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About Buzzy Linhart
Buzzy Linhart was born March 3, 1943, in Pittsburgh PA. His mother, Agnes Linhart, was a music educator. His first musical inspiration was when he heard the crows singing in the 1941 Walt Disney animated feature Dumbo. His dad was in a Mason lodge as grand master, Linhart told AMG in a May 2002 interview: "He played some percussion and did novelty songs with an act called the Cornpoppers in their lodge so I saw this stuff when I was two and three years old. Rock & roll wasn't in yet, my parents liked to produce shows....They would do these big stage extravaganzas, a lot of music from the 1890s, they would write entire shows...including minstrel shows, so I really heard a lot of good live music when I was very young." He started taking classical drum lessons and performed in the grade-school orchestra at seven years of age.
On Buzzy Linhart's first band: "When John Coltrane played it was just deeper. I've been trying to hire musicians that give you those goose bumps since I was starting my first band at age 11, the Five Diamonds. It was Dixieland, and we were reading out of the famous combo/orch books." He later formed the Bel-Aires, not the Scottish group of the same name, always having a band through junior-high and high school, sometimes under his own name. He studied classical xylophone and jazz xylophone with the mallet man for the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, Robert Matson, "I got college-level music training when I was 13 and 14, and when I went into the Navy Conservatory's college-level school of music." He drove to D.C. to join the Navy Symphony and they took him even though Linhart was 4-F. "Their plan was to use me just playing music." He caught emphysema during the Cuban Missile Crisis from fighting a fire, also "a guy was killed ten feet from me on watch," creating post-traumatic stress disorder. He was 19 when he was let out of the navy: "Took my vibes in a car with this wild guy named Goose from Jersey City who got out through the psych ward like I did and we drove straight down to Miami to my friend's house 'cause he had written me a letter about the folk scene down there."
On a tour of the coffeehouses, a 1943 Jaguar pulled up and it was a 19-year-old David Crosby. Crosby drove them to a club where he played with his brother, Chip Crosby, joined on-stage by Mama Cass Elliot. Fred Neil came in the next night. Simultaneous with this, Linhart auditioned for Tennessee Williams, and Williams' office immediately called to invite Linhart to be on staff as an actor for the entire season. That same evening Linhart saw Fred Neil and Neil asked Linhart to play vibes with him. "I called Tennessee Williams' office the next day, I was young and didn't quite realize what was happening...I wanted to play with him [Fred Neil] so badly that I called Tennessee Williams' office back and said, 'Could you please tell him I'm very sorry but I can't work with him this season [laughing now at the absurdity of what he was doing] but I certainly would enjoy working with him some time in the future.'" So he joined the folk-rock scene "and started really starving." He began hanging out with Tim Hardin, Fred Neil, Dylan, "it was crazy the quality of music we were exposed to."
The first record Linhart tracked in New York was Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Timeless Love" with Felix Pappalardi arranging and Linhart on vibes. Buzzy Linhart performed in a trio with Tim Hardin and Pappalardi at this time, also playing vibes for Richie Havens at the Night Owl. Record exec Lou Reizner cut demos with Linhart and courted him to sign with Mercury; but it wasn't until he was opening act for Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels in London that he re-connected and signed a deal with Reizner, resulting in the first album titled simply Buzzy in 1969. Two albums were released in 1971: Music, titled after his band of the same name, and The Time to Live Is Now. He appeared on Carly Simon's 1971 debut as did his song "The Love's Still Growing." In 1972, Kama Sutra released another album called Buzzy (The Black Album), which insiders dubbed "The Black Album" so as not to confuse it with his 1969 debut LP. 1974 saw the release of Pussycats Can Go Far on Atlantic. His legacy is rich and impressive, appearing on Cat Mother & the All Night Newsboys' 1973 disc, Last Chance Dance, as well as performing vibraphone on tapes by a producer of the Cat Mother group, his friend Jimi Hendrix.
At an April 2002 event on behalf of Linhart in New York City, producer/engineer Eddie Kramer gave insight into what Jimi Hendrix wanted for his First Rays of the New Rising Sun project, and how he came to put Linhart's vibes on the original Cry Of Love album. Artists like Jake & the Family Jewels, LaBelle, Barry Manilow, John Sebastian, Mother's Finest, his friend Moogy Klingman, and many others have had "the Buzzman" songs or musicianship on their various recordings. Two excellent compilations released by Klingman give history and detail: Old Times, Good Times: A Musical History and The Buzzy/Moogy Sessions, 1983-1994. Perhaps Linhart's best-known composition is one that has graced numerous Bette Midler albums and has become something of a theme song for her, a tune he co-wrote with Mark Klingman, "Friends." His webpage lists Buzzy Linhart as head songwriter, a comedy writer, and Bill Cosby's sidekick, Buzzy, on the 1976 family-hour variety show, Cos. It also states he was the music director of The Groove Tube, and composed the score for the film Rush It, starring Tom Beringer. Linhart even wrote the music for the off-Broadway musical, The Trials of Oz.
In August 1998, Linhart appeared on the debut of Fox and Friends morning news magazine on the Fox News Network. They used a clip of him singing as a music bumper for a couple years after that. He and Moogy Klingman appeared on their third-anniversary Fox and Friends show, performing "Friends" for 177 countries simultaneously. Linhart's later collaborators include rhythm guru Muruga, George Clinton, Buddy Miles, David Peel, Harvey Mandel, and the Cannabis Healers. His BuzzArt Publishing Company has 15 songs entitled BuzzArt Publishing Catalog, Vol. One. His webpage also notes that Buzzy Linhart lives in the Bay Area of Northern California. Although he is in a wheelchair due to degenerated knees, he continues to write, record, and perform to the extent he can with his current health issues. ~ Joe Viglione
- Pittsburgh, PA
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