sandy hurvitz - essra mohawk - uncle meat

Sandy Hurvitz performed as an opener for, and performed with the Mothers Of Invention during their 1967 concert series at the Garrick Theatre. At these concerts, she was presented as Uncle Meat.
In the early seventies, Sandy Hurvitz changed her name to Essra Mohawk.
Hurvitz / Mohawk compositions have been performed by various artists, including The Shangri-Las, Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, Rita Coolidge, ...

Essra Mohawk and Edo recorded Don Van Vliet's 'Party Of Special Things To Do' for a Beefheart tribute album on Genus Records, released in 2005.

Sandro Oliva and his band backed Essra Mohawk at her Zappanale performance. After Zappanale, Sandro had to go home for personal reasons, but Essra went to France to perform at the Rochefort-En-Accords festival.



  jamie carter: the boy with the way / memory of your voice
    (1964, 7", usa, liberty records) - jamie carter = sandy hurvitz
1 sandy hurvitz: sandy's album is here at last
    (1967, lp, usa, verve) - arranged & produced by ian underwood
2 sandy hurvitz: premordial lovers
    (1970, lp, usa, wb reprise 6377)
3 essra mohawk: essra mohawk
    (1974, lp, usa, elektra/asylum 7e-1023)
4 essra mohawk: essra
    (1976, lp, usa, private stock records ps2024)
5 essra mohawk: burnin' shinin'
    (1982, lp, usa, san francisco sound sfs 11810)
6 essra mohawk: e-turn
    (1985, lp, usa, eclipse records #e0001)
  kool & the gang: everything is kool & the gang
    (1988, lp, usa, ??) - arranger
7 essra mohawk: raindance
    (1995, cd, usa, schoolkids records #skr1528)
  various artists: schoolhouse rocks the vote!
    (1996, cd, usa, ??) - vocals, producer, speech/speaker/speaking Part
8 essra mohawk: the secret diva
    (1998, cd, usa, axial music)
9 essra mohawk: essie mae hawk meets the killer groove band
    (1999, cd, usa, axial music)
10 essra mohawk: premordial lovers mm
    (2002, cd, usa, rhino handmade)
11 essra mohawk: live at genghis
    (2003, cd, usa, ??)
  various artists: mama kangaroos
    (2005, cd, usa, genus records) - all compositions by don van vliet

  various artists: zappanale #22
    (2011, cd-promo, ger, arf society) - incl. various artists playing frank zappa compositions

zappanale22_samplercd.jpg (7720 bytes)

  essra mohawk: zappanale 22
    (2011, dvdr, ger, private release) - incl. zappa & beefheart compositions / feat. sandro oliva & gary lucas

essra_z22_dvd.jpg (11660 bytes)

  various artists: zappanale #22 - retrospectacular
    (2011, cd, ger, arf society) - incl. various artists playing frank zappa compositions

zappanale22.jpg (12469 bytes)

  from straight to bizarre
    (2012, dvd, uk, chrome dreams)



from the "Sandy's Album Is Here At Last" liner notes: (from the Edsel Reissue in 1994)
Essra's corrections are below the article.


"In the middle of the show Zappa introduces "this strange little person in her mod clothes who is called Uncle Meat. She is a very young expressionless girl with silky hair who sings sometimes in duet with Ray (Collins). They stand with their arms around each other rubbing chests and looking tender and mournful. They even dance with each other separated by a century of style. Uncle Meat also gazes through a kaleidoscope or rattles a hypnotic rhythm on the tambourine or parries Ray's carrot swordplay using a lettuce leaf for a shield."

Those were the days my friend. We feared they'd never end. The scene described by Doon Arbus was the Garrick Theater on Bleecker Street in New York City's Greenwich Village. It was the summer of 1967~~ when if you were going to San Francisco! you had to wear some flowers in your hair. The Summer Of love of the Monterey Pop Festivals of the Beatles' "'Sgt. Pepper" and of the Mothers Of Invention's "Absolutely Free". It was also the name of the show the group perpetrated on uncomprehending audiences who came to be entertained and abused in equal measure.

Uncle Meat was just one of the identities assumed in this case unwillingly by Sandra Hurvitzs an intense teenager whose dreamy, earnest songs encapsulated the spirit of her times. "I'm one of the people who never changed," she told Bruce Pollock two decades later. "In the 50s 1 was in the 60s. I remember friends of my parents saying, "Watch her, she's gonna be a beatnick." They were right.

I know from the ages of five to ten I thought I was from another planet. I had a persecution complex - but I was really persecuted. Every time we moved I would meet the wrong people. But music always got me over. Whenever I sang, everyone liked me. For that moment everything was cool. By the time I was 14, I had a piano and a guitar and I was filling up books with my songs."

