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A guy wearing his hair long can be certain of some kind of reaction from the uptight fringe of the Establishment. The further away he gets from the hip areas of a city, the stranger the reactions. Leon Russell, one of the best rock musicians in the country, has a little scoring system he uses in evaluating these hostile reactions. His system is based on a scale from one to ten. For example: If a little old lady stares at him with mouth agape - as if he were picking his nose in front of a P.T.A. meeting - she would be ruled a three. If it were a redneck who outright hated the sight od him and could easily be violent - Leon would rate him a ten.
There is hardly a place a guy with long hair can go without getting some kind of negative response - be it from a saleslady who deliberately ignores him, a restaurant asking him to leave, or constant harassment from the heat. (Didn't you know that wearing long hair automatically means that you are a dope fiend?)
Some guys wear their hair long because they simply like it, or as a form of protest, and some, because it is a part of their way of earning a living - or a combination of these reasons.
Red Shepard, the spectacularly thatched individual on these pages, receives more than his share of number ten reactions, because his hair is a little unreal in addition to being long.
Even with his wild hair, Red has it a lot easier than most long-hairs; he lives and works right in the middle of Hollywood, California, where all the action is. Transplanted to a redneck state he'd blow their minds, even though his abundance of hair is a vital part of his scene - which is playing the part of Berger in the fantastic rock musical Hair.
Red feels that Hair is one of the greatest things that ever happened to him: it has helped him get his head straight about life. prior to joining the Hair tribe, he played in various rock groups such as Red Shepard and his Flock, Salvation and Sea Train, formerly the Blues Project.
The Hair musical's message is basically: Let it be - what is to be, is to be, and let's all love one another. As Red puts it: "The idea is to love one another, to be positive and to eliminate all negative forces, thoughts and actions. To surround yourself with positive people - people who are not selfish, who do things for other people, and don't expect anything - nothing in return."
At a sidewalk health food cafe on the Sunset Strip, and looking over a huge schooner of orange juice blended with honey and other health giving goodies, Red continues, "Right down to the smallest fleeting thought - it's either positive or negative. A person must eliminate all negative situations and think and act only in a positive manner."
Red speaks in a calm, confident tone - completely at peace with himself. He says "Tied into this philosophy is the belief in a universal being - that God is everywhere, in everyone and everything. Knowing this, everyone should act accordingly, be it to another human or an animal. Then people wouldn't be afraid of each other. They wouldn't kill each other, they wouldn't kill animals, and they would take care of their health."
Red performs six nights a week. During the day he writes music, and for relaxation he rides his slightly chopped Sportster.
Speeding along, with his feet up on freeway pegs, his hair pushed back by the wind - making it appear as if he were wearing a red mop as a wig - and dressed in super casual clothes (early Thrift Store), he really adds color to the Hollywood scene.
When asked if all that hair is a hassle, he replies, "I love it! It's beautiful. It's wild. It's great - why should I cut it?"
Does it bother him that people point and stare, and even laugh at him?
"No, I'm completely happy - much happier than the people who, because of their narrow vision, are doing the laughing. I have no repressed desires. If I want to do something, wear something - I do it. I don't stop to consider if it's approved, or what someone might think about it. I love them. I understand them. It's just too bad they can't be completely free to love a person in return. Even if he's wearing cowboy boots and swim trunks - what harm?"
Red has had two bikes (Triumphs) before he bought the Sportster. he likes the Sportster best; he considers it a stronger bike, and he feels safer when he really lets it rip on the highways.
He's studied Yoga, and various other eastern religions, and gained something from all of them. But none helped him with his day-to-day life as much as the philosophy of the American Indian, which he has learned since his association with Hair, and from his current studies of Indian philosophy - especially the philosophy of the Hopi Indians.
The living room of his two story house gives evidence of his interest in Indians; Indian artifacts, headdresses, bowls, rugs, and peace pipes are all around.
His beautiful wife, Karalee, digs bikes - rides behind him as if she were glued into position, as he darts through the Hollywood traffic jungle. She also digs his hair, and washes it every other day.
Adding it all up, singing for a living in a hip musical,
at peace with himself and his world, a bike to do his thing on, and a beautiful
woman to wash his hair - tell me, what more could a guy want?
Copyright Easyriders Magazine.