The Interviews, Part 2
Please turn your speakers on. Merrell Fankhauser's song 'Calling From A Star' is playing for you right now.
Welcome to the new Millennium! What a great way to start off the new year with Part II of this exciting and interesting interview with Merrell Fankhauser. Check out Part I if you missed it. Merrell has had a fascinating life and he shares some of those special experiences that he has had over the years with you. This closes (or does it begin?) another era. There are still many unanswered questions regarding the Lost Continent of MU. There are many other unexplained phenomena on the globe waiting to be discovered right this very moment. The answers await suspended in time to be unlocked for us all to know.
Merrell's group MU made some prolific music during their time together and they also had some mystical and spiritual experiences leading up to and during the recording sessions. It's more than just music; it's the words, a feeling or thought, a spiritual awakening. Let the music tell the story. The music captivates and provokes thoughts and feelings that lie in your subconscious mind just waiting to be given life with a word or that one special note emanating from an instrument.
Merrell Fankhauser has many gifts to share. We are all blessed to have the opportunity to read about his life told in his own words. He has a special way of telling a story. A picture is painted in a very vivid way through his magical stories of years gone by. Enjoy!...
[MuzikMan] Can you talk about what it was like in the beginning with your group MU and some of the interesting things that happened? Anything particular that comes to mind?
[Merrell] When my band MU landed on Maui in 1973 we were greeted by a wonderful group of peace loving brothers & sisters who we immediately formed a bond with. We had two instant roadies, Spider & Richard, who helped with every move of our musical equipment. We settled into our house on the edge of the rainforest that eventually became a portable studio. We started rehearsing and booked the Lahaina Civic Auditorium for a full moon concert starring MU and a local band The Space Patrol. There hadn't been a big Rock N' Roll concert in quite awhile on the island, since Hendrix played there a few years earlier. The local radio & press gave us quite a bit of support and we had a song on the local charts that helped also. The concert was a complete success, we filled the place with 3,000 excited islanders, we went back on for 3 encores and they didn't want us to stop! The news of this happening quickly spread in the islands and we had offers from various promoters. One promoter who had also just moved to the island was Red Shepard who was the Broadway star in the musical "Hair." He was planning a big happening at his house 40 miles out in the jungle in the little village of Hana. Red wanted MU to be one of the headliners for this 2 day concert along with David Carradine , Bonnie Bramlett, & Ramblin Jack Elliot. We agreed and found ourselves traveling out the long winding road through the jungle to Hana. Its one of the most beautiful drives in the world with the jungle and waterfalls and pools on one side and the breathtaking views of the South Pacific on the other. This was during the gas shortage of 1974 and there were tons of hippies abandoning their cars along side the road. We arrived on Saturday morning shortly after David Carradine and his wife (Actress) Barbara Hershey arrived. David agreed to go on first with Barbara on flute, Dewey Martin (Buffalo Springfield) on drums and an unknown bass player. Bonnie Bramlett & Ramblin Jack had not yet arrived, so Mu went on second. Red had this beautiful teak wood stage built with a 40 foot waterfall on one side and an awesome view of the ocean!
We pulled out all the stops and did one of our best cosmic psychedelic performances ever! We ended with "Eternal Thirst" from our first album, we ended it with an OM chant that the crowd joined in on and continued for 20 minutes after we left the stage. As the sun was going down Red began wondering what had happened to Ramblin Jack, as a car had been left for him at the Hana airstrip just two miles away. Suddenly all the stage lights and power went off, Ramblin Jack comes staggering up the drive- he had a little to much to drink on the flight and hit a power pole about 50 feet from the driveway to the concert! A bunch of hippies helped the Hana power truck fix the downed wire, and four hours later the power was on. Ramblin Jack got cleaned up and insisted on going on. He went on-stage alright but he forgot his pants. There stood Ramblin Jack with a cowboy hat, an aloha shirt and naked from the waist down doing Bob Dylan songs. I was worried that he would lean into the mike and get the shock of his life, as I got a good jolt from that mike earlier in the day! The entire two day happening was filmed by Megus productions from Hollywood , to be titled "Maui 74", but due to several contract problems it was shelved and never came out.
During the next two weeks, Mu recorded nearly two albums worth of material that finally came out on LP in 1982 as MU End Of An Era "The Last Album." Now thanks to Sundazed Records these recordings and our first album are out on a beautiful 2 CD set!. In April 1974 United Artist re-issued our first album and a European tour was in the works. Then Jeff Cotton and Randy Wimer announced they were leaving the band to become christian ministers, MU broke up and I began a solo career.
[MuzikMan] You have had several interesting and mystical experiences. Can you talk more in-depth about the time you spent in the mountains of Maui? What was your lifestyle like? What did your diet consist of? Did you continue to have spiritual experiences on a regular basis?
