It has been 26 years since Faith No More tore the roof off of the Brixton Academy in London on April 28th, 1990 during their tour in support of their third record, The Real Thing—the band’s first album with vocalist Mike Patton after FNM parted ways with former vocalist Chuck Mosely in 1988.
The show was released on both VHS and DVD called “Faith No More: You Fat B**tards: (Live at the Brixton Academy) and on vinyl as FNM’s only live album “Faith No More: Live at the Brixton Academy.” The band’s performance at Brixton is mind-meltingly energetic and the then 22-year-old Patton commanded the stage like a hyperactive kid who decided to mainline a dozen Pixy Stix just for fun. Which might help explain Patton’s wardrobe changes during the show that included a skeleton mask, a police helmet and the eventual loss of his shirt mid-way through the performance. As a die-hard fan of Black Sabbath it wasn’t hard for me to love FNM’s ferocious seven-minute cover of “War Pigs” which nearly gives the original a run for its money. It was also an opportunity for Patton to show off his prodigious six-octave range which he does with mind-altering precision. Get ready—the annihilation of your auditory functions await!
Faith No More performing a cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ at the Brixton Academy in London, 1990.
The strange French comic featured in this post based on Frank Zappa’s song “Stink-Foot” from his 1974 album, Apostrophe (’) was done by French illustrator Jean Solé back in 1975 when appeared in the French satire magazine Fluide Glacial in a special comic layout called Pop & Rock & Colegram.
An illustration from ‘Pop & Rock & Colegram’ riffing on the RCA Victor (among others) canine spokesperson ‘Nipper’ featuring Jean Solé, Gotlieb, and Alain Dister.
In the comics (that were published in Fluide Glacial from 1975-1978) by French illustrators Marcel Gotlieb (known as “Gotlib”) and Jean Solé the task was to create parody-style illustrations based on popular songs from bands like the Beatles, Roxy Music, Pink Floyd and in this case Solé‘s fantastic four-page take on Zappa’s “Stink-Foot.” Translated by renowned French music journalist Alain Dister, Solé‘s illustrations of Zappa’s jazzy six-minute jam about stinky feet is pretty spot on right down to an illustration of Zappa struggling to get his smelly python boots off. Here’s a samplings of the funky lyrics from “Stink-Foot:
My python boot is too tight
I couldn’t get it off last night
A week went by
And now it’s July
I finally got it off
And my girlfriend cried, YOU GOT STINK-FOOT!
Puts a hurt on my nose
Stink-foot, stink-foot, I ain’t lyin’
Can you rinse it off, do you suppose?
Though it’s rather difficult to find, the magazine has been reprinted since 1975 and if you dig what you are about to see, it’s well worth trying to track down.
An unused fake mug shot of John Belushi taken during the filming of ‘The Blues Brothers.’
I must admit a bit of bias when it comes to this post as its about my very favorite film of all time (and perhaps yours too), what could easily be considered the greatest credit in director John Landis’ long career, 1980’s The Blues Brothers.
John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and Carrie Fisher looking cozy on the set of ‘The Blues Brothers.’
Of particular interest are the images of Dan Aykroyd and a 23-year-old Carrie Fisher looking quite cozy alongside her fictional cold-footed fiancee in the film, charismatic comedian John Belushi. Which of course got me wondering if I had somehow missed out on the news that the two actors had perhaps had a shotgun free, off-screen fling. As it turns out, Fisher was actually briefly engaged to Dan Aykroyd who asked her to marry him after he “saved her life” by performing the Heimlich maneuver when she was choking on what Fisher recalls was a boring old brussel sprout, not a fistfull of Quaaludes. Sadly the engagement didn’t last, and Fisher left Aykroyd for her former paramour Paul Simon whom she would marry in 1983—the same year that Aykroyd married former Miss Virginia of 1976, blonde beauty queen and actress, Donna Dixon.
