I was beginning to get into the Israeli scene and way of life. I began to try new kinds of food in the restaurants which were, for the most part, introduced to me by Ami Trebich. We would often go over to Babba’s café and eat a plate of lungs in brown sauce with eggplant salad as an appetizer. Stan and I met two Arab looking guys who lived in the flat below us in Sokolov. They were a little older than us and to me they looked a bit like a Middle Eastern odd couple! One evening they invited us to their flat to have drink with them. They handed us a glass each, filled with a red liquid. We had no idea what we were drinking and when we asked what it was the only thing they told us was that it was a special drink that they enjoyed. We chatted with them for a while until Stan motioned to me that we should leave. We said Shalom and walked back upstairs. I noticed that Stan was tottering a little and as we opened the door to our flat he asked “Robbie do you feel weird? I’m totally fucked up” I was beginning to feel very woozy myself and affirmed that I was beginning to feel rather strange. We had been smoking before we went downstairs and it seemed that the combination of the hashish together with whatever it was that we had been drinking was beginning to have an intense affect upon us. Stan thought that they had spiked the drinks with something. We both had to lie down on our beds hoping that it would make us feel better. Stan began to freak out telling me that the poster of the Cheetah club (a big blow up of a chimpanzee’s face that we had taped to the wall) was moving all over the place and was jumping out at him. Things got very quiet in our bedroom with the silence broken from time to time with Stan’s remarking on how this was fucking unreal and what the fuck did they give us? A knock came upon the front door and I managed to get up from my bed to see who it was. It was a friend of ours called Nachumy. He was the brother of Haim’s girlfriend who would drop by from time to time to bring us some good smoke. Seeing the state we were in he began to laugh and told us that we had probably drunk some special Yemenite alcohol which was very strong. There would be no more smoking that night and Stan and I finally said goodnight to Nachumy and passed out. The next morning when we woke up we looked at each other and with relief we gratefully acknowledged that we were still alive.
Sometimes in the afternoons we would stand out on the small balcony that overlooked Sokolov Street and watch the passers bye. We enjoyed seeing sights like the horse pulling a cart loaded with watermelons and hearing the driver shouting out “Adom vey matok” (Sweet and red); the old disheveled and bearded rag and bone man calling in a mournful voice “Altey Zackhen” (Old things). There was even a guy who walked the streets collecting empty bottles from people You would hear him with his strange pitiful voice calling out “Bakbookim, bakbookim” “Bottles bottles” At dusk we would watch rats running across the street, darting from one garbage can to another, but I never saw one inside the building. Sometimes we would see small groups of girls passing bye and we would remark upon their looks and appeal. Stan was still seeing his French girlfriend Danni from time to time but even so he would always have his eye open for a pretty girl. One afternoon as we looked out across the street we saw a girl walking bye. She was tall and slender wearing a short mini dress with her long, black and shiny hair flowing in the breeze and very pretty. Stan and I immediately directed our attention and remarks toward this new and exciting view that had come into sight. Stan commented on how she looked kinda young, that she was very pretty but alas she was pushing a baby in a stroller so she must be married so forget about that.
Just before the release of “Too Much in Love to Hear”/”Talk to Me”, Yehuda Talit told us that we would all be meeting with the president of CBS Israel, Somebody Schmidt, to sign the contract for the release of the record. The meeting would take place in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv which is situated on Hayarkon St. which is now a seafront promenade. Yehuda’s lawyer Julio Appotoker would also be present. Simon Schmidt brought out the paperwork and after being assured by Appotoker that it was a good contract we all signed it. We had no idea what we were signing but that was the way it was. We were just happy that we were getting a record out. As we were leaving the Hilton Stan started remarking on how we were never going to be appreciated in Israel and we should really be playing in Europe. He kept saying he had a good mind to bare his ass to the Israeli audience one day. As we were leaving, the photographer present at the signing suggested that we take a few publicity shots. As we walked to a grassy area adjacent to the hotel Stan continued to talk about mooning everybody. About half way through the photo shoot after continued threats from Stan, Miki said “You wanna show your ass man? C’mon do it now” Stan took a stoic pose with his back to the camera and Miki assured the success of the mooning by actually pulling Stan’s pants down himself. Upon its release Too Much in Love to Hear reached number one on the popularity charts at the Galay Tsahal radio station. I have no idea how many records were released or sold. I never received a penny from any of the sales.
