11 Songs, 39 Minutes


About Lightstorm

Centered around husband-and-wife duo Johnima and Kalassu Wintergate, Lightstorm are a cosmic new age rock group with an unconventional, convoluted history. The group has released several ambitious private-press albums as well as videos, books, and recordings of bhajans (Hindu devotional songs) and meditational music. Their songs preach the values of love, peace, joy, and the divine light of creation, but on some of their glam rock recordings from the '70s and '80s, there's a surprising amount of sexual content. Even stranger is the fact that the duo is probably better known for its ultra-violent cult classic slasher flick Boardinghouse than for its spiritually minded recordings. Nevertheless, Lightstorm have continued to spread their positive, uplifting message through music, workshops, and seminars at conferences and spiritual retreats all over the world.

The Lightstorm story stretches back to the late '50s, when Johnima, then known as J. Peter Kelch and residing in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, began cutting rock & roll 45s on his own Terra Records Ltd. label. He moved to Los Angeles in the early '60s and continued releasing singles on a new label, Chalice. He signed to RCA and recorded a novelty record called "Split Personality" in 1964. Kelch subsequently recorded enough songs for two albums, but due to creative differences, he broke his contract before anything could be released. Finding spiritual enlightenment more fulfilling than fame, he decided to give up his shot at being a pop star, and sought out like-minded souls who were more interested in helping other people rather than feeding their own egos. By 1968, Johnima had formed Lightstorm (sometimes spelled LiteStorm), playing guitar while his wife Kalassu played bass and keyboards, joined by additional members Sui-San and Silver. The group toured Europe, India, and the Far East, including a yearlong stint in Vietnam, playing uplifting music for the troops at war. The group produced its debut psychedelic rock opus Warning, and founded a nonprofit organization called Children's Village Inc.

By 1974, Johnima and Kalassu (who had given birth to a son, Kodey) were the only members of the group. The band spent several years writing and recording its second full-length, a spiritual new age rock double album titled Creation Earth (Who Am I?), which was finally released in 1977. Vastly ahead of its time, the album failed to make an impact, but the group continued writing new songs and performing its elaborate, heavily costumed stage shows, hitting famous Hollywood venues like the Roxy and the Whisky a Go Go, and numerous other locations up and down the West Coast. Lightstorm's third album, 33 1/3, appeared in 1980, and was significantly more playful, raunchy, and sexual than their earlier work. The duo established a film company and produced the erotic horror-comedy thriller Boardinghouse (1982), which contained songs from the album. Follow-up album Teeth contained re-recorded versions of some of the 33 1/3 songs, as well as additional songs in the same vein. Lightstorm continued touring the United States and Europe as a four-piece rock band.

Sometime during the mid-'80s, Johnima and Kalassu decided once again to give up the rock & roll lifestyle in order to devote more time to spiritual matters and raising their children. They departed from Los Angeles and built a home in the mountains of Idaho, periodically visiting India and releasing spiritually minded books and recordings. Constantly traveling across the globe, they gave performances and seminars at schools, churches, community centers, and private homes, and on television programs. Their children followed in their footsteps and made music, films, visual art, and children's books. In 2016, Drag City and reissue label Yoga Records released Creation, an LP containing selections from Creation Earth (Who Am I?) and 33 1/3, exposing new audiences to Lightstorm's message, music, and story. ~ Paul Simpson

    Los Angeles, CA