Working singer since 12, no time for the prom at 17.

In 1964, The Beatles came to America, Capitol Records, my record label was also the distributor. Capitol Records, suddenly distracted by The Beatles, left me, and other artists, high and dry. I lost all my clout with the label and was washed up at 14.

Shortly thereafter, my dad was with Juliet Prowse as her drummer and was seeing Las Vegas as his future.  Against the family’s wishes we all moved to Las Vegas and I had to re-invent myself.

Dennis Hunt a DJ with KENO radio had been playing my record, Johnny Let me Go“, and frequently had me appear on his show. I opened a concert for Johnny Crawford of The Rifleman TV show, who had a big hit, “Cindy’s Birthday”. this was my first big concert at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

I was in Valley High School, and there were tons of local bands in town. The  Scatter Blues, The Weeds, The Present Tense, Nobody’s Children, Sioux Uprising, The Teenbeats, Kentucky Blue Grass, Loadstone, Later, Kharisma,with John Sterling, Terry Ryan, Jay Mitthauer. Same band, few changes. and the band that I joined, The Little People.

 

The Little People were, Mike Lyman, Mike Friedman, Glenn Cooper, Steve Harvey, Howard Salstein, and myself. We were very popular and appeared on the Jerry Lewis Telethon. Mike Friedman”s father Maurice Friedman was a mob-connected hotel man. The Frontier Hotel. Mike was a spoiled and complex kid. Naturally, I was drawn to him…. What was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking, that was the problem. His parents were always out, and he had a nanny that let us all do anything and everything around his golf course home.

We evolved into a better group called  London Fog. That was Bob Lilly, and Glenn Cooper, Mike Lyman, and Mike Friedman and myself.  We worked the Teen Beat Club, and shopping centers, local parties and even a Hotel in Searchlight.

Free Circus

Free Circus

I outgrew my high school musicians soon, and was solicited by  a college band, The Free Circus. Roby Bennet, Bob Byornsen, and Danny Barnett. This was a great band. We covered Stevie Winwood, Cream, and a lot of originals. With this band we got a manager, Jennifer Joseph, and opened for  Santana, Grateful Dead, Iron Butterfly, SteppenwolfThree Dog Night, Blue Cheer Sweetwater, and virtually every headliner who came through town. We even spent a summer in Lake Tahoe, and opened for Steppenwolf, again.

I  distanced myself from Mike Friedman at this time, and started seeing John Sterling, who I met through drummer Jay Mitthauer, {Jaybird}  He was taking drum lessons from my dad. John was in Loadstone and a little older, 24,  My parents were thrilled about this, I’m sure!

But shortly after we began, the band Loadstone became Andy Williams featured band on his TV show, and they were slowly transitioning to Los Angeles.  I made a few weekend trips to see Sterling before we drifted apart.

On one of these trips, we were at A&M studios, they were recording and I ran into my idol, Lani Hall. I had always wanted to be in Sergio Mendes & Brazil 66!!! Just seeing her in the restroom of A&M was thrilling.

Las Vegas Convention Center

Las Vegas Convention Center

Meanwhile, my band, The Free Circus, was getting close to a recording opportunity when our pianist Danny was drafted to  go to Vietnam. He was still in boot camp, when on a  trip to visit him, his parents and brother were hit by a drunk driver and his mother was instantly killed. He got a grief discharge, but we were broken up by then. Danny’s  mother was a beautiful woman and it was so sad.  His dad moved to Morrow Bay and lived on a yacht with the settlement money.

My sister met an agent Bill Loeb, he met with me, flew me to Los Angeles, and my first audition was HAIR. I was blessed! But back to Free Circus. We were close, I loved these guys, Bob had cancer in the 80’s and passed away, but Roby and Danny and I are going to be inducted into the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as Little People and London Fog.

 

Actual London Fog

Actual London Fog

Mike Friedman died of cancer as well and I was reunited with him at the end. He had nothing left, having snorted his money away and estranged from his sister, who told me, I don’t even care , don’t call me when he dies. I found a place for Mike to stay while he was sick, my dear friend Rene had been letting him live with her but it was going on way too long. She needed help. He abused my friends apartment with beer bottles and cigarettes, and I too, had to ask him to leave. He went back to Rene’s and died.

But I will add that when I was with Free Circus, I did no drugs. No drinking, I was really a serious singer…unlike my London Fog days, when I was a bit messed up and not very mature.

All this led to who I am today, and shaped my values as a singer. Take care of yourself and be on time! My life has been crazy and wonderful, but I wouldn’t trade anything I did. Even missing my prom!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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