Childhood was a Rehearsal !

Jessie Paul - Studio C

In the Studio for Promo Pics,,,Capitol Records Studio A

I grew up in Los Angeles having moved from New York at 3 years old.    When I was a young girl in North Hollywood, I was already singing.  I knew that I was a singer at 3. My best friend Sandy Ducker sang with me at every opportunity.  Sandy remains a best friend, even though we have lived in different cities as adults. She is singing now also, at her complex where she lives in Phoenix Arizona. They have Karaoke contests etc. 

Life in L A. was always exciting, we had the ocean and the mountains at our fingertips. Our lives were filled with Jazz concerts in our yard in the San Fernando Valley. Also, my parents would travel,  because daddy was a great drummer.  he was with The Andrew Sisters when I was about 5. I remember a long drive to Patty Andrews ranch, lots of land and horses, and a fun filled swimming Barbecue day.   Ray Bolger, and Joel Gray would be our family guests and give me piggy back rides. Bob Crane was still a radio D J and great friends with my family, His wife Anne and kids Bobby Jr, was a playmate in there pool!. In fact We were at Bobs house the day he brought the Pilot script home for Hogans Heros,  I remember they were laughing at the Plot and that it would NEVER be picked up by the network,,Man, were they wrong!

Another very good family friend, so close they were Uncles and cousins, were the Guardino’s.  Lou had sung with mom in Big bands, and Harry was a great actor. We did everything with them. I remember we were at Uncle Harrys house when he got the call from Peter Lawford that Marilyn Monroe had died. He raced out of the house.  I never realized the significance of this until I was older. These were our friends and looking back, life was pretty amazing.

When I was in Elementary school, my best friend was Laurel Resnick.  She was the sister I always wanted. I also loved her dad Nick. Her parents were divorced, I believe that was the first family I knew of, that was divorced. I had my audition at Capitol Records and they were finding songs for me.  By the time we were in Van Nuys Jr high, I had recorded 4 songs, with another two on my contract to come. I took a few friends with me to the studio when I recorded.  When my dad died in 2009, Laurie flew out for the service. She stayed with me and that night we were singing my records and she remembered the words Better than I!!

My Roots were firmly set  in the San Fernando Valley,  I never imagined we would leave.    My childhood friends  are still friends today, but moving out of the state was devastating.  My drummer dad was working in Las Vegas more and more, and felt that it was the future of Live Music.  Which for the sixties and seventies, was true!

It was natural for me to be quite nervous to move to the Adult Planet of  Las Vegas. Because of the records and my song being played on the radio,I was a small celebrity when I got into school there.  I was interviewed  on Keno radio with Dennis Hunt, and before long  I got into a band right away,,,   The first was The Little People,, then that band morphed into  The London Fog,,, and then a band,  Free Circus,   a band made up of college guys who played originals.  I was still in High School.  This was very good for me, I finally figured out who I was, not doing only cover songs.   We opened for Santana, Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly, and Grateful Dead among many many more.

I was doing it, I was working as a singer, and getting paid, and living the dream I dreamed. I didn’t need a Grammy, or a manager. I was working big arena’s. Roby Bennet, our guitarist wrote many of the songs, they all had terrific chord structure and three and four part harmony. His songs began my Love for harmony and loving groups like  The Beach Boys, Crosby Stills and Nash, Mama’s and Pappa’s,  before them,, The Hi Lo’s, who my dad was the drummer for, and Lambert Hendicks and Ross.  Later on,, Manhattan Transfer.  We had a great thing and got along well.  We were approached by a record label, and made demos.    

I grew up very fast, working every weekend, and being in rehearsal after school. Even in summer, we were in Lake Tahoe at the Blue Tooth rock club.  We rented a house in nearby Meyers, and drove to the club together.  We had many bands back to the house . Many late night parties and dinners where it was a big exciting grown up world for me.  It would be  very hard to go back to being a teen after this. I suppose I never did go back to being a teen…I would lie in the fields of grass and flowers and listen to Crosby Stills and Nash..it was pure Bliss!

Free Circus would have remained my destiny, but, our keyboardist Danny Barnett dropped out of college, and was Drafted!

