During the heady days of the 1960's, Elektra Records was the hub of some of the era's most respected artists. Founded by Jac Holzman in New York in 1950, initially as a specialist in folk music, Elektra's full-scale move into rock coincided with the emergence of the West Coast scene. By the end of the '60's, artists like The Doors, Love, Tim Buckley and The Paul Butterfield Blues Band were producing records, which were garnering the label considerable respect.
A large part of this success was due to Holzman's skill in nurturing such talent, although it's true that he also greatly benefited from a gifted bunch of producers and engineers, including the late Paul Rothchild. Rothchild (the son of a British businessman and an East Coast opera singer) had made a name for himself as The Doors' producer and as a result was given the latitude to pursue his own projects. The most ambitious of these was undoubtedly Rhinoceros, an ad-hoc assembly of talented musicians, who Rothchild initially dubbed 'Supergroup'.
Although much of the credit for 'Supergroup' has been attributed to Rothchild, the role of his musical associate, producer Barry Friedman (better known as Frazier Mohawk) was equally important during the group's early days. Mohawk was an intriguing character who'd been instrumental, among other things, in helping Steve Stills piece together The Buffalo Springfield. When Rothchild pitched the idea of forming a band (comprised of his favourite players) in the spring of 1967, Mohawk was fresh from production work on the debut album of one of LA's most promising outfits, the eclectic Kaleidoscope.
Perhaps the versatility of that band and his earlier experience with The Buffalo Springfield were the underlying inspiration behind the 'Supergroup' concept. Whatever the reason, Mohawk was certainly responsible for the name and in late summer, he assisted Rothchild by approaching potential 'Supergroup' players. Both had particular musicians in mind, many of whom were invited to the "first formal assembly" at Rothchild and Mohawk's Laurel Canyon home on Ridpath sometime during September.
Among those chosen was recently fired Buffalo Springfield lead guitarist and ex-Daily Flash member Doug Hastings (b. June 21, 1946, Seattle, USA), who'd been asked to attend after an audition with Elektra band, Clear Light (featuring future CSN&Y drummer Dallas Taylor), had failed to secure a job. Though Clear Light were perhaps best known for their double drumming, Hastings felt that this novelty lay at the heart of his problem with the group: "I found two drummers playing the same thing in approximately the same tempo to be a nightmarish experience." Despite the brief setback, Hastings was not surprised by Rothchild's invitation, as (Paul) had "mentioned it to me in late summer 1967", presumably prior to the Clear Light audition.
Also present that day was Hastings' former colleague from The Daily Flash, drummer Jon Keliehor and former Kingsmen bass player Kerry Magness, both of whom had recently been working in a local group called Gentle Soul with singers Pam Polland and Rick Stanley. Hastings also remembers future Don Henley sideman Danny Kortchmar "flirting around the edges of the concept, but he didn't buy into it."
Rothchild and Mohawk however, were far from satisfied by their initial attempts to form 'Supergroup' and, according to Hastings, continued "to work the problem" for the next few months but without his involvement.
While Hastings temporarily dropped out (to play some final dates with The Daily Flash), Rothchild headed to New York and in early November recruited the services of Canadian bass player Peter Hodgson (b. Apr. 16, 1946, Toronto, Canada), currently playing in the house band at Steve Paul's famous club, The Scene.
Hodgson was already a seasoned musician when Rothchild's offer came through. During the early to mid-'60's, he'd played in (arguably) Toronto's finest R&B band - Jon and Lee and The Checkmates (they'd been offered a recording deal by Rothchild in late 1965 but turned it down). However, following the minor success of a lone 45, the soulful 'Bring It Down Front' (credited to The Jon-Lee Group), the band's two lead singers - Lee Jackson and John Finley - had left the band in Philadelphia and the remaining quartet headed to New York to play at The Scene.
Jon and Lee and The Checkmates had already caused something of a stir at the club earlier in the summer and so it didn't take long for the group to become the club's house band. Almost immediately, future Blood, Sweat & Tears vocalist David Clayton-Thomas enlisted the outfit's services and it briefly became his new support group, The Phoenix. Thomas however, was soon deported for being an illegal immigrant and work for the group began to dry up. Hodgson's immediate future was thrown into doubt until Rothchild happened to catch one of the group's final sets.
