His “Eve of Destruction” remains timeless—and timely.
By Fred Mills
Along with the truly timeless Barry McGuire hit “Eve of Destruction,” he penned chart-toppers for the Turtles, Grass Roots, Herman’s Hermits, Johnny Rivers, the 5th Dimension and the Mamas & the Papas: songwriter and folksinger P.F. Sloan, who passed away Nov. 15 at his Los Angeles home. Sloan, 70, died of pancreatic cancer.
Sloan, born Phillip Gary Schlein, was known as a recluse who, according to the Los Angeles Times, “dropped from public view” a few years after the McGuire mega-hit and anti-war anthem, which apparently had also prompted a huge backlash from conservative corners, with some even going so far as to pressuring Billboard magazine to manipulate its chart standing in downward slide. He also is said to have been cheated out of royalties due to him.
Adds the Times, “For decades, he suffered from severe depression. He was hospitalized and claimed he had been given ‘lobotomy pills.’ Whole years disappeared from his memory… ‘I was ill I guess for a good 20, maybe 25 years,’ he told The Times in 2006. ‘It’s been overcome and there’s hope…. I mean, depression and hypoglycemia, it’s a tremendous battle…. Catatonia for a long time.’”
Sloan later managed to pull himself together, living with his parents until their deaths and also doing occasional work to augment whatever royalty monies did come in. He never fully returned to the public eye, however, performing occasionally in recent years and also releasing the 2014 album My Beethoven.
Incidentally, Sloan was always held in the highest regard by his peer community – no less a songwriting giant than Jimmy Webb even wrote a song called “P.F. Sloan” that sang the man’s praises. Below, listen to a cover of that tune by Rumer, followed by the McGuire song, a solo Sloan track, and then watch an interesting latterday performance of “Eve” in which Sloan talks about its creation.