Unknown Legend Emitt Rhodes

Unknown Legend Emitt Rhodes

I wanna to be somewhere far away
Somewhere where I won’t be afraid
I wanna to be sheltered safe and warm
I wanna be somewhere far from harm

February 25, 1950 – July 19, 2020

Once again it happened. A high school friend sent a link to me re the death of Emitt Rhodes. She said, “I confess that I’ve never heard his name before reading this.”

Nor did I and given my conceit regarding music and the 60s, I felt I should have.

Emerals > Palace Guard

Emitt Rhodes was born in Decatur, Illinois on February 25, 1950 and grew up in Hawthorne, California. When he was 14 he joined a band called the Emerals and played drums. He left. He returned and changed the name to The Palace Guard. Given the times, the band dressed to fit their name: matching red guardsmen outfits.

For a little while, Don Grady fronted the band. Grady would go on to play Robbie Douglas in the hit TV show My Three Sons, but with him the band released Little People which became a local hit.

After Grady left, The Palace Guard had another local hit with “Falling Sugar.”

Unknown Legend Emitt Rhodes

Merry Go Round

Now playing guitar, Rhodes formed a band with a few high school friends as well as Joel Larson (of the Grass Roots) and Bill Rinehart (of the Leaves).

A demo tape caught the attentions of A & M records and 1967 saw the release of “Live” which became a local LA hit. “You’re A Very Lovely Woman” followed.

Later in 1967, the band released the eponymous Merry Go Round album, but it did not match even the local success of their singles.

The band was part of the Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival it June 1969. Many consider the festival the first rock festival.

Unknown Legend Emitt Rhodes

Emitt Rhodes Solo

But later, Rhodes left the band and set up a home studio. With overdubbing possible, he recorded songs playing all the instruments.

ABC/Dunhill Records signed him  and they released his self-titled solo debut on 20 December 1970. Despite positive reviews, album sales were modest, The single “Fresh as a Daisy” became a minor hit.

His contract called for an album every six months, but  his home-made and playing-all-the-instruments approach was too arduous for such a contract. His second alum, Mirror,  was submitted late and had even fewer sales than his first album.

He released a third album, Fairwell to Paradise, in 1973, well-behind the contract’s requirements.

Unknown Legend Emitt Rhodes


Though he continued to record music, Rhodes basically left behind the idea of releasing it. At one point, he became a staff engineer for Electra Records.

By 1980, he was close to putting together a new album, but issues prevented its completion and just before Rocktopia Records was ready to release the album in 2000, the company went out of business.

Unknown Legend Emitt Rhodes

Gradual Return

In 2009, Cosimo Messeri released the documentary, “The One Man Beatles,” about his accidental discovery of and falling in love with Rhodes’s music then Messeri’s search for, locating, and finally speaking with Rhodes. The film featured artists like the Bangles and Michael Penn, as well as the film director Allison Anders, discussing  Rhodes’s influence.

Older, heavier, and white-bearded, young people thought Rhodes was Jerry Garcia.

Unknown Legend Emitt Rhodes

Rainbow Ends

Friend and record producer Chris Price helped Rhodes release of cover of the Bee Gee’s “How Do You Mend a Broken Heart” as part of a tribute to the band.

In late 2015, Omnivore Recordings announced the release of a new Emitt Rhodes album, and for the first since his recordings with the Merry-Go-Round, he recorded with a full band; featuring guest appearances from Aimee Mann, Susanna Hoffs, Jon Brion, Nels Cline from Wilco, and Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. and Jason Falkner of Jellyfish, Rainbow Ends was released in February 2016.

Mark Deming of All Music said of it Rhodes has made an album that reflects the man he is today, not the guy who seemed like the new Paul McCartney on his 1970 solo debut, and it’s clear (as it should be) this isn’t the work of a young man focused on life’s possibilities. Rainbow Ends is a set of songs where Rhodes looks back on his life, largely in terms of his relationships, and it most often focuses on the things that went wrong.

 this is a mature, introspective work from a man looking for answers to the questions of life and love, and it’s a brave and genuinely impressive return to the spotlight from a major talent.

Unknown Legend Emitt Rhodes

Rhodes died on July 19, 2020. In its obituary, Ben Sisario of the New York Times wrote, Emitt Rhodes, a singer and songwriter who earned a cult status among fans of Beatles-like power-pop for a handful of albums he released in the early 1970s…has died.

Unknown Legend Emitt Rhodes

Beatles Rishikesh India

Beatles Rishikesh India

Beatles Rishikesh India

My memory: it was the mid-60s and Madras was popular. Its multi-color design was interesting and apparently it had the unique quality of changing color schemes after washing because the dyes ran.

Did I know the cloth came from India? Maybe. Did I know that Madras was a place in India? Probably not. The connection between Great Britain (the Empire) and India (the former colony) and what that implied were lost to me.

But I was a Beatle fan and their growing association with Indian culture offered glimpses that were new to me.


The Beatles first visit to India was simply a very brief stopover on the morning of 8 June 1964 in Calcutta while on their (only) world tour. Their first proper visit was on July 6, 1966, the day after their troubled trip to the Philippines ended.

