Bruce started out as a drummer, and played with Frank Zappa in
the “Mothers”, pre- “Freak Out” out band. Zappa
had to add “of Invention” to their name, to get signed to
Personal management came next with first artist Lisa Kindred,
who had two albums on Vanguard Records. Lisa played a date at
the Ash Grove, in
. On the bill was Magic Sam, from the “Westside” of
. Magic Sam became a client, and then Albert Collins, Charlie
Musselwhite, and Earl Hooker.
This led into record production work starting with a Classic
Blues series with World Pacific Records. First recording was
“Shakey Jake” Harris (better known as Magic Sam's uncle)
with Luther Allison on guitar. Sunnyland Slim, a great boogie
woogie pianist had Mick Taylor (soon to be in the Rolling
Stones) and Lowell Fulsom on guitars.
George “Harmonica” Smith was the best harp player on the
West Coast. He was the major influence on all the West Coast
players such as a young Kim Wilson at that time. We used “Big
Mama” Thorton's band to play on the record
Blue Thumb Records was new, and Bruce was a consultant for them
and brought Ike and Tina to the label, as well as Albert
Collins, Earl Hooker, Charlie Musselwhite & the Chicago
Blues All-Stars. Also, Robbie Basho, who also recorded for the
A friendship with Buffy Ste-Marie turned into going to Vanguard
with her to renegotiate her artist deal with them. Shortly after
the meeting Vanguad called me in LA and asked if I would like to
open an office in LA for Vanguard, and be the A & R rep for
them. Company car, expense account, why not?
During this time in 1969, Bruce had a room mate, Barry Hansen, a
musicologist. Hansen had produced an album for Vanguard on his
friend, John Fahey, several years earlier. A good friend of
Hansen's was Al Wilson, a founding member of Canned Heat.
Hansen, Wilson and Fahey were serious collectors of rare,
original blues recordings, (“78's). In the early 60's the
three of them took a trip throughout the South, mainly the
Mississippi Delta area, and went house to house asking if anyone
had old blues records they would like to sell. Not only that,
but they found out many of the names they would mention were
still living. Fahey “rediscovered “Bukka” White and made a
recording with him. This eventually became the first record,
other than his own solo guitar recordings, that started the
Takoma label. I still have a 45 on Takoma, their first and last
to my knowledge called “World Boogie” by Bukka White. It
I was in my first week on the job at Vanguard, and the
office calls me and say they would like me to meet with an
artist, who owes them an album. The artist turned out be John
Fahey. So Fahey and I meet and discuss the type of record he
would like to do. It was more of a production than Vanguard was
willing to pay for and in my sticking up for John he was given a
release, and I was fired.
I now became Fahey's manager, and got a deal with Reprise
Records for him, and we formed a production company, Takoma
Productions. John had a tape that someone had sent him six
months earlier, and he said “let me play this for you and see
what you think.” It was the tape that eventually came out on
Takoma “Leo Kottke Six & 12-string Guitar.” He was
signed to Takoma Productions, and a deal was made with Capitol
Records. I became his manager for the next twelve years.
I was the manager of “J. Henry Burnett the Third, (T-Bone)
& his B-52 Band on Uni Records. My client list started
growing with Artists who later would be referred to as “
” or “roots rock”. New Age was just getting their niche,
as George Winston made an album for Takoma Records, which was
still owned by John Fahey, but way ahead of the curve. George
and Windham Hill, and ECM, both great labels, really did use
Takoma as their “template.” From the art work to the
recording. But they did well, as this business has something
called “timing” and “luck.”
I managed the Blasters (twice), Albert Lee, John Hiatt (who I
also produced two albums for MCA). I was the U.S. manager for Jo
Ann Kelly, from the UK, as so was Roy Harper, who was the first
release for Chrysalis Records, here in the states, when they
became an independent label. Mary Black, from
By 1977, Fahey decided he wanted to sell Takoma Records. A
joint-venture with Chrysalis was formed, with Bruce as
President, and Jon Monday, who had been with Takoma Records for
a longtime, was part of the deal. Jon is now President of
Benchmark Recordings, and I am the C.E.O.
First signing to the label was the Fabulous Thunderbirds, from
. I produced the first three albums, and Nick Lowe did album
I was also the manager of the band for five years.
