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The United States of Horror: Coming soon to a town near you, to burn it to the ground, it’s Ho99o9
04.24.2017
02:54 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Ho99o9


 
L.A.‘s hip-hop/punk/metal mutants, Ho99o9 have their debut album United States of Horror set to drop on May 5th via the band’s own imprint Toys Have Powers (distributed via through Caroline) with the dynamic title track (and more) produced by David Andrew Sitek of TV on the Radio.

The band consists of the partnership between theOGM (Jean) and Yeti Bones (Eaddy) and Ho99o9’s very modern melding of punk, rap, and Crass-inspired political militancy (and grand sense of graphic provocation) has been described by The New York Times as “slow subwoofer-abusing hip-hop, death metal, thrash, wriggly synthesizer tones, punk, post-punk, some splotches of pink noise…” and that sounds about right to me. Everything I’ve heard by these guys so far has been utterly amazing—Ho99o9 feel more “now” and more in tune with the times to me than any other act I can name—and the new song/video for “City Rejects” is no exception.

Ho99o9’s upcoming US tour starts on May 17th in Santa Ana, CA and finishes up June 11th in Miami. The 20 date tour will include a hometown stop at LA’s Echoplex, Chicago, Toronto, DC, Brooklyn and more. Then they’re doing the European festivals after which I expect they’re going to be fucking huge. Absolutely massive.
 

 
Here’s a link to a landing page where Dangerous Minds readers can download “United States of Horror,” “City Rejects” and their Crass-inspired art-zine for free.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Girls just wanna be punk: Early recordings and demos by the Go-Go’s


An early single by the Go-Go’s on Stiff Records.
 

AMERICA AND THE MUSIC INDUSTRY, meet the Go-Go’s: International, Filthy Rich, Jet-Setting Rock- and Screen-Star Bitch Goddesses

Rolling Stone journalist Steve Pond being very, very right about the Go-Go’s back in 1982.

 
Easily the most famous all-girl band in the world, the Go-Go’s played a hugely influential role in the emerging punk/new wave scene in Los Angeles. In the late 1970s before they became the Go-Go’s they called themselves the Misfits despite the fact that the name was already taken by a group of muscle-bound horror punks in New Jersey led by a certain Glenn Danzig. Belinda Carlisle was unsurprisingly a cheerleader in high school in her hometown of Conejo Valley, but that all allegedly changed after she saw the half-naked image of Iggy Pop on the cover of the Stooges’ 1973 album, Raw Power. At nineteen Carlisle left home with her pal Theresa (aka the future “Lorna Doom” of the Germs) bound for Hollywood. Once the Germs were born Carlisle did a brief stint with them playing the drums and calling herself “Dottie Danger.” She and Doom dropped acid, Carlisle did some modeling and in her autobiography Lips Unsealed: A Memoir she confesses to having had a make out session with Alice Bag.

Prior to getting with the Go-Go’s timekeeper Gina Schock was drumming for John Waters’ star Edith Massey and her punk band Edie and the Eggs. Before rhythm guitarist Jane Wiedlin joined the band, she was a seamstress in a sweatshop in downtown Los Angeles who preferred crystal meth to coffee so she wouldn’t fall asleep on the job. While at her day-job Wiedlin would use the paper that the sewing patterns were printed to write her punk poems, parts of which would make their way to the band’s albums. Wiedlin and Carlisle ended up living across the way from each other (Carlisle was rooming with Lorna at the time) and their friendship would eventually lead them both to the Go-Go’s.

When the band started playing gigs around town it didn’t go unnoticed. They partied as hard as their male counterparts, did tons of coke, popped pills and excelled at the rock ‘n’ roll 101 skill of destroying hotel rooms. Early on their gigs were kind of a hot mess. Their first set was opening for the Dickies at LA punk club, the Masque. For a short time, the band was just a trio comprised of Wiedlin (who was going by the gonzo name of “Jane Drano”), Margot Olavarria on bass and with Carlisle front and center on vocals. According to Olavarria even though they really didn’t have a clue as to what they were doing it really didn’t matter because at the time there was “no shame in being a horrible musician.” In another punk rock six-degrees of separation type moment worth noting, Olavarria found out she had been given the boot by Belinda and her bandmates from none other than Exene Cervenka of X. The reason for Olavarria’s dismissal was said to have stemmed from her getting pinched by the po-po trying to score some cocaine. Oh, the shifty-eyed, typewriter-jaw irony that is two coke-heads accusing another coke-head of doing something shady. Tisk tisk.
 

