Danny Jamison, Randy Love and Donny Martin – three young men in southern California during the 1960s who banded together as Wildfire, a band that became a worldwide cult legend.

          Donny’s father was a musician who also played drums and taught Donny “what’s a minute in eternity” and “go do it now.”  Donny started playing drums early in life.

Randy learned guitar.  He was playing in a band and like a lot of bands in Costa Mesa, California, Randy’s band rented a warehouse as a practice venue.  As luck would have it, Randy’s band practiced in a space right next to where Donny’s band practiced. 

Donny’s band at this time began with Donny on drums, Bruce Cotton on bass, and Denny Smith on vocals.  They were missing a guitar player.

Randy’s band eventually broke up, and being next door, Donny heard about it and approached Randy to ask him to be his guitar player.  Randy agreed, although he wasn’t certain about the bass player or the singer in that band at that time.  Denny Smith was already thinking that this wasn’t what he wanted to do – rock and roll – and that he much preferred blues.  Nonetheless, he stayed on as vocalist for a short time.

          This band had no name when Randy joined, and they discussed what to name the band for several weeks.  The name came about one night when Bruce Cotton’s younger brother, a child at the time, said, “Well, what about Wildfire?” 

          Everyone laughed at first because the suggestion came from a little kid, but then the laughter stopped and someone said, “Hey, that’s a really good name.”

          The 1960s, the time of free love, of free music.  One night Randy and Donny were playing in this band at an underground club in Huntington Beach, California.  They were doing a sound check when Danny walked in as part of the audience, a girl on each arm.  Danny listened to the band’s first set, then when they took a break, walked up to the stage and said, “I like the way you play, can I jam with you guys?” 

          Randy asked Danny what he played, and Danny replied, “Bass, keyboards and I do vocals.”  Randy thought that if this guy is any good, he could replace the current bass player and the singer. 

          After the break, Danny walked on stage with Randy and Donny and after Danny’s first note, history was in the making.  The club closed later and Randy talked with Danny.  Danny said he would move from Watsonville, California to Orange County to play with Donny and Randy in the band recently named Wildfire.

          It was three weeks later that Danny called Randy and said he was making the move.  Randy found Danny an inexpensive place to live in Costa Mesa and loaned him his 1966 Ford Falcon.  Once Danny was settled in Southern California, they all began to rehearse.  That’s when Randy decided to fire the bass player and the singer and Danny replaced them both.

          Wildfire was born.

          Side note:  Danny could play the keyboard with his feet!



          A large part of the dominance of the Wildfire sound over the years was due to the Quilter amplifiers they used. 

          It was 1967, and everyone wanted a cranked-up amplifier to use on stage.  Pat’s younger brother had started a band and told Pat that he couldn’t afford to buy a name brand amplifier.  He asked Pat, who already knew the fundamentals of electronics, to build him one.  Thus began the story of “the Quilter sound” and Quilter amps.

          Randy was using a Fender Dual Showman at the time and he was constantly blowing it up trying to play Jimi Hendrix licks.  Randy’s father passed by Fender Musical Instruments in Fullerton each day on his way to work, and every other day or so he would take Randy’s amp to the shop to get it up and running again.

          Shortly before meeting Danny, Randy was working with a bass player named Mike Castevens.  Mike rode an old Indian motorcycle and was a friend of Pat Quilter’s.  Mike was the first person other than Pat’s brother to get a Quilter amp.   Mike Castevens, who had also played in Pat’s younger brother’s high school band, had a one-hundred-watt quilter amp with a nameplate that read “A Quilter Thing.”  Per Pat, he had to do everything over twice before it worked, and he figured that he made about three cents an hour when it was all done!  This amp sold for $250.

          Mike continued to pressure Randy to see Pat Quilter.  Mike said, “This guy is an electrical genius, he can build you whatever you want.”  Mike introduced Randy to Pat.

          The group that Randy and Mike played in together broke up.    It was not until Danny joined the band that Randy realized Pat Quilter was exactly what Wildfire needed to achieve the sound the band wanted.

          At the time, Pat’s father was a four-star General at El Topo Marine Base.  Wildfire called him and said that they wanted to come see Pat.  The Marine guards at the gate were shocked to see the three boys, all of whom had extremely long hair, Randy and Danny with beards. 

          “Can I help you men?” one of the guards said. 

Randy replied, “My name is Randall Love…someone should have called in my name as a guest for entry into the base.”

          The marine guard told the boys to hold on and proceeded to call his commanding officer, saying, “I have three subjects with excessive hair and beards at the main gate claiming someone should have called in their names for base entry.”

          When the commanding officer asked the guard who the three boys were at the base to see, the guard in turn asked the boys. 

“We are personal guests of Major General Quilter!”  The guard almost dropped the phone while replying to his commanding officer.

“They are here to see the general, sir.” 

Another pause before the gate lifted and the marine guard said, “You gentlemen may proceed.”  All of sudden the boys were being addressed as gentlemen!

          Once inside, they met with Pat who said, “I’ve heard a lot of good things about your band.  You guys want to smoke a joint?”  They all proceeded to the Quilter’s back yard to light up.  Despite the wall around the yard, they were only a few feet from the guard with whom the boys had just spoken and there was a wind.

          Randy told Pat that the smoke was going to drift directly over to the guard shack and that the marine guard would smell it for sure.  Pat just smiled and said, “That’s okay, only GOOD comes from the general’s house.”

          Moving on to discussions about band equipment, Randy told Pat that if he could build an amp that won’t blow up, he would be a rich man.  Pat started working on prototype amps for Danny and Randy and later a prototype PA system.  The rest of the Quilter amp story is history.

          In the late 1960s, Randy played on the first Quilter Model 500’s with only three main control knobs – volume, treble and bass.  There was a little mid-range knob, but Randy didn’t consider that one of the main controls.  The earliest Model 500 amplifiers were loud, but not reliable.  For some reason, about twenty-five percent of them would “just blow.”  If the amps made it through a few gigs, they were usually okay for life. 