She'd spent her formative years on Long Islands where she was born in 1947; but by the time she was 16~~ the family were living in Philadelphia and Sandra had dispensed with her complex. "I found a beatnik school downtown. People liked to discuss things and talk a lot. Suddenly they were all like me for a minute." Still, it was only a matter of degree. "I was never a joiner, especially in the 60s, when everyone was joining things. I figured they were all joining these things to get where I was already. Most of these people were straight and I had never been straight."

But she was determined. At 16, she recorded one of the earliest examples of folk-rock, "The Boy With The Way"~~ for Liberty Records using the name Jamie Carter. Beyond playing a dance in Youngstown, Ohio, nothing came of her debut. A couple of years later she received an offer from John Sebastian's publishers to write songs for $50 a week. Neither this nor her art studies at Philadelphia Community College impressed hex so in June 1967, she and a friend set off for California to see what the Monterey Pop Festival was about. In the events they wound up at the Free Hippie Festival that took place nearby.

"I was a fearless teenager then. We were all adolescents forever. Our parents had been through the Depression, therefore they over protected us so we were allowed to remain children longer than any generation in history. So we didn't know responsibility. We didn't know caution. We only knew freedom."

Sandy exercised her freedom and returned to Philadelphia and her erstwhile boyfriend, Cal Schenkels already a promising artist and designer. Shortly aftenwards two girl friends from Los Angeles came east to see him. They asked Sandy if she'd like to accompany them to New York. Walking through the Villages they encountered Frank Zappa. The two Californians shouted "Canter's!" and "Ben Frank's" (hangouts for LA freaks) thereby securing Frank's attention and free entry to that night's show.

"When I went to hear the Mothers (flautist) Jeremy Steig was opening that night. It was the only concert I ever heard on acids and I ended up being in both bands." The girls stayed in New York and hung out with the band. "One day Don (Preston) was not

feeling well she told Dave Dimartinos "and a new electric keyboard had arrived. Frank had heard somehow that I played a little and since Don was ills he asked me would I play the keyboard a little bit for him.

"The only things I knew how to play were some songs I had written. Frank had sort of stepped off the stage to hear the sound of the piano and when he heard me playing and singing my songs he jumped back up and asked me to follow him. He said "Come into my office" and then said "How would you like to be a Mother?" And I said "Sure"."

"One of Frank's jokes was that he liked to use opposites to call people. Like Suzie Creamcheesey another of his characters was a real bitch. Her name was (Pamela) Zarubica~~ ands let me tell you she was a real Zarubica. So she had this attitude and he called her something soft - Suzie Creamcheese. I was real nice and sweets so he called me Uncle Meat." In fact the name had been coined by Ray Collins one day at rehearsal. Frank pounced on it gleefully and decreed that Sandy should assume the identity.

"After a couple of months of it I said "Hey I really don't want to be Uncle Meat"! and Frank said "I'm sorry, but I must insist you are." And I said "Wells excuse me. Here I thought you were Frank Zappa the wonderful musician and now I find out you're God and you're going to tell me who I am." So a few days went by and he said "Okays you don't have to be Uncle Meat. If you don't want to make money out of the name I will."

She was making money under her own names but not very much. "I opened for everybody at the Cafe Au Go Go, next door to the Garrick. I did three sets a night there three sets a night with the Mothers and three sets with Jeremy Steig & The Satyrs -nine sets a week for fifty dollars a week."

Before the atmosphere turned sours Sandy did get to accompany the Mothers on their first brief European tour in the autumn of 1967. "Melody Maker" got confused when apparently two Suzie Creamcheeses posed on the tarmac at Heathrow Airport on Monday September 18. The "NME" took no chances and identified Sandy, kneeling between Don Preston and Pamela Zarubica, as a "girl-friend". A month before, promoter Tony Secunda had hinted that the band might bring along another chick called "Mother Meat".

It had also been decided that Sandy should be the first artist signed to Bizarre Productions one of the companies along with Nifty, Tough & Bitchen, Young Market Consultants, that handled all Frank Zappa enterprises. However, the growing mutual antipathy between her and Frank curtailed the promise of their work together.

"(It) was gonna be a whole other album. Frank had been producing and we had started on the first tracks and the original Mothers were backing me up. Somewhere that track exists - it's a shames I guess there's no way to get to it - but it's the Mothers playing one of my songs "Arch Godliness Of Purpleful Magic"> and I never even got to put my vocal on it. It was great, I still remember Frank's guitar lick over the front of it."

Sandy liked drummer Billy Mundi's playing over the song's coda and suggested that another take with that drumming all the way through would be better. She capped the ensuing argument by storming out of the studio. Hindsight lent a note of irony to the memory. "It was one of a list of really wise things I've done in the course of my career."

