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Author Topic: Salesman 1967: Craig Smith, Mike Nesmith, and Mike Love...and Brian?  (Read 16181 times)
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« Reply #25 on: February 17, 2019, 10:22:15 AM »

https://youtu.be/056X8C0YBnY?t=753
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« Reply #26 on: February 17, 2019, 04:39:40 PM »

I know this is an old topic, but I have not posted here for a while or have been familiar with Craig Smith's music back in 2012...

Having read about Craig Smith's recording sessions (from Mike Stax's excellent book  and other articles and interviews) it would not be impossible for this track to have been recorded in 1970. To my memory, the tracks Revelation and Love Is Our Existence were recorded back then, and Salesman sounds quite similar in terms of instrumentation (acoustic guitar, bass and a tiny bit amateurish drums), though unlike the two aforementioned tracks Salesman has no vocals fed through a Leslie speaker. After the release of the book, more recordings, writings etc. from Craig Smith have been recovered; some collected on the album Love Is Our Existence but apparently there will be more to come - so I hope you folks do not mind me sharing pure speculation before some actual info comes up.


I'd never heard of Craig Smith until GF's post seven years ago. Here's an interesting article, from Sept. 2016, reviewing Mike Stax's book. When Craig Smith left for a trip on the Hippie Trail in 1968 Mike Love threw a going away party at his house. Unfortunately, Mike declined to be interviewed for the book. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7bmxzx/swimming-through-the-darkness-the-hunt-for-craig-smith-psychedelic-messiah


A very big THANK YOU for reviving this thread and putting new information out there! Has it really been almost 7 years since I posted that initially? Wow, seems like a different era entirely.

At that time, I had been doing some very basic digging around and researching Craig Smith, but obviously there was not much available, and what was available was in dribs and drabs. Thanks for the tip on the book about him, I've been out of the loop as far as Craig Smith's saga for many years and didn't know there was a book. I'll be picking that up, and hopefully even more new information will surface.


The connections were, for me, the points of interest. For one, flash back to 1967: If you were a songwriter, and you scored a track that was released by The Monkees, it was literally like hitting the lottery, the Golden Ticket. And that's how it was for Craig Smith, who chose to fund his wanderings and travels along with other trips that ended up radically changing his path in life.

But it was the fact that when I began really getting deeper into the Monkees, and getting to the realities versus the media's surface-level stuff, I kept wondering who was this guy Craig Smith, and how did he get on a Monkees album as an unknown? More on that later, beyond his connection to and the generosity of Mike Nesmith.

Then, beyond that, here was this bizarre track featuring Mike Love...Seriously, a true WTF type of situation. Further enhanced by the new (since the last posts in 2012) details of Mike Love throwing Craig a party before he embarked on his travels. I did not know that previously.

OK, a few questions:

Was it Mike Love, or Mike Nesmith who refused to be interviewed? Or both Mikes? Either way, I'm kind of disappointed and want to know why the refusal, unless it gets into stuff with Manson and the like. Any details?

Was Craig Smith involved with Manson and the family?

I have not read the book yet, but when I was digging years ago I got the impression that Craig Smith was not only assaulted in some way on his Hippie Trail wanderings, but that it may also have been a case of a sexual assault. Is this true, or was it just rumor blown out of proportion?

I also had not heard - as far as I remember *anywhere* - that he spent time in an Afghan insane asylum. All the accounts I remember prior to 2012 were that Craig was traveling, that he ended up out of the US, and when he came back he was pretty much gone...not himself, not even a shadow of himself.

So I'm curious to read and hear what has been turned up since 2012, and thanks again for rebooting this topic.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2019, 04:40:45 PM by guitarfool2002 » Logged

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« Reply #27 on: February 17, 2019, 07:19:12 PM »

Not long after Mike Stax’s book about Craig Smith/Maitreya Kali was published I read it and discussed it in this thread:

http://smileysmile.net/board/index.php/topic,16126.0.html

Stax did a phenomenal amount of research and the book went a long way toward explaining how Craig’s life took such tragic turns. One disadvantage he had when writing the book was that he was unable to interview any of Craig’s relatives but after it came out Craig’s brother read it and then provided Stax with the demos that made up the Love Is Our Existence album and also
provided reminiscences of the musician for its liner notes - so those supplement what’s in the book, which is one of the better rock biographies I’ve ever read.
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« Reply #28 on: February 17, 2019, 07:29:07 PM »

