Header image courtesy of SNOW Facebook (official)
By Andrew DiCecco
For every rock act that breaks the mold and achieves widespread success, there are countless others that remain mere footnotes in the annals of the genre’s illustrious history.
Many of the rock soldier casualties ultimately took the road less traveled to become prominent with other bands, while others became disenfranchised and moved on to completely different endeavors.
Doug Ellison, once the frontman for revered southern California rockers, SNOW, identifies as the latter.
Ordinarily, a band of SNOW’s caliber shouldn’t require much of an introduction, yet the band remains one of the more egregious examples of deep-rooted talent abandoned on the industry’s proverbial cutting room floor. Widely considered to be among the more influential acts to emerge from a burgeoning rock scene, SNOW – which also included Stephen Quadros on drums and Carlos and Tony Cavazo on guitar and bass, respectively – originally honed their chops and garnered a devoted following playing backyard parties before graduating to playing some of the circuit’s premier venues, such as The Whisky a Go Go and The Starwood.
While Carlos achieved meteoric success with Quiet Riot, Tony co-founded the band Hurricane, and Stephen went on to undertake a variety of ventures, little was known about what became of Ellison – until now.
I recently sat down with SNOW’s amiable frontman for an in-depth peer into the band’s history.
Thanks for taking the time, Doug. Before moving to the west coast to further your musical career, you were in the New York band Flying Tigers and part of a thriving scene that included The Ramones, Blondie, and Talking Heads. If you could, paint a picture of what the music scene was like during that time.
It was funny because it was basically the same band that I had been in Florida for a couple of years, but we had broken up. I had gone out to L.A. for the first time in early ’74, and I was looking to get into a band, and I got into a band called L.A. Turnaround. They were kind of a country-western rock band – which really is not my type of music – but they were cool guys, it was some money, it was a gig, so I figured why not? So, I did that for a little while, and the drummer from my old band in Florida called me up – they had just gone up to New York and checked out some of the bands at CBGBs – and he said, “These guys can’t sing! They’re awful!” In particular, he was talking about Talking Heads, and he was mimicking the singer for Talking Heads. He said, “We’ll kill ‘em! We’ll play circles around these guys!”
So, I moved back to Florida for maybe about three months; we all got some money together and moved up to New York. We were so out of place because we were a hard rock band; we loved Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, The Who, stuff like that. And the scene in New York was new wave; it was The Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, and The New York Dolls were still going on. I mean, we were playing – we played CBGBs, we played Max’s Kansas City, we played my father’s place – and it went well, but we were not anywhere near the kind of music that was happening, so there was no real interest in us. They were kind of polite, except for the one time we played with Arthur Kane, who was the bass player for the New York Dolls.
He was finishing up their show – this was at CBGBs – and he’s on the mic going, “Stick around! The Flying Penises are coming up next!” We’re like, “What?!” We were, at the time, eighteen or nineteen. I was the oldest; I was twenty. We were gonna kill the guy. As soon as he got off the stage, we were all standing there, waiting for him. It was really funny because he got back on the microphone immediately and said, “Yeah, yeah. I was just joking. These guys are good buddies of mine. Stick around. They’re a really good band.” He was just tapdancing as fast as he good to try to get out of the situation he had gotten himself into because we were gonna kill the guy. But, you know, it worked out good. We were there, I don’t know, maybe about six months. We got to meet everybody; we saw the Ramones at CBGBs. Joey [Ramone] was a great guy. Really nice. I had like an hour-long conversation with him one night. We went back and saw the show, and there weren’t that many people there, so we got to stand right in front of the band. And their set was only like twenty-two minutes long. But it was funny because they played about ten or eleven songs because all the songs on their album were like two minutes long. They were amazing. I didn’t like their album, but when I saw them live, it was like standing next to a freight train going by for like twenty minutes.
