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John Lennon becomes the first Beatle to admit to taking drugs, in 1965: A DM exclusive
10:20 am



It was fifty years ago today…well, almost…

While it has been long believed that Paul McCartney was the first Beatle to ever admit taking drugs during an interview with Independent Television News (ITN) in June 1967, it can now be revealed that John Lennon was in fact the first Beatle who owned up to the band being “stoned” two years before this in an interview with an American journalist.

Writer Simon Wells discovered Lennon’s comment in a rarely heard interview while researching his book Eight Arms To Hold You—a definitive history on the making of The Beatles’ second movie Help!. Wells is the best-selling author of Coming Down Fast (a biography of Charles Manson), Butterfly on a Wheel: The Rolling Stones Great Drugs Bust, Quadrophenia: A Way of Life and the drugs, sex and paganism novel The Tripping Horse.
February 1965, The Beatles had just arrived on location at New Providence Island in the Bahamas to film Help!.  On being asked what The Beatles had been up to on their flight over, Lennon replied “We got stoned.” There is a stunned silence before the interviewer says: “Alright. I know you’re only kidding.”

Of course, Lennon wasn’t kidding, as The Beatles had been popping pills since at least 1960 and smoking weed since being “turned-on” by Bob Dylan in 1964. Simon Wells exclusively explains for Dangerous Minds:

The Beatles took a chartered jet to the Bahamas for the start of filming of Help! on Monday 22nd February 1965. Perversely as it may seem, the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein had become intoxicated with the idea of tax shelters and havens—and after his dismal performance of selling off the Beatles rights to A Hard Day’s Night for little more than the average house price in Britain, he sensed an idea to set up an offshore interest in the Bahamas, hoping that the money from the film would escape the extortionate financial red tape and punitive taxes that would attract to the film’s future successes.

To defer suspicions, Epstein cooked up the idea of filming part of Help! in the Bahamas and so eager was he to establish a presence there, filming for what would be the finale of the movie was shot first. Temperatures at a constant high for the area, the group would have to shield themselves from the likelihood of considerable tanning – an issue that would have colored (excuse pun) the earlier shots in the film, all set in London. Nonetheless, The Beatles knew little about this, and happily trundled onto the caravan of filming—the shores of Nassau were far more attractive than a gloomy British February. Equally, it meant a break from the rigours of touring, something they had grown to hate.

The group’s plane continued the majority of the film’s attendant circus, plus a few liggers and reporters to help things along. The nine-hour flight requiring more than just alcoholic sustenance, the band happily tugged on a succession of marijuana joints to elevate the time between touching down in the Bahamas. Since August the previous year when Bob Dylan famously turned the band onto the magical herb, the group had indulged heavily in the newly found pursuit. The effects were immediate on their dress and music, heavy shades and dissonant chords were now pitting their senses; introspection tossing “boy meets girl” out of the window.

While the media were well aware that The Beatles (and most of the other groups of the period) took drugs, there was no need for them to spill the beans and spoil the party. By 1965 standards, The Beatles were still good cheeky copy—guaranteed to bring a smile to the nation’s breakfast tables, and still with the consent of Britain’s parents, the girls and boys could shower them with unbridled adoration. Behind closed doors in Buckingham Palace and at (the Prime Minister’s home) Number 10 Downing Street, plans were already afoot to adorn the band with the M.B.E. If an admission of naughty chemical use had surfaced prior to the award announcement, it would have clearly stymied the whole pantomime. The press knew this too—so all was on course to preserve the Fab’s innocence—for the time being.

For those who chart such things, this is the first admission from a Beatle that drugs were now a part of their lives. The evident shock from the reporter is testament to the disbelief that these sweet boys could ever do such a thing. Predictably, the comment was not used in print, and it remained buried on the reporter’s tape – until now!

