SILVERBIRD is a Native American musical ensemble consisting mainly of members of the Ortiz / Silverbird family that has been around for more than 40 years.  The above album, Broken Treaties was released in 1972 or 1973 on Capitol Records and is (according to Gil Silverbird) the first album by a Native American band to be released on a major record label.  A more obscure album by the same band called Getting Together could have been their first (it was released in 1972) on CBS Records and Columbia Records, though this album might have been released mainly in Europe.  A third album, Silverbird was released in 1973, on Bravo Records


According to, the answer to the question, “How many treaties were broken with the Indians?” is:  “Every. Single. One.” 


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In 1998, an organization called Native American Music Association & Awards was started in order to bring awareness of the contributions of Native Americans to music in all its forms; the Awards have been presented annually since that time.  The surprise at taking even a quick glance at their “Did You Know” roster at is the incredible number of stars of popular music who have Native American blood – the tribe or confederation name(s) are given in parentheses here and elsewhere in this post:  Elvis Presley (Cherokee), Jimi Hendrix (Cherokee), Hank Williams (Choctaw), Willie Nelson (Cherokee), Ritchie Valens (Yakui), Aaron Neville and the Neville Brothers (Choctaw/Cherokee), Loretta Lynn and her sister Crystal Gayle (Cherokee), Kitty Wells (Cherokee), Wayne Newton (Powhatan), Michael Jackson and the Jacksons (Choctaw/Cherokee), Link Wray (Shawnee), Richie Havens (Blackfoot), Robbie Robertson of the Band (Mohawk), Tina Turner (Navaho), Cher (Cherokee), Rita Coolidge (Cherokee), Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen (Native HawaiianNative Americans who are not among those often called Indians), Tori Amos (Cherokee), Toni Tennille of the Captain and Tennille (Cherokee), Billy Ray Cyrus and his daughter Mylie Cyrus (Cherokee), Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers (Mohican), LL Cool J (Cherokee), Beyoncé (Creole), etc.  


Tommy Allsup (Cherokee) was a member of Buddy Holly’s new band in 1959; he “lost” a coin flip with Ritchie Valens and was thus not on board the airplane that crashed on the day the music died  


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The first Native American artist that I became familiar with is Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree).  Hers is one of the strongest vibratos that I have ever heard in a singer, and I think it is fair to say that her music is an acquired taste.  I have several of her albums, but I can recommend the above double-LP as providing a good overview of her music.  She is primarily a folksinger but has also made rock and country recordings.  Surprisingly, one of the four album sides on The Best of Buffy Sainte-Marie has electronic music; one song in particular is a lively rendition of a song by Leonard Cohen called “God is Alive (Magic is Afoot)”, with looping lyrics that freely interchange the ideas of “God” and “magic”. 


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Buffy Sainte-Marie’s first album, It’s My Way! (1964) is described by William Ruhlmann for Allmusic as “one of the most scathing topical folk albums ever made. . . .  Even decades later, the album’s power is moving and disturbing.”  Buffy is pictured on the front cover with a mouthbow (also known as a musical bow), a musical instrument that she uses on several songs on her first few albums.  Mouthbows appear in cave paintings that have been dated to 15,000 B.C., and this use might even precede the use of bows as weapons. 


The opening track, “Now that the Buffalo’s Gone” is one of the most effective protest songs I have ever heard.  By the mid-1960’s, the “cowboys vs. Indians” dynamic in decades of Hollywood and television Westerns had been replaced by a growing appreciation for the nobility and dignity of Native Americans.  In some quarters, it had become chic to claim some Indian ancestry, even in “polite society”.  Now that the Buffalo’s Gone is basically a plea by Buffy Sainte-Marie to those people to help Native Americans who were still struggling.  The song’s lyrics demonstrate clearly that Native Americans were treated much worse in defeat than Germany was, and also that land grabs and broken promises were not merely centuries-old history but were still occurring today – dramatically and poignantly ending with the lyrics:  “It’s here and it’s now / You can help us dear man / Now that the buffalo’s gone”. 


Some of the historically inaccurate lyrics have been corrected over the years, and other changes reflect more contemporary matters; for example, “A treaty forever George Washington signed” is a reference to a treaty that was actually signed by Washington’s agent Timothy Pickering – that lyric is now:  “A treaty forever your Senators signed”.  On Buffy Sainte-Marie’s website, she says of Now that the Buffalo’s Gone:  “This song was on my first album and I’d have thought it would be obsolete by now.  But governments are still breaking promises and stealing indigenous lands, and I still believe that informed people can help make things better.” 


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Like many of Bob Dylan’s protest songs, another song on It’s My Way!, “Universal Soldier” has a different target from what one might expect.  Rather than railing at politicians and tyrants, Buffy Sainte-Marie points out that ultimately, the common soldiers are the ones doing the fighting:  “He’s the Universal Soldier and he really is to blame”.  “Universal Soldier” was an early hit for Donovan.  


