As the shore line gradually disappeared into the darkness we made our way down to our berth. It was a cabin for six people but we were seven and I saw that there was a different cabin number on my boarding pass. It was located at the end of the corridor and was a smaller cabin and accommodated three people. Reluctantly I picked up my old green suitcase that had seen better days and made my way to the room to stash my gear before we went to dinner. I found out that I was sharing a cabin with two Drag Queens. Although they were polite and friendly I did not feel at all comfortable and felt that I was secluded from the rest of the band. After I stashed my gear I left and returned to the band’s cabin just as they were leaving for the dining room. I complained to Yehuda that I had been put in a room with a couple of gay dancers and was not happy and felt uncomfortable. Danny Ben-Av overhearing the conversation said he would speak to the purser about it At the end of a very good dinner full of talking about the unknown road that waited ahead of us; and where it might lead us to, the purser came to our table and quietly mentioned something to Danny Ben-Av which Danny showed pleasure in hearing. As we all stood up to leave Danny told me “It’s ok Robb you’re back in the band, I’ve been given a private room of my own”. This was great news and had solved my problem. As I saw that my two would-be room mates were still sitting at their table I ran hurriedly down to the room and got my stuff out of there. It was great to be back with the boys. I stashed my gear and sat on my bunk with great relief and pulled out my Gibson and played a couple of riffs. I was at peace with the world. Later that evening as we hung out in the lounge having a few drinks the Drag Queens came over and joined us at our table and after some polite conversation mostly in Hebrew we found out that they wanted us to back one of them as he wanted to perform his act on one of the evenings. Yehuda had made a deal that the Churchills would play a few sets on the cruise so we had no problem with their request. Over the course of the cruise we became quite friendly with the Queens and would hang out with them in their room sometimes. The conversations were entertaining and spiked our curiosity. The dancer we would be backing told us that he was taking hormone treatment and was growing his breasts and while he and his partner were on tour in Europe he was stopping off in Switzerland for a sex change. Haim insisted that he show us his breasts and sure enough he lifted his top to display a pair of adolescent, just beginning to form little girl’s breasts. On the night of the dancer’s performance Stan and I decided that we would take a seat to watch the show and left Ami, Haim, and Miki to provide the backing. There was a large group of passengers in the lounge that night and heads twisted around to take a look at the dancer as he entered the room and made his way up to the stage. Man what a transformation it was. The normally plain, bordering on weird looking guy was now mincing up to the stage dressed in an immaculate sequined slinky evening gown complete with high heels and an amazing blond wig. If we didn’t know better we would have thought this to be some really hot looking chick. Many of the onlookers probably didn’t even realize what was hidden underneath that fabulous outfit. The performance was indeed a very provocative, sexy and outrageous one and as the outer garments were gradually shed the process revealed the dancer ending up in a minute thong along with tassels attached to his swollen nipples. The grand finale was the removal of the wig which thrust home the truth and realization that this was indeed a man and not an attractive female. One fat, old lady who had succeeded in pushing her way through the crowd to get a front row look turned round and declared that this was absolutely disgusting but remained in her place craning her neck so that she wouldn’t miss one second of the show.
Our Mediterranean cruise had a few stops on the way. When we stopped off in Athens we took a look at the Acropolis and although there were signs that prohibited the removal of anything from the site I couldn’t help picking up a stone and dropping it in my pocket. That evening we went to a night club where they featured traditional Greek music played on the bouzouki (a Greek stringed instrument half way between a mandolin and a guitar). We had not eaten all day and were very hungry but when we saw how much money we had between us all we could afford was some bread that we dipped in olive oil. Haim especially enjoyed the music as he was proficient on the mandolin and bouzouki. At one point during the musical performance people started to approach the stage and press paper money on the sweat covered brow of the bouzouki player to show their appreciation. Suddenly out attention was alerted by the sound of smashing dinner plates and I thought that somebody was going to be in a whole lot of trouble for dropping all that dinnerware; but when it happened another time we realized that people were smashing the plates on the stage in front of the musicians. We were totally freaked out when it kept happening and asked one of the waiters if there was some kind of problem and why was the audience smashing plates on the stage? We found out that this was done to demonstrate the appreciation of the listener and showed his respect for the musician. The restaurant sold the plates to whoever wished to show his delight and appreciation of the music. We played a few nights on the cruise and on one night the seas were a bit heavy and we spent most of the set trying to keep our balance. We stopped in Sicily and disembarked in Naples.
Danny Ben-Av left immediately for Rome where he would set up an audition at the Piper Club. Some guy approached Miki as we were walking out of the port and offered to sell him a machine gun, and he was followed by a short guy carrying a hotel sign. He announced that he could take us to the best cheapest hotel in Naples that was just around the corner. As we needed a place to stay for the night we took him up on his offer and followed him to the hotel which was a bit seedy but what more can you expect from a cheap hotel? I had stayed in my fair share of them when on the road with the Tornados. When we were leaving the following morning and Yehuda was presented with the bill he just about passed out. The cheapest hotel in Naples turned out to be more like the Hilton. When Yehuda scrutinized the check it showed that they were charging us for several sundry items that we had not consumed such as six bottles of wine at dinner. We definitely did not drink any wine as Yehuda was watching every penny that he was spending. When he questioned the hotel manager as to the extra charges all he received was a shrug of the shoulders, and a look of surprise. The hotel had required that we leave our passports at the desk so it was clear that unless we paid the bill in full they would not be returned and we could not continue our journey. So Yehuda reluctantly coughed up the cash and we left for the railway station. Welcome to Italy. We had only been in Italy for less than twenty four hours and we had already been ripped off. Stan and I looked for something to eat at the train station and found a kiosk that had sandwiches for sale and bought one each. Yehuda threw a fit as we walked up eating our food and shouted at us for buying the sandwiches and demanded to know how much we paid. Stan told him he was not our fucking father and I as a protest threw my uneaten portion on the ground which really pissed Yehuda off. “Not only did you spend money on food but you wasted it by throwing it away” he yelled. We took the train to Rome and met up with Danny Ben-Av who informed us that he had spoken to the deejay at the Piper Club and we were all set to play an audition the following afternoon. Danny had also arranged for us to use the gear that was at the club. We checked into a decent hotel and enjoyed a good dinner with Danny and talked excitedly about the upcoming audition. The following afternoon we got dressed up in our new stage gear and took a cab over to the Piper Club. We got a lot of attention from the passers by who stopped and stared at us as we were getting out of the taxi, many of them made comments and shouted out to us but we were oblivious to what they were saying. It reminded us of being in Tel-Aviv and brought back that feeling of resentment towards our onlookers. We perceived them as being un-cool and it was that experience that first sparked off the idea in my head to write the song Straight People which later was featured on the Churchills Album. We had hoped that getting out of Israel would be an opportunity for our musical freedom but here we were in Rome and it was much like being in Tel-Aviv and Stan and I began to wonder if our aspirations were going to meet our expectations.