Simon Wells new book on The Beatles Eight Arms To Hold You is available from Pledge Music, details here.
After the jump, hear the recording…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Everything ever recorded of Bill Hicks—EVER—to be released in 2015
09:05 am



The premature death of Bill Hicks was one of the greatest tragedies to ever befall American comedy. His hilarious and unabashedly angry attacks on conservatism, complacency, and stupidity made him a cult figure in his lifetime, but cancer claimed him in early 1994, just as he was poised to achieve real fame, so we never got to see him continue maturing into the gifted comedic truth-seeker he seemed bound to become, a legitimate heir to Lenny Bruce and George Carlin. Like any tortured genius type worth discussing, Hicks was full of contradictions—he criticized the alcohol industry for peddling poison, but he took a perverse and boastful pride in his own cigarette consumption. He embraced a deeply moral we-are-all-as-one-in-the-cosmos philosophy, yet he sometimes took a sadistic glee in dehumanizing the rural underclass (as a conservative-raised southerner himself, he gets a pass on that). And though he constantly torpedoed commercial opportunists, he himself was seeking career visibility, and paradoxically, purity, in a milieu that necessitated rather a lot of commercial engagement. His career wasn’t helped, either, by his willingness to derail a performance to attack his audience, or even just a single member thereof, though that shit was every bit as golden as his prepared material. Behold:

If you’re skeptical of Hicks’ counterculture bona fides, consider that one of his most infamous bits was a call-to-action for the entire advertising industry to commit suicide.

A 1997 drop of CD releases on the Rykodisc label kept Hicks’ memory and work alive while introducing him to those who missed out. Four were issued in the first batch, the excellent Dangerous and Relentless, which were reissues of albums released during Hicks’ lifetime, and Arizona Bay and Rant in E Minor, which Hicks completed and mixed, but were only released posthumously. Those latter two feature Hicks’ guitar playing layered in with his standup, to deeply mixed effect—there are significant portions of Arizona Bay where Hicks’ words are rendered maddeningly inaudible by his psych guitar efforts, while Rant is the Hicks album to get if you can only get one. It was recorded after his cancer diagnosis, and is unparalleled in its bitterness and audacity—as though cancer were vitriol and he was trying to purge himself— and good GOD, it is funny as hell. The bit about Rush Limbaugh in the bathtub alone could have made Hicks a legend.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Hitchcock 101: Alfred Hitchcock on how to make movies
11:58 am



Alfred Hitchcock thought the invention of “talkies” was unfortunate as movies assumed a theatrical form overnight. Films, he told Francois Truffaut, stopped being cinematic and became “photographs of people talking.”

When we tell a story in cinema, we should resort to dialogue only when it’s impossible to do otherwise. I always try to tell a story in a cinematic way, through a succession of shots and bits of film in between.

In writing a screenplay, it is essential to separate clearly the dialogue from the visual elements and, whenever possible, to rely more on the visual than on the dialogue. Whichever way you choose to stage the action, your main concern is to hold the audience’s fullest attention.

Summing it up, one might say that the screen rectangle must be charged with emotion.

Hitchcock developed this theme in an interview with director Bryan Forbes at London’s National Film Theatre in 1969, where he explained how work on a movie “starts” for him:

Well, for me, it all starts with the basic material first. Now, the question of when you have the basic material… you may have a novel, a play, an original idea, a couple of sentences and from that the film begins. I work very closely with the writer and begin to construct the film on paper, from the very beginning. We roughly sketch in the whole shape of the film and then begin from the beginning. You end up with around 100 pages, or perhaps even more, of narrative, which is very bad reading for a litterateur. There are no descriptions of any kind—no ‘he wondered’, because you can’t photograph ‘he wondered.’

No ‘camera pans right’, for example

Not at that stage, no. It’s as though you were looking at the film on the screen and the sound was turned off. And therefore, to me, this is the first stage. The reason for it is this—it is to urge one to, to drive one, to make one work purely in the visual and not rely upon words at all. I am still a purist and I do believe that film is a series of images projected on a screen. This succession of images create ideas, which in turn create emotion, just as much as in literature words put together form sentences.

This is is what Hitchcock called “pure film”

The point is that pure film is montage, which is the assembly of pieces of film, which in their turn must create an emotion in the audience. That is the whole art of the cinema—the montage of the pieces. It is merely a matter of design, subject matter and so forth. You can’t generalise about it. You can only hope to produce ideas, expressed in montage terms that create an emotion in an audience.

