part of the epic Michigan rock scene that exploded in and around the Motor City during the late 60's.
The 4-piece band was born in 1969 in Saginaw, a gritty GM foundry town
90 miles north of Detroit and about a half hour from Flint.




Wednesday, January 8, 2009:
  Pop Matters web review of A-Square (Of Course) by Doug Sheppard: ..."Wagner got heavy with those three, and so  does Half-Life on the best vault find of all, “Get Down”—an explosion of power chords and dirty fuzz that fits nicely beside inclusions by the MC5, the Up, the Apostles (a punky, pre-New York Dolls cover of “Stranded in the Jungle”), and the legacy of Iggy."


Tuesday, January 6, 2009:
   Ron Asheton, Stooges guitarist found dead at his Ann Arbor home.
     Rolling Stone: Ron Asheton Remembered.   New York Times: Interesting obit for "Mr. Asheton".
      Ron was at the epicenter of 60's Detroit rock with his simple, powerful licks, like:
           I Wanna Be Your Dog, 1969 and No Fun.

Well, I say c'mon Ron...
c'mon Ronnie...
an lemme hear you tell 'em
...tell 'em how I feel
yeah, my man






Saturday, December 27, 2008:
  New York City airplay on WFMU: Terre T., Cherry Blossom Clinic, "Top Best Great of 2008, Part 1" Show


Thursday, November 20, 2008:
  Milo Miles reviews the A-square CD on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross:

  Detroit Rock History In 'A-Square'


   (Amazon sales jumped, hitting #5 in "Hard Rock" and #1 in "Garage Bands" and #1 in "Garage Rock")

"Get Down" - Half-Life  

Available from Amazon on the UK release:
    "A-Square (Of Course): The Story of Michigan's Legendary A-Square Records"



The July 2008 Rolling Stone magazine, Fricke's Picks:

 "...and "Get Down," by the mysterious Half-Life, which sounds like
   a night at the Grande packed into two and a half minutes."

review of "A-Square (Of Course): The Story of Michigan's Legendary A-Square Records":     
"Check out Half-Life..a band apparently lost to time ..but the track on this is awesome..totally Detroit high energy rock."  

"Get Down"

Recorded June 27, 1969 at GM Studios, on 9 Mile between Groesbeck and Gratiot in East Detroit, the same studio where the MC5 recorded "Back In The USA."  Recording engineer, Jim Bruzzese, also engineered some of Bob Seger's best work, including, Seven, Smokin' O.P.s, Live Bullet, Greatest Hits, and Ramblin' Gamblin' Man.  The 'GM' in 'GM Studios' was studio manager Guido Marasco who told us an amusing story about the Pope's male sopranos "the castrati" and how they got that way...apparently you didn't want to bounce a check off Guido.  The bill was for $185 for less than two hours of total studio time.

"Get Down" was recorded in a single take with plenty of rough edges that would never have made it past current recording practices and technologies, which in the end, might be one of the best things it has going for it.  Like the times, it was a spontaneous burst of energy—garage rock at its best—and then quickly forgotten.  By the end of 1969 we had dropped the tune from our play list.  Jim Nash, 2nd guitarist (above left) created the main riff which he played through a Vox fuzztone, Mark Ode added the vocal line and Fender 6-string bass.  Lead guitarist, Randy Jarrard, added the solo and clean riffing, while Bob Pierson did the drum track.  

Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" opens with a similar sounding riff, however, "Get Down" was recorded a year prior to "Paranoid", which wasn't cut until June 1970 (released September 1970).  From Wikipedia:

After the release of their debut album in February 1970, Black Sabbath returned to the studio in June that year, again with producer Rodger Bain, to record their second album. The album was recorded at Regent Sound Studios and Island Studios in London, England. The album's eponymous single "Paranoid" was written in the studio at the last minute. As drummer Bill Ward explains: "We didn't have enough songs for the album, and Tony just played the [Paranoid] guitar lick and that was it. It took twenty, twenty-five minutes from top to bottom." The song was written with no intention of it being a successful hit for the band, only to be a filler on the album.

We played the track for DJ Bob Dyer at WKNX-AM in Saginaw who said the song, "was not commercially acceptable."  We were pleased.  In retrospect, we might have had better luck had we taken it to WTAC (AM) in Flint—probably the coolest rock station outside of Detroit.  In fact, there is a fabulous photo on page 14 of the A-Square Compilation CD booklet showing Iggy and Jeep in front of a large WTAC banner.