          Pat Quilter was the first to feature a “master volume dial.”  In 1968 it was called a “power” control since it effectively adjusted the overall power output of the amplifier.  The Quilter “power” control, commonly called “Master Volume Control” today, was the first to allow the musician to dial in how much overdrive he or she wanted, then to set the “power” to however loud or soft the musician wanted without otherwise changing the sound.  Unfortunately, the Quilter company did not take out a patent on the Master Volume Control concept.  The first company to do that was HiWatt from England who also took credit for developing the concept.

          Pat asked Randy to come to the studio and test out the first 500 amp with his name written all over it.  There were six twelve-inch Utah speakers in the cabinet.  Randy cranked up the amp and blew all six speakers in a split second. 

Pat said, “Well, then…it’s time to switch to Altec speakers.  Pat made a special request with Altec.  Rather than the normal eight ohm twelve-inch speakers, Pat requested sixteen ohm twelve-inch speakers. 

Pat had built Randy a Model 500 with these speakers in the cabinet including a specially made mid-range boost for extra overdrive.  It was the loudest amp available at that time, even compared to a Marshall stack.  And, the amp never blew up again!

          Randy played a Les Paul Jr. guitar during the 1960s and 1970s with Wildfire.

Danny played through a new, cleaned-up Model 455 which utilized a reinforced cabinet containing two fifteen-inch Altec Lansing speakers.  During the 1960s and 1970s with Wildfire Danny played a Gibson SG bass, the same bass Jack Bruce played with Cream about that same time.

          Later Randy asked Pat to build him a bigger stack and he was rewarded with a five-hundred-watt monster amplifier with two reinforced cabinets each containing four twelve inch Altec Lansing speakers.  The stack contained a face plate that read “The Randy Love Model” and the cost was $2,100.  It stood about eight to ten inches taller than a Marshall stack, and according to Randy, “just kicked ass!”

          Donny preferred to play on Camco drums which were special order at the time and originally distributed through Kustom dealers.  Originally a machine shop, Camco launched a division for drum accessories.   When playing, Donny focused on his drums and set the groove with a good back beat.

          As Donny put it, “Other drummers didn’t hit their snares the way I did back them.  Some of the heavy metal drummers learned that this improved their sound and now most of the heavy metal drummers play that way.  What other bands are doing now I did when I got out of high school.”  Wildfire, once again ahead of the crowd.

          Donny’s favorite drummer was Keith Moon.  He also followed Ginger Baker and John Bonham.




          Wildfire’s main venue during the 1960s in Southern California was Finnegan’s Rainbow, a nightclub in Orange County.

          Before Wildfire, Finnegan’s had a house band that was in the process of breaking up.  Their lead guitarist was Dennis Fullerton, who later became a friend of the Wildfire boys.  Finnegan’s was a hot spot for entertainment and management wanted it to stay that way.  The owner, Syl Grove, had his doorman, Corky, hitting all the Orange County clubs to find another top-notch band.

          Wildfire had only been together about three weeks, rehearsing in a house on 19th Street in Costa Mesa when they received an offer to play a big outdoor concert at the University of California at Irvine.  Lee Michaels was the headliner and had a single high on the charts.  Wildfire jumped at the offer.

          There were about eight or ten bands on the bill, including the band Love, and thousands of people showed up, including Syl Grove from Finnegan’s.  Wildfire went on the stage just before Lee Michaels.  When the outdoor concert ended, it was Wildfire that the audience was talking about.  Dennis Fullerton introduced Syl to Wildfire after the concert.

          In a few weeks he called Randy and said, “I saw you guys at the Lee Michaels concert and I not only think you were the best band of the day, I think you are the best damn band I have ever seen.  I’d like to offer you a job playing five nights a week at Finnegan’s Rainbow.  Fans lined up for blocks outside the club waiting to see and hear Wildfire.  Another page in history.


Sideline about Corky.  Legend has it that Corky and a few of his buddies sailed an eight-five foot schooner to Colombia in hopes of packing it with cocaine and sailing back to cash in.  On the way back to the United States the schooner hit an oceanic storm and no one was heard from again.  A trip to Davey’s Locker perhaps?  This story has not been confirmed or denied.



          One early gig for Wildfire was at the KTBT radio station Freak Fair.  It was the first show where Danny, Randy and Donny all wore outrageous outfits that were supplied by The Beach Set shop.  The Beach Set provided the clothing in exchange for Wildfire plugging the shop at their shows.  In the end, The Beach Set shop did not think that Wildfire mentioned them enough, and they stopped providing outfits to the band.

          The event was held outdoors on something akin to a drag strip or runway in Irvine.  There were four stages set up on flat bed trailers, spaced about one hundred feet apart.  Wildfire could see the other stages, but not hear the other bands.  The audience was also able to see all of the stages, and soon more and more people noticed the outfits Wildfire was wearing.  Little by little the audience members started walking away from the other stages and gravitating to the Wildfire stage.  Wildfire inherited almost the whole audience in attendance at the event before they struck a single note!  By the end of the day, few people even remembered who the bands were on the other three stages.  Wildfire ended their performance with “Quicksand.”  The crowd left the venue singing together the lyrics “Sinking in Quicksand.”

          For this concert and the concert with Lee Michaels at the University of Irvine, Pat Quilter provided all of the equipment to Wildfire at no charge and allowed the use of his step van for the band to haul the equipment to the venues.  In the weeks following these shows, Wildfire purchased the PA system, the guitar amp and the bass amp that Pat had been loaning out to them.

          A small issue with the PA arose as the speaker cabinets were in Los Angeles at the Electric Lady Land studio, Jimi Hendrix’s studio. The studio was using the PA speakers as “play back” speakers.  The details of Electric Lady Land studio’s use of the speakers were in question, and Pat Quilter informed them that he wanted the speakers back.  Giant, one of Wildfire’s roadies, drove to Los Angeles and retrieved the speakers for Wildfire.