Hitchcock was a cinematic purist—which ultimately made him a control freak. Everything was planned and worked out long before the actors rehearsed their lines or the first shot was taken. “Actors,” Hitchcock once said in his famously quoted line, “should be treated like cattle.” They were there to collaborate and serve his vision. That’s why he preferred working with actors like James Stewart or Cary Grant rather than “method” actors like Montgomery Clift or Paul Newman. Indeed, during the making of Torn Curtain, Hitchcock became so fed up with Newman continually asking about his motivation that he eventually told him, “Your motivation is your salary.”

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Jimmy Cagney’s poetry: From bad to verse
10:43 am



When I was a child, summer holidays meant Jimmy Cagney movies on TV: White Heat, The Public Enemy, G-Men, Each Dawn I Die, Angels With Dirty Faces and so on. Cagney never looked like he was acting, he became whatever character he played, which explains why he was once asked, “Well, did you turn yella that time you went to da electric chair?”

Orson Welles once told chat show host Michael Parkinson that he thought Cagney was “maybe the greatest actor who ever appeared in front of a camera.” I tend to agree with this—as no doubt did Marlon Brando and Stanley Kubrick who were both major fans of the brilliant, diminutive Irish-American.

Like many of the characters he played, Cagney was tough. He was born into a poor working class family in New York’s Lower East Side in 1899. He worked hard, held down several jobs, and was always ready with his fists should the need arise. His fighting skills were such that family, friends and neighbors came to Jimmy to knock out any troublemaker. But Cagney was also disciplined and assiduous. He was a vaudevillian, a song and dance man first and foremost, who learnt his trade working up through chorus lines and repertory companies before being spotted by Al Jolson in a play with Joan Blondell and cast in a movie Sinners’ Holiday. Cagney went to Hollywood for three weeks’ work, but ended with a legendary career that lasted over 31 years.
I’ve been reading his autobiography Cagney By Cagney (which I recommend) and in amongst his tales of career, family, early left wing politics—he was considered a communist because of his support of the unions, and was the target of a planned Mafia hit until actor and friend George Raft put a stop to it, though he switched allegiances to Reagan in the 1980s—his deep love of the country and concern for the environment and his fine talent for anecdote, Cagney revealed his liking for writing poetry. To be fair, some of it is okay—funny, amusing, enjoyable—but then there are those poems—like the one on the passing of friend Clark Gable—that maybe should have stayed in the bottom drawer:

The King, long bled, is newly dead.
Uneasily wore his crown, ‘tis said;
Quite naturally, since it was made of lead;
On those who gathered about his throne,
Y-clept Mayer, Mannix, Katz, and Cohn
He spat contempt in generous doses,
But whatever he gave, they made their own.

Unhappy man, he chose seclusion,
To the unremitting crass intrusion
Of John and Jane whose names meant dough
To Louie, Eddie, Sam, and Joe.

This is a small slap to the Hollywood producers “who controlled his destinies.” Cagney hated the exploitative nature of the Hollywood system.
Cagney began writing in his Broadway days in the 1920s—“a habit triggered by reading Stephen Vincent Benet’s magnificent John Brown’s Body.” He was also influenced by William Blake and Robert Burns, who gave “food for thought” for when he tired of Hollywood and Hugh Kingsmill’s Anthology of Invective and Abuse, which inspired his putdown of a Tinsel Town ass-kisser:

Where once were vertebrae is now a tangle,
From constant kissing at an awkward angle.

Throughout his autobiography, Cagney dipped into one of poems whenever he felt like it. Though he claimed few of his verses were ever written down, he had “quite a number stored in [his] memory.” These ranged from:

A pheasant called in a distant thicket,
And lovingly my old friend said,
“I hear you, I hear you.”
And he loved that bird, till he gunned him dead.


A lady spider met a fella
And made all haste to date him;
She loved him with a love sublime,
Up to and including—
The time, when in ecstasy,
She ate him.

Of course Cagney was just enjoying himself—relishing the pleasure of words. But his poetry often dealt with serious issues, like the poem he sent to the Irish Times under the pseudonym Harley Quinn on the damage industry was doing to the environment:

You want to see the Shannon like the Hudson
Or the Liffey just as filthy as the Seine?
Bring in the arrogant asses
And their garbage and their gasses—
The pollutants plunging poison down each drain:
Killing everything that’s living
For which nature’s unforgiving,
And the punishment will certainly fit the crime.
Where man, the creeping cancer,
Will have to make the final answer
As he smothers ‘neath his self-created slime.

