Audio recordings of Richard Brautigan reading his work have appeared on two separate record albums, Listening to Richard Brautigan and Paradise Bar and Grill. Listening to Richard Brautigan, was rereleased in compact disc format in 2005. Another compact disc, Sounds Like Richard Brautgan, released in 2002(?), is, apparently, a pirated edition of all Brautigan's previous recordings.
Unterberger is the author of Unknown Legends of Rock'n'Roll (Backbeat Books, 1998) and Urban Spacemen & Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators & Eccentric Visionaries of '60s Rock (Backbeat Books, 2000), both of which contained in-depth profiles of overlooked cult rock artists, including first-hand interview material with the artists themselves or their close associates. He is also author of the two-part history of 1960s folk-rock, Turn! Turn! Turn!: The '60s Folk-Rock Revolution (Backbeat Books, 2002) and its sequel Eight Miles High: Folk-Rock's Flight from Haight-Ashbury to Woodstock (Backbeat Books, 2003).
Harvest Records, 1970
Record Album ST-424
Stereo phonodisc, 33 1/3 rpm
Recorded at Golden State Recorders in San Francisco, California
Engineered by Mike Vance
Listening to Richard Brautigan began as a spoken-word record album project at Zapple, a subsidiary of The Beatle's Apple Corps Ltd. record label, but was never completed. Resurrected by Harvest Records, it contained poems, anecdotes, and telephones. The effect was an alternative view of Brautigan.
The thirty poems from The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster were: "Love Poem," "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace," "December 30," "A Boat," "Haiku Ambulance," "Death Is A Beautiful Car Parked Only," "Karma Repair Kit: Items 1-4," "Crab Cigar," "Widow's Lament," "The Pumpkin Tide," "Man," "Adrenalin Mother," "San Francisco," "1942," "At the California Institute of Technology," "Xerox Candy Bar," "Alas, Measured Perfectly," "The Shenevertakesherwatchoff Poem," "The Double-Bed Dream Gallows," "November 3," "Flowers for Those You Love," "I Lie Here in a Strange Girl's Apartment," "The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster," "Lovers," "Gee, You're So Beautiful That It's Starting to Rain," "I Cannot Answer You Tonight in Small Portions," "The Way She Looks at It," "A Good Talking Candle," "I Live in the Twentieth Century," and "Boo, Forever."
The stories from Revenge of the Lawn were the title story from this collection, "Revenge of the Lawn," and "A Short Story about Contemporary Life in California," "The Memory of a Girl," "The View from the Dog Tower," and "Pale Marble Movie."
The selection from the novel A Confederate General from Big Sur was "The Rivets of Ecclesiastes."
The selection from the novel Trout Fishing in America was "The Hunchback Trout."
The selection from the novel In Watermelon Sugar was "The Watermelon Sun."
Project History: Zapple Records
Zapple (October 1968-June 1969) was the experimental division of Apple Records, designed to record, produce, and distribute "poetry, literature, electronic music, avant-garde performances, lectures, anything off-beat, Beat, experimental or strange," at budget prices. Paul McCartney and John Lennon asked Barry Miles (known as Miles) to become the label manager in 1968 (Miles, Barry. Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997. xiii, 472.).
In a later book, The Zapple Diaries, Miles notes that at the request of McCartney he prepared "a list of people I thought Apple should record." Miles' initial list of poets and writers included "Allen Ginsburg, William S. Burroughs, Richard Brautigan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Henry Miller, Kenneth Patchen, Michael McClure, Ken Weaver, Ed Sanders, Charles Olsen and Charles Bukowski. . . . This would be followed by Anais Nin, Robert Creeley, Ed Dorn, Samuel Beckett, Gary Snyder, Simon Vinkenoog, Tom Pickard and I even thought of approaching Ezra Pound to read his Confucian Analects (Miles, Barry. The Zapple Diaries. London: Peter Owen Publishers, 2015. 50).
An undated two-page press release from Apple Corps. Ltd. introduced Zapple. Page 1 of the press release said Zapple would "bring sounds of all kinds . . . electronic sounds, spoken word, recorded interviews [and] classical music. . . . Future artists will include Ken Kesey, Richard Brautigan, Lenny Bruce, Lord Buckley, Charles Olson, Charles Bukowski, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, Ken Weaver, and Allen Ginsberg, to name but a few."
