|The Other Message in "Come and Get Your Love"
Formed in 1969, Redbone was one of the first Native-American rock bands in the album era. A
chunky tribal dance beat helped propel their single "Come and Get Your Love" to No. 5 on the
Billboard pop chart in 1974.
Recently, Pat Vegas , Redbone's bassist and the song's arranger and co-producer, looked back at the hit's evolution
and his contribution. His brother, Lolly, the song's writer, died in 2010.
Our family name was Vasquez. We were descendants of Native-American tribes of the Southwest and proud of our
heritage. My mother's father, Antonio Beltran, was musician. So was everyone in his family. His sister was Lola Beltran,
Mexico's most famous ranchera singer and a favorite of Linda Rondstadt.
My grandfather had a guitar he played all the time at family gatherings. He kept it on top of his armoire, He said, "When
you can reach that guitar, it's your's." A few days later when I was 5, I stood on a chair, took down the guitar and
My brother was already playing guitar. He played it like a piano, picking at the strings with all four fingers at once. We
formed our first local band when I was 14, playing Top-40 hits. Soon I had to switch to bass. We couldn't find a bass player
who could keep up with our unusual rhythms.
By then my parents had divorced. When my mom remarried, we added my step-father's last name to ours -Vasquez-Vega
In the early 1960's Lolly and I formed the Avantis, a surf-rock band, and looked for work at clubs on the Sunset Strip in
Los Angeles. But many club owners told us they didn't hire Chicano, Indians or blacks for their house bands. At Gazzarri's, the owner, Bill Gazzerri, liked us. He
added an "s" to our last name, and we performed there as Pat and Lolly Vegas.
As our reputation grew, we worked as songwriters, arrangers and studio musicians in Hollywood and Las Vegas. We played on records by Sonny & Cher, James
Brown, Tina Turner and others. We also released singles and an album for Mercury in '66 - "Pat and Lolly Vegas: At the Haunted House." The Haunted House was
an L.A. discotheque. In 1969, Lolly and I decided to for a rock band that embraced our Native-American heritage. We needed a name. Remembering stories our
grandfather told of the challenges and dislocation Native-Americans experienced in the 19th Century, Lolly and I chose Redbone to pay tribute to our people for
their courage and bravery.
Early Morning Creation
One night in 1973, Lolly called me at around 3 a.m. He asked me to come over. He had an idea for a song and wanted help. I grabbed my bass and tape recorder
and went over to his house in Hollywood. Lolly played me what he had - a few plain chords, from C to D to B to E to A. It was a little sing-songy, and needed an
arrangement. We also had to change some of the lyrics. They needed to be smarter.
I told him to leave me alone in the room with it. The first thing I did was come up with the bass line. It immediately turned the song around. Then I altered the chord
voicings and gave them a rhythmic feel. As we worked on the song and the arrangement, I thought about how Native-Americans were always depicted in Westerns
as bad guys being chased by the cavalry. I wanted the song to change that imae.
My brother had called the song " I Want to Give You My Love." I changed it to "Come and Get Your Love." We wanted to show that our people were about love, not
massacring. By then, I had been in the room for hours putting the song together, getting the right rhythm and taping the music on my recorder. When the demo was
perfect, I played Lolly the tape. He loved it.
We also worked on the words. We opened the first verse with the word "hail" like glory to the world: "Hail / What's the matter with your hair, yeah, yeah / Hail/
What's the matter with your mind / and your sign and-ah of-oh-oh-ohhh." The song's verses refer to the excuses people back then came up with to explain why they
were feeling our of sorts. Worrying about your state of mind, your astrological sing, your hair - they all get in the way of natural, honest feelings. "Hail / Nothing the
matter with your head, baby / Find it, come on and find it / Hail / With-it baby, 'cause you're fine and you're mine / and you look so divine."
The chorus - "Come and get your love" - is about pure love, without all of the over-thinking and trendy phrases. Many think the song is just about a man singing to a
woman. It is, but it's also about the coming together of different peoples.
Into The Studio
The following day, Lolly and I went into Devonshire Sound Studios in L.A. with Tony Bellamy, our guitarist, and Pete DePoe on drums. Butch Rivera, who would
become our next drummer, overdubbed background vocals.
The beat was joint effort, with Pete laying it down while we fine-tuned it. What we came up with was a Native-American dance beat. When you dance to the Indian
tom-tom, it's a straight beat with an emphasis on the upbeat - don don-don, don don-don. Not don don don don. like the movies. On the recording, after the
opening drum beat, my Fender Precision bass line mirrored Pete's tom-tom dance beat. If you listen carefully, the bass line drives the song.
Lolly played and electrified sitar that Bob Bogle and Don Wilson of the Ventures had given me at a party as a gift. They were good friends. At the end of the chorus
- "Come and get your love" - Lolly switched to his Fender Telecaster and played a wailing blues line.
We also wanted strings for drama. So Lolly and I got together with arranger,Gene Page and told him where the strings should and shouldn't play. We used four
strings and doubled them - meaning they recorded their part twice for a fuller sound.
The song was on our fifth album,Wovoka." When the album came out in late '73, i brought it over to my mom's house in Salinas. As soon as "Come and Get Your
Love" came on, she got up and started doing a tribal dance. She heard the beat and was so proud.
Take a listen to a rock original with a true Native-American beat
"Come and Get Your Love"