William Sievers, rhythm guitar
Born in Dallas, Texas; has studied music for 13 years; plays trumpet; bass; 12 string guitar; lyricist and composer; joined a band in New York City and several years later studied black magic under a leaf in Hawaii.
Life After the Sopwith "Camel"
or What I Did (for the) Last (30) Summer(s)
by William "Truckaway" Sievers
As the engine of the Sopwith "Camel" began to sputter and it began to fall in a downward spiral, I strapped on a not-so -golden parachute and jumped. I landed in San Francisco for awhile, then moved into a house high above Mill Valley on the Panoramic Highway with some other songwriter/artists and Erik Jacobsen, who had produced the "Camel" and the "Lovin' Spoonful." Our goal was to make hit records and develop new artists and writers. There, I wrote and later recorded a single called "Bluegreens on the Wing" which was released on Reprise under the nom d' tune of William Truckaway.
Bluegreens was not about algae from Oregon, but rather based on various events and Zen philosophies found in Winnie the Pooh. The record was a tour de force of vocal overdubbing, unusual sounds, and a unique utilization of the synthesizer, which was a hot new item at that time. Reviewed as a sure hit in Billboard, this record actually received airplay in France and certain parts of New Mexico. It also became a Big Hit with the advertising agency handling the Taco Bell account, which proceeded to use parts of it in a Taco Bell commercial. I later wrote and recorded an entire album for Reprise entitled "Breakaway" with Camel drummer, Norman Mayell and brilliant bassist Doug Kilmer plus some outstanding guest artists such as Charles Lloyd, Richard Green and Buddy Emmons. The Truckaway album had some good tunes on it too, even though it didn't make the charts or ring the Taco Bell again.
Some of our other endeavors did a little better, however. While I was making Bluegreens, Erik and our band of merry record makers were also busy collaborating in the creation of the Norman Greenbaum album. Being a fan of gospel music, I suggested that some gospel singers might sound real good on "Spirit in the Sky," adding a needed level of authenticity. My search for authenticity led me to a gospel church in Oakland where I found a trio known as the Stovall Sisters. We put the Stovalls on the record and the rest is history. Greenbaum did have a friend in Jesus and "Spirit in the Sky" came out of nowhere to become Number One and eventually Warner Brothers' largest selling single to that time. Erik and I, together with Doug Kilmer as musical director , later co-produced a pop gospel album with the Stovall Sisters which included their own version of "Spirit in the Sky".
While doing all of the above, I got married, had a wonderful son named Teal, and lived in a magical house with a leaky roof in middle of an enchanted redwood forest in Mill Valley. The marriage was not magical, however, and the roof never stopped leaking. So, I eventually moved out of the house and into my music studio. There I got together with outlaw engineer/producer Pete Slauson to create the Heliport Studios, a down home rehearsal/recording complex in the Heliport building on the Sausalito/Mill Valley border. At the Heliport, we played host to many of the up and coming bands of times such as Malo, Marty Balin's Bodacious and Pablo Cruise. I also worked with next generation of the Sopwith "Camel" on the other side of the double glass wall, engineering a few demos for their second album including a danceable, up-tempo version of "Orange Peel". This, thought I, might follow up the tangarine question, but it lost its dance and hit quality in the final translation.
Heliport Studios was also where, with a group called Magic, we recorded the tracks for the last William Truckaway single, "Roller Derby Starr". A balls to the wall rocker, "Roller Derby Starr" was an adaptation of the song by Kent Hausman which had also been recorded by Quicksilver's John Cippolino. Our version featured blazing guitars over up close stereo sounds of real skates rolling, jammers jamming and the crowd screaming recorded live at the Roller Derby track. We finished it at the Record Plant in Sausalito and released it upon an unsuspecting public.
The record was well received by the Roller Derby folks and we were invited to put on a half-time show at a Cow Palace Roller Derby performance. It was even rumored that "Roller Derby Starr" was to be adopted as the official theme song of the Roller Derby. However, someone must have actually listened to the lyrics (describing our Roller Derby heroine with such colorful phrases as "the redness of your face and your telescopic nose" and "first you knock 'em down and then you slowly choke 'em 'til they're green") and nothing more was heard of that idea.
Deciding that the music business was an economic and spiritual dead end, I moved on to seek out the kind of real life experiences I had missed in the protected atmosphere of college which had been followed by the raw unreality of the music business in the purple haze of the 60's. I needed money and my ex, hopeful that I would become a little more regular with my support payments, told me about a job driving a cab.
What could be more real than driving a taxi? So, I became a cab driver, first in Mill Valley, then in San Francisco. It was fun, filled with bizarre adventures and, unlike the music business, I got paid for it. But, alas, the pay was not enough. So, noticing that real estate commissions were a bit larger than taxi tips, I got a real estate license and began driving people around with bigger payoffs in mind. I later located a resort condo complex where, instead of driving, I could walk people around by the bay and sell them condos. And that became my day job from then on.
Today, I still live in Mill Valley with my wonderful wife and love of my life, Daria, who I met on the day of the Dipsea Race while driving my taxi. We have two wonderful children and live in a house named "La Casa de la Luna Azul". At parties and other special occasions, I still sing versions of the classic "Camel" songs (which could still become great hits as the 30 year events cycle pushes 60's artists back into the spotlight) and lately I've been writing a new set of songs which are a lot more fun than my old ones. One of these new songs is being written with the modest purpose of creating an event to see if we can unite the consciousness of everyone on the entire planet all at the same moment, just to see what would happen if we do that. I'm also working with an inspired translator to create a French version of "You Always Tell Me, Baby" for all those fans in France who enjoyed Bluegreens.
And then, there is ec, which I became aware of about 20 years ago. ec defies a quick explanation because everything is contained in ec. It is, among other things, a process of evolving consciousness and a key to daily awareness and mindfulness. I find it so interesting that I'm working on a book about it which I hope I can share in the very near future. There are also rumors that the "Camel" might fly once again. Stranger things have happened. CamelMania may be yet to strike, so be alert.