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Mad Villainy: Oliver Reed on how to play a bad guy
10.30.2013
10:13 am

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Movies
Television

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Since I couldn’t have a dog when I was a child, it became my ambition to turn into a werewolf. Vampires were dull and superstitious. Frankentstein’s monster was clumsy and no good with kids. The Invisible Man appealed, though he wasn’t too good at small talk, and being invisible could get awfully cold. My short list, therefore, was pared down to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and the werewolf. Both had interesting dichotomies, but where Jekyll’s was about repressed guilt and sexuality, the lycanthrope was driven by a powerful animal nature, which I saw as my untamed spirit.

That summer, when I was six, I became a werewolf for a week or so, and howled at the moon.

I learned my lupine behavior from Henry Hull in The Werewolf of London, who was then my favorite lycanthrope, putting a beefy Lon Chaney Jr.‘s Wolfman into second place. This was, of course, until I saw Oliver Reed possessed by a silvered moon in The Curse of the Werewolf.

Reed had the werewolf routine down pat. He knew all the moves, and did a fine line in shirt-shredding and wet-eyed remorse. I quickly realized that being a werewolf wasn’t as much fun as being an actor, and I began to follow Reed’s on-screen career.

I caught-up with his early swash-buckling double-bills at the Astoria cinema, where I also saw Reed as the definitive Bill Sikes in Oliver!, then as a comic and unlikely brother to Michael Crawford in The Jokers, and finally as animal-loving POW taking an elephant to safety across the Alps in Hannibal Brooks.

Reed had a joy for living that radiated form the screen, and unlike all the other fodder on offer, Ollie’s films were different, quirky, and, most importantly, fun.

It was through Reed that I arrived at Ken Russell, the man who made me aware of just how brilliant and original cinema could be.

Looking back, Reed’s films were all peculiarly British. Moreover, during the 1970s, as every other Brit actor fled the country’s eye-watering rate of taxation (75%), it seemed like Reed was only actor keeping British cinema alive.

Ultimately, it proved a losing battle, as the American summer blockbuster brought an end to individuality, intelligence and the art of the cinematic auteur.

Of course, things could have been much different, if Reed had gone for the Hollywood lifestyle: those big budget movies, the box office success, and a life by the swimming pool sipping Evian water.

It wasn’t so far fetched, as at the height of his fame, in the 1970s, Reed was offered two major Hollywood movies that would have changed his career for good.

The first was The Sting, where he was to be the villain, Doyle Lonnegan; the second was Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, in which he was to play the wise, old fisherman, Quint.

Reed turned them down, and both of these roles went to Robert Shaw.

Going to Hollywood, Reed later admitted, “might have made all the difference,” but it wasn’t in his nature, as he explained to the actress, Georgina Hale:

”You know, Georgie, I could have gone to Hollywood but I chose life instead.”

Interesting how he made a difference between “Tinsel Town” and “life.”

But “life” had to be paid for, and over the next two decades, Reed made a small library of bad B-movies that hardly used his talent and did little for his reputation.

When his brothers, David and Simon asked Oliver to go to Hollywood, Reed would always shake his head and reply:

”I don’t think I can do it. I don’t really want to do it.”

Reed’s lack of confidence stemmed from his dyslexia, which saw him damned as dunce throughout his school years, and led him to doubt his own intellectual potential. He covered-up this lack of confidence with drink. Lon Chaney once advised his son to find a movie role he could make his own. Junior soon hit on The Wolfman and became a star. By the 1980s, Reed was making the role of a drunk his own. It was a performance that shortchanged his talents.

Robert Sellars in his authorized biography on Reed What Fresh Lunacy Is This? notes an exchange in an early Reed movie, which parallels the actors own fears.

There’s a scene in The System where Jane Merrow’s character asks Oliver’s Lothario of a seaside photographer why he stays in a small town, thinking him to be the type who would have moved on to a bustling city long ago.

Asked if he likes living in the town, he replies, ‘No, not particularly.’

‘Then why stay?’

‘Perhaps I’m a little nervous of going anywhere bigger.’

Reed was a star, it’s just the movies that got small. But in his work/life balance, Oliver probably got it right. He achieved a memorable body of work, with at least a dozen important films; and he lived a life of excess that became the envy of beer-bellied frat boys and suburban barflies.
 
