Joining Attitude with Carabello, Chepito and David Brown.
Now this is the time that I hook up with ATTITUDE!
I was with Attitude from 1977/78 to 1980. They were not an active band and did not have many gigs. Richard Kermode, Dougie Rauch and Abel Zarate!! Yes, they were in the Attitude band but a bit before my time. I did get to be good friends and play drums in other bands with Richard Kermode and Abel Zarate. As for Doug Rauch, everybody knew that he had a problem with drugs and I did not even ever get to meet him. What a great bass player he was!!!
I played with Abel a short time with Attitude until he left the band and then Carabello got Mike Sasaki in to play guitar. It worked out great! Most of the guys were playing with other bands and it was tough to get every one together to do a gig. We practiced a lot in San Rafael in a studio called Hun Sound Studios. The line up then was
Michael Carabello – leader, congas
David Brown – bass
Abel Zarate was the original then Mike Sasaki – guitar
Steve Carter – piano
Jeffery Chin – keyboards
Chepito was the first timbalero then Karl Perazzo and sometimes Pete Escovedo (Timbales & perc).
Angel Orozco – drums
Tommy Banks – vocals
Sometimes; we also had Andre Lewis from the Buddy Miles band on B3 organ and vocals. (You remember Them Changes? – sure do!! Jim note)
Here it goes! Attitude was a Soul, Funk, Latin and rock and roll band. It had it all if we wanted; we could of even played country music if we wanted too. We tried to stay or find a commercial sound that would sell. The band recorded one record the 45 rpm, Pretty Little Girl, that I told you about, that was it!
Mike first got Fred Catero in as an engineer if I remember right then Micky Hart ended up finishing the record project that was recorded at the Automatt Studios. Attitude, as I said before rehearsed in Marin at the Hun Sound Studios in San Rafael. That was a great place to rehearse.
At that time it was the toughest, just to get on time to the studio because I had to wait for M.C. for at that time I was living at his place in Fairfax. I hated it. I have always been an on-time person, so it was frustrating for me. When the band did get together we rehearsed hard and for a long time, I loved it. Yea’ man that BAND SHOULD HAVE MADE IT!!!
Well since the band did not have many gigs, it got tough I even moved in with Mike Carabello (in Fairfax, Marin County) and looked for part-time work and other gigs.
I did play drums for a couple or so with the Pete Escovedo band and also the SF All-Stars band.
The SF All-Stars band, I will get to that later.
Carabello was always highly strung then and did not practice much. He would lock himself in his room at home when I was living with him in Fairfax and I am telling you he spend more time in that room, than playing his congas. I would at times dance with the devil with him, cocaine, but he would get weird and I could not stand to be with him and I knew that I had to get away from this. There were shady characters all around! Shit!! I even met Sly Stone thru Michael and what a mess he was when Mike took me to his house in Novato. I thought I was going to meet a great, famous person. I was wrong; it was nothing but drugs.
Meeting the legendary Sly Stone, was an enormous let down for the young Angel………
Here is what I can recall about meeting Sly Stone. The first time I met him was when he came by Hun Sound Studio. We were practicing with Attitude and when we took a break and I’m pretty sure that it was Jeff Chin and I because we stayed a bit longer finishing up a part that we had worked out. When we finished Jeff and I stepped outside the studio and there was Sly talking to Mike C. Sly was dressed up in his usual crazy, colorful outfit and I immediately knew who it was. A bit later for we were standing outside close by the studios entrance and that’s when MC introduced us to him. Sly and MC was very quick about it and they continued their conversation. That day Sly never came into the studio! Sly took off and I did not even see how or what car he came in. I still thought that it was pretty cool meeting Sly/Sylvester Stone, even as quick as it was. Then, I did not yet know about his ways or the way he was/is!!!
One day not too much longer after that Mike asked me if I wanted to go to Sly’s house with him so we did. When we got to his house somewhere in the hills of Novato we arrived in a big ranch type house/property. As we drove up to the house, which seemed pretty much well taken care of but when I noticed the big stables I thought that Sly had horses or he rode. I like riding horses myself but there were no horses in Sly’s stable. When we parked in front of the house that I can barely remember exactly what type of house it was but it seemed to be pretty big two-story house.
