This blog about our cherished instruments started in January 2022 and will be updated in each new post, until we cover all of our significant instruments. (We send the updates out through our monthly newsletter, so if you aren’t a member of our mailing list, you can join us through the link on this page below.)

MARCH 2022

 

Larry's 12-String EKO Guitar

 

First of all, I must apologize that there are very few original photographs from the period. I didn’t own a Kodak Instamatic at the time, and even if I did, it simply didn’t occur to me to snap pictures. If you hung out around the area then, I hope some of the places I mention bring back memories for you.

 

At the age of 15, with my Bar Mitzvah money, I bought this lovely EKO guitar (on my own!) in a store on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv. Not the famous Ginzburg store, but a store that doesn’t exist anymore. (We’ll get back to Ginzburg in a later post.)

 


I did not take the EKO with me to the army – it was too precious. And heavy! But during my army period, I went on what’s called “Nofesh Tzva’i,” or “Military Vacation” in Givat Olga, there I met another soldier who sang my style of songs. We clicked musically, and together we sang a lot for the other soldiers, sitting outside on the grass.

 

Givat Olga Military Resort Hotel

 

After I completed the army, I was contacted by that (ex)soldier who told me she had a friend who was opening a club in Tel Aviv, and that if she could find someone to accompany her on guitar, she would be able to perform there. The place was called “Briza” and it was located on the beach front, right next to the US embassy (where Yotvata is now). That was the first club I performed at post-army.

 

Location of the "Briza' Nightclub

 

During the army, I used to go with friends to Danny Litani’s club “Habikta,” on the Tel Aviv exhibition grounds, and we succeeded in getting up on stage there too… but not for pay, just jamming for fun. Later on, I would perform there many times, solo or with friends – and almost always with Danny Litani joining on the tambourine and harmonica.

 

Danny Litani. He actually had a beard when I knew him, but you get the idea.

 

Anyway, at Briza, always with the EKO guitar, I performed with the other ex-soldier for just a few weeks – it didn’t suit her, and she really didn’t suit the place. She had a pleasant voice and all, but had no idea how to perform, and she decided it wasn’t for her.

 

On the first night that I went to check out the place before performing there, I saw a duo performing… he played guitar, she sang. The girl, Shelly, was about 4’10” in height, and had a voice just like Janis Joplin, with the same stage presence. She was in the audience one of the last times I performed with the other ex-soldier, and after the show Shelly came up to me, said that her partner was leaving the country, and asked if I would like to perform with her.

 

That collaboration lasted about a year. We performed at Briza, at Habikta, and a few other clubs and venues in Tel Aviv and the surrounding area. We were even invited to perform at two different army bases for officer parties! During that time, at Briza, a guy came up to me and asked if I wanted to join their band. I asked what kind of music they do, and he said fairly heavy rock and punk. I declined. The group was called “HaClique.”

 

During that time, I met a few other performers, mainly at Briza. There was one young couple, before their army service – he was originally American, she was born in Iran. They were very cute together, and extremely talented. I knew they would go places with their music. A year later, they joined the army together and performed in a “Tzevet Havai U’bidur” or “military entertainment duo.” Only after they got out of the army did they become known to the public as Rami and Rita. I often collaborated with them and the other singers for fun – but mostly with Rami on piano, me on the EKO – we would often join each other’s sets. It was a very free-spirited atmosphere.

Rami and Rita, the way I remember them then

 

I heard about the opening of a new club in Tel Aviv, on the beach under the Hilton hotel, called the “Assam.” It was owned by Mati Caspi and Arik Sinai. I decided to try to perform there on my own, since the collaboration with Shelly was petering out and I was losing interest. I took my EKO and offered to perform there. As an audition, I sat with Mati Caspi on the balcony at the entrance of the club and sang Paul Simon’s song Night Game with my EKO. Mati was impressed enough to employ me to perform at the club weekly for the following year, until I decided to leave performing to study hotel management.

 

Don't look for me in here - it's from the HaOlam Hazeh newspaper, before my first visit to the club.

The beach structure that included the Assam nightclub (arrow) on the second floor. For many years after the Assam closed down, the location was a thriving fish restaurant.

 

While performing at the Assam, I met another bunch of famous performers. I remember sitting at the same table with Mati, Arik Sinai, Ephraim Shamir, Korin Alal and her girlfriend, Danny Pe’er (the pianist from Gazoz, not the TV announcer), the Parvarim, and many others, and some other talented performers that didn’t go on to become famous. The reason we all sat together was that I was usually the warm-up performance, before the “real” performers got up on stage. We were asked to sit together so we performers didn’t take up too many tables - the place was usually packed.