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On British TV back in the 1980s, there was a show called In at the Deep End, where user-friendly presenters Paul Heiney and Chris Serle were given the challenge of mastering a different profession every week. These jobs ranged from working as a chef, becoming a female impersonator, making a pop promo (for Banarama), and acting in a movie.

In 1985, Heiney was given a bit part in the Dick Clement / Ian La Frenais movie Water, a flop that starred Michael Caine, Valerie Perrine and Billy Connolly. With no acting experience, Heiney sought out the advice of Oliver Reed, who gave impromptu acting lesson of how to be a bad guy.

As Heiney later told Robert Sellers:

’[Reed] was wearing a heavy army overcoat,’ says Heiney. ‘Like the ones the Russian army wear, and he said there was nothing underneath. I had no reason to disbelieve him. He was wearing a pair of wore-rimmed spectacles; one of the lenses was cracked. He had a sort of look of death about him, although I’m sure that was put on, and he had in his fist a pint mug with this clear, colourless liquid in it which he said was vodka and tonic, and I’ve got no reason to doubt that, either. Clearly he’d decided from the outset that he was going to play the bad man every inch of the way. Come in, sit down, shut up, don’t sit there, all that kind of stuff, and he was clearly enjoying it. And I wasn’t enjoying it.’

The advice Ollie gives in the interview is like a master class in how to play a villain on film. His big thing was not to blink: bad men do not blink. ‘You don’t see a cobra blink, do you?’ he says.

The next thing was the voice. Villains don’t shout, they don’t need to. Dangerous men have a great silence and stillness about them.

The one thing that’s missing from this clip is Reed’s finally, knowing wink to camera. But it’s all priceless, and shows a flash of Reed’s talents.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Nightmare Concert: An interview with horror soundtrack maestro Fabio Frizzi
10.28.2013
11:12 am

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Movies
Music

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Fan of obscure horror? If so, the names Fabio Frizzi and Lucio Fulci should need little introduction. 

But if not, here goes… For fans of niche horror, very little comes close to the cult reverence held for the Italian “giallo” genre of bawdy, gory, hyper-stylized, pseudo-slasher films from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Typified by the likes of Dario Argento’s Suspiria and Mario Bava’s Blood And Black Lace, the best of the giallo genre eschews tight plotting and believable set-ups for overwhelmingly dark moods and unsettling technical brilliance.

Although the two directors mentioned above deserve credit for a) inventing (Bava) and b) expertly honing (Argento) the genre, for many the ultimate director of giallo schlock is Lucio Fulci. The mastermind behind classics like The Beyond, Zombie Flesh Eaters (aka Zombi 2), City Of The Living Dead, The New York Ripper and many, many more, his scenes of underwater battles between sharks and zombies, of nipples being sliced open by crazed psychopaths, of faces devoured by cannibalistic fake spiders, not to mention his literally eye popping special effects, are the stuff of horror legend.

Behind every cult horror auteur, there’s usually an unsung soundtrack supremo, and in this case, that man is Fabio Frizzi. Although perhaps not as well known as fellow countrymen Goblin, who set the bar for giallo soundtracks very high with their work with Dario Argento, Fabio Frizzi has still racked up some of the best loved movie themes within the genre. From the intricate, brilliant choral-jazz-funk of The Beyond to the droning, doomy synths of Zombie Flesh Eaters (which, for me at least, is THE definitive zombie film theme of all time) Fulci commands just as much fan respect and admiration as Claudio Simonetti and co.

Which is why I was blowled over to find out that this Thursday, on Halloween night, Fabio Frizzi will be performing live in London at a special concert called Frizzi To Fulci, celebrating his numerous themes for Fulci with the help of a large live group called the F2F Orchestra. For horror soundtrack buffs like myself, this gig is the holy grail, possibly even moreso than the recent Goblin live shows, as the chance of seeing Frizzi perform live seemed even more remote.

Unfortunately, what with Halloween being Gay Christmas an’ all, I won’t be able to make the show (ironically, we’re hosting a triple bill of giallo classics, including The Beyond) but I jumped at the chance to interview Fabio Frizzi; to find out more about his background, his inspirations, and, of course, his work with Lucio Fulci. Frizzi To Fulci is sold out (there are limited VIP tickets available) so for those of us who can’t make what promises to be a very special evening, here is my interview with the soundtrack maestro himself:

Dangerous Minds: When did you first start writing and playing music and what was the inspiration?

