Hofmann’s Children

New York - Times Square - July 1977

“Hirsute, with hooded eyes and a hanging nose, Robert ‘Rob’ Daniel Goodroll was an American rock guitarist as notable for his looks as for his talents. Whenever someone called him a baboon, he agreed, specifying that he was a Chacma.

In the early 60’s he made his first public appearances in the Pacific Northwest. His ability to imitate other guitarists’ style and to quickly learn a repertoire led to him often being the first person called when a band needed a substitute or a temporary replacement. It also gave him the opportunity to travel, including a trip to England in early 1964.

In 1966 he shows up in Texas fronting a band called ‘Hofmann’s Children’. Owing hundreds of dollars for studio time, Goodroll disappears shortly after recording an extremely rare privately pressed album.

He appears briefly in the mid-seventies as a record producer in Zambia using the name Daniel Jacmar. He disappears again when he is caught replacing guitar parts with his own work. Rumours start circulating that it his guitar on many of the great albums from the preceding years.

‘Rob’ is rediscovered, back in Texas, by a collector checking the provenance of a copy of the Hofmann’s Children album. With encouragement from his new wife, the collector’s daughter, he starts planning a comeback tour when he is arrested in Sierra Blanca, Texas for marijuana possession. A search of his home turned up the laboratory where Goodroll produced the LSD that paid his bills during his years of anonymity. He passed away while awaiting trail.”

I like stories of unsung rock ‘n’ roll legends. Discovering their music and the stories that go along with them.

I get caught up in researching obscure psychedelic bands from the sixties. The number of small and private pressings surprises me. Then I remember that vinyl was a medium for demos. As a pre-teen, I would spend hours at the bazaar looking for something I recognized in the boxes of radio station rejects.

The pedant in me awakes when I see a video labeled rare. It is available to almost everyone with an internet connection. Maybe you are misusing your modifiers. Regardless it is oxymoronic.

Rarity as a proxy for quality. Tragedies, rediscovery stories. A time-delayed mirroring of the blue’s artists that influenced them. Only a few are reminders that success also requires luck. The best come with lists of artists influenced.

And comeback tours. Music doesn’t pay. You do it in college, stop to start a career and come back to it after retirement. Exceptions exist. Musicians labouring in near-obscurity for forty years, never able to give up the dream.

I try to solve the mysteries. The Japanese artist who records a double album with a well-known producer and then disappears. The groups where the only sign of their existence is a recording. The bands with names more popular than their music.

I try to verify if there really was two bands named Great Society, one with Grace Slick, playing in Fort Worth at the same time. It is quoted without a source on many sites. Even on the site that always requires a citation.

The record company executives and the music promoters help create more mysteries. You sign a popular local band and find out that half of the members can barely play their instruments — no problem, get a bunch of session musicians. You double booked a popular band — get the session musicians to play one of the gigs. Is that guitar solo by Jeff Beck? or maybe it is Jimmy Page? Which Zombies act did you see?

Lots of mysteries, myths, and rumours. The eye witnesses are accused of writing books without ever taking notes. It makes for great stories.

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