Page 2 of the undated Zapple press release featured reviews by Richard Dilello of the forthcoming albums by John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and George Harrision and indicated additional tracks were to be included on the album Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with The Lions.
According to a 3 February 1969 press release noting the official launch of Zapple, the first record album, Unfinished Music No. 2—Life with The Lions (Zapple ST-3357) featured music by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The second album, Electronic Sound (Zapple ST-3358) featured electronic music composed and performed by George Harrison on a Moog synsthesizer. The third Zapple release was to be "a spoken-word album recorded by poet-writer Richard Brautigan."
Zapple 1: Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with The Lions
Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with The Lions (Zapple ST-3357) was an experimental album, released as the successor to the highly controversial 1968 album by Lennon and Ono, Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins.
The title is taken from Life with the Lyons, a favorite BBC radio drama of Lennon's. The album's tracks were
"Cambridge 1969" (26:29)
"No Bed For Beatle John" (4:41)
"Baby's Heartbeat" (5:10)
"Two Minutes Silence" (2:00)
"Radio Play" (12:35)
The first track was recorded 2 March 1969 before a live audience at Cambridge University. The remaining tracks were recorded on cassette tape at Queen Charlotte's Hospital in London, England, in November 1968 where Ono was hospitalized following her first of the couple's three miscarriages. The album was reissued as a compact disc by Rykodisc in 1997 with two bonus tracks
Electronic Sound (Zapple ST-3358) was Harrison's first solo album, released in May 1969. The album featured two lengthy pieces, one per side, both performed on a Moog synthesizer.
The album's tracks were
"Under the Mersey Wall" (18:42)
"No Time or Space" (25:07)
A portion of the white noise from "No Time or Space" was used in the opening of "I Remember Jeep," one of the tracks from Harrison's second solo album, All Things Must Pass, released in 1970. Jeep was the name of Eric Clapton's stolen dog. Clapton was one of several musicians who performed with Harrison on this album.
The illustration on the album's front cover was painted by Harrison. Minimal notes were included on the record sleeve.
Zapple 3: Planned as Listening to Richard Brautigan
The Brautigan record project, the planned third record album release by Zapple, was produced by Miles who wrote to Brautigan on 3 October 1968 outlining the project "as a magazine in sound and possibly to include certain literature, artwork and illustrations as well" and asking if he were interested. Miles said Henry Miller, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Charles Olsen had already been contacted about recording additional albums in the series. As noted previously, Miles hoped to also include Anais Nin, Robert Creeley, Edward Dorn, Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett, Gary Snyder "and of course the younger British poets. We would also like to get Ezra Pound to read his Confucian Analects."
Brautigan and Miles exchanged several letters regarding this record album project.
Production work for Listening to Richard Brautigan began in late 1968 and continued into February 1969. As Miles explains, after arriving in San Francisco in mid-January 1969
I headed first of all to Richard Brautigan's apartment at 2546 Geary. Richard was tall and gangling, and affected the image of an old prospector or western pioneer, with a huge moustache and long hair past his shoulders, tight pants and cowboy boots. Allen Ginsberg had always dismissed his work as shallow and contrived and used to call him "Bunthorne" behind his back—a reference to Reginald Bunthorne, the aesthete in Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience. It was an obvious bachelor pad, scruffy but pleasant, with Communication Company handbills, and posters for concerts and poetry readings, most of them featuring him, tacked on the walls. His big high-ceilinged kitchen served as the living room and we sat around the table and discussed mutual friends and the London scene. Richard had a close male chum, his "best buddy," Keith Abbott, who seemed to be his constant companion: Abbott, as he was known, made continual runs to the fridge for beer. Richard's girlfriend, Valerie [Estes], was also there, but Richard was intent on annoying her and came out with such lines as "I don't want my daughter to be educated. I think women should just be decorative." Valerie raised her eyes and said, "Oh, Richard, don't start all that again." The trouble was, Brautigan really did think women should be subservient to men.
At Richard's suggestion I hired Valerie as my assistant, and it also seemed practical to move into her apartment on Kearny, near Coit Tower, and pay rent to her rather than check into a hotel. I slept on a couch next to the front window in the living room, surrounded by brightly coloured objects brought back from her South American travels. I visited Lawrence Ferlinghetti at his office in City Lights Books, and met Michael McClure. I booked studio time at Golden State Recorders on Harrison Street, intending to juggle the times and dates among the three poets, depending on how well each of the recordings went.
