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Who was that mysterious middle-aged bald guy that appeared in like EVERY early ‘80s MTV video?
08.17.2015
07:15 am

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture
Superstar
Television

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When MTV first debuted in 1981, few people believed in the fledgling network and its concept of airing music videos 24 hours a day. Their launch was plagued with technical problems and the station itself was starved for content.

MTV co-founder, Les Garland, details the shaky beginnings in a New York Post interview:

There was some fear, because we didn’t get the instant distribution some people thought we would. We used to hear, from cable operators and advertisers, “nobody’s gonna watch music on television 24 hours a day. That’ll never work.” Heard it from people in [our own] management, too. It was closer to touch-and-go than people realized. There were threats of pulling the plug.

Given the newness of music videos, the channel had only around 250 to choose from at the beginning.

One demographic that may have been initially counted out, but who undoubtedly contributed to the success of early MTV, was elementary through high-school-aged kids who had loads of free viewing time on their hands. Kids who would end up spending hours a day obsessing over this new medium—a medium which moved so much faster than what they had been used to seeing, having grown up on network television. MTV ushered in the age of ADD.

I was one of those captivated kids, and what a fascinating time it was to become “musically aware” with this brand-new, content-starved format repetitively pumping-out clips from whatever handful of (mostly new wave) acts that were forward-thinking enough to devote the time and energy to shooting videos. Suddenly bands you would NEVER hear on the radio, were appearing on TV screens nation-wide and the kids were eating it up.

In those early days of obsessive MTV viewing, I began to notice this one guy. This one middle-aged, balding, bespectacled man. This one guy who was conspicuous for his squareness among pretty boy rock stars and hot models. This one guy who seemed to be in like EVERY freaking video. Was he a video director inserting himself Hitchcock style into his clips? Was he a record label president? Was he the bands’ coke dealer? Who the hell was this guy?
 

 
And so, for more than thirty years this man has been in the back of my head as “that ubiquitous middle-aged ‘80s video bald guy.”

I was recently tooling around You Tube, watching the video for Haircut 100’s classic hit “Love Plus One” and had my memory jarred. “Oh yeah,” I thought, “there he is!” “There’s that guy! The headmaster from the Bonnie Tyler video! The guy who struts down the street next to Joan Jett! The dad from the Squeeze video! The shaky-handed martini-drinker from the Billy Joel video! WHO IS THIS GUY!?”
 

 
This being 2015, and having the luxury of google and the Internet, I went to work searching for something, anything on this mystery man. Amazingly, I turned up nothing—except for other people asking the exact same question: “Who is the guy in every early ‘80s video?” 

So, next I contacted Nick Heyward of Haircut 100—because, again, we live in the future and you can just instantly access ANYONE. I sent Heyward a photo and asked “do you remember who this guy is?” Heyward replied almost immediately:

He was the wardrobe guy/actor/extra. Nice chap. Pop was a closely-knit family in those days.

There was a lead, but not much. Searches of “‘80s music video wardrobe guy, bald” turned up nothing.

From there, I took my quest to MTV’s Mark Goodman, to see if he had any inside information. Goodman responded: “No clue who the dude is but pretty funny you spotted him. You must have lots of free time!” So, great, childhood icon, MTV’s Mark Goodman, thinks I’m a total loser.

Subsequent sleuthing started to reveal a connection between the various videos that the pervasive bald guy was appearing in: a production company called MGMM.

MGMM was THE go-to company for music video production in the early ‘80s—mostly because they were one of the first companies to specialize in it. The company’s partners Brian Grant, Scott Millaney, Russel Mulcahy, and David Mallet were essentially the top directors in the burgeoning field. Their content DOMINATED early MTV, which, as we noted earlier, was quite sparse early-on. The most ground-breaking, iconic, most memorable music videos of the first three years of MTV were by-and-large all produced by MGMM. So the clues began to come together. Could the mystery middle-aged bald man be a costumer for MGMM?