Danny introduced us to the deejay who showed an air of indifference towards us and appeared to have a “Big Time” attitude. As it was the middle of the afternoon the club was empty and we made our way across the dance floor and found on the stage some decent amps and drums. All this time the deejay was looking down on us from his booth upstairs. We agreed that we would play “Hush” by Deep Purple, “Love Me Two Times” by the Doors and as Jimi Hendrix had played the Piper Club just a week or so ago we threw in “Manic Depression”. We knocked out the first two numbers and about half way through the Hendrix number we suddenly heard music coming from somewhere and realized that the deejay had put on a number and was blasting it out. Suddenly all the power to the stage amps went out leaving Ami banging away on the drums. We realized that we were being blown off the stage by the deejay who continued to let the music blast out while we put away our guitars. We all felt dejected and insulted as we left the club and made no attempt to speak to the deejay. Stan said that the big time prick was an asshole but as we waited for a cab outside Danny Ben-Av blamed us for the failed audition saying that we were far too loud and that my guitar was like a canon. He also criticized our stage gear and said that we should just look like we had picked up our guitars and walked in off the street in our jeans and tee shirts. We couldn’t accept that, knowing that Hendrix had just appeared there and we knew he played loud and wore fancy clothes, but he was Hendrix and we were just the unknown band from Israel. Yehuda was disappointed and the lines and wrinkles in his forehead showed his anxiety. That night in our hotel room I came up with the first few bars of “Straight People” and Stan and I began to work on the song. With the disappointment of our failed audition still fresh in our minds and our disenchantment with the Italian public, not to mention the asshole deejay, we were able to start writing a song that would be the beginning of a fruitful songwriting partnership between me and Stan Solomon. As it was obvious that there was nothing for us in Rome Yehuda decided that we would press on to Copenhagen Denmark where he hoped we would have more success. At Rome railway station he purchased what he was told to be first class tickets to our destination and as we sat in relative comfort Yehuda smiled and said “This is ok boys we’ll be comfortable all the way to Denmark”.
Our journey would take us through Chiasso on the border of Switzerland and Italy on to Basel and through Germany and ending up in Copenhagen Denmark. Upon our arrival at Basel a Swiss inspector boarded the train and was checking tickets. He entered our compartment and Yehuda showed him our tickets which he scrutinized and then said in a heavy German accent “Chiasso good Basel no good” which he repeated several times in answer to puzzled looks. He hardly spoke any English and with Yehuda jabbering away in English with his Israeli accent and Ami trying to speak to him in Yiddish it was quite a funny sketch. Stan threw in his ten cents by demanding that the inspector provide him with his name and number. Stan in a very assertive manner went on to tell the inspector “My father is the Canadian Ambassador and I am going to report this to him”. The cause of the commotion was that we found out that the first class tickets were only valid to the Swiss and Italian border and that if we wished to remain in the first class we must pay an extra fare. Yehuda insisted that he had paid for first class all the way to Denmark but the inspector stood his ground and said that unless we agreed to pay the surcharge we would have to move to the regular class. It was only after the inspector threatened to call the police on the train did we reluctantly gather up all our gear and vacate the compartment. As the train pulled away from the station we made our way along the corridor; suitcases and guitar cases banging against the walls as we squeezed through the narrow doorways into the second class compartments. We passed all the compartments from the beginning to the end and there was not a seat available. Our only option was to stash our luggage in the corridor and sit on the fold down seats that were provided. So suddenly we had been plucked from our haven of relative comfort and thrust into the world of humility all of us sitting on fold down seats in the corridor of the passenger car. We had been ripped off again in Italy with the ticket scam. Our European adventure was getting off to a shaky start.
Yehuda, Miki, Ami and Haim did eventually find seats in various compartments and Stan and I stayed together on the fold down seats as the evening began to fall. Stan reached into his travel pack and pulled out a couple of amphetamines. “I saved these Robbie, we ain’t gonna get no sleep tonight any way so we might as well stay up” As the night set in I pulled out my Gibson and we sang some songs together in the dim light of the corridor looking out of the window at the darkness of the night. Later that night when we were tired of singing I opened up my old green suitcase and rummaged for the note book that I had carried with me in the Tornados. I used it to write out song lyrics and poetry. It was an unusual feeling that came over me. In my body I was tired and I needed to sleep but my mind was going at full speed due to the effect of the amphetamines. Luckily I was able to find a pen and as I looked out of the carriage window into the night I was compelled to write what I saw. As Stan and I both stared out into the night at one point he asked me “What are you writing man?” He thought that maybe I was working on lyrics for a song. “I’m just writing down what I see” I answered
UNPREDICTABLE NIGHT OF SPEED……………………
I could have counted the hermit lights in the night a thousand times over but every time I lost myself before I reached twenty five…….And the white twisting roads too, captured my imagination compelling me once more to keep awake …..I could feel the waves of speed overpowering my mind, obliterating the tiredness of my aching body. My body slept at last but my mind leapt encouraging my eyes to pierce once again the darkness of the night…..The sleeping carriages, alone except for a cold fugitive in the night…..Lights again of turquoise, green …The instantaneous flash of a passing night messenger….Then red appeared to enliven my mind with a welcomed change of color…..And beneath, momentarily imprisoned in the shadow of the towering trees, I sat, watched and waited…..Then the yellow of ochre or perhaps gold, intermingled at intervals by white and blue/green…Smooth almost silent drifting feeling suddenly destroyed by the grinding of the wheels, gnawing into the track….Speed completely conquered me as I lifted my head to see silhouettes of the hydra trees, partially shattering the candles of the night..Blue, Oh! Beautiful, blazing, confident Zurich blue…Plastic neon boasting proudly…maybe a nightmare has turned into a tranquil banquet of illusion on which I feasted my eyes. Swiftly they passed lost forever only to leave countless more visions revealed in their wake…Then the crystalline frost on the window obscured the view….As I passed yet another nameless stage of life my mind became confused in a civil war….was this all about to come to an abrupt end?…………Maybe not….Oh beautiful generous night…The question is answered..Oh please give me the gold and green again to sweeten the bitterness which can so easily shatter my thoughts..Neon, orange, haloed in diagonal crosses, ultramarine and violet…Never before had my mind realized what richness of color can be experienced in a dark, European, satanic night…The sky, characterless and looted of its precious diamonds, waited as if petrified of the approaching dawn…Maybe I am a reflection of the sky? Time alone holds the answer…..4.15 am arrived heralding a feeling of boisterous civilization resplendent in the hands of a neon clock…..And then as I looked again it was almost blatantly clear to see the changes would never cease until the dizzy wheels would finally come to a silent halt.
When the wheels did finally come to a silent halt we were in Germany and it was already daybreak. The ticket inspectors and customs officers boarded the train and carried out their routine duties. They reminded me of The Gestapo but only in their form of dress. I sensed a feeling of tension in the air when they inspected the Israeli passports but seeing that our destination was Copenhagen they said nothing as they could see that we were just passing through their country. Luckily at this station the train cleared out a bit as several passengers had reached their destination and at last we all got a compartment together again. I was beginning to feel the effects of being up speeding all night but even though I tried to close my eyes and sleep it was impossible After some time Haim and I took out our guitars and played some songs with Stan singing and the rest of the band keeping time by stamping on the carriage floor. This activity didn’t last too long as we were all feeling the effects of the traveling and lack of sleep and eyes began to close and heads began to slump. After fifteen minutes of attempting to sleep I gave up and decided to take a walk outside in the corridor. Casually I strolled along looking from the corner of my eye to see who the passengers were and what they looked like and this having been done I decided to return to one of the fold down seats where I had spent the previous night and looked out the window at the passing German landscape. I heard the door at the end of the corridor open as some one was coming in from the adjoining carriage. As the steps got nearer I looked up to see a very pretty young girl. She had long straight white blond hair and looked like a hippie type with her beads and her tote bag. She smiled as I looked up and I smiled back. She stopped at the end of the corridor and peered out of the window for a while. I shot glances at her whenever I could but tried to appear discreet. She began to make her way slowly towards where I was sitting and then with a smile she addressed me in French It sounded something like did I know the name of the next station? I smiled back and began to struggle to remember some of the French that I had learned in grammar school and came up with “Je suis Anglais” She smiled again and took the fold down seat beside me. Using a good deal of sign language broken French, bits and pieces of English and a lot of smiles I found out that she was a student from France. It was a cool experience and I was quite disappointed when the train shortly pulled into the station and with a smile and “Au Revoir” she picked up her bag and left the compartment. I watched her as she walked along the platform and she disappeared through the exit. I lit a cigarette and blowing the smoke out of the open window I wondered where her life would take her.