We lived in a building two blocks from Madison Square Garden and about a block off of Avenue of the Americas (around 34th Street) and there were a lot of bands in there. It was an old warehouse building. There was a safe, a big walk-in safe, in the building. We were living in it and rehearsing in it. Blondie was two floors below us and rehearsing there, and there was another band, The Marbles, which were just below us. The scene was great; it was so vibrant. I mean, all the bands that came after that – Blondie, The Ramones – were so huge and influential. The whole London scene with Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, and those guys, that whole scene never would have happened without The Ramones.
So, that was really cool. But we were only there – or at least I was only there – for maybe four months. We were playing and we had to work during the day. Dave, the drummer, and I got jobs at Windows on the World, on top of the World Trade Center. We started out as busboys, and we worked our way up to buffet waiters – which was just a nice title for when knives or plates got low, we’d run back to the kitchen and grab another plate and bring it to the buffet. But we got more money, and we got a cool title, and we didn’t have to work as hard. So, we liked doing that. But I had a girlfriend I had left in California, and I loved California – the six months I had been out there- much more than I liked New York. New York is cold and snowy. I mean, it was cool and had great energy, and if we had been doing the right kind of music and had actually been a part of that music scene, I would have stayed. But we weren’t; we were total fish-out-of-water. It just wasn’t gonna happen for us there playing that kind of music. So, I left the band and moved back to Florida until I got enough money to move out to L.A.
I moved out to L.A. in ’77, and that’s when I hooked up with Tony and Carlos Cavazo. I was living in Cosa Mesa with my girlfriend, we were living in this cheesy, little hotel right off one of the main strips there, and they had this really nice house that was in Newport Beach. It was up on a hill and overlooked the ocean. It was really nice. I saw their ad in one of the local music papers and I rode my motorcycle over there. They had a different drummer, Roger Singer, who was more of a jazz kind of drummer, and they had a keyboard player. It was an organ; he didn’t have a piano. I like piano; I wasn’t big on the organ. When I met them, they were more into bands like Kansas and Styx – more progressive rock – and I was a solid hard rock kind of guy. Give me Led Zeppelin, The Who, Queen – they were a big influence on me, especially my writing – and Montrose. So, when I went in and auditioned for them, I played three songs and I remember two of them; one was “Smokin’” by Boston, which was a little out of my range but I managed to pull it off, and the other was “Woman From Tokyo” by Deep Purple. I love Deep Purple; Ian Gillan is one of my big influences. I always wanted to learn how to do his screams, you know, those great high falsetto screams that he still does. It was funny because the first time I ever did it was in that audition, playing “Woman From Tokyo.” I’d never done it before, and when we get to that part in the song where he does that high scream, and I tried it and I did it, it shocked the hell out of me. I was like, “Wow! I didn’t know I could do that!” So, that was the beginning of SNOW.
So, you moved into the house in Newport Beach, and I understand the door was removed from the bathroom and attached to your living space for privacy. What are your memories of your initial living quarters and rehearsal space?
Oh, that was great because the house itself was up on the hill, right over Pacific Coast Highway, and it was on stilts. So, the one-bedroom was on stilts, I’m trying to think how many bedrooms there were – I think it was at least three, maybe a four-bedroom house – it was big. Tony had one bedroom, Carlos had one, and I had the little one which they had to put the door on for a little privacy because I moved in with my girlfriend. You know, anything to get out of that hotel we were living in. Jerry Snyder, who was the head roadie, he lived there, and also one of their friends, Jamie. So, we had five guys living there. It was great, we were like two blocks from the ocean. We’d just go to the beach and hang out during the day, then we’d come back and rehearse in the afternoon.
The rehearsal space was a garage that they had transformed into a rehearsal and a studio for recording. We did some early recording in there; Carlos had a 4-track reel-to-reel and we did some 4-track recordings. As a matter of fact, our CD, when we finally got our record deal five years ago, some of those songs – the really old ones like “Mannequin Eyes,” “Steal a Kiss,” and “Stop the Music” – were recorded in that Newport garage. And Carlos, he’s the one who produced those, ‘cause, I mean, we only had four tracks to work with. So, they’re not too bad considering what we had to work with on those three songs. Most of the other stuff is at least 8-track; some of it is sixteen; a couple of them are 24-track. But those three songs are all just 4-track. I had to do drums and vocals on the same track, so you can only do so much. But Carlos did a pretty good job.