Fabio Frizzi: I was attracted to music from a very young age, my father used to sing in a very big choir in Bologna, which is where we lived. When I was 2 or 3 my friends and family used to meet and sing together. When I was about 6 I was part of a small choir at school.

But then something strange happened when I was a teenager. I was still in love with music, but I wanted to do other things. I was a swimmer, and while it wasn’t a career, I was pretty good. At 14 I started to have problems with asthma and my doctor told me it would be better to stop swimming for a while. It was a tragedy for me, because, you know, at 14 you are still a baby! But my father had a great idea, he asked a guitar teacher to give me lessons, because he knew I still liked music. So I began and, day by day, I got better, This was at the same time that The Beatles were gaining popularity, so we were all listening to that.

At 15 I had my first group, which was classical, but after a while I moved from classical guitar to acoustic and electric, you know how guys are! But I kept going and it became my real love. I always say that my first girlfriends, when I was about 17, they had to come with us to the rehearsals, because for us Saturday and Sunday was dedicated to the music!

When I finished school my dad wanted me to become a lawyer, and I started studying that, but it was always secondary. I met a very big Italian publisher called Carlo Bixio, he believed in my talent and helped me as I put together my first group, Bixio-Frizzi-Tempera when I was about 23. But you have to remember that my father was already working in the cinema field. So it was easier for me than it would be for other people; I knew Italian actors, I would go to premieres and screenings, so it was easier, yes, but I was passionate. I studied, because, after all, it takes a while to get good at making music!
 

 
Read the full interview after the jump…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Xerox Ferox and the Lost Art of the Horror Film Fanzine
10.26.2013
11:20 am

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Books
Movies
Punk

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Guest post by David Kerekes, co-author of Killing For Culture and See No Evil, and author of Mezzogiorno

In the introduction to a new book on the subject of horror film fanzines and the culture they spawned, author John Szpunar deliberates on the place of the zine next to mainstream media. There is a difference, he says, in that the zines had nothing to lose.

I can think of no better example to illustrate this point than a Myra Hindley cut out doll. It’s a pen and ink drawing gracing the back cover of Subhuman #4 (January 1987), which shows one half of the Moors Murderers wearing nothing but her fearsome peroxide bouffant and black panties. A change of dress includes a Nazi uniform along with a bloodstained kitchen knife as accessory.
 

 
Art: Jason Knight
 
The Myra doll isn’t trying to sell anything. It doesn’t relate to a film, nor bear any relation to the content of the zine in question. Its simple purpose is to glower with gentle contempt. In the town I once lived, a short bus ride from the moors of the Moors Murderers, this sort of jape could get you lynched. Who in their right mind would conjure up something as disturbing, disposable and quite as brilliant as a Myra Hindley cut out doll? Disposable is a clue, in deference to the type of horror fanzine one might find in John Szpunar’s book.

To paraphrase the jacket blurb, Xerox Ferox: The Wild World of the Horror Film Fanzine is a book that covers a scene that has influenced generations of writers, filmmakers and fans (myself included; I published it). Fanzines with lurid titles like Gore Gazette, Violent Leisure, Sleazoid Express and Subhuman expressed a sense of freak camaraderie at a time when technology was yet to arrive for its wholesale delivery of freak. Theirs was a literary DIY ethos, not dissimilar to that of punk rock a decade or so earlier (which incidentally often borrowed from film, particularly cult and horror film).
 

 
Psychoholic Slag. Issue 5 (USA). Argento! Argento? Editor: Dave Kosanke.
 
One zine usually opened the door to other zines. Writes John Szpunar of his own education in this respect:

Before long, I was a part of a network of zine and tape traders, and the goods kept rolling in […] I was coming of age with the help of a new generation, and I was having the time of my life.

Avoiding reference to literary content for the moment (irreverent… informed… typo laden), the thing most striking about the horror film zines is, of course, the visual aesthetic. Although some were designed to a comparatively high standard—i.e., pro-zines like CineFan, Little Shoppe of Horrors and Bizarre —many more were low key efforts of short runs that were perhaps given away for the price of postage. The layouts were urgent and witty, overloaded with elements seemingly vying for space before the page ran out. And defining these products was the photocopier, the Xerox of Xerox Ferox, creating an arresting visual dynamic of harsh black and white contrasts that robbed any image of superfluous detail.

