Here In 1975 - here in 2007    
The Boize, the Knobs and Ozone Shirley?
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Richie Johnson


    We are giving attention to the Ozone Shirley story because it shows a lesser known period and place of Boston rock. The Cambridge Common concerts were going on from at least 1968 with the Bosstown Sound groups. There were lots of them and they were free. You have to love the Peoples Republic of Cambridge. Johnathan Richman used to play there by just showing up and playing. He wouldn't have an offical concert per se. I never saw a picture showing the crowd and environs like these pictures.
   We have some comments and memories from Fred Pineau and John Havorka, both still playing like Richee. The bands and songs they covered show some of the influences brought into the punk scene a few years latter.

Ozone Shirley on Cambridge Common From Fred Pineau...
       This band was called – wait for it – Ozone Shirley. That’s right, it’s not a misprint. I can’t remember how the name came to be, but I do remember not liking it in the least. I was just speaking to someone the other day about this show. It was, as you know, on the Cambridge Common – they had a series in the summer with rock bands every Sunday. We had been scheduled to play and either blown off or rained out three or four times before we finally got to play. Remember – this was either 1971 or 1972 – there was literally no original scene in Boston and bands like ours could not get booked anywhere, so we would walk across broken glass on our knees for any opportunity that we got to play. The day progressed and the shut off time was fast approaching without us playing due to some horrible pseudo blues band running really long. I went up to the organizer and basically begged to get us on. He, I’m sure just to get rid of me, finally got us on with about 20 minutes to spare.

   I don’t remember most of the songs we did, but I had begun writing some decent songs for that time, and two of them we did were “Rock & Roll Shoes” and “Meat Eater”. I also wrote a lot of not so good material such as “T.J. Slaughter” that is deservedly buried, hopefully deep enough that it can never claw its way out of the coffin. In a bizarre twist, without his ever knowing anything about my having written a song titled “Meat Eater”, my songwriting partner in The Illegals, Mark Kennedy, wrote lyrics to one of The Illegals songs titled – you guessed it – “Meat Eater”. Ozone Shirley also did some covers such as “Roadrunner”, “I’m Waiting for the Man”, and “ TV Eye”. They may seem obvious covers today, but back then no one was going near material like that.

   I had worked at the old Sears warehouse on Brookline Ave. and we had a softball team called The Knicks, named after Knickerbocker Beer, hence the tee shirt. I’ve never drunk alcohol, I just liked the colors.
   The bass player was McGregor Maghee (I don’t know if I got the spelling right), who worked with Richee and I in several band incarnations. Good bass player and a nice guy. In this photo John is actually playing my guitar, a Guild Polara S-100. Its highlight was that it had a guitar stand built into the back of it – other than that it was no damn good! I am playing a Gibson SG that a buddy of mine – Hugh Leonardo – bought and then didn’t learn how to play, so rather than let it sit he turned it over to me. I loved the guitar but hated the red wood grain color, so Richee painted it black. We all loved it then, but when Hugh finally asked for it back he was pretty shocked. I felt bad, but I had the guitar for so long that I had begun to consider it my own. Oh well, at least it was a good paint job. I am also playing through that Fender Super Reverb that you bought from me! ( Yes, I still have that sweet Fender. - Blowfish ) After this band John and I went on to form Automatic Slim with Robin Baltimore on drums and Vampyre Mike Kassel on the other guitar. John played bass, and was a damn good bass player! Lotsa great stories from that band – wild, wild, west kinda stuff.

Ozone Shirley on Cambridge Common    I have fond memories of Richee. We rehearsed in the basement of his parent’s log cabin house in Burlington – they were patient souls. Richee had this really pretty girl friend with long blond hair, and she owned a VW Beetle that we used to transport everyone to rehearsal when my car was on the fritz. All of us in the Beetle with our guitars - it got REAL tight! He was always a really solid, hard hitting drummer, and he once wanted us to call the band Chrome Rat. In retrospect it couldn’t have been worse than Ozone Shirley! We didn’t hang out at all because I was leading such a different life – married with two little kids as opposed to being smart and single. We went on to do different things in the scene when it finally happened, but we had a lot of fun together then.

45 years playing this damn guitar and still rockin’ (and alive),

From John Havorka...
   In answer to your question about Ozone Shirley, a band that was also sometimes called Chrome Rat, at least when anyone bothered to call it anything at all, that photo is from 1971, probably July 1971. It was taken at Cambridge Commons. There was a big crowd there but our music was greeted with total silence. I then realized that we were not going to become popular at all soon. But I figured that was their loss. I loved that band. Pictured from right to left is me, Fred Pineau, Richee Johnson, and the bass player was McGregor McGehee. (McGregor went on to making a living playing bass in country bands and so far as I know that is what he is still doing now.)

    The 3 songs we did during that set (it is strange how one picture can bring back such exact memories sometimes) were all written by Fred. "Meat Eater", "Better Than Before" and "Texas John Slaughter". I saw "Texas John Slaughter" as being a simplification of "TV Eye" by The Stooges. I was big on minimalism so I liked that. Other things we did included a bunch of Alice Cooper songs, "Citadel" by The Rolling Stones and a song with lyrics by The Who called "You Can Join Our Gang" but there was no music provided for it so we wrote music for it ourselves. Also there may be a reel to reel Ozone Shirley rehearsal tape someplace but I dont know where. It probably contains "You Can Join Our Gang", "Heaven and Hell" by The Who, and "Citadel" by The Rolling Stones but I'm a bit hazy on that.

Best regards,

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