Rolland “Rolly” Crump is a Disney legend. Originally working as an assistant animator under Uncle Walt himself in the early 1950s, Crump performed “in betweener” work on Disney classics like Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmations, and Sleeping Beauty.
In 1959 Crump joined Walt Disney Imagineering, becoming one of Walt Disney’s key designers for Disneyland. He worked on the Haunted Mansion, the Enchanted Tiki Room and the Adventureland Bazaar. Crump served as key designer on the Disney pavilions featured at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, including “It’s A Small World.” When that attraction was given a permanent home at Disneyland, Crump added the iconic puppet children clock at the entrance. He was also one of the lead designers on a Disneyland attraction that was shelved after Disney’s death, The Museum of The Weird.
During his long and illustrious career, Crump contributed to the designs for Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus World, before returning to Disney to project design “The Land” and “Wonders of Life” pavilions at EPCOT Center. Now in his 80s and still going strong, in 2004 Crump was given a Disney Legends Award.
But back in 1960, Rolly Crump made a series of whimsical and delightful posters depicting Beatniks and their predilection for drugs. Made for poster pioneer Howard Morseburg’s Esoteric Poster Company, Crump worked for Morseburg until 1964, also turning out posters satirizing Communism, Cuba and the Soviet Union. Some of these posters were discovered again and are for sale via Crump’s Zazzle store.
Another installment with cult figure Kim Fowley, record producer, rock impresario, songwriter and musician. Manager of The Runaways, “animal man” and the original Mayor of the Sunset Strip. “One of the most colorful characters in the annals of rock & roll.” Thrill to gossipy stories of Sly Stone and Doris Day; Sonny and Cher; Cat Stevens, Led Zeppelin, Gene Vincent and more.
He couldn’t play the bass, but he certainly could paint. The trouble is, Stuart Sutcliffe never lived long enough to fulfill the destiny his talents promised, tragically dying at the age of twenty-one from a brain haemorrhage.
As The Beatles original bass player, and John Lennon’s best mate, Sutcliffe’s legend has grown over these past fifty years, and this documentary Stuart Sutcliffe: The Lost Beatle examines the short life and long myth of the man who quit the Fab Four to follow his own star.
Told via interviews with an impressive array of Sutcliffe’s family and friends—and through uniquely descriptive quotes from his letters—this hour-long documentary reveals a lot of intimate detail about Sutcliffe’s transition from promising art-school student in Liverpool (and best friend of John Lennon) to reluctant musician (pressed into service by Lennon) to determined painter within the German avant-garde scene. A lot of Stu’s story, as Beatles fans know, is set in Hamburg, during and after the days the group was a house band in the city’s red-light district. Familiar tales of friction between Sutcliffe and Paul McCartney abound. But these are offset by a tremendous amount of fresh insight and detail offered by such important Beatles-saga figures as rocker Tony Sheridan, Klaus Voormann and—most crucially—Astrid Kirchherr, the photographer who influenced the Beatles’ look and who became Sutcliffe’s lover until his death.
In this rarely seen (for obvious reasons) clip, the fabulous Leigh Bowery keeps his composure as the be-quiffed pop star stumbles through his questions, rambles, misses the point and seems at times lost like a patient woken up for his meds.
Taken from Glitter’s late night chat show Night Network, Bowery shines, while Glitter’s inappropriate questions reveal more than he perhaps intended:
DM favorite John Waters is having a new exhibition of his photographs and sculptures called Rear Projection at the Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia Street, New Orleans, LA, from October 1st – 29th.
Mr. Waters will be present at the opening reception hosted by the gallery on Saturday, October 1st from 6 to 9 pm, and will lead a walk-through of his exhibition on Saturday, October 1st at 1 pm. Now how cool is that?
Rear Projection is a movie term for the process whereby a foreground action is combined with a background scene filmed earlier to give the impression the actors are on location when they are, in fact, working inside a studio. In John Waters’ latest work, this artificial and outdated visual effect is embraced and taken to extremes.
