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Visionary artist and genius Paul Laffoley has died
07:03 pm


Paul Laffoley


“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be . . .  “

Henry David Thoreau

I knew this day was coming, and now that it’s here, it absolutely sucks as much as I thought it would: It is with great sadness that I report that the great genius artist and thinker Paul Laffoley is dead. He was 75.

A few weeks ago I got an email from my close friend Douglas Walla, Paul’s longtime gallerist letting me know that Paul had a heart attack and was in the hospital in Boston and that I might want to give him a call. Like immediately. I did and we spoke for about an hour, mostly chit-chat about his health and his upcoming book and then we talked about the architecture at the University of Cincinnati’s campus. He coughed like crazy—really, really HARD coughs that rattled his chest, I could practically feel the spittle hitting my eardrum through the telephone. Apparently he’d coughed so hard that he’d given himself a heart attack.

The problem was, this hacking cough was something, that he’d been, as he put it, “working on my entire life.” The cough was a permanent condition, in other words, it wasn’t going to go away. Already in poor health for many years—he had an amputated leg, diabetes and heart problems—the combination of this persistent HARD cough and congestive heart failure was the kind of “Catch 22” that meant he wasn’t going to be long for this world.

I asked him if the nurses were treating him well. He said yes, but I teased him that I wanted to speak to the one who had just entered the room, so that I could explain to her how “important” her charge was. “Oh you don’t have to do that,” he said.

I laughed: “Hey, look what happened to Andy Warhol. It couldn’t hurt!”

Douglas Walla let me know a week or so ago that Paul had entered hospice care. He died quietly today.

The visionary artist and luminary, Paul Laffoley, has died today after a long battle with congestive heart failure. He had an extraordinary grasp of multiple fields of knowledge compulsively pursing interests that often lead him into uncharted territory. His complex theoretical constructs were uniquely presented in highly detailed mandala-like canvases largely scaled to Fibonacci’s golden ratio. While an active participant in numerous speculative organizations including his own Boston Visionary Cell since the early 70s, his work began to attract an increasing following in his late career with shows at the Palais de Tokyo (2009), Hamburger Bahnhof (2011), Hayward Gallery, London, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (2013). The first book on Laffoley’s oeuvre was The Phenomenology of Revelation published by Kent Fine Art in 1989, followed by several subsequent publications beginning with his first retrospective organized by the Austin Museum of Art (1999).

Forthcoming in March of 2016, the University of Chicago Press will be releasing the long awaited book entitled The Essential Paul Laffoley. He was a kind and generous giant, and he will be sorely missed by all of us.

Today the world lost one of its greatest minds, but it might be a few years before the world realizes this. I am gratified to know that although Paul didn’t live long enough to see the publication of the catalogue raisonné of his work, he did see the galley proofs. Doug Walla worked for decades, really, on this book and it will be an intellectual and cultural EVENT when it’s published next year, mark my words. Many years ago, I can recall discussing Paul with Doug and he told me that what drove him so hard to develop Paul’s career is how tragic it would have been if Paul died in obscurity, and was regarded historically as an “enigma” or as an outsider artist, someone like Henry Darger instead of the Ivy League-educated polymath “Sci-Fi Leonardo” that he truly was. As of today there are several books that have been published about Paul Laffoley, and there will be many more in the future and many doctoral dissertations that will be written about him. I’m sure he died with the satisfaction that his work was not only valued by mankind, but will live on with greater notoriety after his passing.

I don’t have any more words. I lost a friend today, someone I greatly admired and loved. More importantly, the world lost a great genius. The New York Times recently called Paul Laffoley “one of the most unusual creative minds of our time.”

Too true. And now he’s gone.

