Blue Aquarius was a band of musicians who were followers of Prem Rawat in 1972/73. They were a "big band" similar to Blood, Sweat and Tears comprising rock musicians, brass and string instruments. They recorded an album for Stax Records' Gospel Truth label. This album was very popular with Rawat's followers but the band was generally panned by journalists. The drummer was Geoff Bridgeford who chose the path to musical obscurity ahead of fame and fortune playing with the Bee Gees. His songs were staples of the music played and recorded for Rawat's followers over 40 years. His song At The Feet Of The Master probably brought many a young uncertain aspirant into the fold in the early 1970's. Another musician, Kevin Dempsey, came with the astounding resumé of having played with both Alice Coltrane and Percy Sledge. There were plans for Geoff Bridgeford and Bhole Ji to produce a "live album" from the tapes made by Stax Records at Millennium but these fell through due to Maharaji ordering the band to disband and his brother to return to India in an open letter to his followers. When Rawat's mother and the Indian DLM administrators deposed the "Perfect Master" many members of the group stayed loyal to their "leader", Rawat's elder brother Bhole Ji.
22 July 1974
The project Blue Aquarius Band was formerly founded for one and only one reason, and that was to do prachar. In years that have past, this project has completely failed itself and has only brought a lot of confusion, not only to the premies who work or worked in it, but also to a lot of premies outside of it. I personally feel that such projects are not worthwhile to be continued.
I have no intention of forming another group like Blue Aquarius for such groups only bring confusion. If any premies are contacted to join or support a group with Bhole Ji, it is my agya that they do not become involved. It is in the best interest of prachar that Bhole Ji return to India for that will help a lot of premies not get confused.
I am sure you will understand the importance of this message. All premies should always be doing service, satsang, and meditation, as these are my instructions. Any premies wishing to do music should clear this through me through the National PLA Office.
Blessings to all the premies.
Sant Ji Maharaj
Rennie Davis discusses Bhole Ji in an interview in the park:
"See, it's sort of like all the music of the 60's and the early 70's is being given back to us you know and you would never expect
you know like uh I don't know, at first you think that's really far out, that's pretty good music, not bad group particularly considering the fact
that it's only five months old and then you come out and realise
it's being organised and conducted by the Lord of Music. Wait until people find out who Bhole Ji is!"
Bhole Ji was demoted from Lord of Music to nobody by his little bro
This was the introduction to the "Blue Aquarius" big band in the Millenium edition of the And It Is Divine magazine.
We grew up tapping feet and clapping hands. We yearned to swing and break loose on the dance floor, exploding with ripples of joy as our muscles tensed and relaxed to the driving rhythms of rock and roll. We danced welcoming the dawning of the age of Aquarius. Now, sunrise! The age is upon us. Blue Aquarius is with us, big band brass and reeds, a string section, guitars, percussion, organ, moog, piano, sixty pieces all told, directed and conducted by Bhole Ji, brother of Guru Maharaj Ji.
Derek Jewell of the London Observer heard the band's debut in Hammersmith Odeon. He rated them "good … excellent … gospel, soul, blues, rock, jazz … You can hear James Brown, Ray Charles, Elvis, Isaac Hayes, the Platters, Satchmo, Pink Floyd and the Eurovision song contest right in there … polished solos stream fluently forth …"
Their Stateside opening night in Houston brought twelve thousand people to their feet for a standing ovation. Commented one fan, "they could play through an atomic explosion, and the explosion would have to hold its horses." Another described the band as "harmony, peace, and the nonstop energy of love."
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Blue Aquarius is the unfathomable twenty-year-old Bhole Ji. We asked some of the band members just what Bhole Ji does for Blue Aquarius, and the answers were as remarkable as the music: "He is the sun, we are just planets." "The thing that comes out of him is the thing that's within us all, trying to come out," they said. "Playing with Bhole Ji has given me an appreciation of everything on this planet."
