Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media

What would you rather talk about first, music or film?

It really doesn't matter. Go for it.

Alright, why don't you tell me a little bit about your background first. I know that you grew up in Southern California and went in to Vietnam. Did you serve overseas?

Yeah, in 1966 through 67.

Then you came back and went to school for your Masters in Music?

Well actually not. (laughs) Okay, this is a good place to start. I came back from Vietnam and...I'd been in music before, I was pretty hip to what was going on in the scene. Before I went into the Army I was in a group called the Greenwood County Singers and we had four albums and as many singles, and the singles did well in Billboard and the trades. Our singles were always at least in the Top 20. Which is not bad, especially during those years 'cause there was a lot of good music happening. Anyway, having said that I went into the Army--I was drafted--went to Vietnam, got back, and I felt like I had been robbed of my life.

You know, being drafted you feel a lot like you were kidnapped. I actually got my draft notice in Lake Tahoe and my group was playing with Andy Griffith and Roy Clark, it was a pretty cool scene and then I got ripped off. I went i the Army and did that, not that that wasn't a good experience in retrospect. I came back out and I really wanted to get into the counterculture scene that was going on at the time. It was very cool. There was a lot of love and brotherhood, and politically people were real sharp and knew what was going on, and they were active.

So, I kinda eased into my cultural peer group for a few months and then I got into a band called Stone Country. I was with them for about a year, they already had an album and we did a bunch more tv and stuff, played Vegas and stuff like that. Then I kinda pulled out of that, actually it kinda fell apart at one point, and decided to just start writing alot and just become the itinerant musician. Wandering from here to there and kind of be that thread between human beings with my music. Literally be a traveling troubadour. So I did that for a few years.

And then in about 1972 or so I went back to school because a band that I had had called Jamie Rush had just broken up and I was real upset about it and I thought, "Well, jeez, I'm gonna put music on the back burner for a while and I'll just get into some acting." I went to the City College in the city where I lived (Long Beach City College) and I was gonna get into the music department but...the guy that was in charge of the music department I didn't really get along with all that well. So I thought, well I'll jump into some acting 'cause I knew the theater arts department was really good. There was a guy named David Emms who was in charge of it, David is now in charge of a theater out here called South Coast rep in Orange County and they have a very good reputation.

And I just started doing stuff and I immersed myself in this production, that production, until I did one called CIRCLE GAMES, it was an original piece written by a couple of different people and it was pieced together like little vignettes. Then I wrote the transitional music for the vignettes and performed it as well as performing in the vignettes themselves, so I was wearing a couple of different hats. (Laughs)

Anyway, somebody called me and said, "Hey, we really liked what you did and we think we have this little part in this film," and that was my first picture.

And which picture was that?

Funny thing, that was JIM, THE WORLD'S GREATEST...

Which was Don Coscarelli's first film. What kind of roles did you have in that film and KENNY AND COMPANY?

They were fun, especially the first one. It was a guy named OD Silingsley, and he was a hang glider pilot that provides a bit of lightness to a very heavy scene that follows that scene...the killing of a kid. You know, if you're gonna kill a kid you've gotta lighten up the moments before and try bring it up after that. And the kid in JIM would be killed by his father, so they needed something to really bring the moment up before that...it was a high impact. And, so they created this character OD Silingsley. He was funny, kind of a hippy hang glider pilot and he gets the older brother of the kid to go in the hang glider and he really likes it and it's a moment of freedom in a rather depressing plot. In KENNY AND COMPANY I played a teacher for Don, actually I played his favorite teacher that he had.

So you were kind of recreating a role for him.

Yeah, and the guy was really cool, real good with kids, really liked kids, but knew how to react to them. That was kind of a neat character, too. I was also the musical supervisor on that film. I pulled the musicians together, got the studio time to do the music for it, and I wrote one of the themes as well.

Reg talks about PHANTASM and the growth of the Reggie character in Part 2 of our interview...

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