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Van Halen cover Bowie and KC & The Sunshine Band (while judging a dance contest!) in the 70s
05.19.2016
10:02 am

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Van Halen during their ‘house band’ era at the Sunset Strip club, Gazzarri’s (mid-1970s).
 

“One day, we’re going to be the the Kings of Gazzarri’s.”

—A teenage David Lee Roth accurately predicting Van Halen’s future

 
The person who uploaded the audio of Van Halen performing as a “cover band” places the year at 1975—not long after VH had transitioned from the name Mammoth, and were in the process of blowing the fuck up after Sunset Strip club Gazzarri’s (RIP) gave the band their first big break.
 

David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen on stage at Gazzarri’s, mid-70s.
 
 
An early shot of Van Halen and the band’s first logo design created by original VH bassist, Mark Stone (Stone is pictured to the far left).
 
And when I say big break, I mean that before Gazzarri’s, DLR and the boys were literally playing house parties and high schools. After getting the green-light to play Gazzarri’s by the club’s owner, Bill Gazzarri (who initially didn’t like the band, he later maintained that Van Halen was the best band to every play there), the band became Gazzarri’s house band playing the club several nights a week and would often run the dance contests held at Sunset Strip club. VH vocalist David Lee Roth recalls that in addition to getting paid $75-$125 bucks a night, another perk was getting to watch Gazzarri’s famous “Go-Go” dancers who also performed at the club regularly. It was a huge upgrade from their usual gigs. 1975 sounds like it was a pretty sweet time if your name was (or was associated with), “Van Halen.”

VH drummer Alex Van Halen remembers that the “crowd” at the band’s first gig at Gazzarri’s consisted of about four fans. Van Halen would go on to play approximately 90 gigs at Gazzarri’s to ever-growing crowds before Eddie Van Halen told Bill Gazzarri that they were “never going to get anywhere” by honing their ability to kick out disco jams like the 1975 hit by KC and the Sunshine band, “Get Down Tonight.” And as much as I love that song (I don’t judge and neither should you), he wasn’t wrong. Sometime in 1976 KROQ DJ Rodney Bingenheimer met up with KISS loudmouth Gene Simmons to see one of VH’s gigs at Gazzarri’s. Simmons dug what he heard and got the band to record a demo, but things didn’t pan out. Luckily, Warner Brothers Records producer Ted Templeman (the famous voice behind the line “Come on Dave, give me a break” from the Van Halen’s 1981 classic “Unchained”) caught a live gig of the still under-the-radar band, and ushered the boys into the studio to record what would become VH’s seminal debut record, 1978’s Van Halen.

As I’m a huge fan of digging up interesting historical rock and roll artifacts, I have to say I was super entertained listening to 32 minutes of the then-emerging young Van Halen covering songs by David Bowie (specifically “The Jean Genie” during which Roth amusingly confesses to forgetting the lyrics), Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, and “Twist and Shout”—all while emceeing one of Gazzarri’s many dance contests. While the audio isn’t good (and the band doesn’t really sound that great either), it truly has its priceless moments. Mostly due the antics of the then just 21-year-old “Mr. Entertainment” David Lee Roth. I’ve included a number of photos of Van Halen’s days at Gazzarri’s as well as a few cool other artifacts from that mythical time when it seemed that most people in LA didn’t know who Van Halen was. Yet.
 
Much more early Van Halen after the jump…

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R. Crumb drawings based on the exploits of Charles Bukowski
05.17.2016
09:42 am

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The cover of Charles Bukowski’s short story, ‘Bring Me Your Love’ illustrated by R. Crumb.
 
The seemingly logical collaboration of the great R. Crumb and transgressive writer and poet Charles Bukowski finally became a reality in the early part of the 80s when Crumb created illustrations for two of Bukowski’s short stories, Bring Me Your Love (1983) and There’s No Business (1984).
 

An illustration from ‘There’s No Business’ by R. Crumb.
 
