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Topic: Mark Olson

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Gary Swain
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Mark Olson
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Hey Rare Earth fans! I was wondering if anyone knows what became of Mark Olson -- the keyboardist starting with I Just Want to Celebrate and continuing for the next few albums. We've known each other since kindergarten days and I lost touch with him many years ago. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Jim
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I heard Mark Olson passed away years ago



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Aln
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Mark sadly passed away in 1991

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Gary
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Hi - Thanks for the info about Mark. I was deeply saddened to hear about the death of an old friend. He must have been about 41 - thats just too soon for any of us. Gary

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UK Dave
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On the Band Together and Grand Slam albums, which I believe were recorded almost back to back, Mark contributed a couple of songs which were co-written with Curly Smith. Curly was the drummer with Jo Jo Gunne back in the 70s and again recently. I just wondered if anyone knows how this collaboration came about. I seem to recall reading that Curly moved to Texas and didn't Mark spend his final years there too?

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MDF
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according to peter's book........mark's wife left him in texas and he was forced to live down in fla. mark's dad got him to AA, and on the recovery train........he was working with the disney corp writing children's songs and was getting re-married........then one day he woke with a splitting headache..... his wife urged him back to bed and he did. but he never woke up...........


a sad ending for such a talent......



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jimmy19029
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Ray, what year did Mark leave and what was the story there? Was Mark in the band up until Wayne Baraks joined in 1987?

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RAY MONETTE
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JIMMY,

I DON'T RECALL THE EXACT YEAR,BUT I THINK IT WAS A COUPLE OF YEARS BEFORE WAYNE.
MARK HAD BEEN GETTING MORE AND MORE CAUGHT UP IN THE ALCOHOL DRUG PROBLEM. WE TRIED TO HELP HIM AS MUCH AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE.WE OFFERED TO PAY FOR RE-HAB,BUT HE WOULDN'T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT. IT GOT TO THE POINT WHERE HE FELL ASLEEP AT A SHOW....ON STAGE!!  AT THAT POINT,WE ALL AGREED THAT HE WOULD HAVE TO BE REPLACED.
WHAT A SHAME!! AND A WASTE OF A HUGELY TALENTED FRIEND.

MARK WAS THE KIND OF GUY THAT LIVED LIFE ON THE EDGE,TO THE FULLEST,BUT AT THE SAME TIME,I THINK HE WAS SCARED TO DEATH OF IT.

RAY

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jimmy19029
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Wow, fell asleep onstage? I think that's the first time I ever heard of anyone doing that. Too much! Was it Mark that took over the lead vocals after Pete left in late 1983? Who was lead singer before Wayne joined in 1987?

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RAY MONETTE
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WHEN I SAY "FELL ASLEEP",IT WAS PROBABLY MORE LIKE PASSED OUT. I'M SURE THERE HAVE BEEN OTHER CASES LIKE THAT IN SHOW BUSINESS OVER THE YEARS.

MARK AND GIL SHARED THE LEAD VOCALS WHEN PETER LEFT,AND GIL IS STILL DOING IT TODAY.

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UK Dave
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That decision must have been so hard Ray. Tough as it seems though, the reputation of the band is at stake it doesn't leave much choice. What a tragedy that Mark was unable to straighten himself out and return to the band at a later date.

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RAY MONETTE
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YOU SAID IT DAVE. HE LEFT US NO CHOICE. IT GOT TO THE POINT THAT WE COULDN'T COUNT ON HIM TO DO HIS PART VOCALLY OR INSTRUMENTALLY.
A TRAGEDY....INDEED.

I MISSED YOUR QUESTION ABOUT CURLY SMITH. I DON'T KNOW HOW MARK MET HIM FOR SURE. I THINK IT WAS THROUGH MUTUAL FRIENDS. WE BECAME GOOD FRIENDS AND DID SOME WRITING TOGETHER. CURLY WAS FROM TEXAS,AS WAS MARK'S WIFE. WE WORKED TOGETHER AFTER THE BAND BROKE UP IN 1974.

 MARK WENT ON THE ROAD TO EUROPE WITH JENNIFER WARNES AT THAT TIME ALSO. I REMEMBER HIM TELLING ME THAT WHEN HE WAS INTRODUCED AT THE SHOWS(AS BEING FROM RARE EARTH) HE WOULD GET MORE APPLAUSE THAN JENNIFER. 
 
MARK ALSO DID SOME WORK WITH SNUFFY WALDEN.(ALSO FROM TEXAS). SNUFFY WENT ON TO BE VERY SUCCESSFUL DOING SCORES FOR TV SHOWS. I DON'T KNOW IF YOU GET MUCH AMERICAN TV,BUT HE DID "WEST WING" AND MANY OTHER TOP SHOWS.

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UK Dave
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So you also worked with Curly Smith (Jo Jo Gunne's drummer) then Ray? I think that's what you implied? Rare Earth, Argent and Jo Jo gunne were, and still are, my 3 favourite bands. It quite amazes me that years later I now learn that Jay Ferguson from JJG nearly put together a band with Russ Ballard from Argent and Russ was rumoured to be writing some material for Rare Earth in the 80s? To top all that there was the Curly Smith link with Mark and yourself. Maybe the three bands should have joined forces and formed a 14 piece band and definitely NOT signed to Motown

I've not heard of Snuffy Walden. I'm familiar with Narada Michael Walden. I doubt this is the same guy unless he achieved a nickname for having a runny nose

West Wing was broadcast on late night TV here in the UK and was highly acclaimed, though I only watched it a couple of times and never really got into it. It was shown around midnight by which time my concentration was fading. It tended to follow Ally McBeal, which I always enjoyed watching. I started watching Ally after taking a shine to Callista Flockhart and ended up watching it for Vonda Shepard's songs.