Rare scans of the first Churchills 45 rpm to be released in Israel. “Too Much in Love to Hear”/ “Talk to Me”
The Churchills music was changing but at a very slow pace. From time to time we introduced a few Hendrix numbers like “Manic Depression” and “Foxy Lady”. Stan and I got hold of a copy of the Cream’s second album Disraeli Gears and we knocked off “Sunshine of Your Love” and “Outside Woman Blues”. Both songs received a cool reception from the audiences at the gigs until “Sunshine” got some plays on the Israeli Radio stations and we actually got requests to play it on occasions. The Israeli members of the Churchills were still coming up with hits from the radio for us to play. Among these was “Judy in Disguise (with glasses)” by John Fred and his Playboy Band. The number actually hit number one in 42 countries. The song in now recognized as being a parody to the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” but very few people actually realized that, the Churchills among them. Although the lyrics were somewhat obtuse it still sounded like a basic bubble gum pop song. Another was “Young Girl” by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. Even with a lot of pressure from Yehuda Talit Stan flatly refused to sing the song. In the end Haim Romano consented to sing the number. Stan and I always felt embarrassed when we had to play the song as this was a total opposite of what we wanted the Churchills to be. As the months passed our “refusals” to play certain pop songs increased, often causing huge shouting sessions between Yehuda and the band. The biggest one was with “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da” when Yehuda threatened to stop getting us gigs if we didn’t play it. Stan and I eventually caved in and agreed to play it. One night after constant heckling from the crowd, who desperately wanted to hear the number, we played it. When it was done Stan pulled down his pants and mooned the audience. This caused uproar in the club among the Moroccan youths who took it as a serious insult and were threatening to take physical action. Only after Miki spoke to them on the mike they cooled down and things got back to normal. Stan and I knew that the only way that we could ever hope to achieve any kind of satisfaction or success from our music was to leave Israel so that we could play our own style of music and not have to play pop songs. The desire for the band to leave Israel was becoming stronger and talking of that became almost a daily routine.
Stan and I were not writing much in the way of songs at that time, moreover we were listening to as much of, what became to be known as “Underground Music” that we could find. As we had little of our own material we decided to play music from other bands that we liked and one by one we began to insert numbers from the Doors into our repertoire. The songs we chose were from the Doors second album, Strange Days. Our favorites were “People are Strange”, “You’re Lost Little Girl”, “Love Me Two Times” and “My Eyes Have Seen You”. Stan was greatly influenced by Jim Morrison and even began to look a bit like him especially on stage.
One night over at the Sokolov flat Haim Romano, Ami Trebich and ex Churchill Selwyn Lifschits showed up with a girl by the name of Sima. They all claimed to have had sex with her and in fact at that time she was in a waning relationship with Ami. We spent that night smoking and drinking at the flat. Stan’s on again, off again girlfriend Danni was also hanging out with us. When everyone decided to leave Stan, Haim and Selwyn who were acting like bees buzzing around Sima the honey pot, all followed her down stairs into the street leaving Danni and me in the apartment. It looked like Danni had realized that Stan was making a move on Sima and was looking for revenge. I was rather the worst for wear having been drinking heavily and before I knew it Danni and I were making out hot and heavy on the couch in the living room. I realized that she was probably just trying to get her own back on Stan for blatantly abandoning her and chasing after this new groupie that had appeared on the scene. I had no reservations that I was in anyway betraying my friend as it was clear that he had no more interest in Danni, and with me in my drunken stupor and her with her dress pulled all the way up to her neck we writhed around on the couch until we heard Stan returning. Upon his arrival Danni left immediately and I never saw her again. A few days later when Sima showed up again the “Bees” all had sex with her in the living room while I stayed in the bedroom playing my guitar and worked on a new song. Presently Ami appeared and encouraged me to come to the living room and partake in the pleasures of Sima which I reluctantly agreed to do, but finding her passed out on the couch and basically unresponsive I abandoned the task after a few minutes and returned to my songwriting. Later that evening when Sima was still passed out in the living room Stan gathered us all together in the bedroom and stated that from now on nobody was allowed to fuck Sima any more as she was officially his girlfriend!
