Cosmic R&B combo The Loading Zone formed in Oakland, California, in 1967. Following the dissolution of his jazz combo, The Tom Paul Trio, Paul Fauerso recruited Marbles guitarists Pete Shapiro and Steve Dowler, followed by bassist Bob Kridle and drummer George Newcom, quickly establishing The Loading Zone’s original line-up.
Though rooted in R&B, the band also dabbled in psych, jazz and electric blues, fittingly opening for Cream and many others at the Fillmore West, as favourites of the late Bill Graham.
The original line-up was disbanded in late 1968, having made no recordings. In the same year, however, just prior to signing with RCA, vocalist Linda Tillery responded to an advert that Fauerso placed in the San Francisco Chronicle and was given the lead singer’s spot.
When it finally came out, The Loading Zone’s eponymous debut LP failed to capture the excitement of their live sets. Despite being partially saved by a take on God Save The Child, it was savaged by critics for its excessive production and ham-fisted Motown covers.
The group soon split again and Linda was immediately signed by Columbia, where she recorded the underrated Al Kooper-produced Sweet Linda Divine LP in early 1970. That same year Fauerso reformed the group with guitarist Steve Busfield, bassist Mike Eggleston and drummer George Marsh, recording the One For All LP for the Umbrella label.
Known for its unusual time signatures and now regarded as one of the rarest records from San Francisco’s ‘golden era’, One For All has become increasingly hard to find.
Following the album release, Tillery rejoined the band in late 1971, though it’s unclear how long she stayed for, and entirely possible that she left again before The Loading Zone’s demise in 1973.
Following the band’s final dissolution, Fauerso went on to produce Beach Boy Mike Love’s solo album and created a handful of New Age records, while Linda went solo, establishing her own label in the late ’70s.
The latter-day Loading Zone largely functioned as a launching pad for various other musicians too; Wendy Hass (former bassist of The Freudian Slips) later joined Azteca as a singer, while Tom Coster later played with Santana.
Perhaps most famously of all, however, the Zone’s 16-year-old roadie, Steve “Doc” Kupka, would go on to form The Tower Of Power after regularly joining The Loading Zone onstage to play baritone sax.