Glossary entry for
The Montgomeries

Photo taken in 1970 by David Gahr: Van Morrison, Tony Brown, Joe Ciera,
David Gershen, Mike Estes (L to R). In front Jon Gershen

On page 103 of Steve Turner's excellent book Too Late To Stop Now is a photograph of Van with an unidentified band. The following message, sent in November of 1998, gives the story behind that photograph, and the one shown here:

The photo was taken in the back yard of Van's home off Ohayo Mountain Road in Woodstock, NY at around the time His Band and the Street Choir was being recorded. The group in the photo is THE MONTGOMERIES. As a founding member of this band I am in a position to tell you that during the years between 1969 (when we first moved to Woodstock), and around 1971, when he moved to California, Van and THE MONTGOMERIES were very closely linked. We had been a well known country/rock/blues band from New York City that relocated to upstate New York to work on writing material for an album our management was in the process of negotiating with Atlantic Records. (An album that was never made unfortunately)

This was a time when Woodstock really didn't have any real "superstars" other than Dylan. The Band had just put out "Big Pink" but believe it or not, it was slow to catch on. Garth Hudson used to wash his clothes at the local laundromat with us, and Richard Manuel would knock on our door at 2 in the morning when he would go off the road and get stuck in a ditch. It was very low key in those days. Van was just another recent arrival and not too many people really knew much about him. One summer evening, Van and THE MONTGOMERIES were both playing an outdoor concert at someone's Woodstock farm and that's how we first met. He hung out watching us play and we stayed around to see him do his thing. Needless to say, we had never heard anything like it! He was in the Astral Weeks mode at the time and it was something to witness. Anyway, the next day, he tracked us down and asked if he could come over to our place and play. Our answer was, of course! From that point on, a special bond was formed. The three pivitol members of THE MONTGOMERIES were myself; Jon Gershen, my brother David Gershen, and Tony Brown (who later went on to record Blood On The Tracks with Dylan.)

My brother and I got as close to Van during those years as I guess is possible. Not only did he sit in on a lot of our gigs, but it became more personal than just the music. David and I sat up with Van all night long at Kingston Hospital while Janet was giving birth to Shana. We were the only people he called to be with him that night. You would think a whole entourage would have been seeing him through what was a long drawn out labor? No, it was just the three of us. We also arranged for him to come into New York to speak with our lawyer about whether something could be done to rectify Van's unbelievably screwed up royalty issues. There is much, much more that went on during this chapter of our lives but clearly these were special times. I've been asked to do some writing about these times and perhaps I will at some point.

Best wishes,
Jon Gershen

More information available at:

Van references in:

Part of the unofficial website