Complete, Unexpurgated Story of Maurice, Reality D. Blipcrotch
and the Perfect Wave
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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
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.
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.
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?"
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."
I hear a tape?"
He says, "We
have to sign him, Kantner wants him signed."
we got groups back then. That's why it didn't last long...their
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?"
I gotta do a recording. But I gotta do it on a certain day,Maurice."
He takes another hit.
do you mean, a certain day?"
He says, "I
wanna do it in Bolinas." Takes another hit.
I go, "Why
I'm waiting for this wave to come in."
I said, "Wave?"
At 4:32 on this particular day, a wave is coming in and I want
you to record this wave."
That's the wave that I want"--takes another hit--"for
I said, "Where's
this wave coming in?"
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?"
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
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
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.
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!?"
"He does things with his throat."
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.
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
But I got
the truck, and we got the recording.
still far from over though. Reality was still orbiting high above
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.
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
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.
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
more thing, one more thing." He takes a deep toke. "One
more thing, Maurice, one more thing."
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.
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.
I take the pad, I throw it out.
Master of the Machines still hadn't seen the last of the Master
Pat "Maurice" Ieraci in 1999
by Jeff Tamarkin)
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."
three weeks later, he calls me up and he's yelling. "You
bastard! You cocksucker!" He called me every name in the
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."
told me that that marijuana leaf will pop out on the third band,
on bar 30!"
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.
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."
got the worst of it, but Stephen Barncard, who worked on the mixing
of the 1 album, also recalls Mr. Blipcrotch and friends.
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.
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.