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Yet another song on Buffy Sainte-Marie’s album It’s My Way!, “Cod’ine” – adapted from codeine, a compound often found in cough syrup, but pronounced “co-dyne” – is one of the first songs to deal with the dangers of drug use.  The song “Cod’ine” is among those included on the above album, This is Janis Joplin 1965 that I was not previously familiar with; another track is an early version of her composition “Turtle Blues” that appears on the classic 1968 Big Brother and the Holding Company album, Cheap Thrills.  This album collects several songs that were originally recorded by Janis Joplin and her guitar; her bandmate in BB&HCJames Gurley added a full band to the tracks, and the album was released 30 years later, in 1995


On the Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era Box Set is another version of “Cod’ine” by a psychedelic rock band called the Charlatans; they are considered by many critics to be one of the earliest bands to play in what was later called the San Francisco Sound.  Formed in the summer of 1964, the band auditioned for Autumn Records in September 1965 and was later signed by Kama Sutra Records in early 1966.  The Charlatans wanted to release “Cod’ine” as their first single, but Kama Sutra officials vetoed the idea because of its drug connotations, even though the song did not at all promote drug use.  The Charlatans’ version of “Cod’ine” was later used in the soundtrack of the 1999 Hilary Swank film, Boys Don’t Cry.   


The Charlatans’ second drummer was Dan Hicks, who later formed the band Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks.  In the late 1970’sCharlatans founding member Mike Wilhelm joined the Flamin’ Groovies as their lead guitarist for 6 years. 


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I was scanning the song list on It’s My Way! and spotted another song that came up in a different context:  “You’re Going to Need Somebody on Your Bond”.  As with every song on It’s My Way! but one, the songwriter was listed as Buffy Sainte-Marie on the Allmusic listing for the album.  I actually said out loud when I saw that:  “Really?!” – where I remembered it was on the most recent album by the psychedelic hard rock band the DeviantsDr. Crow


I don’t remember thinking consciously that “You’re Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond” – the way the song was shown on the Deviants album – didn’t sound like a song that Buffy Sainte-Marie would have written, but it really didn’t.  For that matter, it didn’t sound like a song that the Deviants would have written either.  “You’re Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond” sounded like an old-time blues number, with a strong-throated black singer doing a duet with Deviants frontman Mick Farren.  


But it turns out I was wrong about that:  The singer in the duet (who is quite white) is actually the lead vocalist for the alternative rock band Concrete BlondeJohnette NapolitanoNapolitano and another member of Concrete BlondeJim Mankey actually contributed quite a bit to the Dr. Crow album:  Johnette Napolitano is one of the background singers on the album called the Deviettes – along with Blare N. Bitch of Betty Blowtorch – and Jim Mankey played bass on their version of the Beatles’ classic “Strawberry Fields Forever”. 


On one of my Atlanta shopping trips to the Criminal Records store, I found one of the most delightful albums I have purchased in the past five years:  a collection of early 1980’s punk rock simply called The D.I.Y. Album.  (The album is described as using the “Han-O-Disc” recording process, whatever that means).  On it is the first known song by the band that later became Concrete Blonde:  Heart Attack by the Dreamers.  This song was made even before they took the name Dream 6 in 1982.  Johnette Napolitano’s reedy but compelling vocal on Heart Attack could hardly sound more different from the way it is on the Deviants’ version of You’re Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond.  As a result of these two recordings, I have gained a whole new respect for Concrete Blonde and Johnette Napolitano


Mainly on the strength of this Dreamers recording (though there are other terrific songs as well, including an early song by Black Flag), The D.I.Y. Album brought $50 at auction on eBay in 2006 (I paid maybe half that much myself!), according to – a great resource if you are interested in what original vinyl recordings have been bringing at auction and in private sales. 


Anyway, the liner notes on Dr. Crow gave an unusual level of detail about You’re Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond:  “New words and music by Mick Farren and Andy Colquhoun to the original by Blind Willie Johnson”.  Andy Colquhoun is a past UARA and long-time member of the Deviants.  


I will have more to say about songwriting in a post sometime in the future, but generally speaking, the music industry has become much more fastidious about songwriting credits now than was the case through the 1960’s.  Regarding You’re Going to Need Somebody on Your Bond, which is a song that is evidently in the public domain, it was fairly common for musicians to list themselves as the songwriters.  The more proper credit would be:  “Traditional – arranged by Buffy Sainte-Marie”. 


In any case, there is so much to like about Dr. Crow:  Can it really be as long ago as 2002 when this album came out?  What is basically the title song is called “When Dr. Crow Turns on the Radio” – according to the lyrics, “you won’t hear nothing” when this happens – and it is a good old-fashioned stomping rock number.  There is a cover of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, a Burt Bacharach/Hal David song that is based on the Western film of the same name, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance that came out in 1962 (but it was not used in the soundtrack).  Gene Pitney had a Top 10 hit with “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, though he was asked not to record it before the movie came out.  In their version, the Deviants include a clip of some dialogue from the movie – apparently Lee Marvin as the title character – and between the verses, Mick Farren talks about how rare it is for the villain’s name to appear in the title of a movie.  One of their original songs on Dr. Crow, “The Murdering Officer” sounds ancient enough that pirates might have known about it; the lyrics talk about (among other things):  “But snarling like dogs, we all went so willing / When the murdering officer paid us a shilling”. 