Jane Wiedlin.
 
The then very new Stiff Records had the girls make a bunch of great recordings including a single that you may have heard of before called “We Got the Beat.” Their early recordings and demos are not only really fucking good but are a real scream to listen to if you’ve never heard them for some of the in-studio banter between the band members. Later I.R.S. head-honcho Miles Copeland (the brother of Police drummer Stewart Copeland) came calling and signed the Go-Go’s and they embarked upon making their first record which they had always envisioned as a punk record. I.R.S. was already a home away from home for other punks like The Cramps, The Damned and The Fleshtones. But the production team behind Beauty and the Beat of Rob Freeman and Richard Gottehrer had other ideas. Beauty and the Beat was miraculously completed in three weeks while the party animal antics of the Go-Go’s terrorized New York City and Penny Lane Studios. When the girls first heard the record they were pissed off. Go-Go’s guitarist Charlotte Caffey said she and the rest of the band and even cried while listening to it the first time. It wasn’t a punk album, it was pure pop perfection (Which is a good enough reason to shed a few tears if you ask me). They went over Gottehrer’s head and appealed directly to Miles Copeland to have the record remixed. Copeland refused and the album, which was released in 1981, would go down in history as one of the most successful debut albums by a band in history.

I’ve included a few choice photos of the band from their early days as well as various songs, demos and recordings of the band rehearsing back before they became America’s sweethearts in the early 80s. If it’s been a while since you’ve thought about the Go-Go’s, I hope this shines a light on the fact that they were pretty much the best and deserve way more credit (as many female musical artists do) for the deeply impactful mark they made. And that my friends is a goddamned fact.
 

Belinda in a Germs t-shirt back in the day.
 

 
Much more after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The Sex Pistols, The Clash and Siouxsie and the Banshees on early TV documentary ‘Punk’ from 1976

0xesslotsipjr76.jpg
 
There had been a killing. But no one was quite certain where it had happened or where the body was hidden. Maybe it was in the library bludgeoned with a lead pipe? Or sprawled across the conservatory floor throttled by some rope? The press carried snippets. People were shocked by the news. How could this happen on our streets? How could this happen to our children when Abba was still number one? There was outrage. There was fear. There was a dread that this was only the beginning of far greater horrors to come.

They were right.

In some ways, it was a mercy killing. It had to happen. It was inevitable. It was putting the poor beast out of its misery. The old horse was now lame and blind and in constant pain and could barely perform its act. Yet still, they wheeled it out for one more turn for the rich people to ride and clap and cheer while the old nag bravely tried to canter around the ring.

But the children turned away. They wanted something different.

There had been noises of strange new things going on for months. Small signs in venues all across London. A growing sense that something had to change. The old horse was dead and the business was out of touch with its audience. The kids wanted something to happen.

A band called the Sex Pistols were playing gigs in and around London. Promoter Ron Watts saw them rip up the joint at a gig in High Wycombe in early 1976. It was like nothing he’d ever seen before. This was the start of the future. This was what everyone was waiting for. He booked the band to appear at the legendary blues and jazz 100 Club in London. He organized a weekend festival called The 100 Club Punk Special for September 20th and 21st, 1976. The line-up was the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Damned, the Buzzcocks, Subway Sect, Stinky Toys and Chris Spedding & the Vibrators.
 
02xesslotsip100.jpg
Sex Pistols poster for the 100 Club Punk Special, September 1976.
 
When the Sex Pistols hit the stage, everything changed. “In one night,” Watts later wrote in his autobiography Hundred Watts: A Life in Music, “punk went from an underground cult to a mass movement.”

The Sex Pistols had killed off one generation’s music and announced something new.

...[T]his was the big one, the first day of a new era. Nothing could compare with it either before or since.