It is reassuring to discover that, in the age of the Internet, a small place still exists for the zine practitioner and the horror film culture of the printed page. Examples are out there, being transmitted through the postal network in a matter of days to defy the blogosphere (a term so abhorrent we are destined to use it). For now, however, a random collection of horror fanzine covers rescued from the mailboxes of old and made suitable for framing…

Get a special hardback edition of the remarkable Xerox Ferox here. 800 fully illustrated pages, about $72 plus a couple more to post. Pre-release paperback available here.
 

 
Killer Kung Fu Enema Nurses On Crack Issue 3 (NZ). A genuine Garbage Pail Kids sticker adorns the cover. Image depicts a police raid on the New Zealand home of editor/publisher Peter Hassall, confiscating books, zines and porn.
 

 
Subhuman Issue 5, March/April 1987 (USA). Design: Dawn Doyle. Editor: Cecil Doyle.
 

 
Trash Compactor Volume 2 Issue 4, Winter 1990 (CAN). Design: The Trash Compactor.

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Discussion
Langley Schools Music Project: Children’s choruses sing Beach Boys, Bowie, Fleetwood Mac
10.22.2013
09:38 am

Topics:
Music

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langley lp
 
What is it about children’s choruses in pop music? Is it a nostalgic response? Is it a nod to ephemerality, an awareness on some level that the exact same kids a year later would have totally different voices? Whatever impulse drives producers (cough cough Bob Ezrin) to deploy that move, it’s enough of a cliché that when it’s used, it’d better be done effectively, like in “School’s Out,” or hit the unsuspecting listener like a bomb as in “Another Brick In The Wall Part II.” If it’s treacle like “Toy Soldiers,” you’re making the world a worse place. (I’m not going to link that one. If you don’t know it, count your blessings and move on. If you do know it and I just earwormed you, I am sincerely sorry for that.)

A great example of getting it spectacularly right dispenses with the pop singer and producer altogether and just leaves the whole job to the kids. The celebrated Langley Schools Music Project was undertaken by novice music teacher Hans Fenger, who eschewed typical children’s fare for his chorales, favoring instead the recent radio pop of the time - the mid ‘70s, with a lot of British Invasion and Beach Boys in the mix. Two vanity-pressed LPs were made, both recorded live in school gyms. Those albums would have gathered dust on proud parents’ shelves or languished in Vancouver thrift store bins had they not been brought to the attention of WFMU’s longtime champion of outsider music, Irwin Chusid. Chusid arranged for the release of the albums on Bar/None Records, and the CD Innocence & Despair was released to acclaim in 2001.

The temptation to chalk up the kudos to hip irony should be resisted here. These recordings are just flat out incredible. The kids ranged in age from 9-12, and so were recorded before the pressures of adolescence and high school had a chance to stifle their expressiveness. As Fenger put it in the liner notes from Innocence, quoted here from Wikipedia,

I knew virtually nothing about conventional music education, and didn’t know how to teach singing. Above all, I knew nothing of what children’s music was supposed to be. But the kids had a grasp of what they liked: emotion, drama, and making music as a group. Whether the results were good, bad, in tune or out was no big deal—they had élan.

Élan, absolutely, and, it must be added, a seeming total lack of pretension. Though these songs were radio staples of their day, most of the ‘70s tunes have fallen from favor for their hokeyness, bombast, or their reflection of an acutely mid ‘70s complacency. But hearing stripped down arrangements of the songs sung by naifs who just really love to sing them is transformative. Check out the Langley kids’ take on that most eye-rollingly douchey of Eagles songs, “Desperado:”
 

 
It’s so much better sung by a novice kid than by a bunch of satisfied, self-mythologizing, dick swinging millionaire Laurel Canyon coke-fiends, is it not? The kids’ version of the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” is so emotionally resonant that it could well be the only possible remake that doesn’t fall conspicuously short of Carl Wilson’s golden-voiced canonical performance.
 

 
I don’t care how grizzled and jaded a hipster you are—shit, I don’t care if you’re a 400 pound biker who’s killed a half dozen Aryan Brotherhood guys in prison—if you aren’t a little moved by that, you’re a fucking robot.

Can you imagine such a thing happening now? I don’t see it, myself. This was an era during which, aside from the eternal handful of canny nods to Tiger Beat-ish female juvinilia like Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy, et al, there was no massive tween entertainment niche as we know it today. Junior high kids, for the most part, listened to the same pop radio fare as high schoolers and, before the advent of the Adult Contemporary radio format, grownups alike. Can you imagine 9-12 year olds in 2013 opting to sing Blitzen Trapper over Justin Bieber? The band Gomez over Selina Gomez? Mazzy Star over Miley? There’s just no way.