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jimmy19029
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Thanks for the information, Ray. That mut've been tough on Gil to be the only lead vocalist there for a bit. I'm sure that's why you guys hired Wayne. Loved his voice when I saw you guys in 1988!


I've heard of Snuffy Walden. A great Texas guitarist who played on one of Free's albums. He does alot of TV & movie music. That was his guitar playing we used to hear on that TV show The Wonder Years.

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RAY MONETTE
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MARK,CURLY,AND I ACTUALLY DID SOME RECORDING TOGETHER AFTER R.E. BROKE UP. WE DID 3 SONGS IN A STUDIO IN L.A. THEY WERE USED TO SHOP A DEAL,BUT NOTHING CAME OF IT. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MASTERS.AND....YES WE DID WORK ON A COUPLE OF RUSS BALLARD'S SONGS IN THE 80'S.

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RAY MONETTE
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JIMMY,

GIL WASN'T THE ONLY LEAD BEFORE WAYNE,BUT I'LL BE DARNED IF I CAN THINK OF WHO ELSE SANG.WE WENT THROUGH MANY MEMBERS DURING THOSE YEARS.SEVERAL DIDN'T STAY LONG. WHEN WE FOUND WAYNE,WE WERE VERY HAPPY. NOT ONLY IS HE A GOOD SINGER,BUT HE SOUNDED AMAZINGLY CLOSE TO PETER. RICK WARNER ACTUALLY BROUGHT HIM IN.

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jimmy19029
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Oh no! LOL! Ya just gave me another name to try to hunt down, Ray. As you might've guessed, I'm quite a history buff for the music I like and have to know all facets. Thought I had everyone who was in Rare Earth. Do you recall if this other singer was a guitarist like Wayne? 

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Mike
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MDF wrote:

according to peter's book........mark's wife left him in texas and he was forced to live down in fla. mark's dad got him to AA, and on the recovery train........he was working with the disney corp writing children's songs and was getting re-married........then one day he woke with a splitting headache..... his wife urged him back to bed and he did. but he never woke up...........


a sad ending for such a talent......



I remember when I read about that in Pete's book. That's very sad. Mark was one hell of a keyboard player...very inventive and his voice blended well with Pete's imo. smile

What I don't understand is (and I'm not one for digging up the dirt on people)what would've caused that/killed Mark? Does anyone know exactly what the cause was? I've never heard of something like that before. Pete seemed to think it was from the abuse of the early days, in his book.

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RAY MONETTE
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HI MIKE,

IT'S MY UNDERSTANDING THAT HIS DEATH WAS CAUSED BY ALL THE YEARS OF DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE. I BELIEVE HE BECAME JAUNDICED,AND HIS LIVER GAVE OUT.

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Mike
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RAY MONETTE wrote:

HI MIKE,

IT'S MY UNDERSTANDING THAT HIS DEATH WAS CAUSED BY ALL THE YEARS OF DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE. I BELIEVE HE BECAME JAUNDICED,AND HIS LIVER GAVE OUT.



Thank you for the reply Ray. That's very sad to hear about Mark.
IMO Mark was a very talented musician. Great keyboard player and backup singer.

I've been a fan since I was 8 yrs old (now 30) and hearing Willie Remembers...and seeing those smiling faces on the inner sleeve. I think I'll give that LP a spin tonight.


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UK Dave
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Oh No, don't you start Mike! smile

Everyone is suddenly talking about inner sleeve photos for In Concert, Willie Remembers and Ma. I'm sure you're all ganging together to wind all the UK fans up smile

Only joking Mike. If you read some recent threads you'll see we were discussing how the US sleeves seem far more informative than the ones that came out over here in the UK.

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Mike
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UK Dave wrote:

Oh No, don't you start Mike! smile

Everyone is suddenly talking about inner sleeve photos for In Concert, Willie Remembers and Ma. I'm sure you're all ganging together to wind all the UK fans up smile

Only joking Mike. If you read some recent threads you'll see we were discussing how the US sleeves seem far more informative than the ones that came out over here in the UK.



Oh yes, I must start Mike biggrin

I'll see if I can get access to a larger scanner to get those inner sleeves and send them to the bloke who runs this site :)

I think it was almost commonplace for US releases to have artwork scaled down for UK pressings back in the day...probably a money saving scheme hmm



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Richard
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Mike: We have all the American releases of the Rare Earth albums and their inner sleeves, posters etc. Thanks though for thinking of us here at REW.

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UK Dave
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Yes, it seems the whole world and his dog has the US covers and inner sleeves.......everyone that is, except me LOL



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Mike
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I've been listening to the 1985 Harpos gig. Mark sure had a good voice. His lead vocals on "Big John" are very good. He may not have that robust voice like Pete but who else does?! I always enjoyed how Mark's and Pete's voices blended well too. Listen to Love Shines Down and Think Of The Children for proof. And I don't have to mention his skills on the keyboards. I wish I could've met the man.