We ended up pulling into Copenhagen Station in the evening and made our way over to Hotel Peters which was pretty close to the train station. We met up with Danny Ben-Av who told us that Hotel Peters was the cheapest hotel in Copenhagen and would cost us a dollar a day each. We dragged our suitcases and guitars up the stairs and along the corridor till we reached our room. Yehuda and Ben-Av were sharing a room so our room contained five beds for the band. The beds were lined up and placed in such a way that it resembled a hospital ward. The general appearance of the hotel was that it was seedy and had seen better days. The bathroom was in the corridor across from our room and was used by everybody. There was no bathroom in the room just a sink and a mirror, but it was the place to stay and what more could you expect for a dollar a day in the cheapest hotel in Copenhagen? What we didn’t realize at the time was that this room with five beds and a sink was going to be our home where we would all live together everyday and night for the next six months.
It was probably a pretty intense experience for most of the guys in the band as they had never lived away from home before, and in close quarters with their fellow band members on a day to day basis. I had gone through this experience myself when Joe Meek had brought the Saxons up from Gloucester to London where they became the Tornados. I had gone through the adjustment of not having to clock in and out of work six days a week, and missing the luxury of living at home, with mum’s home cooking, my own bed and always having clean clothes to wear. I was basically living out of a suitcase and staying in all kind of hovels, dumps and doss houses, so I was accustomed to this way of life; whereas the rest of the guys were just getting their first taste of it. Even though Stan had played in the Mystics in Miami he had never been on tour as most of the Mystics gigs were in the Miami area and the band would return to their homes after the shows. Up until we left Israel, Haim, Miki and Ami were living at home with their parents and although they had not held regular day to day jobs as they were professional musicians, like Stan, they were always able to come home each night after their gigs. The following morning we took a walk outside the Hotel where it was located on the corner of Helgolandsgade and Istedgade in the center of Copenhagen. We walked across the street and found a small fast food establishment where we stood up at a counter and ate a breakfast of egg rolls and mashed potatoes. This place would be our main supply for our every day meals. There was also a bakery nearby and a small Chinese take out within walking distance of the hotel. We also noticed the porno shops with window displays showing pictures of naked people having sex together. It amazed us to see mothers with their children passing by with none of them taking any notice of it.
Yehuda and Danny Ben-Av went out together to see a guy by the name of Birger Gylling who was a booking agent, band manager and was a part owner of a few nightclubs in and around Copenhagen. He had also played bass in a Danish band called the Medley Swingers When they returned they came to our room. Danny Ben-Av who had just taken a shower was without a shirt and it was very noticeable that his upper body was covered with thick hair, all over his chest, back, and arms. I couldn’t help looking at Miki and Stan and smiling, I said that I didn’t know that the circus was in town. After telling us about their experiences of the night before when they had picked up a girl on the street and she had spent the night with them and neither of them could get an erection, they told us of their meeting with Birger Gylling. They had almost finalized an agreement with Gylling to enter into an exchange program involving Israeli and Danish bands. We would be the first part of this exchange program and a Danish band called The Beatniks would tour Israel. The only remaining detail was that Gylling wanted to see the Churchills play live, which was understandable.
It was arranged that the Churchills would play at a gig and that Gylling would supply the gear and would come to see the band. So we were auditioning so as to finalize the deal. If Guyling liked the band everything was go. We were driven over to the gig in a group van by a young guy called Fleming who played in a band and also worked for Gylling. It turned out to be a school. We would be playing for 14-16 year olds. We were surprised to see most of the boys strolling around the school hall smoking tobacco laden pipes and amazed to see Carlsberg Beer available. We played our first set not knowing what to expect, not knowing what kind of music the kids liked but realizing that all we could do was play our stuff and see what happened. We played Hendrix, The Doors and Cream etc. We had been given some complimentary Carlsbergs which we had placed on the amps and remembering the Masakha soda fight incident, it sparked off an idea that for fun we would pretend to get into a fight and end up throwing beer around. It started where Stan pushes me to the ground I get up and whack him with my guitar, he falls to the ground as if unconscious and I pour beer over him to revive him. Well that’s what we did and with Stan lying on the floor with his eyes closed I poured a bottle of Carlsberg right in his face. He may have pretended to have been unconscious when he was doused with beer but he wasn’t pretending to be choking when he jumped to his feet. I had poured the beer right up his nose and he was gasping and complaining but took it in good heart for the good of the band. We were approached by many of the kids when we left the stage who all spoke good English. They were all full of questions about where we were from and they said that they liked our music. Some girls came up to talk to us saying that they had not heard this type of music before but they really liked it. Birger Gylling who had arrived just before we played our set appeared to be all smiles as he talked with Yehuda and Danny Ben-Av. He had brought along his wife who was very attractive with long white blond hair. It was said that she was the money behind Gylling’s business. Ami, who had been talking to Yehuda came up to Stan and me and told us that Gylling really liked the band and the deal was on.
The deal was that Gylling would provide the van and the gigs and we would get paid through him. It would be a couple of weeks until the Marshalls that still needed to be purchased were delivered so it was decided that I would return to England and meet Yehuda at the Marshall factory, select the equipment and spend a little time with my parents whom I had not seen for close to a year. Back at the hotel I began to pack for the trip and not wanting to drag my big old battered suitcase with me I asked Stan if I could borrow his suitcase which was smaller. He agreed and after he had taken out his belongings I packed some clothes for the trip. I was also lugging a card board box which held a couple of glass vases that I had bought in Jerusalem and was going to give to my mother. I had taken sheets of newspaper which I had rolled into balls and used them to stop the vases from knocking together. I promised to bring back some English tea for the band, and Ami dropped me at the train station in our newly acquired group van.