Of course, the scene where Joliet Jake and Elwood take a scenic 100 mph drive through the Dixie Square Mall (you know, the place that had “everything”) is probably the very first thing that most people think of when it comes to The Blues Brothers. The mall had been left to decline after closing its doors in 1979 and had since become an epicenter for gang violence and vandalism. A good bit of timing for Landis who proposed the idea of letting his movie crew and two actors—wearing dark sunglasses with a full tank of gas and a half a pack of cigarettes—finish it off. Dixie Square got a Hollywood makeover, and Landis let the cameras roll while Belushi and Aykroyd tore it apart again like a pair of wild dogs. However, the scene where the Blues Mobile makes its final journey to the place where they “have that Picasso,” Daley Plaza, proved to be a bit more difficult to pull off. So Landis sent John Belushi off to work his charm on the mayor of Chicago at the time, Jane Byrne.
According to Byrne, she met with a very “sweaty and nervous” John Belushi in her office who offered her a $200,000 donation to Chicago’s orphans if she would allow them to film that scene and others in Chicago. Byrne of course agreed and large group of stunt people, six camera crews; 300 extras (with an additional 100 dressed up as Chicago’s finest); 300 members of the National Guard decked out as soldiers; a four-man SWAT team; seven mounted police officers; three Sherman M3 tanks; five fire engines and two Bell Jet Ranger helicopters were unleashed on Daley Plaza. To the great satisfaction of Mayor Byrne who was not a fan of Chicago’s 48th mayor, Richard J. Daley who no longer dines at Chez Paul because he’s dead. Tons of intriguing images shot during the making of this remarkable rock and roll cinematic triumph follow. Dig it!
Former Chicago mayor Jane Byrne and her daughter Kathy wearing Jake and Elwood’s signature hats and sunglasses with Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.
Pope John Paul II paying a visit to the set of ‘The Blues Brothers’ to ‘bless the set.’ Here, John Belushi can be seen kissing the Pope’s ring.
Dennis Hopper bought one of Andy Warhol’s first soup-can prints for seventy-five bucks. It should have been a good investment but then Hopper lost it to his first ex-wife—part of the divorce settlement. She also picked-up a Roy Lichtenstein that Hopper had bought for just over a thousand dollars. The ex-wife sold it for $3k. If she’d kept it she could have made a cool $16 million. But it was never about money for Hopper:
My idea of collecting is not going and buying bankable names, but buying people that I believe are really contributing something to my artistic life.
Hopper was a “a middle-class farm boy” from Dodge City, Kansas. He was born on May 17th, 1936. He had Scottish ancestors—which might explain some of his wild temperament. His mother was a lifeguard instructor. His father worked for the post office.
Hopper fought “the cows with a wooden sword…hung a rope in the trees and played Tarzan”—all the stuff kids do. He swam in the pool his mother managed. Fired his BB gun at crows. Once looked at the sun through a telescope and went blind for five days. Hopper was smart, creative, arty—went to Saturday morning art classes. But growing up on a farm he felt a childhood angst about missing out. He felt desperate. To get away from this feeling he went to the movies. He came home and sniffed gasoline. He watched the clouds turn into clowns and goblins. He sniffed more gasoline wanting to see what else the clouds were hiding. He OD’d. He thought he was Abbott and Costello and Errol Flynn. He wrecked his grandfather’s truck with a baseball bat.
The family moved and moved again—ending up in San Diego. In high school Hopper was voted the one most likely to succeed. He had a taste for theater and wanted to act. He went out to Hollywood and became an actor.
It was Vincent Price who first hipped Hopper to art. He told him “You need to collect—this is where you need to put your money.” But it wasn’t about money—it was “a calling.”
I always thought that acting was art, writing was art, music was art, painting was art, and I’ve tried to keep that cultural vibe to my life. I never wanted to don a tie, or go into an office.
Hopper was eighteen performing Shakespeare in San Diego when he was introduced to James Dean—“the best young actor in America, if not the world, when I met him.”
