Monday, February 15, 2010

Lee Freeman 1949-2010

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With a heavy heart, we share the sad news that our classmate and friend, Lee Freeman (BHS '67), passed away, yesterday. May the Lord bring comfort and strength to the family during this painful time of loss.

Doug (BHS '66), his brother, wrote:

Hi Cathy.

Lee left us Sunday morning at 2:30 A.M. He died after a long bout with cancer. He put up a good fight for several years.

I don't know of any service that will be held as of yet. Some of his bandmates may be having a memorial soon. I'll keep you posted.

Luv ya.

Thanks for being there.


My personal memories of Lee are most vivid from elementary school. He was one of the funniest guys in our class and always great to hang out with. We would trade comic books and goof off in class which usually got us in trouble - lol! I was so proud of him when I discovered he made the big time with his band, Strawberry Alarm Clock, and would brag that he was my classmate. Lee's memory will live on and he will be missed by many.

6th grade at Joaquin Miller Elementary School, Burbank, California

1961: Wendy Rickard, Lee, Cathy Palmer

Strawberry Alarm Clock

1969: Gene Gunnels, Lee Freeman, Ed King, Paul Marshall

PREVIOUS POST on Lee Freeman

In Loving Memory of our Classmates and Friends...

Memorial: R.I.P. Lee Freeman of Strawberry Alarm Clock; February 14, 2010

And had to add this great photo from the SAC message board:

What a cutie!

Just received the following email and GREAT pics & vids from Lee's friend, Roy/Frog - Thanks Frog!

Hi Cathy Frog AKA Roy Simison here. I have been Lee's friend since 1963 so Lee's passing has had a great effect on me, he did say goodbye as he passed and told me everything was cool so I am good with that. I thought a couple more pictures to what you have already posted might be of interest.

Paul Marshall Lee Gaffney and Lee Freeman

The Vectors
Lee Freeman Steve Rabe and Cut Johnson This was his first band before Thee Sixpence.

Lee and his brother Doug

Another picture of that smiling face

Lee playing harmonica with Lynyrd Skynyrd Live from Winterland San Francisco, CA 1975



February 16, 2010 UPDATE

Received some thoughts about Lee from Phil Young, BHS '65 - thank you, Phil!

Lee Freeman
1949 – 2010

Lee, you were more than my brother-in-law in the late 60’s - you were my best friend and the father of my nephew Evan…

As I was preparing to deploy to Vietnam you were supportive, and ever positive.

Upon my return, the 1st time I saw you was at my folk’s garage ( 736 Andover Dr .). I was trying my new reel-to-reel tape recorder. As it played Chicago doing “Only the Beginning” you walked up the driveway with your broad infectious smile looking like an original “Fabulous Furry Freak Brother.” We hugged and sang “only the beginning…” It was late in the year, and I’ve been prone to melancholy that season since, but you helped me so much shake-the-blues.

You encouraged me to help with the equipment of the Strawberry Alarm Clock, and I recall taping you live at a gig in Huntington Beach . It also resulted in accompanying the band to the wedding of Russ Meyer & Edy Williams from your work on the sound track for Meyer’s film “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.” I remember we shared a table with Hugh Hefner and his lady. There were just so many happy memories: shooting pool at Chris Burke’s, softball at the park, Yosemite trips Memorial Day & 4th of July 1970 (survivors of the Stoneman Meadow incident [riot]; ironic that I went on to a career with the National Park Service and ended up a Regional Special Agent), from a SAC concert tour down south you turned-me-onto the Allman Brothers Band before they’d been heard of nationally, being roomies together with your brother Doug on East Verdugo where we had use of the band equipment stenciled with “THE ROLLING STONES” across the back (you told me: “they obviously had 1st right-of-use when they are in L.A.”).

Of course, there was the tragic Christmas morning (’72) when your mom and sister were murdered. Many of us felt the loss for having them taken away so pre-maturely and swiftly. I know it was hard times for you, but every time I saw you thereafter you always shared a smile and kindness: of course I recall your trip to Tonto Basin when I was stationed there, going to the Upper Dwelling with Evan and Ranger Phil.

Though the years floated into decades apart, as I followed my trail, you were always in my thoughts. I still use some of the things we learned together amigo. Y

Your son (Evan) is working on his Masters in IT Management at Arizona State University- you have three grandchildren (William, Emily & Andrew). Their maternal uncle Carlos (Noriega) is with NASA, and flew a couple of shuttle missions (got to take a walk too). Meme & I are God parents to Emily. Anyway, just wanted to let you know and THANK YOU for so many great memories… We love you Lee… Phil ( Santa Fe , NM)

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Phil also sent this link:
good source of info re: SAC:

Februray 17, 2010 UPDATE
Neal Hershenson BHS '67 sent this this morning - thanks Neal!

