Up Close with Larry Hosford of The E-Types
A Major Player in Salinas, California's '60's Garage Band Extravaganza
"The E-Types were, and remain, the most popular group in this area, ever. . . . For one of their shows at The Coconut Grove in Santa Cruz, I think they still are second by maybe only a half-dozen tickets to The Righteous Bros for all-time attendance."
[Interviewer's note: Although the harder, rawer, bluesier sounds by groups such as the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, and Pretty Things are most typically thought of as the best music describing the '60's U.S. garage band genre, the Beatles, of course, were just as influential in impressing their style on countless teen groups. Salinas, California's E-Types were one of the absolute best bands from the era that captured the Fab Four's lighter and harmony riddled flavor. The Lance Monthly is pleased to present an interview with Larry Hosford, songwriter and guitarist for the band.]
[Lance Monthly] You contributed two of the best songs that the E-Types recorded: "I Can't Do it" and "Long Before." What was your musical background prior to writing those songs?
[Larry Hosford] I learned to play guitar by backing up my old man, the barn dance fiddle player. I sang a few Kingston Trio songs with some friends at my Senior class graduation party in Salinas, then straight-away started my musical career as a folk singer on Monterey's Cannery Row and thereabouts.
[Lance Monthly] So your father was a musician?
[Larry Hosford] No, I've led you down a false trail there; my dad wasn't too notorious outside the old home place. He was a transplanted 40-acre Illinois farm kid barn-dance fiddler - a real McCoy country boy. I guess I said that as I might say, "My car, the Ford."
[Lance Monthly] I believe your first band was named the Outsiders. Is that correct?
[Larry Hosford] Yes, I did the folk singer thing with a pal named Dan McCormick. We called ourselves The Outsiders. This was 1961-1963. We weren't the "Time Won't Let Me" Outsiders of a few years later. The only recording we did was with an old Webcor mono machine, and I mean it was old even then! Sure glad they don't make 'em like they used to. I still have the tapes.
[Lance Monthly] How did you hook up with the E-Types? Didn't you write the songs before you were a member of the band?
[Larry Hosford] I grew up with the Wence Brothers, Don Shephard, and, though I was closer in age to his brothers (also musicians), Danny Monigold. Bob, Jody and I were all on the same Little League team, etc. When I got out of the U.S. Army in 1965, I became aware of the E-Types when they won their first Battle of the Bands at Hartnell Junior College here in Salinas. I was astounded. I'd played with Don in our school bands, trombone and sax, respectively, but I didn't know any of those guys were guitar players. I quite instantly went over to Don's place, their Head Quarters, and tagged along with them everywhere thereafter. I started writing songs to earn my keep, as 'twere. I popped "I Can't Do It" on Bob and Jody one night in a nearby lettuce field, and it wound up being their first single.
[Lance Monthly] What then led to you officially becoming a member of the band?
[Larry Hosford] When Don contracted hepatitis his original stand-in was Terry Shehorn, but later that spot fell to me. However, I am NOT a lead guitarist. When Danny left the group, I took over on bass and Don returned for a time. When he suffered a relapse, we got Terry back to pick lead.
[Lance Monthly] How long were you a member of the E-Types?
[Larry Hosford] A year or more, I suppose, one way or another.
[Lance Monthly] How popular were the E-Types during your tenure?
[Larry Hosford] The E-Types were, and remain, the most popular group in this area, ever. They always sold out. They played 2-3 times weekly in central California from Fresno to San Luis Obispo, but the San Francisco/San Jose/Santa Cruz/Monterey area was home base. For one of their shows at The Coconut Grove in Santa Cruz, I think they still are second by maybe only a half-dozen tickets to The Righteous Bros for all-time attendance.
[Lance Monthly] You received song writing credit with E-Types guitarist Don Shepard on an unreleased demo, "It's Better Than I Planned." Did you two collaborate often?
[Larry Hosford] No, not really. We dissected songs all the time in the learning process, but "It's Better Than I Planned" was a rarity. When I saw it on the Sundazed CD, I had completely forgotten it.
[Lance Monthly] Don unfortunately passed away this year. What will you remember most about him?
[Larry Hosford] His humor. He was very shy in public, but he was privately hilarious, and very intelligent. He arranged all the music, could play everything, build anything, fix anything. Our greatest musical joy was three-part harmony. I will also never forget that he whipped me in a 100 yard "dash" in high school. Took about an hour. We were the slowest racers on the planet, but he got me by a step. Oh the ignominy!
[Lance Monthly] Were you still a member when the band called it quits? If so, what led to the break-up of the band?
[Larry Hosford] Yes, I was there at the end. We lasted well into '68. The spirit was pretty much sapped due to Don's recurrent illness, and gross mismanagement. I don't even remember our last show. Like an old soldier, The E-Types didn't die, just faded away.
[Lance Monthly] Sometime after the E-Types, you joined Snail, correct?
[Larry Hosford] I met those guys in the Coconut Grove days, the formative years for the Santa Cruz music scene, when they were in "different groups together." Snail was formed in 1968, and I stayed in touch, then when they needed a bass man I joined them in late 1971. That lasted til mid-'74, when I was offered a solo deal with Shelter Records. They later landed a deal with Cream Records and toured pretty extensively throughout the '70's. Snail was extremely popular out here, and their occasional reunion shows still jam the largest rooms available. I don't hang around with no brand-X rock bands. One of the founders, Ken Kraft, is my lead guitarist these days.