I realize this is going back a bit, but do you have any recollection of the first gig with Stephen [Quadros] in the band?
That was a couple of years later, or a year later. We got rid of the keyboard player, Greg, almost immediately. Like I said, when I got in the band and they were doing the progressive rock, their original songs were much more progressive rock. And I came in and I started writing my original stuff, and I was doing straight-ahead hard rock. So, we didn’t need a keyboard player, so we got rid of him. Our drummer, a great guy, fun guy to party with, just wasn’t up to snuff. Roger just wasn’t cutting it, and we had a problem with him and the manager, anyway. When I joined them I was twenty-one, and at twenty-two, maybe a year-and-a-half later, we moved up to Arcadia, which is next to Pasadena. We moved into, I wanna say, a two-bedroom house there. It had a garage in the back, it was a standalone garage, and we turned that into a studio, and that was when we got Steve.
The first gig that I remember was at a club on the Navy base at Port Hueneme. We played there and I’m pretty sure that was the first time we played with Steve, because I remember Tony, Carlos, and I standing over the side of the stage the first time Steve did his drum solo, and we were blown away. We were like, “Oh, man. I can’t believe this guy is our drummer!” We were just beyond thrilled. He was lightyears ahead of Roger, our old drummer. Steve is absolutely one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen and he’s a great showman as well. He was the full package. That’s the first gig I remember playing with Steve.
At the time, the music scene in southern California was quite unique, because many bands started out playing backyard parties before transitioning to the premier venues such as The Whisky and The Starwood. What were those early gigs like?
Well, the scene when we moved into it, as I said, we were in Arcadia, which is right next to Pasadena. We didn’t go right into L.A. because, you know, you’ve got The Starwood, The Whisky, and The Troubadour were the big three clubs that we wanted to get into. Steve had been playing in those places because he had a big band before us that went by the name of Orange, and they had done fairly well. They had played the Starwood with Van Halen; they had a really good female vocalist. So, when we started, we started playing the famous Pasadena backyard parties. They would have these parties, these keggers, where you would have like 500 people at a house party. You know, they’re in a field right next to a house or they’d have a really huge backyard, and people would play three or five bucks or whatever to get in. They’d have four or five kegs, have a band setup, and they’d play until the cops came and threw everybody out. So, that’s what we started out doing. That’s how we were getting our feet wet.
I think the first party we played at, I remember Scotty, the singer for the band Smile, he was on the side of the stage checking out my mic stand. I had my mic stands all custom-made because I used my mic stands a lot. You know, I stole a lot from Rod Stewart; he used the mic stand a lot and had some great moves, and I stole a couple and made up a lot on my own. The mic stands that were available that you could buy at the store just didn’t work for me, so I would get an aluminum tube and cut it to size and then get three short pieces to make it a tripod, then get somebody to weld it for me and put a rubber thing on the end of it to hold it up so you wouldn’t have sharp edges on the aluminum to hit people with. Scott came back and was checking out the mic stand. He was like, “Wow, where did you get this thing?!” So, he was really interested in that.
But we did those for the first couple of months until Stuart got us a gig at The Starwood. We had played some other smaller clubs because we didn’t have that many original songs yet. I mean, you start out playing copy tunes; that’s how you start, then you start writing your songs and put them in in-between the copy songs. Then once you start playing places like The Whisky and The Starwood, then you’re playing your own music. But you gotta have good enough material and you gotta have a good enough presentation. So, the first time we played The Starwood, I think we got in on a Sunday night. That’s where everybody starts off. We were pretty good; we had some good songs. It was fun, and we slowly worked our way up to a Monday and a Tuesday. It was like the more people you drew, the better your sets were. You know, they’d move you up to a Wednesday, or they’d put you on to finally do a weekend. I remember the first time we played The Whisky – and this may or may not be true – but I think we opened up for Quiet Riot.
