A real piece or real history for you friends!
Thank you Thana! Thank you very much!
From: Suzannah Harris
Date: Tue, 03 Feb 1998 11:10:29 -0800
I know I am long overdue in writing to you, my apologies.
I never asked Frank what Flambay means, but my first impression was of
the style of cooking a dish as it is set alight with a match (ie. tart
Anyway, I will tell my brief story:
Bob Harris became my husband in 1978. About a year later he received a
phone call from his old friend Mark Pinske who was FZ's sound/studio
engineer. Mark and Bob had been in a band together in Gainesville,
Florida. I also knew Mark in G'ville as he was good friends with my
older brother. Well, I never even met Bob in G'ville, as I was younger
at the time and so 6 years passed before I met Bob in Boulder, Colordo,
where he and Mark were in a band called Helix, which eventually changed
its name to Boulder. The band had a bad experience with its manager and
with a particular record label I will not name. However, this experience
introduced the band to the city of Los Angeles, and everybody ended up
moving out there. Mark's abilities as a sound engineer somehow reached
FZ; Mark was hired. One day, Frank was in need of very high vocal parts
and there was no one around to sing them. Mark said something like,
"Well, I know this guy, he has a great falsetto", so Frank asked Mark to
call Bob. I remember sitting out in the car in front of Frank's house,
and I could actually hear Bob cutting Love Of My Life. After what seemed
like eternity, I knew something was going on. From then on Bob was
recording with Frank. Frank called him Sky King. Frank asked Mark, "What
else can he do?" Mark said Bob played trumpet, so Bob auditioned for the
tour which I believe was in 1980 (Tinsel Town Rebellion). He got it.
Frank said Bob had the best trumpet tone.
It seems to me that Bob worked with Frank for about two years, during
which time Mark kept saying to Frank, "You should hear Thana sing." But
Frank never asked me to. Then one day when I was dropping Bob off for a
session (by now I felt comfortable going into the studio!), as I was
walking out the door, Frank asked me if I would go out into the Yard
(that's what he called the far end of the studio where the piano was and
where most of the back-up vocals were cut) with Bob, Ray and Ike, and
take a part on the back-ups for Baby Take Your Teeth Out. So I did, he
thought I blended well, and he kept it. Not long after, he told me about
these songs that he had tried numerous female vocalists on with no
success--this scared me to death! Would I take home a cassette, learn
them and try it? Well, what could I say, especially with all those guys
standing around? So, I took it home, learned the melodies (I don't read
music, so I had to memorize), and with nothing but a feeling of total
terror I went in at my appointed time, put on the headsets, and the
track for Flambay started rolling. I sang it rather straightly. Frank
made a couple of suggestions which I can't remember now, but I could
tell he wasn't feeling blown away by what I was doing. All I could think
was "how far out there does he want me to go? Should I get silly or
comical?" Then Frank gave the suggestion that defined it for me. He told
me to exaggerate the epitomy of a female lounge singer, someboby who's
been doing it forever. Then I could see myself as this slightly
overweight lady with pitch-black hair, in her 50's, smoking, and totally
into it. Incidentally, after making this suggestion Frank walked out of
the studio so it was just Mark Pinske and me. Mark told me to get up on
the mike and work with it so there was lots of intimacy. So I did, and
it was cut. Frank came back in, it was a keeper, and God, I was relieved
to have that one down! I know Frank was proud of it because he played it
for all the guys: Ike, Ray, Bob and Steve Vai. They really dug it!
I have to tell you that Frank did the right thing by leaving the studio
for that cut---I think he thought I was feeling so nervous, which I was,
and he knew that Mark and I were close friends. After that, I knew what
to do with Time is Money and Hunchentoot, also Spider of Destiny. Frank
was sweet and encouraging---he had a knack for tact, for knowing how to
treat a person on that person's terms. Therefore, he got the most out of
the musicians that worked for him.
Hope this isn't too long, hope it's of interest, and if I can tell you
more, let me know. I have started a book about my experiences with
Frank, and with living at Steve Vai's house when Bob and I rented a room
from him from '83-'85. Is there any interest out there for such a book?
It will not detail Frank much, as my time with him was short but sweet.
As you know, Bob is now lead singer and co-songwriter for a band called
AXE. You can visit them at http://www.nehrecords.com
Thank you sincerely,