For Hodgson, the offer to join 'Supergroup' came at a fortuitous moment; in the aftermath of Thomas' departure, the group's keyboard player, Michael Fonfara, had been offered a place in The Electric Flag, while guitarist Larry Leishman and drummer Jeff Cutler were also interested in doing something new. (Cutler would later briefly join The Crazy World of Arthur Brown during its second US tour).
Hodgson wasted no time in accepting Rothchild's offer and immediately suggested his cousin, John Finley (b. May 6, 1945, Toronto, Canada) as lead singer for the project. Finley, who'd remained in Philadelphia for a few weeks after The Checkmates' split, was back in Toronto by then and remembers accepting Rothchild's offer to attend auditions after calling him collect from a phone box on Avenue Road. Gifted with a stunning voice, reflecting soul and gospel influences, Finley was an excellent choice and would ultimately become the band's focal point.
On November 30, Finley and Hodgson arrived at the Laurel Canyon house and were joined by around 30 other musicians, including Hastings, for the first initial auditions.
One of the other lucky hopefuls during this early stage was singer/songwriter and pianist Alan Gerber (b. May 27, 1947, Chicago, USA), who'd been singled out in advance by Rothchild following a fortuitous meeting in New York earlier in the year. At the time, Gerber was studying at Chicago's Roosevelt University, where he was majoring in composition and was a student of classical piano. A promising songwriter, Gerber had the unique distinction of having recorded a one-off single, 'It's You I'm Thinking Of/Love In Her Eyes', for a subsidiary of Chicago's Chess label when he was only 15 years old. Offered the choice of a solo contract or a position in the new band project, Gerber opted for the latter and gave up his studies.
Over the next couple of weeks, Rothchild and Mohawk arranged a series of rehearsals (initially on the top floor of a music store on Santa Monica Boulevard), so that the musicians could "jam in shifts". The rehearsals gave Rothchild the opportunity to listen to the musicians interact, and ultimately led him to discourage some people and bring in others. As the rehearsals proceeded, a fiery lead guitarist called Danny Weis (b. Sept. 24, 1948, Huntington Park, California, USA) turned up one day and immediately made his presence felt.
The young Danny Weis had become something of a minor legend in southern California by the autumn of 1967. As the leading light in the original Iron Butterfly, he'd attracted the patronage of several musicians, notably The Byrds' David Crosby, who duly recommended him for Al Kooper's new band, soon to become Blood, Sweat & Tears. Weis kindly declined Kooper's offer but his days with Iron Butterfly were numbered, and following a management dispute, he left the group to briefly play with the aforementioned Gentle Soul alongside Keliehor and Magness. (Hastings incidentally, replaced Weis for one show at a club on Sunset Boulevard around this time, before Erik Braunn joined as a full-time replacement.)
Weis' father had been a country and western swing guitarist who'd played with Spade Cooley and Tex Williams, and his son was fast proving to be an equally talented musician. In fact, besides John Finley, Danny Weis was undoubtedly the band's star performer, a fact that would lead to rivalry between the two musicians and play a part in Rhinoceros' ultimate demise.
Around the same time that Weis joined in the rehearsals, the project saw the addition of yet another former Jon and Lee and The Checkmates member, classically trained keyboard player Michael Fonfara (b. Aug. 11, 1946, Stevensville, near Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada).
Fonfara had kept busy since parting company with Hodgson in New York. For a month or so he'd recorded and toured with The Electric Flag but after arriving in Los Angeles, he was busted for smoking dope and given the elbow by the group's manager, Albert Grossman. As fate would have it though, he ran into Finley and Hodgson at the Tropicana Motel (which is where the musicians were staying during the rehearsals) and was immediately added to the line-up.
A few days later, some of the 'lucky few' went up into the hills outside LA to drop acid - the rationale being that the experience would create a 'spiritual bond' within the band - but Magness was not impressed and quit in disgust. As a result, Hodgson was offered the bass spot in the band - alongside a line-up that now consisted of Finley, Fonfara, Gerber, Hastings and Weis.
As Christmas drew closer, Rothchild and Mohawk decided to put the project on hold; Gerber had arranged to visit Denver for the holidays, while Finley and Hodgson had the less appealing task of securing American work papers. On December 19, Finley and Hodgson headed back to Toronto to arrange their documentation while the others continued to rehearse on and off.
During this brief hiatus, Weis introduced his former Iron Butterfly cohort Jerry 'The Bear' Penrod (b. 25 Sept. 1946, San Diego, US), who so impressed Rothchild and Mohawk, that they contacted Hodgson (who'd also tried out for Ars Nova during his LA trip) and told him that his services were no longer required. With Penrod aboard, Fonfara, Hastings and Weis, together with Jon Keliehor were hired to back one of Elektra's recent signings.