The Churchills were now beginning to get caught up in and very influenced by the psychedelic trends in music. None of the other numerous Israeli bands at that time were jumping on this band wagon so once again we were the only ones pioneering a change in that direction. We had been talking to Yehuda Talit and we expressed a desire to have some kind of light show which would embellish our act. On a visit to the local Tel-Aviv music store, Yehuda was able to acquire for us a strobe light, which was suggested to him by Stan and along with that he also got hold of a sound sensitive multi colored light box attachment which was basically the same size as a Marshall P.A. speaker cabinet. When subjected to sound from the band the lights in the box flickered and changed color. It was basically a very simple device. These two pieces of equipment were loaned to the Churchills to use and promote on the various gigs that we played. Stan had been working on and had finally finished creating a psychedelic sign on the bass drum skin of Ami’s drum set which he had drawn with colored magic markers. Ami also had a light bulb attached to the inside of his bass drum which lit up the design fashioned around the name of the Churchills. At the same time Stan had also created a similar type of design on the back of the sheepskin jacket that he had bought in the old city of Jerusalem. When Yehuda showed up with the strobe light which was still unopened in its box Stan asked if we could take it home and try in out. Yehuda agreed and later that night Stan and I unpacked it. It was protected in the box by small polystyrene packaging chips. Upon reading the instructions we found that there were different settings, fast and slow and also a warning that use of the device could cause nausea and vomiting. We opened it up in the living room and after plugging it in we turned the lights off, leaving the room in darkness. We set it into operation and were immediately subjected to a bright light much like a flash from a camera which pulsated at various speeds. “This if fucking out of sight” Stan announced excitedly and we both started to jump up and down and waved our hands around in the air. We were both amazed by the illusion that the light created which was obviously enhanced by the hashish that we had smoked beforehand. The highlight of this practice session occurred when we picked up handfuls of the Styrofoam chips and threw them up into the air. The strobe light created an illusion which made it look like the chips were suspended in mid air. We spent most of the night experimenting with it with Stan declaring that he couldn’t wait to get Sima to come over so that he could fuck her with the strobe light on, which he did the following night. We also invited the rest of the band over to witness a demonstration with the white chips. We were all very excited and couldn’t wait to use it on a gig.
It was decided that we would try out our new psychedelic devices at an upcoming gig which was to be held at an outside venue in a local arena. The lions were topping the bill and after the warm-up groups had played their sets the Churchills were scheduled to play and the Lions would close the show. We had agreed that the light box would be in operation for our entire set and that we would feature the strobe light in a number that we played by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels which was the “Devil in a Blue Dress” and “Good Golly Miss Molly” combination number. When the song broke into the “Good Golly Miss Molly” part we gave instructions that the strobe be turned on at that point. It wasn’t possible to position the strobe out in front of the stage so it was placed off to the side of the stage. At the prearranged point in the song the stage lights were to be shut off and the strobe would be put into action. We had agreed that at that point we would all jump frantically about the stage in order to capitalize on the effect. This was most likely the first time that any Israeli group had jumped around on stage in front of an audience. It was possible to feel and hear the audible gasps from the audience at the point the strobe was put into action. No Israeli audience had ever witnessed such an event before and as a band we were thrilled with the knowledge that we were actually doing something completely different. About half way through “Good Golly Miss Molly” some raving lunatic from the audience jumped up onto the stage. He was screaming and shouting and waving his hands in the air like a complete mad man. After shouting at the band as we were jumping around the stage he rushed over to where the strobe light was positioned and in a threatening manner forced the stage technician to shut down the strobe and restore the stage lighting back to normal. We finished up the number and that was the end of our set. There was little or no applause from the audience only excited chattering from the crowd as they were totally blown away and in a state of disbelief at what they had just seen.