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Eric Soderlund
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I grew up with Mark Olson in Livonia Michigan. (He lived in Redford). When Mark was forced out of the band, he moved in with me in Deltona, Florida.
Mark was bitter about losing the gig with Rare Earth and began to drink more. I was the one who introduced him to AA, but his Father made the comment that he lost his drinking buddy.
We had a band in Franklin High School (Livonia) who was managed by Phil Castrodale of the Reflections fame.
Mark was indeed blessed as a musician. He had perfect pitch, could play sax well and had played piano since he was four years old.
I still miss my best friend even today.
The day he died, he went out to the pool to drink coffee as he usually did. This was Saturday morning and later that afternoon he began to bleed profusely. He slipped into a coma later that night and before dawn slipped away.
I wrote a song where one of the lines were-" The years they can tire you in trying to regain, that status of Rock Star, in which you remain".
He loved music, but I believe in the end, it contributed to his downfall.


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UK Dave
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Hi Eric

It's always nice to hear from people who knew Mark, not forgetting John and Eddie of course. When I think of Mark the first thing that comes to me is his playing on What'd I Say on One World. Classy! We'll never know what he might have achieved had circumstances turned out differently. There is a younger Mark Olson who occupies space on the CD racks in our stores nowadays. I doubt he's any relation (is he?) but when I see that rack I always wonder what might have been.

Like John and Eddie, gone but not forgotten!!!!!

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Mike
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Hi Eric,

Thank you for sharing that. It's really bittersweet to read though. It must've been tough to share what happened. Kind of choked me up.

Dave,

The Mark Olson you speak of is with the band The Jayhawks...an alternative- country and rock band and they hail from Minnesota. Their 2nd album album was titled "Blue Earth".

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Mike
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UK Dave wrote:

Hi Eric

It's always nice to hear from people who knew Mark, not forgetting John and Eddie of course. When I think of Mark the first thing that comes to me is his playing on What'd I Say on One World. Classy! We'll never know what he might have achieved had circumstances turned out differently. There is a younger Mark Olson who occupies space on the CD racks in our stores nowadays. I doubt he's any relation (is he?) but when I see that rack I always wonder what might have been.

Like John and Eddie, gone but not forgotten!!!!!




 Indeed...Messrs Olson, Guzman and Persh...gone but not forgotten. In many ways , the band hit a peak with "In Concert". It has my favorite lineup. The band were a well oiled machine and the crowd sounds like they are having fun.

And the song Ray, Mark and Eddie co-wrote (Under God's Light) has a nice positive message as well. I'm digging that song more and more.



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Rolie
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In the late 80's, I got a call from a gentle man who was shopping around for auto insurance.  He liked the quote I gave him but requested that I make a house call as his tag had expired.  I arrived at his house in Deltona and a few hours later would leave almost in tears.  Being a fellow musician, I could not help but ask questions about an old Farfisa Keyboard he had in the middle of his living room.  And that's all it took as he went through all the trials and errors of his life with most of the saga revolving around Rare Earth.  After all the pics he showed me in a tethered and well worn photo album  ( It appeared he looked at them quite often ), jamming together, and a couple of beers... I was surprised how open he was to tell so much of his story to a stranger such as I.  I left somewhat saddened by the obvious fact that here was so much talent gone to waste and no where to share it but with himself.  He called a couple of times to just chat and then that was it.  A few years later I found out from a neighbor in the hood that he had passed away.  For the brief period of time that I knew Mark, he will be remebered as a gentle man, quiet, and a fellow nostalgic dreamer.

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UK Dave
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Hi Rolie

Thanks for sharing. It's great having Peter, Ray, Ralph, Rod and occasionally Gil posting on the forum but its a great sadness that John, Mark and Eddie aren't here to share their experiences and thoughts. Posts like yours and Eric's at least provide a small insight into Mark Olson the man.

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Chicago Tommy
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Rolie,

Sounds bittersweet - thanks for sharing your story.

Regards,

Chicago Tommy

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AL from CANADA
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Just finished reading the entire thread, I  want to thank both Eric and Rolie for posting their memories. Also Ray for recounting what must have been a difficult time. Thank you all.   AL

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Mike
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I remember talking with Ray a little about Mark after a Funk Brothers show in Milwaukee. I can't quote him word for word but he did say Mark was the type of guy who could sit down at a piano and play and entertain you for hours. I didn't ask too much because Ray has said that Mark was like a "brother" and I'm sure it still hurts at times because of Mark being gone. Didn't wish to upset or ruffle any feathers.

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Mark in Ca
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Don't know why I was thinking about Mark Olson and Rare Earth today, but I searched the web and found this thread.  About 45 years ago I played in a band with Mark - the Emerson Junior High Band in Livonia, Mi.  Our band leader/teacher was Miss Bach, man, was she intense.  She had raven black hair and a widow's peak, steely dark eyes and an athletic body that gyrated and jerked violently as she led the band through all the Sousa marches.  When you missed a note or came in early or late she would laser a look of hate that burned right through you.

Mark was a bass saxophone player and the thing I remember about his playing was he never flubbed a note when we had chair challenges.  He was a year younger then I so we didn't hang together, but the other thing about him was that he was super quiet.
One Saturday our school band was to compete in a state competition in Ypsilanti, next to Ann Arbor.  I really didn't want to go and I had a plan to get out of it.  I had learned a telephone trick where you could dial your own number with the number 9 in front of it and the phone would ring after you made the call and hung up.  Apparently the phone company did this test a line after installation and some kid found out about it and told everybody how to do it.  I made the call in my parent's bedroom and then walked to the kitchen to "answer" the ringing phone.  I faked a call from another sax player and band member, Ronnie Farmer, in which I "discovered" from Ronnie that the band competition was postponed until a later date.  My mother was sitting there with her coffee, as always, and heard me getting the news.  Man, it worked perfect and I went out to play in the woods.

