The Grateful Dead perform a delicate “Mountains of the Moon” and a rip-snortin’ “St. Stephen” from their 1969 Aoxomoxoa album on Hugh Hefner’s Playboy After Dark TV show. Aoxomoxoa is considered a strong highlight among the group’s studio output by fans, but “Mountains of the Moon” and “St. Stephen” were thought to be too hard to play live by Jerry Garcia—there were only thirteen live performances of “Mountains of the Moon” in total and after 1971 “St. Stephen” was only pulled out on very rare special occasions.
Despite this, Garcia once remarked that “Mountains of the Moon” was “one of my favorite ones. I thought it came off like a little gem.” It does, like something you’d hear at a Renaissance fair. And if I had to pick just one song by the Dead of this vintage to see them do live, it would probably be “St. Stephen” (no, “Dark Star,” no, “St. Stephen,” no, “Dark Star”...). Even with the hatchet-like unsubtle edits in this clip, it’s still pretty fantastic.
Next week, over 450 theaters nationwide will present the Grateful Dead‘s seventh annual “Meet-Up at the Movies” a one-night-only event featuring the screening of the Dead’s previously unreleased July 12, 1989 concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., a show that was performed in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 40,000 fans. Produced by Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment this year’s Meet-Up is being held on August 1 and is timed to celebrate what would have been the 75th birthday of Jerry Garcia. Get tickets at the Fathom Events website, where you can enter your zip code to locate the nearest of the 450 theaters that are hosting a screening.
In Steuben County NY on August 30, 1943, the Lackawanna Limited passenger train drove at 70 miles per hour into a freight engine that hadn’t cleared the track. The wreckage was brutal; published estimates vary, but around 110 people were injured and 28 died. But most gruesome was their manner of death—only one passenger, one Frank Meincke, was crushed in wreckage. The rest were trapped in a coach that landed atop the freight engine, which emptied itself of steam into the coach. The victims were basically cooked alive. From The Troopers Are Coming: New York State Troopers, 1917-1943:
The Lackawanna Limited struck the left side of a freight engine, tearing up three hundred feet of track and leaving a twisted mass of wreckage scattered along the right of way. A steam jacket torn from the freight engine allowed escaping steam to enter some of the passenger coaches, causing agony and death. Twenty-eight passengers and crewmembers were killed and 117 passengers were injured.
But though it entombed over two dozen people, the passenger car itself was unharmed, and this grim piece of transportation history remains not just intact, but restored in the disused B&O roundhouse that now serves as a museum and restoration workplace for the Midwest Railway Preservation Society. Due to that key event in the car’s past, it’s acquired a reputation as a haunting site, and is referred to as “The Death Car.” According to Seeks Ghosts, a web site for paranormal enthusiasts,
While this old passenger car was at this yard being renovated many people connected to this society began to believe it was haunted. In fact, the volunteers at this yard dubbed this car—the ”Death Car.”
One volunteer, Charlie Sedgley who works for the society restoring cars believes he encountered at least 17 separate ghosts in the 1943 wrecked passenger car.
The society gives tours of the old train cars they restore. A trustee of the society, Steve Karpos was leading one of these tours when he led his group into the Death Car.
As he spoke a female member of his tour group interrupted him to ask why he didn’t let the other man behind him speak. Karpos didn’t know what she was talking about. She then asked about the “man dressed in the funny suit.”
Karpos recalls that, “Everyone else was saying there was a ghost in the car.” When the tour exited the Death Car several members saw, “a ghost sitting on the roof with his feet hanging over.”
That article goes on to say that the MRPS no longer owns the car, but it is indeed still there, and Sweet Apple have used it as the setting for “World I’m Gonna Leave You,” the first of four videos from their new LP Sing the Night in Sorrow. Sweet Apple is made up of members of Dinosaur Jr, Witch, and Cobra Verde, and the song includes vocal contributions from Mark Lanegan and Bob Pollard. The video is far cheekier than the train car’s grim history would suggest—the band’s namesake bassist Dave Sweetapple enters the haunted car and is bedeviled by—well, the Devil played by singer John Petkovic in a cheap mask. Drummer J Mascis and guitarist Tim Parnin also appear, as do eleven other passengers and, evidently, at least 17 separate ghosts.
