Wandering, My Pursuit of God & Music
Ray’s autobiography is now available online at Amazon.com and at numerous Christian book stores.
The 392 page book includes 48 photos. You may also order the book directly by sending $18.00 plus $4.00 S&H ($22.00) to Ray Last at W6138 S Cty Rd A, Adell WI 53001. Accepting checks only. Please mention if you would like a personally signed copy.
Synopsis of Wandering, My Pursuit of God & Music
The following is a 38-chapter synopsis of an autobiography that I have written entitled Wandering, My Pursuit of God and Music. The book encompasses the first 29 years of my life, but goes into great depth detailing the decade from 1969–1979.
Focused attention is given to the rock bands that I was active in, the hippie era, and the numerous cults that I experienced prior to receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
The story also spans an array of emotions from extreme elation, to humor, to deep tragedy. The book has not yet been published.
- Chapter 1
Ramblings — The 1950s
This being the shortest chapter gives a rapid view of my early childhood. I describe the small southeastern Wisconsin town that I grew up in and the influence that family and friends had. The story of my mother passing away when I was just 11 years old is recounted.
- Chapter 2
Back to the Farm — The 1950s
The recollections of my aunt and uncle’s dairy farm in northern Wisconsin are shown to be vivid, warm and peaceful.
- Chapter 3
Music Is Me — 1950s–early ’60s
This is a very short chapter touching on the early musical influences that I had, primarily through what my father had performed and listened to, but that also of Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly.
- Chapter 4
Rambling Part 2 — 1950s
I allow myself to reminisce more in detail about my childhood from my Catholic upbringing, enjoyment of baseball and the Milwaukee Braves, 1950’s television shows and the unique German cultural traditions of my area.
- Chapters 5 & 6
High School – Music Takes Form & Misery Sons — 1964–68
These chapters mostly focus on the rock and roll band that I formed my freshman year in high school. The musical influence that the ’60s English bands had on me is very evident. The band remained together all 4 years of high school and gained statewide recognition.
- Chapter 7
Come As You Are — 1968–69
After high school, I formed a new band called “Come As You Are” and actively began writing and arranging my own music. This chapter captures the fear and anticipation of recording at a Chicago recording studio. Without question I knew that I had to pursue music as a career. During this period, I began to delve into the supernatural and occult, ESP, fortune telling, and communicating with the dead. In August of 1969 I left Wisconsin with the intent to perform at Woodstock.
- Chapters 8 & 9
Manhattan, New York & Manhattan Attempt — April 1970–June ’71
These chapters are lengthy but the numerous, almost daily experiences in New York City are worthy of mention. As you can imagine, as a 20-year-old small-town Midwest boy, I stuck out. I managed to put together a dynamite rock/jazz band, which I still called “Come As You Are.” We were offered a very tempting recording and touring contract.
- Chapter 10
Definitely Going West — Summer 1971
Finding myself exhausted after 14 months of New York City life, I felt a great shot of exhilaration over the real possibility of fleeing New York City to the peaceful, loving San Francisco area. This chapter is in living color as I attempt to describe the breathtaking beauty of the Plains and western mountains.
- Chapter 11
Detour, San Jose — July–September, 1971
Unfortunate mishaps landed me in San Jose, California and seemed to follow me closely behind, but happily I was introduced to natural foods and a more ‘back-to-earth’ lifestyle. Music failed me here.
- Chapters 12 & 13
Ben Lomond & The Santa Cruz Mountains & Tipi Madness —
October, 1971–August, 1972
While motoring through the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco, on a beautiful September day I ventured onto a rustic cottage for rent. And so I did. I gladly pulled up stakes in San Jose and quickly became a musical mountain man. A great unveiling ensued. In my numerous encounters with spiritual cults, Eastern religions, and more importantly the Native Americans, I felt strongly compelled to live like the old Lakota Sioux. I hand sewed an 18′ tipi and read up on the Indians’ old ways as much as I could.
- Chapter 14
Heading Back Home — September, 1972
California had accomplished in me what it had to, so late in the summer of ’72, I made plans to go back to Wisconsin and set up my tipi there.
- Chapter 15
Bemidji, Minnesota — September, 1972–January, 1973
En route to Wisconsin via Manitoba, I met a hippie wanna-be who offered to let me put my tipi up on his land near Lake Bemidji. Bemidji, Minnesota, the “ice-box” of the nation. This chapter relives one of the loneliest, self-searching, and tragic seasons of my life. Survival in sub-zero temperatures required courage, stamina, and insanity. God spared me from freezing to death, the tipi burned up, as did most of my belongings.
- Chapter 16
John’s Place — March, 1973
Back in my hometown of Grafton, I was allowed to ‘crash’ in a newly found friends basement. People listened intently as I shared my almost unbelievable stories with old and new friends. A half-hearted attempt was made at forming another band. We played just one job.