A former coworker and now 30-year friend recalled my blabbing about my tangential connection to Strawberry Alarm Clock and my pride in knowing Lee Freeman. His memory was jogged by his current coworker, George Bennett, who was also in the group! So, late last year, my friend presented to me a recent photo of the group. Honoring my wish to relay a message, I was later told on the relay's return of Lee's serious illness. And so the Wheel of Life turns - We All are glad we met you, Lee



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February 25, 2010 UPDATE

A few days ago, an LA Times reporter contacted me via Tim Lemm (BHS '67) asking for family contact info to confirm the death of Lee, so I passed the info on to Doug and below we have a great photo with an obituary:

PASSINGS: Lee Freeman, Betty Lou Keim, Menachem Porush, Thomas Michael Eggers, Judith Paige Mitchell

Freeman, Strawberry Alarm Clock member, dies at 60; Keim, actress, dies at 71; Porush, Israeli rabbi, dies at 93; Eggers, former Dana Point councilman, dies at 61; Mitchell, writer, dies at 77

February 24, 2010

Lee Freeman was an original member of the Strawberry Alarm Clock from the days when the band was called Thee Sixpence. He played rhythm guitar, sang and wrote lyrics. (August 31, 1991)

Lee Freeman

'60s band had No. 1 hit

Lee Freeman, 60, a member of the 1960s' band Strawberry Alarm Clock, famous for its flower-power anthem that became a No. 1 hit in 1967, died of cancer Feb. 14 at his home in the Bay Area, his brother, Doug, said in an e-mail.

Freeman, who played rhythm guitar, sang and wrote lyrics, was an original member of the band, which was called Thee Sixpence when it was formed in 1966. None of the band members wanted to sing lead on "Incense and Peppermints," intended to be released on the B-side of a single, so a friend on hand for the recording session volunteered.

The group also supplied music for the film "Psych-Out" in which it also appeared.

Freeman, born Nov. 8, 1949, in Burbank, continued to play with the band during reunions.

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April 23, 2010 UPDATE
Stumbled upon this LA Times article from Feb 27, 2010:

Musing with the news obituaries staff

Lee Freeman, Strawberry Alarm Clock's gentle soul
February 27, 2010 | 11:23 am

Lee Freeman, a founding member of the 1960s group the Strawberry Alarm Clock, was "a gentle soul and free spirit," said bandmate George Bunnell. "You can hear it in his songs." Freeman died Feb. 14 of cancer. He was 60.

I asked Bunnell during an e-mail conversation for a story about Freeman that was connected to a specific song. Here is part of his reply:

"We were asked by Dick Clark to take part in his movie 'Psych-Out.' He asked us not only to appear in it as ourselves, but to provide several songs as the landscape.

"More importantly he asked us to write the theme song. He had been using Simon & Garfunkel's 'Sounds of Silence' as the temporary theme. He wanted something along those lines as the central character played by the late Susan Strasberg was deaf and blind.

"Lee immediately had an idea for the lyrics and along with our guitarist Ed King they wrote and sang one of the most gorgeous pieces of psych pop ever recorded, 'Pretty Song From Psych-Out.' Not the title they had intended the song to have ... but, oh well. It was released as a single (the B side to 'Sit With the Guru') and appears on both the 'Psych-Out' soundtrack LP (but performed by a group called the Story Book ... oddly enough?) and on the Strawberry Alarm Clock's 'Wake Up It's Tomorrow' LP."

Above you'll find a video to another song from the "Psych-Out" soundtrack, "Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow." And you can find Freeman's obituary here.

-- Keith Thursby

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R.I.P. Lee Freeman of Strawberry Alarm Clock; Nov 8, 1949 - Feb 14, 2010

Photos from Lee Freeman's memorial celebration, March 20, 2010 and HERE and HERE and HERE

Another Lee Story

Lee and Jane

Note from Katy Leigh Freeman

Cards and letters for Jane Freeman can be sent to:
P.O. Box 802 in Millbrae, CA 94030
Donations in his name can be sent to the hospice that helped so much
or to your local humane society because Lee was a great lover of cats and dogs and he would like that.

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Please share your comments below - thank you.


  1. Lee had a tremendous level of energy and talent; even willing to loan a surfboard to others.

  2. Sorry to hear about Lee...sending my sympathies to his family and friends...i didn't know Lee very well at all, however i understand losing a loved one to Cancer...God Bless you Lee....Kathy(Treloar-67)

  3. Cathy,

    Thank you so much for letting us all know about Lee Freeman. I am so very sorry as he was a great guy. I lived across the street from him on Sixth Street for many years and we kind of grew up together. I remember playing Army and many other "boy" games as I was the only girl in the area. Both Lee and Doug have left many fond memories with me.

