Barnes ~ Vocals
Max Ferry ~ Guitar
George Katz ~ Bass
Steve Knowles ~ Guitar, Bass
Noel Trusty ~ Drums, Vocals
Jack Trusty ~ Manager
In Memory of
We got a lot of work through Ross Hart Agency and traveled all over Oregon. Noel's 'Uncle Jack' was our manager. We did a lot of Yarbirds, The Who, and Stones covers.
Thank you and keep rockin!
George Katz, July 2007
“Griffin” began to form up in late 1970 when my cousin, Noel Trusty, and myself began rehearsing our cover version of the entire “Who…Live at Leeds” album in the Tillamook High School band room, him on drums, me on lead guitar. We made a couple stabs at gigs with this material, including one abortive attempt to play an after-school dance, which went badly, although to be honest I don’t think anyone but us realized how bad we sounded.
The experience sent us back to the drawing board, where we realized the necessity of a more structured rehearsal schedule and facility, less ambitious material, at least to start with, and a new line up (apologies to the other guys who tried this with us). It was at this point we tapped Steve Knowles to play bass; Steve was a rhythm guitarist and bassist who had been playing with several of the loosely associated local jam groups at parties and was known as a good, solid player as well as a real gear-head.
We then recruited Keith Barnes for lead vocals, something that came about when I was wandering the halls of our high school one day and was completely blown away to hear him in a vacant classroom, singing along with Spirit’s newly released “12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus” record and nailing the parts perfectly. Noel and I cornered him the next day, and after he got over his initial apprehension he agreed to try out the position and became a force to be reckoned with.
Not long after we recruited Keith, it was learned that a new guy was transferring into Tillamook from Southern California, and rumor had it that he was an accomplished bass player. The rumor turned out to be true; enter George Katz on bass, and Steve Knowles then filled the rhythm guitar slot.
We still had the problems of procuring a decent rehearsal space, and we had to address the shabby concatenation of borrowed odds and ends that was our backline gear. At this time, Jack Trusty, an uncle of Noel and myself, took a huge interest in what we were trying to accomplish and came in to take over the business details as our manager, leaving the 5 of us to concentrate on putting together a show. Jack was a great big guy with a great big heart and a flair for promotion, who had played stand-up bass, trumpet and a few other things in local bands back in the 40’s and 50’s, and had owned several bars and booked entertainment for them. He quit his day job, bought a brand new cargo van, secured us a loan for equipment, a rehearsal hall, and set about negotiating contracts for gigs and establishing a lucrative relationship with the Ross Hart booking agency, and just generally committed himself whole-heartedly to our success. None of it would have ever gotten off the ground without Jack.
By the end of summer 1971 we were ready, having rehearsed non-stop, 8-10 hours a day, every day, for about 4 months, successfully putting together a set list that was in many ways even more ambitious than the original “Live at Leeds” fiasco that Noel and I had attempted. This included the aforementioned (thank you George) Who, Stones and Yardbirds covers, as well as a selection of Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Savoy Brown and other heavy British blues-rock releases of the day. The band subsequently played steady engagements at dance halls, high schools, fraternities, local bars all over Oregon and even a Democratic Party fund-raiser for the presidential candidacy of George McGovern after Hubert Humphrey bailed out.
Of the five of us, at least four (myself included) went on after Griffin to continue to play music. I understand that George Katz is still playing and writing original material; Noel Trusty took this to the farthest limits, in terms of notoriety, of any of us, playing with a variety of projects that generated serious label interest, including Eugene’s “The Hotz” with Gregg Tripp, projects with “Big Monti” Amundsen and lengthy tours of Europe as lead singer and bassist with French guitarist Christian Arfeuil; Keith Barnes has continued to sing with various bands over the years (including a subsequent band with Noel and I in the mid-70’s, called “OXO”), has had starring roles in productions of “Godspell” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” and is currently collaborating with me on some original fingerstyle acoustic guitar/vocal duet material with a progressive rock/jazz/Celtic flavor. We’re also planning an album of Christmas music for the coming season.
In addition to working with Keith, I’m currently playing lead guitar in a new band called “The Exiles”, with Tim Croman on bass, Bob Melgoza on drums, and with occasional guest appearances by Mike Simpson of the “Oyster Shooters” on keys and guitar. We’re doing some bar/roadhouse gigs on the Oregon Coast and rehearsing on a regular schedule to fill out our sets with classic rock and blues selections.
