The Freudian Slips

If not the first, The Freudian Slips were certainly one of the first all-girl rock bands, having been founded in 1965 by a group of former Woodside High School students. (Woodside is a small, bucolic village nestled at the foot of the Santa Cruz mountains, a few miles northwest of Palo Alto, CA. Joan Baez is a longtime resident; Larry Ellison of Oracle is a more recent one.)

The band members were: Wendy Haas, Gayle Hayden, Mimi Bluford, Lynda Walnum and an untrained drummer named Teda Bracci, who was one of the first people I met when I fled my large, chaotic family in Denver for the tranquility of the Bay Area at the age of 17 in August 1964.  Teda and I bonded instantly. She was skinny as the proverbial rail and she talked way faster than the proverbial mile-a-minute. I understood about a third of what she said. She loved The Supremes and called everyone “Honey.” She almost always wore faded jeans, a big floppy hat and oversize sunglasses. (See above photo.) She went barefoot a lot and had rings on most of her toes, a fashion statement I’d never seen before.

Shortly after we became friends,  Teda and I decided to team up and become fabulously famous, she as a comedienne and I as her writer. We began getting together regularly in the evenings to work on a comedy routine in which she would play a character who was the total opposite of herself: a debutante, complete with formal gown.  As I recall, we laughed a lot.  After a while, we declared ourselves ready and arranged to audition at The Purple Onion in San Francisco, a nightclub in which Phyllis Diller launched her career and whose semi-regular performers included The Smothers Brothers. We neglected to mention the fact that Teda was, like myself, only 17.

One bright, sunny morning in October 1964, Teda picked me up her gigantic sedan, a late ’50s Oldsmobile, and we cruised up to The City. There were four or five people in the club – employees, not patrons – when we arrived and they greeted us graciously. Their collective laughter began when Teda struggled to put her debutante gown on over her ‘civilian’ garb and it increased as she clumsily climbed onto the small stage.  I don’t remember a single line of the material I wrote, but I definitely remember that Teda was hysterically funny. 45 years later, she described her performance at the audition this way: “I was trying to be Loretta Young with the doors flying open.”

Naturally, the first question the Onion’s talent booker asked after the audition was how old Teda was.  Upon hearing the answer,  he suggested that she hone her natural skills by joining a local actors’ group. He then to me to destroy my typewriter. When I said I didn’t own a typewriter, he told me to break my pencil in half. (I ended up being a personal writer for Phyllis Diller for a few years in the laye ’60s.)

The Freudian Slips never played The Fillmore or The Avalon Ballroom during San Francisco’s “Summer of Love” era, but they played several dozen concerts at other venues in ’66 and ’67, most frequently at The Ark in Sausalito. Posters from back in the day confirm that The Slips played several shows with The Wildflower, amongst others.

After The Slips disbanded, Teda joined the L.A. production of “Hair” that ran for two years at the appropriately named Aquarious Theater and appeared with the cast on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.” (Notable cast members from that run, which was co-produced by Tommy Smothers, include Ben Vereen, Jennifer Warnes, Meat Loaf, and Ted Neeley.)  The last time I would see Teda for nearly 40 years was after a performance at The Aquarious. That night she introduced my wife and I to the “Hair” lyricists, Jerome Ragni and James Rado, who were members of the L.A. ‘tribe.’  Then, about a year ago, I impulsively called Teda and, after playing an extensive game of phone tag, we had the first of several great talks. We are still in touch.

Despite her deep love of Motown, Teda turned down the label’s offer to sign her in 1968 and decided to pursue a film career. In 1970, she landed a small role in Stanley Kramer’s “R.P.M,” which featured Anthony Quinn, Ann-Mararet and Paul Winfield. That same year she snagged a bigger role in “C.C and Company,” with Ann-Margaret and Joe Namath. She played a character named Teda in “The Trial of Billy Jack,” Whore #3 in Gene Wilder’s “The World’s Greatest Lover,” and a mental patient named Teda Bracci in “Frances” with Jessica Lange. In 2007, Teda released a CD entitled “Teda Bracci.”

As for the other Slips, Wendy Haas-Mull played keyboards and sang on Santana’s “Welcome” and “Caravanserai” albums and made two albums with Azteca, with whom she sang live for a while. She also contributed to albums recorded by Lee Oskar and Melissa Manchester.

Gayle Hayden joined the New York cast of “Hair” and in December 1969, posed for a Playboy pictorial called “The Girls of Hair.” (Ironically, that issue is notable for being the first time a Playboy centerfold displayed a bit of pubic hair. Even more ironically, the centerfold’s name was Gloria Root.) Gayle currently performs with a Portland-area band called Big Mama Gayle and Her Sugar Daddies.

Although both Teda and Wendy have said that The Freudian Slips was not the world’s tightest, band, the novelty of the all-girl lineup landed their photograph in Life magazine in 1966.