          Once Wildfire acquired the speaker cabinets, they have basically purchased all of the inventory of the Quilter Sound Company as they had the entire inventory.  If Wildfire had not bought all of the first generation equipment, there may not have been the Quilter Sound Company that it became!


The Hessians Motorcycle Club was formed early in 1968 and Finnegan’s was one of the places where the members hung out.  They particularly liked Wildfire because the “crazy guitar player” rode a 1958 Panhead to work.  Over time, the Hessians became the unofficial bodyguards for the band when they played at Finnegan’s. 

          There were times when it was so hot inside Finnegan’s that Wildfire would often change shirts while on stage.  Donny’s roommate, Jorgine, made them tie-dye T-shirts to wear on stage. 

          Wildfire had no need for an agent in California because they had two full-time gigs.  They played Finnegan’s on Tuesday through Saturday and Daisy May’s, a club in Garden Grove, on Sundays.


          In 1968 Wildfire played at the Merced County Fairgrounds.  The headliner was Santana and the lineup included Wildfire, Elvin Bishop, and Neil Young and his band Crazy Horse along with many others.  Randy remembers that the promoter for the Merced shows was raising his dog as a vegetarian. 

Randy told the promoter “It’s fine for you and me to be vegetarians, but it’s not cool for the dog.  God…whoever He or She is, didn’t design dogs to go the veggie route.  They need MEAT!”

Wildfire was scheduled to play outside in the afternoon then inside at night.  They were to appear just after Elvin Bishop and right before Santana.  All of the other bands were wearing T-shirts and jeans.  Wildfire was wearing outrageous bellbottoms and lacy shirts from a place called “Beach Set.” 

Randy said that he would never forget what happened when Wildfire walked on stage that afternoon.  He was looking across the crowd at Carlos Santana.  Carlos and his band members were eating from a tub of fried chicken.  Carlos had a piece of chicken up to his mouth when Wildfire was introduced.  When Wildfire hit the first note out of the Quilter amps, the chicken fell out of Carlos’s hand, hit the ground, and his jaw dropped.

When Bill Graham decided that Wildfire was not going to play the second show, he dispatched Santana’s roadies to convey the message to Wildfire.  Danny, Randy and Donny had no idea what was going on backstage. Wildfire’s roadies did attempt to set up the equipment and that ended in a fight between Wildfire’s roadies and Santana’s roadies backstage.  A few punches were thrown between the roadies and it was a stalemate at that point.  Danny, Randy and Donny learned what was going on backstage and still intended to push their way to the stage and play the second set.

At that point Bill Graham himself showed up backstage.  He yelled out, “You guys set up your equipment and you’ll never play the Fillmore West or the Fillmore East.”  Wildfire knew that being barred from the Fillmore West and Fillmore East at that time would have been very bad for the band.  Wildfire backed down and knew they would not be playing that evening.

In the middle of the scuffle about Wildfire not being allowed to play, someone stole Randy’s Quilter amp. 

When Randy told Pat Quilter that the amp had been stolen, Pat replied, “Shall I push the self-destruct button now?”

Fortunately, Randy had provided a detailed description of the amp to the Merced police.  A few months later, the Merced police busted a house that several neighbors had complained about.  Once inside, the police found several stolen items and Randy’s amp was one of them.  The police called Randy to inform him and Randy had Giant, one of Wildfire’s roadies, go back to Merced to pick up the amp.  Another example of the Wildfire magic!


Small world story about Giant.  In the mid- to late-1980’s, Randy’s father and his wife went out for dinner at a very nice place in Newport Beach.  When the maître D’ called out, “Love, party of 2,” the maître D’ told Mr. Love that he used to work for a band that had a guitarist named Love and that the guitarist was a cousin of Mike Love of the Beach Boys.  Randy’s dad said, “Well, imagine that…my son used to play in a band and he is also the cousin of Mike Love.”

The maître D’, Giant, exclaimed, “Is it Randy Love and was the band Wildfire?” 

Mr. Love smiled and answered, “Yes, Randy is my son and I am Mike Love’s uncle.” 

Small world.  Blown away by a roadie who had become the maître D’ of an upscale restaurant in Newport Beach!


Another small world story.  Randy drove his motorcycle to a shopping center one day decades after Wildfire broke up.  A man walked up to him to talk about the motorcycle.  After a while, the man extended his hand and introduced himself.  Randy, in turn, said, “I’m Randy Love.”

The man paused a second and then said, “You’re not the Randy Love form the Wildfire band, are you?”  Randy affirmed that he was.  The man was a regular at Finnegan’s and as many others have said, agreed that Wildfire was the best band that came out of that era.


A small theater stood in the heart of downtown Laguna Beach, California, on the Coast Highway, the South Coast Movie Theater.  One summer when the band was back in Laguna for a while, Randy was walking down the street and glanced at the theater as he passed by.  The concept hit him – Wildfire could play there after the last show on a Friday or Saturday night, around midnight.

Randy walked back to the theater and asked for the manager.  As luck would have it, the manager was in.  Randy ran the concept by the manager who was not too interested at first.  He said, “What if it doesn’t work out?  I have enough trouble just making ends meet.”

Randy’s response: “What if it DOES?”

A few weeks later the manager called Randy and told him that the theater was about to go out of business and at this point he had nothing to lose by allowing the band to do concerts at midnight on weekends. 

By the afternoon of the first show, tickets were sold out.  Wildfire played for a packed house and the energy was intense.  The crowd was on their feet until the last encore.

At one point the theater closed off the balcony and allowed a friend of Wildfire to project his first light show from there which he called the Great Brain Robbery Light Show. 

Afterwards theater manager came up to Randy and said, “If you can find enough groups of your caliber to play here, this could really turn into something.”

