Probably one of the weirdest records as far as the back story behind it!
Lord L.Ron Hubbard, known to his followers as The Source, assembled this funky jazz ensemble from members of Sea Org aboard the flagship of their fleet, The Apollo, originally named The Royal Scotman (supposed to be The Royal Scotsman, but typos & no spell-check in those days). The Sea Org is a unit of the Church of Scientology, comprising the church's most dedicated members. It was established on 12 August 1967 by Commodore L.Ron Hubbard, the science fiction church's founder. They initially resided on board three ships, the Diana, the Athena, & the Apollo because they where banned from nearly every country around the globe. In 1971, Sea Org assumed responsibility for the ecclesiastical development of the church, particularly the upper levels of its training known as Operating Thetan or OT. The band itself played a strange semi-skilled brand of garage jazz. The fact is that this band was assembled to gather recruits for Scientology with free "rock concerts" around the world.
The musick on this album was primarily imagined by L.Ron, honed to its razor sharp mediocrity aboard the Apollo. Then the musick was recorded over a period of days, recording 14 to 15 hours at a crack, directed by Hubbard. Hubbard had rented a movie theater in Portugal as the recording venue. As the Stars recorded, they were constantly badgered by Hubbard to fit their styles within the narrow confines of Hubbard's vision. He charged them a dollar for every wrong note they played (still, many wrong notes made it into the final recording). When it was over, the Stars owed Hubbard hundreds of dollars for their wrong notes.
If you are interested in things Scientological, read on…
Excerpt taken from Bare-Faced Messiah, a unauthorized biography of L. Ron Hubbard & Scientology by Russell Miller. The Church fought this book in the courts, but in the end lost their case. However, they have used their incredible influence to make sure copies of it are extremely hard to come by (& expensive). Pdf files can be found around the interweb, however. Read on…:
First, some Naval background data on Mr Hubbard, quoted from one of his spurious `official' biographies: 'He served in the South Pacific and in 1942 was relieved by fifteen officers of rank and was rushed home to take part in the 1942 battle against German submarines as Commanding Officer of a Corvette serving in the North Atlantic. In 1943 he was made Commodore of corvette squadrons and in 1944 he worked with amphibious forces.' Following was a list of seventeen medals awarded to Mr Hubbard, including the Purple Heart and the Navy Commendation Medal, many of them with bronze stars.
Miller writes, “On 18 June, the Navy Department replied, enclosing the four routine medals awarded to former Lieutenant Lafayette R. Hubbard, US Naval Reserve, and noting, 'The records in this Bureau fail to establish Mr Hubbard's entitlement to the other medals and awards listed in your request.'
The Commodore apparently had no difficulty circumventing this little problem: he quickly put into circulation an eight-by-ten color photograph of twenty-one medals and palms he had won during the war. Some were missing, he explained to the crew. He had actually won twenty-eight medals, but the remainder were awarded to him in secret because naval command were embarrassed that he had sunk a couple of subs in their own 'back yard'.
In the summer, the Commodore turned his attention from his own image to that of his ship. He was taken with an idea to improve the Apollo's public relations by staging free concerts and dance performances for the local residents at her regular ports of call. After hours of watching television in Queens, he considered himself an expert on popular music and modern dance and believed he had made important `discoveries' about the nature of rock music and the need for a strong heavy beat. He often demonstrated his theories to a mystified Jim Dincalci. On the ship, he was able to put his ideas into practice with his own band, the 'Apollo Stars', made up of volunteers from the crew chosen at auditions conducted by the Commodore with all the confidence and aplomb of a man who had spent a lifetime in show business.
Ken Urquhart, who probably knew more about music than anyone on board, resolutely refused to become involved. 'My favourite composer was Mozart, not the horrible, raucous noise they were making. They practiced on the deck most afternoons, playing music made up by LRH with a very primitive, animal beat. There was no way I was going to go near them.' Mike Goldstein, who had played drums in a semi-professional group while he was at university, volunteered to play with the Apollo Stars in order to get out of the RPF (Rehabilitation Project Force). 'LRH had said anyone in the RPF who was accepted for the band or the dance troupe would be let out. I volunteered because I thought anything was better than running around in a black boiler suit. I was wrong. The band was terrible, awful; it was the most embarrassing thing I have ever done.'
Hubbard's idea was that the Apollo Stars would be playing on the aft well deck each time the ship entered a harbor and that bookings for both the band and dance troupe would be arranged in advance at every port of call. Since he would be making appearances himself, he had a new uniform designed with a suitably theatrical flair. It featured a powder blue kepi with a lavishly gold-braided peak and a cloak in the same hue, lined with scarlet silk. He looked, Urquhart reported, 'most peculiar'.
Quentin Hubbard, now twenty, began rehearsing with the dance troupe and enjoyed it so much he made the mistake of telling his father he would like to be a dancer. 'Oh no you wouldn't,' Hubbard replied. 'I have other plans for you.' There was no further discussion and Quentin was no longer allowed to perform. Not long afterwards, he made a feeble attempt at suicide while the ship was docked at Funchal in Madeira.
