On January 26, 1980 Prince appeared on American Bandstand lip-synching “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” After Prince’s performance, Dick Clark made a game attempt at interviewing his Purple Majesty but Prince, even then, was tight-lipped.
“They wouldn’t let me produce myself,” Prince explains why he waited so long to release his first record.
“Do you think they didn’t know what you were doing?” Clark asks.
Clark asks Prince how many instruments he played. Prince responds “thousands.”
When asked how many years he’d been playing, Prince raised four fingers.
From the very beginning, Prince knew how to create an aura of mystery around himself. Even in a semi-autobiographical film like Purple Rain, he managed to blur the line between reality and mythos. It is part of what made him one of the most compelling artists in the history of music.
Here’s Prince on American Bandstand. The clip unfortunately does not include the interview.
I advise you to watch it now. Even from beyond the grave, Prince is likely controlling what the ‘net gives and what the ‘net taketh away.
Update: Okay the ‘net tooketh away. Can we please have a week long grace period in which Prince’s videos can be enjoyed in an International visual love fest? Huh? How about that?
Anyway, here’s a consolation prize: Prince’s first TV appearance on Midnight Special in January 1980. Let’s see how long this one lasts. Enjoy.
I first saw Prince at New York City’s Ritz in 1980. He wasn’t a superstar yet and hadn’t been embraced by New York’s post-punk or new wave scene (he would appear on the cover of New York Rocker year later) so it was a relatively small audience. I had shown up to attend an Interview magazine party earlier and stayed for Prince. I wasn’t that familiar with his music but it was free. Staying was a smart move.The show was astoundingly good and ultrasexy. His carnal relationship with his guitar, as documented in this clip, is nothing short of jaw-dropping.
Hunter S. Thompson engaged in a dispute with a typewriter at his Woody Creek estate, the ‘Owl Farm’ in Colorado.
In this gonzo video that very much typifies a day in the life of the great Hunter S. Thompson, we get to see the Dr. Gonzo in his natural setting engaging in a gun battle with his neighbors over what appears to be a dispute concerning his neighbor’s cows. Because this is how disputes are settled when you’re Hunter S. Thompson.
The legendary living room at Hunter S. Thompson’s home
The incident took place at Thompson 42.5-acre estate in Woody Creek, Colorado called the “Owl Farm.” A mythical place where Thompson once blew up a Jeep after loading it with dynamite and gasoline. It is also the place where Thompson sadly took his own life on February 20th, 2005. If things go according to plan Thompson’s widow, Anita, will soon turn part of the estate into a museum. Which is why she has left many of the rooms (such as the living room pictured above) at the Owl Farm virtually the way they were over a decade ago when Thompson took leave of this world.
Glorious footage of the great Hunter S. Thompson behaving exactly as you would expect him to, otherwise known as badly, follows.
Footage of Hunter S. Thompson engaged in a gun battle with his Woody Creek neighbors, apparently over cows.
In light of the loss of yet another rock legend last week, prog-rock pioneer, keyboardist and composer Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer or ELP, I thought I’d share this video of Emerson in the studio with director Dario Argento working on the soundtrack to Argento’s 1980 film, Inferno.
The critical reception to Emerson’s Inferno soundtrack didn’t see it receive the same accolades as the Goblin-composed Suspiria‘s music did, which is understandable on many levels, but the fact is that Argento specifically requested that Emerson create something far different than Suspiria‘s much loved score.
Though we never know the exact moment when we will shove off this mortal coil, it was very small odds to wager Oliver Reed would pop his clogs in a bar after one too many jugs of ale. It was how the great actor said he wanted to go and he predicted as much in an TV interview for The Obituary Show in 1994:
I died in a bar of a heart attack full of laughter. We were having a cabbage competition. I was very confident that for once I was going to win this vegetable competition. And somebody made a bet with me that was so lewd that I took it on and he shook my hand. And I laughed so much I was sick and died.
Reed died in a bar in Valletta, Malta during the filming of Ridley Scott’s movie Gladiator on May 2nd, 1999. Though he died in a bar drinking is true, the myths of that fateful day have clouded one small fact about Reed during his final screen role. As one of his co-stars Omid Djalili surprisingly recounted earlier this year, Reed “hadn’t had a drink for months before filming started.”
Above him the sky…
Everyone said he went the way he wanted, but that’s not true. It was very tragic. He was in an Irish bar and was pressured into a drinking competition. He should have just left, but he didn’t.
The stories as to what and how much Reed consumed that day vary enormously. All that can be said is that Reed’s untimely demise was a great loss to acting, cinema and most of our lives in general. For if Reed did anything—he entertained us for forty years.