No one knows if the manager found very many bands who put out the energy that Wildfire did, but that single night launched a concert series after the late shows on Friday and Saturday nights that lasted almost four years.  Jerry Garcia played there several times as well as other groups of international acclaim.

Another Wildfire concept that just exploded.


Wildfire pioneered the concept of a one-day notice for outdoor concerts via word-of-mouth notice only.  There was an area above Laguna Beach in a mountain area known as Top of the World.  The band had a friend who worked for the Aliso Creek Water District and he had keys to all of the locked gates that led to a beautiful valley.  The band’s roadies set up the equipment on a flatbed truck that had a ten-thousand-watt generator.

          About five hundred people settled into the valley and the roadies locked all of the gates again.  The band remembers this as one of their best music days.  They were so “on” and connected and in touch with the music.  Looking up at the crowd during “Quicksand,” they noticed the audience crying and smiling at the same time.

          And that’s when the generator ran out of gas – right at the end of the last note of “Quicksand,” the second and final encore of the event.

          Later the band learned that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department had officers at the top of the mountain wondering where all of the music and the cheering was coming from.  The gates they checked were all locked.


          Every summer the city of Laguna Beach would block off a large section of Main Street on the weekends and bands would play on a flatbed trailer.  The city did this every summer for years, calling it the “Laguna Beach Street Dance.”  The street dance had happened every year since 1956.

          The city of Laguna Beach finally contacted Wildfire, stating that they had heard a lot about Wildfire and would they be interested in playing at a future Street Dance.  The band agreed.

          The band that opened the show for Wildfire at the Street Dance was a local band.  They had played a few local clubs and thought they would own the night with their small Fender amps and a small drum set.  They finished to a flimsy applause and walked off the stage carrying their amps and guitars.  No roadies.

          After a short intermission, Wildfire’s roadies started rolling out the massive Quilter amps.  The band was introduced and they walked out from behind the amps.  The crowd sensed that something big was about to happen and all started moving towards the stage.  The street was only half full, quite normal for the Street Dances.

          Then Wildfire hit the first note.  The Quilter amps lit up the entire city.  People came from all over Laguna Beach, knocking down barricades and filling the street.  Wildfire looked at the growing crowd and saw a solid sea of people all the way to the Coast Highway.

          Wildfire received three standing ovations and said good night to the audience.  As Wildfire walked off the stage, the guitar player from the first band was waiting to talk to them.  He said, “Man, you guys really kicked ass!  We thought that after playing a few gigs in Laguna, we would be the audience favorite but you guys are from another dimension!”

          Randy went to City Hall the next day to get the band’s pay.  The clerk in City Hall said that they had never seen anything like that and had no idea that amplifiers could go that loud.  She said that the city was thinking about shutting down the event.  Which it did.  Wildfire’s appearance at the Laguna Beach Street Dance was the last ever held on Main Street.  In two hours, Wildfire had made the City of Laguna Beach stop an event they had held for thirteen years. 


          The most difficult outdoor concert Wildfire did in California was an impromptu event on a side road in Cariso Village near the Ortega Highway.  By this time everyone in the area had heard about the Top of the World concert and wanted to see Wildfire.  Unfortunately, about two thousand people showed up, but not the usual fans of Wildfire.  Instead, the audience was people who did not respect rock and roll, but were just there to party and drink.

          Wildfire was scheduled to go on at the end of the day, and by that time the area had become a dust bowl.  There was so much dust and grime in the air that it settled on the strings, making it difficult to play lead on Randy’s guitar. 

          Someone filmed Wildfire’s performance that afternoon.  Any input on who might have that film is welcome.


          Wildfire never had to pay for roadies, lighting guys, or sound guys.  Everyone wanted to be part of the magic that Wildfire was.  Everyone started doing it just to be there. 


          Other venues in California where Wildfire played…

Whiskey-a-Go-Go in the late 1960s.  The band equipment was in a trailer towed by Randy’s 1966 ford Falcon.  In the confusion of the set-up, Randy left the car and trailer parked in front of the Whiskey-a-Go-Go in a loading zone.  The car and trailer were later towed away while the band was playing inside.  This put a damper on the gig.  Wildfire had to pay $60.00 to get the car and trailer out of the wrecking yard.

          Golden Bear in Huntington Beach

          The University of California at Irvine, booked by Todd Benson

The White Room in Buena Park.  Here Wildfire opened for the Chicago Transit Authority as they were called back then or CTA. 

          An American Legion in Laguna Beach



(And the hack)

When it came time to record a demo album, several studios invited Wildfire to record there.  Randy’s first cousin, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, stopped by a club to hear and see Wildfire and shortly thereafter, invited the boys to have dinner with him in Los Angeles.  Mike Love also said that the band should stop by the Beach Boys studio and lay down some tracks.

          Wildfire started recording the songs about a year before they put down the album in Texas.  Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys was the engineer when the band laid down the drums and bass tracks for “Quicksand” at the studio in Brian Wilson’s home, another member of the Beach Boys.  Carl told the band that he really wanted to do something with Wildfire but would not be able to do that until he returned from a thirty day tour that the Beach Boys had scheduled.

          A few days after the Beach Boys studio session, Wildfire’s then manager Robbie talked the band into going to Austin, Texas to record at Sonobeat Records.  Bill Josey, Sr. was the engineer.

          Wildfire chose to record the demo in the same way that they played live.  It was a demo only, meant for getting bookings.  The band never gave any record company a chance to produce or promote the demo, an eight-song vinyl record entitled “Smokin’.”

          While only a handful of copies of “Smokin’” have been found, one thousand were pressed.  The demo had a white cover with a stick-on label, each numbered.  Randy drew the artwork for the label on the record itself.  The band copyrighted the demo.

