American Zen was founded/created in 1992 when Richard Del Connor “The Hippy Coyote” moved to Utah with his one-year old daughter to enlarge his record company Shaolin Records.
Unfortunately, his wife’s advice didn’t consider the opposition he would receive from the Mormons of Salt Lake City, Utah who stuck knives in his front door with messages, “Go back to California…”
The night clubs and radio stations boycotted him forcing Richard to turn his hobby of Shaolin Kung Fu and Yang Tai Chi Chuan into a business. Even these classes were boycotted to some extent and people lost their jobs who supported Richard Del Connor’s classes at the YWCA.
Eventually, his fame grew as he taught in rehabilitation centers and a maximum security prison with amazing results. So some of his students, who were high ranking Mormons, pointed this out to the Mormon Politburo (their governing board) who issued edicts to, “leave the California Kung Fu Buddhist alone.”
The last four years of Richard’s life in Utah were beautiful years of harmony and friendship. Most of the lingering resentment was from Mormon Karate schools who did not appreciate his now established Shaolin Chi Mantis Traditional Buddhist Kung Fu & Taoist Tai Chi Chuan school with lower pricing since his classes were taught in parks, churches, and public schools with less overhead than the Karate dojos.
1992 to 1999 were tumultuous years of religious battles, raising a daughter as a Mr. Mom, and holding together a family that was no longer a partnership of the parents.
Richard Del Connor was a blues-rock guitarist and bassist from 1966 to 1991. As one of the original hippie flower power kids Richard had huge amplifiers and loved to play as loud as possible, based upon not overpowering the drummer in over two dozen rock ‘n’ roll bands with names like, Lotus, Dogmeat, The Rich, and Coyote Graveyard.
During the 1990s in Utah, Richard established a new foundation as a “Folk Rock Artist” primarily using his 12-string Alvarez acoustic guitar (with only six strings on it) to write his songs and perform them while using his flute for many of the song solos he would previously have wailed on his electric guitars and Marshall amplifier. He loved to use his Wah-Wah pedal also.
This new FOLK ROCK genre also had a new spiritual focus since he was writing less romantic songs, and more songs about raising his daughter, dealing with the Mormons, and becoming a pipe carrier (Medicine Man) of the Lakota Sioux.
LEVEL 1 = Peace Of Mind also represents the beginning of Richard’s spiritual journey as a Zen Buddhist since the Mormons had pushed him into a corner over this religious topic that he was studying as a Shaolin Kung Fu martial artist.
During the 1990s while teaching his Tai Chi Chuan classes in over a dozen locations Richard also became a Taoist as his Tai Chi Chuan (created at a Taoist monastery) grew and improved within him.
The album LEVEL 1 = Peace Of Mind tells the stories of his struggling family and battles with the Mormons. Each of the first albums also include poetry written and read by The Hippy Coyote.
The second album by American Zen, LEVEL 2 = Christ Killer, begins with the Mormon battles continuing but are resolved in peaceful friendship by the end of the album stories with Richard Del Connor, now having a Chinese name, Zhen Shen-Lang “Spirit Wolf of Truth,” traveling to the Rosebud Reservation of the Lakota Sioux to become a “Pipe Carrier” and according to the Chief Richard Sparrow Eagle, “…an elder of the tribe.”
Follow this spiritual family odyssey on LEVEL 2 = Christ Killer, a musical and poetic memoir of struggling for harmony and “peace of mind” in daily life.
American Zen Bandmembers:
The Hippy Coyote – songwriter, singer, acoustic guitar, flute
Rory G – electric guitar, slide guitar, analog synthesizer, ukulele
Tom Calder – electric bass, backing vocal
Steve Hixon – drums, percussion
Recording Engineer: Don delaVega
Copyright 1992 Shaolin Music. All rights reserved. ASCAP
Copyright 1992 Shaolin Records.
Distributed by Shaolin Communications.