About an hour later I heard my mom calling for me and I met her half way on my way back to the house.  Mrs. Farmer had called to say she would drive us to the bus at school for the trip to Ypsi.  I was caught like a rat.  After a really quiet ride to the school we boarded the bus that was waiting for us - and running behind schedule.  I looked at the floor so as not to make eye contact with anybody and found a seat - next to Mark Olson.  It seemed like the seat was slightly jiggling and I looked over at Mark and he was laughing so hard he had his head down to shield his tears.  While they were waiting the band had heard the story from Miss Bach and as far as I could tell Mark Olson was the only one who found the whole thing funny. 

Years later, '68 or '69, my dad and I were at Salem Lumber Co. on a Sunday and ran into Mark's dad.  He said that Mark was in a band - Rare Earth - they were already famous in Detroit - and the way Mr. Olson said it, so deadpan and matter of fact, I thought he was making it up.  What did I know?  

Even though I just found out today about his passing, it's very sad to hear. 






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Jocko
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Mark in Ca, Thanks for sharing your story and welcome to the RE forum. Earlier in this thread there is mention of Mark's passing in 1991 but I believe it may have been earlier than that. I say this because in early 1988 I went to see RE perform at a nightclub in Sayreville, New Jersey. It was at this gig that I first saw Rick Warner and Wayne Baraks perform with the band.
 
After the show was over I asked about Mark and was told by the band members Mark had recently passed away. I was saddened to hear of Mark's passing and I missed his distinctive keyboard work but Rick did his best to live up to the reputation of RE's live set.
 
The band members also told me that in the summer of 1988 RE would be touring with other acts as part of the super 70's festival. In addition to RE the super 70's festival was to feature Bachman Turner Overdrive, The Guess Who, Mark Farner from Grand Funk Railroad and Dr Hook.
 
I almost couldn't believe my ears because four of the five acts featured were among my favorite performers. I was lucky enough two catch two shows from the super 70's festival and both shows rocked. The first show was at the Garden State Arts center in New Jersey and the second show was a free concert put on by the City Of New York at Walt Whitman Hall in Brooklyn College. 
 
The Walt Whitman show was originally scheduled to be held outdoors at Midwood Athletic Field but was moved indoors due to inclement weather. Thinking back it was almost too good to be true. The City Of New York presenting four of my favorite bands for free just five miles away from my home and I didn't have to see the show in the rain.
 
One last note for Mark from Ca. It's more likely that you and your dad ran into Mark's dad at the lumber yard a little later on than 1968 or 1969. Mark's debut with RE was on the "One World" LP which was released in 1971.


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Mike
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Hi Jocko,

Nice to see you online.

I've always gone by Pete's book in regards to Mark's untimely passing (April 1991). It may have been earlier. Before I read Pete's book, I thought it was in 1990. That's according to the liner notes in Earth Tones cd booklet. Either way, Mark no longer being among us is a huge musical loss in my opinion.

This thread has been a real eye opener into Mark Olson. I just listened to Under God's Light today and it really hit me how great of a song that is. I wish there could've been a whole album of material with Mark singing.

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Richard
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Here are the actual dates: born March 23 1950 - April 14 1991.



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Mike
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Richard wrote:

Here are the actual dates: born March 23 1950 - April 14 1991.




Thank you Richard. That's way too young.

A month or two ago someone here posted about a band Mark had in Florida after he was dismissed from Rare Earth. And the same person mentioned there was material that was recorded. I'd sure like to hear that material someday.  I always have enjoyed Mark's playing and singing. I really do feel that he blended well with Pete's lead vocals on songs like Think Of The Children and Love Shines Down.



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Mark M
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Could'nt agree more Mike.....I read through Pete's book and it said that Mark wrote songs for Disney...Does anyone know if any of his songs are on any of their movies??

Thanks guys....

Mark Mbiggrin

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RICH
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Amazin,that he was so young when he joined RE;He was kickin ass @ 20;

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The Termite Terrace Titan
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UK Dave wrote:

I've not heard of Snuffy Walden.


W.G. "Snuffy" Walden also has a Motown connection, m8. First, on the Manticore label (Distributed in the US by Motown in 1975) as a guitarist for the band Stray Dog & their lone LP release "While You're Down There".

Then, in 1976, he was the guitarist on Stevie Wonder's "All Day Sucker" from the "Songs In The Key Of Life" Double-LP-And-a-Half set in 1976. It's Walden that Stevie is encouraging to "Play as funky as ya can, Snuffy"..

 



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valerie
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Mark was my uncle for awhile when he was married to his first wife Betty. When we visited, my sister and I would bundle up in sleeping bags on the floor of his music room and he would play for us before bedtime.

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Mike
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Wow, from all I've read it sure does seem like Mark was a really cool & nice guy. The members I've met (Ray, Bird, Floyd, Mike & Gil) and former members I've met and corresponded with (Peter, Kenny, Mike U., and Rod) are all nice guys.