Crumb’s illustrations give the already gritty storylines of both stories visual context—such as a man who looks much like Buk wrestling on the floor with his “wife” after a dispute involving answering the phone or various barroom skirmishes depicting a Bukowski-looking character running amok. The pair would collaborate once again in 1998 (four years after Bukowski’s passing in 1994) with Crumb illustrating a collection of excerpts from Bukowski’s diary, specifically passages from the year prior to his death, The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship. Many of Crumb’s illustrations from all three publications, as well as a few other cartoons images of Charles Bukowski drawn by Crumb follow.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Brian Eno answers a fan’s question about his makeup 1973
05.17.2016
09:30 am

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Too much blusher, Bri?
 
The question came from Brenda in Barnwood, Gloucester, who asked:

What make-up does Eno use on and off stage and does he sing on any tracks of “Roxy Music”?

Brenda was one of three readers who sent in questions for Brian Eno to Melody Maker, April 21st 1973. Eno was more than happy to share his favorite makeup tips:

My make up is the same both on and off stage to a greater or lesser degree. It consists of a large selection of things including Quant, Revlon, Schwarzkopps and Yardley. I just choose whatever colour appeals to me at the time.

On my eyes I use six different colours by three different makers. I’m using Quant crayons quite a lot at present

 
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His favorite crayons by Mary Quant.
 
Quant crayons came out sometime around the late 1960s—dates vary between 1966 to 1969. These make-up accessories were de rigueur for many a young girl and ambitious glam rocker. According to those who used and liked Quant’s crayons—they were “really high quality, the colors were great and they blended incredibly well.”

Alas, these exotic crayons are no longer available, but questioner Brenda Merrett is still a fan of Eno.
 
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As for singing with Roxy Music Eno replied:

I don’t sing lead vocals at any time—only backing vocals. These are nearly always done by Andy MacKay and myself. Examples are “Would You Believe,” “If There Is Something” and “Bitter’s [sic] End.”

Eno joined Roxy Music after a chance meeting:

As a result of going into a subway station and meeting saxophonist Andy Mackay, I joined Roxy Music, and, as a result of that, I have a career in music. If I’d walked ten yards further on the platform, or missed that train, or been in the next carriage, I probably would have been an art teacher now.

After the jump, Brian Eno singing his debut single “Seven Deadly Finns” on Dutch television…

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Germany issues commemorative stamp collection in honor of Lemmy Kilmister
05.13.2016
01:13 pm

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One of the five commemorative stamps issued by the German postal service honoring the late Motörhead frontman, Lemmy Kilmister.
 
If you have friends or relatives in Germany, it’s time to call out a favor as the German postal service has just released a collection of stamps honoring the late Lemmy Kilmister.

There are a total of five different images of the iconic Motörhead leader in the book of ten stamps, that will be available for sale starting on May 17th through June 17th, 2016. Sales of the Lemmy stamps will be limited to only 7777 books (an homage to Lemmy’s “lucky seven”), and will run you about eleven bucks (US) over here. But again, you can only purchase them if you’re actually in Germany. So get going on locating your long-lost German Aunt or Uncle as I’m 100% sure these stamps will sell out swiftly. 
 

 
More after the jump…

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The Move: The drug-addled, axe-wielding rock group who got sued by the Prime Minister
05.12.2016
09:20 am

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It’s one of those odd quirks of fate why sixties beat group The Move never became as big as say The Who, Kinks or the Dave Clark Five or even (crikey!) The Beatles or The Stones. There are many reasons as to why this never happened—top of the tree is the fact The Move never broke the American market which limited their success primarily to a large island off the coast of Europe. Secondly, The Move was all too often considered a singles band—and here we find another knotty problem.