I laughed out loud when I first read the review of Dr. Crow by Dave Thompson for Allmusic, because it is all so true for us Deviants fans:  “The thing with the Deviants is, either you love everything they do – in which case Dr. Crow is their most thrilling new release in the six years since their last one – or you just don’t get it.  Sadly for the band’s dreams of world domination, most people tend to fall into the latter category; but anybody who has pursued mainman Mick Farren across the last 35 years of sonic and literary guerilla-ism will have Dr. Crow cranked up as loud as is humanly tolerable, not caring a toss for what the neighbors think.  Because in the Deviants’ world, the neighbors don’t think -- their brains aren’t big enough.” 


Or as Mick Farren himself put it in one verse of an earlier song, “Hard Times”:  “Started me this rock and roll band / Thought that I would get real rich / Warner Bros. thought we sucked / Ain’t this modern life a bitch.” 


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I wrote the above tribute to Dr. Crow on July 30, 2013, not learning until later that morning that Deviants frontman Mick Farren had passed away three days earlier.  Besides his amazing music that is not like anyone else’s – that goes double for his singing voice – Mick Farren regularly wrote articles that I would see in the Village Voice and other places, published numerous science fiction novels, and was a respected rock critic and music historian. 

When Suzy Shaw of Bomp! Records determined to write an appreciation of the ground-breaking career and life of her former husband and long-time business partner Greg Shaw (shortly after his untimely death in 2004), Mick Farren was brought in as the co-author of the resulting hardbound book Bomp! / Saving the World One Record at a Time


After living in New York and then Los Angeles for many years, Mick Farren recently returned to LondonFarren collapsed on stage during a rare live performance by the Deviants in London and died in the hospital.  Mick Farren never got rich – though with his outsized talent, he most definitely deserved it – but he lived and he died doing what he loved.  On his albums, he often chats between verses or in introductions; and there is always such joy and mischief in his voice – that often comes through in his singing as well.  On one 1984 live Deviants album in my collection, almost the first words out of his mouth before starting the concert were:  “We even rehearsed this time!” 


Learning of the death of one of my all-time favorite rockers put a damper on the celebration that I had planned for the day:  My first day on the job as a real estate appraiser was 40 years earlier, on July 30, 1973 (my younger sister Julie W. Kovasckitz’s birthday is also on that date). 


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Probably the best-known Native American rock band is Redbone, who had a half-million–selling single in 1974, “Come and Get Your Love” that still gets a lot of radio play.  This song is at the top of the playlist on the website for Native American Music Association & Awards


Redbone was formed in 1969 by two brothers from Coalinga, CaliforniaPatrick Vasquez (bass and vocals) and Candido “Lolly” Vasquez (guitar and vocals).  They took the names Pat Vegas and Lolly Vegas in order to downplay the Latin American origin of their real surname (even though Las Vegas is also Spanish, meaning “meadows”).  Before starting Redbone, the brothers released an album on Mercury Records in the mid-1960’s called Pat & Lolly Vegas at the Haunted House; and they appeared in the 1967 film, It’s a Bikini World, which has the distinction of being the only beach-party genre movie to be directed by a woman, Stephanie Rothman


The two brothers also had some early success as songwriters.  In 1967P. J. Proby had his biggest U. S. hit song with the Top 30 release “Niki Hoeky” that was written by Pat VegasLolly Vegas and Jim FordBobbie Gentry performed the song in 1968 on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.  


Jimi Hendrix – who also has Native American blood – convinced them to organize an all–Native-American band.  The two brothers added Peter DePoe (drums) and Tony Bellamy (lead guitar, piano, vocals)


The band name Redbone is adapted from a Cajun term for “half-breed” and highlights the mixed ancestry of the bandmembers.  Pat Vegas and Lolly Vegas have Yaqui, Shoshone and Mexican heritage.  Peter DePoe is descended from six different Indian tribes – Northern Cheyenne, Arapaho, Chippewa, Siletz, Rogue River Tututni, and Iroquois – and also has German and French ancestry.  Tony Bellamy has Yaqui and Mexican American blood. 


The music by Redbone also has a mixed ancestry; while primarily a rock band, there are R&B, Cajun, jazz, tribal and Latin influences as well.  Peter DePoe is credited with pioneering the “King Kong” style of drumming, and Lolly Vegas played improvised jazz-influenced guitar; he is one of the first guitarists to use the Leslie rotating-speaker effect in his amplification set-up. 


Redbone released a total of seven albums between 1970 and 1977Come and Get Your Love is on their fifth album, Wovoka.  The band had two earlier successful singles also, “Maggie” (1970) and “The Witch Queen of New Orleans”, which reached #21 in 1971.  


In 1973Redbone recorded the politically oriented “We Were All Wounded at Wounded Knee”.  The Wounded Knee Massacre was the last major battle between American Indian tribes and the U. S. Cavalry; the battle had gained a higher profile in the American consciousness with the 1970 publication of Bury My Heart at Wounded KneeDee Brown’s acclaimed overview of American history (particularly the Old West) from a Native American perspective. 


