About The Tin Whistle

Hanging out in the Red Herring Coffeeshop in the basement of the Unitarian Church, 1967. Photo by Robert Henderson.

In 1967, I was recruited into the Knight Riders as their new bass player, having recently purchased a red Gibson SG, like my mentor in Cream, Jack Bruce. It was the preferred style of the San Francisco bands, which made it so cool. Sadly, the best musician in the Knight Riders, Donnie Perrino, was cruelly cast aside. He would immediately switch from bass to Hammond organ to prove his mastery, but I don’t think he ever fully recovered from the slight of being the band’s best musician to be replaced by someone who could barely play. Donnie was a great teacher, and taught me how to play a blues progression in C on the piano in a few minutes, my first encounter into improvisation.

I was recruited based solely on looks. I often looked like I’d stepped from the back cover of a Traffic album with my Cabretta double breasted black leather jacket, long-sleeve cashmere mock turtleneck with thin sailor stripes, the tapered-to-the-knee and then stove-pipe blue velvet corduroy pants with the cords running horizontal, and the blue suede Beatle boots. Those electric pants anticipated the soon-to-dominate and soon-to-disappear bellbottoms.

The songs we practiced included Light My Fire, with John Knight on organ (we were the first in town to learn the song), Gimme Some Lovin’ with John Wilson on vocals, Midnight Hour. Train Kept a Rollin’.

Blowup had recently come out and the Yardbirds were the kings of kool. Within a month, the band leader (John Hayes) discovered I had taken acid. He called an emergency band meeting where I was offered the choice to rebuke LSD and other drugs or depart the band. I opened my satchel and offered everyone a free hit of acid. In unison, they lurched back at my depravity. Another issue was Hayes’ dad, a lawyer and prominent member of Revilo Oliver’s local John Birch Society lodge had reported me as a suspected Communist sympathizer. Likely that lodge had a few LEOs in the ranks.

Very soon, I created the only underground newspaper in America founded and run by a teenager. The Tin Whistle. Still operating online, and still blowing whistles. But within weeks, a team of State Narcotics undercover agents targeted me with an elaborate entrapment scheme that took me out of action for over a year until they dropped the case and I left town for San Francisco.

I moved to New York City in 1978 and became the first journalist to start documenting the origins of hip hop.

In 1988, while editor of High Times, I created the Cannabis Cup and produced the event for two decades.

In 1990, I published the first and only national magazine article on the CIA assassination of JFK.

In 1991, I began organizing the first 420 ceremonies outside Marin Country through the activist group I founded, The Freedom Fighters.

Eventually, I exposed the Weather Underground as a CIA plot to destroy the peaceful counterculture revolution. Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn were avowed Communists (as was their secret leader, the lawyer who stole High Times, Michael Kennedy). Communism in Russia was funded by Wall Street while in the USA, the party was run in secret by our National Security State from inception. The founder, John Reed, was a spy.

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6 Replies to “About The Tin Whistle”

  1. Steven, I am working on a podcast for MovieMaker magazine about the Medicine Ball Caravan. I would like to use the David Peel interview you have in one of your youtube videos where he is discussing it. Please let me know if you’d be okay with that.

  2. Hi Steven, I was a Freedom Fighter back in the day, and a founder of Mass Cann (I started their newsletter Mass Grass). I rode the purple bus with you, but can’t remember where we were going at the time. Now I live in Humboldt County and am making a movie about the Hemp Movement. I’d love to interview you about those days for the movie if you are available. Thanks!

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