I would take the train to Rotterdam in Holland which connected with the ferry which would take me to Harwich. From there I would take the train to London. It was a long lonely trip, with no one to talk to and too much time for thinking. The crossing on the ferry was particularly depressing. It was evening when we pulled into Harwich and I thankfully picked up my luggage and made my way to the customs area. It felt good to be on English soil again. After the passport inspection the customs officer asked me if I was bringing anything into the country such as gifts and so on. I replied that I was bringing a couple of glass vases for my mum and everything else was personal property. I was asked to open up my suitcase, which I did and he proceeded to search the contents and removed the clothing. Stan’s suitcase had pouches on the inside that could be used for socks or other small items and upon the officer’s inspection of those pouches he pulled out two small hash pipes which belonged to Stan. Putting each one to his nose he took a few deep sniffs and then asked me what it was that I smoked in them. My answer was that I didn’t smoke anything in them and that they were items that I had bought in Jerusalem and were to be given to my parents to put on their mantelpiece as souvenirs from Israel. He went on to open up my card board box with the two vases that poked out through the top and unraveled every single ball of newspaper that I had used for cushioning the vases. With that search completed I was asked to accompany the officer to a side room. There I was bodily searched, pockets, clothing lining, seams and crotch I was escorted back to the customs table and told to proceed on my way. Although I had figured out that they were looking for drugs I couldn’t help asking the officer why he had searched me and the reply was that they randomly searched people and I was chosen. I packed my stuff away and made my way to the train which had delayed its departure due to the hold up from the search. I was the last person to board. It suddenly struck me that I was very lucky that there had not been any contraband that I was unaware of in Stan’s suitcase. It was bad enough that I didn’t know that the pipes had been there. So although I was relieved, I was also shaken when I began to imagine how it would have changed my life if I had been caught with something that I didn’t know that I was carrying. I immediately made my way to the carriage where they had a bar and ordered a couple of whiskies which I drank in celebration and also to relieve the stress of thinking about what might well have been… We pulled into Paddington Station and I bought a ticket for Gloucester, finally boarding the train at 1 am. It was the slow train that I had taken several times before when I was in the Tornados and was going home for a spell. It stopped at every station to drop off and pick up the mail. It was a long sleepless night until the train pulled into Gloucester and I stepped down from the train suitcase and cardboard box in hand at 6 am. Another hour’s wait until I could get a Taxi at 7 am. “Bloody ‘ell Joan, its Robert” my dad announced as he opened the front door and my mum came running into the front passage to greet me. It was good to be home again and eat home cooking. It was nine months since I left for Israel. I spent a short but pleasant stay and drank my fair share of dad’s home made wine and slept again in that little back bedroom that I had passed my childhood in, I once again stirred in the night to hear the sound of the freight train far off in the distance passing over Stroud Road crossing the way I had heard it as a kid just a few short hours before I used to get up to do my newspaper route. Then the mournful toll of the church clock bell, up by the park with its message carried on the wind that it was 3 am.
I met Yehuda who showed up with Haim Saban at the Jim Marshall factory and Yehuda very nervously purchased the Stacks and the P. A. system. Saban was there to buy similar gear for the Lions. It was arranged that the gear would be shipped to Sweden to avoid taxes. With the purchase complete I made my way to the station and took that long boring journey once again and returned to Copenhagen where I underwent a “Take Two” at the Danish customs. I was escorted to a small room for a search of my personal belongings. Once again the hash pipes were found in Stan’s suitcase which prompted an intense investigation into the contents of my luggage. I had two packages of Brooke Bond English tea which I was bringing for the guys which were opened up and much to my annoyance were poured out onto the table. When it was discovered that I was not carrying any kind of contraband I was questioned about my reasons for visiting Denmark. I explained that I was a musician and was returning to meet up with my fellow band members who were staying at Hotel Peters and that we were to be playing gigs in and around Denmark. The customs official said that he was going to call the hotel and have somebody from the band come down to the station to confirm my story. He warned me that if nobody showed up within the hour that I would be put back on the train and sent out of the country. The official left and locked the door leaving me in that little room thinking with confidence that within half an hour or so that my friends would show up and I would be released. When the allotted hour passed by I began to fear and fully expected that at any minute I would be taken out and put back on the train. After a very worrying two hours had passed I heard the key turn in the lock and the customs official entered. He told me to please follow him and I was sure that my time was up and that my friends had not arrived and I was to be sent out of Denmark. However to my great relief and delight we started to walk in the direction of the exit where I saw Ami and Stan waiting for me. The customs guy handed me my passport and told me that I was free to go. His final words to me were a reminder that I was not allowed to smoke drugs in this country. Ami and Stan could see that I was a little annoyed at why it had taken them so long to come to my rescue and listened while I complained about my harrowing wait in that little holding room. Ami blamed it on Stan saying that he had insisted on taking a shower, washing and drying his hair and stopping for breakfast before they came to the station. Back at the hotel room things looked a bit different. The wardrobe had been moved over and Haim’s bed had been moved away from the other beds and pushed up against the wall. Haim had picked up some strange ailment from somewhere and he had turned purple and had these large blotches all over his body. He had gone to a doctor who had prescribed some medicine and lotion as treatment. Haim could not remember exactly what the doctor’s diagnosis had been; only that it was some kind of “Black Man’s” disease. He had been advised not to make any physical contact as it was a contagious condition so the band had insisted that he sleep as far away from the rest of us until he had recovered.
Birger Gylling had provided the band with a mini bus group van which we used as our general transport and as we were still waiting for our Marshalls to arrive we were stuck in the hotel with little to do. One night we decided to take a look at one of the most popular night spots in Copenhagen which was the Revolution club. The Danish group the Beatniks, who would later tour Israel, was appearing there and as we entered the club they were playing Joe Cocker’s version of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends”. The lead guitarist whose name we later found out to be Janne was singing the lead vocal and using a red Fender Stratocaster. He was getting all the good sounds from the guitar and we were very impressed with the band, we started to think that maybe we would have a lot of stiff competition now that we were finally out of Israel. When I heard the sound of Janne’s Fender and remembered how much I loved the sound of Hendrix’s guitar I knew that somehow I should try to get a Stratocaster again which would help me play more effectively in the Hendrix style. At that time, how could I have possibly known that at some time in the not too distant future that I would own that same red Fender Stratocaster that Janne was playing that night in the Revolution club?
We heard from Birger Gylling that our Marshall amps had arrived and that his assistant a guy by the name of Fleming would drive us over to Sweden to pick them up. When Fleming arrived he explained that we should all accompany him. He said that in order to get the new gear into the country under the noses of the customs agents none of us should speak and in fact we should all pretend to be asleep just as if we are returning from a gig and we’re all tired from the long journey This we did, and as we drove off the ferry into Denmark with our brand spanking Marshall’s stashed in the back of the van, we all slipped into a coma. Fleming drove up to the customs agent’s desk and they exchanged a few words and from the corner off my eye as I squinted, pretending to be asleep I saw the agent peer into the van from the driver’s window. He took a quick look and said “Ok” and waved us through. We didn’t even have to show a passport going in or out of Sweden and Denmark. Back at the hotel we parked the van outside in the street with all our beautiful new gear that was just begging to lose its virginity, stashed in the back. We saw the Beatniks group van parked there too. It was a big American looking van and looked very impressive. A rehearsal room had been booked for us by Gylling for the next day. It was just a room almost like a garage and a band was breaking down the gear after their rehearsal. When they had just about finished removing their modest equipment in came the Churchills with their seemingly never ending stream of Marshall cabinets that was flowing through the doorway. We saw their eyes popping out of their heads. They must have thought that we were really some kind of a big band. Little did they know that we had not yet played on that gear and only a short time ago we had played on the same modest style gear that they had. While I was in England the band bought two little distortion attachments that you plugged into the guitar input, one for me and one for Haim.The unit was like a small black plastic box with a jack plug sticking out of it. There were also two little controls one for volume and one for distortion. Having set up the gear we switched on our amps and began to explore the properties of a 100 watt Marshall Stack. Haim and I tried out our new distortion boxes and we all spent quite a while fiddling and messing around until at last Stan, who had nothing to do but test the mikes which were fine, said “C’mon guys let’s run through a number already, enough of this bullshitting around’! We started with “Love Me Two Times”, which we followed with other Doors numbers and it was quite clear that the band sounded like it had never sounded before. The power of the Marshalls together with the distortion boosters and the great P.A. system brought about a feeling of confidence and well being within the band. It was not hard to imagine that we were on our way to success and victory. The distortion boxes didn’t last long though, they soon crapped out and we got rid of them. We found it was much preferable to turn the Marshall all the way up to number 10 and get the real distortion, feed back and sustain. It looked like all the pieces were fitting into place. We had gotten a few visits from some Israeli guys that had heard that we were in Copenhagen and they had graciously brought us some Lebanese Red for our smoking pleasure. Another blessing was that you could buy cigarette papers in Denmark; in Israel they were illegal and you couldn’t get them anywhere.