Onstage, Johnny Rotten was “insulting, cajoling everyone in the room, his eyes bulging dementedly as he made the audience as much a part of the show as the band.” The group tore through their set to a thrilled and enthusiastic audience. The Clash played their set, while Siouxsie and the Banshees had improvised a set around “The Lord’s Prayer.” A week later, a crowd 600 deep formed a line at the door of the 100 Club.
 
Watch the Sex Pistols, Clash and Siouxsie in “Punk,” after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Just say GNOD: Fighting the Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine
04.10.2017
01:42 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Manchester
Punks
Noise
Experimental music
Gnod


 
Remember back to the heady days of December 2016 when the phrase “President Trump” still felt like a waking daydream as opposed to a crushing, numbing nightmarish reality?  When everyone’s favorite avant-garde whipping girl Amanda Palmer went on record as stating that “the Trump presidency will make punk rock great again”? You do?! Great! So where is all this awesome punk rock music, huh? Contrary to Ms. Palmer’s prediction, the re-flowering of great punk has been pretty thin on the ground so far. In all honesty, it seems like the only contemporary music genre willing to go on the record with outright “Fuck Trump” statements is hip-hop (which IS heartening if not particularly surprising.)

Well, fear ye not, as here come one of the UK’s premier noise-experimental-electronic-rock-whatever collective-cum-bands, Salford’s Gnod, who have just released their latest album, and boy, is that album’s title quite a statement! It’s called “Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine”. Let’s be honest, we’ll be hard pushed to find a better album title than that all year (never mind a political statement.) It’s not just the album’s title that lays it on the line: the music too is a blistering squall of white-hot intense noise that veers from claustrophobic soundscapes to straight-up punk aggression. It feels perfectly suited for those aggrieved at the state of the world just now.

Check out the album’s lead track “Bodies For Money” for a taste:
 

 
While the name Gnod might be new to many, the band have been plowing their own unique furrow in Manchester/Salford for a decade now, first coming together as an experimental jam collective, as founder member, guitarist and producer Chris Haslam explains:

“The first Gnod rehearsals were freeform jams that were recorded and listened back to, trying to come up with a set for our first gig at The Royal Oak in Chorlton on 21st March 2007. We decided in the end to just jam the gig out & invite anyone who wanted to join us onstage to jam along. The first few gigs carried on in this format, usually playing with around 10-16 people on stage. We recorded most of the shows and made CDRs of the recordings to sell at the next shows. Abstehen Der Ohren, Live: Birth, Lord Fears Dream, Bulletproof Awareness, Pixiedust & Gnod LP01 were all made during that first 6 or 7 months of Gnod.

At the time we were influenced by 70s krautrock bands like Can, Faust, Neu, Amon Duul, etc and also the ‘New Weird America’ bands, especially Sunburned Hand of the Man who we took a lot of ideas from of how to be a functional jam band. We liked the way Sunburned worked, making music without fixed lineups, a kind of communal project between a group of friends & interested contributors, handmaking CDRs and selling them at gigs, jamming with repetition as a means to transcend into the other. We were also watching & reading a lot of esoteric stuff at the time like the Zeitgeist films, Money Masters, David Icke, etc. Our interests overlapped in lots of areas, they still do.

Gnod also gives you a chance to branch out and explore other areas in the sound. There aren’t many other bands where you could just wake up one day & decide you’re going to play a new instrument at rehearsal. As long at it fits in with the vibe it’s all good. We also like going back to live drums & guitars too, especially for tours.”

The band are about to embark on a mammoth two-month tour (their biggest yet) which unfortunately for our readers in America doesn’t get to the States, but which does take in many major European cities (check out this post the on the band’s website In Gnod We Trust for dates and locations.) A gorgeous, super-limited vinyl edition of Just Say No… is available to buy from Rocket Records (see image below) and you can hear and buy lots more of the band’s music (including the digital release of Just Say No… ) at the Gnod Bandcamp page.

And as for that album title? What was the inspiration? Chris Haslam sums it up:

“Frustration at the selfish stupidity of humanity.”