The Move, under the sublime writing talents of Roy Wood, produced singles of such quality, range and diversity it was not always possible to identify their unique imprint. They evolved from “pioneers of the psychedelic sound” with their debut single “Night of Fear” in 1966—a song that sampled Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture—through “I Can Hear The Grass Grow” and “Flowers In The Rain” to faster rock songs like “Fire Brigade”—which inspired the bassline for the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen”—to the chirpy pop of “Curly” and “Omnibus” to sixties miserabilism “Blackberry Way” and early heavy metal/prog with “Wild Tiger Woman,” “Brontosaurus” and “When Alice Comes Back to the Farm.” Though there is undoubtedly a seriousness and considered process going on here—it was not necessarily one that brought together a united fan base. Those who bought “Flowers in the Rain” were not necessarily going to dig the Hendrix-influenced “Wild Tiger Woman” or groove along to “Alice Comes Back to the Farm.”

That said, The Move scored nine top ten hits during the sixties, were critically praised, had a considerable following of screaming fans, and produced albums which although they were considered “difficult” at the time (Shazam, Looking On and Message from the Country) are now considered pioneering, groundbreaking and (yes!) even “classic.”

The Move was made up from oddments of musicians and singers from disparate bands and club acts who would not necessarily gravitate together. Formed in December 1965, the original lineup consisted of guitarist Roy Wood (recently departed from Mike Sheridan and The Nightriders), vocalist Carl Wayne who along with bass player Chris ‘Ace’ Kefford and drummer Bev Bevan came from The Vikings, and guitarist Trevor Burton from The Mayfair Set. Each of these artists had a small taste of success—most notably Carl Wayne who had won the prestigious Golden Orpheus Song Festival in Bulgaria—but nothing that was going to satisfy their ambitions for a long and rewarding career.

It was David Bowie—then just plain David Jones—who suggested Kefford and Burton should form their own band. They recruited Wood onto the team sheet and decided to follow another piece of Bowie’s advice to bring together the very best musicians and singers in their hometown of Birmingham. This they did. And although technically it was Kefford’s band, Carl Wayne by dint of age steered the group through their first gigs.
 
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The Move’s greatest asset was Roy Wood—a teenage wunderkind who was writing songs about fairies and comic book characters that were mistakenly believed to have been inspired by LSD. This gave the band their counterculture edge when “Night of Fear” was released in 1966. They were thought to be acidheads tuning into the world of psychedelia a year before the Summer of Love—but as drummer Bev Bevan later recalled:

Nobody believed that Roy wasn’t out of his head on drugs but he wasn’t. It was all fairy stories rooted in childhood.

Young Wood and Wayne may have been squeaky clean but the rest of the band certainly enjoyed the sherbets—with one catastrophic result.

After chart success of “Night of Fear,” The Move were expected to churn out hit after hit after hit. Though Wood delivered the goods—the financial rewards did not arrive. Ace Kefford later claimed the pressure of touring, being mobbed by fans, having clothes ripped—and once being stabbed in the eye by a fan determined to snip a lock of his hair—for the same money he made gigging with The Vikings made it all seem rather pointless.

But their success continued apace. By 1967, The Move had three top ten hits, were the first band played on the BBC’s new flagship youth channel Radio One, and were touring across the UK and Europe. They also caused considerable controversy with their live stage act which involved Carl Wayne chopping up TV sets with an axe. While the golden youth were wearing flowers in their hair and singing about peace and love, The Move were offering agitprop political theater.

Then they were sued by British Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
 
More of The Move, after the jump…

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Negativland documentary now in the works
05.12.2016
09:06 am

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It’s been a rough couple years for Negativland fans. In swift succession, the Reaper took members Ian Allen, Don Joyce and Richard Lyons, decimating our heroes but leaving many ensembles of lesser quality intact. When will it be Air Supply fans’ turn to grieve? Why can’t Coldplay or Weezer come up three members short the next time they wish to prance upon the stage and make their guitars go tweedly-deedly-dee? When can others’ shame be our pride?