We played our first gig in a place called Middlefart which we all laughed about as the name of the town sounded like a fart in the middle of somewhere. It was a club called Sex Lobren. With all the pornography we had seen on the streets in the sex shops and the reputed sexual freedom that we had heard about, we automatically thought that we would be appearing at some kind of sex club. On our arrival we pulled up outside the club and noticed that the outside décor consisted of signs depicting Wild West cowboy scenes. We later found out that in Danish Sex Lobren meant Six Gun so that explained everything. The audience was mostly made up of teenagers in their late teens. They were by no means shy and they often came up to talk to us. They all spoke very good English and were full of questions about us and our music. The girls in particular were very pretty and had that natural look that comes with wearing very little or no makeup. Everyone was polite and nobody became a nuisance. They either danced or stood and watched us when we played. Nobody called out asking for pop tunes, nobody came up to the stage and pulled on your trouser leg to get your attention and nobody threatened to beat you up if you didn’t play something they knew. It was a good feeling and great experience to be able to play whatever you wanted to people who appreciated it and not be heckled by the crowd. The Churchills now had their first paying gig outside of Israel under their belt and it had been a success.
The weeks began to pass by and the Churchills started fitting in with the Danish scene. We ate at the fast food joint across the street every day, learning the names of the foods, the hot dogs and egg rolls, mashed potatoes with fried onions, and the French fries that were made from a potato paste that was pushed through holes in a cylinder with a lever until the desired length was achieved and then with the flick of another lever they we cut off and fell directly into the hot oil of the fryer below. Now and then we would walk up to the Chinese Take Out and watch through the little serving window to see our sweet and sour pork get heated up in a micro wave oven. There was always plenty to eat on the streets as every block or so you would find a kiosk or hot dog cart. You could get two long, thin, red sausages served on a piece of paper with two small bread rolls and a splotch each of mustard and ketchup. It went down very well on a cold autumn day in Copenhagen. The bakery too had its pleasures. The Danish pastries were excellent and the girls behind the counter were charming and spoke to us in English just like almost everybody else did. One day Haim and I entered the bakery and one of the girls asked us if we were together, to which Haim replied with a mischievous smile that we were always together. It got a good laugh from the girls. We were playing regularly and got paid each week by Birger Gylling. We got to know the hotel employees quite well. There was a young guy by the name of Stelland who worked at nights and an old guy who was drunk all the time. We used to watch him walk along the corridor, swaying from side to side. I had eventually gotten around to writing to Efrat. She was often on my mind and I fantasized about what it would be like to see her again when we returned to Israel. I decided that I would save as much money as I could and would buy gifts to take back for her. I told her a little about what is was like in Denmark and how I was doing. I told her I missed her and promised that I would return to her. She had given me a portable electric device that was used to heat up water or liquid. She said it belonged to her father. It was like a heating element on a cord that you plugged into an outlet then stood it a container of water and pretty soon you’d have boiling water. We made tea, boiled eggs and even heated up cans of soup in this way. We kept our milk outside on the window ledge near my bed. At that time of year it was always cold outside and it acted as our refrigerator.
The guys were picking up chicks easily and regularly. Haim and Ami would suddenly show up with a couple that they had just seen downstairs outside the hotel. Obviously there is no privacy when five guys live all together in one room for several months so all kind of sexual activities were performed in public. We all slept at pretty close quarters so it was hard to ignore it. Stan had sex with a chick right there in his bed beside mine and as it was early evening we were all awake and I was sitting in bed strumming my guitar. My aimless strumming became influenced by the activity taking place and developed into an accompaniment to the “Ooohs and Aaaahs”. Apart from the sounds of pleasure and my musical backing it was very quiet in the room as the Churchills all sat back to enjoy my recital of “The Song of Sex” in A Minor. The gradual build up to the climax was very much enjoyed by the audience. Ami picked up a chick and was fascinated to find out that she had a tattoo on her arm. He claimed that he had sex with her five times that night but none of us could remember hearing anything.. However he was soon down at the clinic to get “The Cure” which was free. All the Churchills with my exception had to get treated for venereal disease. That was because I did not really partake in the groupie/sex thing although I did participate once or twice in group sessions. It was The Churchills Five on one, but I did that mainly to save face. After we had all had sex with her the grateful young lady left and returned with Chinese food for us all, and it was much better quality than what we could afford.
One afternoon we drove over to Birger Gylling’s office to pick up our money. He told us that one of the gigs we would be playing that week was in the city of Aarhus which is the second largest city in Denmark. The name of the venue was called Box 72. It was quite a trek to get there which involved a long ferry trip across that black rolling sea to the peninsula of Jutland of which Aarhus is the principal port. We played there a few times while on the tour and it soon became our favorite place to play. The audience was young and just like at other gigs that we played the kids were eager to talk to us and they were full of questions. It was such a pleasure to have them come up to us and tell us that they had never seen a band like us before. They particularly liked the Doors numbers as they recently had seen the Doors appear on Danish television. When we played our new versions of songs such as the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” where Stan went into a screaming monologue in the middle part just like a deranged lunatic who had escaped from the asylum, the crowd showed a definite interest and their appreciation was reflected in their applause. It was a big change from being back in the home land where music and arrangements such as this would be received with heckling, gesticulations and verbal complaints. The Churchills reveled in the freedom of self expression. New songs that we were beginning to write such as “Straight People” were also received enthusiastically. The highlight of the evening was when some local girls took us to the back door of a bakery close to Box 72 in the early hours of the morning where we bought and indulged in hot Danish pastries that had just been taken out of the oven. We washed them down with some of that great Danish chocolate milk. We were also invited by some local Danish lads to join them for a smoke which turned out to be a kind of smoking competition. It was a pretty picture to see the five Churchills sitting across the table from an equal amount of Danish guys who showed us the ritual of preparing a stone chillum with tobacco and hashish. Having partaken in a few chillum’s it was time for us to demonstrate to them how to construct an Israeli “Pagaz”. Ami obliged by showing his expertise in creating a large conical joint with an extra long filter. When completed, in a flamboyant move, Ami threw it against the wall to show the strength of the construction which was confirmed when the joint hit the wall fell to the floor and remained intact. The long filter which was made out of a cigarette pack was then covered with foil and stood in a glass of water. By holding the joint between the little and third finger and the hand cupped over the glass with a small opening left it was possible to inhale the smoke which was filtered through the water. The operation was similar to smoking a water pipe or bong and received great acclaim from our Danish smoking competitors who admitted that they had never seen this method before. The Churchills could hold their own in any kind of a smoking contest and we all finally said goodnight to our Danish competitors with the knowledge that we had won the respect of our hosts and rivals.