We decided since he played Hammond B3, it would be impossible to replace him. We all went our separate ways.  I was flown right back to L A with an agent my sister had met at the Stardust Hotel lounge!    I flew back to L A  with him and got a Motel room, in Hollywood and he began to get me auditions. The first audition was at the Aquarius Theatre, for HAIR…..  I got it!   It doesn’t get any easier than this.

When you are young,  singing and have a big audience, and you are a teenager, It can really change you. I didn’t get an attitude , not that kind of change, but you know what you will do when you are an adult.  Most kids are still wondering.  I always knew. If it hadn’t worked out, I have no idea what I would have been.  I wasn’t prepared for failure.  At 12 years old I was a signed artist,,, then opening act,,,,and when I went to L A, It was just a few months before my first audition was for the Rock musical Hair..and I got That too!  was it luck? Or Destiny,,,, All I know is, my course was set for my life to travel,, live out of a suitcase, and be the gypsy that I am.     Living on my own, and falling in love and partying at Hugh Hefners Mansion was, well,, the normal.    I remember Hef’s secretary Bobbi, who was a close friend of my then boyfriend Tony Good who managed North Beach Leather on the Sunset Strip. Poor Bobbi, her boyfriend was a drug dealer,, and the FBI in trying to get Hefner for porn,, harassed her and Hef , which led to her suicide.   Very Very sad for all of us who knew she was a great person. 

Looking back, I was blessed. I also had a strong work ethic, and was always taking care of myself, Like an athlete,,,health food, no drinking, or lack of sleep. I learned ethics from my Drummer daddy.       If he were still here, he would smile, and say,,,‘ Well, pookie,, you did it your way….

SUNSET BLVD Nights

Program, and my fav souvenier

Program, and my favorite souvenirMy

My Life as a Teen in Las Vegas was actually quite great. I had sung in three bands and they all were  very popular. The last one, Free Circus,was mostly originals and we opened for many big acts. Santana, Iron Butterfly,Three Dog Night,  Steppenwolf,and Grateful Dead to name a few.  If our organist Danny Barnett had not been drafted, we would have gone on to be recording artists. The songs were that good.  We all decided to part ways because we didn’t feel it would be possible in those days to find a B 3 player.   Therefore, I found myself on a plane back to where I came, and was staying in a Hollywood Motel waiting to get an audition. 

I cannot mention the name of my agent, because he wasn’t very well behaved.  This was before cell phones, and life was harder to navigate.  With a lot of time on my hands, I was at a local market to get some food for my room, when a very Dark haired unkept man, was following me around.  I turned and surprised him and said,,’Hi, Are you thinking I am someone you know?’  He mumbled something and asked if I were an actress?   What a line that was in 1969 in L A !    Everyone was an actor, everywhere!   He said he knew the Beach Boys and named some others I didn’t really pay any mind.  He caught me outside and said he would play me a song,,I kept my distance, and heard the song. It was actually ok. He also invited me to his ranch, where I could ride, and even stay there, it was a commune.  Now, I am not high maintenance or anything, but I DO like showers and that fresh fresh feeling of A C,,,so I declined the invite.     A few months later,  I saw this guy on the News,,, His name was Charles Manson… ok.. Welcome Home to L A !

I escaped the escapades of the Manson Family only to  have to deal with my agent. He dropped in on me, and asked for a neck rub. I wasn’t born yesterday, and I got that sense of urgency to get away from his claws as soon as I could. .    I was tearfully afraid and not wanting to be thrown out on the street, I rubbed his neck, and then I started to cry. He tried to  grab me, and get close, and I freaked out and just started crying.  He was mad,  I am so fortunate to not have been raped. I was a very frightened girl, and had lost touch with my Los Angeles school friends from the time I spent growing up here. I never felt so alone.