More on Jimmy Cagney and his poetry, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Fan photos of John Lennon in London and New York
09:30 am

Pop Culture


Being one of The Beatles meant being mobbed, followed and even stalked everywhere you went. They quit Liverpool for London for its mix of anonymity and excitement—and because everything happened there. Eventually, John, George and Ringo moved on to the stockbroker belt to find peace, quiet and happy isolation. But even there, Lennon had unwelcome visitors who wanted a photo or to say that they understood what his songs were about, and touch the hem of his clothes.

Eventually, Lennon moved again, this time to New York where he said he could walk the streets without anyone bothering him. Going by these fan photographs of Lennon in London and New York, it’s obvious he was just as mobbed by devoted fans in the Big Apple as he had been back in the Big Smoke.

These fan snaps capture Lennon from the late 1960s, through his relationship with Yoko Ono, to just before his untimely death in 1980.
John Lennon signing an autograph outside the Abbey Road Studios, 1968.

More fan snaps of John Lennon, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
In bed with Andy: David Bailey’s banned ‘Warhol’ documentary
06:06 pm



Among the reasons given for the banning of David Bailey’s documentary on Andy Warhol were: its possibly breach of the Vagrancy Act and a suggested sex act that was not “conducive to road safety.” These were the stated opinions of lawyer and judge Lord Justice Lawton and the sports journalist and broadcaster Ross McWhirter.

McWhirter was one-half of the famous twin brothers Ross and Norris McWhirter who compiled, wrote and edited the Guinness Book of Records. It was McWhirter who initiated the bizarre events that led to Bailey’s film being pulled from broadcast in January 1973, and temporarily banned until March of the same year. McWhirter was responding to the press previews for Bailey’s film that appeared in the Sunday papers on January 14th that described the film as “shocking,” “revolting,” and “offensive,” with the worst scene (erroneously) described by the Daily Mail as showing:

...a fat female artist [who] dyes her breasts and then rolls about on canvas ‘painting’...

This was Brigid Berlin making one of her famous “Tit Prints,” which was cited by Lord Lawton as a possible source of offense.
Director and subject.
David Bailey had spent about a year working on his documentary about Andy Warhol—it was the last of three films Bailey made for Lew Grade’s television company ATV, the other two were profiles of photographer Cecil Beaton and director Luchino Visconti—and he had spent considerable time with the often monosyllabic and elusive artist, and had interviewed many of Warhol’s Factory entourage including Candy Darling, Paul Morrissey, Fred Hughes, Jane Holzer and art dealer Leo Castelli. Bailey had given over directing duties to William Verity, while he spent his time asking questions and getting close to the film’s subject.

When ATV gave a press screening for Bailey’s Warhol, little did they consider that the negative response of the press would lead to the film being banned. When Ross McWhirter read the press previews, he was sufficiently disgusted that he saw an opportunity to strike a blow for the silent majority—for whom he believed himself to be the obvious spokesman. In fact, he was over-reacting to some hearsay about a film he had not seen.
On Monday 15th, McWhirter prepared to take out an injunction against the Independent Broadcasting Authority—the TV watchdog—for allowing Bailey’s film to be screened. On Tuesday January 16th, he issued a writ against the documentary to stop it being broadcast. However, McWhirter’s writ was dismissed during a one-minute High Court hearing. Like all zealots, McWhirter was not one to have the law stop him, and he appealed the High Court’s decision.

McWhirter’s actions gained support from an unlikely quarter: one of the ITV broadcast regions Anglia decided, after is chairman Lord Townshend and two members of the channel’s planning committee had watched the documentary, not to screen the documentary as Bailey’s film was:

...not of sufficient interest or quality.

McWhirter’s appeal was heard at 17:00hours on Tuesday January 16th, the day Warhol was set for broadcast. The Appeal Court consisted of Lord Justice Cairns, Lord Justice Lawton, and was presided over by Lord Denning. Although he had not seen the programme, McWhirter claimed in his writ that the press previews were sufficient to suggest the show would cause considerable offense. Any programme that was considered to be offensive to “good taste and decency” was to be banned under the guidelines of the Television Act of 1964.