Jimmy arrived, and I saw him start to act, and I realized I was nowhere near as good as him. I’d never seen anyone improvise like that. I was full of preconceived ideas about when to make a gesture, how to read a line. I considered myself an accomplished Shakespearian actor. And he’d do this improvising, and I’d check the script and think, “Where the hell did those lines come from?” He taught me some basic stuff. “If you’re going to drink something in a film, drink it. If you’re going to smoke something, smoke it. Don’t act as if you’re drinking or smoking, just do it as you would off-set.” That was such good advice. He taught me to live the moment, in the reality, not fill my head with presupposed ideas, or anticipate what may or may not happen.
Hopper signed to Warner Bros. Started making movies. Worked with Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. Hung around art galleries—became a “gallery bum.” When Dean died, Hopper was devastated. It may have led to his “I’m a fucking genius, man” behavior that eventually got him blackballed from Hollywood.
He moved to the east coast. Hung around the art scene. Became friends with Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Ed Ruscha. He still collected art—but it was never about the money.
Dennis Hopper would have been eighty this year. He died in 2010—three years after his mother died. She made it to ninety. Hopper left a vast collection of artwork—paintings by Warhol, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Julian Schnabel and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Hopper saw himself as a custodian—keeping the art until he died and it was given over to a museum.
Marjorie Dare (Doris Smith) riding hands free around the ‘Wall of Death’ sideshow at the Kursaal amusement park in Essex, England.
Born from board track racing and velodromes (a popular sport featuring motorcycles racing on a wooded track) as well as early bicycle stunt racing (also done on a wooden track), the “Wall of Death” was a wildly popular carnival attraction that made its first carney appearance in 1911 at one of the United States epicenters of weirdness, New York’s Coney Island.
What made this dangerous attraction especially attractive was the fact that female riders were a huge part of the carnival motorcycle stunt scene. One of the first pioneers of the sport was Margaret Gast. Calling herself “The Mile A Minute Girl” Gast nearly met her maker several times during her career and was once carried out on a stretcher, presumed dead. Another early rider was Hazel Eaton who joined the carnival after running away from home when she was fifteen. Like Gast, Eaton also nearly met her end while riding on the wooden motordrome when her bike’s rear brakes locked up leaving her with serious injuries to her head and face as well as broken ribs. Weeks later, Eaton left the hospital like a badass—in an open wooden casket.
Morrissey and Johnny Marr performing on the ‘The Oxford Road Show.’
A recent post that featured two-hours of “mind melting” high quality footage of Siouxsie and the Banshees performing on various music television shows such as the The Old Grey Whistle Test, Rock Goes to College, The Oxford Road Show as well as the ever popular, Top of the Pops was unsurprisingly very popular with our readers. As I was not familiar with The Oxford Road Show, I decided to take a deep-dive into YouTube land to see what other vintage delights the BBC show might have to offer. I was not disappointed—and you won’t be either.
Robert Smith of The Cure in a still from ‘The Oxford Road Show.’
Once allegedly parodied as “Nozin’ Aroun’” on “Demolition,” the pilot episode of cult British sitcom The Young Ones, The Oxford Road Show (later known as “ORS”) was around for about four years until it marched off into the sunset. While not every band performed live (as you will see with the video of The Smiths below), many of them did and early on in their emerging careers. I cherrypicked a few highlights from The Oxford Road Show that I found most compelling such as The Cure’s 1983 appearance on the show performing “One Hundred Years” from their 1982 album, Pornography and Bauhaus in 1982 doing two of their early 80s singles, “Passion of Lovers” and an absolutely balls-out performance of “Lagartija Nick.” But what really killed me was The Smiths’ lipsynching 1984’s “What Difference Does it Make” while Moz sashays around on stage looking like he wishes he was home dancing in front of his mirror while giving zero fucks. In other words, what you are about to see is pure 80s vintage goodness that once again proves that the much maligned decade was actually pretty great.
The Cure performing ‘One Hundred Days’ on ‘The Oxford Road Show’ in 1983.
It was 1974 when Gary Trudeau debuted the newest member of his Doonesbury comic crew, “Uncle Duke,” to the world. And the man whom the character was based on, gun-toting Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson was not pleased. In an interview with High Times, Thompson recalled the moment he became aware of Uncle Duke.