How about the famous flyer wars, Doug? Was SNOW big on that promotional front, or was it more the result of bands that came later?
You know, it wasn’t as bad as it got later on after we broke up. It got much worse. When people really started getting signed, that’s when it got really bad. They were coming from all over the place. Van Halen came out with their first album when SNOW had just gotten together, when we still had our old drummer, and you would have thought, the way the record industry is, they would have started signing bands right and left in L.A. But they didn’t sign anybody after Van Halen until the new wave scene hit, and you had The Knack and the Go-Gos and bands like that. And they considered us dinosaurs. I mean, the type of music we played, it just wasn’t en vogue anymore, and this was like in 1980 or ’81 because new wave came on and it was so big. But we just kept plugging away, and Stuart, our manager, he had his connections, and he’d get us on KROQ. We got in pretty good with Chuck Randall, one of the DJs, and he let us come in there and bring in some champagne, and, I don’t know, an eight-ball or something, and he let us stay there for like an hour talking about what’s going on with the band and playing our music. It was unbelievable. KROQ was pretty big, and for us, we didn’t have a record deal – this was even before we put our EP out – we just had tapes. You could go in, if you get the right guy and he gets enough blow and whatever he wants to drink and it’s, “Okay, sure. You can hang out and we’ll play your stuff.” It was crazy. We were able to do a lot of things you wouldn’t think you’d be able to do.
But yeah, the flyer wars, Steve would be the guy to talk to about that. He would go out with his drum roadie, Gary [Peek], and Gary and his girlfriend – who is now my wife – they’d go out on a date and Steve would go with them, and they’d go to Hollywood. Steve would make [Harry] help him put flyers up. So, their date was putting flyers up.
From your perspective, how did the iconic SNOW song “No More Booze” come together? As it turned out, that song took on a life of its own.
That was a big song for us. Tony came up with it originally. He came up with the riffs, but it wasn’t exactly what it is now; Carlos changed it a little bit. So, between the two of them, they came up with “No More Booze.” Tony came up with the title, “What a Drag, No More Booze.” So, they came to us with the music – and Tony had the chorus already – so I got to write the verses and the lyrics. It was one of our biggest songs, and one of the best things about it was – and I don’t know where we got this thing – but we had a stage prop. It was like a six-foot-tall bottle of Cutty Sark; it was a blow-up bottle. It was like plastic or rubber or something, and I’d come on with it on stage and we’d play “What a Drag, No More Booze.” And we’d do this one part where it would slow down and the drums and bass go in and I do this long scream and start talking and would be playing around with the bottle, and we’d just amp it back up and go into the finish. It was a big song for us, but it didn’t really happen until we broke up and Carlos joined Quiet Riot, that Kevin took it and changed it into “Metal Health.” And that, I give him kudos for it because he did a great job. It was a great idea. It became huge. It still blows my mind when I’m watching TV and all of the sudden I hear the beginning chords to “What a Drag, No More Booze.” [Laughs].
A lot has been said about SNOW’s legendary live performances and stage presence. What about it made the band stand out among its contemporaries?
Yeah, we did have a good stage presence and we put on a good show. They painted Carlos’ Marshall double stack white, for snow, and Tony’s Ampeg stack was white, as well. So, that was different, to start with. Steve’s drums, he started out with – I forget what color it was – but Stuart brought him a really nice set of drums, a big double kick with a florescent white finish. Just gorgeous. Beautiful, beautiful drum set. So, the whole stage was white; all the equipment was white. My mic stand, depending on what I was wearing for the night, I had a couple of different ones. I finally changed it to my living room – I lived in the living room of the house and that turned into my bedroom – and I ended up wallpapering it with nude women. You know, Playboy, Penthouse, stuff like that. So, one of my mic stands I covered with nude women. And you couldn’t tell what it was unless you were right up at the front of the stage, and you could see the mic stand. And that was usually women.