Great, thank you for the heads-up and the link! I totally missed that the first time around.
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« Reply #29 on: February 17, 2019, 07:56:55 PM »

Also of interest is this interview with Mike Stax from last year, about the book and CD:

https://pleasekillme.com/craig-smith/
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« Reply #30 on: February 18, 2019, 08:46:02 AM »

Also of interest is this interview with Mike Stax from last year, about the book and CD:

https://pleasekillme.com/craig-smith/

Fantastic - Thank you again for posting! So much new info has come down the road since 2012, it's great to be catching up with all of this.

I liked Stax's comments on how he became interested in who this Craig Smith was, and what led him to the research and eventually the book (with more releases to come). For me it was squarely, 100% the song "Salesman" on what was and is one of my all-time favorite albums by The Monkees. PAC&J.

The lead track, track 1 on side 1...so who was this Craig Smith listed as the writer? It's an album full of tracks written by names who were known or who would be known, but Craig Smith?

It was also part of getting deeper into the backstory of The Monkees, and peeling off layers of what the media or common knowledge might say versus what was bubbling under the surfaces of their music.

So here's a song about a salesman, pushing his copper kettles, different kinds of tin...but it's about a drug pusher. And it's getting broadcast on NBC prime time to kids, pre-teens, and teens watching at home. Then even further, that outtake surfaces where the fade-out of the song is Nesmith doing a spoken-word rap about rolling joints.

Put that on an album released in Fall 1967 that has a song written by Harry Nilsson about a girl getting gang-banged at a Hell's Angels party, a song written about the mass media's failure to catch on to what was happening with the "kids" who were protesting on the Sunset Strip and who were there on camera as Pandora's Box went up in flames, a song about the groupie subculture where girls and guys would do anything to "collect" their conquests with various celebrities, and a song about the frustrations and hypocrisy of living in the wealthier suburbs of the 50's and 60's "creature comfort goals...they only numb my soul...I need a change of scenery..."

And then tracing backwards...Their first #1 hit was about a guy grabbing a train to be shipped off to Vietnam and saying "I don't know if I'm ever coming home" after exchanging coffee-flavored kisses and a bit of conversation at the goodbye meeting with his girl. And one of the highlights of their 3rd album was Micky's travelogue that described smoking pot with a Beatle and meeting his future wife on a trip to the UK.

Heavy stuff for a so-called bubblegum pop, manufactured pop band. So again it came back to who was this Craig Smith guy, and what happened to him?

Then that track with Mike Love shows up, "Salesman" from the Monkees album, and how did all of that go down?

What is fascinating is that Craig's eventual saga kind of unfolded similar to another LA musician - a *brilliant* drummer - who drummed on many of the Monkees' best tracks and who backed the Mamas & Papas at Monterey among other high-profile gigs...then proceeded to all but disappear off the face of the Earth, only to have various sightings and supposed spottings and rumors of people finding him on the street or something...

Fast Eddie Hoh. Look up that story for the details and outcomes, but like Craig Smith, Hoh was all over the credits to high-profile albums and projects, then promptly disappeared from public view.

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« Reply #31 on: February 18, 2019, 01:16:11 PM »

I actually just finished Stax' book last week, amazing read. He clears up a few things in the book that have been asked about so far in this thread. The version of Salesmen on Apache is an unknown band recording with Mike Love and Craig talking in the studio control playback room, discussing vocal overdubs but obviously nothing else has surfaced.

Mike Love's management (I think Brian's too) didn't answer to being interviewed about Craig. I think this falls in line with them generally trying to distance themselves these days from Manson, drugs, anything potentially controversial.