Back stage we enquired as to what had caused that lunatic to come up on stage and shut down the strobe. The technician explained that the guy insisted that the device be turned off as it was driving the audience insane and people were freaking out. The Lions along with their manager Haim Saban were milling around back stage preparing to go on to close the show. They were obviously displeased that the Churchills had caused such a sensation just before their act. Saban when asked what he thought about the strobe effect and the Churchills performance down played the incident by saying that anybody in a band would not be embarrassed to jump around on stage in the dark when they could not be seen in full light by the audience. It was clear to see that he was unhappy that his “Super Group” had been upstaged by their number one rivals the Churchills. Knowing that Saban had been known to have paid guys from the audience to jump up on stage to glorify the Lions during their act at various venues, especially when they were on the same bill as the Churchills; it is not unthinkable to suspect that Haim Saban could have been behind the whole incident with the mad man who jumped up on stage and was successful in stopping the strobe effect.
Life on Sokolov Street was for me, idyllic at that time in my early days with the Churchills. We played two to three times a week, rehearsed at least twice a week and had plenty of free time. It was great to wake up at noon listen to music, go out to eat at the local restaurant and stay up all night. There was always something going on and people were always dropping by to visit. One afternoon as Stan and I were hanging out at the flat we heard a voice from outside calling, “Solomon, Solomon, hey Solly!” We looked out from the balcony to see three hippie looking guys looking up at us. One of them was on crutches and looked like he was in pretty bad shape. ‘Unreal, it’s Marty Kroll from Montreal” Stan explained to me and he invited them to come on up. It had happened that they had been hurt in a motorcycle crash. They had been injured and needed a place to stay for a couple of days before they left to return to Canada. They had met one of our friends Jack Sternthal from Montreal. He was leaving for the Far East and had told them where to find us. As Stan and I were leaving that day to spend a couple of days with the band at a holiday resort we agreed to let them stay until we came back. They had all been treated in the local hospital but had opted to leave and wait for their flight. The guy with the broken leg was Peter and he was hurt badly. We laid him down on my bed where from time to time he let out cries of pain. Yehuda picked us up with the rest of the band in tow and we left for the Miramar Resort where we spent a couple of days relaxing and hanging out by the pool and enjoying that Kibbutz style, healthy food experience and getting a real bad sunburn. Back at Sokolov on our return we found our visitors stoned out of their minds, the place was in a mess and there was hashish and opium residue all over the place. I was a bit dismayed as I had done a cleaning job just before we had left but I let it go as they said that their flight was that evening and they were leaving. We also found out that the landlady had come to collect the rent money and wanted to know what they were all doing there and where were we? When she saw their injured companion and heard their story she understood. I spent a couple of hours cleaning up after they left. The landlady showed up just after that. Stan and I paid her the rent with smiles hoping that we wouldn’t get thrown out after what had happened .She was ok with it and we breathed a sigh of relief.
Most afternoons when we were home Stan and I would look down from our small balcony and watch the people passing by in the street below. One afternoon we saw the pretty girl that we had noticed before as she passed by on the other side of the street. We both commented on her beauty but as she was again pushing her baby stroller we made no attempt to try to get her attention.