It was a hot, nearly blazing day in Washington, and I was coming down the steps of the Supreme Court looking for somebody, Carl Wagner or somebody like that. I’d been inside the press section, and then all of a sudden I saw a crowd of people and I heard them saying, “Uncle Duke,” I heard the words Duke, Uncle; it didn’t seem to make any sense. I looked around, and I recognized people who were total strangers pointing at me and laughing. I had no idea what the fuck they were talking about. I had gotten out of the habit of reading funnies when I started reading the Times. I had no idea what this outburst meant…It was a weird experience, and as it happened I was sort of by myself up there on the stairs, and I thought: “What in the fuck madness is going on? Why am I being mocked by a gang of strangers and friends on the steps of the Supreme Court? Then I must have asked someone, and they told me that Uncle Duke had appeared in the Post that morning.
Thompson went on to say that “no one grows up wanting to be a cartoon character” and that if he ever caught up with Garry Trudeau, he would “rip his lungs out.” While that never happened, in 1992 Trudeau published book called Action Figure!; The Life and Times of Doonesbury’s Uncle Duke that chronicled the misadventures of Uncle Duke that came with a five-inch action figure of dear Uncle Duke along with a martini glass, an Uzi, cigarette holder, a bottle of booze, and a chainsaw. While Trudeau has never been one to shy away from controversy, this bold move seemed rather suicidal or at the very least a very direct threat to the current location of Trudeau’s lungs. You can actually still find the book and its sneering Uncle Duke action figure on auction sites like eBay and on Amazon like I did.
Mae West in a publicity photo for the 1934 film, ‘Belle of the Nineties.’
Ten men waiting for me at the door? Send one of them home, I’m tired.
There are so many reasons to love the great, boundary-smashing Hollywood starlet Mae West, it’s hard to know where to start as the iconic blonde pretty much did it all. Not only was West an early supporter of women’s liberation back in the 1920s, she was also openly supportive of gay rights. West penned a play called The Drag whose storyline featured homosexuality and cross-dressing (The production was closed down in 1927 after a two-week run due to its controversial subject matter). From a very young age, West’s mother (a former model herself) helped encourage her daughter to perform, which she did starting around the age of seven in talent shows. By the time she was fourteen West was already a professional taking the stage in New York in productions put on by the Hal Clarendon Stock Company under the moniker “Baby Mae.”
A vintage show poster advertising Mae West’s controversial 1926 play, ‘Sex.’
Penning under the name “Jane Mast” West gave herself her big break by writing, producing, directing and starring in Sex in 1926. Sex played to packed houses until the venue was raided by the police (after complaints from religious types that don’t want anyone to have any fun), and West and the entire cast were arrested. And, since this is Mae West we’re talking about, instead of coughing up the dough in order to avoid sitting behind bars—West was given a ten days in jail on the laughable charge of “corrupting the morals of youth”—the willey platinum blonde bombshell decided that going to jail was better (and free) publicity. West only served eight days of the ten-day sentence due to “good behavior.”
By 1932, West was under contract with Paramount and would go on to star in numerous films, with two of her best alongside Cary Grant in 1933; She Done Him Wrong, and I’m No Angel. That same year in a review for I’m No Angel (published in October of 1933), entertainment magazine Variety said that West was as “hot an issue as Hitler” (who had been appointed Chancellor of Germany in January that same year).
West is also well known for her over-the-top costumes that she wore in her films. Legendary costume designer Edith Head created West’s looks for She Done Him Wrong that according to West were ‘tight enough so I look like a woman, loose enough so I look like a lady.” A look that West would continue to cultivate during her career that no other actress at the time could ever quite equal.
I’ve included many of West’s outlandish getups from photo shoots and films such as her “lion tamer” look from I’m No Angel, and her jaw-dropping looks from 1934’s Belle of the Nineties where she dons bat and butterfly wings, as well as a set of eight spider legs in her role as a fictional vaudevillian Ruby Carter. The images that follow are vintage visual treats for your eyes of a woman who always played by her own rules. If you’d like to learn more about Mae West, the 1997 book by Emily Wortis Leider Becoming Mae West, is a fantastic, in-depth exploration of the whip-smart, cinematic icon.
