A nostalgic weekend warrior trip with Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band leader

Jeremy Roberts
17 min readDec 31, 2021
Photography by Guy Webster

“Don’t pass me by, I’m a sailor on a darker sea, can you shine a light on me?” Denny Sarokin, whose stage name was Dennis Larden, furnished the second lineup of Rick Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band with lead guitar, uncredited production, eight compositions including half of the neglected jewel Windfall, and harmonies from 1973–1978. Their creative partnership flourished perhaps because the street-savvy Jewish songwriter from New York contrasted so markedly with the smoldering, nonchalant boy-next-door whose pioneering Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet rock ‘n’ roll videos captured hearts in the Golden State and beyond. In an exclusive interview commemorating the lamentable airplane death of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alum while journeying to a New Year’s Eve gig in Dallas, Sarokin summons the miraculous, life-altering phone call he received in the aftermath of Nelson’s “Garden Party” showcase on Johnny Carson.

Sarokin co-founded sunshine pop quintet Every Mother’s Son with brother Larry [Larden is a combination of the duo’s forenames]. Debut A-side “Come on Down to My Boat, Baby” exceeded MGM’s expectations in the Summer of Love and shuttled all the way into the Billboard Top Ten. At loose ends when Every Mother’s Son imploded, Sarokin headed to Hollywood and nabbed a part in The Phynx, one of those must see to believe it was actually greenlit by a major studio films. A computer manufactured rock band touring Albania clandestinely retrieves famous hostages kidnapped by communists. Over-the-hill actor cameos abound. Also in 1970, Sarokin teamed up with Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz for a smattering of road dates plugging the Monkees’ pitiful end-of-the-line Changes. The diminutive Manchester Cowboy reunited with Sarokin for an American tour once he parted ways with Nelson’s trailblazing country rock outfit. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young closed their turn of the century Looking Forward with Sarokin’s soothing Isle of “Sanibel” ode.

Sarokin teaches guitar and songwriting workshops in Nashville and retains close ties with the surviving members of Nelson’s band and crew. Founding Fathers: Songs of Life, Love, & Spirit was unwrapped at Thanksgiving. The 10-song indie record, available in a personally autographed edition, was composed, performed, and produced entirely by…

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Jeremy Roberts

Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ something fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net