A final word on Jack V. Trusty, our manager and lifelong mentor…Jack passed away a couple years back at age 80, and he remained to the end of his days an exemplar of entrepreneurial spirit, positive attitude and undiluted love for his fellows. The last time I saw him he told me, without being prompted, that the one thing that had served him in good stead through all his life was that he loved to talk to people, hear their stories, and was endlessly fascinated with everything they had to say. For my part, I know it was the guiding principle in his life, and I know that without Jack and his gift with people, our band, and by extension our very lives, would have never gotten off the ground. Jack’s final words, spoken to my cousin Noel Trusty right before Jack passed on were, “It’s all coming together…like NEVER before!”
Max Ferry, August 2007
I was lead guitar player for the Oregon band, 'Griffin', in the early '70s. We played dance halls, bars and school functions all over OR in those days.
During that time, we were associated with the Ross Hart Booking Agency, along with several other well-known PNW bands. In late '71 or '72 we were asked to come to Portland, along with several other bands working with the Ross Hart Agency, to record a promotional video. We performed several songs for this video, along with these other bands. I don't even remember which bands were there, but suffice to say that they were all part of the Hart agency's substantial stable of working rock bands.
Having done this video, we all went home in anticipation of the impact of having done this, in terms of enhanced promotion, prestige, etc. What happened instead was that we were later informed that someone had absconded with the tapes, taking them to Canada (as I remember), and that Ross Hart was no longer representing bands as a booking agent, somehow as a result of this!
This has been a mystery to me who took the tapes and why? Why would this set of events cause Ross Hart to cease working as a booking agent? And most of all, where are those tapes now? Has anyone seen them? Are they available to be copied? I would love to see these tapes. All are in the form of reel to reel video. Love to hear any information about this bizarre set of circumstances.
Max Ferry of "Griffin" 1970-72, February 2008
"In Memoriam; Noel Trusty 12/15/1953---6/12/2011
My Brother Noel Trusty passed away, peacefully in his sleep, on June 12, 2011. Noel lived the life that he chose, as a Renaissance man and a true citizen of the World. He traveled the world first as a musician, then later as a raconteur and expert in fine art, interior design, antique restoration (especially Louis Vuitton trunks) and fine wine, having educated himself in these disciplines during his many travels, and over many long years of diligence. His expertise and perspective of fine art, antiques and wine led him to become a procurer and seller of these rarities and a respected appraiser of same.
Noel was also the finest drummer and musician with whom I have ever had the privilege of performing in my own forty-plus years as a musician, and his associations with noted performers Big Monti Amundsen/Blubinos, Gregg Tripp/The Hotz, Christian Arfeuil/SOS (with whom he performed as a lead singer and bassist) and several others, were instrumental to those careers. He had the talent, not only for playing the drums (and bass, flute and vocals) at a very high level, but of playing music on the drums, an important distinction. Noel finally gave up music as a career, after touring Europe for nearly twenty years, preferring instead to concentrate upon traveling the world to find antiques and art objects.
Noel passed away with nothing to his name...no savings, stocks, possessions, not even a mailing address or home of any kind...he was pretty much penniless. In spite of this, he had in his life been able to travel the world, financed by his own dealings in art and antiquities, in search not only of rare and beautiful artifacts, but in search of his own meaning in life. He spent every penny he ever made in this pursuit, but he lived more in one lifetime than any ten average persons could lay claim to. Having had the courage of his convictions, he knew exactly what he was getting into and what he could expect to get out of it and he had no misapprehensions about where it might lead him. He was more than merely content to live in the moment; he was avid for it, and he was determined to live it well. His success in this was not of any conventional kind; he was never affluent, as such is usually measured, but he was a highly cultured individual who could quote Shakespeare or Tennyson with equal alacrity, was fluent in at least three languages, and was possessed of a keen philosophical mind and a gigantic sense of humor.
He left the world pretty much as he came into it, naked and with nothing to his name but the love of his family and friends, and a sense of having lived a life chosen only by him. It was something in him which he cultivated all the days of his life that allowed him to face his own fate with dignity and with no fear. In spite of the grief we all suffer, it is a fitting end to a life devoted largely to the pursuit of his curiosity and love of other people, places, ideas and meaning in life. He died a wealthier man in this regard than any other I have ever known, and because of this, he faced his death with courage and good humor. He made it clear to all that he was ready to face the Next Great Adventure, but to me he was simply my Brother and I will miss him, always.
Max Ferry, August 2012"