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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HMS Bounty

MERRELL - guitar, vocals
BILL DODD - guitar
LARRY MEYERS - percussion

After the brief Fapardokly project Merrell finally settled into another band with three other musicians; Bill Dodd who'd been with him in Fapardokly, plus Jack Jordan and Larry Meyers who'd both played in The Impacts. Calling themselves H.M.S. Bounty as a nod towards the British invasion Merrell envisaged them as taking elements from Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds and Cream to create a 12-string Rickenbacker driven sound.

They became the house band for The Cove at Pismo Beach, where one memorable night they played a 30 minute version of their song "Rich Man's Fable" to placate a biker gang who had taken over the club.

Two songs, "Rich Man's Fable" and "Drivin' Sideways (on A One-Way Street)", were recorded at Hollywood's Gold Star Studios in the summer of 1968 and used to negotiate a deal with Uni Records. Uni were impressed enough to finance a full album at Gold Star. Unfortunately, this is where the trouble started. The producers tried to rein in any experimentation and to move towards a more commercial bubblegum sound which did not impress the band.

Shamley/UNI Records publicity photo for HMS Bounty

Released in November 1968, the band were more than a little surprised to find the album credited to "Merrell Fankhauser and HMS Bounty". Despite their annoyance at this the album did get a four star rating in Billboard and was played on many radio stations; it looked like it could be a hit. But at this point Uni seemed to lose interest and the band's producers appeared to be more interested in developing Merrell's solo career.

There were problems within the band too. The drummer, Larry Meyers, was becoming unreliable. This resulted in the band playing at least one show at a military base with a drummer from the audience. So Merrell hooked up with former Exiles drummer, Randy Wimer again.

Sometime around April/May 1969 Merrell contacted his friend, Don Aldridge, in Lancaster. Don takes up the story:-

Merrell called me from Woodland Hills, CA in the West San Fernando Valley. He said, 'Come down. Let's write a hit!' I traveled to N. Hollywood station on a Greyhound bus. I was picked up by Merrell and Randy Wimer in an Econoline-type van. It was a Dodge I believe.

I arrived with [the song] "Tampa Run" nearly complete. Merrell finished it up (in a way). We met with Norm Malkin and Jack Hoffman, on Selma Avenue the next morning. Their office was next to Harry Nillson's. I was immediately signed to a $200 per month writer's contract. A few minutes later, upon leaving, we ran into record producer David Nelson, who had heard "Mr. Clock" [the Aldridge, Fankhauser & Lotspeich song], and wanted to sign me on the spot. Too late, and I had cause to re-think my rash decision. I was inducted into ASCAP by Norm and Jack in May 1969.

In June that year Merrell went into Gold Star Studios with Don Aldridge and the HMS Bounty band (but with Randy Wimer on drums) to record the song about dope smuggling, "Tampa Run". However, it looks like most of that session was erased and the track was re-recorded later with Merrell backed by session musicians.

In September 1969 "Tampa Run" were released as a single with "Everybody's Talkin" (yes, that song!) on the flip side under Merrell's name. The single was played against Poco's "Pickin' Up the Pieces", on the Rate-A-Record segment of American Bandstand. It lost by a hair, but went on to be a regional hit in the Southwestern and Northwestern U.S.

By this time, Uni's indifference and Merrell's 'mutiny' pretty much caused the rest of HMS Bounty to call it a day. Just to rub salt in the wounds Merrell and the band discovered that a large advance for the album plus all royalties had gone to the producers, ... and the musicians (as is so often the case) received nothing apart from the PA system they'd been using.

MU >>

Historical footnote:
The original HMS Bounty commanded by Captain Bligh set sail from Portsmouth in 1787 on a mission to transport breadfruit from Tahiti to the West Indies as an inexpensive food source for plantation slave labourers. Bligh's overbearing style of command eventually led to the famous mutiny led by Fletcher Christian. Many of the mutineers who were not captured made a life for themselves amongst the tropical islands, while the main body of them settled on Pitcairn Island.



Bill Dodd

Jack Jordan

Larry Meyers


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

© Text copyright Steve Froy 2003-2015