By Steven M.H. Braitman
“Christmas In Prison” b/w “Christmas On The Range”
Some Pun’kins Records (1978)The next time you’re at Disneyland and you stumble upon a crusty old pirate singing sea shanties, stop and take a listen.
You may be hearing someone who’s led a band featuring the cream of legendary Los Angeles players.
Aye, that be Ry Cooder on accordion, pianist Van Dyke Parks, drummer Jim Keltner, Warren Zevon-collaborator Jorge Calderon on bass, Rolling Thunder-star fiddler David Mansfield, percussionist Rex Golston and steel drummer Jim Unfried.
We present here the rare, independently produced picture sleeve that is the ONLY picture sleeve to EVER feature ALL these luminaries in ONE PLACE.
Even if it is in a jail cell.
These incarcerated incorrigibles illustrate the theme of the John Prine semi-classic, “Christmas In Prison.”
What kind of a pirate could get all these guys in one place, let alone prison?
Turns out that Doug Legacy is one hell of a well-connected musician.
Talented and lucky.
Legacy is an all-around instrument wunderkind, playing everything from piano to steel drums to tuba. He started out winning the Gong Show with a comedy group called the Montrose Marching Band.
He was a touring keyboard tech for ELO, Barry Manilow, Boz Scaggs, Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, Joe Cocker, Stevie Nicks, Bruce Hornsby, Billy Joel, Simon & Garfunkel, The Tubes and Todd Rundgren.
As Steve Lacy, he was a member of Oingo Boingo. Without Danny Elfman, he took the other Boingos to record an album as Doug & The Mystics. Besides the pirate gig, Legacy also leads a party band, Zydeco Party Band, who’ve had a few CDs. In 2006, he released an album as/by Doug Legacy & The Donkey Biters.
In 1988, however, newly arrived in Los Angeles, Doug Legacy had the itch to start a recording project.
Who would be the best possible person to run into? Take it away, Mr.
Van Dyke Parks:
“Doug introduced himself to me on arriving in L.A. from Houston. I knew he had buckets of talent and was happy to introduce him to the motley crew. They participated at my invitation. I’m glad they did, and feel Doug deserved the support,” Parks said.
As we said, talented AND lucky.
So the session heavies assembled to record the album, Hey You!, for Doug’s own Some Pun’kins Records label.
The luminous assembly was called Doug Legacy & The Legends Of The West. Accurate, eh?
Among the rollicking and crooning tunes like “Yardwork,” “Pool Shark” and the title track, Hey You also featured what could turn out to be a splendid holiday classic, the “motley crew” version of “Christmas In Prison.”
The single was released late in 1988 sporting the comic cover
designed by artist Jennifer Palmer-Lacy. The flip side contained a non-LP track, “Christmas On The Range.” Ya-hoo. Needless to say, the single wasn’t a hit except in the hearts of those who heard it. There are just a few copies out there.
Doug Legacy continues his shanty gig at Disneyland, accordion with the Zydeco Party Band (http://zydecopartyband.com/), and three nights a week, you can catch him at the Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake, where he plays piano.
It’s a good bet that sometimes, there’s bound to be one of those Legends of the West dropping by.