Lenny and I combined rhythm and language, Richard provided the bed, and Ivan had strengthened our sound. It was time for the next step. We needed to find another of our own kind, who would not alter but propel, who would be one of us. We ended our high-spirited set with a collective plea: "We need a drummer and we know you're out there."
PICTURE THIS: Soon after moving to New York, Smith met photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (above, in 1971). The two would share an abiding love and friendship as they struggled to make ends meet. In 1975, after they had both attained a degree of success, Mapplethorpe shot Smith for her debut, Horses.
He was more out there than we could imagine. Jay Dee Daugherty had done our sound at CBGB, using components from his home stereo system. He had originally come to New York from Santa Barbara with Lance Loud's Mumps. Hardworking, somewhat shy, he revered Keith Moon, and within two weeks of our WBAI broadcast he became part of our generation.
When I now entered our practice room, I could not help but feel, looking at our mounting equipment, our Fender amps, Richard's RMI keyboard, and now Jay Dee's silver Ludwig kit, the pride of being the leader of a rock and roll band.
Our first job with a drummer was at the Other End, around the corner from where I lived on MacDougal Street. I merely had to lace up my boots, throw on my jacket, and walk to work. The focus of this job was our melding with Jay Dee, but for others it was the moment to see how we would navigate the expectations surrounding us. Clive Davis's presence lent an air of excitement on the opening night of our four-day stint. When we threaded our way through the crowd to take the stage, the atmosphere intensified, charged as if before a storm.
The night, as the saying goes, was a jewel in our crown. We played as one, and the pulse and pitch of the band spiraled us into another dimension. Yet with all that swirling around me, I could feel another presence as surely as the rabbit senses the hound. He was there. I suddenly understood the nature of the electric air. Bob Dylan had entered the club. This knowledge had a strange effect on me. Instead of humbled, I felt a power, perhaps his; but I also felt my own worth and the worth of my band. It seemed for me a night of initiation, where I had to become fully myself in the presence of the one I had modeled myself after.
On September 2, 1975, I opened the doors of Electric Lady studio. As I descended the stairs, I could not help but recall the time Jimi Hendrix stopped for a moment to talk to a shy young girl. I walked into Studio A. John Cale, our producer, was at the helm, and Lenny, Richard, Ivan, and Jay Dee were inside the recording room, setting up their equipment.