two would-be rockers. So it was back to the drawing board. Next, I turned to my good friend, Cory Fernandez, who was the funniest/funnest guy I ever knew. These would be perfect qualities to have for what I had in mind!. He could tell a story that could only be matched by my Uncle Stan, and that’s really saying something!. Some people knew how to talk, well Cory could have taught a full course on the subject, complete with off the cuff jokes, voices and persuasive tips. We had lots in common, baseball, chess and gambling, to name just a few. He was also the drummer in our high school band. We were both on the Mustang Swim team together as well, although our “swimming laps'' often consisted of us sneaking back into the locker room so we could play blackjack together. To many, I was known at “Cap” as the card dealer/hustler who was always ready to whip out his red deck of “Bee” cards and beginning shuffling, cutting and dealing with just one hand to anyone who I could talk into sitting down for long enough to win their lunch money, which I usually did as I was the house so I had the .05% edge.

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Always in my left, back pocket

 

I knew he would be a natural on Rick’s and my new developing band so I asked him to show up at our next practice. He was really interested if not for one little detail...he didn't have a drum kit and they were very expensive. Well, we needed a drummer, and I couldn’t let a little thing like a missing instrument stop us from having one. I was determined to help him get some drums, and fast! I found a lead to get a cheap set. A tenant of a house my parents had, had a drum set for sale, and very cheap! The brand was not important, only that it came with sticks and cymbals with it did not! Cory drove me down to get the kit right away, and only four minutes and forty bucks later it was in the trunk of his Mustang! We made plans to skip swimming practice the following day and rush to the first pawn shop we could find in downtown, San Francisco to find the missing drum pieces which were all that were between us and Carnegie Hall. And we did just that! Scooting in and out of Highway 101 jammed traffic lanes at the peak of rush hour, only minutes before the five o’clock closing deadline, we pulled up just in time to run only five city blocks the first shop we saw….in the pouring rain, no less, only to find out they were just beginning to lock the door! Begging like a couple of empty-bagged trick or treaters, we finally persuaded the owner to let us in for a “quick sale”. Four minutes and forty dollars later we were out the door with dented cymbals and a couple of whittled sticks with would-be drum tips at each end. Now, we had a complete drum set and we were completely ready to nearly complete the band! I knew then, we had our Ringo!

 

HERE COMES CAVAN!

 

Another friend of ours, Cavan Weir had a guitar and knew a few chords so we invited him to our first practice in an attempt to round out our four-piece “Beatles-like band. There we were, two rhythm guitars (no lead), drums and tambourine (no bass), the perfect number of guys, with an imperfect combination of instrumentation and direction. Still, we felt this was all we would need to put fear into the hearts of John, Paul, George and Ringo. I remember we played “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone'' and “Bad Moon Rising” and of course Rick’s and my, “Can’t Get You Off Of My Mind”  which was slated to be our first hit. I couldn't help but grin from ear to ear when I first played/heard real “music” actually filling my bedroom for the first time which wasn’t generated by a record player or radio. I was a part of this, me and my tambourine, I felt great! Oh what possibilities this could lead to!

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Cavan’s Fender Musicmaster

 

After just a few songs, Cory asked how the music sounded to Cavan, who retorted, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you!” Not a very nice thing to say, especially considering, next to me he was the least experienced musician in the room. Cory gave me a look like, that’s the end of him, and I  wasn’t far behind him. I’m not sure but I think Rick was feeling the same way. As I recall he inferred that the only song Cavan could ever really play all the way through was the three chorded Bad Moon Rising, which he proudly monikerized as “Moon”.  (Rick despised it whenever Cavan would call it that!) Little or no discussion was necessary so it was my job to tell Cavan in the hallway, things weren’t working out. Rick wasn’t saying much either. I think he was too busy spraying guitar polish on his Mustang.

 

A night or two later, Cory and I were cruising around in his Mustang killing time before we had agreed to pick up our instant ex guitarist, Cavan from work, so we could “cruise better” and try to attract more girls than we usually did, which was none. 9:30 came and in the backseat hopped Cavan. Cory and I had ideas to discuss, and although Cavan wasn’t in the band he was always fun to bounce ideas off of. Tonight the subject was a name for the band. We named a few ideas but nothing good enough to remember today. All that matters now is all that mattered then, which was Cory’s mother’s INCREDIBLE SUGGESTION, THE FRIDAY KNIGHTS. I can still remember plain as knight, turning around in my seat, looking at Cavan when words weren’t even needed. It was instantly settled and celebrated by us all, that would have to be the new name for just one reason…………...what could possibly be better than a double entendre like that? 

 

Since it was obvious Cavan wasn’t going to be in the band, but still zealous instead of jealous, Cory and I figured he could be our manager, after all what would a band be without one of those? Cavan instantly agreed, and we figured we were really on our way now!

 

EVERY BAND NEEDS A “GEORGE”, BUT ALL WE HAD WAS A PAUL  

 

We had a name now, but still no lead guitarist so Cory suggested we try his friend, Paul Inserra who could play lead guitar. I sort of knew Paul from both high school and Taylor Junior High before that. He seemed like a nice enough guy so we told Cory to ask Paul if he was interested in auditioning. We needed a lead guitarist because even though Rick, a natural guitarist, could only play rhythm at that time. So every John needed a George, in this case it was a Paul!

 

I think it was the next day when Paul showed up for the first time. As soon as he plugged in his Fender Jazzmaster we could see he was not only the best musician in the room, but the saviest one as well. 

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Paul’s Jazzmaster

 

We knew we wanted him in, but he came with one caveat, and it was a BIGGIE: I would have to hang up my tambourine and play bass guitar. Bass player? Me? What do I know about that, and where would I get the money to buy one? I had no job and it was all I could do to scrape up forty cents, eight times a year just to keep my Mad Magazine collection current, which up to that day was one of the most important parts of my life! 

 

FROM TAMBOURINE TO BASS (AND VOCALS)

 

Paul had the solution, he said he’d give me his Aria bass, as well as teach me how to play it. Hmmm, I thought about that, how could I pass up this opportunity. After I once place a little guitar and the bass has 33% less strings, this sounds doable! I think that was the day that Cory and I nicknamed Paul. “Dad” as we knighted our newest Knight. 

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Paul gave me my first bass, a beautiful Aria.

 

Playing bass did not come easy to me at all. I finally learned to play the standard blues progression which didn’t come easy, but it once I got the hang of it came in handy as half of our songs followed that pattern. Once I learned that, it was my turn to sing into a microphone for the very first time! I’ll never forget how nervous I was to sing in front of my new bandmates, and worse to be amplified so that my family would hear me as well as whichever neighbors might be home. But I couldn’t let on how scared I was because I knew if I was to be a worthy leader and be able to take this band to bigger venues than my bedroom as I had promised everyone, this was very necessary. 

 

My bedroom/Friday Knights rehearsal studio
( The 2 upstairs windows on the right )

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AMy House 746 Clearfield Drive, Millbrae