          Texas and California were the only areas where people received the demo.  The band agreed to allow Sound Spectrum record store in Laguna Beach to have one hundred copies for sale which the store sold out in about two days.  The owner, Jimmy Otto, begged Robbie, Wildfire’s manager at the time, for an additional one hundred copies as fans had requested at least that many.  The band had a meeting and agreed that Sound Spectrum (which is still open in Laguna Beach) could have an additional 100 copies.  Jimmy Otto made a few phone calls to fans and within hours the second 100 copies were gone.  Otto said that Wildfire set an all-time record for record sales at his store.  He said that Jimi Hendrix, the Cream and the Who didn’t touch Wildfire in record sales.  He added that he thought he could sell a thousand of the demo copies.

          Wildfire had local fans but hey, Hendrix, Cream and The Who were international stars.  Local boys make good!


          One night about 1967 Wildfire was at the first Sound Spectrum.  There were a few hippies, surfers and one marine in the store.  The hippies were looking at albums.  The marine was just staring at all of the hippies.  Finally, the marine shouts, “WHY THE HELL DO ALL OF YOU HAVE SUCH LONG HAIR?”  The marine was fresh out of boot camp and on edge to say the least.  Jimmy Otto calmly looked at him and said, “We all have the same amount of hair.  Most of us made a decision to let ours grow out away from our brains so we can think better.  Your hair is still all tangled around your brain and that’s why you ask stupid questions.”  The marine rushed at Jimmy and a buffed surfer friend of Jimmy’s rushed the marine and knocked him through the front plate glass window.  The moral of the story…don’t mess with a guy that surfs all day!


          OR Records, out of Indianapolis, put out an unauthorized version of the eight-song demo in what Wildfire believes was 1993.  The blurb on the back makes it sound like Danny, Randy and Donny put it out, but that was not the case.   In addition, the mixing of the sound was not in the best interests of the band and the songs.  One internet article states that “only four collectors in the whole world got the original so it must have been a [sic] extremely rare album to get a hold of…”  Wildfire did not become aware of this pirated copy until a decade later and of course received no royalties from the sales of this pirated copy.  Wildfire has and continues to hold the copyrights to all of the eight songs on the demo that are also on the OR release.  Any information on OR records, which we understand underwent bankruptcy proceedings, is welcome.

In 2016 Brett Lyman of M’lady’s Records dba Machu Picchu Ltd in San Francisco at the time, was licensed to manufacture and distribute five hundred twelve-inch vinyl long playing records.  Lyman was to notify Wildfire within three days of issuance of these albums.  To date Wildfire has had no notification.  In addition, Wildfire provided the original pictures of the band to Lyman upon his promise to return them promptly.  This has not occurred.  Any knowledge of the whereabouts of Brett Lyman and/or the original photographs is welcome.


          There are two other licensees who have been granted the right to press vinyl copies for worldwide distribution.  The first is Shadoks in Germany and the second is LET US WORK ON YOUR MUSIC, S.L., a company registered in and located in Spain.   Each of these licensees has been provided with a copy of the master of the CD and has pressed from that master.  Any questions about the authenticity of a Wildfire recording can be sent through the Contact section of the Wildfire official website, www.wildfire-smokin.com.



                   Danny, Randy and Donny were on their way to the LAX airport to travel to Texas for the first time.  They were riding in Danny’s Rambler station wagon.  The vehicle was in mint condition when Danny’s parents gifted it to him, but Danny drove it as hard as he drove music and the engine blew up at some point.  Danny was living in one of the rooms at  Randy’s apartment in Huntington Beach, California and the neighbor across the street talked Danny into allowing him to rebuild the engine.  Apparently the neighbor was not the mechanic he proclaimed himself to be and he crossed wires that caused the dashboard in the Rambler to catch fire while the band was driving to the airport.  Dennis Lyman, a friend, rescued the boys and they made it to the airport on time to catch the airplane to Texas.

When Wildfire first got to Texas they stayed with people they knew or met and also stayed for a while at the Dobie, a private co-ed dormitory of The University of Texas at Austin, on Guadalupe, otherwise known as “The Drag” by college students.  The band was allowed to stay as long as they played monthly free concerts there.  Earl Campbell was a football player at the University of Texas at Austin at the time, and after one concert at the Dobie, instead of yelling “more, more, more” the crowd chanted “Earl, Earl, Earl!”

          One of the first places Wildfire played when they got to Texas was the Armadillo World Headquarters.  At this point the band did not have their own equipment, so no Quilter amps.  The boys remarked to each other that making music using these amps “didn’t have our sound.”

          Wildfire played many times at the Armadillo World Headquarters, including once as opening band for Shiva’s Headband.  Another time Wildfire opened for Freddie King’s two-night stand at the Armadillo.  Freddie was not traveling with his own band and Jimmy Vaughan’s band at the time backed him up.  Randy remembers that Freddie did not carry extra guitar strings and that on both evenings he had to give Freddie an extra E-string before the show.  Others remember that Freddie entered the band room with a cadre of woman and several cases of Boone’s Farm wine!


A bit of trivia.  When a local Austin band called Storm decided to change the name of their band to The Thunderbirds, Jimmie Vaughan, their guitar player, asked Randy to make the first poster with the new name.  It was not yet The Fabulous Thunderbirds, just The Thunderbirds.  Then wanted this poster to hang outside the One Knite club where the band, then known as Storm, had been playing for 11 years.  Randy said to Jimmie, “I assume you want a 55/56/57 Thunderbird on the poster as the logo.”  Jimmie responded, “No, we want the American Indian style thunderbird.  We really like the full-sized poster you made for Wildfire with the huge buffalo on it.  We know you know Indian stuff, and that’s why we want you to do the poster.”  Randy made them a four-color American Indian thunderbird on the poster.  The Thunderbirds, later known as The Fabulous Thunderbirds, eventually changed to the classic car logo, more than likely for marketing reasons.  Marketability was always one of the traits of Wildfire, once again ahead of their times.


