The Bubble Puppy
The Tale of the Puppy...by Rod Prince
Let me introduce myself, I'm Rod
Prince...co-founder of Bubble Puppy. As the eldest, this task falls to
me: To tell our story in full. I'll tell it as it came down, only truth,
will no holds barred.
The Puppy was and is:
Rod Prince - Lead Guitar and Vocals
Roy Cox - Bass and Vocals
Todd Potter - Lead Guitar and Vocals
David " Fuzzy " Fore - Drummer-Vocals
Now, shall we begin.....
Late winter, 1966, just north of Corpus Christi, Texas. I'm in Mathis,
Texas at my parents house, lately back from L.A. trying to sort out my
life. Cox calls from San Antonio wanting to make another stab at musical
We first met when the Bad Seeds split,
and Cox was playing keyboards
under an assumed name. We made the 'New Seeds', with my former Seedmate,
drummer Bobby Donaho, and Steve Lohse on bass. Good stuff, but not
magical-we split, Roy went back to S. A. and I put my guitar down for
Now, here's Roy calling me to come to
San Antonio, nothing solid, only in his
head, Right? Ah, fool that I am, off to friends couches for months.
However Cox, even then, was obsessed with his vision of a top gun Rock
band. Soon he presents me to Clayton Pulley, basher deluxe from Austin,
Texas. We start to make music and it's got that magical thing! To view
Clayton, imagine the singer from the "Union Gap" remade in a 6'3" muscle
version with a heart to match-a dear friend). Now, Clayton knew this
little Potter guy-gymnast, sax player and guitar study, who Clayton
thought equal to the dual- lead guitar band I'd envisioned for years. We
went to Austin, Todd and I sat down together for a pick- Bingo! We
meshed instantly-one more magical player!
I make it sound all fun and good times-but not at all. Truth to tell,
only the strength of Roy's purpose held me. Long I brooded in whatever
secret place I could find. The music was all, the high points were few,
and that didn't pay the bills.
Danny Segovia joined us then, golden voice and deadly sax player-The
original Puppy was born.
Many months we rehearsed mornings and afternoons at the "PussyKat" Club
in San Antonio, recording some four or five songs during that time
period. Those tapes were lost for many years, but I've been lucky enough
to find them again, soon to be re-mastered by Actual Artists for your
Finally a major break-the mission: opening act for the "WHO" This would
be our first live performance.....what a beginning. The Who came to town
a day or so before the show. We had acquired a manager by this time and
he encouraged the band to come and enjoy our rehearsal venue (a Godsend
to a touring act ). So, we found ourselves making music with the late
Keith Moon, John Entwhistle and Pete Townsend, while Roger Daltry
The show was an amazing success-our true and future drummer, David Fore,
had come up from C.C. to see the show, and "Fuzz" wouldn't shit me,
Then, as all bands do,...we began to grow. And, in so doing we began to
change. Clayton was gone, replaced by Craig Root. Danny was gone, not
replaceable...then Craig was gone and replaced by David Fore..finally
becoming the true Puppy drummer.
This nexus occurred in the move to Austin, Texas in the summer of 1967.
We had acquired some financial backing by this time and were able to rent
a place to live and practice. The house is gone now, only empty fields-
where so much of the Puppy was born and grew. We began our year long
practice discipline of 10 hours a day, 7 days a week there. We were also
given the Vulcan Gas Company as a rehearsal venue. We had started to
open for established acts such as "Shiva's Head Band"..."New
Atlantis"...The "Conqueror"...AND.."The Johnny Winter Band" with Uncle
John Turner and Tommy Shannon.
Soon, the hard discipline began to show in our performances. A fluke of
fate brought us to Houston, and a recording contract with the
"International Artists" record label. "AH, They've made it" you say.
Sheepshit! For ten months we literally lived on black eyed peas and
music. I. A. had only advanced us enough money for rent. We slept on old
cast iron beds from my Great- grandfather's house; we ate black eyed
peas canned in mason jars by my Great grandmother. We had nothing
else-our entire world was our music. That song cycle-song titles such as
"Beginning, Elizabeth, Hurry Sundown, I've got to Reach You" showed a
certain hungry edge, don't you think?