“The Judge.” A figure based on a particularly terrifying character from the 1982 film, ‘The Wall.’
In 2003, Stevenson Entertainment Group put out the first of two collectible figure sets based on some of the more memorable animated characters from Alan Parker’s film adaptation of Pink Floyd’s 1979 double album, The Wall. If this is news to you, as it was to me, I’ll give you a minute to process this revelation before we get on to learning a little bit about the original concepts for the animations before you get to peep the rest of these incredible figures based on them.
Parker enlisted the formidable talents of English illustrator Gerald Scarfe to create the animated scenes in The Wall. The band had been working with Scarfe since the early 70s after the’d seen his film, Long Drawn-Out Trip on television. They reached out to Scarfe in the hope that he would create illustrations for the band, which he did. According to an article published on the Illustration Chronicles website last year, Scarfe admitted that when Floyd first came calling, he didn’t actually consider himself to be a fan of the band. Reluctantly, the artist would attend a performance by Pink Floyd at Finsbury Park while they were out supporting Dark Side of the Moon. Scarfe’s opinion of the band changed instantly, and it would be the beginning of a very successful working relationship for everyone involved. After creating images for various Floyd-related materials such as stage animations and tour books, Scarfe and Floyd would get to work designing the unique, unforgettable illustrated visuals for The Wall that would also be used during the band’s live performances.
When it came to the movie, Parker has admitted that despite its critical acclaim, it was one of the most “miserable” experiences of his professional career. The working relationship between Parker, Roger Waters and Scarfe was strained at best. To make matters worse, the members of Floyd were also on the outs with each other, quarreling about money and other contentious issues. Many great things are often born from the volatile combination of strife and passion, and The Wall is a good example of this age-old scenario.
When it comes to the figures themselves, they are somewhat difficult to obtain these days as you might imagine, though not impossible. Occasionally single packaged figures become available, as well as the six-figure box-sets that will run you anywhere from $100 for one figure to around 400 bucks for a complete Series One or Series Two box-set. I’ve posted images of each figure below as well as links to where you can hopefully still pick ‘em up.
“My idea of fun is what puts most people in jail.” —PJ Proby
The entire point underlying this blog is to impart enthusiasm for the given subject matter. Sharing something extraordinary, remarkable or even just plain fun with the audience. Life’s too short to focus on lameass things. And to have to write about things you don’t even like? Nope, not how we really want to spend our days. Plus, why would you, the reader want to read about something mundane? Of course you don’t want that. You want awe-inspiring. Or at least things with cute cats and Twin Peaks-themed pot pipes. It’s our primary job here at Dangerous Minds to entertain you. Sometimes it’s simply to distract you from all of the bad shit going down…
You’ll get all of the above, in spades, I reckon, in the form of Texas-born rock and roller, PJ Proby, the entire package. He’s admittedly a pretty obscure figure. Frankly not even the most archly jaded rock snobs have probably ever heard of the guy. The subset of crate diggers who have actually heard the sound of the man’s truly phenomenal voice is smaller still. (His classic albums have hardly existed in the CD age.) I’ve been obsessed with him since the late 80s and have long wanted to make a documentary about him. Frankly I’m not really sure if I am acquainted with anyone who knows or cares about him like I do. (Maybe you do, but I don’t know you, do I?) Considering the intense megawatt talent the man possesses, all the lucky breaks that he’s had over his six decade-long career, and all of the immortals his orbit has collided with, PJ Proby should be, as he’s said himself—and I agree with this wholeheartedly—at least as famous as his one-time drinking buddy Tom Jones. That was not to be, although it coulda been and shoulda been.
When Tom Jones was just starting out, he was often accused—unfairly I think—of copying Proby’s act. In many ways PJ Proby and Jones are performers in that same general mold: powerful belters, macho, sexy, equally at home singing heart-breaking lonely boy ballads or bellowing balls-out rockers. When Proby’s infamous onstage trouser-splitting stunt occurred in Croydon (more on this below), it was in fact Jones who hastily replaced him on the package tour he was embarked upon after Proby was summarily banned from most of the live stages in Britain. If you like early Scott Walker, or the big ballady material Dusty Springfield excelled at, or even Nick Cave, then PJ Proby is probably in your wheelhouse. His records are easy to find—usually for really cheap—in used record bins. Every one of them is a mixture of filler and hits, but when he connects with the material, something sublime happens. I think he’s one of the all time greatest talents in rock and roll history, but few people would know that in 2017, or care.