A publicity photo of Mae West from the 1934 film, ‘Belle of the Nineties.’
Another publicity shot of West in butterfly wings from ‘Belle of the Nineties.’
The Associates were a band that should have conquered the world. In fact they almost did. They had had the music in them and a sound that was uniquely their own. Formed in 1976 by the dovetailed talents of musician Alan Rankine and singer Billy MacKenzie, The Associates produced three first class albums between 1980 and 1982: The Affectionate Punch, Fourth Drawer Down and the magisterial Sulk. They had a clutch of hit singles and a fanbase that believed The Associates were the future of music.
Then, at the height of their fame in 1982, it all fell spectacularly apart on the verge of a million dollar record deal and their first world tour. Rankine quit. MacKenzie carried on as The Associates. Neither quite ever reached the creative highs and popular success they had so easily achieved together. This is Alan Rankine’s story of The Associates—egg-slicers, chocolate guitars and the legendary Billy MacKenzie.
It could have been all so very different.
If Alan Rankine had been a few inches taller he could have been a tennis player. A world class tennis player. A champion. Hitting grand slams for breakfast.
“When I was nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, I was heavily into tennis. I was really, really into tennis. Big time. I was beating people when I was twelve and they were sixteen. I was really pissing them off—especially when I was beating them in front of their girlfriends.”
Winning was easy for Alan—but he became aware he had one fatal drawback to ever making tennis a lifelong career.
“I was a midget. I was a bit of a shortarse. I could see the writing on the wall—as tennis got more powerful because of the rackets and the strength of the rackets—no one was going to win anything unless they were six foot two. I was never going to be more than five foot eight, and I was proved right.”
Rankine dropped tennis and started looking for something else, something better to master. He liked the guitar. Beat bands were in—The Beatles, The Stones, The Who—so playing guitar seemed the obvious thing to do.
“I remember I annoyed the hell out of my father. You know these little egg slicers you get that’s got a scooped out bit for the egg and it’s got ten strings? Well, I’d go around the house behind him plucking on this thing—Buy me a fucking guitar, buy me a fucking guitar—annoying the hell out of him for weeks. ‘Okay, okay, anything to make this stop.’ On my eleventh birthday he got me a guitar.
“It just seemed right. I started playing the guitar the whole time—I just never stopped. I was either playing along to records or playing along to the radio—just switching between channels and listening to everything. Then I got an electric guitar, then a better electric guitar and just kept on going and going and going. It just seemed easy.”
As he had found with tennis, Alan had a natural talent for the guitar. He practiced in his room for six hours at a time getting the songs he liked down pat—until he could play them note perfect.
“Pretty soon I moved on to my granny’s piano—Christ, this was easy too. I thought this was the way it was for everyone. It was just so easy.”
His father could play the violin. Badly. His uncle played French horn with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. There was no other notable musical talent in the family—that is until Alan picked up the guitar. It was the first move towards his legendary career as one half of The Associates.
Alan Rankine was born in Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire, Scotland in 1958.
“I stayed in Dundee from the ages of five to twelve. I stayed in Broughty Ferry—the posh part. Then I came to Glasgow, Newton Mearns—the posh part. Then Linlithgow—fairly posh.
“My dad always used to ask me—‘Who are you playing with? Where do they stay? Are they from council houses?’ I got this the whole time—he was always very, very protective. But I always seemed to gravitate to the people from the council houses.”
“I was in Linlithgow. I was fifteen years old. As you do when you’re fifteen turning sixteen you try and get into certain pubs because you want to be a man and have a pint and all that stuff. And there were certain pubs out of the twelve or thirteen that went along the one main street in Linlithgow where you could go and you know a nod’s as good as wink and get served.”
“I went into one and there was a band playing. I said, ‘Christ that guitar is shit.’
