5 juin 2009, 18h06m

(this was writen at the request of FRETBOARD JOURNAL
and published, in part, in the magazine- posted with permition by Ed Askew)

As a child i was good at two things. I was always drawing pictures, and i was always singing. Even now, not much has changed in that respect. In the attic of the house where i grew up, in Stamford CT, there were two things that interested me; a large framed photograph of a rather stern looking man whose eyes seemed to follow you wherever you went, and an old tiple without strings. I remember we used to throw it around.
When I entered high-school i decided to get some strings for the tiple. At the time (late 1950s) you could get books of pop songs. And these songs had little finger diagrams for ukulele. (The tiple is tuned like a uke.) So i diid that. And on family pick-nicks I would sing some pop songs for everyone.
I continued to do this through my senior year , and throughout my years at art school.
Now, i must explain. The tiple i was playing had been kept in an unheated, uninsulated attic through my entire childhood. The result of this neglect was that the neck was warped (you couldn't play it above the fourth fret) and under the nice old finish the wood was completely dried out; to the point that a few years later it just fell apart. Anyway, at some point, while i was at Yale art school, I went down to the Goldies, the local music store. I don't remember much about this except the store was very small and crammed with musical instruments, especially guitars. I asked Goldie if he had a tiple. And he showed me a Martin. I strummed a bit on the instrument, and asked "how much". He wanted $85. This was a good price, even than, but i didn't have the money. So I left, disappointed.
I still had my original tiple anyway.
One thing I like to do, occasionally, is write poetry. And I continued doing this at Yale (though I have kept none of it ). And at that time I became familiar with the music of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell and the whole crowed of folk revival and rock people that was brand new to me, and very exciting stuff. So after graduation i decided to write a song; since i had an instrument that I was playing and i was doing some writing. I mean, why not play and sing my own songs. And after considerable effort i came up with a two chord song. It was terrible but that didn't matter. I had done it and would improve.
Well about a year after i got out of Yale i got a job in a privet school in Ridgefield CT. and the first chance I got I went back to New Haven to look up Goldie. He now had a partner and had moved into a big store on Chapel Street.
I walked into the store and asked to see a tiple. The salesman showed me the same Martin I had seen two years earlier. This time they wanted a lot more money. Out of desperation i told the guy that Goldie said I could have it for $85. He looked at me like I was crazy but said he would get Goldie. Goldie came out and the salesman, holding up the tiple, said, "This guy said you said he could have this for $85." The old man looked me, looked at the salesman and said, " I'm gonna cry?" turned around and walked out of the room. and that is how i got my Martin tiple.
I must say that I played and wrote like a demon once I had it. I used to play for the whole school almost every morning when we would gather together, before classes began. I wrote almost 30 songs that year.

