Calling From A Star
The Music of Merrell Fankhauser
The Impacts, Fapardokly, HMS Bounty, Mu & Fankhauser/Cassidy Band

Early Years
The Impacts
The Exiles
HMS Bounty
The Man From Mu




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MERRELL - guitar, vocals
BILL DODD - guitar
DICK LEE - drums
DAN PARRISH (replaced by John Oliver)

After the break-up of The Exiles Merrell headed back to the Californian Central Coast where he ...

"... was glad to get back to the beach where I started out with my surf band The Impacts. The desert area of Lancaster was interesting but very hot in summer and cold in winter. The sand blowing in your face and getting in your throat didnt make singing easy. I always was a kind of tropical guy anyway."

Here he formed a band with Bill Dodd (who had been in The Impacts), Dick Lee and Dan Parrish. They began gigging within the local area using an assortment of names until Merrell came up with the extraordinary name of Fapardokly. Strange indeed, but makes sense when you realise it's made up from the band's surnames (sort of!) - FAnkhauser, PARrish, DOdd, dicK LEE.

The name remained but Dan Parrish left, to be replaced by John Oliver on bass.

The band was playing in the Cove Club in Pismo Beach around 1966 when Glen MacArthur (who had started a new record company, UIP Records) came over for a visit and said he wanted to put out an album of Merrell's songs and use a few of the old Exiles tunes, and maybe Merrell had some new material he could include?

Making the 200 mile trek back to Glen's studio in Palmdale the band recorded "No Retreat", "Gone To Pot" & "The War", then went down to Gold Star Studios in L.A. and recorded "The Music Scene".

Merrell recalls:-

"Glen could get a good sound in his modest studio but he recorded live to 2 tracks, and sometimes you would have to sing & play the song 10 times or more while he was adjusting the sound. This process kind of took the life out of the song and with that desert dirt in your throat you would become hoarse and strained. So we were always ready to go to L.A. and record in a better environment with newer up to date equipment.

We went back to our gig in Pismo and a few months later Glen showed up with the finished Fapardokly LP! We had no choice in the songs Glen took off the shelf to put on the LP, he had a lot of material from several years."

Which explains the difference in styles of the songs on the Fapardokly album - ranging from the innocence of the early Exiles material through the folk/psychedelic Aldridge, Fankhauser & Lotspeich tracks to the rockier newly recorded songs.

Merrell was not very impressed by the album - he thought a better cover could have been done and more older photos of The Exiles and history of the changing line ups should have been included. None of them ever thought that the Fapardokly LP would go on to be one of the most valuable and sought after collectors items from the 1960s!

Fapardokly back cover photo
Photograph used on the back cover
of the Fapardokly album

When Bill Dodd was interviewed back in 1989 for 'Unhinged' magazine he was asked about the photograph on the back cover of the album and he said:-

"... can't we forget that ... I would rather put that aside ... but I guess it's funny. We were straight when we we went into the motel where we were living at. Then we put on all these wigs and drapes around us. then we went out and did the pictures, but when we tried to get back in the motel room, they wouldn't let us back in. It was like 'Who are you guys?'. We had sheets draped around us or something. they made us dress up weird..."

However the album did get Merrell noticed by people in the music business. One guy in particular named George Tipton was an arranger and producer who worked on many of Harry Nillsons LPs.

Merrell continues the story:-

"George introduced me to Harry who was writing for a publisher , and had an office in a skyscraper in RCA Records building in Hollywood! I thought this is the life for me and immediatlely made plans to move to Hollywood. At the same time I also met 2 producers Norm Malkin & Jack Hoffman who were very excited with my talent as a singer songwriter and said they would put up some initial money to record new material and try to get a record deal! John Oliver & Dick Lee were not so keen to leave their slow paced small town life and move to L.A."

So, there was yet another new lineup of musicians. Jack Jordan on bass and Larry Myers on drums came in and with Bill Dodd, that group eventually became H.M.S. Bounty.

HMS Bounty >>

Introduction   |  The Impacts  |  The Exiles  |  Fapardokly  |  HMS Bounty  |   Mu  |  The Man From Mu  |   Discography

© Text copyright Steve Froy 2003-2015