Sonic's Rendezvous Band: The One That Got Away
The Rationals had also broken up, in 1970. Back in '68, they'd confounded their fans by following up a smooth soul ballad (Chuck Jackson's "I Need You") with a slice of guitar-driven psychedelic rock, "Guitar Army," a bona fide Michigan classic which provided a book title for John Sinclair and encapsulates the spirit of the time better than any other record save Bob Seger's "Heavy Music" or "Kick Out the Jams" itself. On their last legs, reduced to playing lounge gigs and shopping malls, they cut a classic album which was released on Bob Crewe's label moments before they sank without a trace. Since then, Scott Morgan had been playing R&B-flavored rock with a variety of bands including Guardian Angel and Lightning.
SCOTT MORGAN: This guy from Mainstream Records, Bob Shad, came out and he'd wanted to sign the Rationals. People advised us against signing with him. He had a bad reputation, so we DIDN'T sign with him, but after the band broke up, he came out, and he and Robin Seymour and I went to lunch. They were talking, and he mentioned, "Yeah, I wanna take you to Florida and record you with some session guys down there at Criteria." The Criteria house band [including Duane Allman on guitar] was really an awesome band, serious players, like the Muscle Shoals guys or the Stax guys...I don't know if that would have happened, but I got disillusioned at the meeting with their attitude, because I thought they weren't including me enough in the equation. They were kinda talking about me as a contract that was being passed around or something. [Ex-Rationals bassist] Terry [Trabandt] played with Mitch Ryder for a few months after the Rationals. Mitch had always wanted to play with the Rationals, and he hired Terry in the first incarnation of the Detroit band. After about six months, Terry quit and we started Guardian Angel. The first line-up was me and Terry and my brother David on drums, and [Wayne] "Tex" Gabriel, who we had met through Mitch. Tex moved to New York and joined a band called Elephant's Memory, which became the Plastic Ono Band, and we replaced him with an old friend of ours from Ann Arbor, Jeff Jones. Al Jacquez [ex-Savage Grace] joined the band, which was kind of a group thing that I wasn't really involved in, a group decision kind of a thing, but we started working with John Sinclair and Pete Andrews in a company called Rainbow Multimedia here in Ann Arbor.
Circumstances led Scott to team up with Fred Smith.
SCOTT MORGAN: When I initially started getting together with Fred, I intended to get together with Wayne [Kramer], because I knew Wayne a lot better. But Wayne steered me to Fred, and it was great! We became FAST friends, and hung out together all the time, had a lot of laughs and good times.. Y'know, we didn't have any money, but we shared the same interest in music, and it became a real close friendship there for a long time. I thought Fred was a great guy, very intelligent, very interesting personality, character, really funny, easygoing, laid-back...he was a lot like me; I don't mean to call myself intelligent, but I felt a kinship with him. We seemed to hit it off really well. We WERE a lot alike, so it was easy to become friends, and we did become really good friends and musical partners. So first of all, I played with Fred on guitar, Terry Trabandt wanted to be a guitar player, Michael Davis was on bass and [ex-Rational] Bill Figg was on drums and we did ONE GIG like that, and then it all fell apart.
MICHAEL DAVIS: That was the first incarnation of Sonic's Rendezvous Band. It was a name that Fred came up with as we were on our way to our first show. He said, "This is the name of the band. I wanna call it Sonic's Rendezvous Band" and everybody went, "Okay, Fred." When Fred said something, you just went, "Okay, Fred." And that was what that was. Later, we had this guy playing keyboard, James Allen. He was a relation to Jimmy Hoffa, nephew or something, and Fred thought that was good 'cause this was a connection to the real Detroit. Fred was real pleased at that fact and James Allen was actually a real good guy and a good keyboard player, and sort of a funny dude. I don't know whatever happened to him. We played at this place [the Limber Loft in Leonard, Michigan] where Fred and John Sinclair had gotten busted a couple of years before that for disturbing the peace and rioting. Morgan was somebody we all respected as a singer and his thing with the Rationals demanded a lot of "Respect," ha, ha; they were a good band. They never fucked up like we did. There was the Scott Morgan Group. One record that Fred and I played on, then Scott and Fred teamed up as Sonic's Rendezvous. I went to jail.