“I went up to the lead singer after their set—they’d been playing all this Steely Dan stuff—and I said, ‘Your guitar is shit.’ He must have thought, ‘What’s this little cunt coming up to me and saying this for?’
“I said, ‘Look, come up to my house tomorrow.’ He came up to my house and I just ripped off “Kid Charlemagne” and all these Steely Dan numbers. Note perfect. Sound perfect. Everything. I got the job with that band.”
Alan’s first taste as a gigging musician was playing cabaret clubs and miners welfare clubs. He moved to Edinburgh. Every week on a Sunday the band learned to play six new songs—chart songs, hit singles, stuff from the catalogs of Burt Bacharach and Jimmy Webb. When not playing the cabaret circuit, the band was booked for “real gigs as a band” playing some clubs across the city.
“These other people in the band—no detriment to them—they were into Yes and Genesis and it was all too much wanking your plank to no avail.”
“If you’re going to do something have a point. I’m reminded of that line when Steve Martin said when he was berating John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles: ‘And by the way, you know, when, when you’re telling these little stories, here’s a good idea. Have a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!’”
Not long after he joined, the band’s lead singer went “a bit loopy.” The search for a replacement brought Alan to a club in Edinburgh where he heard this voice—this utterly amazing voice. The club was jumping. Alan was at the bar and couldn’t see beyond the dozens of people crowded around the stage—faces upturned, happy, joyous, glistening with sweat watching the singer on the stage: a young man called Billy MacKenzie.
“I got the person who was booking our gigs to contact the person who got that gig for that venue. Within four days of that call, Bill was getting out a taxi in Edinburgh. Two days after that he staying on the sofa bed in my girlfriend’s and I’s flat in Edinburgh.
“We just hit it off like that.”
Billy MacKenzie was born in Dundee in 1957. He was one of those wild boys Rankine’s father warned him about. At just nineteen, MacKenzie had already experienced a far more exotic and adventurous life. He quit school at sixteen. Moved to New Zealand then Australia. Worked as a driver of forklift trucks (“Can you imagine Billy doing that?”). At seventeen, he traveled to America where he outstayed his travel visa. In order to stay longer in the States, Billy married a young woman called Chloe Dummar—the sister-in-law of one of his aunts. He described his wife as “a Dolly Parton-type.” Billy later claimed that during their wedding ceremony the minister spent most of his time flirting with him. The marriage didn’t last. Billy returned to Scotland and rekindled a childhood passion for singing. He joined a band and started gigging across the country.
Billy was a star. He was camp. Fey. Beautiful. With the voice of an angel.
Artist Kii Arens’ gorgeous poster commemorating Cheap Trick’s introduction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
When it comes to Cheap Trick, I was a late-bloomer. I was a huge metal head and for some reason, I just didn’t “get” Cheap Trick when I was in high school. I even dated a guy who was a Cheap Trick super-fan who never stopped trying to help me understand how great the band was. It wasn’t until I got into college that I finally realized that there was clearly something wrong with my ears, and finally embraced the band after hearing “Stop this Game” from their 1980 album All Shook Up. The first time I saw the band live I was (gulp) already in my 30’s and I actually fucking cried when they broke into one of the greatest rock anthems ever written, “Surrender.”
This footage of Cheap Trick on Rockpalast in 1979 captures the band at the very top of their game after the face-smashing success of their live album, Cheap Trick at Budokan that finally saw a US release after a frenzy of demand for the record (which was only available in Japan at the time). That album catapulted the band into the stratosphere of rock and roll superstardom. Here they rip through eleven songs with switchblade precision and I don’t know if I’ve ever heard vocalist Robin Zander sound better than he does here.
I recently caught Cheap Trick’s acceptance speeches at the 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and I was really moved by drummer Bun E. Carlos’ (who no longer performs with Cheap Trick) reminiscing about how the first time he heard guitarist Rick Nielsen’s name was in the fourth grade. Still going strong, Cheap Trick kicks off a massive tour in support of their seventeenth studio album, Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello on June 4th in Syracuse, New York.
Watch Cheap Trick live on German television after the jump…