In November we had gone with Jane Friedman to Los Angeles for our first shows at the Whisky a Go Go, where the Doors had played, and then to San Francisco. We played upstairs at Rather Ripped Records in Berkeley, and at an audition night at the Fillmore West with Jonathan Richman on drums. It was my first time in San Francisco, and we made a pilgrimage to City Lights bookstore, where the window was filled with the books of our friends. It was during this first excursion outside of New York that we decided we needed another guitarist to expand our sound. We were hearing music in our heads that we couldn't realize in our trio configuration.
When we returned to New York, we put an ad in the Village Voice for a guitarist. Most of those who showed up already seemed to know what they wanted to do, or what they wanted to sound like, and almost to a man, none of them warmed up to the idea of a girl being the leader. I found my third man in an appealing Czechoslovakian. In his appearance and musical style, Ivan Kral upheld the tradition and promise of rock much as the Rolling Stones celebrated the blues. He had been an emerging pop star in Prague, but his dreams were shattered when his home country was invaded by Russia in 1968. Escaping with his family, he was obliged to start anew. He was energetic and open-minded, ready to magnify our swiftly developing concept of what rock and roll could be.
We imagined ourselves as the Sons of Liberty with a mission to preserve, protect, and project the revolutionary spirit of rock and roll. We feared that the music which had given us sustenance was in danger of spiritual starvation. We feared it losing its sense of purpose, we feared it falling into fattened hands, we feared it floundering in a mire of spectacle, finance, and vapid technical complexity. We would call forth in our minds the image of Paul Revere, riding through the American night, petitioning the people to wake up, to take up arms. We too would take up arms, the arms of our generation, the electric guitar and the microphone.
CBGB was the ideal place to sound a clarion call. It was a club on the street of the downtrodden that drew a strange breed who welcomed artists yet unsung. The only thing Hilly Krystal required from those who played there was to be new.
From the dead of winter through the renewal of spring, we grappled and prevailed until we found our stride. As we played, the songs took on a life of their own, often reflecting the energy of the people, the atmosphere, our growing confidence, and events that occurred in our immediate terrain.