Then, December '68...Hot Smoke was released. I.A., fat and dumb,...had a
HIT on their hands. Consider the song scope- Hot Smoke was No. 1 across
the globe for two months. This is NO joke, I was there, I saw the
numbers. Name a country, any country-No. 1, 8 weeks! Why not number one
in America? True tales are best.
Now, consider I. A. Their only other chart maker was "You're Gonna Miss
Me" by the 13th Floor Elevators. The only true music- industry person in
the ranks was our beloved producer, Ray B. Rush. With the notable
exception of Nobel Ginther, the entire organization was made up of no-
talent lawyers, thugs, and the spawn of the shallow end of the gene
Comes a time-the band was in the studio rehearsing new tracks. Now, from
that room, one can see who comes and goes, if the main door is open-it
was. We see three persons-Black on Black, slick hair, the eyes of
snakes. They pass the studio room, mount the stairs to the President's
office. We consider, then play some more. Directly, back they come, grim
as death, climb in their limo and burn away. Maybe ten minutes later, a
very shaken pres., stumbles down stairs, croaks for water. Seems these
three reptilians were the reps. for our" other government", and the pres.
didn't want to pay their "mordido" for New York and Los Angeles air
play. Remember, this was early 1969 and these things were very real.
They let him live, but Hot Smoke was allowed no air play in New York or
L.A. Hence, in the U.S.A., Hot Smoke only reached number 13 on the
charts-shit, not too bad, without the two major U.S. markets. Stay with
me, it only gets worse.
Once again, consider I.A., Of course, they have their own booking
agency, management company, publishing company. When the moment came the
throw the Puppy on the road, what do they do? No. 1 across the globe and
they fly us into Chicago O'Hare, room us at the Holiday Inn, and book a
world-class act in every 200 seat bar within driving distance of the
hotel. Todd had to collect the gate dollars; in truth he was our road
manager as well as band mate, a very sad state for us. We hungered for
the rest of the planet. The fans who had made us no. 1 for months should
not have been denied just to feed the ego of the incompetents who
refused to relinquish the career management of the Puppy. Black
hatred.... and the start of our crash course in reality (as it is, in
the music biz).
We had never lost our commitment to our music, and having, at the
least, another LP's worth of material already recorded at I. A., we
began to focus more and more on our live performance skills. Now, a
monster hit from a new band, by nature, throws the band into the
opening- act roll for any upper echelon, artistically comparable
headliner. Now, you know we didn't blow the WHO off of the stage, but
that was long ago by this time. Into the fire we went, our long years of
hard work enabled us! Against all odds, show after show, we, the opening
act would command standing ovations and multiple encores, the things
usually saved for the headliner.
It was much like pro sports-if we were all healthy and undamaged, the
game went to us. But if our discipline, organization, or simple health
faltered-the game shifted to the headliner's court. Acts of God? Well,
maybe-I recall vividly our first six week venture to Chicago's O'Hare
Holiday Inn. My luck ran out. I had contracted some form of intestinal
flu virus-couldn't even keep pepto bismol down. OH, we did the shows,
but I only remember flashes. Bob Seger's sound check at some high school
gym, many shows in piecemeal. How can this fly? Rod is to sick to walk,
much less be playing and singing. Eventual recovery, but only when we
returned to Texas. Six weeks of delirium, but suddenly FatRodney wasn't
fat. Cool, but costly. But, I wander-during these times the Beatles'
Apple Records made an offer to lease the "Hot Smoke" single, through
the efforts of Carl Becker, manager of the " Bad Seeds". Still makes me
wonder how a baggage tech. at the C.C. airport could have amassed such
clout.........Of course you know the answer to their offer-correct!!!
I.A. won't release control, even to Apple. Poor fools, Poor US. The
millions they could have made by simply recognizing that they had NO
experience, much less ideas, of how to exploit a world wide number one
It began to get rather ugly. Our producer Ray Rush, being who he was,
took our side-like magic Ray was gone replaced by Fred Carrol-WHO?? Now,
you may have observed in my ramblings that Ray Rush was very much the
fifth member. Awesome production skills, adept at pulling the true song
from one's brain. The lost of Ray was the final blow-there was nothing
left at I.A. musically, and the Puppy WAS music.