An overview of Paul Laffoley’s work, courtesy of yours truly…

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The dress GG Allin wore at his brother’s wedding is up for auction
09:14 am


GG Allin

GG Allin in a dress for his brother Merle's wedding in May of 1989
GG Allin in a dress as the Best Man/Maid of Honor at his brother Merle Allin’s wedding in May of 1989

Never one to be upstaged by anyone, GG Allin wore a dress to his brother Merle’s wedding held at the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts (a place I once found myself locked in, don’t ask) on May 8th, 1989. If you’re aware of who GG Allin was, none of this should strike you as strange. What is noteworthy is that said dress is currently up for auction
The dress GG Allin wore to his brother Merle's wedding in May, 1989
Close up of GG Allin's Best Man/Maid of Honor dress, 1989
GG’s dress

GG was both the best man and maid of honor at Merle’s wedding and in addition to sporting the purple and gold dress (under a black leather jacket of course), Allin also shaved off half of his beard and wore red lipstick and makeup. According to Merle, the dress was also worn by guitarist Chris Brokaw during the only live show (which you can see here) of GG Allin & The AIDs Brigade that threw down at legendary Boston club the The Middle East Cafe in Cambridge on August 27th, 1989.

If you are interested in becoming the new owner of this bizarre piece of scummy punk history, which Executive VP at RR Auction Robert Livingston referred to as an “unusually touching piece of history from the notorious punk rocker,” the opening bid is $200. Here’s the item description:

GG Allin’s personally-owned and -worn purple and gold dress. Approximately 40.5″ in length, the dress is sewn with an elaborate tinsel floral-pattern, and features four button loops on the left shoulder and a zipper running down the left waist. In fine condition, with a few trivial stains to collar area of liner and one of the shoulder buttons missing

Well, that’s got to be the first time anything touched by GG Allin ended up with trivial stains. If you’re concerned about the items legitimacy, as I’m sure any discriminating GG Allin fan would be, there are several photos of GG bringing the scumfuck glamour to the cemetery wedding that should quell any lingering doubts about the item’s authenticity. The auction which started yesterday, is being held by the Music and Entertainment Icons Auction (for RR Auction) and will run through November 19th. For a change, the photos of GG at the wedding that follow are pretty much safe for work. Life is weird that way sometimes.
GG Allin in a dress holding a bouquet of roses at his brother Merle's wedding, 1989
GG Allin (holding the bouquet of roses on the left)
GG Allin in a dress and makeup at his brother Merle's wedding, 1989
Letter of authenticity for GG's dress from Merle Allin
GG Allin and what remains of the dress he wore to his brother Merle's wedding in 1989
GG Allin and what remained of the dress after the wedding in 1989

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Kurt Cobain’s ‘MTV: Unplugged’ sweater sells for a staggering $140,800 at auction
07:05 am


Kurt Cobain
MTV Unplugged

Kurt Cobain and Nirvana performing on
Kurt Cobain wearing his famous sweater on MTV: Unplugged, 1993

The sweater worn by Kurt Cobain during Nirvana’s 1993’s MTV: Unplugged performance sold at an auction on Saturday for a cool $140,800. Four months after the taping of the show, Cobain committed suicide in an living space above his garage in his home on Lake Washington Boulevard in Seattle. 
Kurt Cobain's
A photo from Julien’s Auction of Kurt Cobain’s “MTV: Unplugged” sweater
According to Auction house Julien’s, the sweater (which came to auction by way of a “friend” of the Cobain family) was expected to fetch at least 100K. Damn. Here’s the description for the sweater that was listed in Julien’s “Icons and Idols: Rock N Roll” auction:

A blend of acrylic, mohair and Lycra with five-button closure (one button absent), with two exterior pockets, a burn hole and discoloration near left pocket and discoloration on right pocket.

No word on who the lucky owner of this very spendy piece of grunge history is.

More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Ghost on the Highway’: A Portrait of Jeffrey Lee Pierce and the Gun Club

Ghost on the Highway: A Portrait of Jeffrey Lee Pierce and the Gun Club, directors Andrew Powell and Kurt Voss’s 2006 documentary about the legendary Los Angeles-born punk blues singer has no footage of Gun Club actually playing music, in fact it has no actual Gun Club music in it whatsoever and precious little footage of its subject.

