I listen to a lot of records that were made in the 1960's. By far, most of them were never played on the radio, kids didn't flock to the record stores to buy them, and most of them for good reason. But out of the hundreds of thousands of songs that were recorded, it's only logical that some really great songs were made that ended up being overlooked by the radio stations. Maybe they didn't get enough promotion. Maybe they were just ahead of their time, or obsolete by the time they were made. Whatever the reason, hunting through obscure records from the 1960's can be a bit like digging in a gold mine. Every so often, you find a nugget of pure gold.
This San Francisco group was the product of Bob Segarini, a native of Stocton, California, who had moved to Los Angeles to work with a local band called The Ratz, a group that also featured Gary Duncan, who later went on to form Quicksilver Messenger Service! Bob handled guitar, keyboards and vocals for Family Tree, while Bill Whittington played bass guitar. Bill had previously been a member of a group called The Brogues. There was also Mike Olsen on keyboards and Newman Davis on drums. They all got together late in 1965 and started working out some tunes. By the summer of the following year, they managed to get a contract with Mira Records to release this their first single (Mira 228). Backed with a tune called Live Your Own Life, this song, Prince Of Dreams, became a minor hit around northern California over the next several months. The group recorded several more songs for Mira with the hopes they would put out an album, but that never happened.
Please listen to Prince Of Dreams while you read the rest of the story...
After seeing the group's modest success, RCA Records decided to give them a shot. Mike Olsen and Newman Davis left the group, replaced by Mike Dure on guitar and Van Slatter on drums. You may have heard of Mike Olsen, under the name Lee Michaels. Yeah, he was that guy who had a big hit with "Do You Know What I Mean."
Their second single featured Do You Have The Time b/w Keepin' A Secret. By this time the lineup had changed a bit more. Bill "Kootch" Troachim was now handling the bass guitar, while Jim Decocq was brought in to play keyboards. Now they managed to get that album out in 1968, calling it Miss Butters (RCA LSP-3955). Most of the tunes were written by Bob Segarini. This interesting concept album was clearly influenced heavily by The Beatles, and featured orchestral arrangements by George Tipton. It was produced by Rick Harrard. George and Rick were also working on another project at the time, Harry Nilsson's album called Aerial Ballet. Nilsson helped out with one of the Family Tree songs called Butters Lament, while some of the session musicians on Nilsson's album sat in on the Family Tree recordings. The resulting album was excellent, but for some strange reason it failed to become a commercial success. As a matter of fact, Elton John has listed Miss Butters in his top-20 favorites, and credits Family Tree as having a great influence on his own career!
The guys put out one more single for RCA in 1968, He Spins Around b/w She Had To Fly (RCA 47-9671), before RCA called it quits in 1969. The guys made one more single for Paula Records, Electric Kangaroo b/w Terry Tommy, in 1970. They broke up soon afterward.
Bob Segarini moved to Canada where he became an extremely popular musician, sometimes called the Nick Lowe of Canada. Later, he ended up spinning records as a disc jockey on 1050 CHUM, then later on Q107 in Toronto. You might know him as The Iceman. He's also done some work on SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
By the way, I've literally got thousands of great songs from the 1960's that never became hits. I've put together a format called New Oldies that is available for use on your radio station. E-mail me if you're interested!
Of course, you can hear all the Family Tree tunes on MusicMaster Oldies!
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