Barry Friedman

Biography by

Barry Friedman, who in the late '60s changed his name to Frazier Mohawk, was one of the more colorful behind-the-scenes figures of the 1960s Los Angeles folk-rock/psychedelic community. His most visible…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

Barry Friedman, who in the late '60s changed his name to Frazier Mohawk, was one of the more colorful behind-the-scenes figures of the 1960s Los Angeles folk-rock/psychedelic community. His most visible credits are as a producer of albums by Kaleidoscope, Nico, and the Holy Modal Rounders, as well as managing Buffalo Springfield in their very early days. He'd entered show business as a teenager, working in television production, circuses, and as a newspaper photographer. Work doing publicity for Los Angeles DJ and television host Bob Eubanks led to doing sound mixes for bands playing live on television. As an all-around jack-of-trades, in the mid-'60s he did publicity for Ike Turner and the Troubadour club and photography for Hoyt Axton's first album.

Buffalo Springfield basically formed in Friedman's home where Stephen Stills was staying as he tried to form a band, luring Richie Furay from the East Coast. It was Friedman who was driving the vehicle carrying Stills and Furay on Sunset Boulevard on that mythical day when they passed Neil Young and Bruce Palmer driving a hearse with Ontario license plates in the opposite direction. All four musicians, plus Buffalo Springfield drummer Dewey Martin, were mentored by Friedman as they started to rehearse and gig in Hollywood. Friedman was their manager at that point if anyone was, but then got edged out by Charlie Greene and Brian Stone.

Friedman got into high-level record production by producing a couple of songs on the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's second album, East West. This, Friedman's production of the first album by Kaleidoscope, and his friendship with Paul Rothchild helped lead to a position at Elektra Records, as someone sort of designed to handle the label's freakier bands. Certainly there were few freakier rock acts of any sort than the Holy Modal Rounders, whose sole Elektra album, the wacky The Moray Eels Eat the Holy Modal Rounders, was produced by Friedman. By the time that album came out, Friedman had changed his name to Frazier Mohawk.

Around the same time, he also produced the second album by Nico, The Marble Index, and Koerner, Ray & Glover's Running, Jumping, Standing Still. Mohawk was also heavily involved in an Elektra-funded communal project of sorts at Paxton Lodge in rural California. The idea was to get promising singer/songwriters and musicians out of the city, into the country, and into a less-stressful environment conducive to creativity. Jackson Browne was one of the artists participating in the endeavor, and an unreleased album, Baby Browning, did result from the experiment. Elektra Records president Jac Holzman has said that album wasn't good, and apparently there was more sex and drugs than rock & roll taking place at Paxton Lodge, so the project was discontinued. (There are more details about Paxton Lodge in Holzman's autobiography, Follow the Music.)

Mohawk married Sandra Hurvitz, who changed her name to Essra Mohawk and recorded some eccentric albums that have garnered a cult. In the 1970s, Mohawk moved to Canada and continued to be involved in production for a number of obscure artists. He built a studio at Puck's Farm, about 45 minutes north of Toronto, that was continuing to see action in the early 21st century. One of his later productions was of the Holy Modal Rounders' late-'90s album Too Much Fun, done about 30 years after he had worked with them at Elektra Records.