Mike got to the door knocked and walked right on in for he’s always been kind of like that, just walks right on in. So, I followed him right into Sly’s house and there must have been about, I guess ten people scattered all around with the TV on but really nobody watching it. I did not recognize anybody. I remember the rug was purple and on his walls he had Zebra skins, there were couches and chairs with crazy different colors. There were pipes laying around in the smoke filled room, over flows of cigarettes butts from the ash trays, empty booze bottles, and so on.
Man, that place really stunk and smelled bad! All the people in there were high/fucked up. So, Mike C. then says to Sly, “You remember my drummer Angel?” and Sly yells out to the rest of the room, “ That’s Angel” and they all kind of say, Hey there or something like that. I asked Sly about his horses and he told me, that’s just for looks and that I don’t have horses and I never will. I just said something like, that’s cool and that was it.
All MC went there for was just to get hooked up and that was it!!! We did not stay very long and then we just took off as fast as we came.
That is about all I can really tell you about Sly and his place in Novato.
When it came to music/drumming I would give Michael ideas about beats and he would always knock them down. It all was a fast-paced kind of life back then with those guys and it’s somewhat hard to remember it all!!!
Mike Carabello had a problem with Tommy who was Mimi’s first husband (Mimi subsequently married Mike Carabello) and Tommy was father to their daughter Dawn. One day he showed up at the house in Fairfax where the band got together for a meeting or something like that. They started at each other and the next thing they are out in the street fighting and just going at it. The police finally showed up but it was all over. Mimi passed away. I am not sure when but I had been out of touch with Carabello, so I do not know the whole details.
I lived with Mike at his house in Fairfax, Marin County. This was during my Attitude days; I lived there for a little while.
Mimi and Mike used to really get into it. One night Mimi came into my bedroom crying and I can hear Mike yelling at her and all pissed off.
I calmed him down and he went back to his room and after settling Mimi down she would go back to their room.
This got old and not that I am saying that happened like that all the time but they would get into it at kinda’ different times!
I do remember one time when Michael received his quarter royalties. He said and I think that it was about $35,000 he got and he throws it onto the bed out of a Wells Fargo bank bag and the dollars go flying right on the bed. He threw me some money and told me to go get lost, playing around. Mike was a generous kinda’ guy when he had money but it would not last long! Mimi was a very beautiful, classy, and polite women who supported MC all the way even at his worst and during the times he would treat her bad.
Mimi’s daughter Dawn is also as beautiful as her mom. I wonder how old Dawn is now and where she is? All I know is that Mimi was good to me and always treated me with respect. Yes, I also lost track of MC and I do not know when Mimi passed away. Mimi, God bless you and may you rest in peace!!! I finally moved out and back to the City.
(Jim, when you asked me where that Attitude picture was taken at where I am standing on the far right side of a b&w picture? I replied to you that that picture was taken in a building on 6th Street, between Folsom Street or Harrison Street in San Francisco. I do not remember who’s idea it was to take that picture there. That is one of my favorite picture’s of the Attitude Band!!!)
Michael had a real bad attitude. Actually we used to play a song, BAD CONDITIONS. I really liked that song. I think Abel Zarate and Mike wrote that one.
(Jim note; The song was written by Abel Zarate with added lyrics by conguero Jose Sierra – the song may have changed by it’s recording date)
Pretty Little Girl! That song was composed by Mike Sasaki and recorded at the Record Plant. Mickey Hart was the engineer. (Pretty Little Girl was released by Attitude on Armstrong Records as a 45rpm)
Armstrong Records was Mike Carabello’s idea and his baby. He named that after his dog Armstrong. Yesterday’s Love was the B-side of the single and was composed by Abel Zarate and Carabello. This song is kinda’ like an Earth Wind, & Fire tune. I know that because when Dave and I worked out the bass and drums parts, we thought of Earth Wind & Fire.
