In an era of bottled radio entertainment, the standard audio fare can be had by the case. It is the flat champagne of the establishment vineyard. The era calls for a free spirit. Enter Roy Tuckman (better known as Roy of Hollywood to his radio listeners.)
Leave the taste for common radio at home. Roy does not do the “norm.” His work expresses his passions and interests. That doesn’t mean that he dominates the airtime. Like a conductor on a train, Roy drives the show, he doesn’t feel the need to get out and push.
A veteran of radio for nearly 40 years, Roy of Hollywood goes on at midnight in what has been called “radio for night people.” His program is called “Something’s Happening,” heard in Southern California on KPFK 90.7 FM. Rather than talking himself, Roy of Hollywood prefers to play interviews, poetry readings, lecture tapes and even old radio broadcasts of mystical people like Alan Watts and Jack Gariss. Consciousness and the mind are explored. In a rare interview, Roy of Hollywood shares the great moments and memories of his career in radio, his notions and opinions on culture and its icons. Get onboard for a ride through the mind and magic of Roy of Hollywood.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure to introduce you to this man Roy of Hollywood. He has hosted Something’s Happening on KPFK out in Los Angeles for 38 years. Now that brings to question this, is there any radio show out in Los Angeles that has been on the air as long?
Not that I know of. Although, there are, I believe there are shows that have been on longer than 38 years but are no longer on. Ray Briem I think was on for over 40 years on KABC. He was a conservative talk radio show host with KABC.
I want to go back. One thing that I’ve heard you say several times not only in an interview you did with Jay Kugelman but also when Elliot started to ask you questions, that’s Elliot Mintz, you love radio. Can you remember the early times with radio when you were listening to it as a very young person?
Oh, yes, of course. I’ll tell you one of the great thrills I had at age four. I used to listen to The Sunday Funnies. There were a couple of programs where they would read the comics, the Sunday comics. There was a show that did, that read the Examiner, the LA Examiner and there was a show that read the LA Times and I’m not sure which. I think it was the times read by a fellow named Stu Wilson and it was a kid show. It was like, I don’t know seven or eight in the morning on Sunday morning and he also did birthday announcements. So, if you had a birthday, you would send a card to Stu Wilson. I thought you would remember the station then he would wish you happy birthday on the radio. So, my fourth birthday Stu Wilson said happy birthday to me by naming me on the radio and it was like, I was immediately world famous and it was quite a thrill.
What about some of the radio shows that you liked? Were you dedicated to any of them?
Oh, yes. I listened to those on a Saturday lineup, “Let’s Pretend” was very important they did dramatizations of fairytales for kids and there was a lineup of shows after that that were not kid shows but things like where there “Straight Arrow” or “Let George Do It,” and “Grand Central Station.” There was Hollywood theater, Hollywood playhouse or something like that and I would listen to that lineup. I also, I guess one of my first lessons in being naughty when my bedtime was 7:30, I would manage almost every night to catch I Love a Mystery which was on from 10 to 10:15 at night. So, I don’t know what I listened to in regard of reading hours but I rarely missed I Love a Mystery which I really love and also, The Lone Ranger which was instrumental in my learning to accept and love classical music, amazing thing that they did. It’s never discussed and The Whistler, I love “The Whistler” and this lucks radio theater and “Buster Brown,” “Smiling Ed McConnell.”
There were afternoon kid shows. It’s very funny. I have a blank on, what they were. There was Bobby Benton and B-Bar-B Riders and Tom Mix that I enjoyed. I listened to a lot of radio which I think was probably not looked upon very positively. I imagine that a generation before, when before there was radio, kids might have been chided for spending too much time reading books and before that I don’t know. But anything that would be, something that you could, you do by yourself rather than socializing with family or friends or playing football or whatever you’re supposed to do instead of curling up in a corner and listening to the radio or reading books or of course watching television and now it’s being on the internet or on your texting on your telephone whatever that the kids are doing.
And you grew up in Southern California?
Yes. I was born in Los Angeles in California Hospital.
What do you think about Los Angeles? You’ve been there for some time.
