Stephen Stills' Manassas College Tour
It wasn't so long ago that I'd pound my hands on the coffee table in keeping with the beat to a Stephen Stills song. Not to mention that I was in awe of his throaty hoarseness when reaching for a pure vocal pitch. How could he pull-off those difficult notes while consistently surrounding himself with world class musicians? Was this guy really that good? Yep, he sure was. Stephen Stills is truly a one-of-a-kind Superstar who charmed the great masses. In 1972, while working as the Atlantic Records advance man for the South, I was assigned to go on the road with Stephen Stills and Manassas with the task of knocking on doors alerting the media of his kick-ass tour coming to town. Plus, with camera in hand and adorned with traveling credentials, I was now part of the inner-circle of the Manassas entourage. Once on board it didn't take long for me to strike a bond with band members. That's when bassist Fuzzy Samuels took me under his wing and taught me how to roll up a big fat Jamaican doobie. Seemed that Fuzzy rolled out of bed every morning and fired one up before breakfast. Keyboardist Paul Harris and I became friends and hung out often. What a talent and a nice guy. Plus, pedal-steel guitarist Al Perkins and I became friends as it appeared he just enjoyed the company of just hanging-out with a fellow Southerner. He enjoyed chatting over lunch and dinner while talking about the Muscle Shoales rhythm section.
Pictured here is guitarist Chris Hillman, percussionist Joe Lala and Stephen Stills as they take bows after a show in Gainesville, Fla. On this tour the favorite pastimes for band members were Mexican food, killer weed and bottles of Mescal Tequila including the worm. After this particular show and while in a festive mood, I combined those three potent ingredients resulting in me doing a face-plant into Tom Petty's stereo system at a band party located on his farm in rural Florida. Later that evening and under the glow of the full moon at midnight we searched for mushrooms in a neighboring cow pasture. Thank God we didn't find any.
Can you believe this? While jetting to the next gig, Road Manager Buddy Zoloth of Stephen Stills is exasperated by a Rolling Stone Magazine article of the Stills album. Pointing on the left is Phillip while in disbelief of the critical review.
Manassas two albums on Atlantic were a powerful mix of Rock, Folk, Country, Blues and Latin rhythms. Chris Hillman's influence is strongly felt on the Bluegrass-oriented material yet the groups music occasionally leans Afro-Cuban. Both albums, cut at Criteria Recording Studio in Miami, were tastefully done but ended-up sounding like a Buffalo Springfield-Santana hybrid.