The Charlatans, Band Described As Too Wild for the 1960s, Formed at SF State

Thursday, September 28, 2017

FLASHBAK -- When Lewis transferred to San Francisco State College in 1962, Hunter followed her there, too. And that’s how he met his future co-founder of the Charlatans, Richard Olsen, who’d left Chicago a year or so earlier to study jazz and maybe, just maybe, make it as a musician in the vibrant jazz scene in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood.

“I actually met Lucy before I met George,” Olsen says. “She was a dancer, and I was a music major, studying clarinet—we were both in the creative arts department at San Francisco State.” Before long, Hunter and Olsen were collaborating with Lewis on the dance performances she was choreographing with her roommate, Joan Alexander. Lewis recruited Olsen to be one of her dancers. Hunter, whose interest in hi-fi audio components was as keen as his affinity for architecture, provided the sounds.

“George was into in tape music,” Lewis says, referring to a genre of prerecorded audio championed by composer John Cage. “We gave him this little broom closet to work in, and he transformed it into a music studio.”