In the spring of 1970 we moved back to Austin. As I've said, our live
performances had brought us to a comfortable level financially. We'd
work two shows a week, give 'em a performance! 90 minute set, $2,500
per, good money back then. We had a cool home on Spicewood Springs, with
waterfalls and serenity, hills to walk, new music to birth.
In desperation, I.A had agreed to let professionals handle our
bookings- (year late, lifetime short ). And they worked their customary
William Morris Agency magic. Point being, as Roy has said, " If you was
anybody and came to play in Texas, you play'd with the Puppy"! Our idea
of warming a crowd was to burn'em with our long perfected " Who's the
Headliner Now?" show! Easy for us then..., we could be home that night.
When I have the right audience, I never failed to let the Puppy send
ANYBODY slinking to the dressing room in shame. But, believe it. Our fans
were and are the most loyal of all the music lovers of the late '60's
and early '70's. God love 'em, they could be brutal at times. I truly
didn't understand the depth of passion these folk felt toward the Puppy.
We were their band, with our global Hot Smokin' Sassafras and our
anti-record company attitude.
One sentence pertains-WHY GO TO CALIFORNIA?
Why would we leave an established mid-west touring gig- large halls,
steady bookings; good money situation? Several good reasons in truth.
1. The dreadful I.A. people and their demands-
2. The vain hope of legal assistance from the AFM in L.A.-
3. Steppenwolf's Nick St. Nicholas, who believed in us- completely
4. Last, and most relevant...we were still young and dumb- -
The first good reason-In the preceding months, we had returned to the
I.A. studios, hoping to reclaim some part of our previous magic without
Ray Rush. Our second single, "Thinking About Thinking" and " Days of our
Time" were the last sessions with Ray for us. So, with grave
apprehension, we began. In moments we realized how far we had come
That last session yielded "What Do You See", arguably the tastiest
single of the lot.
However, the company had changed hands in the past year. Worse and
worse. At least the previous president had seen his mistakes, and how to
avoid them. The new guy was completely clueless-not even a lawyer? In
short, "What Do You See" had no chance of success, with no one to
promote the record. That was it for us. We never returned to I. A., and
the fumble of "What Do You See' only made us more resolved to find
someone else to record and manage the band.
The second good reason-As one might expect, our animosity and contempt
for I.A., has begun to create a turmoil of legal maneuverings. We sued,
they countered sued, we sued again, they countered sued again-a
situation the former I.A. directors would have never allowed to grow.
And it grew. And, it grew ugly. Now, the California legal system is very
different from Texas. Also, much more entertainment- industry friendly.
Our hope was to secure some sort of legal support from the musician's
union. Now, that's Local One- Hollywood-BABY! Our brothers would find a
way for us in the growing darkness.
The third good reason-Nick St. Nicholas, Steppenwolf's bass player. Now,
the Wolf and the Puppy were both William Morris acts, and we'd shared
many, many shows. AND, as I've said,...if we were on, the show was ours.
Nick saw this and asked us to spin the wheel of fate. Walk away from a
comfortable, ever growing lifestyle as a two show a week live act. Move
to L.A., and get the "major record label deal". The Wolf's label at the
time was ABC-Dunhill, and Nick was more than confident of our quick
signing. He was prepared to keep us alive for as long as it took. A true
believer, that one. A very powerful enticement it was.
The fourth good reason-an explanation:
Consider if you will-We were at the peak of our prowess. The years of
brutal rehearsals, and the live shows we'd performed every week had made
us the deadliest of ALL acts to follow. We played the East, the
Mid-west, South.... what's L.A. but one more place, yet to be
enlightened by our fine tuned and brilliant act? Looking back, it seems
strange, even still, that we'd forgotten, or didn't consider that
little incident at the I.A. studio. The black suited reptilians, and the
result of their visit. New York and L.A .-remember?
AH, you see it now! I didn't until many years later, much to late to
change the fate that awaited us in L.A.......... ((
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