PJ Proby was born James Marcus Smith on November 6, 1938, in Houston. His great-grandfather on his mother’s side was the outlaw gunfighter John Wesley Hardin and his father was a successful banker. He was educated at the strict San Marcos Military Academy, but even at school he was known as a bit of a hellraiser and was early on convinced that he was a genius and destined for greatness of some sort. His showbiz ambitions started early with local preteen appearances singing country music. He met Elvis Presley on that circuit when he was just 12 or 13 and Elvis at one point dated his step sister, Betty. But this was just the start of Proby’s improbable, Zelig or Forrest Gump-like ability to always be where the action was. Even at that age, he just was warming up, but already in the right places at the right time and always with the right crowd.
After moving to Hollywood in the mid-50s to become and actor and/or a singer, Smith took the name “Jett Powers” and recorded the single “Go, Girl Go!,” which is best known today as a song that the Cramps dug. (Jett’s backing band the Moondogs included Elliot Ingber/“Winged Eel Fingerling,” later of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention and Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, on lead guitar). Signed to a songwriting and performing contract with Liberty (along with the likes of Leon Russell and Glen Campbell), he recorded under the name Orville Woods so that the public would think he was black! Additionally Proby made a living working as a bodyguard for closeted gay entertainers like Rock Hudson, Liberace and Tab Hunter (by his own account, brutally dispensing anyone who dared hassle one of them in a “gay bashing” manner). Proby also recorded “vocal guides” for $10 a pop so that performers like Elvis could more efficiently make use of expensive recording studio time. (He did twenty such vocal guides for Presley, mimicking his singing style in a full-throated manner that was said to have amused the King.) In early 1964 Jackie DeShannon and songwriter Sharon Sheeley (who’d been his best friend, Eddie Cochran’s, fiancée) introduced Proby—then bearded and wearing his hair extremely long as he was hoping to play the part of Jesus in a musical—to Jack Good who was visiting from London. The meeting would change the course of his life.
Good, the prominent TV producer and manager who gave the world Shindig!, Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, Billy Fury, Marty Wilde and others of Britain’s first wave of rock and roll stars (he’s also the guy who convinced Gene Vincent to don that Richard III garb) is alleged to have grabbed Proby’s ponytail to see if it was real. Soon afterward, Good’s secretary called from London and offered the complete unknown a spot on the Beatles’ upcoming television special “With the Beatles.”
Upon his arrival at Heathrow airport Proby told reporters of his intentions for Great Britain: “I’m going to fight all your men, fuck all your women and steal all your money. Then I’m going to buy myself a yacht and sail off into the wide blue yonder.”
When the show aired, Proby immediately became extremely famous, the very definition of the overnight sensation, even if his fame was to be short-lived. A single, “Hold Me” was recorded and rushed out so quickly that a stray vocal was inadvertently pressed into the record’s fadeout on the initial run. The song became a smash, reaching #3 in the UK charts. He racked up more hits with utterly histrionic (and almost insane-sounding, yet mesmerizing) cover versions of West Side Story‘s “Somewhere” and “Maria,” as well as with a song the Beatles had tried unsuccessfully to record for the Help! soundtrack, but that none of them could adequately sing. They opted to gift the song, “That Means a Lot,” to someone with the pipes who could, their American pal (well at least Lennon liked him) Proby. Incredibly, George Martin even arranged the song for him!
PJ Proby performs the castoff number from ‘Help!’ that Lennon and McCartney gave him, “That Means a Lot” on ‘Hollywood A Go-Go’ in 1965. If you are not mazed by this, I cannot possibly help you.