Oh, boy. Well, I have – there are some things I like because I was born here and I’ve seen a lot of changes and now there’s an amazing amount of traffic that’s really bothersome. I don’t go out very much but when we do go out, there is – and you stop at lights and you go through two or three or four lights before you finally get to the place where you’re at the front of the line and get to proceed across the intersection and that’s very bothersome. I don’t see how I could stand if I had to do that every day, which I did actually for a while taking a rush hour freeway traffic. There was a period, I went away to school in Berkeley from about 1956 to ’62 or so ’61 and it came that every time I came back to Los Angeles, there was a new freeway. It was quite amazing, ut a lot of the buildup happened after the war which was World War II was just a huge amount of people that moved to Southern California or Los Angeles after World War II.
So, a lot of changes happened after that period and the buildup just kept being built up. There was a period, a long period when the tallest building in California was LA City Hall and that was actually being competed against by the Ferry Building in San Francisco and I think there was inches difference. But LA City Hall now if you look at a picture of Downtown LA, the LA City Hall is just a little tiny thing.
Tell us about how you felt the first time you leaned in and your voice was heard on the radio, when you leaned into the microphone, the first time your voice was broadcast.
In 1962, I did a program. It was an interview on KPFK, strangely enough and actually, I’d been on TV a couple of times before that. But so, radio was not my first big medium that I was on but I did an interview. I had a girlfriend whose father had been a commander of three British airbases in World War II and was a flyer. He was a flyer and he – we had talked about he was a Colonel T.A. Holdiman and we had talked about – he never flew because it was so dangerous because of his terrible problem with air traffic control and it was just too damn dangerous to fly. So, he would never fly and nobody knew about this. So, I did an interview with him. I went to KPFK and it was a lot more free form then and we didn’t have a lot of pressure of people wanting to do things and also there were not so many scheduled programs it was more – every day was more varied except for a few regular programs. I told the program director I just walked in and told him this problem of air traffic control and I wanted to do an interview and he said “great.”
So, I got the station head to “portable” reel to reel tape recorders and they were plugged in but you could carry them if you were strong enough hen pecked. And I took the tape recorder to Colonel Holdiman’s house and also my girlfriend’s house and I interviewed him about air traffic control. It was a 15-minute interview and it actually got put into the program guide although they made a mistake. Nobody knew what air traffic control was at the time. So, it was called, the person who typed up the program guide mistakenly put Air Force Control and my name was put in theprogram guide and I was on the air in the afternoon for a 15-minute interview and it was very thrilling to hear my program. So, that was 1962. My second radio program was in 1973. I did a program, I co-produced a program on the trying to prevent Santa Monica, tried to stop the destruction of Santa Monica Pier, that was my second program and that was I think an hour show. There was a hearing of some sort.
And so, I decided at that time I would do a program on the station every 10 years or so. I would do something on the radio. But I wasn’t particularly thrilled. I never went after trying to do a radio show. That was a request. I worked at the station, I came to the station and worked there for five years doing off the air things even full time and I would see the public affairs producers cramming books and spending their morning or afternoon cramming for an interview to take place and that seemed to be about the most scary thing that you could do is you were to be committed to go on the radio in front of billions and billions of people and talk about something that about your expertise that was newly gained. That was just a very scary. So, I was not interested in doing anything like that and what popped to mind was a cartoon that I saw in The New Yorker, one of the old New Yorker cartoons and it has two caterpillars looking up and seeing a butterfly go by and one caterpillar saying, “You’ll never get me up in one of those.” And that’s exactly how I felt.
But I was asked during a fund drive in 1976 if I would go on. Mike Hodel who was in-charge of the fund drive, a long time KPFK person and he said, “Why don’t you go on at midnight and see what you can do in terms of course raising money?” and at that time, we would shut down at midnight and come back on the air at six. So, I said, “Well, all right.” So, they gave me engineering. I had a long experience with listening to the station and before that KPFA, I forgot about the KPFA and I knew a lot. I was acquainted with a lot of programs that were on tape in the downstairs archives. So, I went on at 12 o’clock and with the engineer and we played tapes starting with Alan Watts, we tried to raise money and in 11 nights on November 1976, I raised over $3,000. That’s all totaled in 11 nights which was not serious money but good money and is a lot better than zero that was the beginning of the idea of the show because I kind of enjoyed doing that not being on the radio so much, but programming the radio. I enjoyed that very much.