Carlos had mannequins. He started off with one and ended up with two mannequins that were on their knees but upright with their hands out. So, on their knees with their hands at like a 90-degree angle. And they would hold his equipment, like his Echoplex and whatever else he was using, and they’d be wearing a white nightgown. So, the stage itself just looked so cool before we even came on. Nobody else looked like that. It was completely unique. It was very misogynistic, but it looked good, and everybody got a kick out of it. Nobody got too offended back then.
Speaking of contemporaries, SNOW is often associated with a great number of talented acts from that era, including Quiet Riot, London, and The Boyz, which of course boasted half of Dokken’s eventual lineup in George Lynch and Mick Brown.
The scene was huge. There were so many good bands and there was a lot of good music going on. There was so much talent. I mean, it was ridiculous. But George, funny thing; me and ‘Wild’ Mick Brown, he and I used to go out with sisters. So, we used to spend a lot of time together; they lived in Orange County. When the band broke up, me and my wife-to-be – she was a porn star – we moved to southern Illinois. It was a college town, so bands used to come through there, and this was when everyone was getting signed. It was trouble for me because all my friends were coming through there and they were all rich and famous, and I’m like working 9-to-5 in this college town doing nothing. So, it was pretty depressing for me at the time.
But Dokken came through with Aerosmith, on Aerosmith’s Permanent Vacation Tour. And this was just when they got clean. This was their big comeback tour. So, on the day of the concert, I call over to the arena and ask to talk to Mick. I said, “Tell him it’s Doug from SNOW,” because if I just said Doug Ellison, he wouldn’t know my last name or anything. So, I said, “Mick, how ya doing? Could me and my wife get passes to the show?” So, we watch Dokken’s show and then we go backstage and Don, who is a good friend of ours – we did a lot of gigs with him – he comes up to me and he goes, “Hey, Doug, how ya doing, man?! Thanks for almost getting me kicked off the show!” I’m like, “What? What are you talking about?” He said, “After you called, a couple hours later, Steven Tyler comes backstage screaming bloody murder. He goes, ‘What’s this I hear about you got somebody comin’ with snow?! You got some guy bringin’ stuff on this tour, we just got clean! You guys will never work in this town again!’” And he had to explain the whole thing to him. He was ready to just kick him off the tour right then. [Laughs].
Due to the nature of the scene and abundance of inherent talent, I imagine there was a friendly competition among guitar players. Is there a specific instance you can recall? Did SNOW ever share a bill with The Boyz?
Oh, yeah. We played with The Boyz. I think we played with them at a place called the Wood Sound. It was in Monrovia. It was a small club, but it was the only thing happening in that area. Monrovia is like, two cities away from Pasadena, and it was right next to where we lived, so we loved it. We also played with Rock Candy, which was Vince [Neil] from Mötley Crüe.
There was a friendly rivalry going on with the guitarists. Steve used to try to get these guys riled up. He’d make up these lists, and when we’d have a party we’d have hundreds of people over at our house, and all the other bands would always show up. He’d have this list on the wall, “Top-20 Bands,” and SNOW was always at the top, and all these other bands were down there. So, “Top Guitarists,” “Top Drummers,” and people would always go, “Where’d you get this? Where’d you hear this from?” They’d get all pissed off and he’d just keep ‘em going for as long as he could.
It was pretty funny, actually, George called up one time and he wanted to have a guitar duel between him and Carlos. He wanted to get a bill together; I forget what band he was with at the time. [Carlos] turned it down; he said, “Your band isn’t good enough to play with us right now.” The funny thing was, though, when I did see he was playing with Dokken at the time that I saw them with Aerosmith, he kept going, “I don’t remember you.” The whole night, he’s going, “I don’t remember you. I remember all the other people that you’re talking about, but I don’t remember you.”
The slogan commonly associated with SNOW is “pure uncut rock.” Aside from the obvious innuendo, tell us a bit about what that means from a musical standpoint.