I had already planned the structure for Richard's album so we worked on his first. I wanted to capture the whimsical, almost precious, innocence of Richard's work, and create an accessible public surface to the record, to draw people in and make them listen. To do this we recorded, in stereo, the actual stream that featured in Trout Fishing in America and overdubbed a ringing telephone. We set up microphones in Richard's kitchen, bought a pile of six-packs and taped hours of conversation between Richard and Abbott, and of Richard talking on the telephone, to use as fillers between tracks. For one very short poem, we got in dozens of Richard's friends to read the poem, repeating it over and over on the record in their different voices and intonations. Richard even got Herb Caen, the San Francisco Chronicle columnist who coined the term "beatnik", to deliver the poem in his hard staccato Chicago accent. Richard enjoyed recording and I enjoyed his company, but the friendship was not to last. (Miles, Barry. In the Sixties. London: Jonathon Cape, 2002. 260-261.)
The friendship between Brautigan and Miles "was not to last" because of an affair between Miles and Estes. The affair began in Los Angeles where they both stayed in the home of musician Frank Zappa while conducting business related to Miles' recording project for Apple. Miles and Estes agreed to continue seeing each other when they returned to San Francisco. Brautigan learned of their relationship and was not pleased, even though he himself had previously strayed from a monogamous relationship with Estes. "It was fortunate that I had recorded Richard's album first because it was already at mixing stage by the time he found out what had happened. The affair strained relations between us so much that his final approval of the mix came via his lawyer" (Miles, Barry. In the Sixties. London: Jonathon Cape, 2002. 263.).
Miles recounts this narrative in The Zapple Diaries, noting that Brautigan retained complete control over the editing of the recordings and production of the album sleeve (Miles, Barry. The Zapple Diaries. London: Peter Owen Publishers, 2015.).
Accounts of the Production Process
Miles, Barry. Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997.
This lengthy biography of Paul McCartney contains brief mentions of Brautigan and his planned recording project, "Listening to Richard Brautigan," produced by Barry Miles, for The Beatles' Apple Records label.
Miles, Barry. In the Sixties. London: Jonathon Cape, 2002. 249, 258, 260-261, 263, 269, 278.
Miles recounts his first recording trip for Zapple Records in January 1969. He traveled from London to San Francisco where he "booked a studio to record Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, and Richard Brautigan" (249).
Zapple Records, the spoken-word and experimental subsidary of The Beatles' Apple Records, was launched 3 February 1969. Miles quotes the extensive press release about Zapple's intentions. "A spoken-word album recorded by poet-writer Richard Brautigan" was listed as one of three initial releases (258).
Miles recounts working with Brautigan to record and produce Brautigan's record album, "Listening to Richard Brautigan."
Brown, Mick. "John, Paul, George and . . . Barry: In the late Sixties, the Great and the Groovy Gathered at Barry Miles's Gallery. He Revisits His Revolutionary Times with Mick Brown." The Daily Telegraph 16 October 2002: ***?***.
By the end of the Sixties, Miles was spending much of his time in New York, where he lived in the Chelsea Hotel and attempted to launch the Beatles' Zapple label, producing spoken-word recordings by such writers as Charles Bukowski, Richard Brautigan and Allen Ginsberg. The label was scrapped when Allen Klein took over Apple and decided it was unprofitable. (***?***)
Cooke, Rachel. "Give 'em Enough Dope." The Observer 20 October 2002: Books 17.
In 1968, Miles headed for America, portable Nagra tape machine in tow, to record his great idols: Charles Olson, Charles Bukowski and Richard Brautigan. (17)
In addition to the recordings made in his kitchen, Brautigan also recorded six hours of reading and recitation at Golden State Recorders, 665 Harrison Street, a San Francisco recording studio. As Miles explains,
Richard Brautigan recorded a selection of poems and stories, often giving the words a heightened reality with sound effects—a stereo recording of the actual stream referred to in 'Trout Fishing in America', for instance. Hours of tape of Richard talking on the telephone and sitting around the kitchen drinking beer with his buddy Price [Dunn] were recorded. The resulting album was called Listening to Richard Brautigan. (Miles, Barry. Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997. 474.)
The project was engineered by Mike Vance at Golden State Recorders and produced by Miles Associates and Brautigan. Notes attached to the master tape indicated the order and times of the various recordings to be featured on each side of the record album.