One afternoon as Stan and I were leaving the hotel to get something to eat we heard the sound of American voices in the hallway and as we turned the corner we almost bumped into to two guys. We said hello and seeing that we spoke English they struck up a conversation with us. We found out that they were partners in a business that was putting on a festival of music featuring several Danish bands in a large indoor arena. We told them that we played in a band and were from Israel and were working in Denmark for a few months. The main talker was a guy named David and when his partner left for his room David invited Stan and me to have a chat with him. David’s room was down at the end of the hallway near the Churchills’ room. We sat down and he asked us if we would like a smoke and we took him up on his offer. To our amazement he brought out a packet of cigarettes, a Rizla rolling machine and what looked like a plastic ketchup squeeze bottle. Predicting our surprise he went on to explain that he had found a way to liquefy hashish by combining it with liquid speed. He said it was great for traveling as customs officials were unaware of what the bottle really contained thinking it was some kind of steak sauce which it closely resembled. He said that he found the combination of the hash and speed to give a good high as it didn’t cause that dopiness and kept you alert. He squeezed an amount of it onto the tobacco in the rolling machine and rolled it up. As we enjoyed our smoke David was sorry to tell us that all the final booking arrangements had been made for the festival and he would have liked to have had us play but it was too late. Any way he gave us free tickets for the band so we could attend the Festival. As it happened the day of the festival we had a gig too but as it was a full day festival we were able to take a look in the afternoon before we left to play. It was a huge arena inside and was totally packed with people. There were about five free standing stages dotted around the arena each one with a band playing on it. At certain areas where you stood you could hear all five bands playing at once which was weird to say the least. It looked like most of the people there were stoned out of their minds so they probably enjoyed the sounds of five bands all playing at once. We were not really impressed by any of the bands that we saw in the short time that we were there but that was the afternoon so there may have been better bands at night. As for us we weren’t really disappointed that we didn’t play there as the general scene seemed chaotic and disorganized. We later found out from David that the festival although poorly organized still made a lot of money. A few weeks later David’s partner disappeared and all the proceeds of the festival disappeared with him. One good thing did come out of our meeting with David and that was that he invited us to play at a house where his partner had moved to out in the countryside. There would be a dozen or so people there who had been involved with the music festival and so we asked Stelland, from the hotel if he wanted to come with us and direct us to the location. He was off that night so he agreed and taking the front seat alongside of Ami he guided us to our destination which was in the middle of nowhere. There were no street lights of course so it was hard to see anything and at one point we thought that Stelland had misdirected us. Eventually at the end of what seemed to be an endless dark road we saw a light glimmering in the distance which turned out to be the house that we were looking for. Our hosts gave us a warm welcome and helped us get our gear into the house. We decided that we would set up in the lobby of the house just inside the front door. There was hardly any room to move once we got the three Marshall stacks, drum set and the sound system inside. Hash joints that had been dipped in some of David’s speed solution were plentiful and were in circulation. Our audience sat in the living room with their chairs facing us in the lobby. So with everyone including the Churchills and Stelland feeling in a euphoric state we tuned up and at full blast with the amps on number ten we launched into “Manic Depression” by Hendrix. At the close of the song our small audience shouted, screamed, whooped and hollered as they were totally blown away. They had never seen a band play anything by Hendrix before. It was the same reaction that we got after everything that we played and when we finally ended up with our version of “Wake Me Shake Me” by the Blues Project in which Haim and I played solos simultaneously, the audience erupted into a huge applause. David said that if only we could have played at the festival we would have stolen the show. We put down our instruments and partook in some of the Elephant Beers that were offered us and generally talked to the hosts and their guests. We noticed that there was a four track recorder there which David was messing with and after he had rewound it he said take a listen to this. At first the music sounded familiar and it sounded very good, then we realized that we had been recorded. It was the Churchills, and upon hearing the tape, this time we were blown away. We could not believe that it was us but it was and we sounded awesome. We all sat back, drank a few beers and bathed in the glory of hearing ourselves play live as we had never heard ourselves play before.
We were often visited by Israeli guys that were friends of friends and among them was a guy called Kaslan. Although Stan and I could not understand what he was talking about we could tell by the way he talked that he had a sleepy and lazy demeanor. Sometimes he showed up with a guy called Uzi who usually had some smoke for us. When we asked how we could be supplied he pulled out a block of Lebanese Gold and said that he wanted 80 Kroner for it and we could pay him on his next visit to us. After we said goodbye to Uzi and Kaslan Stan said that we could all smoke for free and proceeded to cut off about a third of the block which he then cut into 8 equal pieces. Most places we went and also at our gigs we were always approached, if not bombarded by guys asking “Hey man do you have any hash, do you have any shit man?” It almost seemed that everybody was looking for hashish. So Stan said that in no time at all we could get the 80 Kroner to pay Uzi and smoke the rest for free. The next lunch time Stan and I with our product in a small tin box took a walk down to the station. Stan positioned himself in an inconspicuous corner, he was the fisherman and I was the bait. We agreed that I would walk through the station and bring back customers and while Stan was providing the product I would start on a second walk. Copenhagen station was a pretty busy place and almost immediately I started getting hits. They always asked in English “Do you have any shit man?” The first cast of the fisherman brought in three bites, the second two bites and the third another three bites which cleaned us out. The word must have spread fast as even as Stan and I were walking out of the station we got another two or three requests to which Stan replied with regret, “We’re all sold out man”.
Time passed and as we got into December signs of Christmas began to appear. The weather began to get very cold and as we sometimes took a walk down to the bakery or to buy a hot dog from one of the street vendors the temperature as displayed on a local bank building read minus eleven degrees. Christmas lights and Christmas trees began showing up all over and I chuckled as I walked past the porno shop to see the pictures of the sex movies placed around a Christmas tree in the window display surrounded by flashing lights; “Merry Fuckin’ Christmas!” It was also nice to open up the window in our hotel room, feel that blast of ice cold wind and grab the carton of milk from the window sill and take a swig It was the first time that Miki, Haim and Ami had been in that kind of cold temperature and it was the first time that they had seen Christmas trees and lights. Miki was always very interested and wanted to know about a lot of things. We would often talk about religion and I would explain the meaning of Christmas trees and the birth of Jesus and Miki was surprised to see how much I knew about the Old Testament as he said it was “their” bible. I explained that as Christians we studied the Old and New Testament. Ami got into teaching me Hebrew and how to read and write it. We would sit around sometimes in the evening, each guy in his bed and listen to the Blonde on Blonde album by Bob Dylan and the Blues Project live album on the little portable record player that Boris had bequeathed to us before he left Israel. That little player gave us hours of pleasure. We had no television to watch which didn’t bother the Israeli guys as TV did not exist in Israel at that time anyway. Haim would often entertain us and play the riff of “Love Me Two Times” by the Doors on his guitar using his right hand and his left foot. He would fret the notes with his big toe.