Attempts to contact former partners of MGMM went mostly unanswered, but someone from David Mallet’s production company did get back to me with a name. That name was “Michael Baldwin.” Finally! A name to go with the pate!

Mallet’s company did not wish to comment any further or give additional information—and of course there’s stuff I’m still dying to know. Was it a goof among the production to have him turn up so often, or was it simply a matter of being short-staffed for extras? How many videos did he appear in? I know of at least 20. Were there more? Unfortunately, I can’t ask Baldwin himself—his Facebook page indicates that he sadly passed away due to an illness in October of 2014.

Baldwin was indeed a costumer, and an accomplished one at that. His website displays some stunning examples of his work, and clearly it was what he should be remembered for rather than his myriad of video cameos. That website is well worth a visit for Baldwin’s audio commentary on the gallery photos of his designs. He did a lot of work in the early ‘80s dressing pop stars, and obviously dressing sets with himself. But his work goes all the way back to the early ‘60s. He was even responsible for costumes on the Rolling Stones famous train-wreck Rock and Roll Circus. The guy had an impressive career outside of his bit parts in music clips.

As much as is left still unanswered, at least we can finally answer the question of “Who is that ubiquitous early ‘80s music video bald guy?”

His name is Michael Baldwin.
 

 

 
More Michael Baldwin than you can shake a stick at, after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
DEVO becomes public art, streets of Akron, Ohio are overrun with Booji Boys
08.17.2015
07:04 am

Topics:
Amusing
History
Music

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On Saturday August 15, 2015, Akron Ohio’s finest post-rubber export DEVO were honored in their hometown with the dedication of a piece of public art. The iconic 1978 Janet Macoska photo of the band in full stage uniform in front of the late, lamented hot dog stand Chili Dog Mac was colorized, enlarged to life size, and placed over that onetime landmark’s former facade next to the Akron Civic Theatre. This dedication is the first part of a planned renovation of that entire block, which has become a bit rundown and suffered vacancies despite having an anchor in the popular theater.

The event was a stone hoot. DEVO’s bassist/co-mastermind Jerry Casale and photographer Macoska were present, free chili dogs were available to all assembled, and the event began with a surreal and hilarious stunt, the Running of the Booji Boys. A couple dozen revelers in identical Booji Boy masks and blue jumpsuits danced in the middle of South Main St while a DJ pumped out DEVO music. The masks, not incidentally, are recreations by Akron’s SikRik Masks. DM has told you about them before. (All photos are by Ron Kretsch except where noted.)
 

 

 

 
Much more DEVO after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘I am still indestructible’: Lemmy has switched from whisky to vodka for health reasons
08.14.2015
11:47 am

Topics:
Drugs
Music

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Lemmy Kilmister of the legendary heavy metal band Motörhead recently announced that he’s abandoned his beloved whisky in favor of vodka. He’s been suffering lately from gastric distress and dehydration, and gigs have been cancelled as a result.

Instead of instead of his customary Jack Daniels and coke, Lemmy now quaffs vodka and orange juice to help keep his diabetes in check.

Personally, for me that would be too high a price to pay. But that’s just my opinion.

As usual, Lemmy’s quotes on the subject were pretty choice.

“I like orange juice better,” he told The Guardian. “So, Coca-Cola can fuck off.”

He also said, “Apparently I am still indestructible.” To which we all say, Amen!

Here’s Motörhead giving Toronto the business in 1982:
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Just a nice Jewish boy: A young Gene Simmons on ‘The Mike Douglas Show,’ 1974
08.14.2015
08:12 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Television

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A couple of weeks ago, DM’s Amber Frost showed us a pretty ridiculous TV news feature taking the gargantuan ‘70s arena rock band KISS to task for having the temerity to market themselves. The whole thing was full of tedious old-fart tut-tutting, and it frankly felt like the band wasn’t actually being scolded for their publicity machinery, but rather for being young and nothing at all like Tony Bennett.

