Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Keith Moon: Little Drummer Boy as Charlie Chaplin

‘...that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
with gravity
to start her death-defying leap
And he
a little charleychaplin man
who may or may not catch
her fair eternal form
spread-eagled in the empty air
of existence’
-          Lawrence Ferlinghetti 

If you look closely, the jester is always sad, even when setting the table on a roar. Maybe it’s the quizzical eyebrows, or the saucer eyes themselves that speak beyond the trashed hotels and Berserker pandemonium.

The eternal boy, the jeering Trickster.

In full flight
The laugh was spring-loaded and greased with alcohol and a sparkling menagerie of drugs. Somehow the pain was transmuted into his hands and feet and out across taught drum skins, right into radios of the nation. Nobody had ever heard anything like Keith Moon. They never would again. He was a one-off.

To estimate his importance to one of the most successful rock acts in history, look at what The Who accomplished after Moon’s vanishing act. Enough said.

Rarely does a drummer have such influence. If ever a man was born to an extremely specific profession – in this case a drummer for a world-famous rock band – it was Keith Moon. It’s not possible to envisage him selling shoes or anything else.

“I love to see people laugh, “he said, “and I love it more if I can make them laugh.”
He loved his work

The 24/7 performer. An Emmet Kelly sprinkling cymbals crashes like pixie dust across the swaying heads of a whole generation. “I’ve always enjoyed myself,” he stated. “Unhappy periods for me last about twenty minutes.” (Until the drugs kicked in).

The Little Drummer Boy as Charley Chaplin. He left us but remains – because he never drummed from his heart – it had an off-beat… He drummed from somewhere else, very private and alone.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Edie Sedgwick: Holly Golightly Becomes a Superstar

“Loneliness is such a sad affair
And I can hardly wait
Andy lights Edie
To sleep with you again”

-           - ‘Superstar’ (Leon Russell/ Bonnie Bramlett)

It’s been said that Andy Warhol attracted damaged people – those who drifted into his orbit had shredded their own spiritual gravity - and so there they floated, like silver clouds, through his warehouse, termed – for good reason – ‘The Factory’.

The Youthquaker
Edie Sedgwick came from a family in which the veins of lineage coursed with blue blood, and bank accounts sagged under bullion. That gave her entre but not character – and mascara, thinness, long legs and a wide smile could never make her more than a cultural oddity, never a star.

Ciao Edie
Try watching her in Poor Little Rich Girl. The silence is noisy with ennui, and the deep loneliness of privilege is captured like a breathless, beautiful moth.

On being told by a palm reader that she had a very short life line, Edie replied, “It's okay — I know.” (She managed to avoid The 27 Club by a year).

Maybe fatalism is just predestination with a bad attitude, but Edie, often said to be so fragile, got tough and danced over with lipstick in hand, holly-go-lightlying across a Manhattan skyline to say a final “Ciao”, becoming - that which she was once so flippantly promised and so strangely desired - a Superstar.

No heavy makeup. No need.
"Long ago and oh so far away
I fell in love with you before the second show
Your guitar, it sounds so sweet and clear
But you're not really here
It's just the radio"

        - Superstar

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Brian Wilson: Tin Pan Became Beach Sand

In the beginning...
Given the phosphoric nature of his creativity, it couldn’t last beyond the next riptide.

He had no John Paul George or Ringo for that matter. Not even a George Martin.

In the middle...
So he lived without irony, which is to live unprotected, and alone offered up lazy-daisy melodies, two-minute paens of teenage angst, deep from within dark studios and collapsed dungeons of an exhausted mind.

Somehow the California sky birthed those sounds, glazed in light beams and downy floss. Tin Pan became beach sand. And the warm blue Pacific curled down the coast and sailed him in a glass-bottom dream.

So it was that ironic and that irony shoved him from a wave’s crest and he fell like an Icarus into the arms of startled sea nymphs. Then Charles Manson came around for coffee. Bad vibrations. Flat harmony.

In the end...
He remains a frozen-faced sentinel, Buddha in exile, now resting on a piano stool, the center of attention, while dancers shimmy and shake to those long-ago melodies raised by a young man (a nod to Yeats) tossing on his bed, rhyming in love’s despair.

Brian never made it out, but his songs race with summer children, forever kicking the sunset waves at Malibu, cheering storm clouds, knowing you can only see real fun fun fun in the rear-view mirror, hanging off the cracked windshield of a Little GTO.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Owsley Stanley: The Acid King, The Blood Bedazzler

A typical LSD-related scenario
He was there, you just couldn’t see him. They felt him in their heads, behind their eyes, how you saw the face of God on a grapefruit, the way her hair became a whirling rainbow as you ran together on MountTamalpais...

Owsley Stanley (born Augustus Owsley Stanley III) was a magician of sorts, part alchemist, an enabler, proffering the keys to the Kingdom of Psychedelia.

Sometime around 1965, within the walls of his own San Franciscan lab, he began producing LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide). It didn’t take long for Owsley Acid to be extolled as the gold standard among the West Coast counter culture

Pals: Owsley and Jerry
He wasn’t a one-hit wonder. In fact, Owsley supported brand extension, developing hallucinogens with names like STP, White Lightning, Monterey Purple and Blue Cheer.

It is estimated that he produced one-million doses of LSD between 1965 and 1967.

He became a sound engineer with the Grateful Dead and, likely, their embedded pharmacist.
The Acid King in His Prime

His lab was raided and he spent a few years in jail. Then it was off to Australia to avoid the coming Ice Age – which he did by dying in a car accident.

A Merlin figure, watching the newly crowned Kings and Queens dance the Fug at the Court of Fillmore West, bedazzling their blood with cosmic karma.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Pauline Boty: Blonde on Blonde

“'Friendly, glowing, bronzed, curious, eager, impulsive: the world was all before her, and she knew it” – Margaret Drabble

Boty in motion
She looked the part. Resembled Brigitte Bardot.  A beauty. Was in the film Alfie. Flew above the great unwashed through an exertion of willpower and talent.

Pauline Boty brought Bob Dylan to England. Picked him up at Heathrow and he crashed at her pad.(That alone should get you into Wikipedia).

She looked the part. The mother lode.
Painted Marilyn Monroe, Elvis and Jean-Paul Belmondo. Did collages of magazine cut-ups. Was in a Ken Russell film. Acted on the stage.

Died young so that her unborn baby would live. A dyed-blond hero.

Forgotten, hibernating, then rediscovered.

The Only Blonde in the World. 1963
A cranked-up combustion furnace of 60s pop culture who could do the Mashed Potato 'til dawn and have enough left over to mix the paint. The pure strain. The Mother Lode.

And for a brief, brush stroke of time, she really was the Only Blonde in the World.