What insane luck, right? Soon Beatles manager Brian Epstein set up Proby with a UK package tour, co-headlining with Cilla Black. That’s when things got a bit out of the egotistical young rocker’s control: At a date in Croydon, Proby clad in his trademark tight velvet jumpsuit and looking like an 18th century dandy, was doing his James Brown-inspired stage act (the likes of which still staid post war Britain had not yet seen) and slid across the stage, tearing his pants around the knees and upwards from there. The crowd of teenaged girls went utterly mad, but the incident caused a stir in the media getting Proby on the radar of Britain’s self-appointed moral censor, Mary Whitehouse. When Proby did the same thing two nights later it was widely reported that he’d done something lewd in Luton. The Daily Mirror wrote that he was a “morally insane degenerate” and urged parents to keep their children from attending one of his shows. Whitehouse called his “thrusting” obscene but Proby claimed otherwise and available photos seem to corroborate his side of the story. He was kicked off the tour anyway and banned from the ABC theater chain and BBC radio and television. This was a good decade before the Sex Pistols, of course. Proby had a few more semi hits, but without radio play his star quickly faded. He later said of the incident:
“I was Britain’s Errol Flynn, the rough mother of pop. I was Jimmy Dean all busted up. I was Marlon Brando. They wanted rid of me.”
Canadian audiences were still able to thrill to Proby live in concert, while his work visa was yanked for a time in the UK
Back in Hollywood, Proby had his sole Billboard Hot 100 Top 30 hit with the infectious cajun-spiced rocker “Niki Hoeky.” He bought a mansion in Beverly Hills and married one of Dean Martin’s daughters. When he found out that she’d been having an affair with his car mechanic and saw them walking together hand in hand, he discharged his gun in the air several times to intimidate them. He soon found himself surrounded at gunpoint by much of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department and did a three month stint in a holding cell before moving back to the UK. He recorded his Three Week Hero album in 1968 with Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones, then of the New Yardbirds, but soon to be rechristened Led Zeppelin. It was the very first time all four of them would be inside of a recording studio together.
There are all kinds of crazy PJ Proby stories involving Jack Daniels, bankruptcies, guns, underage girls, more guns and more Jack Daniels. Every once in while during the 80s he’d turn up again in some completely insane or scandalous situation. He went through six wives. He worked as a shepherd on a farm before running off with the farmer’s daughter. He recorded some totally off the wall covers of songs like “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” “Heroes” and “Tainted Love” for the Manchester-based Savoy label, there was at least one fairly lurid television news piece about him…
“Automatic” is one of the eleven songs that appear on Prince’s fifth record—and first double album—1999 (1982). The track was released as a single in edited form, though only for the Australian market. The album version includes a steamy interlude that was acted out for the accompanying video, which hasn’t been easy to see—until now.
The “Automatic” music video was shot in Minneapolis during November 1982, as Prince and his band were rehearsing for the 1999 tour. You’ll probably notice it resembles other Prince clips from the era, due to the fact that videos for “1999” and “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” were also shot at this time, with the same director at the helm, Bruce Gowers (“Little Red Corvette” came later, and was directed by Bryan Greenberg). The album version of “Automatic” is nearly nine-and-a-half minutes long, and was chopped by a minute for the video. It’s a standard Prince performance clip from this period, until about halfway through, when a bed is rolled out onto the stage. From here, it starts to gets pretty damn kinky.
The video was issued as a promo-only VHS to establishments that had video screens—like bars and dance clubs—as well as outlets willing to play more racy content, like the Playboy Channel. The unedited version of “Automatic” was certainly too risqué for MTV (an edited clip was also made available).
Prince’s official YouTube channel was recently reactivated, delighting his fan base with uploads of his official music videos in pristine quality. “Automatic” is one of the latest to appear. Assuming many of you haven’t seen this rare clip, we won’t give much more away, other than that it includes a segment in which Prince is tied up and whipped—!
Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, the house band from The Muppet Show are arguably the coolest Muppets in existence. The band, comprised of Dr. Teeth, Floyd Pepper, Janice, Zoot, and Animal first appeared in 1975 on The Muppet Show pilot “Sex and Violence.”
Illustrator and designer Michael De Pippo created five retro concert posters for an imaginary one night only gig by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.
