#4: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown-"Fire"

Let's get back to the countdown of songs that manage to be MORE inappropriate for an Angels 7th inning stretch than the current self-aware disaster, The Foundations' "Build Me Up Buttercup". We're stuck with that song for the foreseeable future, but this countdown is here to remind you that it could always be worse.

Today's entry, featuring the maniacal Arthur Brown and his hit song, "Fire", is my first piece of reportage for this site, and it's a doozy. I recently interviewed a man who claims to have been in attendance one fateful game, in the summer of 1968, in which, allegedly, Timothy Leary(or perhaps a government agent?) surreptitiously dosed almost every fan in attendance with high-grade LSD. The sordid details and more, after the jump: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown-"Fire"

 

The following story was told to me by a long time Angel fan and resident of the City of Orange. He wished to remain anonymous, so from here on out he'll be referred to as "Rick". I was contacted by Rick via email, and a strange email it was. He said he had inside knowledge of an Angels game that took place in 1968, during which he witnessed, firsthand, the carnage caused by concessions employees spiking the stadiums soda and beer supplies with LSD, a then on-the-rise hallucinogen that would quickly become notorious throughout the country, not only for it's recreational use during the famous Summer of Love and it's subsequent, if not short lived, hippie movement, but also from rumors and reports of various mind control experiments performed by the US government using the substance. I met Rick at Paul's Cocktails in Orange, and we discussed just what it was that he so badly wanted to talk about. The first thing I noticed was his appearance: oxblood Dr. Martens, black cargo pants, a camoflauge Army vest with no shirt underneath, long, peppered beard and bald head...looked to be about 60 or so, give or take a year. He had a baseball cap on that read "Apollo 20". Our conversation was very short, as he said he could not stay in one place for more than a few minutes, due to something about Cointelpro...and he also thought his bank account was currently overdrawn, so he was broke. Here is our brief but riveting conversation:

Mayhem: So, you like the site, huh?(Halos Heaven)

Rick: Yes, yes, yes. I find it appeals to the true fans...the ones that have seen it all, as well as the youngin's that aint seen nothin' yet. There's a lot of good stuff on that site.

M: Well, spread the word. I totally agree. So, you mentioned something in your brief email about some inside info on a game that happened 40 or so years ago. How about we get right into that?

R: Oh, sure. If you want. Cutting right down to business, I like that. Well, I saw the countdown you'd been doing and I found it missing one song that should never be played at the Big A again.

M: Do tell.

R: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown's "Fire".

M: I love that song! I think that'd be pretty sweet, actually.

R: It was played before, during a 7th inning stretch. I was there. It was Saturday, July 27 1968. I'll never forget that night.

(long pause)

R: My best friend at the time, his nickname was Snake, used to work with a few of our other friends at the Big A, in concessions. Now, Snake and another friend of mine, Bronco, had just spent a few weeks down in Laguna Canyon with Timothy Leary, who I'd never heard of at the time, and came back with their minds blown. They kept going on and on about not only the beauty of the canyons back then, but also the "brotherhood" that was being formed in those hills and the communes it contained. They had huge plans for a marijuana growing and selling organization, as well as the mass production and distribution of LSD. The night they got back, actually a few days before the infamous game, was the first time I ever tried the stuff. Bronco gave me 2 "hits" and then we listened to The Zombies' Odyssey and Oracle about 100 times through, it seemed. God, Bronco loved that album. I think he's still rotting away in Lompoc, but every time I hear "Time of the Season", I think of him and the time we rode his tandem bicycle down PCH, butt naked.

 

R: Anyway, so they got me into that game, wasn't a big sellout out or anything...I think the Angels were pretty close to last, if not dead last, at that point in the season. They were playing the White Sox, who were also nothing to write home about, if I'm remembering right...government has screwed with my brain so much via telekinesis and chemtrails that it gets kind of fuzzy sometimes. So we're hanging out near a loading dock, when a guy in an old Ford F100 rolls up, radio a blarin', and proceeds to get out while holding a used coffee can like it was goddamn nitro glycerin! This man's name was Timothy Leary, and I'd soon find out he was there to dose as many unsuspecting Angels fans and players as he could with his fresh batch of acid. I remember shaking his hand while hearing the faint sound of Creedence Clearwater Revival's cover of  "I Put A Spell On You" coming from somewhere in the stadium.