One can surmise that Pierce’s family decided not to participate with Powell and Voss’s movie bio and the filmmakers were left to put together this “feature-length” documentary with just talking head interviews with former Gun Club members Kid Congo Powers, Ward Dotson, Terry Graham, Jim Duckworth and Dee Pop along with Henry Rollins, Lemmy, John Doe and Pleasant Gehman. Because that’s all it is, basically. Under different circumstances, it would have no doubt been a better film.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I’ve watched this 75-minute old movie twice and if you are a fan of Jeffrey Lee Pierce and the Gun Club, this modest film is a must. Obviously there is a lot of “myth” that’s grown around the person of Jeffrey Lee, who died at the age of 37 from a brain haemorrhage in 1996 and although this is more of an “oral history” than a documentary per se, it gets to the heart of the truth about the real Jeffrey Lee Pierce, who by turns is described as brilliant, tortured, loveable but mostly just as a complete and utter asshole and colossal, detestable fuckup junkie and drunk.

Although little of what the viewer learns about the life and times of Jeffrey Lee Pierce in Ghost on the Highway is particularly, er, complimentary, it didn’t really change my feelings about the man one iota. Anyone who knows anything about him knows where the story arc trends after the commercial break in this low budget Behind the Music, so it comes as zero surprise how many people thought the guy was a punk. Clearly he was an asshole, but he was also a great artist who made transcendent music. I only ever saw him from standing in the audience, so he gets a pass from me.

After the jump, a ‘Mother Juno’-era Gun Club set shot in Los Angeles in 1988…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
RIP Twinkle: Nearly forgotten 60s teen pop star, 1948-2015
01:21 pm


Jimmy Page


“I didn’t have an image made up for me by a publicity department. All you saw was what I was. I’m very rebellious, and I was terrible anxious to get in with the fast crowd.”

Some people we think of as being perpetually young, because that’s the sole image we have of them, so it was particularly jarring for me to read about the passing of “Twinkle” at the Ugly Things website over the weekend. She died a few months back, May 21 to be exact, of cancer.

Lynn “Twinkle” Ripley, better known simply as “Twinkle,” was a pretty, blonde, green-eyed teenaged pop star of mid-60s Britain who never really crossed over to U.S. popularity. Her father was a wealthy Tory MP and her older sister, Dawn James, was a well-connected music journalist.  She attended the same posh girls school as Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and the Redgrave sisters. She insisted from the age of six that she was going to be a pop star. Her biggest hit was “Terry,” a sappy, maudlin song she wrote herself. “Terry” tells the tale of an ill-fated motorcycle ride and slightly predates “Leader of the Pack” by the Shangri-Las. It’s sung like a very flat Leslie Gore. Twinkle was not blessed in the voice department, clearly.

“Terry” was not based on a true story, but the fact that it was written by teenaged girl (and not a male songwriter channeling one) makes it all the more charming. None other than Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page was a session musician on the track. The song reached #4 in the British record charts around Christmas of 1964 despite being banned from BBC radio airplay (and TV’s Ready, Steady, Go) because it was considered in “poor taste.” It’s kind of odd today to consider that when the song was banned, it was being called “sick” and “dangerous drivel” by Lord Ted Willis. Pirate station Radio Caroline continued to play the record.

Her next song, “Golden Lights,” about being the girlfriend of a pop star (she was, Dec Cluskey of The Bachelors was her then steady) was even better, but reached only #20 on the charts. (“Golden Lights” was later covered by The Smiths and is included in their Louder Than Bombs compilation).  Although she appeared on package tours with The Rolling Stones, Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders and Herman’s Hermits (Peter Noone became her boyfriend for a while), she never really made it and “retired” from the pop world before she turned 18. She later went on to write TV themes and commercial jingles for ATV Music, recording and performing sporadically throughout the decades. Her later life was primarily devoted to campaigning for animal-rights.

