In early 1968 in the San Joaquin Valley town of Merced California five aspiring musicians found each other to form a rock band called “Crazy Horse”. Gary Boyer the lead guitarist came from the band called “The Tokays” which had been playing in the area for years. Gary was the drummer but then decided to switch to guitar by the time “Crazy Horse” came along. Rick Jackson guitarist and vocalist and Bobby Cole bass and vocalist came from a former band called “The Profits” which had been playing in the area since ‘64. Ken McCall lead vocalist came from a popular band of the area “The Nimitz Freeway” and then leading up on drums was Brian Bhar.
Merced had a rich historical music scene that went back to the 50’s. The town had an ethnic mix that created a melting pot of different styles of music from the Blues to Rhythm and Blues, Soul, Tex-Mex then in the early 60” Folk Music became very popular which transitioned into Folk Rock and eventually to Psychedelic Rock. “Crazy Horse” had all of these back ground influences where they could move with ease between the different styles.
Bobby Cole got married and left the band so enters Tim Edgington on bass and vocals which became the perfect fit for Brian. Not long after that Ken left the band so the remaining four stayed together till the end.
They became a valley favorite playing to sold out concerts for around two years.
Norman Orr (legendary Fillmore poster artist) became a fan and did most of all their posters which you can view on this website.
In “69 Neil Young named his band “Crazy Horse” and they were forced to change their name. Being the true Hippies they were they chose the name “A Tear and A Smile” after a title of a book by Khalil Gibran author of “The Prophet”. He was extremely popular in the 1960s counterculture and is considered to be the third most widely read poet in history behind Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu. (a little trivia)
Some of there highlights are;
They played at “Gathering of the Tribes” in Golden Gate Park in “68 in front of 10,000 people. They played at the Fillmore a couple of times the second time they got a standing ovation and an encore and were approached by several record companies but they decided to move to Santa Cruz instead where all the Hippies were going.
“This decision still puzzles me to this day I guess we were just too young” (Rick Jackson)
They became the first house band for now famous “Catalyst” when it was still just a night club. They played around the area for about a year wound up living in the woods in Felton and getting lost in a Purple Haze and broke up late 1970.
The band went on in various forms until 1974.
The band opened up for such famous acts as:
Janis Joplin w/ Big Brother and the Holding Co.,
The original “Fleetwood Mac” with Peter Green at the Fillmore,
Santana and many more.