Blue Aquarius plays federal penitentiaries in Texas and Oklahoma. Blue Aquarius plays Soul Rush, a contemporary Gold Rush, except "this time the gold is inside, and can't be touched by moth or rust." Blue Aquarius plays the three day Millennium Festival, and a thousand years of peace to follow. Blue Aquarius plays all for Guru Maharaj Ji.
Blue Aquarius and the non-stop energy of love.
"If a tree is planted and we don't put any manure or water on it, it will die. In the same way, if we don't meditate on this Knowledge, it will be of no use to us, it will not give us any peace. With this Name a person does not feel separate because of the colour of his skin but he realises the soul which is the same in everyone." His name means "carefree". At the age of 20, Shri Bhole Ji directs and creates the musical sound of the 20 piece devotional band, Blue Aquarius. His relaxed, entrancing actions personify the joyful play and rhythm of the universe.
OK now, picture this: On the stage of the Astrodome is the Astro-scoreboard, which says in big letters, "Blue Aquarius." Then the P.A. system announces: "And now, the dynamic Lord Bhole Ji and his 55-piece big band, Blue Aquarius!" In the spotlight waddles a fat kid dressed in a silver sequined suit. He begins wiggling his hips and waves his hands to lead the band, not always in time. They play a medley of 1960s tunes, in no way dynamic, and often flat. The audience loves it.
Bhole Ji is the second youngest of the Divine Family; he mouths the words to the songs (for example, "Satisfaction") into a dead microphone while a real singer, 20 feet to his right, belts out the lyrics. His pained expression is a grotesque parody of American pop culture. When he's not on stage he giggles a lot.
We asked one premie if she liked the band.
"Oh yeah," she said. "They were great."
"Did you ever meet another rock star?"
"I once met Mick Jagger."
"How did he compare?'
"Oh, they're about the same."
Excerpt from Guru Blisses Out on Synthetic Grass Crawdaddy Magazine, February 1974, page 62-65.
They were using Scriptures because faith in the guru purportedly encompasses all religions: the universal all in one. They even had him sitting on a throne under what oddly resembled the white-flame-and-blue-dot Natural Gas emblem. The whole contraption was built on a platform that extended toward heaven, some 50 feet up in the air, very un-Eastern, very theatrical. Before the guru spoke, there was always a performance by the Blue Aquarius, an 80-piece band conducted by his brother Shri Bhole Ji, who was decked out in a blue-sequined Western suit a la Nudie's Rodeo Tailors. Aquarius played every kind of music imaginable--from country-and-western to Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze.
The third night, before the guru was to give his last words of wisdom to the waiting premies and converts, the Dome took on an atmosphere that would blow my mind and stay with me for a long time. By the evening, the premies were restless from waiting for their guru. They began to chant in unison, and repetitively. This night they weren't blissed out; they were making a long chain and marching to the Blue Aquarius's When the Saints Go Marching In. The chanting got louder and louder and the premies moved faster and faster. And the scoreboard was flashing Scriptures faster and faster, and right at the top of the board a mammoth profile of the guru heralded his entrance in lights. I was transfixed. The chant sounded exactly like Sieg Heil! and the crowd was all ready to be fed by its leader. At the very height of this chilling display, the scoreboard flashed, You WILL SIT IN YOUR ASSIGNED PLACES, PLEASE. And immediately the crowd sat down again, the Blue Aquarius rifled off into Black Magic Woman, and Maharaj Ji appeared.
Excerpt from Who Was Maharaj Ji? OUI Magazine, May 1974 By Marjoe Gortner
By this time it is becoming evident that the Millennium is something of a divine bore. The premies' Passion Play is unbelievably sophomoric ("Jesus, I'm looking for you, where aaaarrree you?"). The attendance is as bare as a Hare Krishna's pate. Blue Aquarius proves it can perform everything from Mantovani to the Rolling Stones-poorly. And the World Peace Corps (divine bodyguards) encircling the stage area become avenging angels: threatening, cajoling and generally pushing everyone around. (Credit must be given, though, to The Kid's superb sense of irony-appointing only British WPCers to secure the stage, he neatly turned the tables on the White Man's Burden; this time around the Indian conscripts the Tory.) Sensing the troubles, even the flying saucers stay away, severely disappointing the flock, some of whom earnestly awaited the chance to hitch a ride on a UFO and give satsang to the Venutians.