This form, prepared at Golden State Recorders, indicates the order and times of the recordings planned for Side 2 of Brautigan's record album. Some selections are crossed out, noting their deletion from the record album.
Apple Records sent Brautigan a check for $200.00 as an advance against royalties on 7 March 1969, along with a letter noting preparation of a contract. Apparently, Brautigan never cashed this check. The contract was never delivered because of Zapple's closure.
7th March 1969
Mr. Richard Brautigan,
Richard A. Hodge, Inc.,
228, McAlister Street,
Dear Mr. Brautigan
Enclosed you will find a cheque for $200.— which
is an advance payment for the royalties which will be
due you for the album we will be releasing from the
tapes recorded by you in San Francisco during February 1969.
We are presently preparing the contract and it will
be sent to you within the next few days.
With best wishes,
Ronald S. Kass(typed and signed)
c.c. Peter Asher
Miss Pat Slattery
A two-page letter, dated 21 March 1969, from Patti [Slattery?] to Miles outlined the efforts underway in the Hollywood, California, Apple Corps Ltd. offices to finalize Brautigan's record album. (Page 1 of this letter. Page 2 of this letter.)
Several production details were noted in the letter:
Brautigan met the previous day in the Apple offices with George Osaki regarding artwork for the record album; Brautigan seemed to feel that Osaki understood his vision of how the record album cover should be designed and layed out
Brautigan listened to Side 1 of the projected record album
Brautigan was to write the publicity release for the record album and send it from New York the next week; Brautigan demanded final approval of any changes, as well as final approval on any publicity, advertising, artwork, and the master recording; these points were to be stipulated in his contract, delivered to his lawyer, Richard Hodge by the following Monday
Valerie Estes was to be paid $50.00 for her photograph used on the album front cover; Edmund Shea was asking $300 for his work as the photographer; contact sheets and additional prints of his photographs were to be arranged and paid separately
Brautigan preferred the cover photographs to be used for all advertising so as to establish a visual image of the record
Brautigan asked for the silences between the album tracks to be equal in length; the finished tapes should be sent to him for final approval
Brautigan was to check with Grove Press regarding recording rights for A Confederate General from Big Sur
Brautigan was to be in New York City for two weeks
The master tapes were edited for the record album. But, the album, scheduled for release in late 1969, was never completed by Zapple which was closed by American record executive and then Beatles manager Allen Klein in June 1969 as part of his cost cutting efforts to save the parent company, Apple Corps Ltd. According to noted music critic and historian Richie Unterberger
Production of Listening to Richard Brautigan had reached acetate state and a sample sleeve had been created at the time Zapple was closed.
Listening to Richard Brautigan reached test-pressing stage. The cover featured two photographs, one of Richard holding a telephone, and another of Valerie answering it. Most of Richard's books had front-cover photographs of him with his latest girlfriend. For the album there were two separate photographs (Miles, Barry. In the Sixties. London: Jonathon Cape, 2002. 269.).
The acetate record album featured an Apple Corporation Custom Recording label only on the "A" side. Typewritten on the label were simply "R. Brautigan," "P/R May," "ZAPPLE," and "Stereo," with no listing of tracks or titles.
The listing of tracks and titles, as well as the production credits were provided on a sheet of Apple Corporation letterhead. This same information appeared on the record album cover, later, when it was finally released by EMI-Harvest in 1970 (see below).
A separate sheet of Apple Corporation letterhead provided a "Bibliography of Works by Richard Brautigan" apparently supplied directly by Brautigan. The text reads
The Galilee Hitch-Hiker - San Francisco 1958
The Octopus Frontier - San Francisco 1960
A Confederate General From Big Sur - New York 1964
Trout Fishing in America - San Francisco 1967
The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster - San Francisco 1968
Please Plant This Book - San Francisco 1968 (given away free)
In Watermelon Sugar - San Francisco 1968
Free handouts mimeographed by the Communication Co:
Flowers For Your Love [sic]
All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace
A Beautiful Poem
Karma Repair Kit: Items 1-4
San Francisco Weather Report (handout free)
Lay The Marble Tea (no details known)
The Abortion (no details known)
To standard bibliography - I've assembled this check list but there may well be other free things from Communication Company, who knows?
Release by Harvest Records
Listening to Richard Brautigan was eventually released on EMI-Harvest in America with a modified sleeve (Miles, Barry. Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997. xiii, 476-477.).
