Email interview with Peter Lucas about his father Ted Lucas and the OM album, which Ted privately released in 1975.
What were your father’s biggest musical influences?
Ted believed that if you wanted to be a musician you have to listen to all sorts. We still have many of the albums from his collection that consist of such things as Balinese Gamolan music, Balinese Monkey Chants, Buddhist Chants, movie soundtracks, classical, Asian/Indian music etc but his biggest influences were Predominantly blues like Arthur Big Boy Crudup, Howling Wolf, Sitar master Ravi Shankar, classical guitarist Andre Segovia and his guitar teacher Joe Fava and his sitar teacher Hari Hao.
After your father left the Spikedrivers he released a single with the Misty Wizards. Did he release anything else during the time up to the OM album in 1975? Can you please tell me a little bit about his musical career during that period (1968-1975)?
Between those years Ted was working as a background musician for Motown, Doing music for commercial ads, He did the soundtrack for a PBS show called Barbara and Yetta, He wrote for the Wayne State University college paper The Fifth Estate and he was on of the 1st djs for local radio WABX when they switched to a rock format station...most of the time he was playing gigs at coffee houses and colleges.
Did he record anything during this period which was never released?
Yes he actually did record a lot of stuff that were working on releasing. We found a couple of 2 inch masters he had done for a 2nd album...maybe a couple hundred reel to reel tapes...tons of cassettes...some of the material is full songs...others are snippets and ideas. The bulk of the material is 60s and 70s. There were a few things from later but after my parents divorced it hit Ted very hard...both physically and mentally and he never really recovered. Sadly he had just gotten back into gigging at open mic nights in local venues like The Ark in Ann Arbor when he passed away.
When was the “Detroit Folk Scene, Vol. 1” released that featured two of your father’s songs?
That album came out in the early 70s unfortunately I can’t give you a year.
The OM album seems to be a very personal album with a lot of the songs dealing with relationship problems etc, was the record ever intended to be released on a major label?
No, that was always planned to be a private release.
How many copies were made of this LP (first/second pressing)?
Our best estimate is about 1000 since we have no records from then. Ted had a tendency to keep his business life and his private life separate and that included doing what he thought was right without discussing things with Annette ( his wife, my mom). Technically there was only one pressing up until the Yoga re-release of his album a couple years ago. I do get asked about the pink label/ yellow label difference which some people see as first/second pressing. Ted was very much a perfectionist in a lot of ways...even down to the quality of plastic he wanted used in the production of the album. He had contracted with the company that pressed to use a particular high end plastic. The company went ahead and created the album but used an inferior grade of plastic and those had the yellow label ( ted called them the Lemon label). Ted realized that company had cheaped out to try and save themselves some money and he made them repress it with the higher quality plastic and thus the pink label was born. Initially very few of the yellow labels made it to the public since he sold the records primarily at gigs and such and only sold those ones until the pink ones came in. He was still steamed about it years later (I believe it was sometime in the mid to late 80s) when I asked him for a copy of the record to give to a friend. We went down in the basement and he went to pull out a copy for me and it was the yellow label, pulled another and it was the yellow label so as I watched he smashed about 2 boxes ( about 50-100 copies) of the yellow label copies. It felt like it was raining vinyl. So if someone's collecting for rarity the yellow is much scarcer but the pink has a better sound.
Was the single (Head in California) recorded during the same time as the LP? And was it then released together with the LP?
No, Head in California was recorded a bit after the album so it was never intended to be released with the album.
The record, as mentioned earlier, feels very personal, can you please tell me a little bit about the background to the record? What influenced him, any specific intentions with the album etc?
The album was predominantly a way for him to try and get his music out to more people and doing some experimenting with over dubbing and multi tracks that he couldn’t do at home.
Many describe this record as loner or dark folk. Do you think he also saw it that way or do you think it had another meaning to him? How do you see it?
I guess some would see it that way. I don’t think that was Ted’s intention. There was a lot of turmoil and strife in the household at the time...most of it had to do with money. Ted was definitely not a saver/planner when it came to money. I think the album was a sort of catharsis for him. I think most of the songs are fairly upbeat and happier which is where I don’t get the dark folk but I can definitely see that aspect in songs like It’s so easy ( about love and money) and I’ll find a way (which seems to be about soured love) but to me that’s balanced with Plain and Sane and Simple melody which celebrates the universal power of music, Now That I know (about that hopeful time early in love), Baby where you are ( a kind of lovesong when my mom was pregnant with me) and of course It’s so Nice which speaks for itself.
One of my favorites is “I’ll Find a Way”. Do you know the story behind it?
Dad and mom were having trouble with their marriage. It was an all encompassing love at the time that crashed hard. That was the origination for that song.
The songs Sonny Boy Blues and Love and Peace Raga are live recordings. Where were they recorded?
We believe that they were recorded at one if the local universities, either Wayne State University, Eastern Michigan university or University of Michigan.
I guess the most controversial and most straight forward song is “It is so Nice to Get Stoned”. Can you please tell me a little bit about it?
Ted and Annette were out in California on vacation, smoking with friends and Ted just started writing about the feeling.
Thank you very much Peter!