So when I ran across this Gene Simmons interview on the old Mike Douglas show from 1974, I expected more or less the same vibe—the show, after all, was one of the champs of a soon-to-be-obsolete style of daytime variety programming that gave a reliable home to fading stars and alter kocker holdovers from the late vaudeville and early television eras for a demographic of stay-at-home housewives that was about to shrink significantly. So when it turned out that Douglas and his other guests reacted to Simmons’ startling kabuki-ghoul appearance in stride and just joked with him like anyone else, it was quite a surprise.
 

 
This was in the early days of KISS, so Simmons didn’t really have his schtick nailed down yet, and his efforts to project a menacing, demonic character fall WAY flat, as if to answer the question of what shock-rock looks like without shock. His professed desire to drink the audience’s blood and his self-characterization as “evil incarnate” barely seem to elicit much more than a shrug from the audience.

The interview is saved by a pretty amazing exchange between Simmons and old-school comedienne Totie Fields, who joked that it would be funny if Simmons, under the makeup, turned out to be “just a nice Jewish boy.” Simmons, of course, is not just an actual Jewish boy, but an Israeli sabra born Chaim Witz, and he drolly (and pretty Jewily) retorted “You should only know…” Fields owned the moment by interjecting “I DO! You can’t hide the hook!” Fields herself was born Sophie Feldman, and could probably spot a Member of the Tribe using a showbiz pseudonym a mile away.

The appearance also includes Douglas interviewing the winners of a kissing contest (*eyeroll*), and a band performance—as in an actual live-in-studio performance, it’s not mimed—of the early song “Firehouse.”
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Rod McKuen’s noise album, ‘Music to Freak Your Friends and Break Your Lease’
08.14.2015
07:31 am

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Music

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When you hear the name Rod McKuen, you’re more likely to think of “Listen to the Warm” than of challenging avant-garde compositions. But in 1974, under the pseudonym Heins Hoffman-Richter, McKuen released the forbidding “Symphony for Tape Delay, IBM Instruction Manual, & Ohm Septet” on his massively successful Stanyan label, which Billboard had called “one of the biggest music mail order houses in the world” the year before.

It doesn’t sound like Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music (what does?), but there are undeniable similarities. Both albums were released in quad, adorned with classical pretensions, gag liner notes and technical jargon. Reed listed intimidating “specifications” on the back of his noise record (“Distortion 0.02 bass and treble ceilings”); McKuen reproduced a schematic diagram labeled in German:
 

 
The liner notes, by Rod McKuen Enterprises/Stanyan Records employee Richard Oliver, told the preposterous story of Hoffman-Richter and his discovery of electronic sound:

One day not too long ago, but then again not recently, recognized raconteur, genius, composer, musicologist conductor Heins Hoffman-Richter was spending a quiet evening in his flat in Cherbourg, south of Paris. He often went there to escape the tensions of metropolitan existence although it necessitated a good many umbrellas. During these sojourns his only companion was the music he loved so well, particularly the work of Brahms. (That man did know how to soothe!)

As he gazed out the window at the gently falling rain and thought of Catherine Deneuve singing her heart out and reeking of expensive perfume, a flash of lightning whisked across the black night sky. The room was lit with a blinding burst of bright light and Brahms went berserk. Suddenly the soothing concerto turned into a maze of electronic sounds emanating from the surrounding speakers.

At first Hoffman-Richter was frightened by this celestial phenomenon, no doubt thinking it was some terrible world holocaust. Suddenly Hoffman-Richter gasped, “egads!” On second thought, the sounds seemed to make sense and what was more amazing, once the storm subsided they continued despite the fact the recording was by a well-known symphony orchestra!

