HERMAN NELSON

Austin, Texas

Records with Sonobeat in 1969, 1970 & 1973
Two non-commercial song demo albums on Sonobeat Records (1969 & 1970)
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Herman Nelson's Sonobeat song demo albums are issued with plain white jackets, so this is our fantasy jacket artwork
Herman Nelson at the Sonobeat Western Hills Drive studio in 1968; photo taken from the studio deck looking out over northwest Austin
A clever song – a play on Johnny Cash's hit A Boy Named Sue – Herman wrote and recorded in 1970 but that is never included on any of his Sonobeat song demo albums; producer Bill Josey Sr. orders five reference acetate copies cut, but it's unclear what he does with them

In 1968, mild mannered Austinite Herman Nelson is the first composer to exclusively provide songs for Sonobeat's publishing affiliate, Sonosong Music Company. Although Herman and Sonobeat co-founder Bill Josey Sr. first meet in the early '60s, Herman's association with Sonobeat begins in mid-'68 when Jim Chesnut records About to Be Woman and Leaves for a Sonobeat stereo 45 RPM single, songs selected from an impressively large body of material Herman has composed over several years. Herman's diverse song catalog eventually yields two demo albums for Sonosong Music, both issued on vinyl. The first Nelson song demo album is performed by Chesnut (guitar and vocals), Karol Phelan (vocals), and Nelson (guitar and vocals) and is issued in November 1969. The second is performed by Bill Wilson (guitar and vocals) and Mike Waugh (bass) and is issued in November 1970. The demo albums are used to solicit national artists' interest in recording Herman's songs and are circulated to major record company A&R departments. Both demo albums are monaural, and neither is commercially released. In 1973, Bill Sr. records a third Herman Nelson song demo album, performed by Nelson and Waugh, after moving the Sonobeat studios to Liberty Hill, Texas, but Bill distributes the demo to record company A&R execs only on audio cassettes.

Herman writes the lyrics for the Lee Arlano Trio's 1969 Sonobeat single, School Daze, and when we're unable to find a copy of the single in the Sonobeat archives, in 2008 Herman generously provides one from his personal collection. When Sonobeat assembles a band around charismatic drummer Vince Mariani in 1970, Bill Sr. calls in Herman to write melody and lyrics for the group's debut single, Re-birth Day. In 1971, when Bill Sr. begins working with the Bill Miller Group, he again calls on Herman to contribute lyrics to several of the unit's songs, but the only song in which some of Herman's lyrics are used – a line here and there – is the Egyptian mythology-inspired Ra-Ma. Even in the '60s, Herman's "ordinary guy" look and demeanor belies his true passion for metaphysics and the occult, which he cleverly celebrates in many of his unusual and thought-provoking song lyrics, making him the perfect collaborator with Mariani and Bill Miller.

Herman recalls that after Bill Sr. moves the Sonobeat studios to the KVET Building on North Lamar in Austin, they meet frequently at the nearby Dunkin' Donuts and Toddle House for coffee and talk about a wide range of subjects.

Herman, an Austin resident since 1950, is an award-winning poet and the creator of Elksinger's Perfected Tarot system and cards. Herman sponsors annual Austin Poetry Society awards.

Herman Nelson personnel

Herman Nelson: composer, guitar, and vocals

Jim Chesnut: guitar and vocals
Karol Phelan: vocals
Mike Waugh: bass
Bill Wilson: guitar and vocals
Sonobeat song demo album HEC-285M/HEC-286M (1969)

Songs from the Catalog of Sonosong Music Company: Herman Nelson, Composer
Side 1:
   The Wild
   Ego Evolution
   Spinning-Wheel Sun
   Blast Furnace
   Ten-Thirty-Train
   Happy Marriage
   Household Princess
   Bag and Baggage
   The Critter Love
   Derelict Down
Side 2:
   About-To-Be-Woman
   Orange Pekoe In Mood
   Into Yesterday
   Beyond the Hill
   Leaves
   In the Land of Now Is Never
   Jenny
   Lemon Drops and Rings
   The Unwinding Road