We were a very high-energy band. Some bands, you go to see them, and they’re really good; good songs, good musicians, but they were boring to watch. We were exciting to watch. Steve was always twirling his drumsticks, throwing them in the air, and catching them behind his back. I was doing everything I could think of; I used to do a backflip off the drum riser at the end of the set. The first night that we played The Whisky, we had this nice, big drum riser set up and we had aircraft landing lights set in it that hangs out in the audience. I’m telling ya, it was bright, and it looked like a UFO. But the way we had it set up, there was plenty of room for me to do my backflip. After that, the headlining band comes in and sets up, so they moved our stuff up and nobody told me. So, at the end of the set, I do my backflip, and my left foot was the only thing that caught the stage. My right foot came around and hit the front of the stage. So, I was standing at the front of the stage on one foot, with both my arms doing this pinwheel thing. I ended up breaking my big toe. The next night, we played for two nights, and the next night I was on stage with crutches. I think that was the last time I did the backflip.
Living in Arcadia, which of course neighbors Pasadena, SNOW ran in similar circles as Van Halen for a time. Are there any Van Halen memories that you would like to share?
We never got to play with them because, by the time I was with SNOW, even before we got Steve, their first album came out. So, we didn’t get to play with them, but they used to come to watch us all the time. Whenever they were in town, they would come to our shows. And they’d come over to the house. They were great guys. As a matter of fact, if we had a big gig coming up and they were in town, they’d let Tony and Carlos use their wireless gear because we didn’t have that kind of stuff. Rudy, Ed’s roadie, would take the stuff and bring it to us. They were very generous.
I gotta tell you one Ed story. We used to go to the same Mexican restaurant in Pasadena, Rancheros. They had these magnificent, triple margaritas; they were enormous. So, we went there this one afternoon for happy hour, and we had these couple of tables pulled together. We had our whole band, and we had Van Halen. So, we’re all at the table, a bunch of girls, Stuart, our manager was there. You know, we were just having a great time. Then around five o’clock, they have a mariachi band come through. So, they get to our table, and they’ve got two guys playing guitar and singing. Well, we’re pretty drunk by then, and Ed pulls out a big wad of cash and gives them a couple of hundred bucks and they give him their guitars. So, Carlos and Ed put on the acoustic guitars, and they start playing this punk song called, “Sit on my Face, Stevie Nicks” in a restaurant full of people. And we’re all singing, “Sit on my face! On my face! Stevie Nicks!” With Ed Van Halen and Carlos playing the guitars. It was one of the funniest things that I’ve ever seen in my life.
The Snow: At Last CD includes twelve tracks from a 1981 live show at The Starwood, including “No More Booze.” Do you recall how those recordings were captured?
Stuart, our manager, he somehow managed to get this huge mobile unit – a 24-track mobile unit – recording commercials, videos, all kinds of stuff. We had it there for two nights; we set it up, 24-tracks, and they recorded four shows, two shows a night. It was amazing that we still were able to find the tapes – and the tapes were actually still usable – because that was a long time ago. By the time we got around to looking for those things to sue them, it had been like thirty-four years, and tape disintegrates. Stuart found all the stuff and it was all in good shape. They had to cook them, they had to put them in the oven – that does something to the tape – and then they transferred it to digital and they put it on the CDs. It came out really well.
While Carlos went on to achieve widespread success with Quiet Riot, Tony co-founded the band Hurricane, and Stephen went on to undertake a variety of ventures, little is known about Doug Ellison. What have you been up to?
Everybody moved out of the house, and I couldn’t afford to pay the rent on the house myself. All those guys, they had local families, so they had places to go. Well, my family was from Florida, so I moved down to Florida to hang out with my family. I got a job, saved some money, and moved back out to L.A. You know, I was looking to get a new band; I did a lot of auditions, and I didn’t find anybody I really liked.