Producer David Anderle had recently bagged a recording deal for his old friend, the late singer/songwriter David Ackles, who was in need of a support band to provide instrumental backing to his songs. The Ackles sessions were, as Hastings recalls, "presented as an opportunity to play together and make a little money" and proved to be a great success; the resulting album, released in October 1968, demonstrates the potential of the group project, despite the members' short time together.
With the Ackles experience behind it, the band underwent its final change in personnel in early March. Keliehor, like many of the attendees at the audition, had been unhappy with the brutal culling process that the group had been through and had dropped out after the first day's rehearsal (he subsequently rejoined Magness in the group Bodine). While he'd been available and willing to play the Ackles session, the group still required a full-time drummer to complete the line up. Enter top session player Billy Mundi (b. Sept. 25, 1942, San Francisco, USA).
A former Hell's Angel from East Los Angeles, Mundi was unquestionably a musician with serious credentials. A seasoned player, his career dated back to the late '50's, when he majored in music at UCLA. After graduation, Mundi worked for three months as a tympanist in the Los Angeles Philharmonic before moving into studio work and a succession of local bands.
Mundi spent the best part of the early '60's in future Byrd Skip Battin's group, Skip and The Flips, who recorded a handful of singles between 1963-1965. From there he enjoyed even shorter spells with folk-rock groups Mastin & Brewer and The Lamp of Childhood, plus a guest appearance on Tim Buckley's debut album among others, before Frank Zappa poached him for The Mothers of Invention in October 1966.
Mundi became an integral part of The Mothers' line-up and is featured on the classic albums, 'Absolutely Free' and 'We're Only In It For The Money'. Eventually however, he became disillusioned by the band's financial plight and, living in dreadful conditions in New York's Chelsea Hotel, was ready to jump ship by December 1967. As Mundi recalls: "I was on a short break from the Mothers and went to New York to speak to Jac Holzman. He wanted me to check out a group of musicians that Elektra had corralled together to do something... I told him I had a few more dates to do and would fly out to LA and see. I did and I stayed. I began rehearsing and joined."
With Mundi onboard and Finley back in LA after securing his work papers, Elektra arranged rehearsals in a local studio, where according to Hastings, the septet finally "sounded like a real band." Elektra was suitably impressed by the new line-up and promised much. As Hastings recalls: "We were paid to rehearse and record, an unheard of arrangement for the time. We wouldn't have to make a dime, much less a profit, until after the first album release." Some sources reckon that Elektra invested as much as $80,000 in the band, a considerable sum of money for the time. Unfortunately, Elektra not only provided the financial muscle to support the group, they also hyped the band's credentials to the music press, something which would come back to haunt the group in the future.
Finley commented on this in an interview with Larry LeBlanc in the Canadian magazine Egg in late 1969. [Elektra] "didn't call us Supergroup! They called us 'project supergroup' - their concept of all their favourite musicians." [Elektra] "had this multi-thousand dollar campaign to make us instant mini-rock stars - you just go through a change, but by living together and jamming together the hype goes away."
The best part of early 1968 was spent preparing and practising material in Las Palmas Theatre in Hollywood, which was used by The Fantasticks at night. Then, in early June, the band was brought into Elektra's spanking new studios on La Cienaga Boulevard to work with engineer John Haeny (and Rothchild as a producer), and proceeded to lay down enough material for its debut album over a period of eight days. The group later returned during July to complete the sessions.
From the start it was clear that Rhinoceros had honed a highly original and well-crafted act despite their short time together. Not only that but the band had taken a bold move by recording the entire album in live takes, no mean feat, as most bands at the time were doing overdubs on all of their albums.
Danny Weis discussed this point with John Mars in Blitz magazine in 1980: "At the time, all the big groups like Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience were doing overdubs on all their things with something like nine guitars floating back and forth across the speakers on each track. I was the first in Rhinoceros to want to try for a live sound with all the advantages of the studio. Michael Fonfara thought it was a good idea too, and later all the other guys thought it was a good bet. The way we knew our stuff then, it just made sense to play like that."
According to Hastings however, the sessions did not run smoothly. As he recalls: "The seeds of our ultimate demise were sown here as we strongly disagreed over how to mix the album." That may be so, but it is not a sentiment shared by everyone, a fact that Hastings himself openly admits. "It was a minority view held mainly by Billy, Jerry and me, that the mix could be better… but we ultimately deferred to Paul - after all, how many hit records had we produced?."