Below, a clip of her biggest hit, “Terry”:

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Sunnyside DEAD: Skull fried eggs can be an important part of your balanced breakfast
09:26 am


skull egg ring

If you’ve been online at all this year you’ve likely gotten the message that eggs are no longer considered artery-clogging little murderers. “Researchers…found no evidence that eating up to an egg a day increased the risk of heart disease or stroke,” assured the New York Times, though I love the “up to one egg a day” part, like someone eats half an egg.

But now that they’re back on the good-for-you list, eggs have lost some of their appeal. Gone is that NO FUTURE! DAMN IT ALL! ALLONS Y! sense of danger that came with every omelet, the chubby-guy-from-Ohio equivalent of cliff diving. How to return that daredevil flair to your Sunday brunch?


Purveyors of stupid novelties Fred & Friends—your go-to laff factory when you’re so fucking hilarious that you need NEEEEEEED an organ transplant lunchbox—offer the Funny Side Up egg ring, a cutesy skull egg corral. It looks like it could be Hello Kitty’s skull, so some of the chilling presence of the grim spectre of death thaws into a puddle of daaaaaaw!, but it’s a start.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
Cheesus Christ, the grater story ever told

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Are you a musician? Here’s how your art is killing you
10:48 am


Dianna T. Kenny

A fascinating series of articles has appeared on The Conversation, probing mortality among musicians. All written by the University of Sydney’s Dianna T. Kenny, the first compared the life expectancies of musicians and non-musicians (quelle surprise, musicians lost), and the second examined and debunked the “27 Club” phenomenon. But the third piece is a doozy—it breaks down musician deaths not just by age but by gender and genre. The article is worth reading—all three are, and actually, if you’re not reading The Conversation yet, just get on that already—but this chart sums it up very nicely for the tl;dr crowd:

Notice how there’s very little difference in life expectancy between genders among musicians, as compared to the notably higher life expectancy for women in the non-musician population? Also, can you help but see that HUGE spike in women’s favor correlating with musicians in that nebulously-named “World Music” genre? I can’t even imagine why that might be. I also noted with interest that blues, jazz, and country musicians tended to outlive non-musicians.

One could make all kinds of cracks about how the more socially-disreputable genres punk, metal, and rap/hip-hop have the lowest life expectancies, but recall that those genres haven’t really been around long enough to have all that many elders. Blues, jazz and country have existed long enough to see plenty of their practitioners die of natural causes before metal was even a thing, so that right there could tend to skew the chart in favor of longevity for musicians in the NPR genres. But then, once you get to the cause of death breakdown, you see that, utterly depressingly, homicide accounts for more than half of the deaths in the black genres rap and hip-hop, while the more typically white punks and metalheads’ tendency to die young is attributable to accidents and suicides. And unsurprisingly, musicians in the more venerable genres tend to be taken by diseases of aging.

This is a morbid thought, but this post is about morbidity, so I’m rolling with it: as I’m chiefly a fan of rock music, I was a little disappointed that those ultimate rock death clichés, heroin overdose and small aircraft crash, weren’t given their own categories. In Kenny’s study, overdoses and vehicular incidents both fall under “accident,” and excessive drugs and drink could definitely explain the high number of punk and metal musicians in that category. But back in 1995, in the wake of the Kurt Cobain suicide, that great fount of underground smartassery Motorbooty magazine published “The Rock Death 200,” which similarly (and obviously somewhat cheekily) broke down 200 dead rockers and proto-rockers by age and cause of death. I can’t find it online, and I don’t feel like digging through my basement for it (if memory serves, it was issue #8, and had a blue cover, happy hunting). HOWEVER, the good Christian folk at Dial-the-Truth Ministries have published a list with very similar data, likely as a caution to young members of the flock who may find themselves tempted into sin, debauchery, gambling, ouija boards, organic foods, lots and lots of super-crazy hot nonreproductive fornication, and primetime soaps by The Devil’s Music. Their data collection (and web design) seems to come to a screeching halt in 1998, but interestingly, heart attacks edged out drug overdoses, and cancer took out more rock musicians than plane crashes. Also, drowning > AIDS > fire > choking.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The loopy, hilarious Vines of the late Harris Wittels
09:01 am


