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songwriting in 1969 with John Walker


Cayuga Blues Band

Chapter 6

The Cayuga Blues Band gets started one day in 1969 when Gary Hawthorne mentions in our graduate philosophy class at San Francisco State College that he likes playing the blues guitar and maybe we could get together sometime to learn some songs. 

A year or so later we have an almost real band and we practice in the outer Mission District of San Francisco with Randy on piano and Dick on bass. Dick also studies philosophy at San Francisco State. Randy drives bus for the Muni and used to play linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys until the game ruined his knee.

After surgery and a season with the Raiders, Randy said he knew it wouldn’t work out for him anymore and he reluctantly gave up professional football. As a result, he also gave up his marriage and family. And here we are, three graduate students and one former pro football player, trying to learn some blues songs in Randy’s apartment in the outer Mission District on Cayuga Street, San Francisco.

Some months later on, when Nick Gravenites yells out lyrics with us from the back of the Coffee Gallery as we try out songs in that well known yet somewhat sleezy club on north beach, we feel like we're getting better. When we get hired for a gig at Minnie's Can Do, just down the street from the Filmore Auditorium, it seems like something's finally happening for us.

These photos not in the book.

Me and John Walker on the way to
Oregon and Washington state in 1968.
Sure wish we could have stayed in touch because he had a wonderful flair for
lyrics. Hey John, if you see this, send a
note.