After the failure of Zapple Records, Miles said,
I felt a responsibility towards all the people I had recorded and gradually found ways to release most of the albums: EMI-Harvest brought out Listening to Richard Brautigan in 1970 (Miles, Barry. In the Sixties. London: Jonathon Cape, 2002. 278.).
Harvest Records was a United Kingdom label of Capitol Records, itself owned by EMI. The Harvest release kept the original title, Listening to Richard Brautigan.
Album Cover Designed by Brautigan
As he did with all his publications, Brautigan demanded final approval on any publicity, advertising, artwork, and production. He promised to write the publicity release, provided the models (himself and girlfriend Valerie Estes), selected the photographs to be used on the album cover, and insisted that his friend Edmund Shea be paid as the photographer.
The album front cover featured two photographs by Shea. On the left side of the cover Brautigan stands in his Geary Street apartment holding a telephone with a look of frustration. On the right side Valerie Estes, standing in her apartment on Kearny Street, holds a telephone, looking at the ceiling smiling. Above the photographs, text read:
Richard Brautigan was born January 30, 1935 in Tacoma, Washington. His memories at the age of four include: the waking-up-in-the-morning, what's for breakfast? poverty of the American Depression, the exotic war between Japan and China, trace remembrances of the Spanish Civil War, and the German Army of the Third Reich marching into Poland on September 1, 1939. Since then he has enjoyed thirty more years of life in the Twentieth Century. Right now he lives in San Francisco. His telephone number is 567-3389.
Promotional materials released by Harvest Records included an 8" x 10" black and white photograph of Brautigan apparently by Edmund Shea sitting on the edge of the bathtub in his San Francisco Geary Street apartment looking straight into the camera wearing a hat reminiscent of his novel Dreaming of Babylon and a 35" x 22" yellow poster featuring Shea's photograph of Brautigan holding a telephone in his outstretched hand from the album cover. At the top of the poster is the blurb about Brautigan, including telephone number, taken from the album cover.
A slightly different version of this recording is reported, titled Words From Apple (JLD 006), released as an audio cassette tape by Apple Corps Ltd., 3 Saville Row, London W1. The front cover artwork featured a drawing of an apple being peeled, the peel forming the letter "W" of the title, Words From Apple. This version of the recording did not, apparently, contain the poem "Boo, Forever," lists Valerie Estes as "Valerie Morill" (her former married name) as a reader of the poem "Love Poem," and provides slightly different liner notes than those associated with the record album.
The recording logs indicate that Brautigan also recorded a track titled "Conversations with Apple" and another titled "Discussion of Readings." Neither were included on this album.
"Z is for Zapple." Archive Hour Saturday, 12 June 2004
BBC Radio 4 radio broadcast
"Barry Miles' Z is for Zapple is the untold story of life at the core of The Beatles' crumbling empire"
Miles discusses, among other Zapple projects, the Listening to Richard Brautigan record album. Includes Brautigan reading "The Telephone Door to Richard Brautigan," "A Confederate General from Big Sur," "The telephone door that eventually leads to some love poem," "Short Stories about California," and "Boo, Forever."
Track 5: "Here Are the Sounds of My Life in San Francisco"
Brautigan talks with Price Dunn and Valerie Estes in his San Francisco, California, kitchen. They talk about cooking steaks and corn, and making fresh coffee.
Track 6: "The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster"
Brautigan reads sixteen poems from The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster: "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace," "December 30," "A Boat," "Haiku Ambulance," "Death Is A Beautiful Car Parked Only," "Karma Repair Kit: Items 1-4," "Crab Cigar," "Widow's Lament," "The Pumpkin Tide," "Man," "Adrenalin Mother," "San Francisco," "1942," "At the California Institute of Technology," "Xerox Candy Bar," and "Alas, Measured Perfectly."
Track 2:v"The Telephone Door That Leads Eventually to Some Love Poems"
Brautigan talks about his control over his telephone, answers a request for a poetry reading, and reads twelve poems from The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster: "The Shenevertakesherwatchoff Poem," "The Double-Bed Dream Gallows," "November 3," "Flowers for Those You Love," "I Lie Here in a Strange Girl's Apartment," "The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster," "Lovers," "Gee, You're So Beautiful That It's Starting to Rain," "I Cannot Answer You Tonight in Small Portions," "The Way She Looks at It," "A Good-Talking Candle," and "I Live in the Twentieth Century."