It was simply planned as a visit. No concert, but even though landing at night, over 600 fans gathered to greet them.

George Harrison recalled, “We got in the car and drove off, and they were all on little scooters, with the Sikhs in turbans all going, ‘Hi, Beatles, Beatles!’ I thought, ‘Oh, no! Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but Beatles have nowhere to lay their heads.’” [George Harrison, Anthology]

Beatles Rishikesh India

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

The following year on August 23, 1967, encouraged by Pattie Harrison, The Beatles and their partners – minus Ringo  and Maureen Starkey, whose second child Jason had been born five days previously – attended a lecture by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane, London.

Impressed by the yogi, they made arrangements to travel the following day to Bangor, North Wales to attend his 10-day series of seminars.

And so on  August 24, The Beatles, along with Cynthia Lennon, Pattie Harrison, her sister Jenny, Alexis Mardas, Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull, left by train to attend that conference.

Well, all but Cynthia. In the hectic scrum of getting on the train, John abandoned Cynthia to carry the bags.  She was left crying. “I was crying because the incident seemed symbolic of what was happening to my marriage. John was on the train, speeding into the future, and I was left behind.” [Cynthia Lennon, Cynthia]

Neil Aspinall, Beatle road manager, drove Cynthia to Bangor.

The second day of the seminar the Beatles announced that they’d given up drugs.

On  August 27, Brian Epstein died and the next day the Beatles left Bangor. They also postponed a trip to Rishikesh, India, the site of the yogi’s ashram,

Beatles Rishikesh India

Academy of Transcendental Meditation

The Maharishi’s Academy of Transcendental Meditation in Rishikesh was situated in a guarded compound in the foothills of the Himalayas, 150 feet above the River Ganges.

The land was bordered by a dense, dusty, tak forest interspersed with evergreen rosewood (sheesham) and inhabited by langur monkeys, elephants, tigers, crows, peacocks, parrots, vultures, chipmunks, pythons, and cobras.” [from Maharishi & Me: Seeking Enlightenment with the Beatles’ Guru by Susan Shumsky]

Built in 1963, the American heiress Doris Duke had funded the academy with a $100,000 donation. There were six long bungalows each containing five or six double rooms. In addition to the Maharishi’s own bungalow, there was a post office, a lecture theater and a swimming pool.

Beatles Rishikesh India


On February 16, 1968 John and Cynthia Lennon and George and Pattie Boyd quietly arrived in New Delhi, India, but it was still a long 50-mile taxi ride to Rishikesh.

Four days later, Paul, Jane Asher, Ringo and wife Maureen joined. And it wasn’t just the Beatles’ retinue.  Pattie Boyd recalled in her book, Wonderful Today:

There were probably about sixty of us at the ashram, an interesting collection of people from across the world – Sweden, Britain, America, Germany, Denmark – and everyone was so nice. Despite that, we felt cut off from the rest of the world so it was always exciting when letters came in the post – my mother wrote regularly with news of home – or when others joined us. One of the newcomers was Donovan, with his manager, ‘Gipsy Dave’. We had known Donovan for some years. He and the Beatles had recorded together, and he’d contributed to the Yellow Submarine album [sic]. He had fallen in love with Jenny [Boyd] – for whom he wrote Jennifer Juniper. Mike Love, lead singer of the Beach Boys, also turned up, as did the actress Mia Farrow, with her brother Johnny and sister Prudence.

Paul McCartney initially described the ashram and the experience as a summer camp. Photographer Paul Salzman recalled, ““The weeks the Beatles spent at the ashram were a uniquely calm and creative oasis for them: meditation, vegetarian food and the gentle beauty of the foothills of the Himalayas. There were no fans, no press, no rushing around with busy schedules, and in this freedom, in this single capsule of time, they created more great music than in any similar period in their illustrious careers. “

Beatles Rishikesh India


The setting and the whole meditative experience inspired John and George in particular.

Donovan taught John a guitar finger-picking technique that John would use in, Julia and Dear Prudence, songs he wrote wrote while at Rishikesh. He also wrote Child of Nature, The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except For Me and My Monkey , I’m So Tired, Sexy Sadie, there.

Paul wrote, among others,  Mother Nature’s Son, Rocky Raccoon  and Back In the USSR 

Ringo found things more difficult, particularly because of his sensitive digestive system. He’d brought cans of beans with him. The insects were also an issue.

He said in The Beatles Anthology: “You’d have to fight off the scorpions and tarantulas in a bath. Then you’d get out of the bath, get dry and get out of the room because all the insects came back in.”

Also homesick for their children, the Starrs left on March 1, 10 days after arriving. He did write, Don’t Pass Me By while there, though.

Paul McCartney and Jane Asher left a few weeks later on March 26, disenchanted with the Maharishi’s style. He seemed to be into more than teaching transcendence, though.  Others speak of his managerial side as well.

The press interviewed McCartney and Asher the following day.