Whatever the differences of opinion, Rothchild had the final say. Besides, as Hastings notes, the Haeny mix was a one-off "for us to listen to the completed tracks" and "was never captured on tape", to his knowledge. (Hastings however, treasures the 'scratchy' acetate of what he considers to be Haeny's "better mix.")
As the sessions were drawing to a close, it was decided that a name change was in order; 'Supergroup' seemed too presumptuous and after careful thought, the group decided to adopt Rhinoceros (apparently it was Gerber's favourite animal) over Rothchild's preference, MACH7. Finley later explained the group's choice to rock journalist Sara Davidson in her article, 'Rock Style - Defying The American Dream': "We listened to the tapes and they sounded just like a rhinoceros. The bass and the drums sounded lumbering and fat."
With the album in the can, Elektra hastily arranged some live dates and in mid-June, the band's debut performance took place at the Kaleidoscope (later the Aquarius Theatre). (The club was unique as it had a revolving stage, which would rotate as the next act was introduced.) The show was reasonably successful, enough so in fact to land the group some important support slots over the next few months, opening for the likes of Big Brother & The Holding Company, Three Dog Night and Taj Mahal, as well as label mates, Love.
Rhinoceros in fact briefly became the house band at the Kaleidoscope and on one memorable occasion shared the bill with The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. As Hodgson (back in LA and working with Jackson Browne) recalls, during Brown's set, organist Vincent Crane tried to strangle the band's drummer (former Checkmates member Jeff Cutler), who responded by punching Crane in the face. The crowd, believing that it was all part of the act, responded by applauding the band's performance! (In an interesting side note, the good relations struck up between some of the members of the two groups would later result in Crane naming his band The Atomic Rooster after one of Rhinoceros' members.)
Meanwhile, Rhinoceros' reputation was beginning to spread beyond LA. Advanced tapes sent across the country to the press and to radio VIPs resulted in a flurry of activity that bode well for the future. Billboard magazine remarked that "the talent is so abundant, it doesn't have to be flashed to be evident", while Rolling Stone found that "tapes from Los Angeles on a new group, Rhinoceros, are enough to advise you to watch out."
Perhaps in anticipation of the assault on the East Coast, Rhinoceros relocated to the Big Apple in early September and were immediately put up in the infamous Chelsea Hotel, where the group stayed for three months. Elektra also bought the band a small amount of equipment to rehearse with and a few weeks later Rhinoceros' New York debut took place with a weeklong residence at the Café Au Go Go as the headlining act. Interestingly, the group's set list included Gerber's 'It's A Sin To Take A Life, (But Girl You've Taken Mine)', which had been left off the group's recently recorded album.
Then on the afternoon of the band's penultimate show, the group made its first prestigious appearance, at a free concert in Central Park before an estimated 12, 000 people. Also on the bill were visiting British dignitaries Traffic and Spooky Tooth, as well as the little known Wind In The Willows (featuring future Blondie singer Debbie Harry). The show was well received and led to further dates at the Café Au Go Go, with singer-songwriter Tim Hardin and John Lee Hooker in support. Billboard's Fred Kirby was a witness and was enthused by the band's performance: "Rhinoceros has a bright future, one that should reach the top ranks."
In mid-October, Rhinoceros made their debut appearance at Steve Paul's The Scene. Their three-day stand appears to have been an eventful experience as Hastings recalls: "The Brooklyn Hitters showed up one night to have it out with the doorman, who'd apparently thrown one of them out. Seven or eight of them beat up the doorman and then came in looking for trouble." The band was forced to retreat into the office at the back of the club with beer bottles in case things got nasty, but in the end the baseball players left without involving the group. Not surprisingly it was the end of that night's show.
The disturbances at The Scene appear to have gone unnoticed by the critics, who generally were full of praise for the band. Cash Box, which reviewed one of the first shows, wrote: "It's very seldom that we hear a group good enough, inventive enough, impressive enough to make us forget about being critics and make us start being an audience instead." [They] "have all the ingredients to be the top rock group find of 1968…and there is little doubt in our minds that as of now they are heavy contenders."
Not everyone however adhered to this view. Critic Annie Fisher, writing in the Village Voice, had witnessed the group's Café Au Go Go and Central Park shows and was not impressed by the hype surrounding the band. Like many sceptics, she believed Rhinoceros' up and coming dates at Bill Graham's Fillmore East would be the real "moment of truth".
