“Lydia Purple” by Canadian Group “The Collectors” – History Of A Psychedelic Song From The Sixties

The year was 1968. The Canadian rock band The Collectors decided to record a hit single in a former meat packing plant in Los Angeles. The psychedelic song Lydia Purple was the result.  Glenn Miller, who played electric bass and sang background vocals for The Collectors, shares his memories with Lost & Sound.

Lydia Purple was a blatant attempt at getting an AM radio hit”, admits Glenn Miller. That may explain why the song sounds like a super group consisting of The Beatles, The Bee Gees, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who and The Mamas & Papas. But compared to British productions of that era, The Collectors sounded much better. Not only, because they were more accomplished musicians than your average rock musician.

Producer David Hassinger also contributed to the polished sound: “Hassinger and his head engineer Richie Podler had a lot to do with the sound on that album. Hassinger used his trademark ‘tape delayed echo’ technique  on it. I believe that album was recorded on an 8 track tape machine, a Scully, I think. The monitor speakers were modified Altec studio monitors and the playback amps were McIntosh tube amps.”

Lydia Purple was recorded at American Sound in North Hollywood. “Great little studio”, says Miller, “used to be an old cold storage meat packing plant. The walls were over a foot thick and filled with sawdust for insulation. The Greatful Dead recorded their first album there with Hassinger producing.”

While most pop and rock musicians of the sixties didn’t play their instruments on records (this was the task of professional studio musicians), The Collectors played their instruments themselves.

“We all played on that session”, Glenn Miller remembers. “I played a fretless Fender Precision bass , Ross Turney on drums, Bill Henderson on guitar and recorder, Claire Lawrence on sax and recorder and Howie Vickers on lead vocal. Bill, Claire and myself sang background harmonies.”

“We hired a string arranger and brought in some studio players who played in the symphony for the string overdubs. They did a lot of that work – three guys and a girl. They called themselves ‘The Hollywood String Quartet’. And we had Los Angeles studio musician Larry Knechtel who played piano and electric harpsichord.”

Unusual for a pop song are the dynamics of  Lydia Purple. “We didn’t use much compression on any of the tracks. Bass was recorded with a mic in front of the amp. Same with guitars. The drums were Ross Turney’s personal set of Ludwigs”, explains Miller.

Lydia Purple was released as a single in both the USA and Canada. The song is on the first Collectors album, titled simply The Collectors. “It made the Billboard charts but not very high”, Miller says. “It was a regional hit in a number of cities in the USA. And a big hit in Canada.  It’s the most different sounding song of any we recorded then and was where we started to develop our vocal harmony sound, which was pretty hip for the time.”

The Collectors (1968): Claire Lawrence, Glenn Miller, Bill Henderson, Howie Vickers, Ross Turney

The Collectors (1968): Claire Lawrence, Glenn Miller, Bill Henderson, Howie Vickers, Ross Turney

In 1970 The Collectors changed their name to Chilliwack. Under this name they had a long and successful career with different line ups until the nineteen-eighties. Canadianbands gives you more details about the history of Chilliwack.

This article is based on an email-interview with Glenn Miller.

More about The Collectors

Brain Wilson: A Creative Mind At Work

The Behind The Sounds series on YouTube presents informative clips that illustrate the creative process behind the recording of Beach Boys songs. By editing together audio of the session, pictures and text it gives you an idea about how Brian Wilson worked together with the studio musicians and the Beach Boys.

Earl Palmer Memorial Website Online

The family of legendary drummer Earl Palmer launched the website earlpalmermemorial.

You can share your memories and photos of Earl Palmer and there’s a discography compiled by electric bassist/guitarist Carol Kaye, who played on many records with Earl Palmer.

Earl Palmer died last week at his home in Banning, California. He was 83. From 1947 until the nineteen-eighties, Earl Palmer’s drumming was an essential part of  many important popular recordings and film soundtracks.

Der grosse amerikanische Schlagzeuger Earl Palmer ist gestorben

Sein Vermächtnis ist immens: mit seinem Schlagzeug-Spiel formte er die amerikanische Pop-Musik von den späten vierziger Jahren bis in die achtziger Jahre. Earl Palmer, geboren am 25. Oktober 1924 in New Orleans, starb am 19. September zuhause in Banning (Kalifornien). Ungefähr vor einem Jahr wurde er an der Lunge operiert und hat sich davon nicht mehr erholt.

Tief im Herzen war Earl Palmer ein Jazz-Schlagzeuger, aber sein geschmackssicheres und unglaublich vielseitiges Schlagzeug-Spiel war in jedem Musikstil zu Hause: Rhythm ‘n’ Blues, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Blues, Rock, Soul, Filmmusik, Musik für Zeichentrickfilme oder Easy Listening. Er ist auf Dutzenden von historischen Songs und Filmmusiken zu hören.