The good news, as the late Pastor Dick might have reminded us, is that filmmakers William Davenport and Leah Gold are collaborating on the definitive, full-length Negativland documentary, Media about Media about Media: The Negativland Story. (No slight against Craig Baldwin’s wonderful Sonic Outlaws, in which Negativland is only one of several groups profiled.) Better still, Davenport and Gold reckon they have about half of the movie already shot.
 

 
Aiming for the modest goal of $8000, with a projected release date of September, the filmmakers are offering perks that will make a person of healthy appetites drool. A $250 contribution gets you an endless loop “cart” (i.e. old-fashioned radio programmer’s tape cartridge) that belonged to Don Joyce, $1000 purchases all of Negativland’s releases “including many special surprises from the band and the filmmakers,” and $1500 buys the very model plane that appeared on the cover of the outlawed U2 EP. But I’m not saying you should go knock over a gas station and give the money to these nice people, who are so kind and decent, unlike the gas station attendant, who sits there judging you all the time, so mean and miserly.

Among other treats in the trailer below, Mark Hosler and his mother discuss how and whether the documentary should be marketed, Don Joyce (a/k/a C. Elliott Friday, Crosley Bendix, Izzy Isn’t, et al.) goes “Over the Edge,” and David Wills (a/k/a the Weatherman) hints at the “sexual” meaning of “seat bee sate.”

Visit the Indiegogo page for the Negativland documentary here.
 

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‘I’m A Boy’: The many fantastic times Keith Moon dressed up in full-on drag back in the 1970s
05.11.2016
10:31 am

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The cover of Trouser Press magazine featuring Keith Moon, #14, June/July 1976.
 
According to super-groupie Pamela Des Barres, during the time she dated Keith Moon for about a year, Moon seemed to be happiest when he was “anyone but himself.” During their short time together, Des Barres recalls that Moon enjoyed dressing up in her clothes and “frolicking” in her high-heels in the middle of the night, as well as trading “sexes” for kicks from time to time. Let there be no mistake, in the 32 short years Keith Moon walked among us mere mortals, he really lived every moment like it was his last.
 

Keith Moon in drag with Pamela Des Barres.
 
Dougal Butler, Moon’s personal assistant who was with Moon for ten tumultuous years, would refer to The Who’s timekeeper as a “heterosexual drag queen” who frequently enjoyed acting like a “ginger beer” (a “ginger beer” is a Cockney rhyming slang for “queer”) and was happiest when he could “get ahold of a dress or two.” Dougal, who authored two books on Moon, Full Moon: The Amazing Rock and Roll Life of the Late Keith Moon and Moon the Loon, noted of all of Moon’s many drag ensembles, the drummers favorite was anytime he could dress up in full regalia like an actual Queen.

In 1972 as the emcee of “The Ultimate ROQ Concert” festival for KROQ FM at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum that featured co-headliners Sly and the Family Stone and the Bee Gees (as well as Stevie Wonder among others), Moon appeared on stage dressed in silver sequins (a particular number he would wear many times to many events, pictured above), makeup and a blonde wig when he introduced the shows “special added attraction” Sha-Na-Na. Des Barres recalls in her book, I’m With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie, that she and Moon shared a dressing room with the Bee Gees, who got to watch the perpetually drunk Moonie’s many “wardrobe” changes. Yes.

Of course if you are a fan of The Who, then you’ve probably seen some of the photographic outtakes or magazine adverts from the band’s, 1971’s Who’s Next that feature Mr. Moon cheesecaking it up in ladies lingerie, full makeup and brunette and blonde wigs. In issue #14 of Trouser Press magazine (June/July 1976), the cover (seen at the top of this post) had a side-by-side image of Moon that amusingly suggested that Keith had a “split personality” of sorts. The image included a photo of Moon dressed in drag (and looking super hot I might add), for his gig as the emcee for two shows at New York’s Carnegie Hall with Sha-Na-Na and Cheech and Chong (during which, according to a news item from Billboard Magazine in 1972, Moon sat in on the drums during Sha Na Na’s set. WHAT?). A gig for which Moon flew from England to New York for one night’s work. Keith Moon’s unwavering dedication to having a good time truly (and quite sadly), knew no bounds. 
 