Causing offense to the viewing public was not McWhirter’s only concern over Bailey’s film as his writ went on to describe some of its possible dangers:

At one point there is a conversation between a man dressed as a Hell’s Angel and a girl. In that piece, the girl discusses sex with the man and says she would like to have sex with him on the back of a motorcycle doing 60 miles an hour. Apart from anything else, that does not sound as though it is conducive to road safety.

Like McWhirter, none of the Lords had seen Bailey’s film, however this didn’t stop them pontificating about its possible criminal intent. According to the Guardian newspaper, Lord Justice Lawton was deeply concerned over Brigid Berlin’s breast painting:

...the viewers of Britain were to be shown pictures of a fat lady doing something that sounded to him very much like a breach of the Vagrancy act, apart from anything else…

The offending “tit printing” scene.
However, it was the IBA who received the greatest criticism from Lord Denning for their perceived failure to view the documentary before transmission. This, as it later turned out, was a major oversight by Denning and co. as they had failed to ascertain whether anyone from the IBA had actually watched the film—which in fact they had. IBA General Director Brian Young, Head of Programmes Joe Wellman, together with their deputies, had all watched Bailey’s film and suggested cuts and had even insisted on the addition of an introductory voice-over.

Still this did not stop the appeal judges voting 2-1 in favor of an interim injunction that temporarily banned the film from being screened on television—a documentary on craftwork was broadcast instead.

Watch David Bailey’s ‘Warhol’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Vincent Price has some thoughts on racial prejudice and religious hatred
10:09 am



As if anyone needed any further proof of the ultimate badassery of Vincent Price…

In this crucial speech from the conclusion of the “Author Of Murder” episode of The Saint, which aired on NBC Radio on July 30, 1950,  Price lays out his feelings on prejudice being antithetical to a free society. Price denounces racial and religious intolerance as a “poison” which fuels support for the nation’s enemies. These are powerful words for 1950, but just as important, necessary, and applicable today.

And, of course, Price’s delivery always guarantees chills.

Ladies and gentlemen, poison doesn’t always come in bottles. And it isn’t always marked with the skull and crossbones of danger. Poison can take the form of words and phrases and acts: the venom of racial and religious hatred. Here in the United States, perhaps more than ever before, we must learn to recognize the poison of prejudice and to discover the antidote to its dangerous effects. Evidences of racial and religious hatred in our country place a potent weapon in the hands of our enemies, providing them with the ammunition of criticism. Moreover, group hatred menaces the entire fabric of democratic life. As for the antidote: you can fight prejudice, first by recognizing it for what it is, and second by actively accepting or rejecting people on their individual worth, and by speaking up against prejudice and for understanding. Remember, freedom and prejudice can’t exist side by side. If you choose freedom, fight prejudice.

From the original broadcast:

From: The Vortex of Our Minds

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Before he was Jimi: Jimmy Hendrix with Curtis Knight and the Squires
09:10 am



It’s pretty much impossible to fully tell the tale of Jimi Hendrix’s ascendance to the guitar-god pantheon without invoking the names of a Harlem R&B singer known professionally as Curtis Knight (née McNear) and a producer named Ed Chalpin. Knight was a veteran of R&B and Doo Wop groups like the Ink Spots and the Titans, who struck out on his own as a talented but only modestly successful bandleader. Knight happened to live in the same building as Hendrix, then still “Jimmy” Hendrix, a struggling journeyman, and after a fateful meeting in their building’s lobby, Knight brought Hendrix into his band the Squires, and introduced him to his manager, the aforesaid Ed Chalpin. It was around this time, October of 1965, that Chalpin signed Hendrix to an infamous exclusive three-year contract with a $1 advance and a promise of 1% royalties. Hendrix was already under contract with Sue Records (prophetic name, given what was to come), and maintained that he signed with Chalpin under the misapprehension that he was merely signing a session release for his work as a sideman. He remained under that belief for long enough that, when he was famously discovered by the Animals’ Chas Chandler, the Chalpin contract was the only one Chandler never bought out. That blunder haunted Hendrix’s career even beyond his death, and the legal knots surrounding those three years have only just been untangled last year.