    Judy (Rayl) Smith

  4. Hi Cathy,
    Sorry to here about Lee Freeman, my sympathys go out to his family. Although I did not know Lee personally I did used to brag about having a fellow classmate in the Strawberry Alarm Clock Band. My son a couple years ago even remember how I talked about it and bought me a cd of the Strawberry Alarm Clock. "Incence Peppermints" was one of the great song of the times.

    Carol Nicholls Lebrecht
    BHS '67

  5. So sorry to hear about Lee. We were pals back at John Muir where we used to harass our metal shop teacher, Mr. Benz. I met Lee in 9th grade I think and lost touch after he got the band going. I always think about him when I hear the Strawberry Alarm Clock songs.
    RIP Lee, Glen Cowan
    BHS '67

  6. Cathy,
    Thank you for this very sad news.
    Larry Carletta
    BHS '67

  7. WE are so very sorry for the Freeman's family's loss...Our prayers are with them...Thanks, Cathy...
    Love, Pam and Jon Kirkwood
    BHS '64

  8. Lee's talents were already known to many of us at Muir. When he sang "Surfer Girl", while kneeling on the stage a an assembly, I think there were many hearts beating a bit faster for him. He was a great guy, and loved by many. Thanks to so many for their postings.
    Jan DeJaegher

  9. I sat across from Lee in Mr. Ansalone's BHS Algebra class. I don't remembeer a lot of people, but I remember Lee. I don't remember details, just Lee.

  10. Hi Cathy,
    I remember Lee very well, we had Jammed together in Bob Petersons garage with other friends like Doug Rosner and Ed Grinde. I didn't meet him until I got to BHS and had him in a couple of classes. After leaving BHS, I also bragged to friends about knowing one of the band members in the Strawberry Alarm Clock.
    Stay Blessed!
    Michael Torres
    BHS '67

  11. I first met Lee in our Sixth Grade class at Miller Elementary. I remember he was quite the character even then. He used to hang out with Larry Palmer and those two used to always seem to get into trouble with our teacher, Mrs. Ostrowsky. I remember he always had a smile on his face and that is how I will always remember him especially when they play "Incense & Peppermints" by the Strawberry Alarm Clock. I too used to brag about being one of his classmates. I see that he has left behind many fans through his music and his personable demeanor, and that, in itself, is a great accomplishment! Rest in Peace Lee, you have truly left your imprint on the world!

    Cathy Nicholls Coyle
    BHS Class of '67

  12. Sara Lee Marino Becaria2/20/10, 1:34 AM

    So sorry to hear the sad news of Lee's passing. He was one of the funniest guys around Miller Elementary and that mischievous smile let you know he was just about to upset the classroom and end up in the hallway. What a talented musician. Lee definitely left his mark. To his brother, Doug and to his family I send my deepest condolences. My prayers are with you. Sara Lee Marino Becaria BHS '67

  13. Sara Marino ! it has been a very long time since I heard that name we do know one another we did hang out in the old neighborhood there was you your sister Lee , Ken Markham we all became surfers along with Horace Cook , Doug Froberg and a few others , I even remember your first love Eddie Garret. Question is do you remember me.
    Frog aka Roy Simison

  14. I will always love him

  15. Sorry to hear about Lee's passing.
    I remember Lee as the little brother to Pat and Doug. Pat was a good friend of mine and Karen Laslo. I still miss her.
    We were all so proud of Lee when his band, Strawberry Alarm Clock got a hit record. So much tragedy in that family.
    Doug I send my sympathy to you and your family.
    Jodi Gable Firgens

  16. Tammy (Stepanow) Klinger4/21/10, 11:54 AM

    My heart is broken and sad. Pat and I were very close friends, that too was another broken piece of my heart. Many good memories over at the house with Lee goofing off all the time and Pat and I cracking up. Those were some good memories. Lee was so serious about being a rock star and Pat and I would just go "Yeah right dream on" ...... but when he did become a star, we couldn't be more happier for him. Wow! So proud of him. He will be missed greatly. This was a nice tribute to him thanks.......Tammy (Stepanow)Klinger BHS '64

  17. I went steady with Lee my junior and senior year. He was a great friend, musician, and love. His talent and compassion were beyond words. The memories of our time together could never be duplicated. Music in every thing we did. I remember sitting for hours listening to him, Ed King and others jam. I cherish those memories and the world will miss a wonderful, lovely man.
    To his family, my prayers are with you during this very sad time. Sincerely, Debbie(Blatnik) Roberson