I did have an audition on my Calendar..This was for a Broadway Musical at 6230  Sunset Blvd, the Aquarius Theatre. This had been the Earl Carrol Theater when I was a kid.. My Dad played drums there. I was excited even though I knew very little about this Play,,’Hair’  I knew some music had been quite famous on the radio.    

prepared for this audition very carefully. I went shopping in thrift stores.  I got some Jean Harlow satin flow pants,  easy to find in Hollywood in 1969!   Then I made another flowy top out of fabric,,,headband and flower to top it and I was set.  I had wanted the clothes to move when I did and be a big part of my song.  I had my sheet music and my attitude,,,and felt pretty good.

A few days before I had met another person in the market, a sweet little girl, named Heather Bloom.  Mrs. Bloom was desperate for a nanny. Someone to live in, and walk her daughter to and from School and help her with homework and dinner. My life was falling into place!  I could now plan to leave the clutches of the agent, if I got this job or not!.  My audition was in a day or so, and I told Mrs. Bloom, that I would call her.

.  arrived at the Theatre, and took my seat on the stairs of the lobby. There must have been around 75 people. It was a closed audition I think, because I had been there through the agency. My Name was called, and I went into this magnificent Theatre, and the Stage was so nice and the band pit  was onstage, I had never seen that before. There were rafters, and stairs, and the seats were just gorgeous. I gave the pianist my music, and sang my heart out.  They asked me to dance, and I did,, then a time step, Thanks Mom, for the tap lessons…I would have to wait for a call back.  I walked through the seats where they had watched me,, The most gorgeous man asked me if I had a problem with nudity…he was Teddy Neeley,,,I had NO idea there was a nude scene, but I dreamily looked at him, and said,, ‘I am not ashamed of my body’ Who AM I??? Why did I say that?  well, I said it and it was true, my family was very modern,,, skinny dipping etc. I think Teddy was the most gorgeous man I had ever seen.. that is my recollection of my first audition.

I called Mrs. Bloom and decided to move in, since a callback isn’t a job!    I just loved working for her,, crazy about Heather,, I was only there a week, when I received a call,, No Call back,, I WAS HIRED,,I started right away.. OMG.   I called my parents, my mom sounded odd,,, I blurted it out. I was Hired,, I am in HAIR. My Mom said that’s terrific sweetie,, but  your Grandad died in San Fransico today, Heart attack,, BAM.  My mom lost her daddy, and it was one of the best days of my life.

I felt awful  for mom, and I didn’t kn ow hat I could do, so I focused on my phone call before,,, when I heard:

“How would like to start rehearsal tomorrow? You will have to go to Actors Equity and join, and sign the papers, so, can you start right away.”

the tickets for Hair

Tickets for Hair

I am IN! I am in HAIR; the biggest musical of the decade. ME, right out of high school! How lucky can I be!!!!    BUT, I had to tell Heather and her mom, I had a job. She said I could stay awhile, but I had no car, and needed to be closer to the theater to walk to work.

I chose the Hollywood Bowl Motel. It had a community kitchen, and I hated to go out and eat alone.  To say I was lonely was the understatement of the century. I was so lonely, that my record albums were my friends. Led Zeppelin, The Doors and Joni Mitchell.  It took awhile, but I finally made some friends in the show.

I was at a shop, somewhere on the Sunset strip, when I ran into Jennifer Joseph, who, in Vegas was the band manager for Free Circus. Her dad owned an apartment building on Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills.

She asked, ‘Where are you living?‘  I said, ‘the motel,’  she responded,  “NO way, you stay with me.” Great,  She moved all of my belongings  over to her place and I was farther  away, with no car, but she drove me to work. Here I am in Beverly Hills and livin the life… THEN things got even BETTER…..

tony good - jessica kluger marciel

Tony Good and I at the opening of LION COUNTRY SAFARI

Jen and I went to Jeans West on Sunset. A George Harrison lookalike  appeared; in tight jeans and gorgeous hair and eyes, walks over, “Hi Jennifer, who’s your friend?” … “Oh, Tony, this is Jessica, we went to school together and she is in Hair.”  

Our eyes locked and I swear, I was going to marry him!   He asked for my number, “Jenn, what’s your number??”  She had helped me move into her apartment in Beverly Hills, and now I had the hottest guy I had seen in  town! Next to Teddy, that is,,,

THANK YOU Jennifer Joseph!   Well, you wouldn’t know it to look at him, but he was  36 years old…  hmm.. My folks were gonna love this!  I was only at Jenn’s about a month when I moved back to Hollywood to live in Tony’s flat off Hollywood Blvd. We were happy and in love.