A-fucking-men.
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘Smash the State’: Joey Shithead of D.O.A. is running for political office
03.31.2017
09:11 am

Topics:
Politics
Punk

Tags:
Joey Shithead
D.O.A.


via Greens of British Columbia
 
West Coast punk legend Joey “Shithead” Keithley of D.O.A. is running for office in Burnaby, B.C. Keithley will stand as Green Party candidate for Member of the Legislative Assembly in the May 9 election. His promise:

If I am elected I will be a strong voice for regular folks, the same way I have been in DOA. These are some of the issues I will fight for: affordable housing, creation of jobs through green technology and alternative energy, lower cost daycare, affordable post-secondary education and income equality. I will also stand against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline that threatens BC’s beautiful coast with potential spills of dirty tar sands oil from Alberta. I will also work towards making the 1% pay their fair share.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Amusing ‘Punk!’ pinball machine from the early 1980s hints at certain bands to avoid paying them
03.27.2017
10:21 am

Topics:
Games
Music
Punk

Tags:
punk
pinball


 
I’ve never liked arcade video games much, but I’ve always been really into pinball machines. So much so that in the last few years I’ve joined a local pinball league (great fun!) and visited a few pinball conventions. I’ve even driven way out of my way to visit specific coffee shops and pizzerias just because some model I hadn’t played before was available to use.

So over the weekend I come across an amazing image of a “Punk!” pinball machine from D. Gottlieb & Company, universally known as “Gottlieb,” that dates from the year 1982. I’ve never even seen an image of this game before, much less played it. Every DM reader is aware of the cross-pollination involved between punk and new wave, there’s a lot to be said on that subject, and yet….. there’s something off about this game.

It’s amusing to see how some of the major punk acts are “implied” in a non-licensed way by having scrawled graffiti with certain letters blocked out so that nobody could really say which band starting with “S-I-O” is being referenced.

So you can spot Siouxsie Sioux being invoked on the right-hand side; at the bottom you have “EAD BO” which is surely the Dead Boys. At the top you’ve got the Ramones and the Jam and the Clash being signaled. Interesting to see Joy Division tucked away up there as well. On the backglass, behind the guitarist’s left leg, you have what appears to be the word “DAMNED” partially blocked, all the more enticing to a teen demographic because it involves a curse word.

But wait—what’s that on the left-hand side there? “PECH—M—”? How did Depeche Mode get involved with this?? They are definitely not punk!

Remember, 1981 was the high point of the synth-pop movement, with Soft Cell, Ultravox, and OMD all in their prime. This machine may say “Punk!” on it but it mainly has me thinking of Square Pegs and Valley Girl.

On this Pinside forum there’s a lively discussion about the game—not surprisingly, Punk! is a very difficult game to find from a collector’s perspective. One observer comments that “it is among the most difficult and nearly impossible pins to aquire.” Fewer than 1,000 were made, and even though the gameplay does not look all that interesting, it’s such a great item to have around that people who have it probably seldom let it go. 

Price estimates run around $800, which is a fairly ordinary price for a machine of this type. Given its rarity, if the gameplay were actually engaging the sky would be the limit here!
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Real Horrorshow: The short-lived ‘Clockwork Orange’-themed punk band Molodoy


 
I’m pleased to have a reason to call attention to the Sheffield Tape Archive, an absolutely unbeatable resource helping to preserve an essential part of our collective musical heritage. As they describe it, the archive’s purpose is to house “a series of archive recordings from around 1980 onwards: sheffield bands, demos, concerts and rarities.”

One of the more intriguing acts featured in the Sheffield Tape Archive existed only very briefly, never put out an album, and their only live dates were before 1980. They were called Molodoy, and they had a terrific gimmick: The entire band was an extended homage to the joint artistic labors of Anthony Burgess and Stanley Kubrick, the latter of course having most memorably adapted the former’s unsettling bestseller A Clockwork Orange. Not much is known about this band today, but I’m willing to bet that one rejected name for the band was Alex and the Droogs.

The group’s singer, Garry Warburton, unmistakably played the role of Alex, complete with facepaint incorporating the book’s signature gear/eye motif (as you can see above) that also references the extravagant eyelash makeup worn by Malcolm McDowell in the movie.
 

