I first met Snatam Kaur (in this incarnation) in Los Angeles when she was 10 years old. Prabhu Nam Kaur, her mother, introduced me as the man who wrote Song of the Khalsa. It made a big impression on her. So big she doesn’t remember it at all! But I do. She was so clear and strong. It was just after she had decided to live with her mother to immerse herself in Dharma. An amazing choice for a ten year old.
When she got into her teens, she and I would interact musically whenever we could. We played the background music during the reception at one of Yogi Bhajans birthday parties. We just sat together in the middle of a party tent, with people milling about, and played Guru Ram Dass shabds, songs, and chants for about 1 1/2 hours. We didn’t prepare enough material, so we played the same set of songs over and over.
Another time, in her teens, Shakti Parwha Kaur (the mother of 3HO), Snatam, and I, formed a little “Jetha”, or band, to play at Summer Solstice ransabhai kirtan. We are all three Geminis, about 20 years apart, so we dubbed ourselves “Gemini Generations”. I loved it. It was so sweet. So beautiful.
In 1995, we were both in Amritsar. I was starting to have anxiety and panic episodes, but I didn’t know what they were. (It is genetic, I found out later.) It seemed to me like I was losing my mind. In an open and vulnerable state, I wrote about my experiences at the Golden Temple. My prayers, as I was seeking healing and deliverance, somehow became the song “Walk Upon the Marble”.
It was so personal and meaningful to me that I was not going to play it in public. But I did play it for Snatam. She was the first to hear it and it’s so perfect that all these years later, her energy and voice are on the recording.
Soon after that, when Snatam was living at home but still in college, I was in town for some reason and visited them in their home. I suggested that we write a song together. She was pretty excited about that. I was also really interested to see what we could come up with.
We wrote “At the Feet of the Teacher”, which is on the first Peace Family Album “Reunion“.
Fast forward to our Winter Solstice event in Florida later that year. GuruGanesha, Snatam, and I, were sitting around jamming. We played our new song, “At the Feet of the Teacher” for GuruGanesha. He joined right in, jammin away. After we finished, he said, “We sound great together. Why don’t we record an album?” Snatam and I both thought it was a great idea.
Right there in the dirt, right on the spot, Peace Family Band was formed. GuruGanesha and I both had been in bands and loved it. To me it can be blissful to sit in the middle of the music as it’s created. It’s like you step into a river of light, sound, and peace. You float down the stream, swirling in the encompassing sound current.
We recorded the first album “Reunion” in Phoenix at Liv Singh’s studio. It was a wild experience energetically. There were times when Liv Singh saw Guru Gobind Singh in the room with us. It was like nothing I had ever been through. Very powerful energy.
Then we did a second album “Carry Us Home“. Snatam and I wrote several songs for that album, and all three of us collaborated on some. It has some healing energy, which I found out later through people telling me about their experiences listening to it through their illnesses.
I just made it through that recording, barely, when my health cratered. (I’m OK now). I could barely function, a situation that would go on for another 12 or 14 years (but who’s counting?) I could no longer participate.
After that, Snatam really wanted to bring a chant/meditative experience to people. That’s when she went in a different direction and GuruGanesha went with her. Her career, as you know it today, was off and running.
GuruGanesha and I met in a unique way. I was head of the Atlanta ashram. When I went on tour with the Khalsa String Band in 1974, I left the ashram with a woman in charge. While we were gone, one of the men living there started acting weird and belligerent. He said he was in charge and was creating havoc. GuruGanesha, who lived in the Wash. DC ashram, was sent down with another man to evict the troublemaker.
They did the job. GuruGanesha, savior of the Ashram! (Shouldn’t he get a super hero costume for that?) Ganesh stayed on to keep an eye on things until I returned home from the tour. That was when I got to know him. GuruGanesha is one of those silent sevadars who helps people under the radar. When I was sick he really helped me a lot and got me through to the next stage of my recovery. He won’t mention it, but I will.
We were a bunch and a band. I love them then, I love us now.