Les Moore

At the tender age of 14, Les Moore found himself hitchhiking from his home in Southern California to hippie-infested San Francisco. Playing coffee houses and parks by day and commune crashing at night, Moore was quickly disillusioned with the acid-fueled chaos that by 1967 was already veering out of control. A year later, while every other human being with hair grown past the shoulders was heading for California, Moore wandered east, eventually settling in New Orleans.

The Big Easy’s laid-back style suited Les, who made his transition from Donovan clone to introspective songwriter. A regular at notable clubs such as Andy’s and The Warehouse, Moore shared bills with Cat Stevens, Procol Harum, and Jethro Tull; he hooked up with Terry Kane of Capricorn Records after a gig in support of the Allman Brothers. The resulting album got shelved upon the death of Duane Allman, the label sinking into new-artist hibernation. After fighting to be released from their respective contracts, Moore and Kane founded Natural Records for the release of a lone album, 1973’s Yesterday. The LP’s dark subject matter takes a turn for the darker on “Ooh-Pah-Do-Pah-Do” as visions of a Kleenex-plagued slum are invoked and Jesus is asked to “hurry.” The album’s poor retail performance forced Kane and Moore west in search of a new deal. Despite the similar-sounding James Taylor’s then-current vogue and a rash of labels hunting down artists who could ride those coattails, Moore never was hitched to any star’s wagon. Natural Records dissolved in the wake of one of Kane’s hypoglycemic fits, and Les Moore headed back east, stopping to record an album in Austin before finally settling into relative obscurity in Matthews, North Carolina.

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