After a few months, Tony was offered to go across the Sunset Strip and manage North Beach Leather, good for him, because he was from the San Francisco Bay Area, and was familiar with the store. He had clients like Sly and the Family Stone, Raquel Welchmany big names. Hugh Hefner‘s personal assistant from  Chicago Bobbi Arnstein  was a big client. Bobbie did not drive, so when she she not come to the shop in a limo, Tony would drive her to the Mansion.  That’s how Tony and I got to go to parties at the Playboy Mansion, because of her. She was so nice, and tiny, and very cool.  She hadn’t had good luck with Men, her recent boyfriend Ron Scharf was a drug dealer, and with the FBI trying to bust Playboy for obscene content, they harassed her  and indicted her along with Ron on a Drug  deal, and thinking they would get to Her  through her, they killed her. Hefs personal secretary, Mary O Connel, tried to help Bobbie. They all did. 

Not literally, but she killed herself, when she was in trouble with Ron. She was going to jail, and couldn’t cope.    It was all so so tragic.  Tony and I lost a few friends to drugs in those few years we were together. It kept me away from drugs except for an occasional high when I wasn’t working. Nothing deadly.

Life was great,  a trip to Santa Barbara to see HAIR producer, Michael Butler, play polo. Whiskey A Go Go nights, and so much to do. We hit the MGM auction… wow, the Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of OZ!

I loved being in the show, and was promoted to the role of teeny bopper, Chrissy, who sang ‘Frank Mills. ‘ I understudied the fabulous Jeannie role played by Teda Bracci, and even got to perform that role one night!.

Tony and I really bonded with Red Shepard and his lady Karalee Phillips. She and I are still friends, and I call Red in Texas when I can. We had parties at their rented mansion.  Big parties!  lots of fun, and vegetarian food. We cooked all day for these parties. Crazy, wild people and lots of film stars. You have never seen so  much Fettucine, date nut bread and salad in ONE house! And we rode in a Rolls Royce to the market!

While there, I met people such as David and Keith  Carradine, their girlfriends Christina Raines and Barbara Hershey, Karen Black, and many colorful characters.

Sly and the Family Stone

Sly and the Family Stone

I almost got busted with Sly of the Family Stone. One night Tony was locking up. Sly came to pick up a coat. His car wouldn’t start, we said we would give him a life. He said he had recording equipment in the car, so we started to put it in our car. Just then the police saw what we were doing and pulled in the lot. We were cuffed and knocked onto the hood of the car. I was terrified, Sly had coke in his car, and he swore to them we were not with him, they let us go, Close call.

One September night, a Sunday, after the matinee  with the show dark on Monday, Tony and I left for Las Vegas to see my mom on her Birthday.  It was very very windy out in the desert. When we stopped in Baker for a bite to eat. Tony said he was tired, and asked me to drive.  I took the wheel and the last thing I remember was a big swoosh, and the car spinning. I woke up in the hospital four days later.

Tony had broken his collar bone, but I had fallen out down an embankment and over the controls and broke every bone in my body. A trucker saw the headlights on and called 911.   He saved our lives. I had been in a coma. When I was moved to a room, I remember Ted Neeley came to see me. Wow, I will never forget that.  My injuries were pretty serious and my time in the show was over.  It was shortly after this we were told we were closing!  So sad.  I was allowed to sing Frank Mills on my crutches in the very last show. Then we cut an album, for a memory of the great Los Angeles cast.

After my recovery I started acting school, and we had a house in Nichols Canyon. We lived off our savings and disability, then unemployment. Life was still good, I kept in touch with Red and Karalee, and Red had started REVOLUTION RECORDS, with Michael Butler.  I sang on a few albums for him, including a rock version of Handel’s Messiah. Got to meet and work for  Clydie King, the queen of the background studio singers. It wasn’t until I moved back to Las Vegas that show biz became un forgiving, and quite tough.  To Be Continued

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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