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Blast of the Past : Strawberry Alarm Clock Wakes Concert-Goers to Sound of the ‘60s

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mike Wilson remembers the summer day in 1967 when the psychedelic band Strawberry Alarm Clock showed up to play a few tunes at the Carriage Square mall in Oxnard.

“They were so loud, all the merchants told them to leave,” said Wilson, 39.

But no one stopped the music Saturday, when the band performed its tunes, including the hit “Incense and Peppermints” at KADY-TV’s Beach Daze concert at San Buenaventura State Beach.

For much of the afternoon, Strawberry Alarm Clock and Eric Burdon, the original lead singer of The Animals, pounded out their classics.

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“I grew up on this music, on these sullen-looking guys,” Wilson said. “I had to come.”

An estimated 5,000 people attended the event, which also included performances by Jimmie and the Immortals, a Los Angeles soul band, and I Love You, a hard rock band.

Fans of all ages piled onto the beach, forming a kaleidoscope of tattered tie-dyed shirts and modern-day fluorescent swim suits.

One Camarillo teen-ager, who counts R.E.M. and Jesus Jones among his favorite bands, came out to participate in the psychedelic beach bash.

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“I love the ‘60s,” said Jason Stuart, 18. “It’s the whole thing about love and peace. What we’re seeing now is a rebirth of the ‘60s.”

Capitalizing on the recurrence of an old fad, Petra Schian, 30, wandered the beach selling the tie-dyed T-shirts she made at her Ventura home. Since last year, the colorful shirts have been in big demand.

“Color is in,” Schian said. “You can be as vivid as possible, and people like it. This has just taken off.”

But not everyone at the beach was impressed with the sounds and sights of the past.

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Laura Whitcher, 20, and Sheri Emery, 21, both of Thousand Oaks, said the bands were too loud and too “rock-ish.”

“I never heard these guys,” Whitcher said as Strawberry Alarm Clock played in the background. “It’s not bad, but I’m not into it.”

“I like the L.A. dance music,” Emery said.

Kevin Beasley, 23, and Debbie Smith, 24, who came to the beach to relax, were surprised to find the crowd.

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“It’s been a good day for people-watching at least,” Smith said.

Between acts, Lee Freeman, lead singer for Strawberry Alarm Clock, spent time mingling with the audience.

“These people look the same way they did 20 years ago,” said Freeman, who still makes his living playing with the band. “Things have come full circle.”

John Huddy, owner of local television station KADY, which sponsored the event, said the station stuck with the ‘60s bands because Burdon proved to be popular at the concert last year.

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This is the fourth year the station has put on the event, which has drawn larger audiences each year.

“You have the younger audience that comes because they really like the rock ‘n’ roll and they’re curious,” Huddy said. “Then you have people in their 30s and 40s. This is our music.”


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