[Merrell] After Mu broke up I went solo and moved deeper into the Maui rainforest, to study the Lost Continent and ancient Hawaiian history, that in itself is a mystical experience. Living 25 miles out in the jungle next to a free flowing stream by a waterfall can be very enlightening. When you don't have electricity or TV and you hear all the sounds of nature with no man made sound to pollute your mind you become aware and inspired in a new way. I was living with my girlfriend, violinist Mary Lee, and we stayed pretty much to a vegetarian diet, I did eat quite a bit of fresh fish, as it is so good in Hawaii. We played many places as a duo and had a steady gig at a club in Kahului for about 6 months. We then saved enough money to finance a trip to L.A. where we met up with Dino Airelli who was working at Shelter Records at the time and he took us to MCA's studio for 3 marathon sessions of 10 hours each.
That started the Maui album. We then went to San Francisco for a month of recording at Elliot Mazers studio. Some of the musicians we had played with on Maui came over and joined us and drummer Bill Berg who played on Bob Dylan's "Blood On The Tracks." We had some very inspired sessions. Dino Aielli took on the job of heading up George Harrison's new Dark Horse Records at that time, around the end of 1975. Dino became very busy, and he did play our finished tapes for George, but George, we were told, thought there were to many slow songs, so we went shopping to other labels. It did come out on LP on a small independent Hawaiian Label, re-issued in1989 on London's Reckless Records, and now on CD on Sweden's Subliminal Sounds. It's a very spiritual acoustic style, I really think it depicts my idyllic Maui Lifestyle, maybe too pure for the L.A. Music Biz! One of the highlights for Mary & I was playing for the Tibetan Lama Kar Mapa and other Rimpoches. That was one of the most uplifting times of my life. I don't have those kinds of spiritual experiences now a days.
[MuzikMan] Have you seen anymore UFOs besides the one you mentioned in the first part of this interview? Any strange or out of the ordinary things that happened that you would like to share?
[Merrell] I haven't seen anymore UFOs, I did see something around the same time in the rainforest when we were camping out in a remote area. I talk about that experience on the MU 2 CD set that's out now on Sundazed Records.
[MuzikMan] What has been the interest and reaction to the pillar and pyramid (pics in first part) you found? Have you drawn a lot of interest from people in the educational sector?
[Merrell] The pillar and pyramid photos are getting reactions from all over including Hawaii and Geologists from back East. Nobody can come to a complete conclusion. Some geologists think the pillar is a natural formation called Columnar Basalt, which it could be except they have been placed on a man made stone alter (4 in a semi circle) with stone sidewalks that lead into the ocean!
[MuzikMan] Did you ever think about contacting National Geographic or someone like that to create a documentary on the findings at Maui and really talk in-depth about all of your experiences?
[Merrell] I heard that the National Geographic Society did in fact visit the Pyramid I found in the crater and even drilled a hole in the side of it. They concluded it was only the capstone of a much larger formation that pre dated the lava flow. Because it's in a National Park no information was ever put out. And they said what I did by going off the trail, risking my life to get to it and photographing it was breaking the law, and it could give the Hawaii Parks Department a negative image.
[MuzikMan] Who do you think built all the temples and pyramids? What is your philosophy regarding how man got here on this planet? Do you feel it was evolution, displacement of an entire race from another planet or intentional?
[Merrell] It's hard to say who built all the temples and pyramids all over the world? Egypt & South America, and many other places. I don't think the Egyptians built the first pyramids and the South American Indians legend says the pyramids were there before them. The stone tablets all talk about a race of people coming from an Island in the South Pacific. There is a book called "Queen MU" written by a Dutch Explorer who the Indians say taught them how to repair the already built pyramids.
How do I feel man got on this planet?, Wow, thats an interesting question. I don't believe we came from monkeys, there's still to many monkeys running around. I do think it is possible we are related to some ancient astronauts, but even if we are, where did they come from? Hopefully mankind may find a few of these answers before we dissapear again!
[MuzikMan] What do you know about the new technologies concerning flight? Any breakthroughs or developments that will change the way we travel through the vast expanse of the universe?
[Merrell] My father was a pilot and taught me to fly at an early age, I soloed in both power planes and gliders. I've always been interested in flight. I was studying to be an Aeronautical Engineer in the 60s and then music carried me away. I have friends at Lockheed and I got to meet many test pilots when I lived in the Desert. They would land at the airport I worked at and I listened to them talking about the Lifting Body that evolved into the Space Shuttle. Now they are developing electro magnetic ion engines and anti gravity devices that are much more efficient than the current volatile rocket fuels. That's what would be needed to travel vast distances to explore the universe.
[MuzikMan] Can you bring everyone up to speed on what is happening right now for you?
[Merrell] I just finished 2 new projects, "Return To MU" an off shoot of the MU music that's been seven years in the making with Movie & Record producer William E. McEuen. It has a stellar cast of musicians that include, some of the last recorded works of Nicky Hopkins & John Cipolinna and John McEuen (Nitty gritty Dirt Band) Dean Torrence (Jan & Dean) Jay Furguson & Ed Cassidy (Spirit) and many others. The second project is titled "Goin Back To Delta" in the Blues Rock style and features Ed Cassidy, Pete Sears ( Starship & Hot Tuna) John McEuen & Valerie Johnson , current vocalist with Big Brother & The Holding Company. Both of these projects are in negotiation with labels and should be out soon. Also a project that was recorded live on Maui titled "Visitor From 2000 AD" will be out very soon. Warmest Aloha to all beings on Earth for the future, Merrell.