Was this some sort of message? Had Hoffman-Richter finally been given a sign as to the path of his existence? There was no other explanation as deeply metaphysical questions hurled themselves into his tortured inner self. Fascinated with this electronic magnificence he began coding the various movements at a furious pace. Laughter burst through the air as he understood the humor of a passage, then within moments tears would flow. He remembered the kindly old professor (now dead) from his days as an eager young student at the Berlin Conservatory of Music. He remembered the quivering old man’s attempts to direct him, all the time knowing he possessed a bottomless well of creativity that must be unleashed or tragedy would wave its ugly wand.

As the Cherbourg sky cleared, Heins Hoffman-Richter walked out of his flat never to return. He wandered through the glistening streets to the train station, boarded the Orient Express, brushed past internationally renown[ed] spies, paid little heed of the intrigue, bid a final farewell to his romantic thoughts of Catherine and Cherbourg and began his odyssey.

Soon the face of Hoffman-Richter became familiar as he haunted the most advanced electronic labs in Germany, Austria, England, Japan, Turkey, and Tazmania [sic]. Resistors, capacitors, connectors, excitors!!! They all added up to a tremendous and life-fulfilling experience. A euphoria rarely experienced by man, of this he was sure. He shrieked with delight and ignored the fact that many thought he had gone mad. He literally did cart wheels through mazes of electronic apparati upon completion of his composition “Gidget Gets In Trouble” and suffered complete emotional exhaustion after wiring up “Milkshake.” The height of ecstacy [sic] was shattering following his coding of “This Is My Beloved’s Chamber” and “Send Out The Clowns,” “Let the doubters scoff,” he thought, “little do they know of true passion and dedication. Little do they know of the power of electronic music and its ability to stimulate and freak out the weariest and wornest of hep cats!” Heins Hoffman-Richter had found the true meaning and reason for his existence.

When premiered at a lower off-Soho nightclub, the majority of the audience fled, trampling each other as they raced out into the London fog. Bothered bobbies took a look inside, but quickly withdrew. Only a few junkies stayed behind and really appreciated the initial performance. Staunch in his beliefs, Hoffman-Richter was not dismayed and knew that Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall would be shockingly alive with his debut someday.

Alas, he never personally witnessed that day for he died from an ear lobe tumor. However, we too believe in the love and dedication of this man toward the advancement of finer music. It is indeed an honor to present this outstanding collection of his works. It’s wonderful that we were able to locate and reproduce these tapes so the world could finally pay homage to this remarkable talented and dedicated man. Heins Hoffman-Richter has finally achieved his goal.

The clip embedded below is a four-and-a-half-minute excerpt from Music to Freak Your Friends and Break Your Lease. The original LP is quite scarce and goes for about $200 on Discogs. If you really must hear the whole thing, the Creel Pone label has it on CD-R for $10.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘Bubblegum’ version of Bon Scott performing ‘Nick Nack Paddy Whack’ with the Valentines in 1969
08.14.2015
07:16 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music

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Bon Scott and Vince Lovegrove of the Valentines
Bon Scott and Vince Lovegrove, co-vocalists of the Valentines
 
The term “bubblegum music” came to be sometime back in the early 1960s with help from Brooklyn music producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz. Known as Super K Productions, the duo helped bring “bubblegum” bands such as the Ohio Express (of “Yummy Yummy Yummy” fame), and Crazy Elephant (“Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’” from 1969) large but short-lived fame. The Australian group, the Valentines—whose lineup included a 23-year-old Bon Scott, also rode the bubblegum music train back in the late ‘60s.
 
The Valentines--Wyn Milson, Bon Scott, Vince Lovegrove, Paddy Beach, John Cooksey
The Valentines (Bon Scott, second from right)
 
The Valentines got together after Scott parted ways with the popular Perth band the Spektors in 1966, and enjoyed a rather successful run down under until they called it quits in 1970. The Valentines kind of had it all—great hair, cool matchy-matchy clothes, and two good-looking vocalists who shared the spotlight in Scott and Vince Lovegrove. Lovegrove, who remained friends with Scott until his death in 1980, would go on to become respected journalist and manager of the Divinyls before passing away in a tragic car accident in 2012.