Gladiator would have been his comeback movie. His career had sadly withered during the 1990s to a handful of movies and too many inebriated appearances on TV. Reed never regretted his chat show escapades claiming he was an entertainer and the audience always expected him to be bad.
Reed’s role models for life and drink were the fighter pilots he met as a child during the Second World War. Many of these pilots had been his mother’s lovers. Reed’s job was to mix their drinks at the cocktail his mother organized. At each successive party, the number of pilots in attendance diminished as they were killed in active duty. Reed never forgot the carefree way they laughed, drank and enjoyed life fully without worrying about their ever-approaching death or injury.
Reed wanted to live “bravely.” He felt acting was a fraud compared to those who fought battles, won wars, or worked hard every single day of their lives to eke out a basic living to support their families. Acting was pretending. Real life was out there—somewhere—usually in a bar.
The Obituary Show was a novel—albeit somewhat morbid—take on the traditional chat show. It presented various celebrities in heavenly surroundings discussing their lives as if they were looking down from the other side. The guests weighed up their lives answering questions on regrets, failings and success.
Though “frightened of not dying bravely,” Reed ‘fessed up very few (serious) regrets:
I regret having not made love to every woman on Earth.I regret having not kissed the nose of every dog on Earth. I regret having not been into every bar on Earth. But that doesn’t make me a hellraiser. If somebody punches me on the nose, I’ll punch them back. If somebody buys me a drink I’ll buy them one back.
The punctuation mark I leave on this helter-skelter of life: On my gravestone is written “He made the air move.”
How the press reported it.
Reed gave a rare and thoughtful interview in this edition of The Obituary Show with his most moving admission made when discussing events after his death:
The only thing I regret about my own funeral was that I couldn’t go to my own wake because it was a wonderful party. And every time I kept on tapping somebody on the shoulder—I’m going to cry now. They didn’t know I was there.
I was sorry to hear of the death of Bruce Geduldig of Tuxedomoon. He died after a long term illness on Monday, his 63rd birthday.
Tuxedomoon’s Blaine L. Reininger shared the news of Geguldig’s passing on their website:
Our erstwhile colleague and collaborator, Bruce Geduldig has died, on the occasion of his 63rd birthday, March 7, 2016. He departed from his home town, Sacramento, California, attended by his family and friends. He had been suffering for many years from liver complaints. We will miss him sorely.
After a period of working with Winston Tong on his quirky theatrical shows in San Francisco, Bruce Geduldig joined Tuxedomoon in 1979 to add a visual element to the band’s concerts via film projections, video art and other multimedia elements. (At a particularly amazing mid-80s Tuxedomoon show that I saw at the Palladium in NYC, Geduldig swung a hot oil projector/smoke machine-type thing around the stage. A big glob of burning hot oil from his infernal device went right onto my friend’s nose—SPLAT—leaving a burn mark he feared would be permanent. Luckily it wasn’t.)
Geduldig’s wife, filmmaker Bernadette Martou, who he met while living in Brussels, died before him, in April of 2015.
A fantastic, but sadly fake “photo” of David Bowie and Lemmy Kilmister (see the actual photo of Lemmy and his French girlfriend, here)
The clock tower that stands on the grounds of City Hall in the capital of Norway, Oslo, has marked the passing of the hours with musical interludes for many years. Now at six and seven pm respectively, the 49 bells in the tower’s carillon will play “Changes” from David Bowie’s 1971 album Hunky Dory and, the track “Electricity” from what sadly turned out to be the last record Lemmy Kilmister would record with Motörhead, 2015’s, Bad Magic.
The music of Motorhead and David Bowie to play from the clock tower on Oslo City Hall through May 31st
In an interview with Oslo Town Hall’s carillonist, Laura Marie Rueslaatten Olseng, after seeing how many of her fellow Oslo residents were affected by Lemmy’s passing, she felt that the lyrics to “Electricity” reflected “an attitude that fit Oslo very much.” After Bowie’s untimely passing, Olseng said that there was “no discussion” and the choice was made to add “Changes” to the clocks daily musical rotation which also includes music from Kraftwerk, Nine Inch Nails, and John Lennon. The clock tower will play both songs daily until May 31st. You can listen to the bells chiming for Bowie below, and the belfry belting out Motörhead, here.
The clock tower at City Hall in Oslo, Norway chiming to David Bowie’s “Changes.”
(You’ll note that I didn’t end the title with a question mark.)