The name of your program is “Something’s Happening.” Where does that title originate?
It just popped into my mind because I’m a night person. I’ve always been a night person since childhood and also a radio person. On the radio, there was nothing happening. If you like talk radio or of course old radio was gone, the old radio programs and there were no iPods or cassette players or anything to save, easily save programs to re-broadcast that at a more convenient time. There were two major talk radio programs. There was Ray Briem on KABC. He was a conservative talk radio host which I would not, I did not enjoy and then there was Ben Hunter on KFI did the “Night Owls Show” and he was actually as far as I know the very first talk radio. And he was sort of, he let the listeners talk and you accept whatever is going on. I sort of describe that asa lumbago show. People would call and talk about their lumbago or their – I mean, their personal things. There was no serious airing of current issues generally. Ben was a very nice guy. He would talk with anybody about anything. What later came to me was that the three major talk radio programs including myself which was not major, but there was Ray, Ben and Roy.
So, it’s three-letter names then Ben was replaced by Ron, Ron McCoy so the three talk radio shows that were on the Roy, Ray and Ron. And Ray and Ron were two names that I was called frequently by people because they weren’t very many Roys. So, there’s Roy, Ray, and Ron that puts the, obviously the universe is playing a joke. But in general there was nothing happening and so, I thought, well I would have Something’s Happening. We even made up — I went on with a fellow named Joe Adams as a co-host. We made a promo that we would go up and down the dial and there was nothing happening and then they would find “Something’s Happening.” So, that became the name of the show.
You mentioned that you’ve always been a night person and the tagline I guess is “Radio for night people.” Do you find that there is a certain mystery or certain allure to the nighttime?
Oh, yes. The nighttime is quiet. The noisy people are sleep generally. The people listening to the radio frequently that is the only thing that they have to do, it’s not in the background, they’re not at work with something on and they’re able to devote their attention to something and they’re able to do that for a long period of time. So, I’m able to stretch without losing audience or without losing much audience to stretch their span of attention or take advantage of their increased span of attention. So, if something goes on without interruption for an hour, for hour and a half or so or more then that’s perfectly fine, but of course during the day that would be intolerable and nobody could, very few people could probably be willing to listen that long to anything especially going deep into your mind or your psyche or your intellect and doing very profoundly in-depth learning experience.
Like you say it’s not commonly done. It’s certainly not done in the daytime. But the interesting thing about your program is that you do play things that are very thought-provoking and in-depth. What is that you like about the medium of radio, what it can do, what it can be?
Well, there’s different kinds of learning, people for learning. There are people that learn in kinesthetically and people that are visual types and people who are audio types. And so, if you’re an audio kind of person then that is what you prefer, you’re most comfortable with or you enjoy or most communicative or get the most communication from. So, with the audio, audio only without being as I say contaminated with visual information as television is distracting, irrelevant visual information, they’re very prejudiced. You hear, you get very profoundly attached. It was McLuhan called radio is the hot, the hottest medium. It has the most amount of information according to McLuhan on Understanding Media, by the way if you don’t know McLuhan.
So, you hear more stuff. You hear the people that you hear, you don’t hear just the words or the thoughts but you hear them, you hear them. You form a relationship with them. And that’s what actually happens. And my thought is that you put on the wisest, greatest most wonderful, most enlightened people that there are in a large volume then people get to experience these people in a profound way over a long period of time. So, it provides a profound growth experience, a growth and listening experience and relating experience. I am not one of the people that I – I’m not there to become attaché, but I present people who are worthy of knowing in a sense. That’s what the show is based on at least theoretically.
And a lot of these people you definitely would never hear anywhere else on the radio dial, just incredibly interesting fascinating and inspiring kind of things. What is the most remarkable thing that you have played?
The most remarkable thing that I’ve played?
Holy cow! This is interesting. You know what comes to my mind is Jack Herer. One of the stories which is now common knowledge but at the time, it was news to everybody back about 20 or 25 years ago. This fellow Jack Herer came on to the show talking about marijuana. It was something that I’d heard of, a program about in the 1950s at KPFA. There was even a big argument about it on the air. Alan Watts had talked about it, about psychedelics and hemp. It was hemp, it was marijuana it was renamed and then another pundit on KPFA, a literature called Kenneth Rexroth put down Alan Watts for prescribing Mexican goofballs as a way to enlightenment. Mexican goofballs at the time were I believe a mixture of cocaine and heroin in a pill or something like that and those were goofballs which Alan Watts did not mention at all, but it was a drug supposedly which is not a drug.