Track 3: "The Watermelon Sun"
Brautigan reads the chapter "The Watermelon Sun" from his novel In Watermelon Sugar.
Track 4: "Here Are Some More Sounds of My Life"
Brautigan records more sounds in his apartment.
Track 5: "Short Stories about California"
Brautigan reads four stories from Revenge of the Lawn: "A Short Story about Contemporary Life in California," "The Memory of a Girl," "The View from the Dog Tower," and "Pale Marble Movie."
This recording was made during the studio sessions for the group's second record album, Mad River, released in 1968, but was not used until this, the third record album.
This record album was dedicated to Thomas Manning and Greg Druian, even though by that time Manning was no longer a member of the group. The album front cover featured a photograph by Baron Wolman of the members of the band.
Mad River was a white blues group from Ohio's Antioch College. They migrated to Berkeley, California, and moved to San Francisco in September 1967. The original group members were: David Robinson (lead guitar), Rick Bockner (vocals, second lead guitar, 12-string guitar), Lawrence Hammond (lead vocals, bass, keyboards, guitar), Thomas Manning (vocals, 12-string guitar, bass), and Gregory LeRoy Dewey (vocals, drums, fence, worms, recorder, harmonica). Their first record album was a three-track EP, a thousand copies of which were released by Wee Records, a local independent label in San Francisco, in the fall of 1967. The record came in a cardboard case the band and Brautigan assembled by hand. Based on success of this release, Mad River was signed by Capital Records in 1968.
Captial Records, 1968
Stereo phonodisc, 33 1/3 rpm
The groups' first record album with Columbia Records, Mad River, was relased in October 1968.
A total of seven tracks appeared on the album. In order of appearance, they were:
Credit for inspiration to Richard Brautigan was noted on the album cover: "This album dedicated to Richard Brautigan." See below for more about the connection between Brautigan and Mad River.
The recording sessions took place at Golden State Recorders, San Francisco. The producer was Nick Venet. The engineer was Baron Leo de Gar Ustinik-Kulka.
During these sessions Brautigan recorded his poem "Love's Not The Way To Treat A Friend" accompanied by Robinson and Hammond in the background playing a song written by Robinson. The track was not included on this album, but was included in the group's second album, Paradise Bar and Grill, released in 1969.
Production of the album was problematic. The band member's names did not match up with their picture on the front cover, Rick Bockner's name was misspelled, and the master ran too fast making the album play faster than its original recording.
Stereo phonodisc, 33 1/3 rpm
The British reissue in 1985 restored the album to its correct speed. The album was given a bad review by Ed Ward in Rolling Stone.
Brautigan and Mad River
Richie Unterberger, author of music books and reviews writes in his "Liner Notes for Mad River's Mad River/Paradise Bar and Grill" that the band
drew strong grass-roots support in the Bay Area, partly through playing events associated with San Francisco radicals the Diggers. They also had a renowned fan in author and poet Richard Brautigan, who gave the band food to tide them over in rough times. . . . Mindful of Brautigan's kindness when they were starving, [Mad River] used some of their Capitol advance to pay for the printing of Brautigan's novel, Please Plant This Book.
David Biasotti wrote "Just Like A Poem: Richard Brautigan and Mad River," the most thorough account of the relationship between Mad River and Brautigan.
I've just been getting acquainted with your stunning Richard Brautigan site. I have to tell you, it's one of the most remarkable sites I've ever seen, just beautifully put together.
I did attend one of Richard's readings, he was wonderful. (I remember it as being in Claremont, but it may have been in the Bay Area.) This would have been not long after the publication of Trout Fishing in America. A good number of years later, I had occasion to talk to Richard a couple of times at what was then called the Albatross, a saloon a few doors down from City Lights. The funny thing was, I didn't know he was Richard Brautigan. I just didn't recognize him. God knows he never said anything that would remotely identify himself, or even that he was a professional writer. He seemed like a very sad guy, but he was absolutely lovely to talk to. It was only after his death, I think, that I learned the guy I used to talk to from time to time was Richard. Everyone else who frequented the Albatross seemed to know, but it was news to me.
David Biasotti. Email to John F. Barber, 26 June 2004.
Mad River webpage by Ross Hannan and Corry Arnold. Provides a thorough history of the band's evolution, concert history, as well as a number of images of concert posters and publicity photographs.