Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Christopher - s/t 1970

Formed in 1968 in the Houston, TX area. Doug Tull (drums), Doug Walden (bass/vocals), and Richard Avitts (guitar/vocals) were the original members of the band, which started out as "United Gas." Tull and Avitts, at the same time playing in a series of R&B and soul-leaning groups, met in 1966 when Tull sat in on drums with one of Avitts' bands. Tull, however was not as serious about the music as Avitts, leading to an eventual split.
Tull developed a friendship around this time with Jefferson Airplane guitarist and Texas native Jorma Kaukonen, and, in 1967, invited Avitts to jam with them. Certain they had the makings of a band, the two went searching for a bass player who could sing, eventually finding Doug Walden. It wasn't long before Untied Gas developed a following in and around Houston, playing clubs like Tangerine Forest who's owner, Nick Lee, took interest in the band, eventually becoming their manager. Walden and Avitts began writing their own material and recorded a demo which Lee shopped around his contacts in Las Vegas and California.
United gas relocated to Las Vegas, and then California after an L.A. label, Metromedia offered them a two year deal. At the labels behest, the group changed their name to Christopher so as to avoid confusion with similar named California Pacific Gas and Electric. Walden and Avitts felt Christopher to be a religious band (their name is taken after Saint Christopher) and wanted to convey this through the music.
Doug Tull
Recording of their first album began in early 1969, but was hampered by Tull's drug use, and a failed suicide attempt. He was fired (later returning to Houston and joining Josefus, and ultimately, was found hanged in an Austin jail cell in 1991, victim of an apparent suicide, although there have always been suspicions he was a victim of police brutality) and the session were completed by John Simpson and Terrence Hand. The result was Christopher's debut album, released in a pressing of only 1000 copies. Walden and Avitts remained in Los Angeles playing as Christopher before Avitts moved back to Houston later that year.

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