Herman Eberitzsch III Bio
Artist Bio courtesy of Family Groove Records:
“There are great artists and musicians who will never be discovered,” says Herman Eberitzsch Jr. III. “That’s the way it is,” he reasons acceptingly, “there’s only so much room at the top.”
“Atlantic told me, ‘We don’t hear it at this time,'” Eberitzsch says, highlighting the elusive way a record company executive might elongate time, stretching the curt word like a worn rubber band. “But when you invest your heart and soul into a project of your own creation, your own little children of songs — you don’t send them down the River Styx.” He laughs and says, “So I put ’em in the basement.”
That’s where music preservationist Daniel Borine fortuitously found the two-inch Master Tapes 35 years later while doing photo research for another project. What those tapes hid, a time capsule of unheard soul and funk; a rich musical legacy, astounded Borine. So, after a whole generation of silence, Eberitzsch’s music will finally see the light of day. Family Groove Records plans to release four full-length albums of Eberitzsch’s brilliant material spanning his work throughout the 1970s.
Herman Eberitzsch III was born in San Francisco’s colorful Portola neighborhood in 1947. He grew up in a German household where he learned to play the classical composers at a young age: Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. But somewhere along the way Eberitzsch caught the funk and couldn’t let go. “In my room I listened to James Brown,” he recalls. “When I grooved and played the boogie I had a powerful left foot that shook the ground. My left foot took down the house, so I eventually had to move out.”
Eberitzsch conjured doo-wop on the corner with a young funky drummer, Greg Errico, who lived down the street. He was enraptured by the blues in Oakland, danced to jazzy R&B grooves in the city, and witnessed the emergence of the new psychedelic sound at the Fillmore and in the neighborhood. Immersed in the Bay Area’s amorphous music community, Eberitzsch naturally gravitated to the piano again, inspired to piece together his expansive influences. “I figured out how to play funky style clavinet and piano,” Eberitzsch says. “They called me funky knuckles for short.” At 21, he joined a band with Boots Hughston called Sword and the Stone and was booked by Bill Graham to perform shows at the Fillmore. The outfit transitioned into a quartet, Shane, with Santana bass player David Brown. They hustled around the city making ten dollars an hour and all the beer they could drink. The city bubbled over with an unparalleled creative force. The time was electric.
Eberitzsch recorded hours of bluesy soul fueled by funky jazz throughout the ’70s that never saw commercial release. He arranged, wrote, sang, and funkified the keys on dozens of songs with Coke Escovedo, Linda Tillery, Lee Oskar, Little Esther Phillips and Greg Errico, among many others. Eberitzsch’s music leaps and wanders. It uplifts the spirit while grounding the body in rich, earthy grooves. It’s a naive and inspiringly audacious attempt at channeling raw expression.
In 1971, Eberitzsch decided it was time to record and somehow save the sonic experience of playing at clubs and cafes in the city. He assembled a quartet from his “grapevine of connections” — like a Rasputin-looking guitarist named Joe West whom Eberitzsch met at the post office — and booked sessions at Roy Chen’s recording studio in Chinatown. With no previous studio background, he rehearsed the musicians, taught them the arrangements, and guided their inspiration in a quest for psychedelic funk and thunderous jazz. Featuring a surprise visit from Funkadelic drummer Tiki Fulwood, These recording sessions produced an enchanting trip with “Rapture of the Deep” a leftfield meditation on rebellious passion “Funk Punk”, and the ethereal “Dark Angels.” Afterwards, Hillel Resner engineered the project and brought it to the attention of Atlantic Records. They saw no commercial success in the tapes, finding them much too experimental, and passed on the project.
Herman Eberitzsch met Coke Escovedo in 1973. Coke had just disbanded the acclaimed Latin Funk super-group Azteca. Riding on the success of writing and touring with Santana, Coke caught the attention of Mercury records. Herman would help land the contract for Coke’s seminal, solo debut, by writing and arranging “Life is a Tortured Love Affair”, “Make It Sweet” “Rebirth” and “Easy Come Easy Go”. These songs marked Eberitzsch’s gift for nuanced lyricism.
Feeling reassured of his own talents and industry potential, Eberitzsch moved on to spearhead a new project with his lead singer and close friend, Johnny Lovett. He herded the grapevine once again, including songstress Linda Tillery, and brought his own group Motion to Wally Heider studios in ’74. Always one to incorporate past experiences, The resulting songs were testaments of joy and a call for unity in the face of difference. But Columbia Records also “didn’t hear it at the time”, and another set of tapes found their way to Eberitzsch’s basement.
These setbacks didn’t disillusion Eberitzsch. He recorded at Patrick Gleeson’s Different Fur Studios in ’76 and established the framework for an adventurous Modern Soul sound he would continue to develop and transform for the next five years. He worked extensively on Lee Oskar’s solo effort and collaborated once again with Greg Errico. He would record more Modern Soul work in the late 70s and early 80s, produced some funky disco with a self-proclaimed ‘African Prince’ and create avant-garde new-wave outsider music.
Ecstatic that the world finally wants to hear his music, Eberitzsch remains positive. “There’s a need for music that was from an era with a lot of vibrancy, wonderful messages, incredible originality, and spiritual feeling,” he says. The music not only embodies that era of the Bay Area but also, like a prism, distorts and enriches it from a new angle. “That’s why the tapes ended up in the garage,” he reflects. “I thought somebody, some day, is going to end up in the garage and blow the sand off this cryptic message.”