Using an insider’s bag of tricks and trade lingo, John Waters celebrates the excess of the movie industry. Word and image play permeate Waters’ work, and the movie industry and its various sleights of hand are a common target. Always ambitious and playful, some of the works are condensed narratives or “little movies” as Waters calls them. Waters wickedly juxtaposes images from films and television that he captured by photographing his television set as they play. His approach originated with a desire to retrieve stills from his own movies and developed into an appreciation for the overlooked and misrecalled.
Waters has said, “I’m concerned that people don’t remember movies; they remember stills that they’ve seen over and over in books so I try to photograph things in movies that you are never supposed to see. Really, it’s about writing and editing. I think up each of these pieces and then I have to go find the images that make a new narrative which many times is the opposite of or has nothing to do with what the director really began with.”
Born in London in 1922, Hamilton was determined to become an artist an early age, he quit school at 15, and studied art at night before entering the Royal Academy at 16. His studies were cut short by the outbreak of the Second World War, during which he worked as a draughtsman with engineers and scientists at EMI. After the war returned to the Royal Academy, but was expelled for “not profiting from the instruction”. He then attended the Slade College of Art for 2 years, from which he started working at the ICA, where he produced posters, leaflets and exhibit work.
In 1951, Hamilton curated his first exhibition, Growth and Form. This was followed in 1955 with the seminal Man, Machine and Motion, which examined human interaction with machine and environment, and how “the need to cope with technology provokes great art.”
It was at this time Hamilton met with Eduardo Paolozzi, who was already working on the collages which are now best associated with Pop Art. Hamilton joined Paolozzi in the loose grouping of artists known as the Independent Group, who gathered around the ICA.
In 1956, the Independent Group mounted This Is Tomorrow, an exhibition that is now seen as one of the most influential of the past sixty years - its resonance is still with us today. This was the show that announced Pop Art to the world - long before Warhol, who was then window dressing. As described by the Daily Telegraph:
This Is Tomorrow, a quasi-anthropological, partly ironic exhibition embracing the imagery of the embryonic mass media. In Hamilton’s words, the idea was to examine “our new visual environment — cinema, the jukebox, Marilyn Monroe, and comics — all these games with sound, optical illusion and imagery”.
His own small, dense, prophetic work Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? not only introduced the word “pop” into art (emblazoned on the muscleman’s phallic lollipop) but also anticipated many of the key images of the genre: the television; the Warner Bros billboard; the comic poster (Lichtenstein); the packaged ham (Rosenquist); the Motel bed (Oldenburg); and the Ford logo — Hamilton’s obsession with car design and engineering culminated in Hommage à Chrysler (1957). This was Pop Art, but not populist art. Hamilton called it “a new landscape of secondary, filtered material” – sophisticated art to be devoured by a mass audience.
The exhibition’s success gained him a teaching post at the Royal College of Art, where he influenced David Hockney and Peter Blake. He produced works such as Hers Is A Lush Situation (1958), in which automotive and female design are commingled; Pin-up (1961), with its mixed idioms, classical, modern, vulgar; and the sketchy, painterly collage-like rapture of $he (1962) – it was, he suggested, “a sieved reflection of the adman’s paraphrase of the consumer’s dream”.
In 1962, Hamilton’s wife, Terry, was tragically killed in a automobile accident. Hamilton quit Britain for the USA, where he became close friends with Marcel Duchamp. The friendship led to Hamilton curating a retrospective of Duchamp’s work at the Tate Gallery, London.
The association with Pop Art, led Hamilton to be hailed the “Father of Pop Art” a title he loathed. The association continued in the mid-sixties after he returned to England, and produced two of his most famous works Swingeing London 67, a portrait of Mick Jagger and Robert Fraser under arrest, which became one of the defining images of the 1960s. The following year Hamilton designed the cover for the Beatles White Album, which became his best known work.
The sixties also saw Hamilton influence another, younger generation of artists and musicians, most famously one of his pupils, Bryan Ferry and his band Roxy Music.
In the the 1970s, Hamilton had retrospectives at the Tate (1970) and the Guggenheim in New York (1973), both exhibitions subsequently toured Europe.
I saw one retrospective of his work during this decade at the Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, which mixed his famous line drawings for James Joyce’s Ulysses, with his Pop Art, and silk screens. It was highly impressive, but more because of the intelligence on display, rather than any shared emotion inspired by the work. This may explain why Hamilton never really made the cross-over from critical acclaim to populist success.