And after a re-examination of his musical contributions to Rare Earth...he was a real talent. Sometimes his keyboard style is very lyrical and almost leaning towards some of the more technical and progressive music form the 1970's. But on the records he still sounds like he wants to jam like rest of the band smile Does anyone have an idea about some of his musical influences? I'd imagine that growing up in Detroit, it'd be hard to NOT be influenced by the stuff coming out of Hitsville.

I wish I could've met the man.

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Deborah Brook
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Hi Eric, I saw your post on this site which I just discovered today.  Almost 20 years has gone by and it's still hard to believe.  Wish I knew then what I know now...  You were an amazing friend to Mark.  He treasured your friendship. Look me up on Facebook.  I'd enjoy hearing from you.

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The blonde across the street
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Well I actually lived across the street from him growing up on Cardwell. His hair was long but he was nice and always waved and said Hi . His mom and dad lived in that house on cardwell for a long time. He was older than me but I remeber him being good looking. It is funny that he never acted like he was anything different than the rest of us in the neighborhood. Good guy. Nice parents.

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Anonymous
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I knew Mark before he was in Rare Earth, and for a while after he joined the group.  Mark was beautiful inside and out.  I believe he was a genius, musically, but I understand his addictions affected much of his performance.  I liked him as a person much better before he joined the group.  And nothing at all against Rare Earth--they were/are fantastic ... I just think it all went to his head.  His mom and dad, Vivian and Dan, were of Swedish background--very kind, sweet and humble people, especially his mom.  Mark's beginnings were simple--growing up an only child in a small house in Livonia, Michigan with his parents--also had 2 dogs, Peppy and Kelly, whom he adored.  His Dad worked at Salem Lumber and his mom at Montgomery Wards at Wonderland in Livonia.  Mark was such a good son and always picking up his mom from work.  Anyhow, if there is an after-life, I hope some day I can see his beautiful face again and see him smile.  He really was a good guy ... a good heart and a good soul.  He was funny and very sweet--innocent, almost, before he joined the group.  Again, I'm not blaming the group--I heard they tried to help him a lot with the addictions.  Mark just couldn't handle it all.  He used to get angry with me for trying to get him to stop the drugs and I would get ugly pestering him.  If I could do it all over I would be a lot kinder and try to get him help--but I don't think he would have listened at the time.  Oh, well ...  He sure could play and write music.  I would listen to him sing and play piano for hours and hours.  I'm so very, very sorry how he ended up.  I understand he moved around and went from relationship to relationship.  Wish I could have seen and talked to him before he died ... tell him I'm sorry and how much he meant.  I hope he is at peace and happy now.  God bless you, Mark ...  Love ya ...



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Anonymous
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Listen to FUNKY BLACK MAN,that boy could play;Met him once......nice guy;He really funked up that live album.



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Anonymous
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I beleive he lived in a small lakeside town in Texas called Jonestown. But that was back in 80's



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Zach5150
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When I was about 16 or 17 years old (I'm 35 now), a friend of mine took me to get my haircut. The details are really foggy, but basically, this lady ended up telling me she was the ex wife of Mark. This would have been in the early 90's, right after he passed away. I remember her telling me that he had just died. She had some of his equipment and I ended up with a little Pignose amplifier of his. I think she either gave it to me, or I bought it very cheap. I never really knew who he was as Rare Earth was a little before my time, but I've still got his amp and reading this thread makes me want to learn more about him and the band. BTW...the Jonestown, Tx thing makes sense because I live in Austin and Jonestown is very near, on Lake Travis.



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Anonymous
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A few years back a few of Mark's possessions were auctioned on Ebay such as gold discs and personal photo's.



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Mike
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Anonymous wrote:

A few years back a few of Mark's possessions were auctioned on Ebay such as gold discs and personal photo's.


 Interesting...I'd think that perhaps Mark's family would've wanted that stuff. I sure hope he didn't have one of those alleged test pressings of Live In Chicago in his posession.



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Anonymous
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I knew him in the late 70 and 80's.   I was a teenager then and we would visit about once or twice a year.  

I have a few really cool memories of him...

He was super cool and he would always talk to me about music.  He had a really cool house built on a side of a canyon outside of LA that had a stable with horses on top.  Had a motorcycle and had a wreck where he lost a toe.   I remember him calling me to tell me he was going to be on American Bandstand.   I had my dad set up the super 8 camera and film the TV while Rare Earth played.....this was way before VCRs.  I still have the 8mm film.

Most of the time he had his signature chops sideburns with long hair.

He did move to Jonetown Texas which overlooks Lake Travis.  Marriage fell apart and I believe that is when he moved to Florida.

Lost track of him in his later years.  I was really sad to hear of his passing.

He deserved better.

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Mike
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I was doing some searching for all things Rare Earth yesterday. Ya never know what you'll come across. It's the same way I found the 1980 Harpos back in 2002...just searching.

By chance I came across something very bittersweet about Mark. Have a read for yourself. no Very sad. 

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1991-04-16/news/9104160411_1_daniel-olson-marilyn-olson-rare-earth

and a picture that is "supposedly" Mark. After my faux de pas about Gil's photo, I am saying "supposedly". The website lists this as Mark Olson of Rare Earth. The photo looks like it was taken on a beach...presumably Florida. But I shall not assume because you all know how assume is spelled. Judging by a mid-80's promo picturre which Ray shared several years ago (see Mark on Bird's right shoulder), this might very well be Mark. You decide...and please correct me if I am wrong. I'm humble enough. I think I'll play One World and Willie Remembers today in honor of John, Mark & Eddie. 

 scan.jpg

l.jpg

 



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Stuart -- Chicago
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Mike,

If i were a betting man I would say that is Mark.

