Those Wastrels from Hoover High...

The day after the release of Led Zeppelin's first album, the band made its S.D. debut at the Fox Theatre on January 13, 1969. Later that year, less than a week before Woodstock, the Brits were back to rattle the San Diego Sports Arena on August 10. And in May of the following year, one of the first known Zep covers was cut by Hoover High School's Stage Band.

For years, word of an inspired if slightly addled S.D. teen version of "Good Times, Bad Times" had circulated globally, though few had ever heard it or anything off the Hoover High band's 1970 Gets It On LP. ("High school band doing stoned covers of Led Zep and more" is how the online Acid Archives of Underground Sounds 1965--1982 [www.lysergia.com] itemized it.)

Yet, since L.A.-based record collector Jonathan Ward posted an mp3 of it on New Jersey--based radio station WFMU's "Beware of the Blog" section last month, people have listened and liked. Ward, a designated contributor, does an intriguing setup on the blog:

"Good lord! Those wastrels from Hoover High must have been dipping into the orange sunshine! This has been on a few psych lists over the years and for the most part, the bulk of the LP is fair to decent, with the usual high school covers of 'Spinning Wheel,' 'Stormy,' and even some Bach. However, the classic cut is their rockin' Zep cover (although their lumbering version of Jethro Tull's 'Nothing Is Easy' is good for a spin) for its studied, imitation Bonham beats, and its screechy vocal distortion."

"I found this on eBay a bunch of years ago," elaborates Ward by e-mail. "Paid a good amount for it -- somewhere between $70 and $100. Don't recall where it was coming from. Overpriced probably, but it does have some rock/psych covers, so..."

Ward confirms that the record's label has a "Led Leplin" typo but also that, aside from songs and original artists, no other personnel or information is listed anywhere.

"Typical of high school band records in general: there are no credits except what you see on the front cover. The back cover, like most everything on the Century label [a defunct Saugus, California, specialty imprint] is blank except for the Century logo."

No success yet identifying any Hoover High Stage Band players on the Zep track, but corroborating sources at the S.D. Unified School District (as well as a Dias Cardinales school yearbook) have confirmed band director William R. Carlson's 1970 employ as an "instructional music teacher" at the Mid-City campus, adding that he was deemed "a really nice guy [who] did a really good job."

An anonymous June 5, 1970, article entitled "Stage Band Has Rock Beat," discovered in Hoover's newspaper, offers more: "The group, according to Mr. William Carlson, 'has ventured into a combination of rock and jazz.' Although this is its first year, the band seems to be popular with the students, if their applause is any indication.... Mr. Carlson stated that 'the educational department is starting to realize that Jazz and Rock have to take an important place in teaching...' "

Listen to the Hoover High Band's "Good Times, Bad Times" at http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2007/04/365_days_099_th.html

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