In his book With the Beatles, Lewis Lapham recounted the time when the Maharishi organized a group photo of his students, including the Beatles. “He cast himself as the director on a movie set,” Lapham wrote of the Maharishi. In preparation for the photo shoot, the Maharishi oversaw the construction of a tier of bleachers as well as the seating arrangements. He reportedly told the photographer, “Before you snap, you must shout 1, 2, 3 … any snap and you must shout.” The Maharishi then told his pupils, “Now come on everybody, cosmic smiles … and all into the lens.”

Yet, Life magazine would proclaim 1968 “The Year of the Guru,” and featured Maharishi on the cover with groovy, hallucinogenic spirals framing his face.

Beatles Rishikesh India

Maharishi — what have you done?

Two weeks after Paul’s departure, a disenchanted John and George left the ashram after Alexis “Magic Alex” Mardas, who according to Wikipediawas a Greek electronics engineer, charlatan and conman, who is best known for his close association with the Beatles” accused the yogi of sexual improprieties with a teacher.

The accusations were never proven. Harrison later said in The Beatles Anthology that the rumor was basically jealousy about the Maharishi: “This whole piece of bullshit was invented. … There were a lot of flakes there; the whole place was full of flaky people. Some of them were us.”

John’s Sexy Sadie was originally entitled Maharishi.

While John returned directly to the UK, George and Pattie Harrison, plus her sister Jenny, visited Ravi Shankar in Madras, where they stayed until 21 April 1968. Pattie Boyd in Wonderful Tonight wrote,

George didn’t want to go straight from two months of meditation into the chaos that was waiting for him in England – the new business, finding a new manager, the fans and the press. Instead we went to see Ravi Shankar and lost ourselves in his music.
Beatles Rishikesh India
  1. Rolling Stone magazine article…Beatles in India: 16 Things You Didn’t Know.
  2. Rolling Stone magazine article…How the Beatles in India Changed America
  3. The World article…50 Years On…

  4. The National article…How the Beatles Were Affected By Their Famed Trip to India

NYC Cerebrum Club

NYC Cerebrum Club

NYC Cerebrum Club

NYC Cerebrum Club

Connecting the dots

I was watching a 2016 interview that Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Museum Curator Wade Lawrence had done with Dale Saltzman and Peter Brown, the two men who had helped create the Bindy Bazaar merchandise area at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair as well as other cloth banners and the yellow cloth coverings over the Food for Love booths.

During the interview, Peter Brown mentioned a New York City venue called The Cerebrum.  Brown’s memory of the club was a bit sketchy (“it was some sort of touchy-feely kind of thing in the…in the village maybe…”), but the reference piqued my interest and here we are.

NYC Cerebrum Club

Ruffin Cooper

Ruffin Cooper had helped begin the Cerebrum. PBS’s NYC channel Thirteen had this to say about Cooper: Ruffin Cooper…was a conceptual artist and photographer who came of age in the wildly exciting and tumultuous 1960s. Some unique experiences he had during his life included going to Woodstock in 1969 and living for a time at a New Mexico commune. Later he established himself as an artist in San Francisco, crossing paths with such cultural icons as Dennis Hopper, Allen Ginsburg and Andy Warhol.

It was he along with Richard Currie, Bobjack Callejo, and John Brown that came up with the club’s concept.

NYC Cerebrum Club


In the book Ridiculous!: The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam by David Kaufman, Currie explained that the premise was simply a loft party. “...we’d come in with tambourines and projection equipment and weather balloons. We’d project images, take care of the music, and give them [guests] participatory instruments to play.

A November 28, 1968 New York Times article by Dan Sullivan described it: A new club called Cerebrum shows you not only what it is, but what in five or ten years it may become: a prospect not altogether reassuring.

NYC Cerebrum Club

Mysterious entry

Cerebrum was located at 428 Broome Street. There was no Cerebrum signage. There was an illuminated bell. You pushed it. A opening in the door slid open. A voice asked your name. Did you have a reservation?

The initial entry was into the Orientation Room. You removed your shoes. you paid the fee–$2 on Tuesdays, $3 on on Wednesdays, and $4 on Thursdays.  A white-robed guide, wearing only a white robe,  handed a white robe to you. Some followed his example. Others chose not to, but all followed him into the main space.

A ramp let into an elongated all-white room and a white-carpeted runway in the center. Off of the runway were seven floating platforms. Each platform could hold about 6 people.

Each platform had its own collection of sensory items, or headsets to listen with, or tambourines to play with.

The Cerebrum opened in the fall of 1968 and closed the following spring. Here is a video posted by Bart Friedman, one of the guides, about the club. He describes it as “a nightly laboratory for mind bending excursions into film, sound, slides, mist, music, strobes and eroticism. ” 

NYC Cerebrum Club


Ruffin Cooper attended the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. In fact, he went on to become a member of the Hog Farm.

He became a well known San Francisco based photographer of architectural subjects printed in mammoth scale. His show, Creating an Illusion: huge, consecutive photo details compositing the face of the Statue of Liberty, printed on fabric, spanned the length of the Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC in 1985.

Here is a video about that project.

He died in 1992.

NYC Cerebrum Club

Fillmore East

By the way, the same day that the NY Times had its article on Cerebrum, there was this advertisement next to the article:

So many choices!

NYC Cerebrum Club