The Quick started, in some ways, the day in seventh grade when I heard someone talking about Canned Heat in the locker room during gym. That person was Steven Hufsteter and since that day he and I have been friends. Back in the early 70s it was just about liking music for us. I was spoiled - buying lots of records with Steven coming over and listening to my collection. We both started playing music around the same time and we jammed with anyone we could find, including a very funny moment where a kid in our school named Corey Issacson played trombone. It was very "Welcome To The Dollhouse," as you can imagine.
At first, there were no real goals but around 1973 Steven started learning to become an arranger. He took The Kinks’ “Till The End Of The Day” and added the crazed ending from “7 + 7 Is” by Love and, well, it was a beginning. Before we even got close to being a band with Danny Wilde we got all of the clichéd 60's influences out of our system, covering all the obscure UK B-sides we could.
Around late 1974 we became The Quick. Steven started writing songs like “Hillary”, “Teacher's Pet”, “Guardian Angel”, “Cleopatra's Barge”, “Queen For A Day” and “Revenge” with Marty Zucker, Ian Ainsworth and myself. We had a revolving door of keyboard players (our unintentional nod to Spinal Tap) and contrary to popular belief, The Young Republicans was never our name. Steven wanted to separate The Quick from a pre-Danny Wilde recording that was licensed many years later and came up with the name to differentiate the two.
In 1975, we recorded our first demo which included future-Dickie Leonard Phillips (still in his Rick Wakeman/Keith Emerson phase) on keyboards with Billy Bizeau on backing vocals. We sent it out to God knows where, but we heard some station in Scotland played it! You have to remember, there was NO SCENE, man! Zero. LA was very dry for a young band. The demo proved we could walk into a studio and record on a 12 track (YES, a 12 track) but the band fell apart. We were a 3 piece and we wanted Billy on keyboards, but he had no money for an instrument. Steven bumped into Danny Thomas (soon to be Danny Wilde), his ex-Van Nuys High school alumni at the Roxy. I remember seeing Danny in his first band being both Bowie and Ronson on stage. He looked great and could sing. His band at the time included future-Dickie Carlos Cabellero on drums and Chuck Wagon on bass.
Danny joined our band and Steven immediately started stretching his vocal range and testing his limits. It slowly worked and around the turn of 1975/1976 we met Kim Fowley. He changed everything for us. He gave us money to rent / buy a keyboard, helped with a rehearsal space and started his trademark hustle.
With nowhere to play, we started gigging anywhere we could: in-crowd parties, kids’ houses, a college, a Jewish Temple, a hair salon (one of my favorite early gigs). Each show was packed with everyone wanting to be there first, so Kim finally officially launched us at the Starwood - a long gone great club in LA. When we first walked in we expected 10 people to show up but the first night of our two-night stand was packed, we got great response and we were added on for few extra nights. All of a sudden The Quick had a following. At that point we needed a label deal (since that’s what bands did at the time) so we auditioned for Chrysalis Records, which might have been one of our most uncomfortable performances. Food was served with chilled champagne. Label owners Terry and Chris were blank, no vibe in the room at all. We actually played our last ever gig in that same room and the CD of this compilation was mastered in the SAME room! CREEPY.
Denny Rosencrantz, West Coast A&R head honcho for Mercury Records, had signed The Runaways, liked Kim and I guess liked us too - I think he thought we could be his 10CC. We needed to cut a demo but there were certain songs we couldn’t play because Kim thought they would jinx the deal. First on the chopping block was Ian’s “Blackout”, about a goy Boy Scout leader (big deal!) and “Master Race”, about…. well... did I mention Denny was Jewish? We headed into Fidelity Sound, which I live around the corner from now, and we spent about 12 hours making the first 10 tracks on this LP. We rocked and if you want to know what The Quick were like live in May 1976, well, this is it - raw, sloppy, lots of energy and great harmonies.