"Jesus!" says erstwhile child-evangelist Majoe Gortner, watching the whole show from the stadium floor. "The kid is so lame. If they had someone with some Charisma, someone who knew what they were doing …" he winks slyly "someone like me, they'd bust this place wide open." I counter, that maybe if the DLM finds out he's out of work the premies will make him an offer. "They already have - don't print that."
The Kid exits and a gravel-voiced Mahatma approaches the microphone. In an eerie, high-decibel screetch he leads the devotees in five or six final war whoops. It is then that something snaps inside me. Scenes from the Nuremburg stadium flash a frightfully exact parallel: the martial chanting, the cult of total obedience, the arms flailing about, thousands of eyes weeping in blind adulation. Blue Aquarius starts up with another song, but the notes don't register.
Excerpt from Over the Hill at 16 Written by Ken Kelley, Ramparts, February 1974
This leaves me with few alternatives, so I hurry over to catch the Guru's last show, which, as usual, opens with a set by his brother's rock band, Blue Aquarius. If the band is not exactly in Perfect Pitch, neither is its sound-an eclectic mixture of Thirties big band music, jazz and rock-half bad for a group organized only six months ago. Most of the musicians are English premies, and while the band includes professionals formerly with such rock groups as the Bee Gees, the Soul Survivors and the Foundations, even a few ex-members of the Royal Opera House orchestra, the majority are amateurs. And although the real creative force behind Blue Aquarius seems to be ex-Bee Gees drummer Geoff Bridgeford, the band's devotion to its leader, Bhole Ji, is touching (one night the band members took up a collection to buy him some Ray Charles records and a gift certificate to Baskin-Robbins), if a bit inexplicable. He comes out every night, a fat, walleyed fellow wearing a silver lame suit with matching shoes that look as though they have been pasted together from a thousand chewing gum wrappers, and flaps his arms around fiercely, resembling a grounded penguin learning to fly again, in a rhythm that seems to bear only the most tangential relation to the beat. "You have to understand," one band member tells me, "that Bhole Ji doesn't know music, he is music." Another claims that "Blue Aquarius plays the greatest music in the world because it comes from the Divine Harmony inside all of us," but admits that you have to be a devotee of the Guru to understand this-a kind of spiritual Catch-22 that crops up constantly in discussions with premies.
Blue Aquarius' finest moment comes during a kind of son-et-lumiere presentation of Sixties nostalgia. "These are some of the trips that brought us to the feet of Guru Maharaj Ji," announces Charles Cameron and the band plays a medley of songs by the Beatles, the Stones, the Grateful Dead, Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, the Supremes and other imperfect masters of music…
As the concert is about to wind up, Maharaj Ji makes his way down a ramp connecting the stage with one of the stadium's upper tiers, wearing a kind of red-velvet smoking jacket and gold pants. He takes his place on the circular blue throne, flanked by his mother and older brothers. The band strikes up a chorus of "Lord of the Universe" while mahatmas place floral leis around his neck and the Astrodome's electronic wizardry goes into full gear, lighting him with powerful spots and projecting his image on the two color video screens adjacent to the stage. The stadium scoreboard begins to peel off a hodgepodge of scriptural citations like a Times Square tickertape reporting the Second Coming. Maharaj Ji waits, an impervious Buddha, for the "Bolie Shri" cheers to die down and the pranaming 70 feet below him to stop, then begins his hour-long satsang, full of the American youth-culture slang he has recently acquired and spoken in a high-pitched voice that echoes irritatingly off the stadium's lucite dome.
Excerpt from The Little Guru Without A Prayer Written by Richard Levine, Rolling Stone magazine, March 14, 1974