Also, earlier in 1973, members of the activist group American Indian Movement (AIM) occupied the Pine Ridge Reservation near Wounded Knee, South Dakota.  Russell Means (Oglala) – who died in October 2012 – is the best-known member of AIM and is arguably the most famous Native American of the past 100 years.  Means was also an actor – he appeared in the 1992 film, The Last of the Mohicans – and released several albums in a variety of musical genres, including his version of hip-hop that he called “Rap-aho”. 


We Were All Wounded at Wounded Knee – whose lyrics pointedly end “we were all wounded by Wounded Knee” – was initially withheld from release in the U. S. and then was banned by several American radio stations.  The song was a hit in Europe, however, charting in several countries and reaching #1 in the Netherlands


Peter DePoe was replaced on drums in 1972 by Arturo Perez and then by Tony Bellamy’s Filipino/Mexican American cousin, Butch Rillera.  Another former Redbone drummer, Danny Spanos (also known as George Spanos) had a Top 40 hit in 1983 as a solo artist with “Hot Cherie”; he also played drums on the theme music for the hit television show, Starsky and Hutch Redbone was inducted into the Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame in 2008


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The Southern hard rock band Blackfoot also has strong Native American roots and chose the band name to highlight this, though they are not so well known for their heritage as Redbone.  The band is from Jacksonville, Florida, with two of the bandmembers – drummer and vocalist Rickey Medlocke (Sioux) and bass guitarist Greg T. Walker (Eastern Creek) – performing in a band called Fresh Garbage in the spring of 1969 with New York City native Charlie Hargrett (lead guitar) and Ron Sciabarasi (keyboards). 


After Sciabarasi moved on by the fall, three members of a band called Tangerine – Jakson Spires (Cherokee) on drums and backing vocals, DeWitt Gibbs on keyboards and backing vocals, and Jerry Zambito on lead guitar – joined Rickey Medlocke (who by then had switched to playing guitar), Greg T. Walker and Charlie Hargrett in a new band called Hammer.  When they learned that a West Coast band already had this name, the band changed its name to Blackfoot.  After Rickey Medlocke and Greg T. Walker left the group in 1971 to join Lynyrd Skynyrd for a time, the band had a hiatus and then a series of personnel changes before settling into the line-up of Rickey MedlockeGreg T. WalkerJakson Spires, and Charlie Hargrett.  


In 1975Blackfoot released its first album, No Reservations on Antilles RecordsFlyin’ High came out on Epic Records the following year.  In 1977, the manager of Black Oak Arkansas, Butch Stone hired Blackfoot as the backing band for Ruby Starr.  She was a former back-up singer for Black Oak Arkansas who was emerging as a solo artist.  Ruby Starr previously performed with a backing band called Grey Ghost


Through their connections with the Michigan rock band Brownsville Station – best known for their 1973 hit “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” – Blackfoot recorded their most successful album Strikes in 1979.  The album was engineered by the drummer for Brownsville StationHenry Weck and was produced by their manager, Al Nalli


Blackfoot front man Rickey Medlocke’s grandfather, bluegrass musician Shorty Medlocke (Blackfoot) wrote the band’s biggest hit single from this album, “Train, Train” and played harmonica on the song.  Another track from this album, “Highway Song” was a hit later in 1979.  Shorty Medlocke wrote and also performed on several other songs for the band – “Railroad Man” (on No Reservations), “Fox Chase” (on Tomcattin’) and “Rattlesnake Rock ’n’ Roller” (on Marauder). 


Blackfoot has remained active over the years with a succession of bandmembers and has released 10 studio albums, plus 5 live albums including Fly Away (2011).  Rickey Medlocke hand-picked a new line-up of Blackfoot in 2012


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Bill Miller (Mohican) certainly doesn’t sound like a Native American name, but he was born on the Stockbridge-Munsee Reservation in northern Wisconsin.  He is proficient at playing the Native American flute and also on guitar; Miller has also been praised for his drawings. 


His big break came in 1994 when Tori Amos heard his album, The Red Road and asked him to open for her on several dates during the tour to support her album, Under the Pink.  I saw him perform on that tour at one of the campuses of City University of New York (CUNY), as I recall.  Bill Miller has since played with several prominent musicians such as Eddie Vedder of Pearl JamRichie Havensthe BoDeans, and Arlo Guthrie and has written songs with Nanci GriffithKim Carnes and bluegrass musician Peter Rowan


In 2005Bill Miller’s instrumental album, Cedar Dream Songs won the Grammy Award for Best Native American Music AlbumMiller also won four Native American Music Awards in 1999 and another in 2006.  In all, Bill Miller has released 15 albums. 


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The name Romeo Void might not ring a bell, but you more than likely remember the lyric “I might like you better if we slept together” from their 1981 hit “Never Say Never”.  However, there is a lot more to this band – and to Never Say Never for that matter – than that salacious lyric.  Lead singer Debora Iyall (Cowlitz) moved to the Bay Area in order to attend the San Francisco Art Institute.  She and two fellow students, Peter Woods and Jay Derrah formed a tongue-in-cheek 1960’s revival band called the Mummers and the Poppers (a takeoff on the name of the Mamas and the Papas).  Iyall then began incorporating music into her poetry and performance-art pieces and started working with Frank Zincavage, a bass guitarist who is also a sculptor. 


