On Ninja Tune
It was nearing the end of the sixties' decade. My brothers, Doug ,Daryl and I were living in Malibu, surfing and gigging around the Los Angeles area in various bands including our own. We came from a very musical family; our father Carmen Dragon was a well known symphony conductor and arranger around Hollywood, our mother Eloise, a colaratura soprano singer and our two sisters, Carmen and Kathy played harp and flute respectively. I was the youngest of the brothers. I played drums and was dabbling with recording equipment and photography. My brothers played great keys. Daryl also played the vibes, bass, guitar and a few other instruments.
That all being said, it was a great time for music. The Beatles with George Martin opened up a big door to just about anything musically and production-wise. Hendrix was blowing minds with his trip and Zep defined new parameters for rock and roll. Around the same time The Doors and others were freaking us out with their hypnotic sounds. Doug and I thought it was time for us to enter the arena and put something "serious" on tape. We hooked up with my high school buddy/recording engineer Donn Landee who was working at Sunwest Recording Studios in Hollywood at the time. We worked out a "spec deal" and arrived in the off hours, sometimes after our club gigs around 3 am and working 'till morning. We became more "driven" as we laid down more tracks; Doug and I had never explored this territory before, especially in the vocal department. I was playing my usual "jazzy" style with Doug laying down the groove on the keys. Doug was singing the low parts and I was experimenting with high layered harmonies. Donn added his great recording and production ideas and as we listened to the playbacks we were all fired up! There was a unique sound coming from the JBL control room speakers...
We called it BFI, for "Blue Forces Intelligence"! Don't ask me why. We were certain we had a "hit". We shopped the finished product all over Hollywood to the major labels with no luck. We got comments from the big boys like "Great production but I don't hear a hit" to "We can't fit it into a niche". After a few months we became discouraged and shelved the tapes. It was fun recording, but The Dragons and the BFI project seemed destined to obscurity. Advance the clock 37 years...I get an e-mail from Kevin, DJ Food at Ninjatune, and he says he loves the song "Food for my Soul" by The Dragons and wants to include it in his latest mix. He found the song on a surf film soundtrack album that I produced that was released in the mid seventies. I had put that one BFI tune on that record because the film's producer, the late Hal Jepsen, really liked it. I told Kev there was more that was recorded at the same time period and sent him MP3s of the album. He liked what he heard. All I had in my possession was a copy of the master tape. I tracked Donn down after losing contact with him decades ago. I asked him if he knew where the BFI master tapes were. He said he was "looking right at them". Miraculously, the tapes were "rescued" in 1974 by his friend, Howard Weiss when the tape vault at Sunwest was being cleaned out and they were headed for the trash .What a trip.
We're now up to speed. "BFI" is now released. My brothers, Donn and I couldn't be more pleased. In the mid seventies, Doug moved to Hawaii. Around '79-'80, he made a name for himself gigging around Australia. Daryl went on to join Toni Tennille as "The Captain", and I am still producing and recording bands and now doing music television, occasionally drumming and "beaching it" in the Santa Barbara area.. Donn went on to make records at Warner Brothers with Ted Templeman, Lenny Waronker and Ed Van Halen. He is currently doing Internet commerce and still photography.