[Lance Monthly] Including Snail, what have been some of your post E-Types highlights?
[Larry Hosford] Lets' see: Snail, two LPs with Shelter recorded with Leon Russell, George Harrison--yes, that George--Byron Berline, Jerry Miller of Moby Grape, Tom Scott, on and on. I have had wonderful good fortune in the musical company I keep. My original guitarist, Frank Reckard, went on to play with Emmylou Harris for ten years in the Hot Band. I did some cuts for Warner Bros. involving James Burton, Ronnie Tutt, and Jerry Scheff from Elvis' TCB Band. The amazing Danny Gatton was in my group for a time. It gets pretty deep, really.
[Lance Monthly] Do you recall anything about the band, McDonald's Farm? They recorded one of your songs in 1970.
[Larry Hosford] Wow, Y'know, I'd completely forgotten that single but I have one around here somewhere. I think it was maybe an Ed Cobb group and they did one of my tunes ("I Can't Do It" ??) on the flip. I never heard a word about it before or after the fact, and don't even recall how I came by the 45, but I assure you I was never a McDonald's Farmer. Wow. "The Lost Episodes."
[Lance Monthly] Actually (thanks to Max Waller), I can identify the song as "Tis But I," a tune that Max describes as being very Paul McCartney-ish. Do you recall it?
[Larry Hosford] Oh sure - that was not an Ed Cobb deal; came post-E-types after an association with Bob Caloca and Terry Shehorn in 1969. Bob and Terry taped several of my songs in L.A. (nothing released) including "'Tis But I." That McDonald thing popped up afterward, a product of the same production team no doubt. Everyone's a thief.
[Lance Monthly] Bob Wence has recently formed a new version of the E-Types, and they released a CD a few years back. Have you heard it?
[Larry Hosford] "Chase The Moon?" I was super-impressed . Bob sings better with each passing day, and the production is much better than the things from the '60's. I thought he did a great job, but I wish he had done a Larry Hosford song!
[Lance Monthly] Do you still keep in touch with Bob or any of the other E-Types?
[Larry Hosford] Yes, Bobby the most. He's still near me here in sunny California. Jody, in Tennessee, and I are in cyber-touch. Terry Shehorn still plays with my group from time to time--very excellently--and I saw Reggie some while back with his current group.
[Lance Monthly] Is there any chance of an original E-Types reunion? You still keep in touch with Bob and Jody . . . would you be interested in performing with them again as the E-Types?
[Larry Hosford] Not to be flippant, but Don Shephard's demise quite precludes a reunion of the originals. Me, I would, in your hot minute, play at any kind of occasion with the guys, but they would have to get geared up for it. I am the only one of us who has been a player always. Bob effected a reunion of sorts for "Chase The Moon," yet even there Jody and Don could not participate. There is no doubt the music would be better than ever, but anything along those lines would be completely up to Bobby, of course. He was/is/will always be leader of The E-Types.
[Lance Monthly] Since '96, you've been playing with the Larry Hosford Band. How often do you play?
[Larry Hosford] I am ensconced weekly at a club called The Windjammer in Aptos near Santa Cruz. From there I branch out as occasion requires up and down the coast. I Just went to Nome, Alaska for a Folk Fest up there, for example. This, that; I stay pretty busy.
[Lance Monthly] You also have a new CD out on Asteroid Records entitled "Windjammin." What can you tell me about it?
[Larry Hosford] Well, it features my songs born of the Aptos gig, obviously, and the cream of my highly populated 'Jammer band. It's like "Chase The Moon" in that the performance/production is smoother than it was with the earlier stuff. More diverse, too, and not as countrified. It can be ordered through my http://www.larryhosford.com web site.
[Lance Monthly] There's a review on your web site that describes you as "not a hard-core country singer, but rather like a more countrified John Prine." Where primarily do you get your present musical influences from?
[Larry Hosford] Excepting the jazz and classical fields, I was influenced by just about everything available from my birth in 1943 until I stopped following pop music in the '70's. Since then my influences have been those I know and work with. I don't follow charts or trends at all.
[Lance Monthly] This question pertains more to your time with the E-Types than to your personal career, but not once has "The Beatles" been mentioned. Considering the E-Types are best remembered as a Beatles-influenced band, I find that strange. How influential were they to you?
[Larry Hosford] Mike! Hoo-boy! This group was known as "The Salinas Beatles." We ate, drank, and slept Beatles. We did lots of Beatles songs. They were the inspiration: no Beatles, no E-Types. And you know, it is cool that I wound up recording with George Harrison on "Crosswords," my second Shelter LP. You can read my version of that event in a story called "Famous Night." It has been published at http://sisyphustracks.com/lorenzo_famousnight.htm, an Internet broadcast site in Florida.
[In addition], this link will take you to a page at Beatles Unlimited, the Dutch fan club, where I have a bit more to say about the recordings.
[Lance Monthly] What can we expect next from Larry Hosford?
[Larry Hosford] I have several things in the can for future release, and recording is an on-going process. Too, it is way easy to stay home when you live in this part of the world, but I plan to take the show on the road in one format or the other. I mean to go to Europe in the not-so-distant future.
[Lance Monthly] Best of luck, Larry.