“Won’t Get Fooled Again” ad featuring Keith Moon vamping it up in ladies lingerie, 1971.
 
More Moon the Loon, after the jump…

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Sparks fly: A brief trip through Ron & Russell Mael’s appearances on German TV over the years
05.06.2016
12:31 pm

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You know you’re getting old when your love for a band hits middle age. Yikes. It’s forty-two years since I was first heard Sparks’ single “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For the Both of Us” on the radio. A couple of weeks later I caught them on Top of the Pops—the bottom-wiggling Bolanesque lead singer Russell Mael and the stern, strange, Hitler-mustachiod pianist Ron Mael. The differences of the brothers’ iconic images very much suited the joyous one-upmanship of their performance—the battle between Russell’s impressively soaring vocals and Ron’s cleverly structured music.

Sparks evolved out of another band called Halfnelson (which was the Mael brothers and guitarist Earle Mankey,  bassist Jim Mankey and drummer Harley Feinstein) formed in 1968. They were mainly popular with the brothers’ relatives and friends, though they did attract the attention of musician Todd Rundgren who produced their brilliant eponymous debut album. It didn’t sell well. A problem of perhaps having too small an extended family or a limited number of friends. But still there was enough interest to give the brothers a new record deal.

The record company suggested the band rename themselves the Sparx Brothers—in reference to the zany comedy troupe the Marx Brothers. Ron and Russell agreed to to keeping the “Sparks” but dropping the brother bits. It was obvious enough anyway.

A second album (the rather superb A Woofer in Tweeter’s Clothing), a move to England, a new band line-up (Martin Gordon on bass, Adrian Fisher on guitar and Norman “Dinky” Diamond” on drums) led to the the superlative album Kimono My House and a legendary career began.
 
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With age comes maturity and sometimes good sense. I’ve stopped evangelizing about the utter genius of Ron and Russell Mael sometime ago. Well, about an hour ago—to be exact. As sadly there comes a point when attempting to convince other people to listen to something you like becomes a bit like the well-meaning Hare Krishna pestering a passersby to shout “Gouranga!”

Sparks don’t need a plug. They’re too good, too brilliant, to need anyone shouting their genius from the rooftops. If you are a fan (or have been paying attention) then you’ll know what I mean. Sparks have kept evolving, developing and progressing—their music today is as great, if not greater than the work they produced forty-five years ago.

Most bands after their fifth decade together just hash out the greatest hits for the stadium audience. Not Sparks—they are still writing, producing and performing new, audacious and original material. Last year the Brothers Mael collaborated with Franz Ferdinand to form the supergroup FFS—one of the best (if not the best in this reviewer’s opinion) albums of the year. Their show was certainly the best gig I saw in 2015.  I know you’re busy but if you could just say “Gouranga..!”

This little selection of Sparks’ live appearances on Musikladen show the big shift in the brothers progress from classic Kimono My House and Propaganda-era art-rock-pop to the minimalist-experimental-electronica of the Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins album—that eventually led to their masterpieces of Lil’ Beethoven and The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman. As a band Sparks are tight—something they never quite got the credit for—and as a way of life—hell, there’s nothing to beat ‘em.

Track Listing: “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both Of Us,” “Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil,” “Something for the Girl with Everything,” “When Do I Get to Sing ‘My Way’,” “Frankly, Scarlett, I Don’t Give a Damn,” “BC,” “(When I Kiss You” I Hear Charlie Parker Playing” and “Senseless Violins.”
 

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Sexy M*therf*cker: Amazing lifelike Prince doll with custom-made clothing from ‘Purple Rain’ & more!
05.06.2016
09:58 am

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Le Petit Prince at
Le Petit Prince at ‘Lake Minnetonka’ with his customized Honda CB400A.
 