Debora Iyall was also influenced by the punk and post-punk scene that included other Art Institute students like Penelope Houston, front woman for first-wave San Francisco punk band the Avengers (who is now an accomplished folk rock singer) plus members of the Mutants and Pearl Harbor and the Explosions.  Romeo Void was formed by Debora Iyall, Frank ZincavagePeter Woods, and Jay Derrah on Valentine’s Day 1979


Romeo Void released three albums in all; Never Say Never comes from the second album, Benefactor.  On their last album, Instincts, the band reached the Top 40 with the single “A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)”; according to Debora Iyall, this song is intended as an answer to Michael Jackson’s mega-hit “Billie Jean”. 


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As happened with another previous UARB Queen Anne’s Lace, I have scoured the Internet pretty thoroughly and have found considerable information about the players but very little about the original Silverbird band.  The only definitive information on the formation of Silverbird comes from a 1971 newspaper article in the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah (one of the early Biloxi newspapers, The Daily Herald had that name also).  The article appears under the heading “Birth of a Navajo Rock Band” and has a dateline of Long Island University; actually, Navajo is not one of the Indian tribes mentioned by J. Reuben Silverbird in his biography. 


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The bandleader of Silverbird is Ruben Ortiz (or Reuben Ortiz) who now goes by the name of J. Reuben Silverbird – in fact, almost the entire family now seems to use the Silverbird surname.  He has a Facebook page – – and also a Facebook “fan club” page – 


Additionally, J. Reuben Silverbird has at least four different websites:  an American website (, an Austrian website (, a Norwegian website ( – translation of the website is available through Google – and an ordinary “dot-com” website (  The websites have completely different looks, but for the most part, they have similar information. 


On his websites, J. Reuben Silverbird says that he is “the son of a Nedhni Apache Wise Man and Cherokee Medicine Woman” and has been a musician since he was 6 years old, performing throughout the Southwest.  His father was from Mexico, while his mother has Blair/Sequoia roots and is originally from Colorado.  The Ortiz/Silverbird family has been in entertainment for generations, and Ruben Ortiz’s family ran a small traveling circus and vaudeville show in Mexico while he was growing up.  Although nothing at all is said about the Silverbird band on any of these websites, J. Reuben Silverbird has performed with Diana Ross and Eartha Kitt and has also given numerous solo performances on Native American flute, guitar and percussive instruments, playing his own compositions. 


J. Reuben Silverbird is still a musician; his recent albums include the 1991 release The World in Our Eyes (A Native American Vision of Creation) – which earned high praise in its review on the Allmusic website – plus Indian Circle (1992) and Shaman Spirit (2008).  However, these days J. Reuben Silverbird primarily speaks on Native American spirituality and participates in retreats and charitable events. 


J. Reuben Silverbird is listed on several “fraud” and “hoax” websites, though I imagine that almost anyone in his line of work would be similarly disparaged on some of these websites.  (One of these sites, a “wiki” called Psiram gave me some information on Reuben Silverbird that I couldn’t get anywhere else, though they still didn’t have the right information on the Silverbird band). 


The main complaint seems to be his affiliation with the Unification Church – a/k/a the Moonies – where he serves as an “Ambassador for Peace” in their affiliated group, the Unification Peace Federation.  J. Reuben Silverbird has also engaged in some minor myth-making.  However, he has also reportedly appeared at the 90-year-old International Spiritualist Federation and has regularly given ceremonial blessings at the Nobel Peace Institute in Oslo, Norway – hence, the Norwegian website.  And he has been on the cover of a major news magazine, U. S. News and World Report – no mean feat. 


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Much of the overheated rhetoric about J. Reuben Silverbird is about his name changes; even the minor switch from Ruben to Reuben is mentioned.  Using stage names is hardly limited to rock musicians – the very term itself shows that its origin is in the theatre.  You needn’t go any further than the drummer for the Beatles to find one:  Ringo Starr (born Richard Starkey).  Guitarist and songwriter Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones used the name Keith Richard for many years.  The John Birch Society called Stones frontman Mick Jagger Mick Jaeggert” back in the 1970’s; a Google search brought up only two websites using this name – one French and one Hungarian – so this is probably not for real. 


When the Byrds were formed in 1964, its front man was called Jim McGuinn; in 1967, he changed his name to Roger McGuinn (his birth name is James Roger McGuinn).  Jim McGuinn often wore frail-looking wire-rimmed glasses with tiny rectangular tinted lenses.  Back in the day, I thought that this style of glasses was about the coolest fashion statement to come out of the 1960’s – still do in fact.  I used to have a pair, and I need to get another one if I can ever find them again. 


It is not unprecedented for the front man of a rock band to adopt that name as his new surname.  When the British new wave band Adam and the Ants was formed in 1977 (originally called simply the Ants), the chief songwriter and lead singer was known to the world as “Adam” – he was born Stuart Leslie Goddard Although Goddard had apparently taken the name Adam Ant before forming the band, I don’t remember anyone calling him that until he started his solo career.  Of course that left Adam Ant’s former bandmates in the Ants in the lurch; however, Malcolm McLaren – best known as the manager of the Sex Pistols – recruited them to back a barely pubescent Anglo-Burmese singer that he later discovered named Annabella Lwin (that’s not her real name either as I recall, though I can’t seem to find the info online anymore).  The resulting band Bow Wow Wow is one of my favorites from the early 1980’s. 


