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William Penn and His Pals | The Historic San Francisco Group

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Rock: Psychedelic Rock: Garage Rock Moods: Mood: Party Music
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The Historic San Francisco Group

by William Penn and His Pals

This is the ultimate Garage Rock album because it was recorded in 1966 by one of the ultimate Garage Rock groups. William Penn V or William Penn and His Pals are famous for the single...Swami. Here are the songs recorded by this group. Many Photos too!
Genre: Rock: Psychedelic
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Swami
2:57 $0.99
2. Gotta Get Away
2:34 $0.99
3. Far and Away
2:32 $0.99
4. Blow my mind
2:25 $0.99
5. There I go I've said it again
2:29 $0.99
6. E2D
2:25 $0.99
7. Blow my mind (alternate version)
2:06 $0.99
8. Gotta get away (alternate version
2:44 $0.99
9. There I go I've said it again ( alternate version )
2:36 $0.99
10. Fly Fly PSA
1:00 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Acid-punk outfit William Penn and His Pals formed at the College of San Mateo in late 1964; originally dubbed the DiscCounts, the founding lineup comprised singer Neil Holtmann, guitarist Mike Dunn, bassist Steve Sweet and drummer Ron Cox. Keyboardist Dave Lovell signed on in early 1965, and a few months later the group significantly overhauled its lineup and look--adopting the moniker William Penn and His Pals, the band (now Holtmann, Cox, Lovell, guitarist Mike Shapiro and bassist Steve Leidenthal) adopted Revolutionary War-era stage garb that included ruffled shirts and tri-cornered hats. The addition of former Nomads guitarist Jack Shelton swelled the roster to a six-piece, and for a short time, the lineup also included a second drummer, Mickey Hart, who would later sign on with the Grateful Dead. In early 1966 keyboardist Gregg Rolie replaced Lovell--in time he assumed the lion's share of vocal duties as well, resulting in Holtmann's dismissal from the group. William Penn and His Pals were a regular presence on the Bay Area live scene, opening for the Jefferson Airplane, Paul Revere and the Raiders and Them; in 1966, they cut their lone single “Swami" (credited to the William Penn Fyve), later anointed an underground classic thanks to its inclusion on the third Pebbles collection. A deal with the Fantasy label was pending, but in 1967 the group dissolved, with Rolie subsequently joining Santana. In 2003, the BeatRecords.com label collected all of William Penn and His Pals' recorded output on CD. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide

Read on!

Mike Shapiro, lead guitarist for William Penn and His Pals, said that
"We used to battle-of-the-bands with [the Warlocks] at the Cinnamon Tree on Industrial Road in
San Carlos, We actually lost to them and I thought they were the shits."

(Quote from Blair Jackson's book Garcia, pp70)
Shapiro was actually pretty good friends with Garcia and used to talk and jam with him frequently down at Dana Morgans in Palo Alto. "Jerry was destined for great things because he understood the social change that was taking place at that time". I was there the day he figured out the solo to Heart Of Stone by the Rolling Stones and based his entire early triplet based solos on that track". Shapiro later said.
Check out the other group from Palo Alto,
California in 1965 who used to be in Battle
of the Bands with the Warlocks.
Who Mickey Hart actually played drums with before
he joined The Dead. Who Gregg Rolie got his first break with! Who Creedence Clearwater
and many other famous San Francisco acts opened up for and looked up to.
Who penned one of the most famous Psych Pop classics, Swami, that sells for $300.00 per copy. Plus Plus Plus.
Read the liner notes and get the inside scope plus a
lot of cool pictures from that era.

Learn about the rich music scene just prior to the
psychedelic music revolution in the San Francisco Bay Area!

10 gems including the famous P.S.A. commercial that actually
put P.S.A. out of business.

If this is the kind of music you appreciate check out
Deja Vu and Laughing And Singing by Mike Shapiro on CDBABY.

Don't forget to check out other Beatrecords.com artists on
CDBABY: Mike Shapiro, The Texas Twister and OUT-FRONT!



