Saturday, February 20, 2010

Steve Heitkotter - Update 02-20-10

Steve’s legal name is Stephen David Heitkotter.

I’ve had an opportunity to listen to the five songs that someone allowed me to download. Listening gave me goose bumps. It’s been forty years. I was approximately 16 at the time when these songs were recorded. Steve is definitely playing guitar and singing on all five tracks. Ross Dwelle is definitely playing drums on all five tracks. Steve and Ross were 7 years older than I was. I met Ross through my brother (they had been in a few bands together). Ross had real good tempo and a knack for funky syncopated grooves. What puzzles me is that there is a second guitar that comes and goes on the tracks playing lead/solo. I don’t remember another guitar player ever being there while I was there. I could have been playing rhythm guitar.  Sounds like chords I would use.  It was always just the three of us. I do remember Steve’s girlfriend or wife coming in the room a few times. I’m thinking that Steve overdubbed the second guitar parts (lead) via sound-on-sound (which his Sony was capable of doing).  The vocals were always live.

I am definitely playing bass on “Hangin’ All Night”. Again, there is a second guitar part that comes and goes. There was not a second guitar player present during the original recording of this. Was this my playing or overdubbed later?

Some of the guitar playing on “I Don’t Mind” (especially the two, 3 note descending runs at the very end of the song) sounds like stuff I would play, but I don’t remember playing guitar on any songs.

I know that I played bass on all these songs, but those takes for the other four songs (excluding “Hangin’ All Night") are not here.

I don’t remember these songs ever having titles while we were recording them. Steve had vague ideas for songs with scribbled, rough lyrics. Mostly, these sessions were just jams.  There were many takes of these songs.

As I stated in my previous post, Steve had quite a resource of blank reels of tape that we went through. There could have been another guitar player involved when I wasn't there. I’m sure there are reels and reels of material that few have heard. I would be surprised if the caliber of playing would be any better than what I’ve heard from these five songs. The story that these tracks were recorded at a Fresno County mental hospital is just not true. I have found out that Steve did enter a Fresno mental facility at some time and was released in 2007.

I do have some questions. Who took the tapes and made a dozen or so vinyl copies? Who started the story that this record was recorded at a Fresno County mental hospital? What happened to all of the tapes and who is in possession of them now? What studio/engineer pressed the copies?  Who (if any) was the second guitar player?  Does whoever is reissuing vinyl copies of the record have written permission from Steve, or are these illegal bootleg copies?

I'm seeing eBay auctions for reissues of the original recordings.  If permission was not given by Steve or someone acting legally on his behalf for these to be sold, these are in violation of US copyright laws.

If anyone has any direct knowledge to help answer these questions, please contact me.

Greg Youngman

Thanks to Chris at Garage Hangover.  You can read more about The Road Runners at Chris' site.