'He'd gone missing ashore for a while,' said his friend Doreen Smith, 'and while people were out looking for him he just walked back on board. I went to see him in his cabin to make sure he was OK and found him lying on his bunk. He smiled at me and I said, "Hi, how are you feeling?" He said, "Not so good, my stomach's real upset." Then he said, "Doreen, I've done the most awful thing. I've taken a whole lot of pills." I said, "Oh shit. Get out of the bunk and don't go to sleep." I began walking him around the cabin and said, "You know I'm going to have to tell your Dad, don't you?" He nodded and said, "I know. He'll know what to do."'
Doreen ran to the Commodore's cabin and said 'Quentin's taken some pills.' Hubbard did not need it spelled out. He told Doreen to fetch some mustard from the galley and mixed it into a drink which he made Quentin gulp down. The boy vomited repeatedly and was taken to the sick bay to recover. His father sent down a message that as soon Quentin was well enough to leave the sick bay, he was to be assigned to the RPF. Mary Sue Hubbard, Hubbard’s third wife, who had a reputation for protecting her children against the excesses of the ship's regime, was powerless to intervene. She was supposed to be responsible for welfare on board -- indeed, she had won a special dispensation from the Commodore to allow married couples in the RPF to spend one night together a week -- but knew her husband was in a towering rage over Quentin and there was nothing she could do.
Rebecca Goldstein was among the inmates of the RPF when Quentin arrived. 'It was real tough for him,' she said. 'He was very delicate and refined, not at all self-important, very unlike his father. He had hardly any facial or body hair and it was very hard to say whether he had started shaving. There were rumors that he'd attempted suicide before. He cringed from his father, he was completely overwhelmed by him.'
The valiant attempts of the Apollo Stars and its associated dance troupe to win the hearts and minds of the Spanish and the Portuguese people did not meet with overwhelming success, although the political climate did not help. There had been a military coup in Portugal earlier in the year and the subsequent unease tended to make the Portuguese nervous of mysterious foreign ships calling at its ports for no apparent reason. The Apollo had also managed to upset the Spaniards by mistakenly attempting to enter a major naval base at El Firol.
The ship's real problem, however, was that its 'shore story' was wearing thin. Portuguese and Spanish port authorities were still being told that the Apollo was owned by a highly successful business consultancy firm, but all they could see was an old, rust-streaked ship, often festooned with ragged laundry and crewed by young people in tattered, ill-assorted uniforms. It was little wonder that suspicions mounted about its activities and rumors took hold that the ship was operated by the CIA.
Jim Dincalci, who had been put ashore to run a port office in Funchal, Madeira, became alarmed by the rumors. 'It seemed to be common knowledge in Madeira that the ship was not what it was supposed to be and most people seemed to think it was a CIA spy ship. I had made friends on the island and had contacts in local Communist cells. The word was that the Communists were out to get the ship next time she arrived in Madeira. I sent telexes to LRH warning him what was happening and advising him not come to Madeira until things had calmed down. I was absolutely shocked to see the ship come into the harbor.'
The Apollo arrived in Funchal on 7 October and moored in her usual berth. Emissaries were sent ashore to advertize a 'rock festival' to be held at the weekend, featuring the Apollo Stars. Late on the afternoon of Wednesday, 9 October, while Mary Sue and several members of the crew were ashore, a small crowd of young men began to gather on the quayside. By the way they were glowering and gesticulating at the ship, it was obvious to those on board that this was not a social call. Soon the crowd, which was growing all the time, began chanting 'C-I-A, C-I-A, C-I-A.'
Nervous Scientologists lining the rails of the ship tried chanting 'CIA' back at the crowd, but it did nothing to lower the tension. Then the first stone clanged against the Apollo's hull and a bottle smashed on the fore deck. More stones and bottles followed as the crowd's anger spread. The crew scattered to take shelter and began picking up the stones from the deck and throwing them back into the crowd. In a matter of moments it became a pitched battle.
Hubbard, who was watching what was going on from the bridge, got out a bullhorn and boomed 'Communista, Communista’ at the crowd. Then he began taking photographs of the stone-throwers with a flash unit, further inflaming their tempers. Several of the crew were hit by flying stones, including Kima Douglas, whose jaw was broken by a large lump of rock that hit her full in the face. On the quayside, one of the crowd opened his trousers, waggled his penis and took a direct hit with a well-aimed stone from the ship.
With stones and sticks and bottles flying in all directions, there was total confusion on board the Apollo. Some crew members would later describe the Commodore as being perfectly cool through the whole incident, others said he appeared to be terrified. Whatever his state, no one was taking charge and everyone was screaming orders. In one part of the ship someone was trying to get together a party to repel boarders; in another, the sea hoses were being run out and trained on the crowd in an attempt to persuade them to disperse.