Harris Wittels
Rob Schrab

The comedy community of Los Angeles received a profound shock two weeks ago when Parks and Recreation actor and writer Harris Wittels was discovered dead of a probable overdose. Parks and Rec fans will forever remember Wittels as one of Pawnee’s two hilariously incompetent animal control guys. In 2012 he also published Humblebrag: The Art of False Modesty, a very sharp book based on a pretty genius idea.

I actually saw Wittels do standup once. It was 2007, he was just 23 years old, and he appared as part of a comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in NYC called “Cavalcade” a friend of mine had organized—the show also featured Joe Mande, Jim Gaffigan, and Anthony Jeselnik. I don’t remember anything about his act. I confess that I found Wittels, as a comedian to follow, kind of confounding; in retrospect I didn’t catch him in his best contexts, and I mistook his giving-zero-fucks and deep hostility towards affectation and insincerity as a sort of laziness. On podcasts I was just beginning to tune into his deeply silly, low-key deadpan style when the news of his death hit the news.

One of the best episodes of any comedy podcast in 2014 came last November, when Wittels made his second appearance on Pete Holmes’ podcast You Made It Weird. After a half-hour of goofing around, Wittels suddenly revealed to Holmes that after “successfully” going through rehab a couple years earlier—which Holmes already knew about—he relapsed pretty badly and had to undergo a whole second, more serious round of rehab, which Holmes had not known about. That comment sparked a wild, hour-plus-long narrative of Wittels’ grueling second descent into addiction hell, a story that is (of course) made all the more powerful and moving because of Wittels’ passing.

Since his death I’ve become increasingly convinced, based on the testimony of Aziz Ansari, Dan Harmon, and others, that we did lose some kind of comic genius last month—one thing I never understand before was just how highly regarded his scriptwriting skills were. Sitcom director Rob Schrab did us all a favor by making a single video out of all of Wittels’ Vines—it takes just a few of the stupid things (there are dozens and dozens of them) to realize how brilliant, in an offhanded way, the guy was. He was clearly a master of the form, much as Humblebrag proves that he was a master of Twitter. Prepare yourself for a barrage of silly accents, facial expressions, loopy puns…. the man was truly a wellspring of cockeyed mirth, and he will be sorely missed.

via Splitsider

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Did Sharon Tate dream of her murder by the Manson Family two years before it happened?
04:30 pm


Charles Manson
Sharon Tate
Jay Sebring

I was looking through a stack of Fate magazines from the late 60’s and early 70’s that were collecting dust on a built-in bookshelf in my living room the other day when I came across a rather bizarre article about Sharon Tate and a dream she had. The strange anecdote came from Hollywood “man around town” celebrity columnist, Dick Kleiner.  According to Kleiner, Sharon Tate had a prophetic dream of her brutal murder by members of the Manson Family at least two years before the tragic incident actually took place. 

Now keep in mind if you’re not familiar with Fate that it’s the kind of publication that presents paranormal phenomena, alternative medicine, mental telepathy and the like. Other articles in the same issue are titled “Spirit ‘Possession,’ – Fact or Fallacy?” and “The Prophetic Day the Mirror Fell.” There are classified ads for a “UFO Diet” and a “Teenage Astrologer.” It’s not necessarily the resource you grab when you’re looking do research for your doctoral thesis, but nonetheless, the older copies are odd enough that my wife and I like having some around to pick up from time to time. Fun at parties and all that.
Tate Fate Magazine May 1970
The May, 1970 issue of Fate
So you can make what you will of the story to come considering the source, but if it’s true it’s pretty creepy, and at the very least, a kitschy example of the kind of writing for which Fate is famous.