If you’ve never seen the band performing, then you are in for a treat. The footage of the Valentines performing “Nick Nack Paddy Whack” (a riff on the nursery rhyme “This Old Man”) from the Australian music television show, Hit Scene (below) was shot on July 12th, 1969, just after Scott’s 23rd birthday. And the man who would soon front AC/DC looks like he never stopped celebrating. Whenever the camera catches Scott in action (the one on the left without an instrument, he gets his big close-up at about 01:25), he’s either laughing, hilariously and barely mouthing the words to the song, or is grooving out of time with the music while his massive bell bottom sleeve top flops around. In other words, it is two minutes plus of pure, vintage, must-watch awesomeness.
 

The Valentines performing “Nick Nack Paddy Whack” on the Australian music TV show Hit Scene, July 12th, 1969

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Iggy Pop and Steve Jones’ druggy, doomy remake of ‘Purple Haze’
08.13.2015
10:50 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

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Steve Jones and Iggy Pop circa 1988
 
There exists a recording of the Stooges playing a straight-ahead cover of “Purple Haze” sometime in the 70s (see the dodgy-looking Anthology Box), but I’m in love with this weird, opiated bum-out version of the song Iggy recorded with Sex Pistol Steve Jones a decade later.

Along with several Pop/Jones compositions and Sly and the Family Stone’s “Family Affair,” “Purple Haze” was one of a number of songs the pair demoed in a home studio in L.A.‘s Hancock Park neighborhood in 1985. According to at least one crummy fan bio, Bowie was so impressed by the Hancock Park demos that upon hearing them he decided to reunite with Iggy for Blah-Blah-Blah.
 

 
Instead of the Day-Glo flash of acid, Iggy’s “Purple Haze” evokes the feeling of stumbling through a Ralphs supermarket at midnight on a handful of downers. (Despite the track’s druggy feel, Iggy biographer Paul Trynka says both men were clean and sober during these sessions.) It’s a radical rewrite of the song, with a new bridge, lyrics that mention The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and like none of the distinguishing features of the original. The vibe is more like the Stooges’ “Sick of You” than anything Hendrix ever played; Jones’ arpeggios remind me a bit of that gorgeous guitar break in the middle of Black Sabbath’s “Cornucopia,” and Iggy croons in his low register.

As on the previous Pop/Jones collaboration, the immortal “Repo Man,” Jones gets in a “Secret Agent Man”-style figure, though here it replaces one of the most famous rock guitar lines of all time. Unless I am merely going deaf, there is also a high-pitched drone throughout the song, reminiscent of the piano on “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Maybe this is what happens when you take the “brown acid”?
 

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Iconic horror soundtracks played in a major key become soothing, triumphant, dorky
08.13.2015
07:15 am

Topics:
Movies
Music
Unorthodox

Tags:


 
Transposing minor key songs into a major key (or vice versa) has become a thing on the internet in the past couple of years—a process that has been made rather easy with the advent of pitch-correction software. The results are often astounding. Some popular recent examples that have gone viral are REM’s “Losing My Religion” and Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters,” both reworked into a major key. These minor-to-major reworks often give the songs a “triumphant” quality. A good example of this is this reworking of Europe’s “The Final Countdown”—already pretty “triumphant” as it was—now it sounds like a goddamn national anthem.

Musician, writer, and amateur filmmaker Ian Gordon has recently reworked a handful of iconic horror themes into a major key. The results, for the most part, turn creepy dread into pleasant elevator music. YouTube user Muted Vocal has uploaded a selection of five of these reworked themes: The X-Files, Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Exorcist, and Saw. The changes are fascinating:

The X-Files theme played in a major key sounds exactly like Weather Channel “Locals on the 8s” music.