Tuesday, May 3rd marked the sadly poignant moment when it became “seven hours and thirteen days” since Prince left this world. And I for one have still not (and probably never will) come to terms with his passing. His loss is a truly immeasurable one that has left his fans (including myself and my colleagues here at DM), dumbfounded. 
 
Let Petite Prince in his
Le Petit Prince in his ‘Dirty Mind’ outfit.
 
If you’re a Prince fan (and I wouldn’t trust anyone who said they weren’t, it’s one of my rules), you know that he was an incredibly private person—and was quick to put the kibosh on video footage of his mind-bogglingly epic live performances that somehow made their way to the Internet. In the past when DM has posted footage of Prince blowing-minds live, it’s always come with a warning to watch it before it gets taken down. Such was the case with Prince and his request to Seattle artist Troy Gua, who created a lifelike figure of Prince called “Le Petit Prince” (or “LPP”) sometime in 2012, and was swiftly served with a “cease and desist” notice by The Purple One himself. Gua, a huge Prince fan, was devastated. Figuring out a way around the order, he continued to take photos of his “LPP,” only now it had a sculpted head in Gua’s own image. In 2015, Gua started to once again publish images of Le Petit Prince and one of his most recent posts on his Instagram featured the realistic looking figure beginning his ascent to heaven by way of a ladder. Sigh.

Gua (who also makes all of Le Petit Prince’s painstakingly detailed clothes) says he doesn’t want to profit from Prince’s death, so you can’t actually purchase a small version of Prince dressed in era-specific attire (although Gua didn’t rule out this possibility in the future or selling prints of Le Petit Prince in action). When I say that the images in this post are almost as beguiling as Prince himself (almost), I’m not exaggerating. From Le Petit Prince riding a tiny replica of his customized 1981 Honda CB400A from the film Purple Rain, to the open trenchcoat and tiny black thong Prince wore on the cover of his 1980 album, Dirty Mind, Gua (who might be the greatest person ever) has created so many perfect Princes that I couldn’t possibly post them all here.
 

Prince as seen in the video for ‘Automatic’ from the 1982 album, ‘1999.’
 
More after the jump…

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1970s glam rockers Cuddly Toys cover ‘Madman’ a song written by David Bowie & Marc Bolan
05.04.2016
09:39 am

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The Japanese 7” for Cuddly Toys’ cover of ‘Madman.’ A song written by David Bowie and Marc Bolan.
 

We always had ideas above our station, and wanted to be a bit more interesting than the rest of the punk groups who only wanted to sing about being poor and ugly, even though we were poor and ugly.

—Faebhean Kwest, Cuddly Toys guitarist

I know that many of you die-hard glam rockers out there will probably already own the stellar album Guillotine Theatre by Cuddly Toys (which was originally released in Japan in 1979 then remixed and released in the UK a year later). However, if you do not, then I’d highly advise you that you add this fantastic record to your collection as soon as possible.

Originally known by the not-so-catchy name of “Raped”—the title of their first EP was also a cringer called Pretty Paedophiles, yikes!—the band’s guitarist Faebhean Kwest, claims that he was once asked by Malcolm McLaren to audition for the Sex Pistols, but turned the offer down. Early in 1979, the band changed their name to the less aggressive sounding Cuddly Toys at the suggestion of none other than legendary Radio One DJ, John Peel. Influenced by bands like Richard Hell and the Voidoids and (naturally) the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols, the Toys boys were soon rubbing shoulders with many of their idols like Sid Vicious and Generation X.

Shortly before Marc Bolan’s untimely death in 1977, he co-wrote the song, “Madman” with David Bowie. Recordings and rough demos of the sessions in which “Madman” was birthed exist. The Cuddly Toys covered the song and released the track as their very first single. To help promote the song Cuddly Toys played a gig at The Music Machine in London. According to an interview with the band, the show was attended by a few famous admirers such as David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Paul McCartney—not too shabby of a start for the up-and-coming glam rockers who would call it quits in the early 80s.

Keep reading after the jump…

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