There is a funny anecdote recounted by a brief acquaintance of Craig's where he and Craig were at a laundromat around 1969 I believe and Mike Love pulls up in a white hearse and takes them for a perilous ride. The mental image of Mike in all white and a cowboy hat in a white hearse driving to TM class and health food restaurants in late 60s LA makes me like him a lot more lol

It's really a great book, Craig was tied up in a lot of facets of 60s LA culture. Mike Stax revealed recently that Apache and Inca are in the works to be properly reissued for anyone interested
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« Reply #32 on: August 19, 2019, 11:31:17 AM »

Saw on Facebook that the preorder is up for the official reissue of Apache & Inca (mastered from vinyl sources according to other posts). CD & LP versions will be available, each limited to 500 copies. https://www.facebook.com/swimthroughthedarkness/photos/a.1732923400305143/2309173699346774/
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« Reply #33 on: August 19, 2019, 12:24:13 PM »

Oh that would be so nice to have. But 31.25 dollars including shipping to my faraway overseas country just isn't affordable for me right now. Although "Country Girl" alone is worth that.
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« Reply #34 on: August 20, 2019, 09:14:34 AM »

There is a funny anecdote recounted by a brief acquaintance of Craig's where he and Craig were at a laundromat around 1969 I believe and Mike Love pulls up in a white hearse and takes them for a perilous ride. The mental image of Mike in all white and a cowboy hat in a white hearse driving to TM class and health food restaurants in late 60s LA makes me like him a lot more lol

What we know...generically...is that Mike was a much wilder and "hipper" guy in the 1968-73 time frame than he would currently care to admit, and that much of what he was doing in those days was probably motivated by trying to get back to some form of the original "arrangement" of the band, where he was more centrally involved in the creative decisions. It seems as though he was throwing stuff up against the wall to see what would stick throughout this period, doing whatever he could not to get run over by the creative freight train that was built and being operated by Carl and Dennis. That helps to explain the hostility and pushback against Jack Reiley, who'd sized things up in late 1970 that it was the Wilson brothers who were the prime movers of what he wanted to achieve with the group.

"Salesman" may have been something that Mike seized upon as a way to get a "leg up" with Brian as they came down the home stretch of the SURF's UP sessions, but that never materialized. It sounds as though he was hoping it might fit into a "dreamier" second side of the LP, somehow dovetailing with "Feel Flows" (which prominently features Charles Lloyd). Getting a cover song onto a Beach Boys LP, however, was a tricky proposition: aside from 20/20, which was a grab-bag of material tossed together, these were few and far between.

We are getting a better sense of the wider net cast by the band as the details of this reaching beyond its internal "creative combustion" continue to emerge, and this appears to be another oddball manifestation of that effort. Some kind of weeding out process was taking place during the first year of Reiley's tenure as "guidance guru," and the fur was flying. It eventually came to pass that Carl's approach prevailed--ironically "aided" by Dennis' hand injury, which tipped the scales toward adding Blondie and Ricky. We have yet to hear the exact details of how that process went down, but the decision clearly came about in stages--and Mike's casting about for material such as "Salesman" fits into what was clearly a volatile situation surrounding the band in the SURF'S UP/SO TOUGH era.
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« Reply #35 on: December 24, 2019, 05:33:29 PM »

Received the new 2-LP reissue vinyl today — it’s really great, as expected.

Liner notes indicate the “Salesman” track here was recorded between 1969-71 (I trust Mike Stax’s research to be accurate) — that would be the original track they’re listening to. The convo track would have to be after that of course. When did Charles Lloyd begin working w the BB?

I still find it goes against conventional wisdom that Mike Love was hanging out w Craig Smith during this period.

So in the late ‘60s, we have Brian fully producing and in charge of BB records, and Mike Love hanging out with a dude who is one of the most unconventional figures on the fringes of the LA scene at the time.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2019, 10:47:10 PM by DonnyL » Logged

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« Reply #36 on: December 24, 2019, 06:57:50 PM »

Received the new2-LP reissue vinyl today — it’s really great, as expected.

Liner notes indicate the “Salesman” track here was recorded between 1969-71 (I trust Mike Stax’s) research to be accurate here) — that would be the original track they’re listening to. The convo track would have to be after that of course. When did Charles Lloyd begin working w the BB?

I still find it goes against conventional wisdom that Mike Love was hanging out w Craig Smith during this period.