- Chapter 17
Wausaukee Road — April, 1973–April, 1974
After having secured a full-time job, for the first time in three years, I rented an old farmhouse in a nearby rural area. There I sewed yet another tipi, a bigger one, and lived peacefully with a lady friend. I purchased at least 50 books dealing with an array of spiritual and supernatural topics. I absorbed all that I read. By this time, I had been witnessed to three times over the past two years by well-versed Christian men. I still rejected Christ and felt a deep longing to know the old Indian’s ways. Being almost repulsed at this time by electronic instruments, I bought a very expensive ($1500) ‘Guild’ concert-body rosewood acoustic guitar, which I still play.
- Chapter 18
Alaska On My Mind — Late April, 1974
Yearning to homestead in Alaska, much preparation was given to realizing this desire. I corresponded with Alaskan hippies, saved almost $2,000, bought a truck, built a camper, and away I went, north to Alaska.
- Chapter 19
First Stop – Lame Deer — April–May, 1974
I was determined to visit Lame Deer, an Oglala Sioux Holy Man. His book, Lame Deer; Seeker of Visions, enamored me. He lived in ‘Indian Town’, Winner, South Dakota, near the Rosebud reservation. Upon finally meeting him, I was very let down, and disenchanted. He was not the mystic holy man that I imagined him to be. But he did point me to Crow Dog’s Camp on the White River on the Rosebud. Lame Deer said, “Go there. Tell ’em I sent you, see how real Indians live.”
- Chapter 20
On The Rosebud – Crow Dog’s Camp — May, 1974
The hills were teeming with young teenage braves with rifles. It was just months after the Wounded Knee uprising incident. My ticket to enter the ‘camp’ was Lame Deer’s personal verbal invitation. I was the only white guy to be allowed into this approximately 50-acre encampment. The area along the White River was dotted with campers, tents, and poorly constructed tipis. I estimate that there were probably 70 Lakota there. The one-day experience at Crow Dog’s camp requires a chapter for itself—from experiencing a 15-hour peyote ceremony to extreme visions. It took me two days to ‘come down’ and straighten up.
- Chapter 21
On The Rosebud – Jesse Eagle Elk — May, 1974
After being sternly told to leave the camp by a number of angry, envious young men, I drove on down the dirt road and noticed a man eagerly waving at me. He was Jesse Eagle Elk. Jesse warmly invited me to stay with he and his family, and so I did. The two weeks spent with the Eagle Elk’s were warm and friendly and included yet another peyote ceremony. I quickly came to realize that though these Lakota Sioux people were for the most part very warm, humorous, and gracious they simply did not spiritually know for certain what they believed more less why they believed it. And so I ventured on again toward my Alaskan destination.
- Chapter 22
Badlands, Black Hills, and Beyond — May–June, 1974
Spending approximately a week just slowly moseying through this exceptionally beautiful territory in south western South Dakota, I took advantage of the solitude and meditated many hours.
- Chapter 23
Drawn To Boulder, A Spiritual Melting Pot — June, 1974
Not really intending to head South, I changed direction after picking up one of many hitchhikers who told me of a great spiritual festival soon to happen in Boulder, Colorado. The month spent in Boulder was phenomenal if spiritual stimuli were what you were seeking. Daily I was exposed to cults, mind-sciences, ways of attainment, and frauds. I performed my music a few times on my Guild guitar, but mostly just took in all of the supernatural that I could handle. By this time in my spiritual quest for God and enlightenment I could easily sense counterfeits. I usually write of them in a humorous fashion.
- Chapter 24
Rocky Mountain Fling — Late June, 1974
After leaving Boulder, I traveled high up into the Rockies. Parking my truck in a hidden secluded area, I prayed and sang for days hoping that my spiritual ‘Master’ would appear. How much more sincere would I have to get?
- Chapter 25
Yellowstone Impressions — July, 1974
July 4th found me atop Mount Washburn in Yellowstone National Park, sitting among a herd of mountain goats including one Big Horn ram. They were soothed by my singing. Photos attest to this. I surely made a valiant attempt at describing the unspeakable beauty and uniqueness of Yellowstone.
- Chapter 26
Banff, Alberta, A Disembodied Archangel Michael — July, 1974
As my Dodge® truck sputtered ever upward into the Canadian Rockies, I couldn’t resist going to Banff to see for myself if the Archangel Michael really did reside over a spiritual ashram. The string of events in Banff was bizarre, from being welcomed into a cult with “Brother your home,” fasting for days and meditating on Indian Chief Mountain to having my truck engine blow up because a guy didn’t like ‘long-haired hippies’. Left with only a backpack, sleeping bag, and guitar I kept on west to Vancouver, British Columbia.
