Nejat Toksoy of Mavi Işiklar R.I.P.

by admin  12th Jul 2019 Comments [0]

By Jay Dobis


Nejat Toksoy, the lead singer of one of the top rock bands in Turkey in the ‘60s, Mavi Işiklar (1966-70), died on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, after a lengthy stay in hospital due to cancer.

Nejat was one of the most important figures in the development of Turkey’s rock culture when Mavi Işiklar formed in 1964, and he became lead singer. Mavi Işiklar released numerous singles, EPs, and one album. Although not a garage band per se, much of their material and execution was garage in nature. At the time, the record companies never allowed them to play original songs, so they covered American garage favorites, and best of all, played rocked up versions of traditional Turkish songs.

But before that, Nejat was lucky enough to spend a year going to high school in California as an exchange student and living with a family and guided by his ‘older brother’ Bruce Robinson… Soon after forming, Mavi Işiklar entered the first Altın Mikrofon contest run by the Hürriyet daily newspaper, which pushed bands to mix traditional Turkish folk music with rock ‘n’ roll, and Mavi Işiklar were at the forefront of this movement, which eventually resulted in Anadolu Rock. The band came in second, and the contest released their first single, “Helvaci Helva.” They toured heavily and quickly became one of the most in-demand bands, playing top clubs in many cities and appearing in films.

In 1965, when one of the members had to do his military service, Nejat’s old pal Bruce Robinson, a member of the well-known California surf band the Revelaires, filled in on bass. In the second Altın Mikrofon contest in 1966, they again came in second, and the contest released their second single, and they signed with the Sayan label and quickly released two bestselling EPs. They released an album in 1968 and their biggest hit single, “Iyi Dusun Tasin,” a cover of “For Your Information” by the Lebanese band the Cedars (one of at least 20 covers of this song in Turkey, and it’s the best).

After the band broke up in 1970, Nejat was considering an offer to become the lead vocalist for Moğollar; however, as Murat Ses (the arranger and principal writer for Moğollar) had quit that band, Nejat and Murat formed a new band: Ağrı Sağı Efsanesi, which released a number of singles.

Mavi Işiklar remained dormant until reforming in 2000 and played many gigs that year and the next. I saw them a number of times, and they were wonderful, still playing with energy and passion. The best songs were their rocked up versions of traditional Turkish songs on which the guitarist played some sizzling Middle Eastern raga rock guitar. All of the members were in fine form that night and every night I saw them. I got to know the entire band, and they were all very nice guys. In particular, I got to know Nejat, and we became friends. He was a wonderful guy… Eventually, the band decided to record another album, but unfortunately broke up over musical differences. However, a few years later, a successful Turkish TV series set in the ‘60s, Öyle Bir Geçer ki Zaman, relied heavily on the music of Mavi Işiklar and members of the band made many personal appearances. The band reformed again and periodically played gigs…

Nejat suffered two tragedies in 2010. First, his 32-year-old daughter Derya died from cancer and months later his beloved, grief-stricken wife also passed away.

Nejat will be greatly missed. He is survived by his daughter Deniz Toksoy and Linda Wright, his American high school girlfriend from that year in ’63 in California, who moved to be with him about a year and a half ago.

Mavi Isiklar, ca, 1968. Nejat Toksoy at far right.


Requiem For A Mensch: Gary Stewart, 1956-2019

by admin  17th Apr 2019 Comments [0]

By Harvey Kubernik


I am so deeply saddened by the death of Gary Stewart, a veteran music and recording executive who had a lifelong devotion of service to the music in any capacity he held, starting out at Rhino Records (later Rhino Entertainment, where he became senior VP of A&R) and later at Apple iTunes.

In 1976 I first met Gary when he was a student at Cal State Northridge. He politely asked to use my name as a reference on his first job resume in 1978 when I was West Coast Director of A&R for MCA Records. In 1982 I recorded him for an album I produced.