At the “Strobe light” gig I had seen and had a chat with Dave Watts who had mentioned to me that he had heard that a girl from my neighborhood was interested in meeting me but I took little notice of his comment assuming that it was nothing but idle chatter. He said that Sonia had just returned from a visit to England to see her parents and had also brought back the replacement keys for his Hammond organ that had been broken in the Mini Mandy’s club under suspicious circumstances. He also went on to tell Stan and I that Sonia had got a gig singing at a cabaret club in Jaffa and that we should go down to see the show sometime. There was also a stripper on the bill who Dave said was a hot performer and that she had a habit of walking around backstage totally naked. Stan and I thought that it would be a good idea to check this out. We took a cab to the club one night and sat down together at a table and ordered a couple of Goldstar beers. We were soon approached by a local prostitute who came on to us but soon left when she saw we had no interest in her. The show was opened by two black American entertainers who were brothers and did a singing and dancing act. They were in great athletic shape and were scantily dressed in provocative outfits. After their act was over they approached our table and introduced themselves as Gary and Gregory and by the way they talked and came across it was obvious to see that they were raging queens. We sat and talked to them for a short while and introduced ourselves as members of the Churchills rock band and that Stan was the singer and I played guitar. As they got up to leave they invited us to go back stage at the end of the show. Sonia followed with her act and she ran through her half hour set. The climax of the show was when the stripper came on. She was an older woman but in great shape, obviously a pro who knew what she was doing. From time to time she danced up close to our table smiling and shaking her stuff. Stan and I agreed that although she was an older woman she certainly did know how to turn us on. At the close of the evening we went backstage to visit Sonia who shared a dressing room with the stripper. We tapped on the door which was opened by Sonia. We heard the stripper asking who it was and Sonia’s reply that it was her friends Stan and Robb from the Churchills band. “Come on in” the stripper called out and true to what we had heard she was completely naked and remained that way for several minutes while sorting out her stage outfits. She walked back and forth making sure that we got a good eyeful of her ample assets. Just then Gary and Gregory entered the room telling the stripper to put some clothes on as she was, as they put it, driving these young guys crazy. She finally agreed and picked up a robe. Gary and Gregory asked me if I could give guitar lessons as they thought if Gary could learn to play it would embellish their act. I politely tried to avoid answering the question when Stan chimed in saying that Robbie would be more than happy to show them a few things. Stan smiled at me and I glared back at him for putting me in a difficult position, and ended up agreeing to their request making arrangements to meet them at their place the following day. As we all sat and talked I noticed that the stripper was making time with Stan, and Sonia whispered in my ear that the dancer liked young boys and would probably take Stan home with her. Dave showed up to take Sonia home and asked if we could use a ride. Stan suggested that I take Dave’s offer as he was thinking of staying at the club and hanging out with the stripper so I bid them all goodnight and left.
Stan showed up the following day at around noontime with wild stories of how he had spent the time with the stripper and how they had screwed each other all night long. I was reminded by Stan with his mischievous smile that I had to give a guitar lesson to the queens at 3 pm and my reply was that if he thought that I was going to be alone with those guys he was mistaken. “Oh come on Robbie” Stan teased me “It’ll be fun, I’ll come with you and we’ll take Sima with us, we’ll have a blast”. Sima, Stan and I showed up at the queens’ place on time. They were staying in some rooms located above the club. I brought my guitar along and after the usual chit-chat I started to show Gary some simple chords. I was surprised to see how big the ends of his fingertips were and it was almost impossible for him to only press down on one string at a time as his nails were too long. With the passing of time Sima began to get restless and in her usual way she demanded a lot of attention from everyone. She got up and began to dance around making all kind of sexy movements with her body much to the surprise of the gay brothers. Stan told her to shut the fuck up and sit down or he would slap her silly to which Gregory replied that she would probably love it. When things began to get a little out of control with Sima threatening to jump out of the window into the street below we figured that it was time to leave and I packed my guitar into its case. As we left Gary pushed some money into my hand which I politely refused but he insisted that I take it and we said goodbye.
The Churchills played very regularly at the Masakha Club in Tel-Aviv. Week after week it was basically the same old thing. We would still be playing a lot of the old cover tunes while gradually trying to introduce other music to the sets. The same group of Moroccan youths would always be hanging out in front of the stage and were very quick to show their disapproval of any new number that we put in that they did not recognize. When we first played “Manic Depression” by Jimi Hendrix they glared at us like they could kill us but as soon as we played something that they knew they were all smiles. One night in the middle of one of the sets at the Masakha Stan was in a cocky playful mood. The club sold only soft drinks and there were always a few bottles of orange or grapefruit sodas placed on the amps. The clubs were not air conditioned and in the summer months it would get very hot and sticky inside so you always needed to have a drink close to hand. Stan and Miki were bantering back and forth in between the songs and in fun Stan picked up his orange soda and splashed it over Miki who in turn grabbed his Grapefruit soda from his amp and splashed it over Stan. Within a few seconds the scene on stage had erupted into an all out soda fight and we all grabbed our sodas and doused each other, with the exception of Haim who stood there looking totally pissed off trying to avoid getting soaked. He complained bitterly that we had ruined his best shirt and said that we were all fucking crazy. The Moroccan kids in front of the stage thought that we were all fucking crazy too and started to point at us shouting out LSD, LSD. As we were leaving the club the owner approached us and was apparently very pleased with the soda fight as it has caused a sensation. He insisted that we repeat it the following week and promised to give us a whole case of soda to use. A few days later when we all met for a rehearsal and took out our guitars and felt the sticky residue on them we started to have second thoughts about the soda fight.