I did one audition, and this was funny. Steve actually called me up and said, “These guys are looking for a singer and they’ve got a gig coming up in a couple of weeks opening up for Billy Idol.” So, I said, “Okay, I’ll check ‘em out.” It was a guitar, a bass, and drums, and they were pretty decent. But they only had three songs, and I think they needed like thirty minutes worth of music. I auditioned, and they loved me. Actually, I didn’t really learn how to sing until after the band broke up, because I had taken lessons and I started doing plays. There’s a theater on Santa Monica Boulevard, and I did some plays there and I loved it. I learned how to sing. Anyway, I auditioned for these guys, and it worked out. I went back for about a week and a half, and we went over the three songs a couple of times, then these guys just started screwing around. I’m like, “Look, we gotta come up with another twenty minutes of music.” They just wanted to drink and screw around, so I said, “You know what? Forget it. There’s nothing going on here.” So, years later, I’m in southern Illinois and working at this place called Silk Screen, just selling stuff to college kids. I go to this pizza place for my lunch break, and they got MTV on. I hear this song, and I’m like, “I know this song. Why do I know this song?” Because I didn’t have MTV and I never listened to popular music. And I’m watching the TV and it finally it clicks with me: This was one of the three songs that that band played, that I sang for a week and a half. The guitarist was C.C. DeVille and it was Poison. The song was “Talk Dirty to Me.” So, I was kinda bummed the rest of that day, because I didn’t realize that he joined an already established band. I thought, “Well, it was that band. They got another singer and they made it big.” I didn’t realize what really happened. I was kicking myself in the ass big for that one.
Anyway, what had happened was, I hooked up with my girlfriend who turned into my first wife. We got together, and I started getting these headaches and they wouldn’t go away. I had a CAT scan done, and it ended up that I had a brain tumor. I was a waiter at the time, and I had to go to the hospital to have the brain tumor taken out. They got rid of the tumor, but the headache never went away. So, that really screwed my life up from that point on, because it took me a long time to come to terms with being in constant pain and having a constant headache. We ended up moving to southern Illinois and I just became a working stiff. I didn’t really do much of anything.
But I’m happy now; the last nine years. It’s funny, when I told you that I was married to Steve’s drum roadie’s girlfriend, well I sang at her first wedding. She married the guy. Carlos and I played at their wedding; he played acoustic guitar and I sang. We played “Thank You” by Led Zeppelin and we played and sang the Elvis song “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.” They’d been looking for me for years trying to get back in touch with me – I’ve got a bad back on top of the headaches – so I couldn’t come out for the reunion. They got back together, and they wanted me to come out and I couldn’t do it with the way my back was then.
But, like ten years ago, through Facebook, Sandy and I started talking. She ended up moving out here, and we got together, hooked up, and we ended up getting married. We both went back to the church. I used to be a Christian before I got into bands and turned into a total heathen, of course. Now, I use all my talents for God. I started writing Christian songs and singing at the church. My voice has kind of got screwed up, so I don’t really sing anymore, but I’m a painter and I write. I’m putting together a book right now of devotions, and I’m doing paintings that are inspired by devotions. I’m working on one right now, as a matter of fact. I’m really thrilled with where I am right now. It has nothing to do with being a musician or anything, but I love it. It was great that we got the CD out, and that was amazing that after thirty-four years we get a record deal! That should be in the Guinness Book of World Records. You know, we got to come back out there and play The Whisky. That was amazing. So, everything full circle. It was really cool.
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3 thoughts on “An Interview with Doug Ellison of SNOW”
I was the guitarist with Doug in the Flying Tigers in NYC back in 1976. I enjoyed reading Doug’s journey in life. It brought back a lot of memories. We’ve known each other as far as high school but the last time I was with Doug was when we lived and played in the punk scene. My band did eventually become part of the LA scene in 1986 and my brother and I ran shows at the Whisky and Roxy in the 90s. The California scene was a great time back then. We lost track with Doug and were never able to make contact with him until just a few years ago.
I did get to Doug’s fabulous Whisky reunion gig but I was not able to get into the dressing room afterwards to say hello after 40 years! Thanks for the great article.
Michael, great to hear from you and thanks for reading! Doug’s story is one that certainly needed to be told. Glad to hear you guys reconnected!
Hey Mike, good to hear from you. You and Dave have been such a big part of my life, you are, truly, like brothers to me! I have such wonderful memories that I will always cherish, and pray that we will have that reunion someday!
Blessings to you and your beautiful family.