Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I should blog about Black Cactus Stampede. They had quite a pedigree, with ex-members from L.A.'s The Plimsouls and S.F.'s The Sea Hags, two quality bands. They had a unique sound for the era, an actual good songwriter in the band (who wrote for other bands as well) and absolutely zilch, nada, rien, zero trace of them left whatsoever online or anywhere else.

Their look was young blue collar guys next door in an era of Hair Metal black leather uniformity, with each band member an individual as such. (I've always thought the best bands were composed of recognizable individuals, both in appearance and contributions strengthening the whole. You could even tell the original Guns'n'Roses guys apart.) Friendly bad boys. I almost had a crush on one of them.

Their sound was double lead guitar with one of them a bottleneck slide guitar, a la the Mick Taylor Rolling Stones in the early 1970's. Their singer proffered a gruff baritone, in direct contrast to most of the era's gonad-squeezed falsetto shrieking. They had one song that I saw transform every audience live, wherein all these hardened, anally cool metal types would start unconsciously swaying to its trance-y beat (chorus: "...where's that little sister, where's that little thang?"). You can see the intensity of an instrumental break in my live photo above.

For my studio session and other interaction with them, they actually tried to be gentlemen around me, despite my protests that no one had to censor their words or hide things. I loved the conversations I overheard, like debating what cherubim were, why it was unusual for "a nice Jewish boy" to be so tattooed (it's against dogma orthodoxy bigtime to "defile" the body) or for example:

BCS1: I wish we had used Heather for our first promo photo. We used "-----."

BCS2: Who's "-----"?

BCS1: He's a putz!

For the trivia-minded, Black Cactus Stampede were (L-R in my group photo below): Isaac Baruch (singer-songwriter-guitarist,) David Pahoa (bassist, ex-Plimsouls,) Adam Maples (drummer, ex-Sea Hags and almost replacement for the first Guns'n'Roses drummer, probably not decadent enough,) and James "Jimmy" Gambone (slide guitar.)
They all had Biblical first names.

They were alone with the nascent Black Crowes and Little Caesar in performing bluesy hard rock with slide guitar (as opposed to slide/bluesy metal like Cinderella) in the Hair Metal era before the Nirvana sea change, and without having been told to. If you missed seeing them live in the late 1980's/early 1990's, you missed seeing one of L.A.'s best unsung bands, for there's nary a cd or download left to tell the tale...nothing online at all, until this blog.

2011 annotation: Still nada, rien, zilch about this band when you keep on Googlin' but this LINK will give you a 2008 photo of Jimmy Gambone in a reunion of his pre-BCS bands in Florida inclusive of one with Johnny Depp, and "friend" Isaac on FB to see his genuinely Fine Art: he earned a Bachelor's Degree in painting from Cal State in 2010!


Anonymous said...

Evanesco said...

I couldn't find any working links on YouTube which means they really are that hidden :(
I will have to do more online digging to listen up some music.

Fast Film said...

Anonymous' video is one by "the pedigreed half."

Fast Film said...

Let me know if you find ANYTHING, "Evanesco." I really liked this band, and although I see the appeal and merit of many, I don't really like all that many bands.

Unknown said...

Heather, you just made by day with this bit of trivia. I was just cleaning out old boxes of tapes and came across an old demo Issac gave me years ago when I lived in LA. They where an awesome band then and wished they made it big. Thanks for the memory.

Fast Film said...

If one of you is this writer and wants me to remove the following, write me - - and I shall )(or if anyone has any further info on this band.) However, there's so little feedback online about Black Cactus Stampede that I want to post this comment from three years ago from a first draft of this piece which contains some fascinating anecdotes. The writer was "bobneck"

What this blogger says is all true. Black Cactus Stampede was a great Hollywood rock and roll band. i lived with Jimmy Gambone
and Issac Baruch at magpie, the apartment building at Olive and Franklin in west Hollywood next door to the house of blues.. and what a ride that was!

Jimmy Gambone grew up with Johnny Depp, they wear old friends and one time when Jimmy and i werre a bit too "----" to come with the $800 rent and $800 phone bill and facing eviction in two days.. Johnny came to the rescue and had his manager cut Jimmy a check for $1600 the next day and saved us from being homeless.
thank you johnny depp!...(20 years late but better then never).

Issac Baruch was one of
the most prolific rock song writers i ever known and a great guitar player as well. i think
Issac is still around working a day job in Hollywood, maybe he's still working at Johnny's
club on sunset blvd. I would love to know what ever happened to Jimmy Gambone ..he is MIA.
Black Cactus Stampede was the real deal sex drugs and rock and roll Hollywood band.
and i can tell you this.... i got laid every single time i went to a Black Cactus Stampede show.

if your in your twenty's and reading this.... sorry kids..... you missed it!

i think i still have a few live show and some rehearsal tapes some place and i did photograph
them several times but i can't figure out how to post pic's or audio on "---" site.

Fast Film said...

and this link
takes you to a photo of Jimmy Gambone and Johnny Depp playing together in their 80s band as described by poster "bobneck."

Flameboy said...


Here is what Isaac Baruch said about Los Plantronics' version of
Black Cactus Stampede

Oh my f***in’ god!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yoy boys are f***in’ geniuses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Un-f***in-believeable!!!!!!!!!! You have just completely blown me away!

Anonymous said...

I have at least 12 songs of them between 3 different "Warner Bros Records" cassettes, including the song you referenced above (The "where's that little sister..." song, which is titled Mojo Swing). Definitely a great act that sadly went nowhere major.

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