That appearance took place a few weeks later on the weekend of October 25-26, with the group opening for British bands The Moody Blues and John Mayall's Blues Breakers. The show went reasonably well, although predictably The Moody Blues garnered most of the press' praise. Rhinoceros meanwhile earned a second residence at The Scene, before a brief set of Toronto dates were hurriedly arranged to coincide with the release of their debut album.
Issued that November, 'Rhinoceros' highlights, above all, the strength of John Finley's gospel-inspired vocals, the songwriting skills of Alan Gerber, and the 'monster' playing of the band's rhythm section. The critical response to Rhinoceros' debut album was decidedly mixed, however. Ellen Sander, who'd been fortunate enough to hear a test pressing of the album prior to its release, wrote a positively beaming piece for the Saturday Review in November, entitled 'A Question Of Values'. In it, she favourably compared the group to The Band, arguing that Rhinoceros were "a much needed shot in the musical alter ego of progressive rock." Like The Band, the group had "developed their musical identity… in a deliberately imposed semi-vacuum, so as not to be affected by any current trends."
Billboard likewise ran a positive review: [The group] "has an exceptional debut album that should spell success. Two strong lead vocalists plus excellent musicianship contribute to the effort." Canada's RPM magazine meanwhile went as far as saying, "we can only agree that Rhinoceros have acquired that something that could quite conceivably be the missing link to bring life back into the record industry."
Peter Applebome, writing in Rolling Stone the following January after the album's release, was less impressed, but still acknowledged the potential of the group as well as its originality. Rhinoceros "comes across as a talented unpretentious group, reminiscent of the late, great Buffalo Springfield. Tastefulness and restraint… mark most songs in contrast to most new groups."
Comparisons with both groups were useful, although not entirely helpful; Rhinoceros certainly contained an abundance of musical talent, but unlike The Band and The Buffalo Springfield, they struggled to win media approval, no doubt due to Elektra's publicity campaign, and consequently were never taken that seriously.
That is not to say that the album, which mixes "hard white rhythm 'n blues, with country, funk and gospel influences", doesn't have its merits. Among the highlights are Gerber's wistful 'That Time Of The Year' and Finley's plaintive ballad 'I Will Serenade You', which later became a top 20 hit when Three Dog Night covered it in 1973. The former is one of the best songs the group recorded and is a perfect example of Gerber's lyrical songwriting. The song also highlights the power and beauty of Finley's voice, leading Applebome to comment "John Finley's vocal here is the best on the album." Yet unlike Sandler, he was not completely endeared to the group's distinctive vocals and was also sceptical of the band's instrumental work.
Gerber's 'Along Comes Tomorrow' is a case in point. As Applebome argues, the track "begins as a very pretty song with some exquisite, crystal clear guitar work. Gradually the volume mounts until we are left with Gerber and Finley trying to out-shout each other on the chorus, ruining the song's unity."
Applebome also levelled criticism at the group's instrumental work: "Solos, especially Weis' guitar are generally excellent, but short and infrequent" and "some songs appear to be too tightly structured", in particular the band's signature tune, the Weis-Fonfara instrumental 'Apricot Brandy'. For a group tentatively dubbed 'Supergroup', this was inexcusable and Applebome was quick to make this plain: "Rhinoceros has got too many good musicians to put out an instrumental devoid of improvisations."
While some of the members had shown dissatisfaction with Rothchild's mix, there were apparently other differences, notably over the choice of material. It appears that several of Alan Gerber's best songs never made the final play list. These included the popular live numbers 'It's A Sin To Take A Life (But Girl You've Taken Mine)', 'Once Again' and 'Nothing To Say'. Furthermore, other songs such as the excellent 'Fine Day', which Hastings feels was the band's "best shot at a hit", may never have been captured on tape!
Despite Applebome's rather harsh criticism (and it's interesting to note that the same magazine did a similar demolition job on Neil Young's 'After The Goldrush', now considered to be one of rock's classic albums), he does at least acknowledge that "Rhinoceros is still a very new group" which "shows potential that could lead to a much better second album". Intentional or not, it is the most prophetic remark he makes. The group was unquestionably talented, but its potential would never be fully realised and the much-needed "better second album" never did materialise.