Individual tracks made rounds of the Internet as hey-check-out-this-goofy-cover sharity on some of the more oddity-oriented sites during the mid-oughts’ heyday of MP3 blogs, but Bar/None has recently uploaded the entire album to YouTube as individual tracks. This may well be the first time the entire collection has been legitimately available for free listening. The entire compilation is posted here. In the interest of preserving the CD order, I’ve reposted the two songs already shared above, I hope you’ll pardon that redundancy.
 

Paul McCartney and Wings, “Venus & Mars/Rock Show” - a good start, but it gets better
 

Beach Boys, “Good Vibrations” - I love the two-note xylophone solo standing in for the original’s famous theremin freakout.
 

Beach Boys, “God Only Knows”
 

David Bowie, “Space Oddity” - shit gets HECTIC at 1:04.
 

The Beatles, “The Long And Winding Road” - this is lovely, and renders moot the overwrought Phil Spector version on Let It Be.
 

Paul McCartney and Wings, “Band on the Run” - the most ambitious arrangement here. The percussionist plainly had a fine time.
 

Beach Boys, “In My Room” - does this song not make much more sense sung by kids than by five grown men?
 

Herman’s Hermits, “I’m Into Something Good” - you just know if this were today, some dick parent would sue the school over the “one night stand” line.
 

Bay City Rollers, “Saturday Night” - it’s fun to hear the kids keeping up the chanting between 2:30 and the end, though it strikes me that the fade-out may have been cover for encroaching sloppiness.
 

Beach Boys, “I Get Around” - yay, more Beach Boys…
 

Barry Manilow, “Mandy” - see, his songs have capabilities when you strip out the Broadway/Vegas chintz.
 

Beach Boys, “Help Me, Rhonda” - how much money did Mike Love get from this album?
 

The Eagles, “Desperado”
 

Beach Boys, “You’re So Good To Me” - last Beach Boys song. If you’re not a fan you can relax now.
 

Neil Diamond, “Sweet Caroline” - why couldn’t this have had six Neil Diamond songs instead of six Beach Boys songs? I want to hear them do “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show!”
 

Teddy Bears, “To Know Him Is To Love Him” - speaking of Phil Spector.
 

Fleetwood Mac, “Rhiannon” - another one I didn’t know I liked until I heard someone other than the original artist singing it.
 

Michael Martin Murphy, “Wildfire” - one of the more acutely ‘70s songs here. I went back to listen to the original on this one, as I haven’t actually heard this song since I was a kid in the ‘70s. I expected it to hold up poorly, but to my surprise, it sounds a lot like the current Texas band Midlake, whom I’ve quite liked. Still, the kids again crush the original here.
 

The Carpenters, “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” - this is probably the finishing move for a reason. It’s the most whatthefuckishly lysergic song choice, but it turned out REALLY great. I’d like to think the kids knew this was originally a Klaatu song, but that strikes me as doubtful.

A documentary on how Innocence & Despair was made, discovered, and released.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
The decadent marquis, Michael Des Barres, and the legacy of Silverhead
10.11.2013
02:35 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:

silverheadfirstlp
 

If Rodney Bingenheimer is the Mayor of Sunset Strip, then Michael Des Barres is the Strip’s Lord Chamberlain, Knight of the Garter, and Poet Laureate. He is what would result if you combined the DNA of a young Rod Stewart, Marc Bolan, Lord Byron, Percy B. Shelley, Heathcliff, Lothario, and every aristocratic hero (he is a marquis) from every Barbara Cartland romance novel.

Michael Des Barres started out his professional life as a young actor. He attended drama school at sixteen after years at elite British private boarding schools. He appeared on television in the U.K.  (Whack-O!, The Bruce Forsyth Show, Mrs. Thursday), West End theatre (The Dirtiest Show in Town, performing in the nude), and in the film To Sir, With Love. Most Americans recognize him from his acting roles here: Mulholland Drive, Roseanne, NCIS, Ellen, Melrose Place, and MacGyver.

Some of us caught an early glimpse of him in 1978 as a punk rocker on WKRP in Cincinnati. Musically his vampy joie de vivre as Robert Palmer’s replacement as lead singer for The Power Station at Live Aid in 1985 was legendary. A diminuitive friend of mine who saw Des Barres for the first time at Live Aid immediately went about studying and desperately copping his stage moves.

