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Sunday Service: Ode to Quetzalcoatl redux

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Dave Bixby’s moody and fascinating Jesus folk album, Ode to Quetzalcoatl, which I wrote about here, is now available on CD via the Guerssen label in Spain. The record continues to generate a good bit of online chatter, and I’ve since gathered a few more tidbits about it along with the cult group that spawned it thanks to the reissue itself, an email conversation with a former movement member named Dave Henrickson (who commented on that earlier post), and a reading of Al Perrin’s Many False Prophets Shall Rise:

— The cult Bixby belonged to originated in Grand Rapids, Michigan and was simply called “The Movement” or “The Group,” led by an extraordinarily charismatic and manipulative guy named Don DeGraaf. Any Don or Donald DeGraafs you dig up on Google are probably not him. Henrickson had heard that the real one died in a helicopter accident.

— The movement arose out of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ, a Mormon offshoot, and Bixby’s title reference has to do with Mormon beliefs that Quetzalcoatl is a manifestation, through legend, of Jesus Christ’s Book of Mormon visit to the Americas.

— Bixby is still making music, and currently stages war reenactments in Arizona. This makes sense after reading Perrin’s book, which depicts Bixby not as the docile and depressed introvert we hear in Ode to Quetzalcoatl, but a lively, war game dynamo dressed in Army fatigues who served as one of the group’s higher-ups. The group’s most ardent members, it turns out, engaged in militaristic “campouts” as part of the brainwashing process.

— The group, which believed DeGraaf to be an onmiscient, modern incarnation of the Biblical prophet Elijah, initially raised money by selling combs for a dollar a pop for the sake of their “youth group fighting drugs.”

— Probably because group maintenance became too much of a chore for DeGraaf, the group devolved, circa the mid-seventies, into an Amway-selling army that traded in Jesus for est (Erhard Seminars Training). This likely jibed more cozily with DeGraaf’s private-airplane lifestyle, and it’s also the point where Bixby, to his credit, finally bailed.

— As Dave Henrickson said in his comment from the previous post, the album was definitely out by May 1970, when he remembers trying to sell copies at a Grand Valley State University flea market. He also remembers hearing Bixby sing those songs at meetings as far back as early summer ’69. His memory is that while none sold at the fleamarket, he was able to sell one to his uncle, an elder in the RLDS church.

— I like Al Perrin’s assessment regarding the positive appeal Bixby and his music had on the group: he sounded “like Burl Ives.”

 

4 Responses to “Sunday Service: Ode to Quetzalcoatl redux”

  1. Jeremy Fairhaven Says:

    I was briefly connected with the group back in 70’s and have started to reflect on some of what happened…do you know anyone who knows where David ended up? Brian McInnes?

  2. Jeremy Fairhaven Says:

    Sorry…Jeremy here. Early morning, got my own email wrong from previous post.

  3. Boneyard Media » Blog Archive » Sunday Service: Dave Bixby Says:

    […] Update: Ode to Quetzalcoatl redux. […]

  4. Gary Murphy Says:

    my name is Gary and was involved with the group from 72 -75 in Toledo, Baton rouge,Little Rock, Mongomery

    Toledo,

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