David Fricke, WFMU, WNMC, JT & Hideelee with 'In The Red' radio show, Alec Palao, George Head, Guido Marasco, Jim Bruzzese, Mike Hahn, Jim Albers, Vince Lutskus, TCW, Jack Gridley, Monte Gase, Fast Eddie Kurth, Johnny Howard, Al Nalli, Frank Patrick, Elmer Ogden, Prudie DiMercurio, The Paupers, Wayne Kramer, Ron Asheton, Jimi Hendrix, Sonic Smith, James Brown, Mitch Mitchell, Johnny Winter, Otis Redding, Iggy Pop, Chuck Berry, Gary Grimshaw, Arizona Carder, LampEyes, Marty Party, Conrad Sunholm, Leo Fender, The Avalon, Steve Horvat, Andrew Loog Oldham, The Yardbirds, R. Crumb (and, of course, Mr. Natural), Wilson Pickett, Alvin Lee....


Cool Links:

  The Grande Ballroom  "Detroit's Original Rock and Roll Palace" The legendary poster art of Gary Grimshaw
  The Motor City Music Archives The Seger File, an unofficial site with lots of Michigan rock history.
  The apotheosis of Michigan rock: the MC5 The Amp Guide - an awesome vintage amplifier site.
   Rusted Chrome  - A Tribute to Motor City RnR: 1966-1972  

     Half-Life airplay: WFMU (New York City/New Jersey), KFJC (San Francisco)

WFMU has been a long time supporter of Motor City rock:
WFMU, Upsala College's station and one of the first underground college stations in the country. There, Sinclair met Danny Fields, who hosted a show at the station and also happened to be the "house hippie' for Elektra Records." (from The Mansion On The Hill by Fred Goodman)

John Sinclair: "When we released the MC-5's 45 rpm single of "Looking At You" b/w "Borderline" on the A-Square label in the Spring of 1968, Rudnick & Frawley immediately slapped it on the WFMU turntables, where it joined the heady mix of music by Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters, John Coltrane, Lenny Bruce, Bob Dylan, Jim Pepper, Larry Coryell and Howlin' Wolf the two scenesters had devised for their listeners."

"The Den" - Saginaw's premier 60's rock club.

photo credit: Tom Novak of The Merseyside Sound (July 1967)


Guitarist Jim Nash - Important Events in Fuzz Guitar History:

1)  Nashville recording engineer Glen Snotty gives the Fuzz-Tone circuit to Gibson/Maestro in 1962.

2)  The Ventures record 2000 Pound Bee, the first single to use a fuzz box, in 1962. [link]

3)  P.J. Proby records Hold Me, marking the British discovery of the fuzz box, in 1964.

4)  The Yardbirds record I'm Not Talking in May, 1965.

5)  The Rolling Stones record Satisfaction, the fuzz shot heard around the world, in May 1965 causing fuzz box sales to rocket.

6)  The Count Five record Psychotic Reaction and fuzz guitar goes psychedelic in 1966.

7)  Davie Allan and the Arrows record the biker movie anthem Blue's Theme in 1966, blending motorcycle exhaust and fuzz guitar.

8)  Jimi Hendrix bursts onto the scene in 1967 inspiring thousands of imitators armed with fuzz boxes.

9)  The Yardbirds call it quits in 1968, but Jimmy Page quickly reignites the fuzz guitar torch with his new band - Led Zeppelin.

10)  The Stooges record their first album bringing fuzz guitar back to earth in 1969.




Mark Ode, Bass & Vocals

(Lead vocal & Fender 6-string bass on "Get Down")


Still playing today, with shout-outs to Tom Dolson, Laurie Middlebrook, Tim Barakow, Dan Wall, Rick Reittenbach, Chris Roach, Heath Bain, Mike Laviollette, Rob Gunther, and also, Brother Tony 'B" and the Ames Praise Team: Play Hard - Pray Hard.

   Peace ...MOde




Randy Jarrard, Guitar & Vocals

"Half Life rocked. The four of us knew each other from high school.  The first time we jammed together I knew we had something unique.
The song "Get Down" proves that fact. We are all still alive and kickin. Better than that..we are still friends.



Drummer Bob Pierson

Looking Back on the 60's

Photos at the legendary Saginaw Auditorium


Handbill:  The Den  03/13/1970

Nash's doodle of a former band member



email: 1969@HalfLifeBand.com   

Half-Life band photos: Thomas Cotton Wright
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