One time in the mid-eighties I had a backstage pass for an Elvis Costello show at a theater in Beverly Hills. Gary came up to me in the lobby and said, “I know you can bring any girl or A&R guy in this place backstage to meet Elvis. But can you try and introduce me to him? I’ve never met Elvis and have a business proposal regarding Rhino Records and his catalog that I want to speak to him about.”

I took the laminate off my jacket, and immediately gave it to Gary.

He then asked for Costello’s management contact information. Gary had a Mel Torme box set he wanted to send him.

How many box sets over decades did Gary Stewart constantly give to people?


Dick Dale 1937-2019: True Surf

by admin  18th Mar 2019 Comments [0]

By Chris Darrow


I started surfing in high school about 1959, and was stunned by the first Surfer magazine, which came a year later. Started by John Severson, it was a way to finance his early surf films. Surf Fever was the film that started it all for me. It featured Mexican music, a mandolin instrumental played by Pete Seeger called “Woody’s Rag” and Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn Theme” was used for the big wave sequence at Waimea Bay. Surf Music, as such, had not yet been invented.


There had always been instrumental music in rock & roll. Guys like Joe Houston, Link Ray, “Mighty” Jim Balcom, Chuck Higgins, Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs and the incomparable Duane Eddy, all set up the arrival of “The King of the Surf Guitar”, Dick Dale.


In 1961 he put out a record called “Let’s Go Trippin’” and it was all over. The first real guitar god of rock & roll was born with that 45rpm record. His home turf was Newport Beach, California, and he played regularly at the Rendezvous Ballroom out on the Newport Peninsula. Since the forties, Newport Beach and Balboa Island had been the coastal hang out for most of the high school beach kids in Southern California, especially during “Bal Week,” Easter vacation. Places like The Jolly Roger restaurant on Balboa Island and Sid’s Blue Beet, the Prison of Socrates and the Rendezvous in Newport were popular gathering spots in the late 50’s and early sixties.


I saw Dick Dale for the first time in 1962 or ’63 at the Rendezvous Ballroom. The Rendezvous was an old wooden building with a mezzanine wrapping around its interior. Dick Dale & the Del-Tones played so loud and hard that the reverberating sound in this giant, wooden, sound box literally made the rafters shake. It was exiting and visceral. Peroxide heads in Pendleton shirts did the Surfer Stomp with their chicks on the big dance floor. Dick, playing his Fender Stratocaster, upside down and backwards, wowed the audience with pyrotechnics and theatrics that the likes of Jimi Hendrix would later absorb into his persona. Had it not been for the Beatles and the English Invasion, I feel that Dick would have been a greater star and even more of a household name.


The next time I saw him was in the late seventies at a club that he owned in Orange County, dubbed the Rendezvous. It was a totally different vibe, with a Vegas-style act in a Vegas-style cub. There were scantily clad girls dancing on the bars and a lounge type group backing him up, featuring his Asian wife, Jeanie, and a big, black, sax player with a shaved head called Mr. Clean. He did popular songs and every once in a while did a “Dick Dale Song.” That was probably his lowest period.


I was living in San Clemente at the time and would front a band called the Hula Buckaroos for the Annual Surfer Magazine Awards banquet every year. There were always special guests at the event. One year Dick was introduced out of the audience, and, as we were playing a tune as his intro, he jumped up on stage and proceeded to sit in on almost every instrument, including the drums. I have only seen Sammy Davis Jr. do anything as ‘show biz’ as that in my life.


It is my opinion that the only, true surf guitar player is Dick Dale… all the others are just pretenders.


© 2019 Chris Darrow



CHRIS DARROW was a founding member of the influential world beat/psychedelic band Kaleidoscope, 1966-1968. He went on to cut a number of acclaimed solo albums, and played as a sideman on albums by James Taylor, John Stewart and Gene Vincent, and toured with Linda Ronstadt 1969-1971. He is one of the architects of SoCal country rock, a pioneer force in Americana, and also very involved with surf music.