          One night when Wildfire was playing at the Armadillo World Headquarters, the woman who later because their executive producer heard the band for the first time.  She was blown away and after the show told the band that if they needed a place to stay, her house was their home.  Danny and his fiancé ended up on the living room sofa (which was actually a single bed) and Donny, when he wasn’t staying with the sorority girls, slept in the attic which was accessible by a pull-down ladder.  Randy stayed elsewhere.

           The woman had a day job and one day, coming home after work, she noticed that all her furniture was gone.  A note was taped to the wall saying “We’ve moved to the Hill On The Moon.  If you want to live with us, bring your clothing.”  She quickly packed up her personal items.

          The Hill On The Moon, fifty-five acres set on the side of a hill off Ranch to Market Road 2222 in Austin.  At the top of the hill were three houses – an A-frame that housed the owner’s son, a small cabin that rented out, and a large modern home with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a large living room with windows looking over the rest of the property. 

          One stormy day on the Hill, right after the band moved there, Randy took a walk, looking out over the hill country and the City of Austin.  Then he had the vision – “soon you will be the master of all you survey.”

          Wildfire quickly won the hearts of Austinites with the unique style of rock and roll that Wildfire introduced.  When Wildfire first came to Austin, the biggest band there was Krackerjack, with whom Stevie Ray Vaughan played for a while.  Promoters started booking both bands on the same show because Krackerjack sold a lot of beer and Wildfire sold a lot of tickets.

          Wildfire drew a different crowd in Austin when they played at Maggie’s, an after-hours coffeehouse near the Holiday Inn on East Avenue somewhere between River Street and Frist Street.  People would stay all night at Maggie’s listening to music and discussing the situation in Viet Nam.

         1971.  A promoter booked two concerts in San Angelo, Texas, in February and May.  San Angelo immediately fell in love with Wildfire.  One audience remembers hearing “Rip Off” and “Burned” at this performance, neither of which are on the eight song demo.

          Wildfire played in a bowling alley in Kingsville, a small town in southern Texas near the coast.

          Houston was a one-time gig for Wildfire.  They stayed in a hotel near the Astrodome and everyone remembers that there was a high-pitched sound in the hotel room so no one slept.

          Wildfire once opened for Quicksilver Messenger Service in Austin.

          Wildfire and its entourage set up a concert featuring Johnny Winter as headliner with Wildfire opening the event happening at the State Fair Music Hall n Dallas.   Dennis Lyman, one of the band’s fans from Finnegan’s in California, brought Wildfire’s equipment to Texas in return for enough money to buy new tires for his van so it would make it that far.

          The concert opening for Johnny Winter in Dallas was reminiscent of the Merced Fairgrounds concert where Santana refused to play if Wildfire went on before them in the evening, having heard Wildfire outdoors in the afternoon.  Johnny Winters and his band had not heard Wildfire play until the night of the performance where Wildfire opened for them.

          The Johnny Winter concert was set up by Wildfire and was held at the State Fair Music Hall in Dallas on December 18, 1970.  The sound was handled by Johnny Winter’s sound man.  As ever, Wildfire opened with a bang and had the audience entranced.  Strangely, the power went out just as Wildfire began their third song.  The audience thought it was an accident.  Wildfire was back up and running quickly when in the middle of the last song of their set the electricity went off again.  By this time the audience had figured out this was not an accident and they started booing the Johnny Winters team. 

          Wildfire’s roadies said that they had seen Johnny Winter’s roadies pulling the plugs on the amplifiers.  Johnny looked at Danny and said, “Isn’t that a drag?”

          No one has evidence that Winter’s roadies did pull the plugs.  Wildfire was asked for an encore nonetheless, and played “Burned.”

I’ve been burned by my brother
Someday he’s going to pay


          Wildfire frequently played at The Jam Factory in San Antonio, Texas, a club owned by Joe A. Miller, hence the name JAM for Joe’s initials.  Wildfire’s reputation was so strong that they were asked to play at The Jam Factory.  The first time the band played there they used borrowed equipment.  Later with their own equipment they opened for the Allman Brothers.  Another time they played with the band Damien, formerly known as the Bubble Puppy, and Wildfire blew Damien away.

          Wildfire opened for ZZ Top at the San Antonio Coliseum.  At this concert the members of ZZ top were wearing white three-piece suits and had short, slicked back hair and clean-shaven faces.   Randy still had had long hair and his long beard. 

          After the show Billy Gibbons came to Wildfire’s dressing room backstage and talked with Randy for about an hour.  Billy wanted to know how Randy got his sound, what type of amps they were using.  Randy told Billy about the “master volume dial” that Pat Quilter had installed on Randy’s amp.  Randy was the only guitarist in the world at that time with that feature and now it is on all amps. 

Randy explained to Billy that every amp has a pre-amp and a main amp inside a single cabinet.  This design keeps the main amp from being overloaded.  When the second dial was installed to control the main amp as in the solid-state Quilter amp Randy was using, then the guitarist had control over both the pre-amp and the main amp.

To achieve a clean, clear sound, Randy told Billy to set the pre-amp dial to about three and the main amp dial to ten.  This creates plenty of “headroom” inside the main amp and will provide a clean, clear sound.  The achieve a “dirty rock sound,” set the pre-amp to ten and the main amp to about three.  This creates a massive overdrive signal within the amp and provides a ballsy, warm overdrive sound without actually overloading the main amp.  Billy’s eyes let up and he got it!      

Billy also asked what type of strings Randy used and what type of pick he preferred.  Randy told Billy that he used a nylon Herco pick with the rough grip.  The rough grip side was the side intended for holding with your finger and thumb so it wouldn’t slip, but Randy held it by the smooth side and played with the rough side.  Word had it that Billy was so impressed by the feature he sent their sound man to California to buy an amp just like Randy’s which they took back to Texas and copied the circuitry.  These amps were known as the Rio Grande amps and were exclusive to ZZ Top.   Like with Pat Quilter who did not take out a patent on the master control volume, ZZ Top did not appear to have taken out a patent on this concept or their version of the master volume control.  As mentioned previously, HiWatt in England finally did receive the patent.