This song had a beat like that old song The Letter, except a bit faster but you know, “give me a ticket for an airplane”….and so on. (Jim note: Originally recorded by The Boxtops with Alex Chilton, who went on to form the feted cult band Big Star)
The Attitude band was like a Latin Rock band with mostly original material.
Angel describes his styles of drumming, relating to the Latin rock scene……………
In terms of drum styles, for Rubicon, I did not use Latin Rock style drumming. Rubicon was more of a funk/rock band that later ended up with a sound of solid Rock & Roll band. Hearing and learning to play funk drumming like from Cold Blood, Tower of Power, Sly & the family Stone, Earth, Wind & Fire back in my/the early day’s in LA was easy to pick up and fit right on in with Rubicon’s original funk/rock sound . My drumming styles like big band, Jazz, fusion/time meters, Latin Rock, Salsa funk, marching band/drum corp., top 40, hell even Disco drumming but for Rock & Roll drumming was and is not my forte! So with all of the drumming that I learned I figured out how to incorporate all of these different drum beats when and if needed!!!
Now as for Cobra and Attitude band! I had Latin Rock drumming already under my belt from L.A. days with El Chicano and the other bands that I mentioned to you before.
The Attitude band recorded at The Automatt Studios on Folsom Street in San Francisco. Micky Hart was the engineer and assistant producer to Mike Carabello.
(Jim note: Carey Williams was a SF based R&B and soul singer and he recalls some of the early Attitude recordings, he also played possibly the first gig with Attitude. “Hey Jim, The songs I have digitized that I sang lead and background vocals on in the studio are, Bad Conditions, It’s You and Keep On Dancin’. I think this was the very beginning of the band Attitude with Pablo on bass. Or, maybe it was Pablo starting his own thing and then it became Attitude. I also have two songs that I’m singing on and wrote the lyrics for from one of the first, if not the first live gig that Attitude did somewhere in Marin or Sonoma county. The songs are, It’s An Attitude and Why Do You Treat Me So?
I left the band shortly after that live gig so there are no pictures of me with the band that I know of or can remember being taken. I never recorded with Coke, I just sang background vocals in his live band and a little lead when the lead singer didn’t show up (who’s name escapes me at the moment – Erroll Knowles??). It was for a very short time, maybe two to three months, near the end of his life.” Carey Williams was also in another SF based grupo called The Force with Abel Zarate and Jose Sierra.
As I mentioned to you before David liked Asian girls and so did I. We both had what they used to call, yellow fever. He had a Japanese girlfriend named Cookie. Cookie had a Chinese girl friend that later on we hooked up and we even had a child and that was in 1980. I had to go to work and Christina’s family owned a meat market in Chinatown San Francisco on Stockton Street, it was called Hop Sang/El Dorado Meat Co.
I had to go to work for them to support my new family.
I had no choice but to go to work. I delivered Pigs/hogs all thru the Bay Area. I then stopped playing drums/music for about four years and just worked and raised my son Angel.
The beginnings and spread of freebase cocaine in San Francisco………
Yes dangerous! Dangerous is right. I got out in time because I started to get sucked into that cocaine and smoking crack, that was no good!!! Chepito, Mike and David are the ones that turned me onto that horrible drug. I am not saying I am an angel, I was curious. But I am glad that I got out. You are right; crack came out in the 80s but the original name was free-basing, that I was introduced to in 1975/76. That shit is so bad and so dangerous. I loved it though when I first got turned on to it from whom I mentioned to you before. It was hard to quit but I did and have had to quit off and on. The rest of this story will tell you that and especially at the end of this interview. Yea’ if you could not afford it or run out of money, you would hawk you stuff at the nearest pawn shop, or just sell it. I once did both back then. I am not perfect either for I also carry many old demons on my back that like to knock on my heart and brain. I have been off and on and that did not help my success, I would think!
So it is not only dangerous but also losing one’s self respect and honor!!! Meeting Christina and having a baby was a blessing in disguise.