 

R: I'm not sure how exactly they planned on, and eventually succeeded in, getting the "fry" into the peoples systems...Snake was somewhat murky about all that, but at the end of the night, when he was screaming his brains out during a naked standoff with the cops, I heard a few words about "beer supply" and "soda supply" and "hope you liked that butter on your popcorn." So I kind of always assumed it had to be through some sort of way like that...food, drinks, you name it. I would've found out eventually, I'm sure, but Snake was shot by Anaheim PD shortly after his insane, LSD-fueled standoff. He was a good friend, just a 20 year old kid I had met 6 years earlier, while riding through Anaheim on my bike, headed towards the drive-in, and stopping at the old Al's Liquor. We bonded over Yoo-Hoo, old EC Comics and the Angels. We would later bond over crap like Budweiser, four finger lids and Frank Zappa. Sorry, I get sidetracked. He was a good friend and I don't think about him often enough.

Mayhem: Wow...so, the stage was set then? I'm guessing you didn't see much of your friends after this prank, which is one of the most epic I've ever heard of, if true, by the way. What exactly happened during the game, to the best of your recollection?

R: The game itself, if my brain's rememberin' rightly, was kind of boring. I don't remember many hits or runs being scored. I know the Angels lost that day...a 0-1 type of deal. I remember plenty about the other stuff going on during that game though. It was a weird, wild affair, let me tell you. Not to mention that the fact there weren't too many people in the stands led to a lot of people being free to just roam around, changing seat locations and what not. I'd say a good 70% of the stadium was frying their balls off. I remember around the 2nd inning, Jim Fregosi grounded out for the final play of the side, which caused a few dozen people to inexplicably dump their beverages onto their own laps and proceed to try to fit their entire heads in the cups, all while screaming their lungs out in gibberish. I saw a man run onto the field and try to wrestle George Brunet in between pitches, then he just laid on top of ol' George and said "we're taking heavy fire! Get down! Get down! Someone take out that goddamn pillbox!!" I saw a group of teenagers snorting chalk off the chalklines in between the bottom of the 5th and top of the 6th. Then, then I remember the 7th inning stretch, and when the PA system started playing Arthur Brown's "Fire".

M: I can't imagine the crowd reacted well, judging by the look on your face and how hard this is to tell.

R: Well...when the crowd abruptly heard the shout "I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE! AND I BRING YOU...FIRE!", the place went bonkers. Fights broke out, people began praying to speakers that were hanging off of concrete pylons in the walkways. It reminded me of some of the Pat Robertson early televangelist broadcasts I'd heard about at the time, from my daddy, except the evil version of that. The organ in that song is maddening, and everybody was just swaying, dancing, sticking their tongues out. Women were taking off their blouses, men were gyrating on the hard concrete like it was nothin'. I'll never forget the look on the players' faces. They didn't know what to think. They also weren't quite sure why that music was being played and for so long(the song was played in it's entirety). I'll never forget that. An inning or so later, the police arrived in a swarm, ready for action. They began taking people away and putting them in large, black buses. Meanwhile, the game was still going on and the players did their best to try to just ignore the den of inequity they'd found themselves in. That's probably why the game ended in 0-1. Have you ever tried playing baseball on LSD, or even while just watching 16,000 people freak the f*** out on LSD?

M: I played a men's rec league softball game on acid once. Went 2 for 3.

R: Oh. Well, look. The reason I wanted to tell you all of this, and I aint mentioned this to nobody in all the goddamn years since, but the fact is that I think either it wasn't Timothy Leary that showed up with all that acid and led the stadium into a drug fueled frenzy and break-from-reality orgy, or Timothy Leary just happened to work for the US government. This had government written all over it. I know what they do to people. I've seen it first hand!

(at this point, he pointed at his hat and the Apollo 20 insignia)

R: They tested on us, then they either carted everybody away for their brains to be wiped clean of the incident, or they gave the police reason to shoot the rest. Including my friend, Snake. Bronco had escaped to Laguna Canyon before all the shit really started going down, and I never saw him again. He was on the lam, most of the time, until he was caught trying to steal a horse up in Lodi. Feds put him away after that. That's about all I know. Nobody can remember the game, and the one's that do are locked up...or completely dismissed as loons. Anyway, kid....just be happy you guys have "Build Me Up Buttercup". I've seen worse. I've seen way worse. It was a hell I'm still trying to forget, and it was the beginning of the end for this country, that night was. I have to go. They'll probably be here soon. Don't tell them you talked to me. Publish what you want, just be careful.

So that was it...quite the crazy story. I had to share here because I felt like it needed to be thrown out there, in hopes to uncover more of the truth about what happened that night. July 27, 1968. I was actually on my lunch break, so I had to get back to work eventually. It was just me and the bartender at Paul's...I took a few minutes to jot some notes down in my notebook before leaving, and as I had my last sip of beer, the jukebox came to life and started playing Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man" out of nowhere. That was my cue. I had to go.

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