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Former Turtles member Andy Cahan leads Andy's Gang and he delivered good old Rock n Roll to Peninsula Park. (Photo by Chris Frost)
Friday, August 20, 2021

By Chris Frost

Tri County Sentry

Channel Islands-- The Concerts by the Sea series continued in a big way; Saturday, August 4, as "Andy's Gang," delivered great solid gold rock classics from the 1960s that got the crowd dancing, singing, and having a great time. 


Andy's Gang is led by Andy Cahan, who played the keyboard for The Turtles for 40 years. The group got the crowd cheering when they pounded out classics from the Turtles' library.


Andy's Gang delivered a rock-solid set of classics, like "While my Guitar Gently Weeps” by The Beatles and "I'm a Traveling Man" by Ricky Nelson, to name a few. 


Youngster Isabella Rodriguez got out and danced her heart out with her cousin Briehl and Adolfo Ortiz during the show.


"I dig this music," Briehl said. "I was born in the wrong era.  I love this, and I am glad it is back. I feel like it's been gone for a while. I live in Bakersfield, and they do concerts by the fountain. I came down here for some family time."


Adolfo was also enjoying the 60s music.


"It's amazing how they are bringing this back," he said. "It will never die, and it will keep going."


Cherie Lambert was rocking out to the 60s, and she loves Turtles, particularly the song "Happy Together."


"I'm here because I love to pet all the dogs, and I love listening to music and looking at the water," she said. "The seals aren't there anymore. They took the docks away where they use to bask."


Sherry Kopack said she loves Credence Clearwater Revival.


"Last week, they played two Grateful Dead songs," she said. "It was supposed to be Reggae, but it wasn't all Reggae. The Grateful Dead isn't Reggae, but they played the Grateful Dead last week."


She loves the Concerts by the Sea.


"I wish it would go a lot farther than August," she said. "It goes through one week in September, but I think they should go until fall. There's still good weather in the fall here."


Jean, Shelley, and Darlene had a 60s style dance line going during the concert.


"We work on it all the time," Jean said. 


The trio couldn't agree on a favorite 60s band.


"Neil Young," Jean said. "No, Credence Clearwater, Darlene said. 


Shelley said she had too many favorites to list.


"I love it out here," Jean said. "It's relaxing, and I feel like I am part of the community. I feel a sense of community being here."


After the show, group leader Andy Cahan said the band doesn't rehearse, and they like to keep it loose and spontaneous on stage.


"My guitar player Jerry, Mike, my drummer, and I know the songs in our head," he said. "Everybody had a good time, and it was a good packed audience that had a lot of fun."


Cahan said the pandemic made him "a depressed maniac," so when he got the all-clear to go on the road again, the crowd interaction bonds him to the dancing and cheering people."


"It's the best feeling in the world," he said. "The Turtles used to open for the Jefferson Starship when they came out with the Red Octopus album. Marty Balin would stand on the stage next to me when I played the organ. Flo and Eddie, The Turtles, lead singers, would do satire. At this time, George Harrison was on the road doing the Dark Horse tour, and he lost his voice, so Mark Volman from The Turtles got up there and sings, oh my lord, my sweet lord, and it's all out of tune. Howard says, take it, Billy and I played the part of Billy Preston, and I played that little intro from the song 'Nothing from Nothing, leaves Nothing.' I would put on this big Afro wig and these big sunglasses with dollar signs. Marty Balin would stand next to me, and I had long hair, so I pulled it up into a bun, and we would do the Billy Preston bit. There were 50,000 to 60,000 people in the audience, and everyone would cheer. There are so many wonderful stories in the book."


Cahan said one profound Turtles memory was when they flew to Australia and the pilot found out the band was on the plane. He invited Cahan and Mark Volman to the cockpit. 


Cahan started playing backgammon with the pilot, and he noticed a wheel with numbers on the instrument panel.


"I said what does that do, and he said take your finger and turn the wheel," Cahan said. "I turned the wheel, and the 747 turned, and it was on autopilot. I drove a 747 with my index finger."


During the lockdown, Cahan said he worked on his book, available at Amazon, called "The Most Famous Musician You've Never Heard Of," which chronicles his 40 years playing for The Turtles and plenty of Rock ‘n Roll memories.


One particular evening, he found himself playing pool with Janis Joplin, who he called a great pool player that beat him soundly.


"In 1968, I was in a band called Geronimo Black, which was the offshoot of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention," Cahan said. "Jimmy Carl Black, the Indian of the group, was the leader. He played drums, and I played drums when he sang. We played at the Topanga Corral, and Taj Majal, Bush, and Back Oak Arkansas, and a lot of bands played there at the Topanga Corral."


The venue had a pool table, and Cahan said he would hang out there.


"There was Janis Joplin playing pool," Cahan said. "She had a summer dress on with no underwear. She had hairy legs, hairy armpits, and she smelled like Patchouli oil. We played pool, and she was so down to earth and so wonderful."


Cahan said he, along with Little Richard and Chuck Berry, were the musical directors of The Grammys in 1973.


"It was me, Little Richard and Chuck Berry in a small little room with an upright piano rehearsing their hit songs," Cahan said. "Instead of singing, Tutti Fruiti, oh Rudy, we'd sing Al Green; he's clean. The lyrics of the song would change for the nominees' names."


Cahan became a musician because of The Beatles.


"It was full circle when I was sitting there with Little Rich and Chuck Berry, who were the idols of The Beatles," Cahan said. "Chuck was idolized by John Lennon, and Little Richard was idolized by Paul McCartney."


Cahan said the night he saw The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, he was hooked.


"That's what did it for me," he said. "Before that, I loved Del Shannon's Runaway, but when The Beatles came out, I wanted to be a Beatle."


He said at the time he was making monster movies.


"I said to myself that I'm not going to pick up any girls making monster movies," Cahan said. "I want to be a Beatle. My hair was curly, so I went to the pharmacy and bought Perma Straight, and I straightened my hair to a Beatle haircut. It worked well for about an hour, and then it frizzed up into a big Afro."


Cahan said he and Harry Nilson recorded 35 songs in his living room.


"Harry won a bunch of Grammys, and he was The Beatles' favorite singer-songwriter," Cahan said. "He invited Ringo over to my living room to do some narration for children's stories."


That story and more are included in his book.


Cahan's book, The Most Famous Musician You've Never Heard Of, is available at amazon.com.