Still More Ask Cool Daddy
Dear Cool Daddy: Ever heard of someone from the Sixties named Gypsy Boots? …from Moon Child, Topanga Canyon, CA
Dear Moonie: Let me start out on a seemingly unrelated topic and segue my way in. Mammals and dinosaurs evolved at approximately the same time, around 200 million years ago, both developing from more primitive forms of reptiles. Of course, dinosaurs became the dominant large terrestrial life form until their demise 60 million years ago, which then gave mammals…and us…their big chance. In the same way, during the 1950s, the East Coast Beatnik movement far overshadowed the West Coast Back to Nature/Health Food fad in terms of geez, those nutty kids, what’ll they think of next? 23 skidoo! But it was the latter that would evolve into the Hippie phenomenon of the Sixties, with one big difference…Health Food didn’t include drugs or alcohol.
It was lead by one-time jazz musician Eden Ahbez, born George Aberle. You may have heard of him as the composer of Nat King Cole’s hit “Nature Boy,” 2 months at #1 in 1948. See that album cover above left? That’s from 1960…yes!…years before flowers and beads and what-not went mainstream, he was roaming So Cal in sandals and a robe, and no haircut. He actually made quite a bit of money writing songs for Cole and others, and another oddball drawn to his coterie, nicknamed the Tribesmen, was Robert Bootzin, aka Gypsy Boots, above right, also a photo from 1960. He sold health food bars and carrot juice at his Health Hut, probably the world’s first health stood store, and promoted much the same type of fitness regimen as Jack LaLanne, but from a quirky “nature boy” angle that again took a good ten years to catch on. Still, by the late Sixties, Gypsy Boots found himself relegated to that category of lovable weirdos that included, oh, you know, the usual suspects: Tiny Tim, Frank Zappa, Napoleon XIV, Mrs. Miller, Sir Monty Rock III…back then anything was possible, nez pah?
I remember seeing him in the 1965 fake beach party flick A Swingin’ Summer. And he recorded some tunes, but true to his roots, they had more of a 1950s rock boogie style, which was as out of place in 1968 as his lifestyle had been in the previous decade. But here’s the thing: unlike say a Domingo “Sam the Sham” Samudio, who was a true pop culture opportunist…not that there was anything wrong with that, quite the contrary…Gypsy Boots, as well as his mentor Eden Ahbez, were the real deal…sincere kooks who drifted into their 15 minutes of fame, then out again. Anyway, check out the “Love In” song here ∞∞∞∞∞ . And blow your mind with this incredible clip of “Ahby” on TV in 1948, ◊◊◊◊◊ as seen above. Talk about being ahead of your time…woof!
BTW, Ahbez died in a car crash at age 86…Boots lived to within 11 days of his 90th birthday…
Dear Cool Daddy: How come they don’t play the Carl Yastrzemski song any more? …from Greenie, Bluefield, WV
Dear Greenie: You sound like you’re like me…a New England ex-pat who’s lived away a long time, but still cherishes his roots. I mean, how do we know they don’t? I know, today its seems like it’s all “Dirty Water” and the Dropkick Murphys, but we aren’t there anymore, are we? Still and all, you’re probably right…you’re referring of course to a ditty sung by the late Boston radio legend Jess Cain, here: «««»»». In the wake of the Red Sox unlikely pennant grab in 1967, WHDH radio broadcast a documentary narrated by Ken Coleman and Don Gillis. It was so popular, they put it out as a souvenir record album. Incidentally, it’s said Jess copped the tune from an old ragtime classic called “Shoutin’ Liza Trombone.” I tracked down a version, and I think they’re right.
But then again, they also don’t play those cheerfully dopey Tony Conigliaro 45s any more either, like “Playing the Field” and “Little Red Scooter,” both on YouTube if you care to…
shameless plugs a-huggin’ third…
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