Any remaining vestige of control among the rabble-rousers vanished when the ship turned its hoses on them. On the quayside there were several motor-cycles belonging to members of the crew and two of the ship's cars -- a Mini and a Fiat. All the motor-cycles were hurled into the harbor, then both cars were pushed over the edge of the quay, hitting the water with an enormous splash and quickly disappearing under the surface. Meanwhile, others in the crowd slipped the Apollo's mooring-lines from the bollards and she began to drift away from the quayside.
At this point, the Portuguese authorities belatedly appeared on the scene to restore order. Armed militia were put on board to provide protection, a pilot assisted with anchoring the ship in the harbor and a launch rescued those members of the crew who had been stranded ashore, including Mary Sue. The police demanded the film that Hubbard had been taking during the riot and the Commodore, mighty pleased with himself, dutifully handed over two rolls of unexposed film from cameras he had not been using. It was nightfall before the decks had been cleared of the broken glass and rubble.
Since it rather appeared as if the people of Madeira were no longer interested in a rock concert featuring the Apollo Stars, the ship sailed next day, leaving information with the harbor authorities in Funchal that she was heading for the Cape Verde Islands, 1500 miles to the south. She departed on a purposeful southerly course until she was out of sight. She then turned west, equally purposefully, prompting the crew to speculate with mounting excitement that the Commodore had decided to return to the United States.”
Then some more information on the actual making of this album.
From “The Apollo: Voyage of the Damned” by Neal Hamel:
I Write the Songs That Make the Whole World Gag
“The picture on the cover of the Apollo Stars album shows a peculiarly grim-faced L. Ron Hubbard sitting before the controls of the mixing board, surrounded by his retinue, technical people and musicians.
Hubbard had spent tens of thousands of dollars to obtain the very best recording equipment, yet the Apollo Stars music on this album is technically and musically sub-par. Apparently Hubbard did not understand the basics of mixing. The music on the album sounds as if he did the mix while listening through headphones with cotton in his ears, never bothering to listen to it through speakers. The sound, distorted and mixed in the wrong proportions, is bunched into the right and left channels, an amateur's gross mistake. The rhythm guitarist was mixed in just as loud as the soloists. This way one can clearly hear the same two chords over and over and over and over again (while the high voltage saxophone player plays the ten notes that he knew over and over and over again). The muses were battered and bruised.
Once they had finalized a song, the Stars were only allowed to play their songs one way, no variation in notes, tempo or feeling. Hubbard, satisfied with a rendition of one of their pieces of music would decree that that rendition was the LRH Approved Version. If Hubbard caught them changing the music as he listened to local radio broadcasts there would be hell to pay.
The Apollo Stars were a part of a public relations campaign organized by Hubbard to improve the image of the much beleaguered Apollo. Like all the elements of Hubbard's public relations campaign, it failed and failed dramatically.
Once while docked in a Caribbean port and certainly without Hubbard's permission, the Apollo Stars participated in an all-night jam session with local musicians. Away from the oppressiveness of their hemisemidemigod, reports one of the musicians involved, the music had, for one night away from Hubbard, become enjoyable.
The decline of the Apollo Stars is a metaphor for the final year of the Apollo. Advance men would arrange free concerts for the locals as part of the arrival of the Apollo into ports. The official concerts deteriorated into lackluster affairs attended by bored locals. Finally the Stars were just abandoned as Hubbard reassigned the musicians to other duties. As things got more and more desperate, Hubbard sent a message to the US Guardian's Office head (DGUS), ordering that a land base be established as there were no places left for the Apollo to go. Hubbard said he was running out of time. The DGUS dispatched an assistant from his office in California to Florida and under the business name of Southern Land Development Corporation arranged the transfer of the Sea Org to a "Land Base".
The 'Voyage of the Damned' was over, but the on-shore migration ushered in another chapter in the sorry history of the Sea Org.”
Some final notes about musicians & others associated with the album. On the front cover, Annie Broeker is sitting on the left, then Dan Auerbach, & then Lord L.Ron. Tony Strawn is the other guy wearing a hat, back row right.
Annie Broeker is still a slave at the Int Base, the international headquarters of the Church of Scientology, standing on a 500-acre parcel of land in unincorporated Riverside County, California, outside of San Jacinto.
Dan Auerbach left the cult in 1982.
Tony was jailed for molesting a two pre-pubescent girls in Florida(Florida v. Strawn: Criminal Complaint).
Russ Meadows left the cult in 1983.
Neil Sarfati left the cult in 1978 & runs a large food distribution company.
Bill Potter died from AIDS in the late 1980's.
Kip Hansen left the cult in 1983.
Homer Schomer left the cult in 1982 & sued them.
Wayne Marple left the cult in 1982.
Seems as though most of the ‘Stars’ have fallen.
Year of Release: 1974
Label: Scientology Today, Yay!
Genre: Bad Funk/Jazz
Side 1 –
The Power of Source
Side 2 –
We’re Moving In
Johnny Comes Marching Home Again
My Dear Portugal(Meu Querido Portugal)
Download: The Apollo Stars – The Power of Source (320Kbps)
Download Size: 75.9MB
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