Zu seinem Schlagzeug tanzten in den fünfziger Jahren Teenager auf der ganzen Welt. Er spielte auf wegweisenden Rock ‘n’ Roll Songs wie I’m Walkin (Fats Domino) , Tutti Frutti, The Girl Can’t Help It, Long Tall Sally (Little Richard) , La Bamba ( Ritchie Valens) oder Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran). Er spielte für Soul-Star Sam Cooke (Cupid, Twistin’ The Night Away), für Frank Sinatra, Dinah Washington, Ray Charles, Herb Alpert, Glen Campbell, Mel Tormé, Lou Rawls, die Beach Boys, die Monkees, Tim Buckley, Tom Waits, die Byrds, die Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Randy Newman, Barbara Streisand und viele mehr.

Und dann sind da noch die Filmmusiken: Er arbeitete mit grossartigen Komponisten wie Quincy Jones, Elmer Bernstein, John Barry, Neal Hefti und Maurice Jarre. Er sorgte für den Rhythmus in Filmen wie Das Urteil von Nürnberg, Die Lady und der Tramp, In der Hitze der Nacht und Bullitt. Und er ist auch in vielen klassischen Fernsehserien auf der Tonspur zu hören, unter anderem in 77 Sunset Strip, Peyton Place, Die Partridge Familie und M*A*S*H.

Als Kind war Earl Palmer Stepptänzer, später fing er an Schlagzeug zu spielen. Bald spielte er mit vielen Bands in New Orleans. Nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg studierte er mit einem Armee-Stipendium an der Grunewald’s School of Music in New Orleans Musiktheorie, Notenlesen und Arrangieren. Als er 1957 nach Los Angeles zog, brachte er nicht nur charakteristische New Orleans-Rhythmen mit, sondern auch fundierte musikalische Kenntnisse. Diese halfen ihm dabei, zum meistgefragtesten Studio-Schlagzeuger von Los Angeles zu werden.

Drummerworld bietet interessante Informationen zu seinem Schlagzeug-Stil und Video-Beispiele. Es gibt auch eine sehr gute Biografie mit dem Titel Backbeat: Earl Palmer’s Story, die 1999 erschien.

Great American Drummer Earl Palmer Has Died

His legacy is immense: he shaped American popular music with his drumming from the late nineteen-forties until the nineteen-eighties. Earl Palmer, born October 25, 1924, in New Orleans died on September 19th at his home in Banning California. He had to undergo a lung surgery about a year ago and was suffering since then.

Earl Palmer was a jazz drummer at heart, but his tasteful and incredibly diverse drumming felt at home in every style of music: rhythm ‘n’ blues, rock ‘n’ roll, blues, rock, soul, funk, film scores, cartoon music, or easy listening. He can be heard on dozens of historic songs and film soundtracks.

In then nineteen-fifties his drums made teenagers dance all over the world. He played on defining rock ‘n’ roll songs like I’m Walkin (Fats Domino) , Tutti Frutti, The Girl Can’t Help It, Long Tall Sally (Little Richard) , La Bamba ( Ritchie Valens) or Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran). He recorded for soul star Sam Cooke (Cupid, Twistin’ The Night Away), for Frank Sinatra, Dinah Washington, Ray Charles, Herb Alpert, Glen Campbell, Mel Tormé, Lou Rawls, The Beach Boys, The Monkees, Tim Buckley, Tom Waits, The Byrds, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Randy Newman, Barbara Streisand and many others.

And then there are the film soundtracks: He worked with great composers like Quincy Jones, Elmer Bernstein, John Barry, Neal Hefti and Maurice Jarre. He supplied the rhythm to movies like Judgment At Nuremberg, Baby The Rain Must Fall, In The Heat Of The Night, Bullitt and he played on many television scores: 77 Sunset Strip, Peyton Place, The Partridge Family, M.A.S.H. and many others.

Earl Palmer was a tap dancer when he was a child and later picked up the drums. Soon he played with many local bands in New Orleans. After World War II he used the GI schooling for entering the Grunewald’s School of Music in New Orleans. He studied music theory, sight reading and arranging. So when he moved to Los Angeles in 1957, he not only brought with him the New Orleans “swamp beat”, but also a strong theoretical background that served him well in becoming the number one studio drummer of the Los Angeles music studios.

Drummerworld presents interesting information about his drumming including video samples. There’s also a very good biography called Backbeat: Earl Palmer’s Story that came out in 1999.