I was just inside the clubhouse, when I noticed an old Gibson acoustic, which I approached immediately. Pat was saying, before I turned the machine on, that he had once asked Joe Glaser to sand the classic "V" shape out of the neck, which Joe refused to do. We were laughing about that.
Puremusic: What is this thing here, a 1950--
Pat McLaughlin: No, it's older than that.
PM: Yeah, I think it might even be like 40s or even 30s.
Pat: Yeah, it's a Robert Johnson type.
PM: Do we know what that's called?
Pat: It's an O-1, I believe. You can take a look at it.
PM: Damn. I can't even look at that. It's like a pretty woman that I'm gonna keep staring at the whole time I'm here.
What's perplexing is that for a guy who's done as much as you have as well as you've done it, your story, by and large, is curiously unknown. Not only unknown, but unavailable. So if you'll indulge me, I need to extract some of your story--
Pat: All right. All right.
PM: --to whatever extent you're willing to tell it. For instance, where does it begin?
Pat: I'm from the Midwest. And the reason, I guess, for that lack of available information on me is that doing a bio is not something that most people relish the idea of doing. You know, it takes time and it's hard. And when you write them up, they look funny and they sound funny. But the first thing that people ask for is a bio. I mean, you can be doing a gig in Asheville, North Carolina, and they say, "Oh, good. Send the bio."
Pat: You know, I just want to play a gig!
PM: Yeah, right. "What do you care what my bio is?"
Pat: And my bio is not any big secret. I've had a lot of bios done with record deals and stuff like that. I'm from the Midwest, from Iowa.
PM: Whereabouts in Iowa?
PM: Yeah, I went to school in Grinnell for a while.
Pat: Oh. Well, you know the landscape, then. And then I traveled around quite a bit, spent time on both coasts, a little bit in the Phoenix area, Kansas City. Those are kind of my main places where I stopped, either went to school or paid rent for one reason or another. And Northern California, specifically.
PM: Whereabouts? I spent a lot of time there.
Pat: Well, I went out there in the early 70s, to San Francisco, because my brother was there, and I needed a place to go and I went there. And lived right in the city. And towards the end of my stay in California, I moved up to Fort Bragg. Ever go up to Fort Bragg?
PM: I've been through it. I never stayed very long, to tell you the truth.
Pat: You know, I was really just wandering around. I ended up there with a job in the Louisiana Pacific Lumber Mill, as kind of a night watchman, with about three or four other guys. I had a good, good job, a good non-union job.
Pat: I couldn't spend all the money I was making.
Pat: Yeah, so it was great. And then I just ended up leaving California, eventually.
PM: Did you do much playing there in those days in California?
Pat: I was starting to try to write songs.
PM: This was the 70s.
Pat: 70s, early 70s.
PM: Yeah, because we brought a band out there from Philly in the mid 70s and hung around Marin County and Sonoma County--
Pat: You did?
PM: --for many years.
PM: And then I got tied up with Mesa Boogie for a lot of years.
Pat: Oh, sure. When I was there in San Francisco, there was the Coffee Gallery down on Grant.
PM: Sure, I remember that.
Pat: And there was the Holy City Zoo, which was out in the Richmond district. Remember?
PM: I remember Steve Seskin playing the Holy City Zoo all the time.
Pat: Me too. In fact, I played on the street down around Union Square and Ghiradelli Square where Steve Seskin was the greatest street singer I'd ever seen.
PM: Oh, I didn't know Steve was a street guy.
Pat: And I played on the street a little bit too.
PM: And is he a friend of yours?
Pat: You know, we didn't know each other that well then. We were playing the same--I can't remember what they called writer's nights. Every town has a different--
PM: Open mics or something.
Pat: Open mics. Every town has a different name for it. I can't remember what it was in San Francisco. But Steve and I talk like we've known each other a long time because we have, but he always stayed out there, and I left there. And we do have a couple mutual friends that we have really had the opportunity to sit down and talk about. I didn't know anybody who played in bands, because I was just solo. I was a solo act, and I wasn't trying to play in bands.
PM: Which amazes me. I was listening to early records of yours driving out here, and I could see, "Wow, he's a really good solo guy, he's a really good acoustic guy." I know you more as one of the ultimate Tele guys, one of the ultimate rhythm Tele guys. So I mean-- continue