Those stage moves were carefully honed in three short-lived bands: Silverhead, Detective, and Chequered Past (which also featured Steve Jones). The British glam-rock band Silverhead, consisting of Michael, bassist Nigel Harrison (who later joined Blondie), guitarist Rod “The Rook” Davies, drummer Pete “Tommo” Thompson, and guitarist Steve Forest (replaced by Robbie Blunt), formed in 1972. They were young, glamorous, and skinny, so scrawny that Michael once joked  that their collective weight was about 150 pounds. They released two studio albums, Silverhead (1972) and 16 and Savaged (1973), and one live album, Live at the Rainbow (1975), on Purple Records, Deep Purple’s label. They were dirty, raunchy (“More Than Your Mouth Can Hold,” for example), and fun, a hard-partying, kohl-wearing feature of the burgeoning glitter scene, where Michael befriended, among others, Marc Bolan. They toured extensively throughout the U.K., Europe, Japan, and the U.S., opening for Kiss, Nazareth, Osibisa, Fleetwood Mac, Uriah Heep, and Deep Purple. When Michael fell offstage and broke his arm in the U.S, it did not slow him down. His cast was spray-painted silver to match his hair, and they kept the party going.

silverhead16
 


silverheadlive
 


Silverhead were supposed to be the Next Big Thing, poised to conquer the American music market. Unfortunately it never happened. Their sales were disappointing, and they did not reach the same sphere of popularity as T. Rex, Slade, or Sweet. Then they imploded, abruptly breaking up in the middle of working on their third album (Brutiful) in 1974. Michael relocated to L.A. permanently and eventually married The GTO’s Miss Pamela, whom he had met on the set of the movie Arizonaslim when he was a last-microsecond replacement for Keith Moon.

Pamela wrote about her first impression of Michael in her first memoir I’m With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie, calling him “a degenerate drug-taking sex-dog toting two bottles of Southern Comfort, wearing two dozen silver bracelets on each arm” and “...a well-bred lunatic with an abundant vocabulary who drank like a school of fish.”

Silverhead has earned a new generation of young fans, thanks to the internet. They reunited last year for a series of concerts in Tokyo and just settled on another reunion scheduled for next year. I talked to Michael this week about the origin of Silverhead and their brief few years of glory. We ended up talking about a lot of other things, including 12 Step programs, drugs, art, and books. He’s read the recent list of David Bowie’s top 100 books and concurs with it, but would add classics like Hemingway, Tolstoy, Twain, Genet, Henry Miller, Rimbaud, Shakespeare, Sartre, Patti Smith, and Serge Gainsbourg. He doesn’t like Bukowski: “I’d rather read Steinbeck.”

He also told me that he prefers real books to Kindles, as does his long-time friend Jimmy Page. “If someone gave Jimmy a Kindle, he’d give it to a member of his staff to start a fire with.”

Dangerous Minds: When did you first get the idea to form Silverhead?

Michael Des Barres: I was doing a huge musical in London called The Dirtiest Show in Town, and Andrew Lloyd Webber came to see it because it was produced by Robert Stigwood, who of course ended up producing Jesus Christ Superstar. I ended up singing on the demos for that in the role of Judas. We got along great, and he said, “You should be a rock and roll star.” I was playing an androgynous sort of character in this musical. I played this angrogynous rock star, which I then became. He said, “You should be in a band. Write some songs immediately.” So I wrote a song called “Will You Finance My Rock and Roll Band?” and he did. He got me a record deal at Purple Records. We put a ad in the Melody Maker, which was the music paper, the de rigueur music source of information in London at that time in 1971. The ad said, “Wanted: erotic relaxed musicians.” These ne’er-do-wells showed up, skinny with floppy hair and eye makeup, and we formed a band called Silverhead.

Within three months we were in Japan playing these gigs, unbelievable response, because we had white faces, it was glamourous, it was kabuki, it was bluesy, it was decadent. Then we came to the states and played to eleven people in Cleveland. You know how it is, “big in Japan.” But fantastic experience, Silverhead, great band. Authentic, degenerate. We led that life. I met Miss Pamela. I left England. I moved in with Miss Pamela in 1974. The band broke up. It was a short-lived, explosive moment. We’re going back in March, funnily enough. That just happened this week. It should be lovely, because that’s closure. It ended in a cloud of hashish and acrimony.

More Michael Des Barres after the jump…

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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