Stuart



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RAY MONETTE
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HI GUYS,

THAT IS ABSOLUTELY MARK.

LOOKS LIKE HE WAS HAVING A GOOD TIME.

 

RAY



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Mike
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Hi Ray, I felt a little bittersweet about posting the article and picture. On one hand, I enjoy Mark's playing and singing like many others at this forum. On the other hand, it might be a little sad for his former bandmates (brothers) whom truly cared about him.

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Kurt Lysen
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My buddy Larry Peck was surfing off Waikiki one day circa 1973, and according to Larry, a "Long-Hair" paddled up to him on a rental board and asked if he'd show him how to surf.

Larry was (still is!) a people person, so he told him "sure!". About 45 minutes later the guy had had enough surfing and started to paddle in. He told Larry that his name was Mark Olsen and that he played keyboard with Rare Earth. The concert was that night and he told Larry that a couple back stage passes would be at Will Call at the HIC for Larry.

I lucked out and he took me along, and it was a three hour rock fest! We were all over the place, on stage, behind stage, maybe under..I don't know! We drank a little. It was a great experience for us and left quite a memory. Big thanks to Mark, wherever he may be at playing the great keyboard in the skies!



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George
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I was playing drums with Mark and doing some recording with him in a group called The Mark Olson Project when he passed on. About a year and a half before he passed on he went in to the hospital and was told if he stopped drinking he could live a normal life, but the pressure was to much for him and his demons won. He was a truly amazing musican and freind and I miss him greatly.



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UK Dave
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A terrible sadness.



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Anonymous
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I briefly knew Mark, growing up in Redford Twp, which bordered Livonia.  I played bass and was still in High School, graduated in 1971.  Mark had a friend, who was a drummer really into Gene Krupa style of drumming, I think his name was Ray, but not sure.  Anyway Mark and Ray had rented a building on (6 Mile Rd?) and they were going to open a recording studio.  They would show me their multi-track recording gear and other equipment and to be honest, I wasn't sure the story was true.   A couple of weeks later, I hear that Rare Earth (Motown) had rented their recording studio space.  It was a few weeks later and Ray was trying to get out of the building lease for the studio.  He told me that Mark had signed with Motown and was joining Rare Earth.  Obviously Mark was not coming over to Ray's basement to play and record in the future.  Huge talent and a nice guy.



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Melanie
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Greetings....Did Mark Olson of Rare Earth live in Fowlerville, Mi on Hibbard Street--- in 1985??    I believe I babysat for him and his (girlfriends daughter)  ...His girlfriends-  daughters Godfather was the Frank Beard/drummer in ZZ Top.   They had photo albums showing him and them and her daughter  together...etc.......  I was only 19 years old then and if this is the guy I think it is.......his alcohol problems caused me to quit babysitting for them.     Thanks  ---



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Joe Trombino
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I was thinking about Mark today and happened to come across this site. I had the pleasure of playing bass with Mark in The Mark Olson Project. What a talented musician he was as well as a very nice person. I was saddened to hear of his death. I am very honored to have met Mark and to have had a chance to play with him. God bless....



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UK Dave
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Hi Joe

 

Presumably you knew George who posted earlier in this thread? He also played in the Mark Olson Project.



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Bob R.
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Mark lived 3 houses away from me in Livonia, Mi. starting about 1962.

Mark was fluid with piano and loved his farfesa.

He was becoming fluid with saxophone. He took many times with me to practice

Stones' songs.  I played rythym guitar but lacked the ear hand coordination.

I'm same age as Mark was. I remember he had gotten into the Orchestra for the local Detroit

production of "Hair" the travelling musical production. We had gone to different high schools.

Later we saw each other when seeing parents. I met his first wife.

I am after these many years of forgetting him, I am sad and pray for him now.

I agree he was driven with a desire a natural talent. I remember him humming to a song.

 and occasional finger snap. the young drummer Krupa style, was Billy Cairo. He lived 2 streets over.

we also had a friend whose father had a T.V. electronics shop, who had a wollensak reel to reel.

Our ages then were 12  and we saw each other till 14 or so almost everyday.

What a positive guy!

Bob



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UK Dave
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Thanks Bob

It's great that friends of Mark post these comments. It's nice to learn bits of his background whether it be before, during or after his time with Rare Earth. You can rest assured that these comments are being read with great interest. Mark was a massive part of Rare Earth and is hugely missed.

 



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Bob R
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Thanks Dave, what's status of Marks solo works? any contact with his wife?

she had said she was seeing to it's production. I have had no interest in Musicology.

I'd have an interest in collaborating on Mark's Biography.

Many musicians have succumb to the intensities of creating and performing without regard to one's mortality.

Maybe Mark's life is more than his own to discover.



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Mike
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Bob R wrote:

Thanks Dave, what's status of Marks solo works? any contact with his wife?

she had said she was seeing to it's production. I have had no interest in Musicology.

I'd have an interest in collaborating on Mark's Biography.

Many musicians have succumb to the intensities of creating and performing without regard to one's mortality.

Maybe Mark's life is more than his own to discover.