 
The name, Molodoy, comes from the book, which is told in an invention of Burgess’ called “Nadsat,” a type of youth slang that is replete with Russian-derived colloquialisms—the best-known term is “horrorshow,” which is a reformulation of khorosho, the Russian word for “good.” The term molodoy, meaning “young,” pops up early in Burgess’ novel:
 

I nudged him hard, saying: “Come, my gloopy bastard as thou art. Think thou not on them. There’ll be life like down here most likely, with some getting knifed and others doing the knifing. And now, with the nochy still molodoy, let us be on our way, O my brothers.”

 
Molodoy unfortunately didn’t leave much trace behind. I was able to find an account of a Cabaret Voltaire gig at Sheffield’s Limit Club from the summer of 1978 at which Molodoy also played. The writer, whose name I was not able to ascertain, seems to have found them more than a little intimidating:
 

Molodoy follow. This is the band the skinheads have come to see. The singer is dressed in full Clockwork Orange droog uniform: black bowler hat, eye make-up, white shirt and trousers, black boots and braces. Real horrowshow.

“This one’s called ‘Children Of The Third Reich’”.

The lyrics flirt with fascism. The music is taut, dense and sexless. He’s watchable in a detestable kind of way. The skins push each other around, there is argy, but thankfully no bargy. The rest of us look on, mute. We are either young, liberal-minded types who think everyone is entitled to their own point of view, or we are collectively shit scared of getting a 14 eye oxblood Dr. Martens boot to the head. Molodoy continue to thrash and thrum, we the audience opt to keep schtum.

 
To perform in a rock group dressed as a Droog in 70s Britain was to, obviously, assume the mantle not just of “ultra-violence,” but of sexual violence as well. After Fleet Street blamed the film for inspiring a gang rape in which the attackers sang “Singin’ in the Rain” as “Singin’ in the Rape” and A Clockwork Orange was linked to several sensational murders, Kubrick’s film was withdrawn from distribution in 1973 at the director’s request. No wonder the bootboys came out in force for Molodoy.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The punk rock portraits of the Screamers’ Tomata du Plenty
03.22.2017
02:37 pm

Topics:
Art
Music
Punk

Tags:
The Screamers
Tomata du Plenty


 
The Screamers were one of the essential components of the L.A. punk scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s, although they famously never put out a studio LP. They had one of the best band logos in the world, designed by comix artist Gary Panter of Jimbo renown.

The Screamers had plenty of prominent fans, one of whom was DEVO’s Gerard Casale, who testified as follows in Marc Spitz and Brendan Mullen’s We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk:
 

DEVO loved the Screamers. We thought the Screamers and Tomata du Plenty were fucking unbelievable. You see a band that you’re creatively and intellectually inspired by and envious of and we were like, “Why didn’t we think of it?” They were so way ahead of their time. It was almost as if what they were thinking about, what they were after was like “Firestarter” by Prodigy, but this was the summer of ‘77. They were using rudimentary synths and sequencers but with punk energy and aggressive lyrics and theatrical staging with German expressionist lighting.

 
A frontman is an important element of any successful band, and the Screamers’ Tomata du Plenty (real name David Xavier Harrigan) was no exception. Their live act must have been something to behold, as Steve Waksman relates in This Ain’t the Summer of Love:
 

[The Screamers] styled one of the most unusual and unnerving band sounds of the punk era based around [Tommy] Gear’s synthesizer, drummer K.K. Barrett’s strong quasi-mechanical rhythms, and the psychodramatic performance style of singer Du Plenty, the total effect of which was designed to foster and control levels of anxiety experienced by the audience.

 
Tomata had been banging around the Seattle scene in the early 1970s before relocating to L.A. After the Screamers broke up in 1981, he switched his attention to painting. Indeed, in 1983 Tomata’s watercolors were featured at a show at the Zero One Gallery (often styled “01”) in Los Angeles, a space that was the offshoot of a prior entity called Zero Zero on Cahuenga Boulevard. Tomata’s painting prowess somehow became the centerpiece of a somewhat confusing anecdote told by David Lee Roth on Late Night with David Letterman in early 1985. 