Likewise, Alice Cooper was the under-stated name of the lead singer from the beginning, but Alice Cooper started out mainly as the name of the band.  The bulky, dirty-yellow Schwann Catalogue – which showed all the records in print in the United States, and which used to sit in one corner of larger record stores back in my youth – identified them as “the Alice Cooper”, and they were listed with the A’s.  Once the lead singer of this theatrical band became larger than life, it was more Alice the man than Alice the band.  In later years, Alice Cooper frequently appeared on talk shows and game shows as just a regular guy – and that was as startling in its own way as the gaudy make-up that he used in his live performances. 


The writer of the first hit song for SteppenwolfBorn to be Wild is listed as Mars Bonfire; but that is clearly no one’s birth name.  It is not even the man’s first stage name; when he was a member of the predecessor band to Steppenwolfthe Sparrows, he used the name Dennis Edmonton.  He was born Dennis McCrohan; he and his brother Jerry Edmonton (born Gerald McCrohan), who was also in the Sparrows, had changed their surnames at the same time.  Interestingly, Mars Bonfire had his song shopped to other bands before Steppenwolf got their shot at it; one was a Los Angeles psychedelic rock band called the Human Expression.  Front man Jim Quarles chose one of Bonfire’s songs, “Sweet Child of Nothingness” as the “A” side for the band’s third single; but he wasn't impressed with Born to be Wild and passed on that song. 


All three of the men who perished on the day the music died weren’t using their birth names – most obviously in the case of the Big Bopper.  As suggested by his manager Bob KeaneRitchie Valens (born, AnglicizedRichard Steven Valenzuela) got a “t” in his first name and shortened his surname in order to widen his appeal.  As to Buddy Holly, “Buddy” could have just been a nickname, but “Holly” also didn’t match up exactly to his birth name Charles Hardin Holley (the dropped “e” was inadvertent, they say). 


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After the Ortiz family settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico, their first musical foray was as the Ortiz Trio, evidently consisting of siblings Ruben OrtizAnita Ortiz and Steven OrtizRuben described the music as “Ranchero style and Bolero style”.  


After they moved East, the band’s name was changed to the Coronados; Ruben changed his name slightly to Reuben Ortizand Steven Ortiz masqueraded as a brother-in-law, rather than a brother, by the name of Steven Coronado.  Sources vary, with some saying that Anita Ortiz continued in the Coronados; but at least by 1965, Reubens wife Ginger Ortiz was on board.  The Coronados recorded a few 45’s and one album, called Hey, Love!; their music was released on Jubilee Records and RCA Victor Records.  


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This photograph of the Coronados with Jack Spector, a prominent New York City disc jockey on WMCA, was published in Billboard Magazine in 1965.  (Spector is notable for having been the first DJ in New York to play the Beatles’ initial Capitol Records single, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in late December 1963).  Their music is described in the Daily Herald article mentioned previously in this way:  “The mode became eclectic – show tunes, popular numbers – with a professional gloss appropriate to the Borscht Belt and other resort circuits.” 


Meanwhile, the four teenaged children of the bandmembers in the Coronados – who sometimes appeared with their parents on stage – were being attracted to rock music and began singing and performing together as the Real Americans.  Gilbert Ortiz (now known as Gil Silverbird), Perry Ortiz and Mark Ortiz are the sons of Reuben Ortiz and Ginger OrtizJoerey Ortiz is the son of Steven Ortiz.  Reuben Ortiz encouraged them in this endeavor, and he recorded the songs that they were writing using a company that he had formed earlier having the innocuous name of Recording Artists, Inc.  Ginger Ortiz began singing with the Real Americans as well, supplying the high vocals that Perry Ortiz was beginning to lose as he matured.  


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As an experiment, Reuben Ortiz decided to see how the Coronados and the Real Americans would sound if their music were combined.  Ginger Ortiz recalled:  “There was a kind of realism to this music.  It was a nice contrast to what we’re always supplying as the Coronados:  those dreams that our audiences want.” 


The result of this merger of the two bands is Silverbird.  Their career was launched on May 2, 1971 on one of the Fanfare programs on National Educational Television (NET), a precursor to Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).   


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The above is a photograph of the back of Silverbird’s second album Broken Treaties, but the text is unreadable.  My copy of Broken Treaties went through Hurricane Katrina, so all I have is the disk.  If not for a blog at, I might not have gotten all of the bandmembers’ names on the album:  Reuben OrtizJoerey OrtizPerry OrtizSteven CoronadoGilbert OrtizGinger Coronado (now also a Coronado, like Steven), and Mark Ortiz


Vic Ortiz also contributes to the Broken Treaties album, at least as a songwriter; how he is related to the others is unclear.  While he is almost certainly not the boxer Victor Ortiz – Ortiz also appeared earlier this year on Dancing with the Stars – Vic Ortiz is still listed on innumerable Internet sites with the boxer’s nickname:  Vicious Vic Ortiz


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The music on Broken Treaties is basically soft rock; much of the music has lush strings, so Silverbird is often classified as a disco band, even though 1971-1973 is early in the disco era to say the least.  However, there are a variety of musical styles and several lead vocalists; and overall, the music has a definite tribal feel.  Their voices merge beautifully, providing fine background vocals; on “Would You” and “Poor Boy”, the lead vocals are several singers in harmony.

