Edgar's Firesign History

It was my idea at that long-ago Bozos session to take notes for Tom, as he was thousands of miles away. It gave me a reason for being there. Well, it was reason enough that the Firesign trusted and allowed me to watch them create the magic – what an honor to be the "representative fan." That wasn't enough of a reason, though, so I took notes that became reports to Tom. As they were only for Tom, I destroyed the notes after writing the letters. The only surviving notes are some for the last letter, from the Next World sessions, which I never finished. Those notes – and that letter – are included in this series. Until Tom found these letters in the summer of '03, and I searched my files, he had no idea I had written anything about that album. As he was at those sessions, there was no need to write him about them. My need to continue to document motivated that letter, to "Someone." I guess that "Someone" is you, Tom, David, Peter, Phil, and Philip. Why did the letters stop there? Life moves on.

I honestly can't tell you when I first heard the Firesign Theatre. But, I can, vaguely, give you a picture of how it came to be that I was taking all those session notes. I remember listening to some great radio theatre on KRLA, as I drove home from work, not believing the magic I was hearing and feeling. I remember discovering the Sunday morning broadcasts, and staying in bed just to hear them undisturbed. And, of course, the radio commercials; the Hour-Hour. By then, I was writing to the guys, complementing, raving, sending bizarre newspaper clippings and headlines, encouraging more of this, less of that. I was memorizing the albums and giving them as gifts, taping the radio shows when I could.

In October, 1970, college friend Michael Renz interviewed the guys for a proposed Rolling Stone article that was never published. Now, remember, I'd been sending letters to the guys, but by then had stopped cause 1) my life was a little crazed at that point 2) I couldn't find them on the radio 3) no one had responded, so I felt that maybe I was bothering them, and certainly didn't want to do that. So, Michael interviews the guys, mentions me (cause I was so devoted to them, and had mentioned all the above to him), and I get this note from him, which I have kept all these years. I won't quote it all, but here's a useful part: "I asked if they knew you and they all jumped up and shouted 'Edgar?' and indicated you were their most beloved fan. From what I gathered, they're eager (Edgar) for you to drop by the studio some Sunday night and see them. "

And so I did. Hesitantly. "I'll go once, just to watch the magic, shake their hands, and let them know how wonderful they are." I just wanted to let them know how very important what they were doing was. I wanted to do everything I could to let them know they could make it, and make a difference. And, I knew that just by being there once, my faith in them would materialize into all those things. Well, those were mystical times.

At that point, guests were difficult due to the cramped nature of the KPFK studio. I couldn't remain distant – the magic was too powerful, the guys too friendly. I was invited to come to the recording studio – Bozos was in progress. My first Firesign recording session visit was the first day of sessions for Side 2. The site was the grand and recently discarded CBS Hollywood facility. I was in heaven – walking those historic corridors, being in the control room. But, I also felt, er, uh, guilty at just hanging out and not contributing, not being a real part of the work. "I know! I'll take notes. This is historic work." And, as you probably remember, those first notes, now lost, were intensely detailed. The newly formed fan club – you, Tom – was the best destination for all the info in letter form. And, that continued until 1976, when I left Los Angeles. By then, the guys were regularly telling you a lot of the same things, you were visiting the sessions yourself, and I no longer felt like I was the only one who understood how precious what these four guys can do is.

It's thrilling that you are posting the surviving letters. I'm proud of those years. I treasured every moment with the guys, individually and as a group; and am prouder still that we are all still friends.

Thanks for being there, Tom,