The seventies saw Hamilton produce some of his most political work:
Hamilton had always been politically engaged, vociferously supporting the CND. In the 1980s he began a “Northern Ireland” trilogy: The Citizen (1981-83) depicted a “dirty protest” prisoner in the Maze; The Subject (1988-89), a self-righteous Orangeman; and The State (1993), a British soldier on patrol. Inevitably such politicised subject matter attracted criticism, though many considered the works merely naive oversimplifications.
Despite his advancing years, Hamilton continued to reinvent himself. In the 1980s he began working with computers: “I initially ventured into working with computers because I didn’t want to get left behind. I was approaching old age and aware of it, and I thought ‘I’m going to keep up with this’ and found out that I was ahead of everybody.” He designed two computers, the OHIO and the Diab DS-101, and increasingly used digital devices to manipulate images and create a dialogue between technique, technology and aesthetics.
The attraction of computers, he claimed, was that “you have the possibility of perfection. I’m after beauty — of composition, colour and tone.” It did not seem ironic that a man in his eighth decade was exploring technology with greater vivacity than almost any other artist: throughout his long career, Hamilton’s work anticipated almost every interpretative cultural theory, from Marshall McLuhan to the “Young British Artists”, and provided the most thorough engagement with mass media and technology this side of the Atlantic. Damien Hirst referred to Hamilton as “the greatest”.
Hamilton was appointed Companion of Honour in 2000; in 2006 he received the Max Beckmann Prize for Painting. A major retrospective of his work is due to travel to tour America and Europe from 2013.
Richard Hamilton married Terry O’Reilly in 1947; they had a son and a daughter. Rita Donagh, whom he married in 1991, survives him with the son of his first marriage.
Bonus clip, Richard Hamilton on Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music, after the jump…
Tonight at Cinefamily in Hollywood, I’ll be doing the second presentation in their “Show and Tell” series:
“A new Cinefamily series that invites artists, filmmakers, musicians and other cultural heroes to divulge their deepest, darkest media obsessions by opening their closets, digging through their attic and plundering their garages to curate an evening of whatever they want to share! From thrift store finds to late-night Tivo, from foreign film bootlegs to home movies, from the popular to the perverse –- all media will be presented live by the honored guests, as they take us on a personal tour of the audio, video and other ephemera that has inspired them, delighted them, or just plain freaked them out.
For September’s session, we’re thrilled to present a friend who is not only a true warrior collector of amazing one-of-a-kind artifacts, but also a fantastic chronicler of hidden underground culture: Richard Metzger, creator of Dangerous Minds and co-creator of Disinformation!
Simply put, Richard’s one of the world’s foremost experts on all things counterculture, conspiratorial and just plain crazy. From a childhood in West Virginia spent obsessively digging through libraries (“There wasn’t a whole lot to do except to tip cows and to read”), to a grown-up era of showcasing the work of folks he respects and admires on TV (Disinformation), in blogland (DangerousMinds.net) and in print (“Everything You Know Is Wrong”), Richard’s amassed a personal archive that overflows with impossibly cool items. This evening will be a closet-rummaging bonanza, as Richard shows you everything from his incredible archival print materials to priceless time capsule footage of the groundbreaking ‘80s NYC club scene (of which he was a part!) Plus, join us for excerpts of Richard’s music video work, highlights from the Disinformation TV show, and so much more!”
I’m going to be screening footage from my own collection and from the archive of the late NYC-based video artist Nelson Sullivan, who videotaped hundreds of hours of the East Village art scene and night life of the 1980s. A clip of Andy Warhol signing books at Fiorucci in 1987 with a wild cast of characters surrounding him, video of of the real life “outlaw party” thrown by “club kid murderer” Michael Alig in the Times Square McDonald’s as depicted in Party Monster, Bongwater, John Sex, and some other surprises and rarities.