The opening tracks on each side – “Custer’s Last Stand” and the title song, “Broken Treaties” – deal effectively (and far less provocatively than Buffy Sainte-Marie did on It’s My Way!) with the basics regarding Native Americans; besides the themes that are obvious from the song titles, the songs talk about the slaughter of the buffalo herds and the current poverty among Native Americans.  The mood of these two songs is appropriately somber, though the majority of the songs on Broken Treaties are upbeat. 


Although Custer’s Last Stand was one of the few Indian victories, it is probably the best known battle involving Native Americans and has been for decades.  I recently saw a movie called They Died with Their Boots On – this catchphrase has been popular for years – that portrays George Armstrong Custer heroically; the 1941 movie was apparently highly fictionalized but notes that Custer graduated last in his class from the U. S. Military Academy at West Point.  I had learned that about Custer in the “Final Jeopardy” question on a Jeopardy! show a long time ago. 


While the other tracks on the album do not directly address Native American issues, there is some social commentary, notably on “Poor Boy”.  The final song on the album, “Violet” was singled out for praise by the piece on the album on the website.  My own favorites on the album are “Broken Treaties”, “Friends”, “At the Party”, and “Sonny”. 


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When their third album Silverbird came out later in 1973, the bandmembers are listed (mostly without surnames) as Mark (acoustic, electric, lead, and bass guitar), Reuben (acoustic and bass guitar), Gilbert (piano, Rhodes and organ), and Perry (flute and drums), plus Brian McManus (banjo and guitar).  The producer though is listed as Reuben Ortiz


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A new band called Silverbird Family was launched more recently; they are a contemporary Christian group whose song “Happy Mother’s Day” won Reuben Ortiz semi-finalist status in the songwriting contest.  This band has a Facebook website: .  The bandmembers in Silverbird Family include Silverbird alumnus Mark Silverbird, his wife Tania Silverbird, and their three children:  Natasha Silverbird (12), Richard Silverbird (10), and Caroline Silverbird (8).  The website notes that these children represent the 5th generation of entertainers in their family. 


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Another former bandmember in SilverbirdGil Silverbird is active as a musician and also an author.  His musical works include a 2004 album, World Peace, plus two 12-inch singles in 1986, “Fool’s Paradise” and “We Can’t Go On (Without Love)”.  


Gil Silverbird and his brother Tim Silverbird (Navaho/Apache) are now performing under the name 2 CRAZY Indians.  Their Facebook page is at . 


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Flashback:  The Under Appreciated Rock Band of the Month for August 2011 – ANDY COLQUHOUN 


I have already noted my sorrow about the recent passing of Andy Colquhoun’s bandmate in the DeviantsMick Farren. I couldn’t find anything in YouTube that is taken from Andy’s solo CD’s, so here are some killer Deviants cuts for you:  “Lost Johnny”, audio only (from the gloriously good 1996 album Fragments of Broken Probes) – ; Police Car, from a live 1984 performance, though it is still audio only – ; and a live track, “The Fury of the Mob” from a 2013 concert on the summer solstice (that’s Andy Colquhoun on the right) – .  There are plenty of live Deviants songs on YouTube, but they are typically amateur videos having questionable sound quality. 


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Photo Gallery:  The Under-Appreciated Rock Band of the Month for August 2010 – QUEEN’S ANNE LACE 


I mentioned Queen Anne’s Lace in passing earlier as well.  This is the cover on the album that I have; of course, I only have the disc itself now: 




There is an alternate cover of the Queen Anne’s Lace album: 




This album, Soft Sounds for Gentle People, Volume 2 is one of a series collecting psychedelic pop songs; the Queen Anne’s Lace song Happiest Day of My Life is included on it: 




Here is a head shot of Anne Phillips back in the day: 




This is Anne Phillips’ first LP, Born to be Blue




By the time her second albumGonna Lay My Heart on the Line came out, only CD’s were being made; this is Anne Phillips’ most recent album Ballet Time: 




