The Bizarre And Tragic Story of Craig Smith/Satya Sai Maitreya Kali [Music/History]

A very rare and obscure taped double album from the early 70’s called Apache/Inca found its way into the hands of writer, publisher, label owner, musician and lover of all things from the psychedelic era, Mike Stax. Mike Stax became so fascinated by this album that he spent the next 15 years of his life piecing together the mystery behind it. The man behind the album was Craig Smith/Satya Sai Maitreya Kali and Mike Stax wrote a book called Swim Through The Darkness about his search for the man and everything he learned about him on the way.

Here you can see the different album versions on Discogs!

Some Milestones in His Life

  • Started out as a member of “The Good Time Singers” in the 60’s and played on popular variety shows
  • Starred in the pilot of a show about a fictional band that never got picked up by any tv stations
  • Found success with a friend, Chris Ducey, in a musical duo called Chris & Craig
  • The band grew, added more members and became Penny Arkade
  • In 1968 Craig Smith starts getting involved with the hippie scene, associating with the Manson family and getting into Eastern philosophy
  • Craig left Penny Arkade to travel the “hippie trail” (an overland journey spanning from Europe to Southeast Asia)
  • While on the hippie trail Craig Smith started taking lots of LSD regularly
  • Smith met an Irishman and two American women in Istanbul and they started travelling together.
  • In Afghanistan, on the way to Kabul, Craig Smith decided to leave his companions and venture off into Kandahar by himself, they were all meant to meet up in Kabul eventually
  • Craig Smith never made it to Kabul
  • His companions went back to Kandahar to find him, and started hearing stories about Craig Smith running around a marketplace and threatening people with a knife. They never found him
  • It later became apparent that after threatening a shop vendor with a knife he was beaten close to death, kidnapped, raped and robbed by a gang
  • Craig Smith spent time in an Afghan insane asylum where he developed acute schizophrenia
  • Smith returned to the United States in 1969, now calling himself Maitreya Kali
  • He met a girl he started dating and after a brief break up, he travelled through Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and the Galapagos Islands
  • He moved back to the United States and reconnected with her, but she broke up with him for good due to his increasingly violent and unhinged behaviour.
  • Smith claimed that he had magical powers and was the messiah. He prophesised that he would be “King Of The World” by the year 2000. He claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus, Buddha and Adolf Hitler. Started claiming that voices in his head were telling him to kill people
  • Many of his friends got restraining orders against him
  • One friend who took him in woke up one night to Craig Smith standing over his bed with a knife
  • Around this time, Craig Smith wrote, recorded and self-released Apache and Inca. The linear notes are full of ramblings where he tries desperately to explain his belief system
  • All copies were either given to friends or sold to random passers-by on the street
  • After releasing the album he sold his car, with the hopes of moving to Ethiopia and meeting their president
  • His mental health kept deteriorating. He randomly challenged a friend to a fight to the death with samurai swords. He got a small black spider tattooed on his forehead around this time.
  • In 1973 Smith brutally attacked his mother in their family home
  • He spent the next 3 years in prison
  • Once released he drifted from mental institution to mental institution before funding was cut in the 80’s
  • He spent the rest of his life homeless, getting into trouble with the law and occasionally still recording music
  • His ramblings had moved from his “belief system” to aliens and UFO conspiracy theories some time in the 2000s
  • Smith died on the streets on March 16, 2012
  • His family declined to collect his ashes
  • He was eventually collected by Mike Stax

Text found on a Facebook
group for obscure music.

You can read a great article and an Interview with the author on Vice Magazines webite