UK UK - Christina “Licorice” McKechnie, 45, 1990

iconoclast

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Hello all...like most of us I think, I got hooked on cold cases after running across Cali on the Net (more about her later, perhaps). But this one is my running obsession, and while I've just begun, here is what I have so far...

Where is Licorice?

Her name was Christina, but people called her “Licorice.” Friends and family members described her as a lovely young woman, with a unique combination of strength and innocence. Her fans say she was a talented singer/songwriter. Others, that she was a wanna-be and a victim of the social change that came after the 60s. And that’s all anyone knows for sure.

We also know that she’s been missing for nearly 20 years.


Today, only the true aficionado of 1960s popular music remembers the Incredible String Band. But in 1967, they were on the cutting edge of the folk revival then going on in the UK. Led by Robin Williamson and Mike Heron, ISB’s folk-rock sound and creative songwriting “practically defined the hippie culture,” according to Wikipedia’s entry on the band.

In mid-1967, Williamson invited his then-girlfriend, Christina “Licorice” McKechnie, to join the band as harpist/keyboardist and singer. Like many musicians of that era, Licorice learned her instruments as she performed and was often inexpert in her playing. Soon, however, her vocals gave the band a new stage presence. When Licorice started writing her own songs, the ISB sound began to gel.

In 1969, ISB was set to take America by storm. Then they played a short set at Woodstock…and were so badly received by the rocker audience that their performance was left off the album and out of the documentary film. Also around this time, the key band members were introduced to Scientology® while in New York. Williamson and Heron became devout Scientologists®. There are conflicting stories about whether Licorice also converted, but the consensus—and evidence from her later song lyrics and bandmember accounts—is that she did. Then, the band’s “epic” double album and elaborate tour, known simply as U, bombed. Tension between the band members increased. The band’s song lyrics increasingly revolved around Scientology philosophy and jargon. ISB made several more records, but the writing was on the wall. Following her breakup with Williamson, Licorice left the band in 1972. By 1974, there was no more Incredible String Band.

Everything that is known about Licorice from this point is shrouded in myth. She had a boyfriend named David Zimian and is said to have performed with him for a while in Woody Woodmansey’s band U-Boat, though neither Zimian nor Licorice appear on the credits for the band’s sole album. A Google search on Zimian turned up only his connection to Licorice, and the fact that in 1976 a David Zimian was ordained as a minister in Scientology. According to the church Web site, Woodmansey also is now a Scientology minister.Licorice moved to Los Angeles within a few years after leaving ISB. The year may have been 1976 or 1977, but this is uncertain. There are anonymous reports that she worked as a waitress and coatroom attendant while occasionally performing in bars. At some point she married Brian Lambert, who played guitar in Robin Williamson’s new band. (However, a check of California marriage records revealed nothing). She performed with Lambert on Williamson’s solo album in 1977 under the name “Likky Lambert.”

The 1980s brought profound change to many people, and Licorice was no exception. She and Lambert were divorced around this time. By all available accounts, the divorce was a friendly one. In fact, Licorice and Lambert remained in contact.Then they were not.

The year is not certain. Most Web site accounts say Licorice left Los Angeles in 1987. A few have her living in Arizona two years later, and two in Sacramento after that. One source claims she had a history of depression. In any case, she has not been seen or heard from since the late 1980s.We know that Christina McKechnie was born in Scotland. She pronounces her first name “Christ-EYE-nah.” She was in her late teens when she joined the band, which would put her birth year around 1950. She also went by the nickname “Likky.” Other than that, what is remarkable is that so little is known. Her name is often misspelled “McKenzie,” which further complicates things.

Many people still remember the delicate-looking young woman who sang in ISB. She has a sister who has tried to find her over the years. Many would like to find her, but her trail (if any) has long gone cold. She is said to be on LAPD's Missing Persons list, but this information is not on the LAPD Web site, and detectives are reluctant to speak with civilian amateurs. Former ISB members Williamson and Heron recently re-formed the band for a reunion tour, but neither has heard from Licorice. The closest the band has to an official Web site makes little mention of her. Her royalties remain unclaimed.The 1960s and early 70s were a time of great social change. Many young people took to the road in journeys of self-discovery. Many of them were never heard from again. But most were not musicians with a substantial cult following. Is there a Scientology connection to Licorice’s disappearance? It is not my intent to allege any wrongdoing by the Church of Scientology®. However, the sheer number of connections means that any inquiry into Licorice’s disappearance must include an inquiry of the place of Scientology in her life. According to the band’s unofficial Web site, Licorice was the first band member to “go clear”™ or complete the first level of the Church’s training. She is also said to have been disillusioned with the Church’s teachings early on. Williamson and Heron allegedly left Scientology in the early 80s, but there is conflicting information regarding this. According to Church Web pages, Williamson’s wife Bina completed a Scientology “rundown”™ in 1990. A check of the Church’s Web site turned up references to Zimian and Woodmansey, but no mention of Licorice under any of her names.


