1962: Clipper Cowbridge

1963: The Swiss Invasion

1965: Marilyn Kaye

1969: The Fold

1970: Yorgi

1971: Devon Shire

1972: Sandee Saunders

1976: Rockfinger

1978: The Spooky Bunch

1979: Decoupage

1981: Bleep

1984: Tiger Love

1985: Laryssa Foxxx

1986: Smasher of Things

1987: Suthrn Cuzn

1989: ~pianogirl~

1990: Razorflesh

1995: Breaker Bear

1996: Action Plus

1998: J Lounge

2001: Eesk

2004: Lazarus Project

My Mom, the (Almost) Clubbo Artist

By Christian “Bug” Fine
Co-General Manager/Fetch-It Boy, Clubbo Record

It’s no accident that I wound up working here. Genetic analysis reveals inherited Clubbo damage to both my X and Y chromosomes.

Also-ran soft-rock artist Aura Gold, circa 1972

Aura Gold, circa 1972

My mom, Laura Gold, was Clubbo CEO Bo Bogerman’s administrative assistant for several years in the early ’70s before fleeing Hollywood for Northern California. David Fine, a.k.a. Dad, carried Clubbo baggage too — he never actually worked there, but he often dropped by to pitch his songs. He never sold one to Clubbo, or anyone else. (Would you buy something with a title like “Mr. Heartburn” or “When You’re Down and Out, Get Out and Get Down?”)

Later, my mom gave piano and guitar lessons to the children of Walnut Creek, CA, including me. Dad opened a small music store with money borrowed from his brother. But he never gave up on his dream of making it as a songwriter. He was always stoked about the newest demo he’d concocted in his four-track garage studio. He died in a Caldecott Tunnel car wreck, apparently while attempting to feed one of his demos into the cassette deck. When I went by his place after the funeral, I found a package on his doorstep: the new edition of Music Maker’s Marketplace. He ordered a fresh copy of the 1200-page tome every year.

Mom harbored no such illusions of middle-aged musical success. Yes, she’d wanted to be a recording artist when she was younger — that’s why she suffered the Clubbo office job, which mostly consisted of buffering the rest of the world from Bogerman’s Olympian abrasiveness. But Mom always lived in the “now,” a worldview promoted, in one form or another, by the countless new-age faiths and therapies she dabbled in for the rest of her life. She never dwelt on her disappointments, and seldom spoke of her Clubbo years. I never even knew she’d done any recording, let alone come close to releasing a Clubbo record of her own.

The Prayer Bears receive an ominous message from a minion of their archnemesis, Beezlebug. L-R: Christian Bear, Spirit Bear, Muslim Bear, Jew Bear. Not pictured: Reason Bear, Buddha Bear, Hindu Bear. (Image courtesy F2F Productions, ©1970; all rights reserved.)

Still, Clubbo was a big part of my childhood soundtrack, thanks to the Gold Box. When my mom left the label, their parting gift had been a pilfered milk crate spray-painted gold and stuffed with Clubbo discs — a sweet, sentimental, and typically cheap-ass gift. I obsessed on the box before I could even read. I’d pick at the stick-on letters (“GOLD FOR OUR GOLDIE”) while quizzing mom about the grown-up records and demanding that she spin the kiddie ones. (My favorite: Faith to Faith with the Prayer Bears, the soundtrack LP for the classic Sunday morning kids’ show.

As I grew up and started making my own music, I came to regard Clubbo the same way everyone else does: a strange little label that produced a few great records, a few atrocious ones, and lots of stuff in between.

Clubbo didn’t cross my mind much till I started a band called Flowering Judas with Nina Sheybani. Nina got it into her head that Clubbo would be a good home for us, arguing that their eclecticism would suit our style. But then she went off and signed a solo deal with the world’s then-largest record label, shortened her name to Shey, and embarked on a featherweight pop career that’s the polar opposite of eclectic. Just to rub it in, the world’s then-largest record label subsequently bought, killed, and gutted Clubbo.

A few months later my mom died of cancer.

1970s folk-rock troubadour Devon Shire with a winsome fan.

(L)Aura Gold and Devon Shire, circa 1973.

Fast-forward: I got a call from Ron Wrobleski, Flowering Judas’s old front-of-house soundwoman. She’d been working as a freelance engineer for — you guessed it — the world’s then-largest record label, which was putting together a boxed-set tribute to the indie label they’d murdered.

Ron’s job was to shovel through all the old Clubbo tapes in search of forgotten treasures, and she brought me onboard because of the family connection. That’s how I met Shoshana Sanchez, Clubbo’s other present-day General Manager, who was doing hard time as the world’s then-largest record label‘s Special Projects Project Specialist.

We spent weeks digging through piles of old Clubbo masters while another contractor — Alan Asch, the guy who used to host those lame-o rockumentaries on the Groove Channel — put together material for the Clubbo CD booklet. At one point he interviewed Devon Shire, who knew my mom back in the ’70s. As a result, I found out that my mom might have: a) sung backup on one of Devon’s records; b) recorded a Clubbo demo of her own under the name Aura Gold, and c) been very close to Devon. (Hint: Devon Shire’s real first name is Chris. So is mine.)

As best I can piece together the story, Bogerman green-lighted a demo deal for Mom, but she had a nasty falling out with him. Meanwhile, she got pregnant and bailed on LA, the industry, and her pop ambitions. She married Dad at San Francisco City Hall, and I was born six weeks later.

The Aura Gold demo was forgotten for 30 years till I received an ancient cassette copy from Nova Starlight, a benevolently wacked-out hippie lady my mom used to hang with in LA. (As it turns out, Nova, a renegade nun, was the creator of The Prayer Bears, my nearest approximation of a spiritual foundation. And in another weird not-quite coincidence, she later married Clubbo staff engineer Charles “Chucko” O’Brien.)

Aura Gold's original cassette demo.

Weirdness ensued, enough to fill a novel. The Clubbo tribute project fell apart when most of the tapes were destroyed in a fire of “mysterious origin.” We had digital backups, of course, but the plug got pulled anyway because the world’s then-largest record label was being sold to a different media conglomerate, so they summarily axed all discretionary projects in hopes of appearing less bloated than they actually were.

Finally, after a chain of circumstances that I am legally proscribed from detailing, Shoshana and I found ourselves back in San Francisco as stewards of the remaining Clubbo catalog. And we’re proud to announce the belated public debut of the late (L)Aura Gold.

I tell you, man — you couldn’t make this shit up.