          Not only did Randy’s amp have an effect on ZZ Top, but perhaps his long beard had a significant impact on Billy and Dusty as well!  

Randy moved to Houston in the years right after Wildfire.  His cousin, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, was in Houston touring with the “All Summer Beach Band.”  Mike had known Billy Gibbons for a long time and after the concert was invited to a party in the River Oaks section of Houston.  Rather than riding in his limo, Mike Love chose to go to the party in Randy’s 1969 Dodge pickup truck.  As they pulled up to the party amid a driveway full of limos, Billy Gibbons was standing on the front law, now sporting a full, Wildfire-style beard.  He walked up to the pickup truck and said, “All right, at least someone rode here in style!”  Mike and Billy had known each other for some time.

Once inside the party, Randy walked up to Billy and said, “Perhaps you will remember me.  I was in a band that opened for you at the San Antonio Coliseum a few years ago.”  Adding “I had a full beard like you do now and you had no beard.”  Billy Gibbons said, “OH YEAH, you’re the Master Volume Control guitarist!”


          Mariana opened for Wildfire at one of the earliest Hill On The Moon concerts.  Someone commented to Randy that he should watch the guitar player in the band.  He was only a teenager but he was very, very good.  That guitar player was Eric Johnson.  Despite Eric Johnson’s expertise technically, Mariana did not have the chemistry that Wildfire had and once again Wildfire ruled the day.

          Not many people jammed with Wildfire when they were based in California, but once they were in Texas, many local musicians did.

          Jim Marlin, a resident of Brownwood, Texas, first saw Wildfire playing at a club in San Angelo, Texas, in the early 1970s.  Jim lived with his family in Brownwood and was working for the railroad at the time.  After seeing Wildfire, Jim went home to tell his wife, “I just saw a band that has changed my life.  I’m going to quit my job tomorrow and work for these guys as long as I can.”  Shortly thereafter he formed Wildfire Productions, Inc. in a small building in Dublin, Texas, about forty-five miles from Brownwood.  Jim booked Wildfire at many places including a club in Brownwood.  The picture of Wildfire playing at this club is on the CD and on other licensed vinyl releases, one of the few pictures of the entire band while playing.  Wildfire Productions, Inc. was dissolved in 1976 when Jim Marlin and his family subsequently moved to California.

          The Hatchett Talent Agency in Austin, owned by Charlie Hatchett, an attorney, also booked Wildfire around Texas.  The law firm was run out of the back of the talent agency.  Wildfire discovered that a lot of the clubs in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma had exclusive deals with the Hatchett Talent Agency and finally Wildfire signed an exclusive deal with the agency to get them into those clubs.

          Eventually the members of Wildfire, along with the help of others who lived at The Hill On The Moon, built a stage at the bottom of actual hill, and outdoor concerts started again, the last having been the one in Merced, California.  Wildfire’s popularity in Austin drew hundreds if not thousands of people to these concerts, everyone content to sit on the dirt and listen to great music.

          Word of the success of these concerts on The Hill On The Moon spread, including to the Texas Rangers who were not fond of “long-hairs” at the time.  At one concert the Texas Rangers conveniently were holding a barbecue on the property across the road from the Hill On The Moon with approximately two hundred Texas Rangers in attendance.   From time to time groups of the Texas Rangers, sometimes in waves of thirty at a time, would walk down the Hill and converged on the audience and the stage.  Despite the appearance of the Texas Rangers from time to time, the outdoor concerts at The Hill On The Moon continued.

          As time moved on, Wildfire disbanded.  Danny and Donny moved back to California.  Randy stayed in Texas and played with several bands including Cottonmouth.  In the mid-1970s Randy’s band Cottonmouth was booked to play at Finnegan’s Rainbow in Orange County, California, the same venue where Wildfire first grew their following.  Because there was a band in Orange County named Cottonmouth, Randy’s band changed its name to Rattlesnake for the gig at Finnegan’s.

          Sly Groove, the owner of Finnegan’s Rainbow, thought it would be cool to have Wildfire get back together and play a weekend gig.  Danny, Randy and Donny agreed, and that weekend gig at Finnegan’s Rainbow was the last time Wildfire played together.



          Danny played French horn in high school.  He used to keep his stash of marijuana in the bell.  The French horn is played with the right hand in the bell, both as a music stand and a sound mute, so Danny would put the stash in his hand when he was playing.  No one ever caught on.

          While this was the 1960s, Danny never had an easy time with psychedelics.  A very bad acid trip started when the band members took some very strong acid they believed had come from Czechoslovakia.  To get away from people and enjoy the “trip,” Danny, Randy and Donny went to The Top of the World, a beautiful oasis about a mile from downtown Laguna Beach.  The venue had miles of hiking trails and other outdoor activity sites. 

          Unlike the usual quiet place that The Top of the World was, this day there were people up there shooting guns in the distance.  Danny was freaking out so the boys left the mountains and headed back to Costa Mesa.

          This was 1969 and it had been raining non-stop for three weeks solid.  There were a few landslides along the Coast Highway and in the cliffs of the Back Bay.  As they passed the cliffs in route to Costa Mesa, Danny – influenced by the acid – thought that all of the cliffs were sliding into the bay.

          Once back in Costa Mesa, Danny jumped out of the car, ran across a field, jumper over a fence into a school yard of children and disappeared.  When he didn’t show up for a few days, Randy and Donny went to look for his body (just in case!)  What happened was that Danny was arrested and put in jail. 

          As Danny was waking up from his first night in jail, he noticed two sheriffs standing outside his cell.  He was watching them as he pretended to be asleep.  One of the sheriffs reached into the pocket on his shirt and pulled out something he wrapped his palm around.  The sheriff then walked directly in front of Danny’s cell and rolled two pills into the cell.  Danny could see the pills rolling across the floor towards him.  When the pills came to a stop, the sheriffs opened the cell door and said, “What do we have here?”

