The Complete, Unexpurgated Story of Maurice, Reality D. Blipcrotch and the Perfect Wave

This is simply my favorite of all the tales I was told for the book. It illustrates in my eyes how completely surreal the world of Jefferson Airplane (and, perhaps, the hippie scene in general) had become by the early '70s. Maurice is Pat Ieraci, the band's production coordinator. Reality D. Blipcrotch (his legal name, apparently) was the leader of a group called 1, which Paul Kantner had signed to the Airplane's new vanity record label, Grunt. I love the way Maurice, who is originally from Brooklyn, tells this story. This incident appears in a much briefer version in the book.

With Bark, the imprint's maiden release, off and running, on September 25th, 1971, the Airplane threw an invitation-only gala at the Friends and Relations Hall, formerly the Family Dog's place on the Great Highway. The band and their fellow Grunt pals celebrated their new business venture in style, at a cost of $35,000--more money than the Airplane received when they first signed to RCA in 1965. Wine and beer flowed freely, cocaine, marijuana and nitrous oxide almost as freely, and soul food was brought in by friends of Papa John's (unfortunately, not nearly enough of it to feed 1,400 people). Balloons and Grunt goodies (t-shirts, buttons, etc.) lent the appropriate party-like atmosphere. RCA flew in 100 journalists and put them up at the expensive Jack Tar Hotel.

The entertainment was plentiful and reportedly lasted a staggering 10 hours, ending with a jam that included members of the Airplane, the Dead, Quicksilver and strange bedfellow Alice Cooper. There was a white-faced mime, unaware during his performance that a woman was sneaking up on him. While he wordlessly did those things that mimes do, the woman, who'd already availed herself of plenty of what the bar had to offer, reached her hand between the mime's legs from behind, grabbed his equipment and the mime was silent no more. Turning around to see who his brazen attacker was, he was aghast to find that it was Grace Slick and dove off the stage, never looking back.

There was music too, a cornucopia of it. Papa John knocked them all out with a 45-minute blues jam based on the Beatles' "Get Back," and both Hot Tuna and the Airplane played full sets. According to some who witnessed the Airplane's performance at their own party, however, it was hardly one of their most impressive. Grace, dressed in an L.A.P.D. uniform complete with handcuffs, and fairly well saturated by the time she took the stage well after midnight, was in a defiant mood and whispered her lyrics. At one point during the set, she became agitated at the level of noise offstage and screamed, "Shut up!"

Marty attended the party, but did not perform with his former band, and spent most of the evening by himself in a corner. But most eyes and ears were not on the Airplane or Tuna but on the new bands that would comprise the Grunt Records roster. There was Jack Bonus, a singer, guitarist, pianist, flutist and saxophonist. The Ace of Cups, the female vocal group that had helped out on Volunteers, did a set. Black Kangaroo, a group fronted by Peter Kaukonen, was a highlight of the evening, with their hard-rocking, guitar-heavy sound.

One of the more curious acts was a group called One, or, more specifically, 1, acquaintances of Paul's and Grace's from Bolinas. A nine-piece ensemble including two female vocalists, they engaged in lengthy, drifting tunes that drew as much from raga as from rock, with touches of jazz and country. One member, Roger Crissinger, the only semi-known quantity, had previously been a member of the progressive group Pearls Before Swine.

But the leader of the group was a mysterious man who didn't always sing so much as vocalize in his own unique way, often wordlessly.
He went by the name Reality D. Blipcrotch.


Reality D. Blipcrotch and 1

A former Marine (from grunt to Grunt) and former actor, Blipcrotch was originally from Elgin, Illinois, where he first sang professionally at age three in his father's barbershop quartet. No one knew anything else about him, not even his original name--he'd had it legally changed, swears [former Airplane manager] Bill Thompson.


The story behind the making of One's self-titled album for Grunt, which was released in 1972, is one that still rankles Maurice. It's a tale that both defies, well, reality, and yet defines the nutty, out-of-control tenor of the post-Aquarian times.

Pat "Maurice" Ieraci: Thompson comes into my office and says, "Maurice, we've got a friend of Kantner's coming in and I want you to work out a deal with him for studio time."

I said, "What does he do?"

He says, "I think he sings."

I said, "What do you mean, you think he sings? Is it instrumental?"

"He's gonna come to your office. He'll talk to you, Maurice. Talk to him. See what kind of a deal you can do. We have to sign him."

"Can I hear a tape?"

He says, "We have to sign him, Kantner wants him signed."

That's how we got groups back then. That's why it didn't last long...their friends.

So he comes into my office. I didn't know who this Reality guy was, I didn't know his name yet. He's just a guy coming in. He comes in, he's got a long beard, and he's smoking a joint made out of newspaper with marijuana. He says, "Is Maurice here?"

I said, "Yeah, you're talking to him."

He says, "I gotta talk to you about a record deal." He sits down in my chair and lights up this joint. Inhales, exhales. "Maurice, I want to do a recording."

I said, "All right. Who sent you in here?"

"Paul. I gotta do a recording. But I gotta do it on a certain day,Maurice." He takes another hit.

"What do you mean, a certain day?"

He says, "I wanna do it in Bolinas." Takes another hit.

I go, "Why Bolinas?"

"Because I'm waiting for this wave to come in."

I said, "Wave?"

"Yeah. At 4:32 on this particular day, a wave is coming in and I want you to record this wave."

"Record the wave?"

"Yeah. That's the wave that I want"--takes another hit--"for my sound."

I said, "Where's this wave coming in?"

"In Bolinas."

"You want me to set up recording equipment at the ocean? How am I gonna know which wave?"

He takes another hit and he says, "At 4:32, it's coming in."