Anyway, Jack Herer came on to talk about this forbidden subject and we played a movie that was put on by the US government called “Hemp for Victory” and that was produced by the government in World War II to encourage farmers to grow hemp because the navy needed rope and we were cut off from Manila, Manila in the Philippines and we needed material for rope and it turned out that hemp, you can make the best kind of superior rope from hemp and the government needed hemp for rope. And so, they encourage the farmers to grow hemp for victory, for the war effort that’s World War 2. Jack Herer had investigated this and the Nixon government denied the existence of this film that he heard about or read about. But he went to the Library of Congress and actually found the film and so, we played the soundtrack to that film. This is imagine in the early 1980s. The United States government promoting the growing of hemp, marijuana which was hemp.
But what’s this? What’s this hemp? At the time so innocent and marijuana of course is guilty because it’s a Mexican term for hemp and then he started talking about oh, it has medicinal benefits and he talked a lot about those and how it can replace an engine you can do with oil or you can do with hemp. It makes fuel and fiber and medicine and he went on and on and it was like “What is this?” I guess we call it now conspiracy theory and we kind of broke the news. But now over the last a couple of decades, the word has gotten out a little bit and it’s no longer a secretive and forbidden about this terrible drug that only our minorities knew it’s against the law and it is no good for anything and etc. it’s only the USDA or the DEA thinks that anymore.
So, that was pretty shocking. That might have been the most amazing program. I don’t even know where the tape is actually. But that was Jack, the late Jack Herer and he promoted these ideas which was true and was instrumental in the current popularity and legalization of medical marijuana which he was against. And legalization for even recreational marijuana which was also the glue that held the ‘60s together. So, I guess I chose that. There are probably others. But there was another one when they started, also in early 1980s.
The government went on a rampage against Mexican fruit fly, started spraying malathion from helicopters all over the city of Los Angeles because 40 miles away that they discovered a fruit fly and a fruit fly would destroy all of our crops and it would destroy the economy and everything. And they had helicopters went out every week to spray the city and of course they held that all this malathion is harmless, you can drink it and there’s no problem, but of course we knew better than that. So, I dedicated the program to malathion. I just stopped everything and played every night all night malathion to cause a major disturbance. The listeners were mad or many were rearly mad because their program was gone. It was all malathion and it was running counter to what all the media was saying about it that it’s good and it’s going to protect the economy and kill the fruit flies and it’s harmless.
And I even had amazingly the number one hottest new age kind of person in the country was Kevin Ryerson who was Shirley MacLaine guru or major teacher and Shirley MacLaine had come out with this series of films on her life and how Kevin Ryerson was a major influence on her and he was just really hot. I mean I’d never had him on the show. I wouldn’t even consider because he was big and he called me and he asked that I stop playing all the malathion stuff, and I go back to my regular show and which even I guess contained the possibility that I could have Kevin Ryerson on my program. Ha, ha, ha. But I didn’t stop until they stopped and they did stop. And that was really important. It was terrible. It was very hard work because we would recorded hearings during the day. We recorded demonstrations and interviews during the day and then played them at night. I can’t do that anymore. And Diane, my partner did some documentaries on it. That was a major time on the show.
Our special guest is Roy of Hollywood, the host, producer, and engineer of Something’s Happening. You said in an interview to Jay Kugelman that you don’t really like to be a public person yet you work in the media. Do you find that to be contradictory?
No, because I like the show to be public and I like the people on the show to be public and I am just tangentially on the show. If it weren’t for the fund drives you know I would be almost totally invisible. Nobody would know me. I consider, my model in this because Elliot is – Elliot Mintz is a person who has influenced me to do this interview at all because I told you a couple of times that I didn’t want to do an interview about this because I’m really too boring. My model is Ed Sullivan. Ed Sullivan did a show on television called “Your Show of Shows.” It was probably the biggest program on TV. But Ed Sullivan did not tell jokes. He didn’t sing. He didn’t dance. He didn’t do acrobatics. He was not a ventriloquist. He would just come on and introduce the program, the guests and they would do their acts. Nobody was interested in is Ed Sullivan married, does he wear boxers or briefs, does he have any children, anything about – Ed Sullivan was not invisible but the show was his. But he was not a person of interest you might say. But it was his show and he created a lot of major careers with his show. And some of the great moments in the United States history when the Beatles and the Stones went on in the Ed Sullivan show.