The day after the rehearsal I was sitting alone at the flat, strumming away on the guitar and working on a new song when I saw that I was out of cigarettes and decided to go out and buy a pack. It was a very hot afternoon as I turned the corner and began to walk down Sokolov towards the little café next to the cinema where they sold cigarettes. Something caught my attention and I looked up ahead to see the figure of a girl. As we approached each other and she drew closer my heart began to pound furiously in my chest as I realized that it was the girl that Stan and I had watched from the balcony. She was dark and tanned and wore a short floral mini dress which came to well above her knees. She was tall and slender and her long straight black hair spilled over her shoulders and down her back. It was like she was walking on air and I managed to mumble a barely audible Shalom as we passed each other. I didn’t have the courage to look in her eyes and some how I managed to resist the temptation to turn around and stare at her as she walked away. She was stunningly beautiful and I was totally blown away by her. I wanted to kick myself for not having the nerve to have stopped to talk to her. I consoled myself with the thought that such a beautiful girl would never be interested in me anyway. The memory of that chance meeting and passing in the street stayed with me for several days and I was lucky to see her again as Stan and I hailed a cab on Nordau Street. We were on our way to the Masakha for our weekly gig. She was hanging with a couple of girls on the corner and called out “Hey Johnny” as I got into the cab. Once again in my cool English way I answered with a Shalom and we drove off. Once again I berated myself for not taking advantage of the situation and for a guy who was totally blown away by this chick I was not making any attempt to get to know her. That night at the Masakha the owner, true to his word came up with a case of sodas for us to use in the soda fight. When we told him that we were declining he got upset and as much as we didn’t want to engage in the splashing episode we agreed to participate just to keep the peace. We vowed that this would be the last time, and it was with sodas anyway!
Late one afternoon the following week Sima showed up to see Stan. We were both sitting in our “Y” fronts listening to The Paul Butterfield Band –East West album. I was enjoying Mike Bloomfield’s solo and was trying to pick up some of his licks on my guitar. Sima approached me saying that one of her girlfriends was downstairs and wanted to meet me. My reply was that I was busy and I was not interested. “But Robbie’ Sima implored “she’s very pretty” I was getting a little annoyed and to keep the peace I said “Oh ok then tell her to come up if you insist”. “She won’t come up Robbie” was the reply “Put on some pants and go downstairs, she really wants to meet you”. Reluctantly I put my guitar down pulled on my jeans and started downstairs not knowing what to expect from a friend of Sima’s. As I came down the last flight of stairs I could see a girl standing at the entrance but in the early evening dusk I couldn’t make out what she looked like until I felt for the light switch. In the now illuminated hallway I saw to my complete and utter surprise that it was the beautiful girl that I had seen on the street. I tried to contain my excitement but felt again that pounding in my chest. This time I was able to get out a Shalom with much more confidence than before, but still thought that there must have been some mistake. I asked her if she spoke English and in her heavy Israeli accent she replied “A leetle beet”. I introduced myself as Robb and she told me her name was Efrat. I mentioned that I had seen her before on the street and I told her that I had seen her pushing a stroller with a baby. “Oh that’s my neighbor’s little boy” she said “I was just baby sitting him” The feeling I had inside was ecstatic here I was talking to this lovely girl who I thought that only in my dreams could be mine. I invited her to come upstairs but she politely refused and I panicked slightly not sure what to do as we couldn’t stand in the doorway all night, so I quickly asked her if she would like to come with me to the next Masakha gig. She said that she would and I arranged to meet her on the corner of Nordau Street that Friday night. I told her it was nice to meet her and I bid her goodnight and she left. “Where is she” Sima asked as I came back in to the bedroom, “Oh she left, she wouldn’t come up but she’s coming to the gig with me Friday night”
