Friday, 29 January 2016

Pay Your Tax, Man

Taking their name from the 1947 John Steinbeck novel, or more likely the cheesy 1957 Jayne Mansfield/Joan Collins film adaptation of the same, The Wayward Bus was one of several studio projects from composer Tupper Sussay: musician turned advertising man and political agitator, and co-author of the biography of Martin Luther King’s assassin.

Tupper ‘rocked American music in 1969 with The Moth Confesses, a “phonograph opera” he wrote for The Neon Philharmonic’, apparently. His life reads like something out of a very long and convoluted film: Frederick Tupper Saussy III (July 3, 1936 – March 16, 2007) was a theologian, a restaurant owner, a King assassination conspiracy theorist, anti-government pamphleteer, and radical opponent of the federal government’s taxation laws. Born in Statesboro, Georgia, he grew up in Tampa, Florida and graduated from the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee, in 1958, releasing an album with his combo - Jazz at Sewanee - with a subsidy from the University. He studied piano with Oscar Peterson at the School of Jazz, and was ‘discovered’ by Dave Brubeck.

Saussy taught English at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, co-founded the ad agency McDonald and Saussy in 1962, but kept a hand on his musical career with recording dates and the occasional club sessions. He signed to Monument Records the following year and issued his proper debut album, Discover Tupper Saussy, which was produced by Fred Foster (Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson), with liner notes by Brubeck. He composed The Beast with Five Heads for the Nashville Symphony - based on "The Bremen Town Musicians" and designed to replace Peter and the Wolf as a work to teach schoolchildren about orchestration. For its 1968/69 season, the Nashville Symphony commissioned him to write a piano concerto for Bill Pursell.

He then wrote Morning Girl, a top 20 hit and Grammy nominee for pop band The Neon Philharmonic, and worked on TV ads for Mama Cass and the hateful Anita Bryant. He would later write several books, go on the run from the government after cocking a snook at the IRS, spend more than a year in prison. Oh, he was a creationist too, and believed that all anyone needed to know could be found within the pages of the King James Bible.

Anyway, if you want to know more about Tupper, go raid the interwebs.

Released by RCA in 1968, The Prophet features The Wayward Bus backing David Hoy, ‘psychic’, Tarot reader and stage mentalist. A cut-price Criswell, if you will, Hoy is best remembered for taking part in a stunt in 1977 to coax the Loch Ness Monster from its watery home. I’ve not included the b-side, as it’s just an instrumental version of the same track. The Wayward Bus released at least one other 45 on RCA, backing Tupper on two tracks, the dull instrumental Love Him and the peculiar vaudeville-inspired Edgar Whitsuntide. 

My thanks to The Squire for alerting me to this little nugget. Enjoy!


  1. 1/29/16 Wrote:
    Thanks for mentioning the weird but inspiring Tupper Saussy. I have his first Monument album in my collection. By far, it's his most "normal" album compared to his later material, a full album of harmless instrumental piano suites with orchestral arrangement. He followed that up in 1965 with an instrumental jazz piano album of Mary Poppins songs (also on Monument Records.) "Morning Girl" is his most accessible recording, which probably why it received Top 20 airplay here in the States. He only got more peculiar from there on. Tuper also had a hand in helping out Ray Stevens during his Monument Records period (mostly on the 1968 "Even Stevens" album.)

  2. Is the cover art of the Prophet a cryptic reference that the end of the world is approaching, and that we need to act on Hoy's prophecies?


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