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Published in: on November 19, 2009 at 11:44 pm  Comments (18)  

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  1. Great post as usual Greg, Teda sounds A-Mazing! A total WIN!! Your history with her makes me smile,I look forward to hearing her CD…I’m also glad you never broke your pencil!
    I was unaware of ‘The Slip’s’ prior to your post,thank you for expanding this pedestrian mind! I’m off to ‘Big Mamma Gayle and Her Sugar Daddies’ web site to see where they play, as they are in my neck of the woods! How lucky is that?

  2. Huh. If I even knew about the Freudian Slips, I have long forgotten them. But the all-girl rock band phenomenon (shameful that it should considered a phenomenon and not just normal) is highly interesting to me and I have long wanted to contribute to its literature with a profile on The Pondering Pig of the most successful all-woman early Bay Area band, the Ace of Cups.

    A couple things I remembered that you probably already know: 1. Haas is the name of one of the old big money, big power San Francisco families. 2. The Wildflower originated at the College of San Mateo, so they were a Peninsula group too, at least to start.

  3. Haas = Levi Strauss, some sort of small-time clothing maker. A branch of the family, possibly including Wendy Haas,who may or may not be related, lived in Atherton on Monte Vista, across the street from a Woodside High friend of Teda’s. We worked on our comedy routine in her friend’s pool house. (I lived in the poolhouse for a few weeks.) Until several years ago, the Haas family owned the Oakland A’s baseball team. Another band that came out of CSM in late ’64 was William Penn and his Pals. Greg Rollie, later of Santana and Journey was a member for a while, as was Mickey Hart. My future wife was in a couple of classes with two of the Pals.

    • I still have the business card from Prof. Vern Justice, Personal Mgr. of WM. Penn Five. Vern was also my school bus driver. I remember Premier Artists Corp. also managed,Produced,booked and arranged some other S.F. Bay area Rock bands like-The Brimstone Carriage, The stained Glass,and The Santana Blues.

  4. I remember William Penn and his Pals, but I thought they were an East Bay band like Peter Wheat and the Breadmen. Do you remember the Liverpool Invasion 3? They were very big in San Mateo for a short time. I wrote about them here: http://ponderingpig.wordpress.com/2007/05/07/where-are-the-liverpool-invasion-three/

  5. I just noticed that the Freudian Slip’s bass drum features their name plus the male symbol – you know, the shield with the spear sticking out behind it. Hmmm, as Freud would say, verry interesting.

  6. As teda used to say “hello people!,” i also went to woodside high school and knew all the “slips,” they rehearsed in my garage once. i was the “faux manager.” i liked the title but never booked any venues or promoted them hence the “faux.” teda was a year ahead and the rest 2 years behind me. we were mostly in the “artsy-drama group.” (teda had a brother john who also acted.) She was sui generalis. we went to see the beatles together with some other school chums. Teda loved dionne warwick as i recall. i never saw the freudian slips perform (too bad). i did see the Life photo and always wondered how they went from rehearsing their maybe one song to that shot. life is strange.

    p.s. i don’t think wendy haas was of the uber-HAAS family in s.f.

    • I knew of the girls in the band but didn’t know them personally (I also went to Woodside High)
      Th reason I’m writing is that I’m interested in contacting Ned Takahashi who also wrote a comment. We were friends in high school. Hi Ned, if you read this and want to contact me, my e-mail address rolesa247@yahoo.com. It would be great to hear from you.

  7. ddies!! What a Blast!! I didn’t even know that my Playboy pose-Dec 1969-was in a historically important issue-LOL!!Wendy just performed a reunion with Azteca-Mimi is married to a Doc and is busy with 5 kids, Lynda is living in Washington-doing well- and we are in touch- Teda is still very involved with the HAIR folks and friends and I am having a blast performing with the Sugar Daddies-(Go to web Big Mama Gayle.com and then to Gigmasters-dance bands Portland Ore.) FUN!!!!Thanks for the memories!!!!xxxoooGayle Hayden-Big Mama Gayle

  8. Great writing! I want you to follow up on this topic!

    Sam

  9. You’re completely correct on this piece.

  10. I dont disagree with you!!!

  11. You could not be more precise!

  12. I saw the Slips at a concert in 1966 at UC Davis which I was attending at the time. Great band and dance music.

  13. Teda and the Venice Beach crew from the early 70’s till her days with Dusty.

  14. I was in an all-guy mid-peninsula band called “Good News” in 1966 and, for too short a time, dated Wendy (we were both bass players.) One night I was without a place to crash and lovely Teda loaned me her couch. I’ll never forget her for that! Our lead guitar player, Tim Abbott, dated Linda while Wendy and I were going out – oh, to be 18 again. Wendy went on to marry Martin Mull and has a daughter.

  15. I remember playing a gig w “The slips” circa 1965-66 at Blackberry Farms in Mona Vista, CA. We were play under the name of either the “Soul Merchants” or “Canterberry Tails” don’t remember which??? I still have their “Band Card” somewhere.

  16. THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!!!!! Gayle Hayden/Rythum guitar and vocalist !!Now BigMama Gayle and Her Sugar Daddies!xoxoxoxoxoxoxGayle


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