In the article, called “Sharon Tate’s Preview of Murder,” Kleiner, speaking in the first person, explains that he had interviewed Tate in the past and he planned on doing so again when he showed up on the set of a film (almost certainly The Wrecking Crew) where she was working on August 1, 1968, almost exactly a year before the Manson Family killings on August 9, 1969. Tate recognized Kleiner and invited him into her trailer for the interview. Among the other questions Kleiner asked that day was “Have you ever had psychic experiences?” apparently something that he brought up routinely with every celebrity with whom he spoke as these types of phenomena were of personal interest. Tate’s response, according to Kleiner, was as follows:

Yes, I have had a psychic experience- at least I guess that’s what it was- and it was a terribly frightening and disturbing thing for me. It happened a year or so ago. Maybe you can explain it.

At the time of the August interview in 1968, Tate had been married to Roman Polanski for several months, the two having tied the knot in January of that year. But in order to understand the context of the supposedly prophetic dream, we need to think briefly about Tate’s life at the time of the “mysterious vision.” It would have been sometime around the summer of 1967. At that point, Tate was in a relationship with famous Hollywood hairstylist, Jay Sebring who, not so incidentally, would also be killed in the Manson slaughter. When Tate had the dream, she was sleeping in Sebring’s house while he was away on business in New York. The house, located “right on Benedict Canyon, the street that parallels the canyon itself” (the street is actually called Easton Drive) had previously belonged to Hollywood agent, Paul Bern who was married in the 30’s to Jean Harlow. According to Kleiner, Bern had committed suicide in the house after Harlow left him in 1932, but the facts surrounding Bern’s death are cloudy and there is some debate about the real cause of his demise. Either way, the fact that Bern had died in the house would have been common knowledge in Hollywood circles in 1967.

So Tate, alone in the house and turning in for bed starts experiencing a “funny feeling” that is keeping her from sleeping, all the small noises in the dwelling startling her. She turns on the light in the bedroom and sees “a small man” moving clumsily around the room. She describes the man as looking like every description she had ever heard of Paul Bern. The unexplainable figure is not threatening to Tate, but its mere presence is terrifying to her. (Keep in mind that according to the article, Tate still feels like she’s awake at this point). Tate runs from the room and starts heading down the stairs, and this is where the supposed premonition takes place. From the Kleiner article:

“I saw something or someone tied to the staircase,” she said. “Whoever it was- and I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman but knew somehow that it was either Jay Sebring or me-he or she was cut open at the throat.”

At this point, according to Kleiner, Tate heads into “the playroom” looking for a much needed drink. She felt certain that Sebring would have kept liquor in the room but she didn’t know where. Tate senses something (she doesn’t hear a voice) telling her to open a shelf on a bookcase. Inside, she finds a button which she pushes revealing a liquor cabinet. She has a drink, tries to calm down and pinches herself. Upon feeling nothing, Tate, according to the account, is relieved to find that the whole awful experience must just be a dream.
Sharon Tate Jay Sebring
Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring just before their shocking demise
In Kleiner’s retelling, Tate then experiences another sensation compelling her to pull away a strip of wallpaper at the bottom of the bar. Feeling silly, she does so, revealing a brass base. She pinches herself a second time, and she still feels nothing.

Tate, now a little more settled, decides to head back upstairs thinking that she could probably go to sleep. Again, this is supposed to be dream, so the whole thing is a little confusing. Regardless, she heads back upstairs, apparently past the apparition still “gushing blood” AND past the odd little man. Despite all of this, according to the account, she climbs into bed and falls fast asleep.

Cut to the morning when Tate is awakened by Sebring returning from New York. The two nervously laugh about the odd dream and then they have the kind of head-scratcher common to these stories of the “supernatural” when they walk back to the playroom to find the liquor cabinet open and “scraps of wallpaper on the floor.”