Frank handed the production chores over to Ian Undenwood, the multi-instrumental Berklee graduate who was one of the two music readers in the Mothers at that time. Underwood brought very little enthusiasm to the project. ban just used to sit and put on horn parts and erase them on a daily basis". The only one to survive his self-censorship is on "The Sun". I would bring in a group like Jeremy Steigs (bassist) Eddie Gomez and Ralph McDonald and lay down a tracks in all sincerity and Ian would put poor Jeremy's beautiful flute track all the way in the background."

The resulting album sounded! as Sandy said later, "just like a stripped down demo." There are just three band tracks "3 Hawks"~~ "Many Different Things" and "Love Is What I've Found" in which her accompanists struggle to provide adequate backing when it's required. Otherwise, it's just Sandy and her indifferently-tuned piano. Very much a product of their times her songs are an amorphous combination of tempo and inspiration. None relies upon a consistent tempo. Each runs the full gamut of earnest emotions and quite often her strident vocals render her lyrics indecipherable.

"Arch Godliness" minus the Mothers is a little more coherent. "It was a psychedelic love song. It was about wanting a guy to take an acid trip with men and he wouldn't. And wanting him to commit himself in love and he wouldn't. And saying that after consuming all these things, why it was back to Go anyway." Uh huh. It was a time of loose relationships. "It was real easy to find an orgy in the 60ss if you were a girl. I always remember being recruited for them. People would say, "Hey let's get in a pile". My first awakening was to that kind of thing opens multi-sexual situations. To me that was perfectly normal."

"Sandy's Album Is Here At Last" although of its time was probably a little ahead of it. The singer/songwriter emerged at the very end of the 60s.

Laura Nyro and Joni Mitchell were in the process of establishing themselves during 1968 and Carole King's solo debut was two years hence. David Geffen became Sandy's agent and she moved to California to make her second album, "Primordial Lovers" for Reprise. But Geffen also handed Nyro and Sandys now calling herself Essra Mohawks was destined to stay in her shadow.

In the ensuing years there have been a number of albums and innumerable songs. These days she is a successful songwriters her collaborations include "Change Of Heart" with Cyndi Lauper. It's a long way from "Arch Of Godliness and Purplefull Magic" and "Opening My Love Doors" but the journey's never been less than interesting.





Frist of eventual 3 interviews from 1991 where Essra speaks of 1960's NY, Frank Zappa's biz-like ways & his invite to join The Mothers of Invention on the spot.

Hear their recording "Bizarre Beginnings" @

Visit to see Essra's credits including vocals on School House Rock plus as the songwriter of hit songs on the Pop, Rock, Dance, Rn'B, Country, TV & Kid Video charts.Song in background is "Making Time Stop"

on YT @

-- info: Frank from NY


     From: Essra Mohawk (
     Subject: "she spent her formative years in Long Island" WRONG!

In 1948 (not 1947) on April 23rd, I was born in Philadelphia, where I grew up. I only spent 7 months in Long Island living with a friend and his family. The 'orgies' are a fabrication as well resulting from a flippant remark a boyfriend of mine used to make as a joke. He used to say "Let's all jump in a pile." No one ever acted on it. In fact once, we were at a party where things got a little too racy, so we left. Sorry if the truth isn't as tantalizing as the fiction posted on your website. If it's any consolation, I did experience a few manage-a-trois' back in those days (60's/70's) but no real orgies. Just a lifetime of trying to spread the truth about real life and real music. Some of which will be available on Cherry Street Records Feb.23rd,1999.
Go for more info. I wish people would come to me for information about me. I'm not dead yet. Edsel got it wrong from copying Bruce Pollack's mistakes. Dave DiMartino did the same as Edsel and he has promised to correct the facts in the next printing of his book. Also you have my e-mail address wrong. It's and the flute player's name (on my 'Sandy' album)is spelled S-T-E-I-G. Please correct the information on your website. Feel free to contact me in the future for more info.

-- Essra Mohawk aka Sandra Hurvitz

     From: Essra Mohawk (
     Subject: brief European tour

I did not go on this tour. Wish I had but I wasn't invited. Actually, I didn't know a thing about it till I read about it on the Edsel liner notes almost 30 years after the fact. Speaking of facts, here's another one for you: I did not collaberate with Cyndi Lauper. I wrote "Change of Heart" alone. I receive 100% writers royalties. Cyndi sang one line of lyric differently and moved a few words around here and there. She asked permission and I told her she could sing it any way she liked. The original lyrics can be heard in the upcoming album I referred to in my first note. Hope you post all this on your website so you can set the record straight for interested fans who deserve the truth.

---Essra Mohawk


random notes

     From: GRusso2787 (
Sandy Hurvitz wrote "Change Of Heart," which was a hit for Cyndi Lauper in 1986.

NEW!!! LIVE SHOW IN NEW YORK!!!! Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Knitting Factory, 74 Leonard Street, New York City - Essra Mohawk and Gary Lucas are special guests at "Mama Kangaroos: Philly Women Sing Beefheart" show, with 8 bands 5pm till ?? Essra's set is scheduled for 8pm.

