June 24, 1939 -
September 21, 1998
|Who was Oz Bach?
And how did Spanky and Our Gang get together? In the early 60's, Oz started
playing coffeehouses as a folksinger/comedian. By the mid 60's, he was
playing the circuit, sometimes teaming up with his buddy, Nigel Pickering,
and at times playing bass for such artists as Odetta, Gordon Lightfoot,
Linda Ronstadt, Josh White and Fred Neil. Spanky (Elaine) McFarlane had
just left the New Wine Singers, and decided to vacation in Miami with a
friend. The girls met Oz, who proceeded to show them around in grand style.
One of the places he took them was the Gaslight Coffeehouse, on a night
when Nigel was playing. They were introduced and the group hung out together.
When a hurricane blew into town, they took refuge in a converted chicken
coop. (This latter, becoming apparent once the storm set in!) Legend has
it that to pass the time, they sang and played for nine straight hours.
Spanky returned to Chicago and one bright February morning, Nigel showed
up on Oz's doorstep and said "Let's go to Chicago and find Spanky!" For
anyone not familiar with the folk music culture of the 60's, this was not
so unusual. Many people who ended up at Woodstock, for instance, had no
idea that's where they were headed when they started out! Once in Chicago,
the boys hadn't a clue where Spanky lived. She had invited them to look
her up if they were ever there, but neglected to give them an address.
They were driving down a street and luckily just happened to spot her coming
out of a brownstone! It so happened that she had just been asked to perform
at Mother Blue's to open for Bob Gibson. Only one problem - she did not
have a band. The timing was magical and the trio once again put their creative
energies together and rehearsed every song they collectively knew. People
crowded in to hear them night after night. Their tight vocal harmonies
and hilarious patter between songs became their trademark. They attracted
the attention of Mercury Records, who signed them and the rest is history!
Before long they were joined by another friend and performer, Malcolm Hale,
and they hired a drummer, John Seiter. Each of them was an accomplished
solo performer, but onstage they brought out the best in one another. What
distinguished them in the folk rock scene was the scope and variety of
their material, which ranged from folk, blues and country to old standards
and show tunes to novelty numbers, vaudeville and jug band music. After
much touring and many appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, the Tonight
Show, Away We Go, Hollywood Palace, John Davidson Show and others, Oz left
the group to pursue writing and do further musical arranging.
Oz's Other Bands
Daisies and Red Balloons
5 Errors Caricature