Out of the blue Dave Watts showed up on Friday afternoon and as the Lions were playing just a block away from the Masakha he offered me a ride over to the gig. Efrat was waiting on the corner just the way we had arranged and got into the van along with her friend Hava, who I presumed was to be our chaperone. Efrat sat and watched me throughout the evening from her seat off to the side of the stage and I had fantasies, even while playing the numbers in our set, that I was seeing her in a mirage walking up to an oasis beside a caravan of Bedouins. This was truly an exotic experience and my imagination was running wild. It wasn’t easy to make a lot of conversation with the music going on all the time, but I was able to find out that she was almost eighteen and that she was Yemenite. Her favorite singer was Tom Jones but over the next few weeks, that would change to be Jim Morrison of the Doors. We got up to dance but when a slow number came on and I tried to get a little closer to her, she gently pushed me away politely saying “No, no”. I presumed that my conduct was not acceptable and graciously kept a respectable distance. Eftrat’s girlfriend Hava was no problem and at the end of the gig she said she would find her own way home, so having said Good Night to everybody I decided to grab a cab to take Efrat home. It turned out that she lived just a stone’s throw from me on Nordau Street. I paid the fare and walked with her up to the entrance of the building where we stood and talked for a few minutes. I asked if I could see her again, she asked when and I said “Tomorrow”. She said ok and we decided to meet on Nordau the following afternoon. I made no attempt to offer her a good night kiss as I thought it would be inappropriate at that time. Over the next few days we met every afternoon and sat on the boulevard near to the kiosk on one of the several park benches that were dotted along Nordau Street. I would buy a packet of Marlboros and a pack of gum at the kiosk and we would sit, talk, smoke and chew gum together. I did most of the talking and told her the stories of how I played in the Tornados and then came to Israel. I’m not sure of how much she understood as several times during the conversation she would ask me “What is ‘dis”. It was a gradual process stretching over some weeks until we held hands and I got my first kiss, but it was all well worth waiting for and could be no other way.
It was also a gradual process with the Churchills. We were trying hard to change the music in Israel, but that turned out to be an impossible challenge; but we would never give up as it was the desire to become an original band that kept us goin Yehuda was not at all pleased that we were replacing much of our repertoire with other music that for the most part was unfamiliar to our audiences. There were probably complaints from the club owners and all in all it was a continuing fight between the Churchills and Yehuda over what music we should be playing. Sometimes he looked helpless when he begged us not to change our music. He often told us that all the other bands in Israel were playing the top hits and that we should play them too. He tried to encourage us by saying that we could play all the hits better than the other bands and that would be good for us. When we disagreed he warned us that our popularity would drop and the club owners would be reluctant to book us. It was at this point that the only way out was for the Churchills to get their first “kiss” which would be that they would be able to leave Israel and play for European audiences where they believed that their music would be appreciated and accepted
After considerable conversation and discussion, much of which was in Hebrew and was not understandable by Stan and me, we had to insist that all meetings should henceforth be conducted in English for our benefit. Although we were beginning to pick up some of the language, Hebrew still sounded to us like a mish-mash of sounds. For the most part the English only for meetings was adhered to but at times when tempers flared between Yehuda and the Israeli members of the band, everything slipped back into Hebrew ending up with Stan and I imploring, “C’mon guys let’s keep it in English and what the fuck is going on anyway”. Yehuda said that he was teaming up with Danny Ben-Av who as a booking agent had brought the Tornados from England and had been instrumental in helping Haim Saban to get Dave Watts to join the Lions of Judea. Danny Ben-Av had told Yehuda that he had contacts with the Piper Club in Rome as well as in Denmark. Yehuda also went on to say that they were also negotiating with an agency in Denmark to do an exchange program where a Danish band would come and play for a few months in Israel and in turn an Israeli band would play in Denmark. So it did look like things were beginning to develop in a positive way with regard to getting out of Israel; and this encouraged the Churchills even more to continue to explore their music. Our sets were gradually changing and featured music from the Doors, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Vanilla Fudge, John Mayall, Deep Purple, The Beatles and The Blues Project. As the weeks passed by it became a distinct probability that we would be leaving the country some time around the end of September (1968).Although I was excited by the prospects of playing in Europe, I was unhappy that I would have to say goodbye to Efrat. We had been friends for a short time and our relationship was growing but now the music that brought her to me was taking me away.
