1970 back in Sydney

1970 back in Sydney, I joined local unit 'Melissa' a rock-fusion band somewhere between Jethro Tul and Big Brother and the Holding Co. with a little Astral Weeks thrown in from yours truly for good measure. I lasted there for about a year, recorded an album, 'Midnight Trampoline' (even the title conjures up images of 'Spinal Tap's' 'Smell the Glove'),  Alas, I got itchy feet to travel again.

Melissa 1970 
L to R: Wol Sparke, Bob Gunn, JC, Rick Barrett

Back to the 'old sod' new wife in tow (yes Tony Lunn's sister Penny.) On the way through London I got 'converted' by the, at that time, 13 year old Guru Maharaj Ji and Divine Light Mission. It was kind of mandatory to have a guru at that time, the Beatles having led the way with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. This of course was all part of the search started by the influences of certain hallucinogens and my avid reading of books such as Aldous Huxley's 'Doors of Perception, Heaven and Hell', Herman Hesse's 'Sidartha' and 'The Glass Bead Game', Yoginanda's 'Autobiography of a yogi'.....all mandatory reading at the time for any self respecting spiritual quester.
 Looking back on it now it was quite a beneficial thing. It got me out of drugs and gave me a positive focus. It did however cause me to freak some of my friends out with my fervent proselytising. Why is it we need to recruit others when we find ' the real thing' or 'the secret of life'? Maybe is serves to help convince ourselves that we are right. I apologise to all those I did this to but my intentions were from the heart. I wanted to help build 'the Golden Age on earth'!!!! God help us! I will say that although I have not continued to follow Maharaj Ji, my life has certainly benefited through the practice of the meditation he taught me.

JC and Sawada Kenji

So back I went to Belfast and succeeded in converting most of the old crew to the practice of meditation some cursed me, some still thank me.

Northern Ireland was still a troubled province at that time and Belfast could be a dangerous place. I remember one Sunday morning where I nearly departed this mortal coil. I decided to walk out and get some milk and a paper and at the end of the street I was staying in, Pakenham st, just off Donegall Pass there was an RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) police station with the manditory sand bag fortification and the British soldier peering out the small slit about head height. I crossed the road so I was walking on the opposite side to the guard house. A wee sparrow few in front of me an hit the shop window beside me knocking it's self out. I bent down to pick it up and as I held it in my hand it came to and flew away from me, straight across the road and into the slit where the soldier stood armed and waiting. The sound etched in my memory is the sound of the young 18 year old British soldier releasing the catch of his semi automatic weapon and time just froze as I realised what was happening. I immediately raised my hands in the air and slowly stood up. I said to him, "I am walking towards you, are you alright?" He said in his East London accent, " I nearly fucking shot you mate, I thought you'd thrown something at me" His hands were shaking and he was in shock..... so young and in charge of such a deadly weapon. I think I nearly shat myself! That was probably the closest I have come to death. Every moment we have on this earth is precious and I am thankful for my time here when I realise how easily it can be taken away.


Shortly after that I decided to make the pilgrimage to India. So I set off on a bus yes, a bus all the way from London to Delhi, expected to take 6 weeks. But I didn't reckon on encountering the Indo-Pakistan war of '71 and was stranded in Kabul Afghanistan for a couple of months.

Starting to run out of money, decided to go up into Russia, across Siberia and on to Japan where we had heard you could make money teaching English and in my case from playing western music. So up into Tashkent, Uzbekistan across Siberia we went and after many adventures to be told another day, landed in Yokohama with about $100 in my wallet.

Within a week we had a small flat in a little village, Shinmachi in the suburbs of Tokyo. I worked singing in a bar in Roppongi (Romi's) where a lot of foreigners congregated.

During this time, I also worked with Japanese heartthrob Sawada Kenji teaching him how to sing in English. His record company were grooming him for a US release. It was quite a challenge as he didn't speak any English and I knew very little Japanese.

I also met a local artist Osamu Kitajima and I recorded with him on many of his projects and sung on quite a few jingles in Japanese. Dr Osamu, as he is known now, has gone on to enjoy great success with many albums and now lives in Los Angeles.

Check out his Web site: http://www.eastquest.com/

NEXT: chapter 5 - 1973 back to Australia