Some examples of the sketchy information available online:


http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=8816

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/ISB/
Search the group on "Licorice (or Likky) missing"

http://www.angelfire.com/biz3/ISB/likkie.html


Ironically, another Scottish folk singer, [size=-1]Shelagh [/size]McDonald, who vanished in 1973, recently walked into a newspaper office and granted an interview. She had, she said, feared the pressure that goes with fame and just wanted to get away.

Any interest in this case?
 

Angels_Not_Forgotten

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wow how interesting. SO maybe she changed her name and is still with the church? maybe she knew to much about smething and was murdered, or maybe she just wanted to get away....im very interested to say the least!!
 

amazing-sea-monkey

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Your writing style is great.. I was hooked after reading your short story. I am very interested in finding out information, but not much of a sleuth. Wish I could help is some way. What a fascinating story to say the least. What about her parents? Can they shed any light?
 

annemc2

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Yes, a very well-written and compelling story! You have really done some great research!
 

iconoclast

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Funny you should say that...though we know she has a sister in Edinburgh, her parents have never been mentioned in any of the available accounts. It was the 60s and she was a teenager...perhaps her relationship with them was more than a little bit strained?
 

Dr. Doogie

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This may be a situation of her disappearing by choice, which raises the question of the ethics of trying to find her. If she was very active in the CoS and then became disillusioned with the religion, there are a multitude of reasons that she may disappear. It is common for the CoS to have members sign contracts for the payment of fees for classes that the church offers, often endebting the members for hundreds of thousands of dollars. If she had been active for a long time and had accumulated these "obligations", it would be to her advantage to disappear and break of all contact with her fellow Scientologists so the church could not find and harrass her for payment.

Iconoclast, a question for you (and forgive my paranoia): I noticed that your posts contain the trademarks that Scientology uses to try and control the dissemenation of their beliefs - it is used to prevent critics from using the CoS's own words to expose what they believe. What, if any, affilliation do you have with the CoS or any of their related groups? If you are a member, that does not neccessarily negate your sincerity in finding this woman, but when dealing with the CoS, truth-in-advertising is a neccessary precaution.

Dr. Doogie - A Suppressive Person, and proud of it! :)
 

Bluecat

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Perhaps she went back to the UK? It would explain why no one has heard from her...
 

iconoclast

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I have and have always had zero affiliation with that group or any of its subgroups. Not my thing. I inserted the copyright symbol because they are notorious for calling anyone and everyone on "copyright violations."
 

Dr. Doogie

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iconoclast said:
I have and have always had zero affiliation with that group or any of its subgroups. Not my thing. I inserted the copyright symbol because they are notorious for calling anyone and everyone on "copyright violations."
Fair enough. In the same way that you are covering-your-rear, I just wanted to make sure mine was covered too. All is good.

A friend of mine experienced exactly the scenario that I described as a hypothetical above. He disappeared for a few years until the church lost interest in finding him.

The CoS is notorious for being a "church" when it suits their interests, yet acting like a business when it is to their advantage. Disappearing is a common thing for disgruntled ex-members to do if they do not feel emotionally strong enough to fight them toe-to-toe.
 

iconoclast

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They also have a subgroup known as RPF (Wiki it)...it's their gulag. Now, I'm not saying that some people "disappear" into that organization. But then again, I'm not saying they don't.
 

Richard

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Bumping this case up. Any news? Is she listed in any of the Missing Persons websites? What are her vital statistics/description?
 

kemo

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I have looked into this matter and, using resources available to the public, I have satisfied myself that she is alive, (and presumably well) and hiding in plain sight, so to speak. She has either broken with her family and the folks associated with ISB or they are compliant with her decision to remain out of the limelight. Some people just prefer their privacy.
 
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