          The pills were Seconal Sodium 100 mg, more commonly known at the time as Lilly F40’s.  The sheriffs pulled Danny from his cell, charged him with possession of a controlled subject, and then threw him back in the cell, slamming the door.  Pat Quilter eventually bailed Danny out of jail.  Danny eventually appeared in court and the judge dismissed the charges.  The pills had not been reported or logged in during the initial booking process.  Danny’s luck prevailed!


Randy drove a 1969 Norton 750 Commando motorcycle.  He had it chopped.  One day he took Danny, sitting on the back, up the Ortega Highway one morning so Danny could see how fast the bike could go.  Randy was traveling at about 130 mph when he shifted from third to fourth gear.  Danny had on a shirt with only a few buttons fastened.  When Randy hit fourth gear, all of those buttons popped off Danny’s shirt and nearly blew off in the wind.  That was one of Danny’s favorite stories to tell.

          Randy sold the Norton to someone who hung out at Finnegan’s who owned a string a massage parlors.  Whether they were actually massage parlors or something else was never verified.  He paid cash for the Norton and Randy subsequently bought the Harley he had been looking at – a 1958 Harley Duo-Glide (Panhead.) 

Donny used to swim at the beach in Laguna Niguel, a private beach but Donny knew several girls who lived there.  He often saw the Nelson family there – Ozzie, Harriet, Dave and Ricky.


Quite a few years after Wildfire dissolved, Randy was with Jim Marlin running errands when they stopped at a large house on Lake Travis.  The house was on the north side of the lake in the hills high about “Hippie Hollow.”  After walking through the front door of the house, the lake view caught Randy’s eye.  He continued through the living room to look through the large bay window at Lake Travis  Randy then turned around.  On the wall opposite the window was a massive painting of Wildfire.  About sixteen feet wide and eleven feet high, the mural was painted using a photograph of Wildfire playing at an outdoor concert.  Danny and Randy’s faces were quite clear, but Donny’s face was only a silhouette.  Donny’s arms were outstretched holding his drumsticks over his head.  Donny’s long hair almost always obscured his face when he was playing the drums.




          Danny returned to California and joined The Blitz Brothers, a Southern California popular band.  He played with them until the band broke up in in the late 1980s.  At one point The Blitz Brothers opened for Sammy Hagar and after the concert, Sammy asked Danny if he would like to play in the Sammy Hagar band.  Danny rehearsed with Sammy a few times but decided to stay loyal to The Blitz Brothers.

          Danny received another offer from Mitch Mitchell, best known from drumming with Jimi Hendrix.  Mitch was forming a new band and asked Danny to be a part of it. Once again, Danny declined.  Danny continued to write music and published a CD of his songs in the early 2000s.  He died shortly thereafter.


          In the post Wildfire days, Randy stayed in Texas and played behind Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Sam the Sham, Percy Sledge, Teaser, John B and the Bad Boys, and with Van Wilkes formed the Cottonmouth Band.  He also played engagements with members of the original Johnny Winters group and Stevie Ray Vaughan.  After playing a Les Paul Jr. guitar with Wildfire, Randy switched to a Tex-Mex Fender Stratocaster played through a Crate amp. 

At one point Randy moved to Houston and put a band together called Teaser, a top 40 band that eventually signed with American Bands Management out of Houston.  Teaser’s final tour lasted 14 months during which time none of the members were able to go home.  When one of the band’s step vans blew an engine in Brownwood, Texas, the band knew it was time to quit and everyone went their separate ways.

          The singer from Teaser, Johnny, and Randy put together another band in Houston called Jonny B and the Bad Boys.  The set list was all 50s and 60s songs and the band played the oldies with a rhythm and blues feel.  Each member portrayed the tough guy image with Camel cigarettes rolled up in their T-shirt sleaves, leather jackets with Harley patches and torn jeans.  One member or another would tell dirty jokes between tunes.  An engineer at a studio where Freddy Fender recorded suggested that Jonny B and the Bad Boys should play more like Van Halen.  Randy had adopted the rhythm and blues style of guitar playing after Wildfire broke up, and told the rest of the band that if they wanted an LA flash guitarist, they would have to go find one. Randy went back to California.

            In the spring and summer months of 1997 and 1998, Randy toured with The Beach Boys, filling in as lead guitarist after Carl Wilson passed away.  At that time Randy was a supervisor for a government contractor and his company allowed him leave of absence to do the shows with The Beach Boys. 

          The job with the government contractor led Randy to a full time offer with the Immigration and Naturalization Service where he spent 20 years before retiring.  Who could believe that an old rock and roll musician and biker would become a federal agent!

          Randy lives in Southern California and when not making music, can be found cruising the roads on a motorcycle.  Randy has owned fourteen motorcycles including three Harley Davidsons and two Indians.  He has been riding for over 50 years including riding a 2018 Yamaha Star Venture with the optional Trans Continental package which adds a gear driven reverse and contains as much technology as a Mercedes, and a Honda DCT Goldwing with a seven speed, dual clutch automatic transmission. 


          After Wildfire, Donny returned to California and then to the State of Washington to play with Black Diamond, a Cajun rock band.  Donny recorded a 45 rpm record, “For the Love of You,” with Black Diamond in 1972.   

He also played with the various members who were in the band Redbone, a Mexican-American/Native American rock band famous for their recording of “Come and Get Your Love,” although Donny never played in Redbone, an urban myth.

          Returning to California, Donny played in an eight piece horn band before Donny started the band Upright.  Jimmy Walker, a singer from Fatback and an old drummer for the Righteous Brothers, sang with Upright for a while.   He has played in various bands in northern California including Jelly Side Down. 

          When not making music, you can find Donny in the gym and umpiring ASA fast-pitch softball behind the plate.  Drummers are always behind everyone else!

          And as Donny put it once when ending a conversation, “I gotta go call balls!