So in the late ‘60s, we have Brian fully producing and in charge of BB records, and Mike Love hanging out with a dude who is one of the most unconventional figures on the fringes of the LA scene at the time.

Good to see you back, Donny!
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« Reply #37 on: December 24, 2019, 07:46:23 PM »

Received the new2-LP reissue vinyl today — it’s really great, as expected.

Liner notes indicate the “Salesman” track here was recorded between 1969-71 (I trust Mike Stax’s) research to be accurate here) — that would be the original track they’re listening to. The convo track would have to be after that of course. When did Charles Lloyd begin working w the BB?

I still find it goes against conventional wisdom that Mike Love was hanging out w Craig Smith during this period.

So in the late ‘60s, we have Brian fully producing and in charge of BB records, and Mike Love hanging out with a dude who is one of the most unconventional figures on the fringes of the LA scene at the time.

Good to see you back, Donny!

yes
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« Reply #38 on: December 24, 2019, 08:40:43 PM »

Thanks folks
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« Reply #39 on: December 24, 2019, 08:58:52 PM »

« Last Edit: December 24, 2019, 09:17:34 PM by DonnyL » Logged

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« Reply #40 on: December 27, 2019, 01:54:59 AM »

Craig/Maitreya standing behind Nesmith at Western in early 1967:


Outside shot (same day):


Craig in shades w/ Don Peake (playing a Gibson B25-12, which I always suspected was used as a session acoustic, but first photo evidence I’ve seen):

« Last Edit: December 27, 2019, 02:09:16 AM by DonnyL » Logged

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« Reply #41 on: December 27, 2019, 05:30:41 AM »

Craig/Maitreya standing behind Nesmith at Western in early 1967:


Outside shot (same day):


Craig in shades w/ Don Peake (playing a Gibson B25-12, which I always suspected was used as a session acoustic, but first photo evidence I’ve seen):



YAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!  HAAAAAAAAAAAUGH!!!!!!
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« Reply #42 on: December 27, 2019, 05:33:11 AM »

Truly a Christmas miracle!!!  A new studio photo, a new guitar photo!!!!!  What a magical time YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!
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« Reply #43 on: December 27, 2019, 05:43:05 AM »

Truly a Christmas miracle!!!  A new studio photo, a new guitar photo!!!!!  What a magical time YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!

That's looks remarkably  like Hal Blaine (just in shot) talking to Monkee Mike
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« Reply #44 on: December 27, 2019, 06:56:24 AM »

Truly a Christmas miracle!!!  A new studio photo, a new guitar photo!!!!!  What a magical time YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!

That's looks remarkably  like Hal Blaine (just in shot) talking to Monkee Mike

It is Hal.
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« Reply #45 on: December 27, 2019, 11:36:29 AM »

Truly a Christmas miracle!!!  A new studio photo, a new guitar photo!!!!!  What a magical time YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!

Alright then here's another:

« Last Edit: December 27, 2019, 11:53:45 AM by DonnyL » Logged

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« Reply #46 on: December 27, 2019, 11:47:06 AM »

... for those of you who have not checked out Craig's music, it's probably not as you would expect. This record is comprised of legit '60s LA studio tracks from a top notch songwriter of the era.

My personal favorite is "Music Box":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaqUNSmfPlI

I think someone mentioned "Forever Changes" -- really on par IMO.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2019, 11:52:18 AM by DonnyL » Logged

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« Reply #47 on: April 08, 2020, 10:31:52 AM »

It's hard to believe this thread on Craig Smith started in 2011! I'm just bumping it because I was watching a series on YouTube called "Acid Casualties", and the creator did an episode on Craig Smith, and he also was in contact with Craig's biographer and researcher Mike Stax in the process and received archival materials. For anyone who has not looked into Craig's story and music, please take some time to do so. Thanks to Mike Stax and what was truly a years-long labor of love to research and tell Craig's story accurately, we now have so much more of the story available.

Here is the YouTube episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSE3eQw-iSs

It truly is a tragedy because Craig was one of those guys who had all the elements in place, such as talent, personality, and connections in the LA biz, to be a success. He was literally that close to breaking through numerous times in the 60's, but it just never happened and those who know the story beyond the early 70's know just how badly it all fell apart.