In June of 67 the school closed its doors forever and I lost my first teaching job. During this period (67-68) I moved to New York City for a few months. This is when I met Bernard Stolman of ESP DISK'. I had been running around the east village, where i was living, tiple in hand, showing up at coffee houses at all hours; where i would play for tips or just for the pleasure of it . Someone, I don't remember who, suggested that i contact ESP. So i found the number and called up Bernard. I wanted to play for him. He said he did not do auditions, but if i taped a few songs I should bring over the recording and he would listen to it. I told him that I didn't have any idea where i could get a tape recorder. He said, "Don't worry, you'll find one" and said good by. Well i found a reel to reel machine somewhere, recorded a few songs, and took the tape over to ESP. When i arrived someone got Bernard, and I stood there next to him while he listened to my songs. I was very nervous and could not tell anything from the expression on his face. But when the tape came to the end he seemed to relax, turned to me, and said he would like me to make a record for him.
The first record I made for ESP was the self titled ED ASKEW album. The second album that I recorded for ESP, LITTLE EYES, was not released at that time. ESP was suffering from money problems and was about to go i bankrupt.
I quote something I rote about the LITTLE EYES recording session a few years ago.
"This recording was originally made in New York, 1971 (may have been 70), when i was living in New Haven.
"My concept was to produce something like a live, continuous performance with no dead space between the songs. To do this I recorded everything, retakes, mistakes, studio noises, etc, in one continuous session. Later I went back to the studio and rerecorded two of the songs. Than I edited the sounds between the songs. Just before the last song ,Old Mother Moon, i made a little sound collage by way of introduction."
All through the 1970,s my first record became harder and harder to find.
(My boy friend's brother-in-law, who collected records would occasionally unearth copies in various 25 cent bargain bins as he traveled around the country, and send them to Carl to give them to me.) By the end of the decade some of my friends didn't even know that i had ever made a record. And, for me, it had ceased to be important. Anyway, I didn't stop performing, or making new songs.
Not to spill buckets of ink in this topic here, I will only say that I continued to put on concerts for my friends and play at various venues throughout the New Haven-Bostan area. I also acquired a harpsichord and began to write for the keyboard.
In 1986 or thereabouts, I moved to New York City. The teaching job i had at the time ended and I started working as a house painter. It was hard work, but the pay was pretty good. The combination of this work, and previous carpal tunnel I had developed from playing, however, eventually forced me to give up the tiple, and the work. And I soon stopped performing altogether.
Little did i Know that there are second chances in this life. And that in the mid 1990's I would find a way to record my music and do some performing again.
In the early 90s I received, out of the blue, a packet containing five CDs called "Ask The Unicorn". It was my 1968 release with a new name and a spiffy new cover design (I hate it). Along with this was a copy of a letter to artists. ESP had licensed there catalog to ZYX Music in Germany. The letter promised all sorts of businesslike things such as keeping artists informed about any possible royalties. When, about two years later I had not received any sales information, and i assume, no one else had, I wrote to Bernard suggesting that ESP had an obligation to keep it's word in this matter. In answer I got a call from Mr. Stolman telling me what a genius i am, and that I had fan clubs all over Europe. About two weeks later I wrote back indicating that, certainly at that time,I realy didn't think that these fan clubs actually existed... and what was this about? In response a fax was forwarded to me from a Mr John Farr. He had written to ZYX in an attempt to locate me. I excerpt it here:
Dear Mr. Klatt:
I have recently purchased the ESP Disk CD.. ASK THE UNICORN. It is wonderful to hear this excellent record again and I am very glad to have the CD, as I originally bought it back in 1968 when it was released in this country (England) on the Fontana label...
Following an advert in 1990 in the Record Collector magazine I also obtained the original American LP which differs from the UK version only because the cover picture is the negative of the Fontana copy...
The back cover picture is of a young man, presumably Ed Askew, aged about ten years. It is all rather puzzling and I wonder if you can help me -and many of my friends who love Ed's music with any other information on him. When I advertised in 1990 for information, I received many replies, from England, America, Sweden, & Italy -all from people wanting to know more about Ed. Someone said that he did produce another session but, because of his health / mental condition, but the tapes were either shelved or destroyed. He than wandered into the desert to build harpsichords. Other than that we know nothing...

Best Wishes
John Farr

I mention this because, If it were not for John the second Ed Askew album
may still be sitting in a box of tapes in my room in New York City.
I wrote back to John, and we have written to one another and exchanged tapes and CDRs ever since. Not long after this I got a call from Bernard, who wanted to know if I had a copy of LITTLE EYES, my unreleased album. I said I did; a real to real copy, made from the acetate disk ESP had given me after the recording session... could I send him a cassette copy please. He suggested that he might put it out, but nothing happened. I had some cassettes made and sent him one. I also sent one to John Farr, who made copies and sent them out to some fans.
One of these fans was a guy named Troy, who had seen John's short article on me in MOJOs February 2001 issue. It was included in a Reader's Cult Hero section; "Return of the Disappeared". A little while later I got Troy's letter, forwarder to me by John. He had gotten the cassette copy of my recording and was very happy indeed. He said he knew a guy at Drag City Records, in Chicago, who might be interested. In the mean time another friend of Tory's, Clint Simonson of Destijl Recs, had heard the recording and expressed an interest. In any event, some more time went by. As it turned out, Drag City Could not release it. And Clint who had waited patently for almost two years for the opportunity, was free to do so if i agreed.
So one day I got a call from Minneapolis, from a guy named Clint who I never had heard of until that day. I thought he was somebody from Drag City. But after talking to him I put the reel to reel tape in a box, crossed my fingers, and sent it.
Well thats how i got my tiple and how LITTLE EYES got released.

Ed Askew 9/08Ed Askew
Envois en attente
los tocadiscos


  • Degarmo

    awesome story.

    24 juin 2009, 2h11m
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