- Chapter 27
Hope, Idaho — July–August, 1974
A cheerful couple, Zach and Pat picked me up, this lonesome sojourner on a highway somewhere near British Columbia. They first needed to go to Hope, Idaho in the northern panhandle, so I more than agreeably went along. We socialized nicely. During this period, hippies were friendly, willing to share, and trustworthy. We became good friends. I spent several days on the summit overlooking Lake Pond O’Reille with a dog named ‘Buddy’, meditating, singing, and squeezing as hard as I could to break into the ethereal realm. Buddy just sat there.
- Chapter 28
Vancouver, British Columbia — August–September, 1974
Zach and Pat were going to pick apples in the Okanagen Valley in British Columbia, but apple season wouldn’t start for another three weeks. I needed more money and agreed to meet them at a particular orchard in East Kelowna, British Columbia. So to bide my time, I hitchhiked to Vancouver. The three weeks spent there proved to be experientially valuable. I was again exposed to Gurus, Masters, and odd religions. I had my first and only nude beach experience there, and I had a strong attraction to a lady, but Zach and Pat and acres of apples were waiting. So off to East Kelowna, British Columbia I thumbed.
- Chapter 29
Apple Time — September–October, 1974
The orchard encompassed nearly 400 acres with at least 45 workers. An odd lot at that—Indians, school teachers, hippies, Hindus, and even a few rednecks. We mostly got along. The seven weeks working on the orchard gave me many peaceful hours. Many of the workers shared stories as we watched the Aurora Borealis. This was the first time I ever saw all those swooshing colors. Apple picking was hard work but a fun time. I’ll remember my coworkers forever.
- Chapter 30
A Change Of Plans — October, 1974
Going to Alaska was out of the question without a truck. So instead, I made plans to head to Peru, South America in search of “The Brotherhood of the Seven Rays.” I felt convinced from the book that I read, Secret of the Andes, that I would be one of the chosen ones, mostly because of my musical abilities. But I needed shots to get a passport so off to Vancouver, British Columbia I went.
- Chapter 31
San Francisco, The Dawn Horse Communion — October, 1974–February, 1975
While in Vancouver awaiting my shots, I frequented yet another cult/New Age bookstore and happened upon a book by a self-proclaimed Guru ‘Bubba Free John’. After only a few pages into the book I began to glow. I strongly felt that he was to be my spiritual master, so I threw aside my Peruvian plans and hitchhiked to San Francisco where he reportedly lived with his followers. An intense five months was spent in training at the “Dawn Horse Communion.” Strict dietary and spiritual disciplines were expected. This chapter almost painfully goes into detail of how frightening his mind-control system had become. For the very first time in my life, I had no idea of who I was or what I liked or didn’t like.
- Chapter 32
A Turning From God — February, 1975
It seemed that inevitably insanity would be the avenue that would free me from my confusing bondage. I had to literally escape, flee from the house I was living. Often his people in high positions would come into the shoe store I was working at and threaten me. They firmly tried to persuade me not to leave ‘The Work’. But I held my ground and never went back.
- Chapter 33
On The Loose In San Francisco — September, 1975
My life quickly veered into an extreme turn. I threw off my spiritual robes (God knows I tried to find him). A full-bore thrust into the world became my drive. Soon, I easily became an alcoholic (a wino). I frequented jazz and rock nightclubs trying desperately to pick up a woman. Living above a Chinese laundromat I sang loudly and my song writing accelerated. I finally gave up the spiritual search. If God was out there he would have to find me now. I had officially become a drunk.
- Chapter 34
Homeward Bound — September, 1975
San Francisco had worked itself out of my system. I had a great longing to be back in Wisconsin among friends. This chapter humorously unravels the ordeals that I encountered with having to somewhat hitchhike back home with what was now a carload of stuff that I had accumulated while in San Francisco.
- Chapter 35
Footch Kapoot — March, 1976–August, 1978
Shortly after being back home, I had the itch to start up a music group again and so I did. This newly formed jazz/rock band “Footch Kapoot” (a German phrase meaning broken down but repairable) recorded an album and was growing steadily in popularity. I had several jobs and girlfriends during this period but alcoholism was slowly killing me. By July of 1978, the group seemed to be confined to the greater Milwaukee area. I lost interest in just getting nowhere.
- Chapter 36
A Life On Hold — August, 1978–June, 1979
This was perhaps the most depressed and aimless ten months of my life. I thought of committing suicide constantly and continued to drink heavily. Musically and spiritually I did all that I could have done but only had failure to show for it.
- Chapter 37
The Battle Is On – God Pursues Me — June 1st-2nd, 1979
After being witnessed to for now the fourth time in seven years, I deeply struggled for 1½ days with whether Jesus really was alive and Lord of all. Was He actually calling me?
- Chapter 38
Life In Christ — June 2nd, 1979 into 1980
I finally broke down after an all night ordeal with the Lord and received Jesus Christ as Lord, understanding that he was my Savior, that He died for my sins. This chapter explodes with immense joy and long awaited spiritual fulfillment. Music that glorified God just began to effortlessly flow out of me. I was born again.