T-Bone Burnett had been in the Alpha Band for three albums, and
we talked about him doing a solo album. “Truth Decay” made a
lot of fans for him, and as I write this he has just won a
Golden Globe for “Best Song” that he wrote for “Crazy
Heart” Next album for him is with another Texan, Willie
Speaking of Texas, (T-Bone is from Ft. Worth) we were able to
sign Doug Sahm, who is from San Antonio, where he had his 60's
hits with The Sir Douglas Quintet. We had several albums with
the Quintet getting back together, including a live album titled
“Texas Tornado.” Doug was now living in
, which was the new hot city where a band could get a gig
somewhere. Doug later formed a band with his old
friends Augie Meyer forever the king of the Vox organ), Freddie
Fender, and Flaco Jimenez.. They had a hot streak of country
hits with his new band “The Texas Tornados.”
Joining the Takoma roster would be guitar legend Michael
Bloomfield, the “legendary” (just ask him!) Swamp Dogg
(first “Dogg” with two “g's) who brought R&B and humor
to the label. Then I got my “dream” act to come on board,
“The Poet Laureate of
, Charles Bukowski” did a spoken word reading in front of an
I think it was about this time the Chrysalis “brass” said
our deal was not going to be renewed. Takoma Records ended up
being sold to Fantasy Records, and I got to keep some masters in
In 1990, I started Benchmark Recordings after repacking the
first four Fabulous Thunderbird's albums. Every album had bonus
cuts, previously un- released tracks, new mastering, additional
art work. Many independent distributors were interested, so
deals were made and I was back in business with a label.
(For full bio and discography please go to “ALLMUSIC.com”
and type Denny Bruce in the search engine.)
Jon Monday (born in San Jose, California in 1947) is an American producer and
distributor of CDs and DVDs across an eclectic range of material such as Swami Prabhavananda, Aldous Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, Huston Smith, Chalmers Johnson, and Charles Bukowski. He is also President of Benchmark Recordings, which owns and distributes the early catalog of The Fabulous Thunderbirds CDs and a live recording of Mike Bloomfield.
Monday got his start in multimedia through his own psychedelic light-show company in the Bay Area in the sixties, providing visuals for concerts by Country Joe and the Fish, Janis Joplin's Big Brother and the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Steve Miller's Blues Band at local Berkeley, California venues and The Fillmore in San Francisco.
In 1970, Monday was hired by John Fahey at Takoma Records in Santa Monica, working with guitar artists such as Leo Kottke, John Fahey, Mike Bloomfield, and Peter Lang. Eventually, he became Takoma's Vice President and General Manager, and also provided art direction, engineering, and/or produced albums by such artists as Norman Blake, Peter Rowan, Jim Kweskin, Maria Muldaur, Loudon Wainwright III, and Joseph Byrd.
In 1979, Fahey sold Takoma Records to a new company formed by music business attorney Bill Coben, veteran producer Denny Bruce, and Chrysalis Records. Monday continued with the new company as General Manager. During that time, Takoma signed and released albums by The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Canned Heat, and T-Bone Burnett.
Eventually Monday was brought into Chrysalis Records as its Director of Marketing, working with Blondie, Jethro Tull, Huey Lewis, Pat Benatar, Billy Idol, and Toni Basil.
In 1984, Monday relocated to Silicon Valley and had a 2nd career as an executive in various software and high-tech companies, including co-founder (with music research pioneer Larry Heller) and President of MusicWriter, a kiosk-based retail system for the on-site manufacturing and distribution of MIDI files and sheet music. He also held senior management positions or consulted with major 3rd party video game publishers, such as Epyx, Eidos Interactive, and Capcom. He was also Vice President of PlayNet, working with founder Nolan Bushnell.
Monday retired and moved to the San Diego area in 2004 and launched two labels: mondayMEDIA and GemsTone; producing, directing, and distributing original and archival material.
In 2006 Monday brought together many notable recording artists and produced The Revenge of Blind Joe Death: The John Fahey Tribute Album, which was released on the Takoma Records label, distributed by Fantasy Records. Participating artists included, George Winston, Michael Gulezian, Alex de Grassi, Country Joe McDonald, Peter Lang, Stefan Grossman, Rick Ruskin, and Canned Fish (a one-time collaboration between Canned Heat members Adolfo de la Parra ("Fito") and Larry Taylor, and Country Joe and the Fish member Barry "The Fish" Melton).
Monday is currently working on two feature-length documentaries: Save KLSD: Media Consolidation and Radio and an authorized biographical documentary about the life, career, and impact of world religions scholar Huston Smith.