(Jim note; I enclose this quote from Herbie Herbert; who road-managed the original Santana and was on hand to witness the totally destructive effects of cocaine on the band from mid to later 1970 thru 1971. And this was way before freebasing hit the Californian drug scene.
“Cocaine is such a habitual top thing and you take a one-on-one and you become a new man and then the trouble is the new man needs to get high. Repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat at all costs. Pretty soon, you can’t have a conversation, you can’t take a shit, you can’t think, you don’t wanna’ do anything until you’ve had a bump. Then when you’ve had a bump, the new guy wants to have a bump and that’s his priority. And it goes on and on and you think you’re being great, you think you’re being creative and your really just bouncing off a non-existent cocaine wall.
“ All of a sudden, when the realisation comes that, Holy Shit, I’m not making any fucking sense, this is not my best creative work, it’s not even buyable, by the time you realise that, it’s often too late!”)
When I was living in Mill Valley. David would come over a lot and he knew that I would not turn him away. He did once in a while, put me up in his apartment in San Rafael when Mike and Mimi would argue. Dave would just let me stay at his place. So between both places and spending time with him all he wanted was to smoke that freebase, as far as I was concerned. I never practiced with him like one-on-one bass and drums and that was too bad. He was so caught up into that shit, running all around town like a chicken’s head cut off!
Once he said to me, you want to get high?? We got really drunk and then he pulled out his pipe and butane torch that he carried with him in his bag all the time and started to smoke and told me and here is where we have to be careful. David told me that he was going to blow the second hand smoke of the freebase into my mouth. Damn, I did it and that shit was so strong, that it really worked. Dave knew all of the tricks when it came to that. His lips on mine; blowing that shit into me. Remember me telling you at the time that he broke into my house and stealing my TV. I got it back, thanks to Dave’s mother. I felt so sorry for David’s mom and Dad, having to see his son go thru what he did. You know his dad was a preacher. David also had two wonderful sisters. Jan and I forgot the other one’s name? (Jim note; her name is Diane)
I did not know Alberto Gianquinto, Ron Estrada, or Rico Reyes that well. I was just introduced to them or when they would show up to a gig and Carabello, Cheppy and/or David would invite them up from the audience to sit in.
Stan Marcum! What a piece of work he was. He seemed to always look like he had not taken a shower for days and was really scruffy looking with his cloths wrinkled. Every once in a while I would go to his house with Carabello. Stan had a corner lot four-bedroom house with a pool in Novato in Marin. Man that place was filthy and was flea infested all inside the house on the carpet, curtains etc. but they did not seem to care because it was all about getting high. Stan was too much, for if he did not have a pipe around, he would get tin foil and make a pipe out of that or what ever it took. I hated going there!!! Michael knew that I hated going to Stan’s place and plus I would tell him that it’s a flea invested place and he would just laugh about and say we are not going there but would still end up going there. I did get high with them smoking that shit. After a while I would tell Carabello that I am not going with you anymore but he would say something like we’re off to the store or whatever is where were going, but we would still end up going to Stan’s house, SHIT!!!
I’ll tell you something though; Stan cared about and loved the Attitude band. Stan would always make sure that the band had all what we needed at gigs, rehearsals, or at band meetings and he was a very polite person!
Is Stan Marcum still alive? (Jim note- Stan died in 2010. I believe and there was an obit in the San Francisco Chronicle, according to Herbie Herbert).
Richard Kermode! Now that is another sad story. I worked with RK in the SF All Stars band, in the Francisco Aguabello band, and he played with me in the Bandido band for awhile. The Bandido band is where he got his nickname, “BATHROOM RICHARD”. Every time we did a gig, rehearsal, stay at hotels while travelling we would be looking for him and most of the time we would find him in the bathroom or he would tell us that I’m going to bathroom and time would go by so we would check on him and he would come out all fucked up and nod out. There where times while on stage during our performance RK would just nod out right on stage and we would yell out, “HEY RICHARD WAKE UP” or “RICHARD SOLO”!!!