 Nobody knows whatever became of those recordings back in the early 90's. Someone here posted a few years ago about The Mark Olson project. I'd be interested to hear such recordings. Then again, I'll gladly listen to anything Rare Earth related. 

 

I enjoy reading all comments about Mark. I especially enjoy his playing too. Mark (and Eddie) are missed terribly.



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Bob R.
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Hey Mike,

I'll hunt around and se what I can find.

I was a few months back, to my home, first time in 25 yrs.

A few of the neighbors are still there.

My brother lived in Orlando, I've been there.

I'll see what I can make of these loose ends.



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Mike D.
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Thank you Bob.



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Anonymous
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This is to Melanie...the babysitter. Mark did live in Floweville MI during 1985. You have part of the story you shared correct. He lived with his girlfriend ..Deborah and her daughter Erin. It is Brittany that has a Godmother that is married to Frank Beard from ZZ Top.



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Anonymous
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Mark Daniel Olson passed 4/14/1991. Cause of death was Cardiorespoitory Arrest/Upper GI Bleeding/Cirrhosis of the Liver. I know this because I have his Death Certificate. Mark was an Alcoholic. I know this because he was my life for over 20 years. I have read this Forum over a couple of times and I am surprised how little people knew of him and his life. There is a site in the Orlando Sentinel which printed his obituary. It speaks very little about the man and talent he was so blessed with in life and in death. The obituary is more about Marilyn. His death certificate states marital status as divorced. Mark was married twice before he was 25 years old. Marilyn met Mark in 1990, so how could she be his second wife? His personnel property listed on E-Bay? There are no words for this disrespectful act. This man gave so much to you all and we are lucky we have his music forever and that is all he wanted. His talent was not wasted because he gave it his all. I want you all to celebrate his life for that was his gift. 

 

 

 

 



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Melanie
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I am just seeing this response !!   thank you !  I was trying to remember Marks girlfriends name and her daughters too.  They did show me a photo album back then with Frank Beard and a small child.  I thought they said he was the godfather to Erin.   Do you remember who Erin's real father was?   I was told by her mother he was in a band and drowned falling over board. But can't remember his name either.   thanks again !!!!!



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Anonymous
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Ken and Deborah Brooks have a daughter, Erin. Ken was a musician and did drown in a boating accident. I do not know of any band or groups he was a member...sorry!



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Melanie : ) West
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Thank you for helping me out with those questions.   It was a wonderful experience babysitting for them.  Its just a shame we lost him to soon.  



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Anonymous
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The small child you saw in the photo album was marks daughter Brittney



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Anonymous
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Frank Beard was Brittney's godfather



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George Speranzo& Liberty Kelly
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Here are some early recordings from the Mark Olson Project/Nothing To Fear.

 

Nothing To Fear at Spiritwind Studio Side 1.mp3

 shared from Dropbox

 

View on www.dropbox.com

 


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DDS
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I found this site because I am an older man now. I have traveled enough and been poor enough,  to have been parted with most of my photos. I just got some from a friend from 1973 which started me thinking of Topanga Canyon, where I was a neighbor of Mark Olson.  I thought I would grab a photo of him and put him in my digital album. In 1997 I had returned from Italy and landed in Hollywood.   I was walking past the Musicians Union and thought I would stop in and ask if they had some information on him, so I could contact him. Oddly they said he was not on the membership pages which I thought was rather strange. In 2001 I landed back in Rome, Italy.  In 2006, I had a desk job, a computer and the internet. I decided to do a search. This is how I found out Mark had passed away in 1991. I was a bit of a mess, because there was no one I could talk to about this. I got a hold of Peter via email, who I had met in passing in the 70's, and he did not have many details, but confirmed that Mark had indeed  passed away. 

Mark actually taught me to ride horses. I was working sporadically in the movie business in 1973.  I spent a lot of time hiking the hills of rural hippish Topanga Canyon on the many days off. Mark had a wonderful and modern wooden house on the edge of a hill with 2 Appaloosa horses corralled near by,  named Sue and Bocabi.  I had done a little work around horses, and could see the paddock needed some work.  I went to the door and introduced myself and luckily Mark was home. I had no idea who he was.  I told him I was a neighbor and asked if he could use some help with the horses in exchange for me riding them sometime.  Mark really didn't hesitate. I actually went riding with Mark. I suppose the horses were for him and his then wife Pam,  who really didn't ride that much.  I would question myself, why I was letting some guy from the suburbs of Michigan teach me to ride horses, because he was a bit of mad man.  Mark was actually testing me. He put me through the hard paces to see if the horse would throw me, and how well I could hold on. I had the wind knocked out of me twice jumping over the same creak.   After that, I never  let that happen again. Mark saw I did not get knocked of the horse like many of his other friends did. This gave him confidence I could be trusted with his horses. When he went out on tour, I had them mostly to myself,  or let our other famous neighbors ride along with me. Sue and Bocabi were the horses of the stars for a while.   Those were some wonderful times.  I met Mark's mom and dad, when they came to visit. 