John Carpenter’s iconic Halloween soundtrack now sounds like Vangelis mashing up his Chariot’s of Fire theme with “Baba O’Riley.”

The Saw theme is now the intro music to an imaginary Hugh Grant film.

Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells”—the theme from The Exorcist—now sounds like the wimpy, tinkly breakdown part of a Styx track, right before the “rock part” kicks in.

A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s theme played in a major key is the only one that retains any creep factor whatsoever—and maybe that’s just me, because I think Christmas is creepy. It sounds like the theme to a Hallmark Channel Holiday special.

These are all really great, but the Halloween theme left me wondering… what would the Chariots of Fire theme sound like in a minor key? I bet it’d be scary as hell. Perhaps Mr. Gordon can get on that and let us know?

Enjoy, here, the pleasant sounds of transposed horror:
 

 
via Nightflight, Bloody-Disgusting

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Heavy Ned-al: there’s a Ned Flanders themed metal band called Okilly Dokilly
08.13.2015
06:24 am

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Amusing
Music
Television

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God save us all, some Simpsons fans in Phoenix have started a Ned Flanders-themed metal band called Okilly Dokilly. They’ve only been together about a month, so they seem to have more band photos than songs at this point, but what band photos!
 

 

 

 
The band is singer Head Ned, keyboardist Red Ned, bassist Thread Ned, guitarist Stead Ned, and drummer (and pseudonym winner) Bled Ned. Head spoke with Rip It Up about the band’s formation.

Myself and our drummer were in line at a grocery store, entertaining ourselves by coming up with really cutesy names for really hardcore, brutal bands. The name Okilly Dokilly came up and was very funny to us. We ran with it. I contacted a few friends, and here we are. Most of us have played in other bands around our hometown. This is definitely the heaviest sounding project any of us Neds have done.

And in case the thought crossed your mind, yes, Head Ned is left-handed, so hooray for cosplay authenticity. The band’s debut performance is scheduled for September 5th, so Phoenician DM readers, mark your calendars. The rest of us will have to be content with scouring YouTube on the 6th, to see if Okilly Dokilly is as good in concert as all-time dork-metal champs BlöödHag.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Guess Wu? The Wu-Tang remix of a classic board game
08.12.2015
12:15 pm

Topics:
Games
Music

Tags:


 
It’s quite common to come across specialized chess sets—the original Star Trek cast versus the Next Generation gang, Yankees vs. Mets, Cannonball Run, what have you. And we’ve all seen a million versions of Monopoly—actually, a million seems conservative.

Yes, it’s long past time for the remixers to branch out. Where’s our Game of Thrones version of Stratego? Or an Iron Chef take on Candy-Land? You could do a lot of satirical stuff with The Game of Life, I reckon.
 

 
Noisey has gotten off to a good start in this direction with its recently announced hip-hop adaptation of the classic game Guess Who? (Actually, I never heard of Guess Who? until today, but I’m assured it’s a classic game.) Noisey’s version is called Guess Wu? and you don’t need to be a molecular rocket surgeon to figure out that they replaced all the generic personages from that game with the dozens of colorful folks who populate the Wu-Tang Clan universe. And it’s high time, too.

The big flaw of the original Guess Who? is that the faces on the game cards were a bunch of generic (white) middle Americans that nobody playing the game gave a hoot about, but if you switch in America’s most inventive and idiosyncratic collective of top-selling hip-hop artists, well—now the game suddenly works again! When you ask, “Did this Wu-Tang Clan-affiliated rapper almost became the voice of the horse in a reboot of Mr. Ed?” everyone at the table will instantly recognize that story to involve Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

Come to think of it, Ol’ Dirty Bastard would be the answer to most of the weird Wu-Tang shit I have rattling around in my head.
 

 
Noisey says they’re considering doing a giveaway, so stay tuned.

What song could be more appopriate for this post than “Back in the Game,” off of 2001’s Iron Flag?
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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