Drummer Blog: the Blues Magoos’ Geoff Daking Talks Greenwich Village, Engineering, and Session Work

Hey drummers! I’m Geoff Daking of the Blues Magoos. We have a new CD out called Psychedelic Resurrection. I started playing in the early ’60s in Delaware. When I was in high school I came to New York City on weekends to see Monk, Cannonball, and Coltrane with those great drummers like Elvin Jones. I moved to Greenwich Village in 1966, joined the Magoos and moved into the Hotel Albert where musicians in the Village stayed. Talk about shock! The hotel was filled with the likes of the Lovin Spoonful, the Allman Brothers, Mothers of Invention, Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield, and the list goes on.

New York was crazy back then. Within three blocks in Greenwich Village, you could hear Hendrix, James Taylor, Jose Feliciano and the Fugs, all in the same night. We played a “Murray the K Show” in a movie theatre where, for six dollars, you got to see Mitch Ryder, Wilson Pickett, Smokey Robinson, the Who, Cream, and special guest like Simon and Garfunkel or the Rascals (plus a movie and Bob Rose’s house band in the pit).

In those days, Ludwig drums were king for me, always from Manny’s Music on 48th Street. In 1966, when we were playing in Chicago, I went to the old Ludwig, Damen Avenue factory. Bill Sr. and Jr. were both there. They said I was the only drummer who had ever visited the factory. I still have the last set I bought at Manny’s in 1968. It was a 14×22 bass drum, two 9×13 toms, and a 16×16 floor tom. I also have the 5×14 brass shell snare. Back in the dark days, you might play to 14,000 people and there was no sound reinforcement at all. We had three mics for vocals. You had to play loud. I would eat up ten, or so, 2Bs a night and never (almost) break a head, Coated Ambassadors. They still have the “Manny’s 48th Street” stamp on the bottom heads.

The Magoos recorded for Mercury records and by 1967, we had a hit record called “We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet,” and we toured with the Who—nothing like watching Keith Moon every day (sometimes twice) for a whole summer!

For the next twenty-five years I did some session work, but mostly moved to the other side of the glass and worked full time as a recording engineer in NYC. I got to work with the best of the best: Allan Schwartzberg, Rick Marotta, Chris Parker, Bernard Purdie, Buddy Rich, and even John Bonham. Records, film scores, and jingles; I used those ’68 Ludwigs for almost all of those sessions.

In 1994, I started a company, Daking Audio’s products, with a line of affordable mic pre’s, EQs, compressors, and consoles. These preamps have really caught on, especially with drummers who have studios and do Internet work. J.R. Robinson, Dave Weckl, and Billy Ward are just a few.

The current Magoo lineup includes originals Peppy Castro, who also worked in music his whole life, and Ralph Scala who had a plan B and worked in pharmaceuticals (the legal kind). Now that Ralph is free, the Magoos are back on the road with gigs this spring and summer.

The old Ludwigs are in my son-in-law’s studio in LA. I’m using DWs now and I keep two sets on the East Coast. I recently spent a day with John Good at DW to pick out a new set for the West Coast. The DW guys are crazy about quality and John’s knowledge about drum shell construction and tone is amazing!

I hope we cross paths on the road in 2015. See you soon!

For tour dates and more visit http://www.thebluesmagoos.com.