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"It never happened," Huttenhower says from his Los Angeles office. "If Doug was still in the band, the record would still have come out. The situation with Doug was hampering the existence and productivity of the band. I liked Doug when he was contributing. But that hasn't been flowing for a long time. It's unfortunate. Doug's a very talented guy, but he's got a problem. Read his lyrics. It's all over them."
Huttenhower is working both sides of the street with the point about Hopkins' lyrics, however. While it's true that verses like this from "Lost Horizons--I'll drink enough of anything/To make myself look new again/Drunk, drunk, drunk/In the gardens and the graves--obviously reveal a preoccupation with alcohol, it's also true that those lyrics and that kind of song--what the Blossoms do best--led Huttenhower to sign the Blossoms to A&M.
That alcohol is such a scapegoat shows that there may have been more at work in the band's decision to boot Hopkins than just his drinking. After five years together, it's clear from the comments and attitude on both sides that relationships within the band had fractured. Once the best of friends, Wilson and Hopkins, for example, started feuding--and haven't stopped.
"Someone put it to me the other day that when Robin joined the band, the first band he'd ever been in, I was his hero," Hopkins says. "But when he found out I was human, I let him down and that's when things between us went sour."
The band never told Hopkins directly that he was out. He had to learn of it from ex-manager Laura Liewen, who told him, she recalls, "because I thought he should know."
When it came to replacing Hopkins, the band members say they're better off without him. The only catch is his songs. But the band claims that's not a problem.
"If Doug had been a songwriting genius, maybe the band and the label could have put up with it," Valenzuela says, ignoring the obvious fact that, genius or not, Hopkins was the best the Blossoms had.
"The only songs of Doug's we're doing now are 'Hey, Jealousy' and 'Hold Me Down,'" Wilson says. "And personally, I co-wrote 'Hold Me Down.' And on 'Hey, Jealousy,' Jesse wrote a lot of the music. I also wrote a lot of the melody and a couple of the lyrics there. That song is so much a part of us, it says 'Doug Hopkins' next to it but we really wrote it as a group.
"There are a couple of songs like 'Lost Horizons' that are Doug Hopkins songs, but he wasn't even there when we fucking recorded them. We did it without him."
Hopkins explodes when he hears what Wilson says about him and his songs.
"This shit about them wanting a piece of 'Hey, Jealousy' or something is just patently fuckin' ridiculous," Hopkins says during a separate interview at Restaurant Mexico. (The restaurant itself, being right across the street from Long Wong's in Tempe, is an integral part of the group's existence, even for ex-members.) "He didn't write a note of that. Neither did Jesse. Robin's a coattail-jumping son of a bitch! "When I write a song, I write a melody note for note. Anyone who knows my writing can pick out a Doug song. And as for me not being on the record, that's bullshit--my fuckin' guitar is all over it."
Hopkins has a point there--and other Blossoms besides Robin Wilson would acknowledge it. "When we got to Memphis, it became obvious that he just couldn't handle it and he didn't want to be there. So he didn't have much input," Valenzuela says. "He worked pretty hard the first four or five days. Then he went home. Once he came back, we couldn't get him to do much work. But most of the solos [on the record] are still Doug's."
The most succinct statement of the band's view of what happened to Doug Hopkins in Memphis came from Bill Leen, who had played in bands with Hopkins since they went to McClintock High School together in the late Seventies.
"He broke," says Leen.
@body:The Blossoms will always have the distinction of being the first rock n' roll band from the Tempe scene to be signed by a major label. (The other national act from Tempe, the Meat Puppets, signed with indie SST before finally jumping to a major label last year.)
As the biggest band in Tempe for the past five years, the Blossoms gave new meaning to the term "working band." In 1989, the Long Wong's calendar confirms, the band played there 72 times. In one month, the Blossoms remember playing 17 shows at either the Sun Club or Long Wong's. They estimate their average back then to be 12 shows a month. Those figures include the band's alter ego, the Del Montes, a trashy cover band that was a big hit at Long Wong's. Back then the Blossoms were relatively prim.
"I remember going onstage with my shirt tucked in, for Christ's sake. With a belt!" says Hopkins, who always uses "we" as if he were still in the band.