Druid Heights’ Roger Somers caught up with rock star Neil Young in an east coast hotel room while Young was on tour and pitched himself as the designer /craftsman more than capable of taking a standard bus and converting it into a work of art as well as a rolling home on the road for a rock star.
By the fall of 1975 the project was under way. Somers had designed the woodwork and assembled a team to assist in the building while Bart Ehman and another crew were handling the extensive mechanical alterations and metal work. The budget was ample, to say the least. The Marin County, CA newspaper the Independent Journal’s 10/27/75 front page article on the project reported the budget as $400,000, the equivalent of over $2,000,000 in 2021.
Sadly, several years later an electrical malfunction sparked a fire that destroyed the bus. Young later commissioned Somers to design a replacement, christened “Zuma”, which he still owns.
Somers designed and built many projects over the years both for clients and on his land at Druid Heights. The bus “Pocoahontas” by Young was the most audacious both for its design and craftsmanship. While it is lost, his beautiful designs on the land now owned by the National Park Service are not, just dangerously neglected. Use the link above to sign up to receive updates like this from our group on the history of Druid Heights and on opportunities to support the preservation of Roger’s designs and craftsmanship at Druid Heights.
In telling me the story of this over lunch (at Jennie Low’s downtown MV, circa 1990) Roger showed me a big photo album of the process! There was a big stained glass eagle, which he said was made by a young woman (16!?) who showed up, unexpectedly, magically, naturally right on time during the build.
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Saw bus parked at Hilton Garden Inn in Oxnard California. Beautiful old school style.