Smoke

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The Smoke was a one-off studio group created by producer/musician Michael Lloyd. Lloyd was previously in an early lineup of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, and is featured on the group's very…
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The Smoke was a one-off studio group created by producer/musician Michael Lloyd. Lloyd was previously in an early lineup of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, and is featured on the group's very first two-track recordings, Vol. 1 (he left before they signed to Reprise). Lloyd remained busy with various music projects, and would soon be producing October Country for Epic. A few years earlier, he'd crossed paths with producer Kim Fowley, who signed Lloyd to a publishing deal when the songwriter was only 13. Fowley later introduced Lloyd to entertainment mogul Mike Curb, who was producing "teensploitation" movies at the time. Curb heard examples of Lloyd's musical gifts and decided to give him the opportunity to produce a handful of groups for his Tower imprint and its Sidewalk subsidiary, including one of Lloyd's own groups, the Laughing Wind. This group featured Stan Ayeroff on guitar and Steve Baim on drums, and had issued a Fowley-produced single in 1966 when Lloyd was only 15. Ayeroff and Aims had played with a few other bands as well, including Max Frost & the Troopers.

Curb gave Lloyd free reign of his Hollywood Boulevard Studios for six months. It was during this time that Lloyd, Ayeroff, and Aims recorded an entire album's worth of folky, psychedelic canyon music under the name the Smoke. Lloyd sang lead vocals and played bass and keyboards, while Ayeroff (who co-wrote three of the songs) played guitar and Baim played the drums and percussion. Toward the end of the project, a childhood friend of Lloyd's, Jimmy Greenspoon (they had both been members of the New Dimensions, a surf combo, as well as the British Invasion-inspired Alley Kats and the Rogues), became interested in joining his friend's band. Greenspoon even posed for the album cover photographs, but he never joined (instead, he formed his own group, Three Dog Night). Curb released the Smoke's album on his Sidewalk label, a division of his Hollywood-based Sidewalk Productions company in 1967 (and a subsidiary of the Tower label; this was prior to Curb selling it to the Transcontinental Entertainment Corporation).

Despite encouragement from Tower and a wide release, the album didn't perform as expected. After recording The Smoke album (and briefly traveling on the road with the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band), Ayeroff ventured off to college, and later returned to music. In 1971, he was a founding member of Oingo Boingo, a surrealistic musical theater group who later developed into a rock band. He wrote numerous music books and toured as a guitarist and arranger. Baim continued to write music and poetry, before becoming an architect and builder in Los Angeles. By the fall of 1969, Curb became president of MGM Records and Lloyd (then 20 years old) was named the company's vice president of A&R. Before then, he had continued working with Ayeroff and Baim as the Rubber Band (who, like the Smoke, didn't perform or travel). They released four "songbook" albums filled with cover versions of tunes by Hendrix, the Beatles, and others. Michael Lloyd continued to work in the music industry, becoming one of the most successful American record producers ever. His recordings have earned over 100 gold and platinum awards, several Grammys, Academy Awards, Dove Awards, Golden Globes, and American Music Awards.