Don Glenn's Biography

 

Native Earthling, Singer, Songwriter, Concert Producer, Music Publisher, Electronics Technician, Website Designer, All Remodel Trades and most Unique Guitarist! (Don is missing fingers on his left hand and has developed a style of percussion & slide guitar like no other.)

Don is most well known for his involvement as "Chief" of Seattle Peace Concerts' free summer concert series that have graced Seattle Parks since 1981. Don attributes its longevity to the underlying spiritual nature of the gatherings. "Were all made of the same star dust, connected to each other and everything else in the universe. Every atom connected to every other atom. Oneness is a scientific fact. Each of us are a different point of view of the same Life. Everything is related. The trees are part of our lungs, the oceans and rivers are our blood and the earth is our body. The Seattle Peace Concerts are meant to be an example of how our human family can come together in the spirit of cooperation and individual responsibility to celebrate life and help turn the tide of environmental self destruction."

Don was born in Glendale California Aug. 21, 1941 to Don Sr. & Dolly Glenn. They divorced when Don was about 5 years old after having a second child, Steve. His dad's family considered Dolly, a very beautiful but half breed Cherokee, as not appropriate to his social status. Dolly didn't stand a chance in the divorce court and Don Sr. gained custody. Don lived with his grandparents and at times his aunt, Martha Cheney and uncle Kenneth Glenn. (Don considers them saints!) Don's dad remarried in the early 50's to Miriam Sersen, the daughter of Fred Sersen who was director of special photographic effects at 20th Century Fox from the early years until he retired, also in the early 50's. Fred Sersen was awarded two Oscars for Special Photographic Effects; Crash Dive with Tyrone Power and When the Rains Came. The Glenns and the Sersens built houses next to each other at the top of Puebla Drive in the Glendale foothills with a killer view. On a clear day (They used to have those back then.) you could see Catalina Island, 26 miles off the California coast. Fred, Don's new grandfather, retired and living next door became a huge influence on Don. There were stories about how things were done, such as the ray from the robot in The Day the Earth Stood Still was created by using a pencil eraser to scratch the film frame by frame, but the greatest influence on Don was Fred's curiosity and the exploration of  how our universe works. What are those laws that can't be broken? The primary truths of all life. Why does the wavelength of light affect its velocity through a material such as water or glass? If it didn't, there would be no rainbows. Newton, Einstein, relativity, gravity (Back then Don thought that the gravitational constant could possibly be a slowly changing variable related to the expansion/pressure of the universe and not directly related to electromagnetic properties of matter. If so, the search for a Unified Field Theory would be futile. But what did he know, he was just entering Glendale High School). The seed was planted...Then transplanted.

His dad & Miriam divorced and Don moved  with his dad and brother to Montrose just north of Glendale. Single dad. Two teenage sons. Look out! There were two possible grades for Don in high school, A's or F's. Science and math were A's. The F's were for other classes that Don can't remember. Failing at Glendale High School, Don was involuntarily sent to New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI) by his dad to "straighten him out". There are still marks on Don's arm where upper classman put a lit cigarettes between Don's arm and his roommates. The first to move would get beaten up. "I got burned, but never beaten up.", Don said with a little anger rising in his voice. His mother Dolly lived in El Cajon, near San Diego, and at the first opportunity Don was "over the hill" hitch hiking across the desert. He was picked up by the Arizona  police the first time and sent back to New Mexico to be severely punished for leaving. Don was more careful the second time and made it to El Cajon. When his dad found out where he was, he was given a choice of reform school or joining the military at seventeen.

First stop US Marine Corps Recruiter. Don was given tests for IQ, aptitude, math, etc. and was told if he enlisted he would be sent to school to be an aircraft electrician. Shortly after that Don was on his way to MCRD San Diego, Boot Camp!  If the experience at NMMI did anything, it made Don "tough" and unbreakable. The other lesson was how  to fit in and become invisible to avoid pain. It didn't take long to find out where the "tough and unbreakable" got you in the Marine Corps. Don immediately fit right in and I don't know of anyone who ever remembered seeing him, until graduation from Boot Camp.

Off to avionics school NAS Jacksonville Florida. Electronics made sense to Don. It was fascinating for him to learn electromechanical principles and the mathematical relationships involved. Some of Grampa Sersen had rubbed off. Don was always at the top of the class. He spent four years in the Marine Corps from 1959 to 1963. About two years were spent in schools and training and two years on the USS Princeton LPH-5, an aircraft carrier, maintaining HUS-1 helicopters and getting several tours of the West Pacific. After an honorable discharge in 1963 Don headed to college. Math thru advanced calculus, physics, astronomy and chemistry were all easy aces, but he failed required English and History classes and didn't graduate. (Don didn't graduate from High School either, but 20 years later he received an Associate of Applied Science Degree in General Electronics from North Seattle Community College.) During the college years Don's hobby of writing songs, singing and playing guitar, (also a great way to "score chicks"), started moving to the forefront. One of Don's early bands was Rogue and the Ruffty Blues. They were regular performers at The Sea Witch, 5th Estate and other clubs on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood during the sixties. Don got a break in his music career when John Daley, manager for Randy Sparks and the New Christy Minstrels, and the Chambers Brothers, became his Personal Manager, and shortly thereafter a record contract on Decca Records. It was off to the studio, but without his band. The recordings were produced by Gary Usher (The Beach Boys, Dick Dale and his Del-Tones, The Byrds), a very well known and very successful producer. Gary pulled together the best studio musicians available, including Glen Campbell on guitar, and they recorded at Goldstar Studios in Hollywood.