This is a more recent photograph of Anne Phillips




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The Honor Roll of the Under Appreciated Rock Bands and Artists follows, in date order, including a link to the original Facebook posts and the theme of the article.
Dec 2009BEAST; Lot to Learn
Jan 2010WENDY WALDMAN; Los Angeles Singer-Songwriters
Feb 2010 CYRUS ERIE; Cleveland
Mar 2010BANG; Record Collecting I
Apr 2010THE BREAKAWAYS; Power Pop
May 2010THE NOT QUITE; Katrina Clean-Up
Jun 2010WATERLILLIES; Electronica
Jul 2010THE EYES; Los Angeles Punk Rock
Aug 2010QUEEN ANNE’S LACE; Psychedelic Pop
Sep 2010THE STILLROVEN; Minnesota
Oct 2010THE PILTDOWN MEN; Record Collecting II
Nov 2010SLOVENLY; Slovenly Peter
Dec 2010THE POPPEES; New York Punk/New Wave
Jan 2011HACIENDA; Latinos in Rock
Feb 2011THE WANDERERS; Punk Rock (1970’s/1980’s)
Mar 2011INDEX; Psychedelic Rock (1960’s)
Apr 2011BOHEMIAN VENDETTA; Punk Rock (1960’s)
May 2011THE LONESOME DRIFTER; Rockabilly
Jun 2011THE UNKNOWNS; Disabled Musicians
Jul 2011THE RIP CHORDS; Surf Rock I
Aug 2011ANDY COLQUHOUN; Side Men
Sep 2011ULTRA; Texas
Oct 2011JIM SULLIVAN; Mystery
Nov 2011THE UGLY; Punk Rock (1970’s)
Dec 2011THE MAGICIANS; Garage Rock (1960’s)
Jan 2012RON FRANKLIN; Why Celebrate Under Appreciated?
Feb 2012JA JA JA; German New Wave
Mar 2012STRATAVARIOUS; Disco Music
Apr 2012LINDA PIERRE KING; Record Collecting III
May 2012TINA AND THE TOTAL BABES; One Hit Wonders
Jun 2012WILD BLUE; Band Names I
Jul 2012DEAD HIPPIE; Band Names II
Aug 2012PHIL AND THE FRANTICS; Wikipedia I
Sep 2012CODE BLUE; Hidden History
Oct 2012TRILLION; Wikipedia II
Nov 2012THOMAS ANDERSON; Martin Winfree’s Record Buying Guide
Dec 2012THE INVISIBLE EYES; Record Collecting IV
Jan 2013THE SKYWALKERS; Garage Rock Revival
Mar 2013THE GILES BROTHERS; Novelty Songs
Apr 2013LES SINNERS; Universal Language
May 2013HOLLIS BROWN; Greg Shaw / Bob Dylan
Jun 2013 (I) – FUR (Part One); What Might Have Been I
Jun 2013 (II) – FUR (Part Two); What Might Have Been II
Jul 2013THE KLUBS; Record Collecting V
Aug 2013SILVERBIRD; Native Americans in Rock
Sep 2013BLAIR 1523; Wikipedia III
Oct 2013MUSIC EMPORIUM; Women in Rock I
Nov 2013CHIMERA; Women in Rock II
Dec 2013LES HELL ON HEELS; Women in Rock III
Jan 2014BOYSKOUT; (Lesbian) Women in Rock IV
Feb 2014LIQUID FAERIES; Women in Rock V
Mar 2014 (I) – THE SONS OF FRED (Part 1); Tribute to Mick Farren
Mar 2014 (II) – THE SONS OF FRED (Part 2); Tribute to Mick Farren
Apr 2014HOMER; Creating New Bands out of Old Ones
May 2014THE SOUL AGENTS; The Cream Family Tree
Jun 2014THE RICHMOND SLUTS and BIG MIDNIGHT; Band Names (Changes) III
Jul 2014MIKKI; Rock and Religion I (Early CCM Music)
Aug 2014THE HOLY GHOST RECEPTION COMMITTEE #9; Rock and Religion II (Bob Dylan)
Sep 2014NICK FREUND; Rock and Religion III (The Beatles)
Oct 2014MOTOCHRIST; Rock and Religion IV
Dec 2014THE SILENCERS; Surf Rock II
Jan 2015 (I) – THE CRAWDADDYS (Part 1); Tribute to Kim Fowley
Jan 2015 (II) – THE CRAWDADDYS (Part 2); Tribute to Kim Fowley
Feb 2015BRIAN OLIVE; Songwriting I (Country Music)
Mar 2015PHIL GAMMAGE; Songwriting II (Woody Guthrie/Bob Dylan)
Apr 2015 (I) – BLACK RUSSIAN (Part 1); Songwriting III (Partnerships)
Apr 2015 (II) – BLACK RUSSIAN (Part 2); Songwriting III (Partnerships)
May 2015MAL RYDER and THE PRIMITIVES; Songwriting IV (Rolling Stones)
Jun 2015HAYMARKET SQUARE; Songwriting V (Beatles)
Jul 2015THE HUMAN ZOO; Songwriting VI (Psychedelic Rock)
Aug 2015CRYSTAL MANSIONMartin Winfree’s Record Cleaning Guide
Dec 2015AMANDA JONES; So Many Rock Bands
Mar 2016THE LOVEMASTERS; Fun Rock Music
Jun 2016THE GYNECOLOGISTS; Offensive Rock Music Lyrics
Sep 2016LIGHTNING STRIKE; Rap and Hip Hop
Dec 2016THE IGUANAS; Iggy and the Stooges; Proto-Punk Rock
Mar 2017THE LAZY COWGIRLS; Iggy and the Stooges; First Wave Punk Rock
Jun 2017THE LOONS; Punk Revival and Other New Bands
Sep 2017THE TELL-TALE HEARTS; Bootleg Albums
Dec 2017SS-20; The Iguana Chronicles
(Year 10 Review)
Last edited: April 8, 2021