Over the decades, Chalpin has released much Curtis Knight and the Squires material, misleadingly, under Hendrix’s name, but often in truncated form, or in crummy sounding editions meant to be passed off as “lost” Hendrix material to rake in quick bucks—one such opportunistic LP was even released in between Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold As Love, tricking some fans into believing it was the second Jimi Hendrix Experience LP! All of which is a DRAG, as the Squires’ music deserves consideration on its own merits. Though they would likely have remained almost entirely unheralded were it not for the Hendrix connection, Curtis Knight and the Squires were a good band. Their original work was right in place with much of the energetic, guitar-based R&B of the time, and thrillingly, you can plainly hear Hendrix’s signature style throughout it all.

Hear some EARLY Jimi, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
From slicing eyeballs to making the perfect Martini: The Life and Times of Luis Buñuel
11:49 am



The most famous short film ever made was inspired by dreams. Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali had talked about making a film together for some time but could never agree on what the film should be about.

One day, Dali told Buñuel he had dreamt of ants swarming in his hands. Buñuel replied that he had dreamt of slicing open someone’s eye with a cutthroat razor. “There’s the film,” he said, “let’s go and make it.”

As Buñuel later explained, they compiled the script from a series of images which they took it in turns to suggest to each other. There was only one rule:

...No idea or image that might lend itself to a rational explanation of any kind would be accepted. We had to open all doors to the irrational and keep only those images that surprised us, without trying to explain why.

When one of them made a suggestion, the other had three seconds in which to say “yes” or “no” to the proposal. This was how Buñuel and Dali wrote Un Chien Andalou (1929). Their intention had been to shock and offend, but rather than offending the public, Un Chien Andalou became an notorious success, which left Buñuel feeling ambivalent over his new found fame:

What can I do about the people who adore all that is new, even when it goes against their deepest convictions, or about the insincere, corrupt press, and the inane herd that saw beauty or poetry in something which was basically no more than a desperate impassioned call for murder

The most infamous image in cinema history?
The film had been paid for by Buñuel’s mother, but their next movie L’Âge d’Or (1930) was commissioned by the arts patrons Marie-Laurie and Charles de Noailles. This time their film achieved notoriety after Dali declared it was an attack on the Catholic church. When screened in Paris, the film caused a riot and was banned for 50 years.

After this, Buñuel distanced himself from Surrealism and became a Communist—a decision that ended his friendship Dali and led the painter to damage Buñuel’s reputation in America by denouncing him as an atheist.
Dali’s portrait of Buñuel from 1924.
It would take until the late 1940s for Buñuel to re-establish his career as a film director when he started making B-movies in Mexico. In 1950, he co-wrote and directed Los olvidados (The Young & The Damned) for which he Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival in 1951.

In 1960, Buñuel wrote “A Statement” on filmmaking for the magazine Film Culture in which explained his views on cinema:

The screen is a dangerous and wonderful instrument, if a free spirit uses it. It is the superior way of expressing the world of dreams, emotions and instinct. The cinema seems to have been invented for the expression of the subconscious, so profoundly is it rooted in poetry. Nevertheless, it almost never pursues these ends.

We rarely see good cinema in the mammoth productions, or in the works that have received the praise of critics and audience. The particular story, the private drama of an individual, cannot interest—I believe—anyone worthy of living in our time.

If a man in the audience shares the joys and sorrows of a character on the screen, it should be because that character reflects the joys and sorrows of all society and so the personal feelings of that man in the audience. Unemployment, insecurity, the fear of war, social injustice, etc., affect all men of our time, and thus, they also affect the individual spectator.

But when the screen tells me that Mr. X is not happy at home and finds amusement with a girl-friend whom he finally abandons to reunite himself with his faithful wife, I find it all very moral and edifying, but it leaves me completely indifferent.

Octavio Paz has said: “But that a man in chains should shut his eyes, the world would explode.” And I could say: But that the white eye-lid of the screen reflect its proper light, the Universe would go up in flames. But for the moment we can sleep in peace: the light of the cinema is conveniently dosified and shackled.