 

Two of Don's original songs were released by Decca Records as a single, 45RPM record. It went nowhere. Don felt that the recordings lacked the feeling that they had when performed with the band. Now there was no band. Each had gone their own way. Broke and disgusted Don decided to look for a "real job".

The Glendale office of IBM was looking for people with math, electrical and mechanical aptitudes to train and hire as Customer Service Engineers. When Don walked in with his Beatle haircut and more than slightly hippie vibe, the white shirts snickered but gave him the tests anyway. Soon thereafter he was off to IBM's Training Center in Endicott New York for six months. Thought of as the least likely to succeed when he left, Don returned having been at the top of his class and elected class president. He also got a haircut. They were sure that soon he would be a Republican and vote for George Wallace. Don worked with the IBM team at Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank for several years on their mainframe computers & I/O. The atmosphere at that time (The Vietnam War) and the racist attitudes of IBM managers at Lockheed and in Glendale became intolerable to Don. "Once a hippie, always a hippie." Time to get back to the music.

Don put together a solo act of guitar, vocals and harmonica and performed in the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly clubs, bars, parties in the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood eventually leading to "The Hideaway" in Kagel Canyon. Kagel Canyon is located in the foothills north of San Fernando and the Hideaway was both bar and community center. With a horse arena near the top of the canyon, a hitching post by the Hideaway, and both country and western music on the juke box, the Hideaway was obviously cowboys and country music. Don's music was more bikers and rock. Could horses and Harleys coexist?

The offer of playing for free, and knowing that if it didn't go over the cowboys would take care of him, and with some prompting by the upcoming younger crowd, the owners of the Hideaway gave Don a Friday & Saturday night to try it out. By this time Don had included a light show and stage setting with his act. (Remember this is late 60's) He made his mike stand from parts of the landing gear from a F-11 with a plastic Marijuana plant growing out of it and next to it was a large plaster frog , called "Head Toad", with red lights for eyes that flashed with the music. That weekend a whole new crowd filled the Hideaway. The "Cowboys" had to stick around to see how bizarre it was and even called their friends. The Hideaway was packed. This became Don's musical home base until an earthquake in April of 1971 broke water and gas lines to the canyon and The Hideaway had to close for a while.

Wholey Toledo. Don had been invited to stay with friends in Toledo Ohio and with this break he took the opportunity to visit them. His mode of transportation was his thumb. He arrived totally broke. He had his guitar and performing along the way got him what he needed. The first order of business was to find a place to play for "spare change". He had been told of a "hip" tavern on the East side of Toledo and that was his first stop. He introduced himself through his music and made a few friends and a little money. Several of the people there were involved with an outdoor concert venue called The Farm outside of Lima Ohio. He was invited to go with them to their concert the next day. The concert featured Savoy Brown & Spirit. Spirit had performed and Savoy Brown's piano still hadn't arrived from Toledo. They were up next and about 10,000 people were getting restless. The next thing Don knew, he was on stage and he "Kicked Ass" for about half an hour. The piano arrived. Savoy Brown "Kicked Ass" and everybody had an "Ass Kicking" time! In the audience was Ed Emery, the owner of a building in downtown Toledo called the Pythian Castle. Five stories high, with two auditoriums, and a music store leasing the ground floor. He asked Don if wanted to help him turn it into a cultural center with concerts in the auditoriums and arts and crafts shops in the many smaller rooms. "The Pythian Castle, A hippie Mall? Cool!" So on day three in Toledo Ohio, Don said yes and soon became Director of Performing Arts of the Pythian Castle Cultural Center, a two year adventure that deserves it's own book. In the end Ed Emery lost the Castle in a divorce settlement and it was back to California for Don.

Back in California Don met a member of the Love Family from Seattle Washington. After listening to some of the Family's music, especially the lyrics that were spiritual in nature, Don had to check it out. He joined the Love Family in 1973, left for a few years spent back at the Hideaway in Kagel Canyon, and "left for good" in 1983 . "When I came to Seattle I was searching for others that shared the same realization of our oneness that I had. I thought I found it in a Seattle commune called the Love Family. Unfortunately one person had all the authority (strange way to demonstrate oneness) and when he went off the deep end there was nothing anybody could do about it - the end of the Love Family, as we knew it, in 1983." Don kept up the park concert series that started in 1981 while he was in the "Family", and in 1988 "Seattle Peace Concerts" was officially registered as a Nonprofit Organization. This year Seattle Peace Concerts will celebrate its 30th year of producing Free Summer Park Concerts in Seattle. TO BE CONTINUED

 "Re-Member Oneness - It's a Law that Can't be Broken", Don Glenn

 CLICKHERE to email Don Glenn, the "webster" for www.seapeace.org