Produced by Bill Josey Sr.
Engineered by Rim Kelley
Recorded at Sonobeat's Western Hills Drive studio, Austin, Texas, on various dates in 1968 and 1969
Recording equipment: ElectroVoice 665 microphones, ElectroVoice Slimair 636 microphones, Sony ECM22 electret condenser microphones, Ampex 354 quarter-inch 2-track tape deck, custom 10-channel portable stereo mixer, custom steel plate stereo reverb, Scotch 202 tape stock
Vinyl collector information for Sonobeat album HEC-285M/HEC-286M

Approximately 100 copies pressed
Issued in in November 1969* • monaural only
Lacquers mastered and vinyl copies pressed by Sidney J. Wakefield & Company, Phoenix, Arizona
Plain white jacket rubber stamped "SONGS FROM THE CATALOG OF SONOSONG MUSIC COMPANY" and "Herman Nelson, Composer"
Label blanks printed by Powell Offset Services, Austin, Texas
In the dead wax:
   Side 1: 11687 and HEC-285M
   Side 2: 11687 and HEC-286M
   "HEC" in the dead wax are the initials of the mastering engineer at Sidney J. Wakefield & Company
What's that flower-shape in the dead wax? It's the Sidney J. Wakefield logo, stamped into the lacquer masters next to the matrix number.

Sonobeat song demo album WEJ-287M/HEC-288M (1970)

Songs from the Catalog of Sonosong Music Company: Herman Nelson, Composer, Volume 2
Side 1:
   Where Have All the People Gone?
   the Web
   Sons, Thy Mother Is Not Well!
   Billy the Kid
   Changing Wallpaper
   One Little Thought
Side 2:
   Yesterday's Summer
   Sandy
   Christina
   Roberta
   A Hymn
   Pictures

Produced by Bill Josey Sr.
Engineered by Rim Kelley
Recorded at Sonobeat's Western Hills Drive studio, Austin, Texas, on various dates in 1970
Recording equipment: ElectroVoice Slimair 636 microphones, Sony ECM22 electret condenser microphones, Ampex AG350 tape deck, custom 10-channel portable stereo mixer, Fairchild Lumiten 663ST optical compressor, Blonder-Tongue Audio Baton 9-band stereo graphic equalizer, custom steel plate stereo reverb, Ampex 681 tape stock
Vinyl collector information for Sonobeat album WEJ-287M/WEJ-288M

Approximately 100 copies pressed
Issued in November 1970* • monaural only
Lacquers mastered and vinyl copies pressed by Sidney J. Wakefield & Company, Phoenix, Arizona
Plain white jacket rubber stamped "SONGS FROM THE CATALOG OF SONOSONG MUSIC COMPANY" and "Herman Nelson, Composer, Volume 2"
Label blanks printed by Powell Offset Services, Austin, Texas
In the dead wax:
   Side 1: 12960, WEJ-287M, and HEC
   Side 2: 12960, WEJ-288M, and HEC
   "HEC" in the dead wax are the initials of the mastering engineer at Sidney J. Wakefield & Company
What's that flower-shape in the dead wax? It's the Sidney J. Wakefield logo, stamped into the lacquer masters next to the matrix number.

Sonobeat song demo album (stereo audiocassette only) (1973)

Songs from the Catalog of Sonosong Music Company: Herman Nelson, Composer, Volume 3
Side 1:
   Haiku to a Butterfly
   The Drifter
   Black Hawk
   Big Top Serenade
   Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton
Side 2:
   The Legend
   Spirit Free
   Three Score and...
   Diana Huntress
   Robinhood's 90 Caterpillars
   Late at Night
   Moon Phases

Produced and engineered by Bill Josey Sr. Recorded at Sonobeat's Blue Hole Sounds studio in Liberty Hill, Texas, during fall 1973
Issued in fall 1973 on audiocassette only • stereo
Recording equipment: Recording equipment: Sony ECM22 electret condenser microphones, Dokorder 7140 quarter inch 4-track tape deck, custom 16-channel 4-bus mixing console, Fairchild Lumiten 663ST optical compressor, Blonder-Tongue Audio Baton 9-band stereo graphic equalizer, custom steel plate stereo reverb, Ampex 681 tape stock
Unissued Sonobeat recordings

Critter of Love
A Girl Named Sioux

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For Herman's song demo albums, Sonobeat includes track lists with brief descriptions to help national record company A&R execs identify songs that may be of interest to their artists; the track lists are attached to the back of the album jackets
Flip side of the track list for Herman's first song demo album
The simple rubber-stamped "white jacket" album cover for Herman's second song demo album