SEPULVEDA, California. Thomas “Tom” Freeb, bass guitar player for My Unicorn’s Knightmare, an antacid rock band of the 60′s, died yesterday of complications from adenoid surgery. He was 71.
Tom and Tim Freeb with guitars in their first combo, The Castaways
With his brother Tim, Freeb is given credit for developing “Antacid Rock,” a sub-genre of sixties music played by and for those too scared to experiment with the hallucinogenic drugs that gave birth to so-called “psychedelic” music.
“We read the exposes of LSD and marijuana in Time and Life magazines,” Tim recalls with a look of relief on his face. “We decided to experiment, but play it safe. We didn’t want to get kicked off Student Council.”
There followed a period of artistic growth for the two brothers, who tried cigarettes dipped in paregoric, smoking oregano, and drinking rum Cokes with aspirins really fast through a straw to see if they could achieve enlightenment safely.
The two changed their group’s name to “My Unicorn’s Knightmare” to symbolize their conflicting desires to explore the mind-bending realm beyond the humdrum reality of their suburban lives, yet retain their innocence. Derided by their hard-rocking competitors as teeny-boppers, the Freebs had the last laugh when their non-psychedelic anthem “High on Life” hit #1 on Billboard Magazine’s National Honor Society chart. A follow-up song, “Tripping Through the Pet Store,” which celebrated the joys of smoking catnip, a close relative of marijuana, reached #4, giving the Freebs a hit-making scorecard that surpassed Buffalo Springfield and even The Jefferson Airplane.
Mrs. Freeb’s casserole: “I . . . I think I see the face of the godhead in there.”
“Guys in other groups would brag about dropping Owsley acid,” Tim says to this reporter as he fiddles anxiously with his aging love beads. “We’d ask mom to put an extra can of cream of mushroom soup in her tuna noodle casserole. I don’t think even Hendrix could have handled that dose.”
In an interview with Modern Maturity magazine in 2010, Freeb expressed no bitterness that in his later years My Unicorn’s Knightmare could find work only in chain hotel lounges and other out-of-the-way venues. “Look at The Doors,” he said at the time. “They’re all dead now.” When it was pointed out that three of the original Doors are still alive, Freeb became impatient. “Dude,” he snapped at the reporter, “those are hallucinations!“
Not so far out!
Freeb is survived by his wife Patty, his cats Jimi and Janis, and a spider plant that he successfully repotted and moved with him on tour. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Freeb’s memory be made to the Home for Aging Bassists in Chico, California.
Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Fauxbituaries.”