Crazy Horse, A Tear and a Smile

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.

Poster by Norman Orr

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.

24 thoughts on “Crazy Horse, A Tear and a Smile

  1. Bassist, A Tear And a Smile…summer of…geez, either 1971 or 1972, (I think it was ’72), imported to Merced with singer Carey Williams (b&w photo second from top) from Santa Barbara, where I went to college after graduating from Atwater High School, one of the “various incarnations” mentioned in the text. Rocking crazy with Rick, Brian, and Gary was a lot of fun…

    1. Hi Tim,

      Please contact me. I have some cute pictures of you and Cindy at my birthday party when we were about 6 or 7 years old. I would love to send them to you. Thanks.


  2. Who’d a thunk! Glad to see the page. What memories. Rick has been bashing my brain for memories, and amazingly there are still some in there. The color pic directly above(us sitting) was taken in the band “lounge”, “dressing room”, and anything else you could imagine room, at the Filmore West. We were 4 little kids ooohing and aaahing at all the autograpghs all over the walls. From members of the Grateful Dead and all the other S.F. locals to Jimi Hendrix. It was the first time we could actually hear ourselves sing, with the Filmore West great monitors and sound system. And It Was Great!
    I can go on & on, but for now, Peace.
    Tim Edgington/bass,vocals

  3. Tim,
    Great to be stumbling through the past and bump into you. Just thought you would like to know I still have a set of drums in the house and can play them just as well as the day I picked up my first set of sticks. For fifteen years of my 31 year old son’s life all I heard from him was “Dad, get a new beat!” That’s right, close to fifty years of playing and I have yet to move beyond that original beat. At least I got one beat. Hope you are having a great life.
    Jerry Van De Veere

  4. So friends, where is everyone these days? I’m still playing. Now retired from Alaska and Saudi Araia.

    Brian, drums from crazy horse/AT&S

    1. Hi Brian… been a long time. I’m still playing too. Not yet retired, just tired.
      Were you playing in Saudi? ….Tonics or something?

  5. Good to hear from you, Brian…Les here. Still in the Bay Area, still rockin’. Find me and my band, The Muddy Roses (playin’ Americana now) on Facebook. Loved the A Tear and a Smile summer!

  6. Tim,
    Send me your email and I’ll send you some photos. Also could I have a digital copy of the Fillmore back stage phot?

    1. Hey Brian,
      This “Merced Music” thing is great! As some of the other replies, I’m still ‘rockin’, but mostly in my “Lazy Boy”, and my musical performances are as a choir boy.
      I’m not too computer savvy, so here’s my Email address –
      I’m looking forward to hearing from you, and thanks for remembering me.

      Peace & Love,

    2. I just heard that Gary passed away (Mar ’15). Hadn’t seen him for about 10 years. What a loss. The worlds a lonelier place right now.

      1. Jim
        I have lost all trace of you but clearly remember all the musical fun we had.

      2. Brian last time I saw you was in Ventura and you were heading to Santa Barb to see some girl and said u would b back. Maybe .It is so nice to find u I admired and looked up to you and have so many wonderful memories

  7. I am Brian’s little sister and I followed A Tear and A Smile from Merced’s American Legion Hall to the Fillmore and Speedway Meadows in the Haight. I was your first groupie. “Love Lights” was my favorite song.

  8. Rick,
    I have allot of pictures but I do not have a single picture of us on the stage as a band does any one out there have a picture of us on stage we all just lived in the moment. As far as that goes
    if any one has any pictures I’m putting out 2 C.D.’s and would like to get all the info I can.
    Thanks we sure had fun didn’t we!

  9. RIP Gary Boyer. Good friend and best man at my wedding in 1970. Can someone update me with his obituary? Marlene and I are so sorry to hear this news. We still have a poster of a tear and a smile we just found in old high school memorabilia.

  10. Interesting that there is no comment on the ‘summer of love ‘ concert at the Bertainia Ranch July 21 this year (2018). Was a nice affair. I had the privilege of playing guitar with Crazy Horse & AT&S. Came off well. Was great so see some old friends. Hope there is more music in the future. Didn’t build my callouses back up for nothing

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