Five guys living in one room for several months was not always a perfect situation and was affected by the normal stress of every day life. As the bathroom was down the hall we all got lazy and every body began pissing in the sink instead of making the trek down to the toilet. It got to a point one day when Miki declared that from that day on there would be no more pissing in the sink. That lasted a day or so then we all continued to piss in the sink again. Every body began to complain to Ami about his farts and Stan told him it was from all the hot dogs he ate but Miki maintained that it was the milk that he was drinking. Once when Haim fell asleep on his bed Ami delighted in giving him a sharp slap in the face and when Haim sat up, totally disoriented not knowing what happened Ami told him to wake up and berated him for being asleep. One evening as Stan sat on his bed eating a Danish Ami in a very sarcastic tone asked Stan if he could just have a little bit of it. “You want a bit of this, here take it” and Stan hurled the Danish across the room hitting Ami square in the nose. Although just a little upset about the way he received his bit of pastry Ami still smiled a sheepish grin, said “Thank you” and proceeded to eat the Danish. As our beds were so close together, virtually touching, it was not at all unusual for Miki and me to wake up staring into each others eyes with our noses only inches apart. We would smile at each other and then burst out laughing.
A little after Christmas we began to have problems getting paid. Gylling may have been having some money troubles and there had been a sudden drop in work for us. When we went over to his office Gylling gave us little or no money and we were politely told not to worry, next week I will pay you your money. The weather was very cold with snow falling and the wind blowing it into drifts. We all sat around for days in that room together with nothing to do. There was no point in going out anywhere; we were flat broke to the point that we had no money to eat. There was a menu on the table in our room which offered various foods that were available from the kitchen upstairs. It consisted mainly of canned goods that whoever was on duty at that time would simply heat it up and bring it down to the room. In better times we had occasionally ordered soup, baked beans on toast or a bowl of spaghetti in tomato sauce. We would call in the evening and order some food and about ten minutes later the old drunk guy who worked there on nights would stagger into our room with the tray of food. How he never spilled the soup was a miracle. As we stared hungrily at the menu just trying to imagine what it would be like to eat some hot food, we all searched through our pockets and came up with barely enough change to order a bowl of soup which we agreed to share. As Miki was about to pick up the phone to place the order Ami said “Wait a minute” he said that when he was wandering about upstairs he saw where they stored the canned foods. He suggested that when the drunken guy came down with the soup we would detain him as long as possible to give Ami enough time to run upstairs and raid the food cupboard. The night guy staggered in with the soup and Ami made a fast exit while we started to engage the guy in conversation. We had scraped the coins up off the table and we had divided them between ourselves so when we got around to paying we all took our time searching through our pockets and counting out the money a couple of times hoping to have given Ami time enough to succeed in his mission to feed the starving. Shortly after the night man left Ami arrived with three tins of soup and a cheerful smile. We poured them into the large empty orange juice jar and I took the heating element that Efrat had given me and we warmed up the soup. One by one we took of our share as we had only one soup bowl and one spoon. The enjoyment that we got from our meager meal somehow diminished the feelings of guilt that we had knowing that we had eaten stolen food. Haim for some reason didn’t want any of the soup.
The following day it was the same. We were just hanging around. We passed the time playing our guitars and working out songs, I wrote a letter to Efrat, and Miki and I got into one of our long conversations where we started talking about music which somehow ended up with us discussing stories in the Old Testament and Jesus Christ. As the day wore on Haim grew restless and said that he was going out for a walk and left. After a few minutes Ami said that he thought that for sure Haim had some money stashed somewhere and that he was probably out eating something as we spoke. Without thinking twice Ami pulled out Haim’s suitcase from under the bed and after a quick search he held up a $100.00 bill and confirmed that he was correct and that he would confront Haim about it. When Haim returned Ami proceeded with his interrogation asking Haim where he had been, what was he doing and had he been out eating? Haim answered saying that he had been out to see if he could pick up a chick and take a walk. When Ami told Haim that he wanted to smell his breath Haim’s reply was “What are you fucking crazy?” Ami then proceeded to put it to Haim that he had some money hidden away and immediately pulled out the suitcase and held up the $100.00 to show everybody. “That’s only for an emergency” Haim said and Ami came back with “This is a fucking emergency, we have no money and nothing to eat”. Haim ended up lending the rest of us some money so we could walk across the street and indulge in Frankfurters, egg rolls and mashed potatoes. Haim was repaid a day or so later when we finally got paid by Gylling. Luckily we always got paid on time after that and had no further problems with money.
We had noticed some posters going up that were advertising a concert with the Jimi Hendrix Experience topping the bill. They were being supported by an act called Jethro Tull who we had never heard of before and didn’t know if it was a solo artist or a band. Stan, Haim and I bought tickets for the show. Hendrix was to appear at the Tivoli Auditorium. We were bitterly disappointed when we found out that we had to play a gig in Copenhagen that same night and it looked like we would only be able to see part of the show but we had already bought the tickets so we had to make the most of it. The house was full and at show time, without any kind of introduction, the curtains opened to show a guitarist, drummer and bass player onstage. They were then joined by what looked like a long haired, long bearded, homeless looking guy dressed in an old overcoat, sneakers and tights. He carried a flute in his hand. Stan and I looked at each other wondering what kind of character this was and what could we expect in the way of music from what appeared to be a rock band with a weird looking old man playing a flute? We soon found out when they launched into their first number. We were greatly impressed when we heard the music and saw who we later found out to be a guy by the name of Ian Anderson standing on one leg for most of the set and really wailing away on the flute and singing with a kind of old fashioned English folk style voice. The music was a mixture of rock, jazz and folk and we had never seen or heard anything like it before. So this was Jethro Tull. On our return to Israel we managed to get hold of Tull’s first album and listened to it regularly. By the end of their set Haim, Stan and I and the whole audience were blown away by Jethro Tull’s act and we were now eagerly waiting to see the guy who had changed the way an electric guitar was played and would go on to influence the Churchills music in many ways. During the intermission the auditorium was buzzing with conversation. You could feel the excitement in the air which was full of talk on how great the opening act had been and the anticipation of what was to come from the Jimi Hendrix Experience. A hush fell upon the crowd as the sound of a guitar being tuned up at a very high volume bled through the curtains. “That must be Hendrix” Stan said as he gave me a glance with an almost nervous smile. My heart raced knowing that I was about to witness the musician who’s first album I had bought in England not long before the Tornados left for Israel in December of 1967. The Are You Experienced album had definitely changed my life. Again there was no introduction and the curtains were unceremoniously drawn apart to reveal The Experience. Hendrix looked skinny and colorful in his red flared pants and psychedelic shirt. Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell were no longer sporting their Afro hair styles. Their hair was long and straight and hung down way past their shoulders. They were also dressed in colorful psychedelic style clothing. As the applause from the crowd died down Hendrix continued to tune up his guitar. He and Noel Redding were each standing in front of a wall of four Marshall stacks the sight of which made us feel that our Churchills’ gear was a humble set up compared to this. Hendrix walked in front of his stacks as if trying to select the best position in which to stand to get a certain effect that he wanted to achieve. As the audience waited in complete silence we heard him say “Yeah that’s it” and he started to create the feed back sound that I immediately recognized to be the opening of “Foxy Lady”. I felt goose bumps all over my body as the powerful riff of that number which I had listened to and tried to copy penetrated the auditorium with such tremendous force that the audience appeared to be frozen in their seats as their virgin ears were immediately overwhelmed by the Titanic roar of Hendrix’s Fender. When Hendrix launched into the vocal his voice was completely inaudible. Just like the band before them The Experience was using the house sound system which was fine for Jethro Tull but it seemed that it was not powerful enough to support the high volume of The Experience. I had listened to The Experience album countless times and was very familiar with the solos and breaks and noticed that Hendrix played them completely different for the most part nothing like the originals. At the end of “Foxy Lady” which was totally void of any audible vocals, Hendrix who appeared to be extremely agitated shouted to somebody in the wings to “Turn the fuckin’ sound system up” During the next few numbers Hendrix’s vocals were audible but only barely and it was obvious that the system was not powerful enough. Even so this did not seem to bother the audience as they answered each number with great enthusiasm and applause. It was clear to see though, that Jimi Hendrix was not happy and continued to complain about the sound and even chastised Mitchell and Redding intermittently. He changed guitars and picked up a white Epiphone for his rendition of “Red House” which up until that time was the best number as the vocals actually cut through and could be heard. Once again it was a completely different rendition of the version I was used to listening too. In the wake of “Red House” it seemed that he was abandoning the vocals and was continuing to play instrumental jams. In the middle of what was turning out to be a great jam session I nervously checked my watch and it was time for us to leave. I looked across at Haim and Stan and pointed to my watch. The three of us with obvious disappointment stood up with great reluctance and in order to savor every last single note of the music, walked out of the auditorium backwards in a salute to the undisputed king of the guitar. The sound of Hendrix’s wailing guitar faded away as we made our way out through the foyer. We just hoped that nobody had interpreted our early departure as a sign that we had not enjoyed the show. Even with the lack of an appropriate sound system it had still been an awesome experience. That was the first and last time that I saw Hendrix and Jethro Tull. It was an experience that I and my fellow band members will never forget. About a year later Hendrix was dead. We met Miki and Ami at the “rinky dink” little club that we were to play in that night and what an anti climax it was after our pilgrimage to see Hendrix. It was a really weird place which consisted of a long extremely narrow hall. The stage was situated at the end of the hall but instead of it facing down the hall it was facing across the room so that when you were playing you were looking at a solid wall which was barely fifteen feet away. Although Haim, Stan and I were still full of the great experience that we had just witnessed this gig was a complete downer. We played our first set which was highly influenced by our Hendrix stimulation to a totally empty room. As we left the stage the club owner approached us with the news that we were fired and he was refusing to pay us. His complaint was that we were far too loud and he no longer needed us to play the rest of the night. Miki and Ami blamed it all on Stan, Haim and I stating that we had been carried away by the Hendrix show and it was our entire fault. We disagreed with the reason that we got fired claiming that it was actually because the club was empty due to the fact that everybody was at the Hendrix concert. We were pissed knowing that we had sacrificed half of a Jimi Hendrix concert in order to play one set in an empty club and then get fired. We should have just played hooky and not showed up for the gig.
One afternoon Stan and I bumped into a couple of guys in the hallway of Hotel Peters. They looked like they were in their early twenties and judging by the way they dressed Stan and I got the opinion that they were probably French. They asked us where we were from and what we did for a living. After hearing that we were in a rock band they asked if they could come to our room and have a smoke with us and the rest of the band. This seemed to be the custom in Denmark at that time. Ami, Haim and Miki were hanging out in the room when we entered with our new acquaintances. We noticed that Miki and Ami were eying our visitors and we explained that we had just met them in the hallway and that they were from France. The “French Guys” quickly corrected us stating that they indeed did speak French but they were actually from Lebanon and also spoke Arabic. At that point Ami and Miki looked at each other and immediately began to converse in Hebrew between themselves and the Lebanese guys took immediate notice and asked me what language they were speaking. “They are from Israel and they speak Hebrew” I replied. All of a sudden Stan and I realized that we had brought enemies of Israel into our room and could only imagine what the outcome could be. The Lebanese smiled and said “That’s ok we are neighbors, why don’t we all share a smoke together?” and one of them pulled out a large joint and offered it to Miki. Miki shook his head and said “No thank you” and refused. Stan and I began to feel uncomfortable and tried to persuade the Israelis to partake in the offer but they still refused. Stan politely accepted the joint from the Lebanese and said “Robbie and I will smoke with you” and pulled out his lighter and lit it up. We passed it around and once again offered it to Miki and Ami but they still refused. Haim sat quietly on his bed and decided to stay out of the conversation. At one point Miki had an idea and he pulled out Haim’s camera and was about to take a shot of the rest of us sharing the joint which did not go down well with the Lebanese who said “Please, no pictures”. Stan told Miki that it was not a good idea and although Miki stated that he just wanted to take a shot of Jews and Arabs smoking together he decided to take Stan’s advice and put the camera away. Soon after that our visitors left but told Stan and I that there was somebody that they wanted us to meet the next day. We agreed and made arrangements to meet them in their room. The following day at our meeting they introduced us to an older Arab who looked like a businessman and the conversation got around to finding out that they had fifty Kilos of Hashish that they wanted to sell. They wanted to know if Stan and I could set them up with prospective customers. We agreed to try but decided to leave hurriedly as we did not want to be involved in any way. We never saw them again.
Toward the end of January 1969 we heard from Birger Gylling’s office that Yehuda Talit had called from Israel. Gylling and Talit agreed that it was now time to end the Churchills’ stay in Denmark and that arrangement was being made for the band to return home in the beginning of February and that a deal was in the works to send a Danish band called the Beatniks to do a tour of Israel. We decided that it was time to purchase some gifts for our girlfriends in Israel and we paid a visit to Norreport, a suburb of Copenhagen, to browse around the many clothing shops that were located there. During the past month I had saved as much money as possible from my weekly pay to buy some things to give my girlfriend Efrat upon my return to Israel. Luckily at that time in Denmark clothing was not so expensive and I was able to buy quite a few articles for her that included a pair of black lace up boots and various items of apparel. On the 9th February we were all packed and ready for our return trip. Gylling gave us our train tickets to Naples and from there we would sail back to Israel. Fleming drove us to the station where we had the huge task of getting all of our equipment on to the train. What with our suitcases we also had our guitars, Ami’s drums, six Marshall Cabinets together with the three amp heads, The two Marshall P A speakers together with the P A amp, mikes, mike stands and cables. It was the usual boring trip back down to Naples but at least we did have a compartment together for the entire trip. At one point in Italy we were joined by an Italian business man who came in and sat down looking rather nervous to be surrounded by a bunch of long haired musicians. We soon made him feel at home and Haim got out his guitar and we sang “O Sole Mio” to him. It was the same arduous task again when we arrived in Naples. We had to lug all the gear to the customs where we were once again faced with the problem of taking musical equipment out of the country. It was just the same thing that happened when I came to Israel with the Tornados and the French ripped us off and took all our money. As we did not have the appropriate documents the customs officer insisted that we had to pay 1,000,000 Lire in order for him to release the gear. We explained that we did not have any money, which was true as we had spent everything we had before leaving Denmark. We all turned our passports over to him and he proceeded to inspect them and asked who is Solomon and grunted, who is Gavrielov and grunted, who is Huxley and grunted, who is Trebich and grunted and who is Romano? “Ah! Romano, who is Romano? Haim stepped forward and said that it was he. “Romano” exclaimed the officer and smiled “Romano, ok Romano, go ahead” and he returned our passports and waved us through. We were very lucky that the officer seemed to like the name Romano as usually they would try to get from you whatever they could. It was a true miracle and all thanks to Romano.