Edwards joined his band on stage on several occasions. “When I started to make the transition from the folk music scene to an electric focus, I was invited to come out and play at the Cellar, which I did as a single and I also sat in several times with Jeff’s group, Saturday’s Children,” remembers Edwards.

Besides his solo work, Edwards also made a living working in the folk/jazz outfit, the Will Mercier Trio, where he was employed to play a Mexican six string bass guitar called the guitaron. It was in this formation that he first met future H.P. Lovecraft keyboard player/singer Dave Michaels (b. Dave Miotke, December 15, 1944, Chicago, Illinois, US), who at the time was in his senior year of a full scholarship to the Northwestern School of Music to study classical music.

michaels.jpgMore than any other H.P. Lovecraft member, Michaels would be instrumental in shaping the group’s unique sound, due in a large part to his three-octave vocal range, superb arrangement skills and dextrous keyboard work. His importance to the band would become painfully obvious in later years, as his departure effectively led to the band’s premature demise. Prior to joining the Will Mercier Trio, Michaels had been working in a university trio with none other than future jazz sax player, David Sanborn.

“Dave Sanborn and I were classmates at the Northwestern School of Music,” says Michaels. “At the end of my junior year, the summer of 1965, we were asked by another classmate, drummer Terry Applebaum, if we’d like to work a six-day-a-week summer trio at Fiddleman’s resort just outside of Benton Harbor, Michigan.”

Michaels describes Fiddleman’s resort as a mid-western version of the Catskills where Jewish families would go in droves from Chicago, Detroit and other surrounding areas. “Irving and Sheila Fiddleman booked acts, mostly comedians on weekends,” explains Michaels. “The entertainers were without exception pleasantly surprised to find musicians as adept as we were playing the place. Dave Sanborn was and is a virtuoso. I, of course, was on piano and sang quite a bit. Terry Applebaum, a wonderful drummer and great guy, got the job through his elder brother, who had led a trio there in past summers.”

When the project folded that autumn, Michaels served as chairman/composer/piano accompanist and singer in the yearly Northwestern musical reviews, the Waa-Mu Show. Soon afterwards, he found a further outlet in the Will Mercier Trio, which gave him the opportunity to showcase his skills on the accordion.

Singing three-part harmonies, Edwards, Mercier and Michaels strolled from table to table in the revolving Pinnacle Room high atop the brand new Holiday Inn on Lake Shore Drive. Says Michaels of the engagement: “I remember the friendly manager of the hotel after a few too many, always asking us to do ‘People’, [Barbra] Streisand’s current hit. I think he needed people right then himself.”

While the Holiday Inn engagement was obviously a good earner, neither Edwards nor Michaels saw much future in the Will Mercier Trio, and after a couple of hopelessly obscure local singles, Edwards decided it was time to re-launch his solo career. With Badonsky’s backing, a studio session was booked for February 16, 1967 to record new material for a second George Edwards single. As events would transpire, the recording would mark the beginning of H.P. Lovecraft.

According to Edwards, it was Badonsky and Bill Traut’s idea to record a cover of Chip Taylor’s ‘Anyway That You Want Me’ (a recent UK hit for the Troggs) as the single’s prospective a-side. Edwards says he initially had doubts over the song’s potential but agreed to record it nonetheless, and a supporting cast of musicians was drafted in from the Rovin’ Kind, including guitarist Kal David.

 

Later, when the recording was complete, Edwards listened to the finished tape and felt that something was missing. What the track lacked in his opinion was a harmony vocal part. Realising that Michaels’ higher register was perfect for the part, Edwards recruited his colleague to add the harmony and the track was readied for release. Backed by an Edwards outtake from the late 1965 sessions, the Byrds flavoured ‘It’s All Over For You’, the single was released that spring on Mercury Records’ subsidiary label, Philips. However, rather than appearing as a George Edwards solo release, the single was attributed to H.P. Lovecraft.

Edwards explains, “The decision to release ‘Anyway That You Want Me’ [as H.P. Lovecraft] was made by Bill Traut, George Badonsky and myself. It was part of the idea of forming a permanent group as opposed to what we had been doing with hired sidemen.”

Dave Michaels recalls how the unusual name came about. “I remember being with George Badonsky, Bill Traut and George Edwards in Badonsky’s apartment above the club Mother Blues. The record company had sent the producers a list of possible group names…We were all groaning at how none of the names fit us [and] then started talking about other things. The name of Badonsky’s dog (a Yorkshire terrier called Yuggoth) came up, along with the name H.P. Lovecraft. We all leaped at the idea of naming the group after the author. Who the first one was to suggest H.P. Lovecraft is anyone’s guess [but] all our minds clicked on it right away. The fact that it was unusual, catchy, and had the word ‘love’ in it, sealed our collective fate.”

In an incredible stroke of luck, Traut knew August Derleth, who administered the H.P. Lovecraft estate. Traut called Derleth to ask if the group could use the name and Derleth duly gave his consent. Edwards and Michaels then set about recruiting musicians.

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