De Pippo on his Muppet poster series:
My idea was simple; create a vintage concert poster for each band member (Dr. Teeth, Janice, Sgt. Floyd Pepper, Zoot, and Animal). Using clean, crisp vectors, negative space, and few colors, I wanted to keep them as simple and stylized as possible; reminiscent of retro posters from back in the day.
The Animal poster, pictured at the top of this article, is quite reminiscent of the movie poster art for the Japanese film Hausu.
I love this crisp style. De Pippo did an amazing job with these. His website seems to be currently down, so I’m not sure if these are available for sale.
Over the years, I developed a fail-safe cure. Basically, I’d mix four tablespoons of brandy with four tablespoons of port, throw in some milk, a few egg yolks, and — if I was in a festive mood — some nutmeg. The second I woke, I’d mix it up and down it. The way it works is very clever: it gets you instantly blasted again, so you don’t feel a thing. The only drawback is that, unless you keep drinking, the hangover that eventually catches up with you is about a thousand times worse than it would have otherwise been.
“Three little burnt scotch taped windows.” Where Antennae Jimmy Semens shrieks “Pena” like it’s his last words at the gallows, Lynch’s measured recitation lets you picture every image. They could come from one of his own paintings:
Her little head clinking
Like uh barrel of red velvet balls
Full past noise
Treats filled ‘er eyes
Turning them yellow like enamel coated tacks
Soft like butter hard not t’ pour
Out enjoying the sun while sitting on
Uh turned on waffle iron
Smoke billowing up from between her legs
Made me vomit beautifully
‘n crush uh chandelier
Fall on my stomach ‘n view her
From uh thousand happened facets
Liquid red salt ran over crystals
I later band-aided the area
Oh well it was worth it
Pena pleased but sore from sitting
Chose t’ stub ‘er toe
‘n view the white pulps horribly large
In their red pockets
“I’m tired of playing baby,” she explained
The PSA was taped for U68, a Newark UHF station that switched to a music video format during Reagan’s second term. Its brief lifespan dates the clip to ‘85 or ‘86. While I was a mere child, I don’t recall the blitz of safe-sex advertising beginning until some years later, though I distinctly remember that the President wouldn’t talk about AIDS.
Now, I didn’t know Ronald Reagan personally, but I suspect his life experience did not overlap much with Wendy O.‘s. Having come up in the Times Square sex show scene and acted in 1979’s Candy Goes to Hollywood, WOW would have considered VD a matter of professional interest, and one about which she was loath to moralize. (“Fuck That Booty,” the last track on Kommander of Kaos, is many things, but prudish?) Right and wrong, guilt and shame—none of that should enter into a simple matter of personal hygiene, unless it is wearing musk, which is a wrong and shameful habit.
Tl;dr: don’t forget to remember not to get the heps, herps, HIVs, syphs, or claps. And when you get to the free clinic, tell ‘em Wendy O. sent you!
One-hit-wonder Norma Tanega is known only for “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog,” her soulful, folky quasi-novelty song of 1966 that reached #22 in the pop charts early that year. The whimsical song’s easy-going charm, catchy chorus and vocal harmonies are irresistible, but Tanega, who has recorded several albums worth of worthy material since, was never able to follow it up with another hit record.
Tanega was discovered while singing as a summer camp counselor in the Catskill Mountains and signed to a contact with famed songwriter/producer Bob Crewe (the Four Seasons, “Lady Marmalade,’ “Music to Watch Girls By,” the Barbarella soundtrack, etc), and his record label New Voice. “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog” was her first single and in the wake of its success, she moved to England—at the encouragement of her girlfriend Dusty Springfield who she’d met on the set of Top of the Pops—for five years, recording an album for RCA and working as a professional songwriter. After returning to the United States, she became a percussionist, often playing ceramic instruments and taught art in Southern California. (I noticed several YouTube commenters mentioning that they’d been students of Tanega’s and writing fondly of her.)
The Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog album is pretty easy to find when you are trawling through the stacks at a used record store, usually for super cheap. The next time you see it, do yourself a favor and pick it up.
Performing “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog” on (I think) ‘Top of the Pops.” Dig her cool Gibson SG Standard guitar.