The data for Essra Mohawk w/ EDO: 'Party of Special Things To Do'

Essra Mohawk - Vocals
Pete Wilder - Guitars
Andy McConnell - Guitars
Todd Young - Fender Rhodes
John Thomas - Bass
Rich Moskowitz - Drums
Eliot Duhan - ED
Dan Nosheny - Tuba
Stephen Wise - Saxophones
James Pokorny - Sitar
EDO Recorded @ 1935 by Pete Rydberg & Paul Smith
Essra Recorded by Chris Hinson & Vinnie Alibrandi @ Digital Italy, Nashville
Mixed by Pete Rydberg w/ Mike Villers @ Maja Audio Group
Essra Mohawk appears courtesy of Evidence Music /

The Zappanale info sheet
2011 04

Essra Mohawk - the first! - the only one! - the real Uncle Meat!

Singer/songwriter Essra Mohawk (b. Sandra Elayne Hurvitz, Philadelphia, PA) is a performing songwriter and recording artist whose career encompasses a who's who of popular music. In addition to releasing several critically acclaimed solo albums, she has collaborated with Al Jarreau, Bonnie Bramlett, Al Stewart, Narada Michael Walden, and Keb' Mo'; provided background vocals for John Mellencamp, Jerry Garcia, and Kool & the Gang; and written songs for Cyndi Lauper and Tina Turner.

Liberty Records released her first single, "The Boy with the Way" under the name Jamie Carter when she was 16. She later declined several offers of staff writerships, although the Shangri-Las and Vanilla Fudge began recording her material.

In 1967, Mohawk met Frank Zappa, who, after hearing her sing and play for the first time, immediately asked her to join the Mothers of Invention! He later gave her the name Uncle Meat, a moniker she assumed reluctantly. During this period she opened to Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Grateful Dead, Procol Harum and many other notable 60's artists. Essra was the first artist signed to Zappa's Bizarre label (a Verve subsidiary). Her first album, Sandy's Album Is Here at Last!, appeared soon after and remains the only album released under her birth name. It was during this period that a friend began calling her "Essie," a nickname that quickly morphed into "Essra." In 1969 she married Frazier Mohawk, the producer of her second album, who had worked on Nico's Marble Index. Their working relationship spawned Primordial Lovers, hailed in Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 25 best albums ever made . It missed out on receiving wider publicity at the time of its release, but gradually developed a strong following over the ensuing decades.

Further interest in Mohawk's music was prompted in the mid-'70s by her appearance on Schoolhouse Rock, the popular educational and musical cartoon TV series. Her vocals were featured on "Interjections," "Sufferin' Till Suffrage," and "Mother Necessity." In 1974, Mohawk moved to the Elektra/Asylum label, where she released Essra Mohawk. The album should, by rights, have consolidated her position in the first league of singer/songwriters, but was insufficiently publicized and distributed, despite its positive reviews. Two years later, the same fate greeted her fourth album, Essra, which appeared on Private Stock.

Meanwhile, Mohawk's reputation in musical circles was such that from 1980 to 1982 she performed as a background vocalist with the Jerry Garcia Band after narrowly missing out on joining Jefferson Starship following Grace Slick's departure in 1978.

After recording two solo albums Burnin' Shinin' and E-Turn on indy labels in the 80's, Mohawk enjoyed a huge hit as the songwriter of Cyndi Lauper's Billboard number three hit "Change of Heart," from Lauper's double platinum-selling True Colors album. Later in that decade Tina Turner recorded "Stronger Than the Wind," again penned by Mohawk. In '92 one of her songs found its way onto a major country album, Something in Red by Lorrie Morgan. The album went double platinum.

After moving to Nashville, Mohawk recorded the albums Raindance and Essie Mae Hawk Meets the Killer Groove Band and then -- starting in 2000 -- her earlier material began appearing on CD. Primordial Lovers was reissued by Rhino Handmade in a luxury package including non-LP singles and the entire follow-up album that had originally appeared on Asylum. Within a few years, additional albums -- including 1976's Essra -- were released as Japanese mini-LP CDs, and E-Turn also appeared on CD. In a phase of prolific creativity, albums including You're Not Alone and Love Is Still the Answer, as well as a career roundup of rarities, Revelations of the Secret Diva, were released. Maintaining her presence in television, Essra also contributed songs to the soundtracks of CBS series Joan of Arcadia and All My Children. Mohawk remains an active live attraction and recording artist.

Essra's first three albums were released on CD last year on Collectors Choice, much to the delight of music journalists and fans everywhere.

We are very pleased to welcome Essra Mohawk at Zappanale #22.

Essra Mohawk website:




     From: Charles Ulrich (
Essra's URLs:


the others of invention



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