to write a review

An email forwarded to Mike Shapiro by Gregg Rolie

rave review from a Garage Rocker
1.) "Swami"-This opening track has a very early Pink Floyd "Arnold Layne"
feel to it. The opening pre-verse vocal hums really add to the Pink Floyd
sound. The main electric guitar arrangements have a lot of early sounding
re-verb, which is real cool since it wasn't being used by too many groups in
'66. The backing vocals at times get real swallowed up by all the different
instruments. The song has a very solid bass line. There is a very cool
vocal harmony section at the end of the song.
2.) "Gotta Get Away"-This track opens with a Beatles type guitar
arrangement. The vocal arrangements of the song are very Paul Revere and
the Raiders sounding. The chorus has a lot of huge backing vocal harmonies,
but are almost inaudible because of the primitive recording equipment used.
The bass line for the song is very simple with a relaxed feel like a lot of
the music that was released in the sixties.
3.) "Far and Away"-From right off anyone who is a fan of Paul Revere knows
where this track came from. The opening intro sequence has a very "Indian
Reservation" sound to it. Out of all the tracks on this release this one
has the best polished sound. The song has one of the meanest bass lines
I've ever heard!!! The song has both Ron Cox and Gregg Rollie on lead the
two really compliment each other vocally. Lyrically it's really hard to
fandom that these guys where just in there teens.
4.) "Blow My Mind"- This track opens with a small drum intro. The song has
two drummers on it so the drum arrangement has this real thick feel to it.
The lyrics have a "Summertime Blues" feel to them. The track also has a
small Gregg Rollie keyboard breakdown. Once again I am very impressed with
the bass player's talent for locking in to a solid groove.
5.) "There I Go"-From the very first verse anyone who did not know better
would swear the song was written by Lennon/McCartney. Vocally this one one
of the few tracks where I could tell that this was Gregg Rollie. If the
main song writers had concentrated on writing material like this, William
Penn would have been the American answer to The Beatles. The song has a very polished sound to it.
6.) "E2D"-Instrumental
7.) "Blow My Mind"-Same as track 4
8.) "Gotta Get Away"-Same as track 2 except with Neil Holtman on lead
9.) "There I Go"-Same as track 5
10.) "Fly Fly PSA"-This track was a commercial the band recorded parodying
an airliner.

Still to this day it shocks me how I have to debate arguments of was
Journey's first vocalist, or who was there best vocalist. And still to this
day the answer is the same... Gregg Rollie... without a doubt!!! Not saying
that Journey's other singers couldn't sing at all. But Gregg is a well
rounded singer/songwriter and William Penn shows this. Me personally I
would never had thought Gregg's musical beginnings where so early.
What you get with this Will Penn release is all balls and no flash just
music, music. And that is what the founding rock fathers where trying to
accomplish. With today's technologies it's became too easy for artist to
just tack bits and pieces together on a personal computer and call it a
composition. Not to mention Will Penn probably went into the studio a cut
every song in one take. Back then there wasn't many if hardly any do overs.
Will Penn accomplished to write songs in every style of rock that was
popular in'66. Even after hearing the CD now for several days I'm amazed at
how the songs have a experienced song writing feel coming from a bunch of
teens. I'm not going to say Gregg is the standout musician that made Will
Penn work, but what you can hear is great things would be coming Greggs way
in the not so near future.
If your into the bands of the sixties like the; Paul Revere, The
Yardbirds, The Animals, and of course The Beatles, or your a die hard Rollie
fan then this is an absolutely must have!!!!


This is a really fun CD. Genuine psychedelia and garage-punk with some great liner notes too. I would say that this is a must have for psych fans.

Jon 'Mojo' Mills

A must have for all garage rockers
Although 'Swami' is essentially a novelty psych disc, it has the sound and vibe of a more serious effort. The quasi-eastern harmonies, rippling fuzz and stoned vocals are wonderful! Even though it's likely that the most psychedelic these kids ever got was spinning around with their eyes shut in their mum's kitchen they managed to cut a really good psych disc. Its b-side however is a crucial dose of snotty garage-punk that contains everything a fan of the genre wants: a Neanderthal riff, angry vocals, and a cool organ and fuzz solo! (This could have been the blue print for my youthful excursions into garage-punk!) Likewise, 'Far And Away' utilises The Yardbirds 'I'm A Man' rave-up with complimentary fuzz guitars and the kind of spooky vibe that The Fuzztones adopted, whilst 'Gotta Get Away' stomps along with a popish edge, but misses out on being squeaky clean! The only 'pop record' they actually made was the Beatles/Byrds/Beau Brummels-tinged 'There I Go I've Said It Again', and they pull it off too. William Penn And His Pals used every garage-punk trick, and most brilliantly too. It's not rocket science, but it rocks!
Even if the eight tracks are bit short on running time, this set adds some alternate takes, which are worth hearing. And hey, you can't have what the band didn't record, can ya? Put together by Mike Shapiro of the band this is the final word on one of the Bay Area's finest teen bands of the mid-60
Jon 'Mojo' Mills


Authentic vintage sounds are great!
I love the sounds. It's like going back and hearing the music of the 60's again but with a fresh twist - like music radio stations just forgot to play!

Donna D

The Best!
I loved the Cinnamon Tree! anyone else?