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Marla's Story

 

I was born in San Francisco into a musical family. My father played guitar and piano. He was also a writer. My mom was a Columbia starlet and met my dad at the studios in Los Angeles, California where they lived before I was born. She was in a few old movies, commercials, etc. When they moved to San Francisco my mom got a job in the Savoy Opera Company performing in Gilbert and Sulivan at the Bush Street Music Hall.
After they had me they moved back to Los Angeles because there was more work there. I have an older sister who learned to play the ukulele and we both would sing. I had been playing piano since I was three. Anyway I was six and my sister was nine when my mom got us on a national television show called NTG. This was a talent show. My sister and I dressed up in horrible, long, red flannel nigtgowns and sang a song called "Father Dear Father"(a song about a drunk who didn't come home and we were out looking for him). My parents were divorced by then and I think my mom unconsciously used national TV to get even with him. Anyway, we won and got lots of prizes etc. I mostly remember the hot lights, being terrified in my little red nightgown and wanting to go home. I always won contests in school, painting, poetry, essays etc.
I remember being taken to a club by my dad during the day and seeing two guitars set up on stage. My dad was talking to some guy named Les Paul. What a trip but then my dad had written for Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, Martha Ray and Danny Thomas and had written several scripts for television. It seemed very natural to me to be surrounded by musicians, actors and writers.
As a teenager I listened to all the stuff on the radio but was mostly drawn to rythm and blues and , of course, rock and roll. In those days you could hop in a car any weekend and go hear people like the Righteous Brothers or Jan and Dean for $3 at the Rondevous Ballroom in Newport Beach. By the time I was 18 I hated L.A. and was ready to do anything but stay there. When my friend Joel Beverly showed up at my door one day and asked me if I wanted to go to San Francisco, I said yes. I packed a bunch of stuff in a laundry bag (I was insane by then) and Joel and I took a bus to SF. When I saw the first sign on the SF freeway that said "Go back you are going the wrong way" my face broke into a huge smile and I knew I was where I wanted to be.
When we got off the bus we had no place to stay. We made our way to Haight and Ashbury where we stood for a very long time checking everything out. I got quite an education. I found out what a commune was. I learned how to panhandle (a new word for me that meant begging) I was young, healthy, free and fearless. This was the Flower Children's Era and I had just become one of them.
I ended up living at 408 Ashbury, a block from the Haight, in a commune. There was an old upright piano there that I got to play. My family sent me some money to get by on until I got a job. I didn't have any idea that my job would end up being a piano ( organ) player in an all female band. I met mary Gannon on Haight Street at Tracy's Doughnut Shop and we became friends. She lived on Waller Street and there was an old upright piano in her basement. I think that is where she first got the idea of starting an all girl band. So we tried to start one and it became the Ace Of Cups. There is plenty of history about the band on our website so I won't go into it here. We played all the time, everywhere and with some of the best musicians in the world. I finally left the band after Mary Ellen quit and moved from San Francisco to Marin County. I started a group called The Fairfax Street Choir. Later Mary Gannon became the bass player and Diane became the drummer. It was a fantastic group of 25 singers and five band members. David Carlson was the guitar player and we had a horn player also. We also played everywhere but our best show was at the Civic Auditorium opening for David Crosby, Graham Nash and Neil Young. We also opened for Paul Horn in L.A. What a road trip that was. I then signed a recording contract for Unity Records for an album called "Give me Wings". The street choir was on several cuts on that album but shortly after it came out the choir disbanded.
After that I started teaching music at Lagunitas School, Marin County CA. where my daughter was enrolled. The kids were divided into groups by age and started doing shows in Marin County and the Bay Area. They did radio shows, video specials, and recorded for Unity Records. They ended up doing several TV shows, Git Box Tickle, channel 5 produced by John Fromer, an ABC special called The Young Sounds of Spring and a special for Forest Farms Camp in Forest Knolls CA. I ended up doing an orginal play at lagunitas School with all of the children. It was called "Meru and the Magic Thread". Since then Meru and the Magic Thread has become a book and is available at Border.com, Amazon.com, Chapter.com and a bunch of other .coms. It is also available at www.merumagic.com, our personal book website. I now live in Hawaii, own my own business, and live on the side of Hualalai (an active but dormant volcano). Aloha to all, Marla Hanson

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