Mark and  Snuffy Walden played a set at the local VFW Hall for my 33rd birthday. It turned into a star studded pot luck, raging party,  that became a little legend of a good time for may years to come.  Mark was very good to me. We had some real cowboy adventures in those hills, that could have turned into disaster, but Mark found out that he was as tough as he wanted to be.  The horses were just two other pals. We all took care of each other.  There are some things people need to learn about themselves when they are young.  I of course was around when Mark  made music. He included me in anytime he could. I was in awe of his talent.  He became the kind of friend you have when you grow up together, even though we didn't.  I went to visit him in the hospital when he had his toe ripped off in that Harley accident. He was in traction and I sat on the edge of the bed.  It could have been a disaster, but Mark kept his cool and informed me how everything was connected. I will always miss him.   

Mark was writing this song the last time I was regularly in his company in the late 70's.  A snippet of the lyrics would come to me at odd times and I would sing them out loud.  Someone had a link to Mark's music in this forum. As I am writing this those lyrics surfaced with a complete song around them!   What a little miracle!  I am so happy to be connected with the entire song.  "Standin' alone by the telephone,  2 years of waiting for my baby to come home. And now I'm wondering if I'll ever see the day, I don't think of you...... "  God rest your soul old friend. It is so nice to see you are remembered well. DDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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UK Dave
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What a great post from another of Mark's friends. When I first visited this site Mark was the late keyboard player in Rare Earth. My knowledge stopped there. Ray and Mark brought so much to the table in Rare Earth, no disrespect to Rod and Kenny. Ray I know lots about, thanks to his contributions here on the forum, but it's been of real interest hearing about Mark's moves across America, his outside of music interests and his post Rare Earth music career. It makes it all the more sad that we lost such a talent so young. Ditto for Eddie, who's also had friends coming here to post their memories of our much missed percussionist.

DDS you're welcome here anytime!!

 



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DDS
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Dave,

I checked back today just to see how active this thread was and to my surprise you had seen my post. I am assuming that this page is your idea. I am sorry I did not find it back in 2006,when I got the news my friend Mark had passed away.  

I have been really happy that George Speranzo& Liberty Kelly posted the music, from  from the Mark Olson Project/Nothing To Fear.  It is good to hear Mark play and sing again, like I was used to, him doing is own music outside of Rare Earth. I am hooked on the one song I mentioned in my post, which I am calling "Aint Nothing Left to Show."  I alway thought it was hit material.  I was there in Mark's living room when the song was being born.  I never heard it completed, but as I said, the refrain never left me.  I was able to isolate the track and have been playing it a lot.  I would like to know who the guy singing with Mark is. I am assuming he is playing lead guitar also.  I am assuming also this was done while Mark was in Florida.  I would love to hear a topnotch producer rework this,  working from the original session tapes.  DDS



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Anonymous
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This is to DDS... Hey Don

The song "Nothing Left to Show" is a song by Walden/Olson Band. Mark and Snuffy Walden wrote, sang and performed all their own material. I read your post and your memory is quite different from actual events. You talk about the "Horses to the Stars" but not about all the parties you had in Mark and Pam's home when they left their home in your care??? You were around Mark a short period so why glamorize your life to his talented time with us all?

 

hisM



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B.
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Happy Birthday, Mark!  How you loved Sander's yellow layer cake with the caramel icing.   



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Anonymous
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Died April 14th, 1991.  Sad anniversary.no



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Anonymous
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The picture of Mark near the water is the way I remembered this very talented and kind man in the  early 80's in Jonestown,Texas. R.I.P. Mark



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Anonymous
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SO SAD HE WAS SUPER TALENTED AND LOVED BY MANY.



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Liberty Kelly
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I believe the songs you are referring to were songs written for children's cd's. I remember he mentioned not long before his death he enjoyed writing them and making children happy through music.



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Liberty Kelly
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On the "Nothing To Fear" album the second singer was David Barretto, formerly of the 'Far Corporation' and solo artist on the Mercury label. The guitarist was Carlos Morales, formerly among others, was with Natalie Cole and guitarist/co-writer with Julian Lennon. I cherish the good times and musical/studio experience working and playing with the band and members. Even looking back at the sad times dealing with Mark's issues, they echo a resonance of real substance. Not only was Mark a fabulous musician, wonderful person, and friend, he was a master producer in the studio. He still lives on in our memories and knowledge learned from him.



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Ed P.
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I just discovered this sight and have been fascinated reading the good, bad and the ugly regarding Mark.  We all have demons in our life.  Some of us just manage to keep them in the closets longer.

 

I went to Franklin High School in Livonia, MI. with Mark.  We were both class of 68.  Mark and I shared a gym locker.  He was a musician and I was an artist.  We hated that class, thought it was a complete waste of time and worked very hard every week to get out of it, by faking an injury or a phony note from our parents.  My folks belonged to the Elks Club that year.  They held a Spring Dance and hired a band.  My dad took photos of the events.  A week later, he picked them up at the drug store.  I was flipping thru them and there is an 18 year old Mark Olson in a tuxedo, playing the sax.!!!!   I said " I know this guy" I go to school with him.  I remember my mom saying he was so talented and well mannered and all the old ladies being thrilled when he sung "I Left my Heart in San Francisco".  I told him that and he seemed very embarrassed. Somewhere in my house, that photo still exists.  I will post it if I can find it.



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Anonymous
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Mark and his parents lived across the street from us in Livonia, Michigan when I was growing up, he was our stand by babysitter when my parents couldn't find anyone else.  My dads family came over from Sweden and him and Mark's parents were pretty good friends, however before Mark left his mom had gotten ill and was in a wheelchair, he always treated her wonderfully, he truly was a good guy



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Preston Murray
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larry, how you doing?



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