So, I consider myself to be Ed Sullivan as my model with myself, is I’m Ed Sullivan and I do the show and I’m very happy to be given credit for the show and everything but I don’t want to be one of the people that is of interest to the audience. When I was on with Elliot in 1979, I think that Elliot Mintz would come on my show and occasionally we called at the VIP of listener but there was action in Iran. The Iranians were holding United States’ hostages and we called the Iranian embassy and talked with one of the students who were holding American hostages in the American embassy in Iran. Somehow we got through and Elliot did one of his great interviews with the hostage taker, one of the hostage takers. And because of that, there was a period of a couple of weeks when I was in the spotlight and I got calls and inquiries from major press because this was the only situation where a hostage taker was interviewed on the air and I hated that.
And I just never want to get into that spotlight again and I haven’t. But that is what is wished for or you know a ticket to fame and you get recognition and you get an exposure and everything but I don’t want fame, I don’t want recognition and I don’t want exposure. But Elliot and I, we got a Best Spot News Coverage award from the Associated Press for that little adventure.
You had Elliot Mintz on your program not too long ago to –
I had, yes.
– to kind of talk about this website elliotmintz.com.
Great, great website.
It is quite remarkable. But the man behind the website, Elliot Mintz, who would you say he is?
<spanstyle=”color: hsl(0, 0%, 0%); font-family: ‘Times New Roman’,’serif’;”>I don’t know. Elliot is, Elliot did a program on KPFK in the 1960s. He did several programs, one called Looking Out then one called or Looking In and then Looking Out. He had just come fresh from LACC Media School and KPFK was again in the earlier days that had a lot of open time and it was looking for stuff or allowing stuff to come on. They sort of stuck him on the air. He brought in a young audience and also expanded our small spiritual or metaphysical audience, too and he’s extraordinarily talented interviewer. He has an amazing empathy and interest in people and it was a real treat to listen to him and get to know him.
KPFK was his first soiree into the media and then he grew. He went on to several other stations and then on television and was a major, I think CBS television reporter and got into promotion and became friends with John Lennon and Yoko and spent a lot of time with them and then got acquainted with or in business with I think A-list celebrities but has never somehow never lost his sense of humanity which is extraordinary. He is an activist and he led a big parade in the Sunset Strip to take back the Sunset Strip. He was instrumental in organizing a love-in, the first love-in which was huge in exposition part. It was a formative period in the 1960s. He introduced in a major way Ram Dass and Jack Gariss. He interviewed Alan Watts and just did a lot of explorations of reality inside and outside and he was always interesting and even though he was younger than I and his audience I guess was younger than I, I still found him really interesting and I was a big listener.
From your experiences knowing him in the professional sense that you’ve known him, do you think that Elliot is kind of a magnetic person?
Oh, yeah. He’s one of a kind, one of a kind. He’ll come right out and he eliminates a huge amount of gains by saying “I am not a smart person.” He says right away so that eliminates all of the competition for how smart you are, how much information you have, how much history you know, how intelligent you are and that kind of sword fighting and it’s very disarming and he’s just hugely empathetic. I’m not a trusting person but I trust Elliot. This is why I’m doing this interview at all but I do, I love Elliot and a lot of people love Elliot. He’s just an amazing, one of a kind person. I have barely touched his background and his experience but I would say visit his website which is free to see all the things he’s done and things he thinks and the people that he’s had is eight million.
I think it’s not that many but I think it’s 240 chapters of the “Lost Lennon Tapes” which is a national radio program playing the tapes that John Lennon made that had never seen the light of day and that he played. It was also I would call more than anybody could possibly want to know about John Lennon but also if you’re interested in the Beatles and the formative and the background and the other side, it’s there and he has a lot of that posted and actually the Iranian hostage program is there and it’s just an amazing website. Again, it’s free. This is not an advertisement for something that’s going to make some bucks or something.