I said, "Where'd you get this information?"

"From the almanac." Another hit.

This is how he's talking to me. And his eyes are bleary. So I get up and I go, "Okay. Is that what you want?"

He says, "But let me tell you, I want you in a row boat. Because as the boat's coming in with this wave, I want to get the highs and lows.

So I want a microphone for the top of the wave and a microphone for the bottom."

I said, "Hey, I can't get a microphone underneath the water. Jacques Cousteau is who you gotta call, not me! I can't do that! The only way I can record this, and I don't even know which wave you're talking about..."

"It's coming in at 4:32!"

After he left, stoned, he bumped into the wall, the door. He couldn't even walk down the stairs. I thought he was gonna tumble down my steps.

He leaves. I get on the phone, I get Paul. I said, "Paul, there's no way I'm signing this guy. I don't even know what the hell he does. What does he do!?"

Paul says, "He does things with his throat."

Ever the trouper, Maurice actually made arrangements to have recording equipment dragged down to the ocean in Bolinas, to record Reality D. Blipcrotch and the perfect wave.

Pat "Maurice" Ieraci: We get a Wally Heider truck, with all the recording equipment, because I had to. This is part of the deal. I have no say-so. I had to get a permit to go down on the beach, to do a live recording. My stomach is turning. I'm really to the point. But I can't, I've gotta use my finesse. So we go out there. We had to. This is what he wants.

I tell the guys, "4:32 that wave's supposed to come in. I want you to record a half hour before 4:32, and a half hour after 4:32, to make sure I get that wave."

Then I said to him, "What happens if I blow it? We gotta wait another year?"

But I got the truck, and we got the recording.

It was still far from over though. Reality was still orbiting high above planet reality.

Pat "Maurice" Ieraci: I get back, I'm in my office. We get it all mixed down. It sounds like waves, "whooo whooo." He does little weird things with his throat, with the band. I didn't understand any of this.
But my job is to find artwork now, for the cover, and I have to pay for the artwork too. He wanted a big "1" on the cover, and it cost me $5,000.

Then what happened was, I said, "I'm gonna go to Indianapolis and make test pressings. I'll come back and I'll listen to it and then I'll call you and I'll let you know."

He says, "But, Maurice, before you go to Indianapolis, I want a couple of special things."

So I take out my pen. I said, "What do you want?" I still didn't know his name at that point. I didn't know what to call him. No one knew anything about this man.

Anyway, Reality is sitting in my office, and I take out my pen and he says, "Maurice, this is what I want. On band three, bar 30, I want a marijuana leaf to pop out."

I write down, "Band three, bar 30, marijuana leaf pop out." Pop out of the record. He's putting me on, right? But I write it down!

I said, "What else?"

"One more thing, one more thing." He takes a deep toke. "One more thing, Maurice, one more thing."

"Yeah?"

"At the end of side two, as it rejects, I want the record to self-destruct."

So I write down, "End of side two, self-destruct." I wrote this down on a piece of paper.

"Why do you want it to self-destruct?"

He takes a toke and says, "You know why I want it to self-destruct? Because they'll go out and buy it again and I'll get double sales."

So I put down, "Double sales." Good logic.

He leaves. I take the pad, I throw it out.

But the Master of the Machines still hadn't seen the last of the Master of Un-Reality.


Pat "Maurice" Ieraci in 1999
(photo by Jeff Tamarkin)

Pat "Maurice" Ieraci: I go to Indianapolis. I do the test pressings. I bring back the test presses. I listen to it. I don't know what it is, but it's got no pops, no ticks.

I called him up, I said, "Reality, I got the pressings. Take one home and listen to it."

He comes into my office that night as I'm working with another group. He takes a toke--he's smoking constantly. I said, "You take the test pressings, tell me what you think. If you like it I'll get it all pressed and we'll get the record out."

Two-and-a-half, three weeks later, he calls me up and he's yelling. "You bastard! You cocksucker!" He called me every name in the book.

I said, "What the hell are you talking about?" I hung up on him. What right does he have?

He comes in the door, he takes that test pressing and he flings it and it ricochets off the wall, and it cracks! I grabbed him and I threw him in the chair, and he's smoking a joint. I said, "What the hell's wrong with you? Are you crazy? Don't you dare walk in the office like that!"
He said, "You lied! You cheated!"

I said, "What are you talking about? What's wrong with the test pressing? Here, put the test pressing on."

"You told me that that marijuana leaf will pop out on the third band, on bar 30!"

"What?! A marijuana leaf? You're putting me on! How am I gonna get a marijuana leaf to pop out of a goddamn groove? "

He says, "And then you lied again! I played side two until I'm blue in the face and the damn thing never reached its self-destruct!"

I never wrote anything down again, unless I was sure it was legitimate.

That record was the worst. The worst! I refused it. I rejected it. But they approved it so it had to come out because it's Kantner's friend. I went back to RCA and I said, "I'm gonna tell you right now. There's no way I can work like this."

Maurice got the worst of it, but Stephen Barncard, who worked on the mixing of the 1 album, also recalls Mr. Blipcrotch and friends.

Stephen Barncard: I remember a particular session that I did not participate in where they were trying to record a teapot. They had a part in a song where they wanted the teapot to whistle on cue, so they would back the tape up and try to anticipate the delay after the heat was turned on. Nobody told them they didn't have to do it that way; they could have recorded it separately on a two-track and spun it in. But they were too wasted to think of that.

Blipcrotch was this weird character that was the leader of the band. I have no idea why Paul signed them, I thought they were terrible, besides being idiots. I think since Paul lived in the same town as them, he felt sorry for them or something.

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