Sadly, in August 2000, Tomata died of cancer at the age of 52. At some point in the 1990s he executed a series of punk rock portraits, for lack of a better description, featuring people from the L.A. punk scene as well as other rock and roll luminaries (and, randomly, the 19th-century French author Guy de Maupassant). Most of the portraits were painted on a page from some work of literature, such as Allen Ginberg’s Howl or Hubert Selby’s Last Exit to Brooklyn.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Awesome statuette of H.R. from Bad Brains
03.14.2017
12:36 pm

Topics:
Art
Music
Punk

Tags:
Bad Brains


 
The Japanese company Presspop has bestowed upon us some sweet figurines over the years. We fondly remember the Lee “Scratch” Perry figurine from a few years back as well as the Public Enemy set that came out last year. The PE item was designed by Ed Piskor, author of the fantastic Hip Hop Family Tree series from Fantagraphics (Vol. 1, 2, 3, 4), and the Lee “Scratch” Perry figurine was designed by Archer Prewitt, cartoonist, inventor of the Sof’Boy cartoon character, and longtime member of the Sea and Cake.

Prewitt is also responsible for the design of a forthcoming treat from Presspop, namely a dynamic figurine of one of the greatest punk frontmen of all time, H.R. from Bad Brains.

The “statuette” is constructed from PVC and ABS. It features articulation in the neck and the clothing is made from actual fabric. I like the way the mic stand and H.R.‘s two feet create, in an unexpected way, the necessary “tripod” effect needed for stability, so that it won’t fall off your computer monitor or whatever.

According to Presspop, the figurine is “officially approved” by H.R. himself. Last year H.R.‘s wife made it known that the singer has long suffered from an obscure ailment known as (deep breath) “Short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache with conjunctival injection and tearing” (SUNCT for short). He underwent surgery to alleviate the pain in February. We wish him the best of luck and we also hope that H.R., real name Paul D. Hudson, is getting the treatment he deserves and needs (you can still donate to the GoFundMe page his wife set up to help with the health care bills).

The H.R. figurine costs $50 and comes out in April. You can pre-order one today.
 

 
See more after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Banana: After 50 years the ultimate Warhol Velvet Underground mystery is finally (almost) solved!!

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It was fifty years ago this week that the future began with the Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol, and his banana. The destruction and rebuilding of rock ‘n’ roll music as it then existed commenced. This was all taking place even though only a few people knew about it at the time. The right few, as always. I have to think that anyone reading this knows the history of the Velvet Underground so I’m not going to rehash it here.

In the thirty years since Warhol’s death, the human race has bought and sold more “Andy” than Andy himself could possibly have dreamed of and more. Much more. Too much even. Year after year there are more Warhol books, toys, giant banana pillows, clothing lines, shoes, Andy Warhol glasses, movies, action figures (or maybe inaction figures, this being Warhol), pencils, notebooks, skateboards—literally everything ever! There’s been more most post mortem Warhol merchandising than for practically anyone or anything you can name. Even more than for Elvis, Marilyn or James Dean who had head starts.

Warhol and his entourage were infamous speedfreaks—speedfreaks with cameras, tape recorders, and movie gear who talked a lot and didn’t sleep much—and his every utterance was recorded, long before museums, historical posterity and millions of dollars were the reasons.

With the advent of the Warhol Museum, Andy’s every movement, thought, and influence has been discussed, dissected, filed and defiled ad nauseum. Every single piece of art he ever did can be traced back to an original page in a newspaper, an ad in the back of a dirty magazine, a photograph, a Sunday comic, or an item from a supermarket shelf and they’ve ALL been identified and cataloged.

Except for one.

Just one.

Probably the second most popular of Warhol’s images, standing in line right behind the Campbell’s soup can, is the banana image found on the cover of the first Velvet Underground album. Thee banana! But where did it come from? Everything else was appropriated from somewhere. What about this one?

I KNOW where it came from and I have known for around thirty years. Oddly enough it only just now occurred to me (when I looked up Warhol’s death date) that I found this thing, which I am about to describe, mere weeks before Andy’s untimely demise.
 
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I grew up in the sixties and I’ve loved the Velvet Underground since even before the advent of punk. And I love Andy Warhol, too. Just look at my Facebook profile photo. I have shelves of books on Warhol and all things Velvets and have amassed quite a collection of Warhol and Velvets rarities. My favorite book of all time is Andy Warhol’s Index from 1966, a children’s pop-up book filled with drag queens, the Velvets, 3-D soup cans and even a Flexi disc record with Lou Reed’s face on it with a recording of the Velvet Underground listening to a test pressing of their first LP. The one with the BANANA.
 