One of my frustrations as someone interested in "the rest of the story" is how Craig was close with at least Mike and Brian as well as I'm guessing other Beach Boys, yet both Mike and Brian pretty much brushed off any efforts to talk about him or their association with him. If you read the liner notes in Craig's "Apache" album, yes they are very rambling and disjointed at times but you can piece together where he was coming from and who he was involved with. The musicians he lists in those liners include Mike, Brian, Mike Nesmith, The Monkees, Zappa, Andy Williams, Glen Campbell, The Beach Boys...and Manson, among others. And a handful of those were artists who supported him, or who recorded his songs whose royalties allowed him to travel and the travel ultimately became his tragic downfall (no spoilers, read the Stax bio).

Craig and Eden Ahbez had a parallel experience to a point, as songwriters who could live off their royalties from those songs and do as they choose, in both cases here they both at some point chose to live off the grid and pursue spirituality and other interests while roaming the land.

But for all the attention a photo from the Smile era sessions showing Eden and Brian meeting at Western, there was significantly more of a relationship between Craig and the Beach Boys, again specifically Mike who seems to have inspired Craig in various spiritual pursuits, and Brian as well, as you'll see in some threads above detailing Craig stopping by Brian's house. Maybe someday Brian and Mike will open up more than they have been willing to do, and talk about their experiences with Craig. If anything to get it on the record, and maybe to shed more light on their friend before his life spun out of control.


One more point: A poster named "Mr. Mike" jumped into this discussion and hasn't posted for years since...Was this Mike Stax? The info "Mr. Mike" provided was deeper info than most knew about Craig, including reporting on his death.

If "Mr. Mike" was indeed Mike Stax, let me say "thank you" and your research and dedication to telling this story is and will continue to be very much appreciated by those with an interest in not just the music from this era but also the *people* behind that music like Craig Smith.
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« Reply #48 on: April 08, 2020, 10:55:09 AM »

BTW - I believe the girl sitting next to Craig with a Coors shown in the Western #3 photo that Donny posted three posts above is Susannah "Sid" Jordan. She was the actress who was in the trio "The Happeners" in the ABC TV show that never made it to air, along with Craig Smith and Chris Ducey who became "Chris And Craig" and recorded for Capitol after the pilot wasn't picked up. Another side note is that Craig Smith made it very far in the audition process for The Monkees TV show, and may very well have landed the role...But less known is that Susannah Jordan also auditioned for The Monkees as the show was originally going to feature a regular female lead as a friend or sidekick of the band. Both Craig and Susannah chose to go with "The Happeners" on ABC, and the network also sunk a lot of money into making that show. There are some interesting side notes to explore in all of that too, but the actual pilot I think exists on video (it does on audio) but is rarely screened if at all - I don't know the status as of 2020. As someone said, in 1965 when that "Madness!" ad appeared for auditions to be cast in The Monkees, everyone in LA who was a young actor or musician needing a steady paycheck showed up lol.

But in this case, that photo taken at Western posted above shows two of those hopefuls who landed another music-based pilot instead. *If* indeed that is Susannah Sid Jordan hanging out with Craig that day at Western.
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« Reply #49 on: April 10, 2020, 11:11:16 AM »

GF, the same young woman is in the first of the photos Donny posted (with Nesmith at the console). After looking at the photo provided on the web page listing for a rare screening of "The Happeners" pilot episode in the Egyptian's basement screening room (aka "the Spielberg") in September 2016, it seems highly unlikely that this is Susannah Jordan--when you look at the publicity photo, the facial features really don't seem to match--Jordan is way too "baby-faced" to be the woman at Western....

https://americancinemathequecalendar.com/content/the-happeners-0

Now it's true that the photo for "The Happeners" is a couple of years earlier than the Western photos, but the woman's face is conspicuously longer and leaner (at least to my eyes). Other images of Jordan that are available online seem to confirm this.

From the Egyptian's program listing, it's clear that Mike Stax was present with his book, along with Chris Ducey, who participated in a panel discussion after the screening. Sounds as though it would've been a most illuminating evening...
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