I typically don’t put a lot of stock into this kind of thing, but again, one has to admit that if the story of the dream is true it’s pretty strange to say the least. I had honestly never heard this story before, but it turns out that many have made a very big deal of it. 

Sebring remained friends with Tate after their breakup and as I mentioned before, he was one of the five people killed by the Manson Family at Tate and Polanski’s rented home on Cielo Drive in 1969. Sebring was still living in the house where Tate’s dream took place at the time of his murder.

You can read the entire Fate article here.

I’m not sure where the clip below is from, and the quality is not the best, but it discusses Sebring’s house and Sharon Tate’s dream. At around 3:23 you can hear Dick Kleiner recalling Tate’s recollection of what turned out in retrospect to be a rather chilling vision. After watching the clip, it appears that the Kleiner article had shown up in perhaps a different format in a different publication.

Posted by Jason Schafer | Leave a comment
Captain Beefheart’s eerie premonition of John Lennon’s death
10:38 am


John Lennon
Captain Beefheart

People who knew Don Van Vliet said he had strange gifts, and I’m not talking about his musical talents. Lester Bangs told this story:

Once in Detroit I walked into a theatre through the back door while he was onstage performing. At the precise moment I stepped to the edge of the curtains on stage right, where I could see him haranguing the audience, he said, very clearly, “Lester!” His back was to me at the time. Later he asked me if I had noticed it. I was a little shaken.

And the music historian and critic Robert Palmer reported:

Sitting in the Manhattan living room of the guitarist Gary Lucas, who is the Magic Band’s newest member, Don Van Vliet shut his eyes, squinted, and said, “It’s going to ring.” The telephone rang as if on cue. Mr. Lucas laughed nervously and said that sort of thing happens all the time.

Palmer was one of a number of journalists who met with Van Vliet at Lucas’ apartment in the autumn and winter of 1980. Van Vliet was giving interviews there on the night of December 8 when John Lennon was shot outside the Dakota. Lucas recalls:

In the middle of an interview, at eight or nine o’clock as I remember, Don said, “Wait a minute, man, did you hear that?’ He put his hand over his ear, but we didn’t hear anything. He said, “Something really heavy just went down. I can’t tell you what it is exactly, but you will read about it on the front page of the newspapers tomorrow.” We said, “Well, what?” and he said, “I dunno.” Then the guy left and another journalist came. We were in the middle of another interview and about eleven, the first guy called me and said, “Did you hear the news? Something just happened, John Lennon was shot.” And I couldn’t believe it. It really seemed like Don predicted this. So I told him and he just looked at me and went, “See? Didn’t I tell you?” That was really eerie.


Richard “Midnight Hatsize” Snyder, the Magic Band member who played bass, marimba and viola on Ice Cream for Crow, gave a similar account of that evening’s events in a 1996 interview:

While we were in New York, Don was being interviewed by some magazine on the night that John Lennon was killed. At one point during the interview, Don stopped speaking, closed his eyes and then opened them again, saying to the interviewer: “Something big is happening tonight—something horrible. You’ll read about it in your papers tomorrow.” Knowing full well that the doubting Thomases among you will say: “Ah, yes—but he wasn’t specific about the event. The way the world is, you could say something like that any day and still be right more times than not.” Nevertheless, it was the strangest coincidence—if indeed, that was all it was.

A Beefheart fan who was in the audience at the Captain’s Irving Plaza show the following night writes that Van Vliet opened the set with a soprano sax solo, which he dedicated to Sean Lennon: “That was from John, through Don, for Sean.”

For his part, Lennon was a fan of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band’s debut album, Safe As Milk. Note the “Safe As Milk” stickers prominently displayed on the cabinet doors in the sunroom of Kenwood, the house where Lennon lived from 1964 to 1968.

Below, video of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band’s set at the Mudd Club on December 10, 1980:

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
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