Next on The Quick’s agenda, WE GOT SIGNED TO MERCURY RECORDS!!! First we needed the right engineer. We would have made our LP with Andy Morris but he had a falling out with Kim after his work on our demo and the first Runaways LP. So we called James Lowe, who had engineered Sparks. He was nice but not committed. Next was The Beach Boys’ engineer, Earle Mankey, who was an ex-member of Sparks. We all liked Sparks, but about a month after our record was made we had already started moving away from that sound. Earle got the gig and if you haven’t heard “Mondo Deco”, well, it is a rather interesting record. I got to use Dennis Wilson's kit and we were given free reign of the studio (except for Brian Wilson's mellotron). By the second day of recordings, Kim was fighting with The Runaways (Joan especially), so we all went to lunch and Kim offered to split the production with Earle. Earle was the producer and Kim was the vibes.
We slept in the meditation room, it was an amazing experience, but we had no idea what it meant. Nor did Mercury, as we soon found out. Rodney Bingenheimer took our test pressing and played it on KROQ. We were all cramped in our car, waiting next to the rehearsal space to hear it played. He supported us all through our career and that was important. Kim Fowley was great at making a deal happen but would also lose interest on projects quickly. Kim wanted us to be arena rock. Things started getting shaky as the Summer rolled into Fall. We were given the Whisky-A-Go-Go for two days to rehearse (we re-opened the club) and played new material for Denny and Kim to figure out “WHAT DO WE DO WITH THE QUICK?”
We played so much new material but we were given only a few choices: record “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” as our next single (Steven was tired of the concept of covers as A-sides), record one of Billy Bizeou’s songs (“Lifeline”, I think?) or re-release Mondo Deco. It seemed like we would still be on the label but Denny decided idea number three wasn’t going to happen so we were given our release and we celebrated by tearing up our contracts in front of Mercury Records!
Steven Hufsteter was writing so quickly that we would try out many new songs and cover songs as we could. And just as quickly we’d drop songs, reworking tunes three or four times was very common in the band. From early to mid-1977, as punk swept up LA, we didn’t stop moving forward. We played ALL OF THE TIME!!! We got new management (the guy who managed Loggins and Messina) and then lost the new management by telegram from David Campbell.
David was and is a fantastic arranger. He wanted to produce us and get a record deal - he had strong ties to Elektra who were starting to sniff around for new bands. They had a studio in the San Fernando Valley called The Annex. It was our first time in their studio and we cut four songs in a few sessions.
PRETTY PLEASE - Ladies and gentlemen, welcome the final stage of The Quick… and get out of the way!!! I have to remove myself from the band for a second and just say that all of these demos do not have a sell by date. These sound like they were recorded yesterday. This song rocks and has one of the best FUCKING guitar solos ever, yes, ever! Great Move-inspired riffs!
Yes, I loved The Quick. If you didn’t live in LA between 1976 and 1978, you probably never saw us. We didn’t tour, our problem was timing - we had none! We also forgot to ask if there was tour support when we were on Mercury (I was too busy asking for non-LP B-sides!). We had no manager, we were immature and all very nervous. David tried hard, but the deal was not there. Our last gig was for our fan club. I had no idea that it would also be our farewell.
In April 1978, with no manager to call a meeting or slap us around, we broke up without sitting in the same room. Billy was on vacation, Danny and Ian wanted to play their own music and BOOM, away we went. I was CRUSHED. I ran to England and every label I played “Pretty Please” for, loved it, but it was too late. In the summer of 1978, there were a lot of bad LA bands being signed left and right and we were gone. I am so happy this has finally come out on vinyl and that you are getting to hear the music that meant so much to me. I hope it puts a smile on your face, too.
- Danny Benair
Danny Wilde - Lead Vocals
Steven Hufsteter - Guitar, Vocals
Ian Ainsworth - Bass, Vocals
Billy Bizeau - Keyboards, Vocals
Danny Benair - Drums, Vocals