To lay the blame solely at Rolling Stone's feet may be unfair. And yet, even though rock criticism was still in its infancy, there were signs that the public was becoming increasingly swayed by such remarks and consequently it's possible the album suffered as a result. When the album peaked at a desultory #115, cracks in the group were inevitable.
The first casualty was bass player Jerry Penrod, who left abruptly after a date at The Scene (incidentally, two weeks after the Rolling Stone publication). Ironically, Rhinoceros' fortunes were on the ascent at the time and they were beginning to win over some of their initial sceptics. Jennifer Gale, writing in New York's Village Voice, wrote of Penrod's final show: "Rhinoceros has matured greatly in the few months they've been away from the city. Their music is more together and they've lost a lot of that plastic Sunset Strip bullshit."
Though Rolling Stone magazine may indeed have influenced the public's reaction to the album, it appears that internal problems had contributed to Penrod's abrupt exit - over the last few months, he'd reportedly suffered from increasing fits of despair. According to Finley, Penrod's departure was hastened by the run-ins between the singer and Danny Weis, which appear to have borne some resemblance to the rivalry between Stephen Stills and Neil Young in The Buffalo Springfield.
As Finley recalls, the band was playing at a college in Long Island and during the first set, an altercation took place between the singer and guitarist, which so incensed the bass player that he disappeared during the intermission. (In fact Penrod ended up walking all the way back to downtown New York with his bass leaving the band to complete the second set without him).
Penrod, somewhat surprisingly, rejoined the band at Steve Paul's The Scene a few days later, but after the first night it's believed that he experienced a bad acid trip and was checked into Bellevue hospital (not incidentally, at the same time as Moby Grape's Skip Spence). After a few days, Penrod discharged himself and duly returned to LA where he went on to do session work for Frazier Mohawk's wife Essra. Following a brief sojourn with the ill-fated Flintwhistle - the band formed by Weis' replacement in Iron Butterfly, Erik Braunn in 1970, he subsequently traded in a musical career to become a bus driver in his native San Diego.
Penrod's initial replacement was Danny's 17-year-old brother Steve (an equipment manager for the group), but he didn't have the musical credentials to be anything other than a stopgap.
The same month that Penrod left Rhinoceros, the group made the almost unanimous decision to fire Paul Rothchild as producer (only a few days before a scheduled initial pre-production meeting with Rothchild at Elektra's New York headquarters). Looking back, Finley believes that this fateful decision, combined with the move away from LA and the label's hyping of the band, was key to Rhinoceros' eventual downfall.
"One of the biggest mistakes was leaving the West Coast to go to the East Coast," says Finley. "Now that's no disrespect to the East Coast, but we were a West Coast band, we were started there and the label was there, what nurtured us was there. We also went to New York on a big hype and that was a mistake. You could hype in LA but not in New York. The other big mistake was firing Paul Rothchild. All the guys wanted him out except me."
Despite his misgiving about firing Rothchild, Finley opted to remain with the band and the new Rhinoceros line-up set out on the road. In early February, the band made its second appearance at the Fillmore East, supporting blues group Canned Heat and British folk-rockers Pentangle. The show appears to have received very little press but the positive reception that Rhinoceros was beginning to receive at concerts in general gave the new line-up the confidence to begin work on a follow-up album.
Shortly after a memorable appearance at the Boston Pop Festival, the band returned to LA to begin sessions for a second album with new producer David Anderle but immediately ran into problems in the studio with Steve Weis. Danny's brother was asked to leave and Peter Hodgson was flown in from Las Vegas.
Hodgson had kept himself busy following his abrupt exit in late 1967. After playing in David Clayton-Thomas' group The Combine (who recorded the original version of 'Spinning Wheel'), Hodgson relocated to Los Angeles in mid-1968 and played with Jackson Browne's Paxton Ranch band, (appearing on Browne's unissued debut album, 'Baby Browning'). When the Paxton project collapsed, he was recruited to play sessions for Elektra duo, Bamboo.
With Hodgson gradually immersing himself back into the fold, sessions resumed with David Anderle at the helm. Unfortunately, while Anderle's earlier collaboration with some of the musicians had borne fruit, the circumstances surrounding the current sessions meant that the band failed to build on the success of the David Ackles album, and more importantly Rhinoceros' own debut set.
John Finley: vocals
Alan Gerber: vocals, piano
Danny Weis: guitar, piano
Doug Hastings: guitar
Michael Fonfara: organ, piano
Jerry Penrod: bass
Billy Mundi: drums, percussion