It’s a double feature, first the “Show and Tell,” then a screening of a 2-hour interview with Robert Anton Wilson conducted by me and Genesis P-Orridge in 1997 for my old “Infinity Factory” talkshow. Ironically, what was once seen as the size of a postage stamp in a 56k modem world will be screened as if it’s Ben Hur…
Via the Luxuria Music blog. (And speaking of Luxuria Music, today is the fifth anniversary of Andrew Sandloval’s “Come to the Sunshine” radio program, one of the best podcasts you’ll ever hear. From 1pm to 5pm, Andrew will be doing a special “Come To The Sunshine” Hot 100 countdown. You can download all five years worth of shows on iTunes for free)
It was art out of chaos. Pop art. The Sweet‘s “Ballrooom Blitz”, Glam Rock’s catchiest, trashiest, most lovable song, came from a riot that saw the band bottled off the stage, at the Grand Hall, Palace Theater, Kilmarnock, Scotland, in 1973. Men spat, while women screamed to drown out the music. Not the response expected for a group famous for their string of million sellers hits, “Little Willy”, “Wig-Wag Bam” and the number 1, “Block Buster”.
Why it happened has since led to suggestions that the band’s appearance in eye-shadow, glitter and lippy (in particular the once gorgeous bass player Steve Priest) was all too much for the hard lads and lassies o’ Killie.
It’s a possible. Priest thinks so, and said as much in his autobiography Are You Ready Steve?. But it does raise the question, why would an audience pay money to see a band best known through their numerous TV appearances for their outrageously camp image? Especially if these youngsters were such apparent homophobes? Moreover, this was 1973, when the UK seemed on the verge of revolution, engulfed by money shortages, food shortages, strike action, power cuts and 3-day-weeks, and the only glimmer of hope for millions was Thursday night and Top of the Pops.
Another possible was the rumor that Sweet didn’t play their instruments, and were a manufactured band like The Monkees. A story which may have gained credence as the band’s famous song-writing duo of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, preferred using session musicians to working with artists.
The sliver of truth in this rumor was that Sweet only sang on the first 3 Chinn-Chapman singles (“Funny, Funny”, “Co-Co” and “Poppa Joe”). It wasn’t until the fourth, “Little Willy” that Chinn and Chapman realized Sweet were in fact far better musicians than any hired hands, and allowed the band to do what they did best - play.
True, Chinn and Chapman gave Sweet their Midas touch, but it came at a cost. The group was dismissed by self-righteous music critics as sugar-coated pop for the saccharine generation. A harsh and unfair assessment. But in part it may also explain the audience’s ire.
In an effort to redefine themselves, Sweet tended to avoid playing their pop hits on tour, instead performing their own songs, the lesser known album tracks and rock covers. A band veering from the songbook of hits (no matter how great the material) was asking for trouble. As Freddie Mercury proved at Live Aid, when Queen made their come-back, always give the audience what they want.
Still, Glam Rock’s distinct sound owes much to Andy Scott’s guitar playing (which has been favorably compared to Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck), Steve Priest’s powerful bass, and harmonizing vocals, and Mick Tucker’s inspirational drums (just listen to the way he references Sandy Nelson in “Ballroom Blitz”). Add in Brian Connolly’s vocals, and it is apparent Sweet were a band with talents greater than those limned by their chart success.
So what went wrong?
If ever there was a tale of a band making a pact with the Devil, then the rise and fall of Sweet could be that story. A tale of talent, excess, fame, money, frustration and then the decline into alcohol, back-taxes, death and disaster. Half of the band is now tragically dead: Connolly, who survived 14 heart attacks caused through his alcoholism, ended his days a walking skeleton, touring smaller venues and holiday camps with his version of Sweet; while the hugely under-rated Tucker sadly succumbed to cancer in 2002.
The remaining members Priest and Scott, allegedly don’t speak to each other and perform with their own versions of The Sweet on 2 different continents. Priest lives in California, has grown into an orange haired-Orson, while Scott, who always looked like he worked in accounts, is still based in the UK, and recently overcame prostate cancer to present van-hire adverts on the tube.
This then is the real world of pop success.
I doubt they would ever change it. And I doubt the fans would ever let them. So great is the pact with the devil of celebrity that once made, one is forever defined by the greatest success.
Back to that night, in a theater in Kilmarnock, when the man at the back said everyone attack, and the room turned into a ballroom blitz. Whatever the cause of the chaos, it gave Glam Rock a work of art, and Sweet, one of their finest songs.
Bonus ‘Block Buster’ plus documentary on Brian Connolly, after the jump…