What did you find on ElliotMintz.com that was particularly interesting to you?
I liked his background. He has a lot of material by Marianne Williamson which surprised me. I haven’t done that much exploring on it because I spent a lot of time listening to things that are going to be or not going to be on my program and none of that is going to be on my program because of the various copyrights. Although, I’m sure Elliot would allow that. He’s having Jack Gariss on was the major thing that Elliot did in my life or in many lives and Jack Gariss was a teacher and a pioneer and never got famous. He never wanted to, I’m pretty sure. But having Jack on, a video with Jack Gariss is just astounding.
It happened I thought for the first time in many years while we were doing the show and I was just carried away. I was just watching Jack and I completely forgot that “Hey, you’re on the radio, you idiot. You have a show to shepherd.” A lot of Ram Dass, Ram Dass also was a major, major person beginning in the 1960s not just because he was a partner with Tim Leary in the university and then solidified experiments. But Ram Dass was the first major person that was like a regular American person. He was a psychologist who got interested in eastern spirituality and went to India and found a guru and learned a lot of things and translated eastern mysticism into western language and he was just a major, major person. Elliot had him on many times and there’s a great deal of Ram Dass on Elliot’s website as well as a great deal of Tim Leary on that I also had on my show. You can get lost in that place, –
– in his jukebox.
You’re kind of working or way back to you, you’ve been doing this for 38 years, what have you given up to do this?
What have I given up? I haven’t given up anything. My life is dedicated to the show and also to my partner Diane who I met through the program and because of the program. She was my groupie and we’ve been together for 30 years now. But I am a night person but now I have to be a night person. I have no choice. So that is a certain limitation in your life, if you must be that, you cannot be a day person. I used to be able to split that but now, if I do something during the day, if there’s a party or a demonstration or a meeting and I go to it in the afternoon, I pay a price and there’s nothing I hate worse than to be sleepy during my show, it’s terrible, and/ or to be a risk of falling asleep during my program which has happened, but not obviously.
I nodded off for a few minutes but other substitute has actually fallen asleep during the show which featured two and a quarter hours of radio silence because the program was over and he was asleep. So, another announcer was put on until he woke up. But when I came to KPFK, it was for me and my life a last resort. I didn’t know what to do. It was very roughtimes in the early ‘70s. Age old enemy, Richard Nixon was running for re-election. We were in Vietnam. The police were cracking down on the hippie culture of which I was on the edge. I had given up my academic career. I had given up my working career. I had been a social worker and an auditor for the county and I didn’t know what to do to help fight the good fight.
I had fought and won against being drafted and being sent to Vietnam after I quit school, a successful battle against the draft board. I just didn’t know what to do and KPFK was there as a major force for the good guys. So, I just walked in. They have an open door. I have a lot of energy and a lot of good experience with a whole lot of things. I was willing to as they say as you see in the collective group living situations that happened during the ‘60s, there was nobody to – everybody would smoke and drink and play, but nobody would wash the dishes or clean the house. I was the one that cleans the house and washes the dishes. So, I came with that in mind. I came to KPFK and started. I just walked in the door and started the equivalent of washing the dishes and vacuuming the house to keep the place alive and as a volunteer then just picking up more and more jobs to do working.
Actually, it was 365 days a year all day and I would live it, actually living at the station which was not legal. But I would close the office door and sleep and then work all night and work all day. It was just very strange but that was something to do. That was a benefit that was open to me. Things just sort of happened as I told you. Five years later I was asked to do a show to see what I could do during the fund drive that’s evolved from doing a lot of things to doing several things plus doing a show. But It was out of love for the station and what the station could do and was doing and had done for me personally and I dedicated my life to the station.
What is the best thing about being Roy Tuckman?
Holy cow! I don’t even have an answer for that. I was just listening to a re-broadcast of an old program in the hours before I talked to you and my Monday night and Thursday night shows are used as fills on the Progressive Radio Network during our web nation PRN.fm. I was listening to Natalie Goldberg talking about then and Katagiri Roshi, her Zen teacher and he said if you want to be enlightened then fall in love and take care of someone. That’s probably the best thing I do. I fell in love about 30 years ago with Diane and I take care of her, she takes care of me, then I would say the best thing about being myself plus my program which is what I do besides my relationship. So, those are the two major things in my life of great value.