 

One guy that I hit it off well with was the guy who accompanied Arik Sinai. He was mostly in love with the Beatles, but he also had a great love for Simon and Garfunkel. I can’t count how many times it happened that I would go on first, then he and Arik would do their set, and when they were finished, Arik would get off the stage, I would take Arik’s place, and together with this guy sang mostly S&G songs together until the early hours when we were too tired to continue. That guy wasn’t yet famous either. His name – Danny Robas. We even looked a bit similar to each other at the time – both with bushy, curly hair and a beard. The combined sound of his guitar and my 12-string was magical.

 

Danny on top, me on bottom. Not quite twins, but still...

 

I also performed regularly at a club inside Dizengoff Center called “Shablool” (which means snail). Only years later did the club reopen in a new location as a jazz club. The club had interesting architecture – it was actually built like a snail! It was about three stories high inside, tables were set up on a circular path that went up in levels, all around the walls (somewhat similar to the structure of Dizengoff Center itself, only of course much smaller). The bottom floor was covered with restaurant tables, and the top floor was where the bar was. The stage was about halfway up, on one of the wider sections of the circular path, and it was impossible to see the stage from the bottom floor and the bar floor. I am explaining all this so you will be able to picture what happened there when I tell you later…

 

Dizengoff Center

 

One day, I stopped at an ATM on Dizengoff street, and a man came up to me, saying, “You are the singer Larry, right? (Like Rita and Rami, it was popular for unknown people in that circuit to be known just by their first names.) He said he had been searching for me for months and had a business proposition for me. He asked me if I could come meet him in Ramat Hasharon. I asked him what it was all about, he said he would explain everything at the meeting. I needed more information to comply, so he explained he has a business partner who is very famous, and together the two of them were once eating in Shablool on the bottom floor and heard music from upstairs. The guy I was talking to said it sounded like a recording of Don McLean, the other guy said it was live music. They made a bet, and of course the famous guy won. They decided to offer me a proposal… but he wanted to talk about it only at his office. So I agreed to meet him there.

 

I arrived at his office a few days later. He was alone – I was hoping to meet his famous partner, still not knowing who he was. He finally told me what it all was about. His business partner was Yigal Bashan, and this guy was his lawyer. Yigal was interested at the time in promoting young talents and trying to get them into the Pre-Eurovision contest, and they wanted to do that with me!

 

The first stage was to meet Yigal and let him hear me singing and playing again. Since Yigal was a very busy man, we scheduled a time for me to meet him one day at his luxury apartment at 6:30am, spend a little bit of time with him auditioning me, and then go together with him to the recording studio where he was working on the album that came out right after his hit album “Sivan.” There I met all the guys from his amazing group “Brosh” and watched them work on a song called “Rotzeh Habayta” (not the same song as the one that later came out, sung by Benny Elbaz). When guitarist Shmulik Bodagov saw my guitar, he asked if he could use it in the recording! So, yes, it’s played there and quite prominently, too. I sat there for a number of hours waiting for them to finish the guitar tracks. During the session, the album’s producer Gary Eckstein came into the studio, took one look at my guitar, said he had the same model, and that it was one of his favorite guitars!

 

Yigal Bashan's song, featuring my guitar, played by Shmulik Bodagov

 

I never heard anything from any of them again. I’m glad – I was NOT interested in getting into the Eurovision song contest, even if I could!

 

After I started studying hotel management, as I previously mentioned, I stopped performing music altogether. This was in 1982. My next encounter with performing music only started again in 2003 (stories for future posts, with different instruments), and this lovely guitar sat in its case for many years. Only after Mindy and I moved to Tuval in 2012 did I take it out of the case and hang it on the wall where it is now behind me as I write these lines. It wasn’t even playable because something in the fret wires had shifted.

 

I’m happy to say that just a few months ago, I took down the EKO and decided to see if I can find exactly what the fret problem was. And I found it! One of the fret wires had simply moved from its position and was distorting the sound. With a bit of work, I managed to file it down and push it back into place, so that the guitar now works correctly! I changed the strings (something that hadn’t been done to it for about 40 years!), and now enjoy playing it very much! Maybe someday I will take it up on stage when Mindy and I perform.

 

Over the years, I have bumped into some of the singers that I knew from then. My parents lived in Kfar Vradim, not far from where Mati Caspi lived. I saw him one day at the coffee shop in the Kfar Vradim shopping center, and went up to say hello. He just looked uncomfortable and showed no signs of remembering me at all. Likewise, I bumped into Arik Sinai in the Klei Zemer store in Dizengoff Center the day I bought a different guitar. He said he didn’t remember what he had for breakfast - how could he remember me from back then.

 

On the other hand, Mindy and I went to see Rami Kleinstein in an intimate workshop he did on songwriting, in one of the small rooms in the back of Tzavta Tel Aviv. Rami did remember me from then and was happy to hear about Mindy and I’s singing career together. Rami is a great guy!

 

Next month, we’ll tell you about an instrument that both Larry and Mindy have a medical history with!

Contact Us
054-6446396 / 050-5921628
larry@larryandmindy.co.il
or
mindy@larryandmindy.co.il