Monday, May 16, 2016

Randy Holden - "Population II" 1970

Born in Pennsylvania in 1945, Randy Holden has had quite the career. Playing in band like The Iridescents, and Fender IV, whom he relocated from Baltimore to Southern California where they became the Sons of Adam, a name which was provided by record producer and impresario Kim Fowley, and they secured a record contract with Decca. They made a brief appearance playing a nightclub scene in the 1965 movie The Slender Thread, starring Ann Bancroft. Sons of Adam, with Holden opened for the Rolling Stones at their first show at the Long Beach Arena, and Holden was heavily influenced by Keith Richards guitar and amp rig, which helped change his own attitude towards gear and tone. The Sons of Adam began
experimenting with distortion, fuzz, and feedback bordering on the verge of psychedelic rock. Holden eventually quit the band due to lack of original material. (My question to you is, how do you get a gig opening for the Stones playing only covers? Times were certainly a lot different then!)

After being offered a chance to replace Jeff Beck in The Yardbirds (which he didn't accept), Holden joined up with a psychedelic garage band from L.A. called The Other Half with whom he recorded one album with before leaving. (being disappointed by the recording and dissatisfied with the type of guitar he was playing for the band, later stating: "I was trying to accomodate everyone else at the expense of my own soul and happiness.")

He then went on to replace Leigh Stevens in Blue Cheer, and played on one half of their third album "New! Improved!" (1969) and then toured with them for one year before moving on.
Frustrated with the lack of control over bands, Randy formed his next new band with drummer Chris Lockheed. Lockheed, also a keyboard played, uniquely played drums and keys simultaneously on live performances. During this time, Holden obtained a sponsorship deal with Sunn amplifiers. Through this, he obtained his trademark sixteen - 200 watt amplifier rig. His new band was dubbed "Randy Holden-Population II" which was a reference to the fact there were only two members in the band, as well as being an astronomical term, "Population II" that defines a special kind of Star Group cluster type, having Heavy Metal in it's composition. An appropriate description for the original style of music attributed to Holden's new band. The band recorded it's only album:  Population II in 1969. Trouble with the release of the album led to Holden going bankrupt, losing all his equipment and causing his departure from music for over two decades. Population II was eventually released in many bootleg forms over the years, with no official re-release until a limited issue in 2005, and finally a remastered CD in 2008. The album has been a much sought after collectors item over the years.

After more than two decades, Holden returned to his guitar and began creating music again, reportedly by the continual urgings of a loyal fan. He recorded Guitar God in 1994, and released Guitar God 2001 in '01, followed by Raptor in 2008.
In 2008, American author and journalist Ritchie Unterberger said: "he's a great candidate for selection of the great unknown 1960's rock guitar hero. No other guitarist was as skilled at creating the kind of sustain heavy, snakey guitar lines pioneered by Jeff Beck in the Yardbirds. His recordings with Fender IV, Sons of Adam, Ugly Things, The Other Half, Blue Cheer, and as a solo artist don't only contain some ferverishly innovative playing, they also chart the overall rainbow of changes undergone by California 1960's rock guitar as a whole. From surf to pseudo-merseybeat to psychedelia, hard rock, and heavy metal.


The Fender IV

  • "Mar Gaya" b/w "You Better Tell Me Now" (1964 Imperial Records)
  • "Malibu Run" b/w "Everybody Up" (1965 Imperial Records)
Sons of Adam

  • "Take My Hand" b/w "Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day" (1965 Decca)
  • "Saturday's Son" b/w "You're a Better Man Than I" (1966 Decca)
Th Other Half

  • "The Other Half" (1968)
Blue Cheer

  •   "New! Improved" (1969)
Randy Holden

  • "Population II" (1969 Hobbit Records)

  • Unreleased Album (1969-1970)

  • Guitar God (1996 Captain Trip Records)
  • Guitar God 2001 (2001)
  • Surf Guitar God 1963-2001 (2007)
  • Raptor (2008)

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