We had been concerned as to what kind of Amps and sound system we would use while abroad. We would take Ami’s drums our guitars and that would be it. It was decided that we should get 2×100 watts Marshall stacks one for me and one for Haim, a 1×200 watts Marshall stack for Miki and a 200 watts Marshall P A system. Just before we left I sold my Marshall and the money was applied to the cost of the equipment. The rest of the band got rid of their amps and their Marshall PA was sold and applied to the cost of the new gear. Yehuda would come up with the rest of the money. Miki said that he intended to buy a Fender Jazz bass in Europe. In order to avoid a large tax payment on the Marshalls when we returned, Miki and Haim took some fake speaker cabinets and old useless Amps to show in their passports that they had taken musical equipment out of the country. That gear disappeared some time on the voyage between Greece and Italy.
Stan and I decided that we would get some new stage clothes made before we left, so we paid a visit to Avrami the tailor who had made the Churchills stage gear. Avrami was married and his wife worked together with him in his little store. There was an air of femininity about him and he always delighted in measuring your inside leg having to recheck it a couple of times just to be sure and at the same time saying “Oh such a pants I will make for you”. He would say that anybody that wanted to make love to his wife could, on the condition that they made love to him first. I got measured for a pair of white satin bell bottom pants and chose a hideous shiny blue fabric for them to make a copy of my long black jacket from. Beneath that I would wear a yellow shirt with a black frilly round collar. I guess it was my version of Sergeant Pepper. Avrami measured Stan for a pair of black satin bell bottoms, a matching black satin shirt and a yellow striped jacket.
As the days grew nearer to our departure I saw as much of Efrat as possible. We agreed that we would stay together; we would write and meet again when the band came back from abroad. It would be some months. Yehuda said that the landlady wanted to inspect the flat before we left and he showed up with her one afternoon. We had removed all our album covers and posters from the bedroom wall and the scotch tape we had used had pulled some of the paint off the wall so after some discussion Yehuda agreed to have the room painted. It was done the next day and we were all happy. On the last night before we left I spent the evening with Efrat on the sofa in the living room where we listened to the Doors album Strange Days over and over again. Efrat adored Jim Morrison. In the early hours of the morning I walked her home over to Nordau Street and we said goodnight. The following afternoon Yehuda showed up in a passenger van with the band and their girlfriends. I was taking Efrat with me too so we could say goodbye in Haifa and she could see me off. Danny Ben-Av was also coming along and met us at the port. It was a day of happiness and of sadness. We were embarking on a musical adventure to Europe, but we were also leaving loved ones behind.
As usual we had problems at the port with customs. Stan and I had overstayed our visas and there were to be fines paid there and the officers were meticulous in writing down all the details of the musical gear. When it was boarding time we all said our goodbyes with hugs and kisses and maybe a few tears and walked up the gang plank. It was an early evening dusk that was setting in as we all stood together on deck to wave goodbye to our girls below. To my disappointment Efrat did not wave to me or blow kisses, or even look at me as we pulled away from the dock. At one point she turned and faced the other way and talked to a dock worker. It greatly increased my pain of saying goodbye. Some time later, on that voyage I wrote the words….
The nest of jewels sparkled beneath the masterful, silver disc moon. I wanted to say I love you behind the shadow of my hand. You turned your back on me and talked to the circus clown; and as you slipped away from me into the night the gentle lap of the sympathetic waves was the only goodbye I heard.