Are there any dreams that you want to see come true that have not yet?
You mean personal dreams?
Yes. I have some music in my soul that I listen to at any time I want that has not been put into the external world. I am not working on it and it’s something that in many of the programs, of the many, many I’ve done on the creativity, if you have a book or a painting or a sculpture or whatever in your mind, it’s got you and it will never leave and this has gotten me and has never left and evidently will never leave until it’s done. But I’m not doing anything with it.
And you have composed music in the past. You had that album Fiesta.
Yes. Fiesta was coming halfway that was 15 years ago. I actually did a CD and that was a major change. That’s when I stopped making music for play and enjoyment and started making, making CD or making in a way, preparing something for a public release and took all the fun out of it, all of the fun out of it and that’s one of the reasons that I don’t do it anymore. My next piece is something totally different and it actually came much earlier than Fiesta, any of the things from Fiesta but has got all kinds of metaphysical obligations too and a banjo concerto which now there is. I understand banjo concierti are the only people have done and that’s my punishment for not doing it.
Somebody else did it but they didn’t do what I have. But I’ve been as a matter of fact my actual and I had forgot my actual first appearance on the radio was on KPFA and Berkeley in 1958, ’57 or ’58. There was a program on KPFA called Saturday Night Special, gosh I forgot, it was hosted by Gert Chiarito. It was during the folk, before the folk boom, before the Instant trio, a band made folk music popular. There was a very alive and vibrant folk music movement in Berkeley and I learnt to play the Fostering Banjo, I have a lot of musical talent I am mostly untrained, sort of untrained and I went on to the Saturday Night, the Midnight Special that’s what it was called Midnight Special. I went on and played, played and sang a couple of times on that show hosted by Gert Chiarito.
I subsequently found out that when KPFA opened initially in 1949, first went on the air for the very first time, the very first specific station, the person who pressed the button that turned on the transmitter was Gert Chiarito. So, there’s the historic coincidence. But that was kind of being composed some classical music on the banjo. It was a classical oriented music that I played and now the technology has put into everyone’s hands orchestra with and on the computer. So, I could have the orchestral accompaniment to my banjo piece so that the computer will generate that I could put on a computer and accompany myself with the orchestral sound. But I just haven’t done it because again, I don’t do it for fun anymore. It would be preparing a CD and that’s no fun and then of course after you prepare a CD, you have to try to sell it and if you don’t want to sell it, it’s not going sell so. There’s just no fun in it anymore but it won’t go away and I had some profound experiences around that that have illustrated its importance to do but I just haven’t done it. I got to many other things to do.
I’m kind of going to end kind of open-ended here. For anyone who is listening to this, what would you say to them?
Roy: Who is listening to this interview?
Totally open ended.
Be alive. Too many dead people walking around and not enough live people and if you don’t know how to be alive then learn how.
My last question: Who is Roy Tuckman?
Just a guy with the last chapters of life who has flawed in many ways and pretty good in many ways and oh, buji, I love the buji, I’m a buji man, nobody special. I remember, because I do tend for Asian spirituality which I just love and embrace from my own psychology. But there’s a story of a tai-chi master who had a photograph taken with his class and his wish was that if you see this photograph, you won’t particularly notice him–and I like that. I see a value in that for me. So, if you decide to hear the show, don’t notice me but you know it’s my class, that’s my program. But I don’t care about being noticed about it. I get my satisfaction from all of my satisfaction from the doing of it and I’m just not interested in particularly in recognition or I want the program to be successful for the station as a support for the station and as a unique educational source if you have any of those bents. So, good listening and if you don’t like it then maybe find something else to listen to or to love or pay attention to. Have a good life and, but try to make it alive.
Roy, I know you don’t normally do interviews so I have to express my gratitude. It’s been a good experience for me to talk to you. I admire what you do.
Well, thanks Paul and you can thank Elliot for arranging this and he sees great things for your future. His judgment is tops. You will obviously have a successful career and don’t be there will be setbacks and don’t let those bastards get you down.
Thank you. I will try. I know that they can do that.
Roy thanks again and have a wonderful day.
Okay, you too Paul.