Id Nirvana


Columbus, 1968-9

Id Nirvana is probably the most famous band from the late 1960s Columbus rock scene, although they never released a record and played out only a few times. Their fame is more for a couple band members' later successes than any other reason. So, here's the story as we can put it together.

Brothers Joe Donovan and Dan Donovan had been in the Fugitives. In 1968 they wanted to put together a heavier original rock band, so they started looking for other like minded musicians. One of the guys they met was Ric Otcasek, who had relocated from Cleveland to attend Ohio State (although that doesn't seem to have happened). Ric had a lot of ideas for songs so he came on board as lead singer. Steve Dodge joined on drums.  For a short time, Tom Williams of the Rebounds played lead guitar. This band played a few gigs at OSU area coffeehouses and clubs. While playing out, they met another relocated Clevelander. Ben Orzechowski. 

From 1968 into early 1969 this group, or most of this group, worked on some songs at Musicol. Although there was reports of an album, only three songs were in the tape library, all written and sung by Otcasek - "Wake", Good Things", and "Love Like Fire". It's not known for sure if Orzechowksi plays on any of the recordings. 

The band was signed onto the Columbus branch of the Abbey Group and the recordings were done in part to get a release for the Abbey Group and Chess records. No completed tape masters (only multitracks) for the above mentioned songs were found, but a Cleveland Recording acetate exists with a completed, mixed "Love Like Fire" backed with a song titled "Chalice" for which there were no tapes found. Despite the acetate label, "Love Like Fire" is the Musicol recording. The guess (and it's a guess) is that this was a possible Abbey Group 45 that was shelved when the Abbey/Chess deal imploded. 

By mid 1969 Otcasek and Orzechowksi were in another band called Leatherwood that was working the Ohio/Michigan concert scene with the MC5, Amboy Dukes, and other Detroit area bands. They seemed to have moved to Michigan by then. The duos' next move was to Boston and name changes to Ric Ocasek and Ben Orr, where they ended up as the Cars.

So you're probably wondering what the Id Nirvana songs sound like - well, the three Musicol recordings are very good. "Good Things" is probably the mosy straight forward of the four, and would have been the choice for a 45. It has the hooks and bridges that would show up in similar form in Cars songs like "Bye Bye Love" and "Let's Go". "Wake" is most complicated, an uptempo song with a psychedelic breakdown. "Love Like Fire" is somewhere in between. All the songs have hints of the Doors, Steppenwolf, and similar sounds of the times. "Chalice" is a much more subued song, it's possible that Orzechowski was involved with this as it could he him singing as the voice is much smoother and refined. 

There's still hope that all four of these songs will have a actual release....

Discography:

Love Like Fire / Chalice - Cleveland Recording acetate