A late starter, age did not diminish Buñuel’s talent as a filmmaker and his most successful movies were made when he was in his sixties and seventies—The Exterminating Angel, Belle de Jour, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and That Obscure Object of Desire.
Buñuel said he was “An atheist—thank God,”—a line (allegedly) pinched by Kurt Vonnegut, and the only thing he equated with religious passion was his favorite drink a martini. In his autobiography, My Last Breath, Buñuel offered his recipe for the definitive martini:

To provoke, or sustain, a reverie in a bar, you have to drink English gin, especially in the form of the dry martini. To be frank, given the primordial role in my life played by the dry martini, I think I really ought to give it at least a page. Like all cocktails, the martini, composed essentially of gin and a few drops of Noilly Prat, seems to have been an American invention. Connoisseurs who like their martinis very dry suggest simply allowing a ray of sunlight to shine through a bottle of Noilly Prat before it hits the bottle of gin. At a certain period in America it was said that the making of a dry martini should resemble the Immaculate Conception, for, as Saint Thomas Aquinas once noted, the generative power of the Holy Ghost pierced the Virgin’s hymen “like a ray of sunlight through a window-leaving it unbroken.”

Another crucial recommendation is that the ice be so cold and hard that it won’t melt, since nothing’s worse than a watery martini. For those who are still with me, let me give you my personal recipe, the fruit of long experimentation and guaranteed to produce perfect results. The day before your guests arrive, put all the ingredients-glasses, gin, and shaker-in the refrigerator. Use a thermometer to make sure the ice is about twenty degrees below zero (centigrade). Don’t take anything out until your friends arrive; then pour a few drops of Noilly Prat and half a demitasse spoon of Angostura bitters over the ice. Stir it, then pour it out, keeping only the ice, which retains a faint taste of both. Then pour straight gin over the ice, stir it again, and serve.

(During the 1940s, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York taught me a curious variation. Instead of Angostura, he used a dash of Pernod. Frankly, it seemed heretical to me, but apparently it was only a fad.)

In 1984, a year after his death, the BBC produced a documentary on The Life and Times of Don Luis Buñuel, which covered his life from eye-ball slicing to his plans for deathbed pranks to be played on his family and friends.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Kate Bush: Performs ‘Kite’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’ in her first ever TV appearance, 1978
11:13 am



It doesn’t matter where you start—it’s where you’re going that counts.

Kate Bush made her television debut in a disused train depot in West Germany, when she guested on the light entertainment show Bios Bahnhof (Bio’s Station) for WDR-TV, February 9th, 1978. In front of a well-heeled, middle-aged audience, Kate sang two songs: one with her backing band (“Kite”); and one to a backing track (“Wuthering Heights”)—the B and A-side of her debut single.

“Wuthering Heights” was a revolutionary debut and still sounds as radical today as it did when first released. But its success may never have happened had her record label E.M.I. stuck with their plan to release “James and the Cold Gun” as her first single from Kate’s album The Kick Inside.

“James and the Cold Gun” was one of the songs Kate performed when she was learning her craft as lead singer with her brother’s group the K.T. Bush Band during the summer of 1977. The K.T. Bush Band gigged around London, traveling in a small Hillman Imp, performing covers of the Beatles and the Stones and Marvin Gaye’s “Heard It Through the Grapevine.” They also tried out a few of Kate’s original compositions like “James and the Cold Gun” where she would mime a shoot-out with the audience.
Kate Bush fronts the K.T. Bush Band circa 1977.

The K.T. Bush Band perform a Beatles classic, 1977.
Kate was determined her first release should be “Wuthering Heights” and pushed the label until they conceded.

“Wuthering Heights” had been scheduled for release in November 1977, but E.M.I. held the single back until January 1978 fearing it would be lost in the festive froth of Christmas records—Paul McCartney made the top of the hit parade that year with “Mull of Kintyre,” which went on to become the biggest selling UK single at that time. Fortunately, a few promo discs of the single fell into the hands of some radio DJs, who were mesmerized by the song and played it prior to its official January release. It caught the public’s attention and “Wuthering Heights” rapidly moved to the UK #1 on 5th March 1978, the first number #1 to be written by a woman.

And what about Bio who spotted this exquisite talent before anyone else? Well, he is Alfred Biolek an entertainer and TV producer, who had previously produced two special German-language editions of Monty Python for German TV—for which John Cleese, Eric Idle and co. had to learn German phonetically as none of the Pythons spoke the language fluently. Bio certainly had an uncanny knack for picking up on original talent before anyone else.

The performance, after the jump…

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