I’ll tell you one thing, when he’d snap out of it and it was time for his solo RK would just rip out these incredible solo’s really amazing I don’t know how he would do it but he would just kick ass on his piano solo. I do want say even thru all of this, that Richard was a very humble person.
There was this time when we did a gig in Sacramento with The Francisco Aguabello Band. I drove up and back in a van after the gig driving back he was nodding in and out and I well we all thought there he goes again. The band was hungry and it was very early in the morning and we where almost home in SF but we all wanted to stop off at Denny’s in Vallejo. RK was sitting in the back in the middle of the seat and we where yelling to him wake up do you want to eat we are going to stop so I pulled a fast one that I feel bad about it now but anyway during the exit off the freeway almost to the stop sign I hit the brakes and RK went rolling over and woke up. We all started laughing but he was pissed off, he got over it! Yea, I know what a dirty trick but it woke him up!
There is song that RK composed that was recorded on Santana’s Welcome album called Yours Is The Light. I love that song and RK showed it to me and to this day I perform that song on the drums and my piano & vocal solo act that I do here. I also learned it on bass for I play bass here with the blues, rock and jazz bands around the area. I am having fun doing that! Thank you Richard Kermode I miss our magical music times together. Richard, may you rest in peace my dear old Friend!
We also did gigs with the Hiroshima Band. David Brown got us a couple of gigs. They opened up for Attitude. Wow, what a great band that was and still is. (Named for the Japanese city of Hiroshima, the band is best-known for the fusing of Japanese musicand other forms of world musicinto its playing. Its early jazz-pop R&Bsound gave the group a huge following among the African Americancommunity and they are regarded as musical pioneers among the Asian Americanand Japanese Americancommunity)
We played in San Francisco’s Japan Town for the Cherry Blossom Festival. What a fantastic gig that was.
David knew those guys and they were from the Los Angeles area. Dave would often go to L.A. to visit and play with them and other bands. That is all I know about that! (Jim note: According to David’s sister Jan; he also had a band called Bad Baby out of L.A. for awhile but he was not motivated to go out on the road with them).
As I mentioned before in 1980 I had met David Brown’s girlfriend Cookie’s friend Christina. Dave and I both had the Yellow fever, we loved them Asian girls.
So 1980 since the band was not doing much and with the drugs happening the band started to fall apart. Mike tried from what I hear to keep the band going on. But I believe most of us got burned out by his bullshit. Plus all the drugs and the attitude! He went thru a lot of different musicians. Mike went thru a lot of different musician’s when I was with them. Seems that people would get tired of his bullshit, attitude and his fast-paced life, trying to keep up with him. He had a rough way about himself. The healthy times is when he would tell me that “I will be back, that I am going to play tennis with Carlos”, Yeah right! I never saw that. Maybe it was true who knows but you could not always believe what MC said.
I had a child with Christina and then had to go to work and start supporting my new family. I ended up working for her family’s business, HOP SANG. You know the rest of the story from my earlier statements.
That is all I know. I got out of the music business and or playing drums for about 4 to 5 years?
What did I do then! After working for 4 to 5 years at Hop Sang driving & delivering pigs/hogs that weighed from 100 to 200 pounds each travelling 5 days a week from San Francisco to Modesto to San Jose and back to SF. I really started to miss the music scene and playing my drums with a band or jamming. My wife was not happy and she told me that you have a family now and you best continue working!
Tags: Abel Zarate
Ha, I thought to myself. I am going to start playing the drums one way or another. So I started to go out to clubs in the city and checking out bands. One night I went to this club on Geary Avenue called the Brick House I think Rick was the owner name?
, Angel Orozco
, Bobby Espinosa
, Carlos Santana
, Changing Times
, David Brown
, Doug Rauch
, Jerry Martini
, Jim McCarthy
, Jose (Chepito) Areas
, Latin Rock
, Los Angeles
, Mike Carabello
, Poncho Sanchez
, Ramon Banda
, Sly Stone
, Stan Marcum
, Thee Midniters
, Voices of Latin Rock