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The author’s Facebook profile pic. Duh.
 
Andy Warhol’s number one right-hand man in the sixties and the person who turned the Factory silver (among many many other things including being the primary photographer of the Factory’s “silver years”) was Billy Name (Linich). An online comment described him this way:

You can’t get more inside than Billy Name in Warhol’s Factory world. In fact he lived in the Factory - and to be more specific he lived in the bathroom at the Factory - and to be even more specific he stayed in the locked bathroom without coming out for months (years?).

 
And so to quote this definitive “insider” Billy Name on the history of the banana:

...bananas had been a Warhol theme earlier in the Mario Montez feature film Harlot mostly as a comedic phallic symbol. In the general hip culture, Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow” was going on [mellow yellow; roast banana peels in an oven, and then roll and smoke them]. The high was called “mello yellow.”

The specific banana image Andy chose came from I know not where; it’s not a Chiquita banana or Dole fruit company, because Andy’s banana has ‘overripe’ markings on it, and the fruit companies use whole yellow bananas on their stickers. Anyway, Andy first used this particular banana image for a series of silk-screen prints which he screened on white, opaque, flexible, Plexiglass (sort of like 2 feet x 5 feet). First an image of the inner banana “meat” was screened on the Plexi in pink, and then covered by the outer skin screened on and cut out of a glossy yellow sticky-back roll of heavy commercial paper (ordered from some supply warehouse). Thereby each banana could be peeled and the meat exposed and the skin could be replaced a number of times, ‘til the sticky stuff wore out. Naturally this was intentionally erotic Warhol-type art.

When thinking of a cover for the first Velvets album, it was easy for Andy to put one of his own works on the cover, knowing it was hip, outrageous, and original and would be “really great.” Andy always went the easy way, using what he had, rather than puzzling and mulling over some design elements and graphics for cover art that don’t really work. His art was already there, hip, erotic, and cool. The Plexi silk screen art definitely came first, in 1966. The album came out in ‘67. I do not recall any other design being thought of or even considered. The back of the album cover was a pastiche amalgam of photos from Andy’s films, Steven Shore, Paul Morrissey and myself and was messy and mulled over too much.

 
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So here we are on the fiftieth anniversary of The Velvet Underground & Nico and its mysterious banana cover art, and I felt that I have held this secret for way too long. I always wanted to use this in a book or something but it never happened.

This thing was hanging on my kitchen wall for three decades, in New York and LA and is now in secured storage for reasons which are about to become obvious. This is how I found it: One day in the mid 80s I was cruising around the Lower East Side aimlessly—as I had done most of my life up to that point—running into friends, looking at stuff people were selling on the street, stopping into Manic Panic, Venus Records, St. Marks Books, and any junk shops that caught my eye. There was one on Broadway that I had never seen before right down the street from Forbidden Planet and the greatest place ever, the mighty Strand Book Store. I went in and there was a lot of great stuff for me. I found some old records, a huge stash of outrageous and disgusting tabloid newspapers from the sixties which I kept buying there for a couple months afterward, and some cool old knick-knacks. I knocked into something on a crowded table full of junk and heard a big CLANG on the cement floor. I bent down to pick it up. It was one of those cheap triangular tin ashtrays that usually advertised car tires or something mundane. I picked it up (it was face down) and when I turned it over I was surprised to see…THE BANANA!!

It was an ad for bananas printed on a cheap metal ashtray.
 

Don’t you like a banana? ENJOY BANANA. Presented by WING CORP. designed by LEO KONO production”

 
I thought wow, this is cool! But over time I realized that I had quite literally stumbled across a true missing link. I figured I’d use it for something big one day, but I never did. UNTIL NOW. Ladies and germs, Andy Warhol and Velvet Underground fans and scholars, without further ado I bring you THE MISSING LINK! A true Dangerous Minds mega exclusive! (As Jeb Bush would say “Please clap.”).

A primitive, pounding Moe Tucker drumroll please for the reveal of THEE BANANA…after the jump

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
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