If you’ve ever toiled at a daily newspaper—I worked at the LA Times for a year once—then you’ll know how many layers—copy editors, photo editors, editor editors, graphic designers—are between what you initially write and what ends up on the printed page. Eventually whatever text the original writer got the ball rolling with, is pounded like a sheet of tin into the official “voice” of the publication by many often very opinionated hammers as it is pushed down the assembly line towards the printing presses. At any point, a concerned party might ask “Are you sure about this?” and then perhaps there would be further debate.
And this is what makes this item—ostensibly a fashion tribute to the late David Bowie taken from the pages of a newspaper in New Zealand—all the more perplexing.
Who along the way looked at this at any stage in its production in the hallowed halls of the Timaru Herald and gave the thumbs up?
Take a moment to absorb the magnificent and dumbfounding stupidity of it all. Imagine any workplace conversations that took place before, during and maybe even after this glorious idiocy saw print. It’s not successful on any level. Not as “fashion” reporting, and certainly not as a tribute to one of the greatest fashion icons in all of history. It’s got no information that’s useful, or even entertaining whatsoever. It’s just ludicrous from top to bottom. Arguably there might be worse Bowie tributes out there, but this one, I think you’ll agree is at least, as my mother might say… “different.” Certainly it’s the worst Bowie tribute that Smash Mouth weren’t involved with.
With the bad news about the death of David Bowie, and the subsequent tsunami of Internet posts about his life and work, the passing of another 70s glam rocker—albeit a much more obscure one—Brett Smiley has gone nearly unreported. Smiley died on January 8th at his home in Brooklyn after a longtime battle with both HIV and hepatitis, at the age of 60.
Brett Smiley is not someone who was necessarily “forgotten” or who was a “has-been” per se, as he was never really known by the public at large in the first place. He occupies the place that’s under Jobriath in the hierarchy of little-known androgynous Bowie-wannabe pretty boys of the glam rock era. He was a cult figure, sure, but it’s a cult consisting of a very few members (I consider myself one of them).
One day I found myself looking for obscure glam rock compilations on Amazon and the “customers who bought this” recommendation led me to an album called Breathlessly Brett, an LP originally recorded in 1974—but not released until 2003—by a then-teenaged performer named Brett Smiley. It seldom left my CD player for the next month. I got really obsessed by this album.
I’d never heard of Brett Smiley before that, but when I did a search on him, an interesting story emerged. A child star who went to junior high school with Michael Jackson (they shared a woodworking class), Smiley once played the title role in the Broadway musical Oliver!. He was just a sixteen-year-old when he was discovered by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, then keen to take his career down a Phil Spector-type producer/Svengali path and feeling competitive with Jobriath’s manager, Jerry Brandt.
Smiley was given a $200,000 advance and recorded an album produced by Oldham with Steve Marriott from the Small Faces and Humble Pie on guitar. An amazingly raucous single “Va Va Va Voom” was released and heavily hyped with Smiley’s blonde pretty-boy face appearing in ads all over London, and in an extremely over the top performance and interview on the popular Russell Harty Plus TV program.
Disc magazine proclaimed Brett to be “The Most Beautiful Boy In The World.”
“It wasn’t a slipper he slipped to Cinderella…” Brett Smiley as the Prince in the 3-D erotic musical version of ‘Cinderella.’
The insanely catchy single “Va Va Va Voom”
Hard to see how a tune that fucking catchy failed to storm the charts, but the single bombed and the album was shelved. Although Smiley auditioned to replace David Cassidy in The Partridge Family and made film appearances (like 1977’s erotic Cinderella and American Gigolo), he must’ve fallen into some sort of “velvet goldmine” because he wasn’t really heard from again until 2003 when RPM Records acquired the master tapes of his forgotten album. The sad truth was that Brett Smiley wallowed in serious skid-row drug addiction for years. His legend proved mysterious and intriguing for glam rock fans and Johnny Thunders’ biographer Nina Antonina wrote a book, The Prettiest Star: Whatever Happened to Brett Smiley? about how Smiley’s super brief pop supernova moment—just the idea of him—so strongly influenced her teenage years.
The Russell Harty Plus clip below features a young Brett Smiley performing his Ziggy-influenced “Space Ace” (the “Va Va Va Voom” B-side) and it’s pretty incredible if you like this sort of thing. It’s followed by an embarrassing interview.
Clarence Reid, a successful R&B songwriter in his own right, has performed as his alter-ego “Blowfly” since the early ‘70s, releasing over two dozen albums in his 40+ year career. Dangerous Minds’ own Richard Metzger described Blowfly’s funky appearance as a “low-budget combination of a Mexican wrestler, Sun Ra and ‘Dumb Donald.’”
Blowfly, along with fellow contemporary Rudy Ray “Dolemite” Moore, is often credited as a progenitors of rap.
According to the Facebook announcement, Reid has entered hospice care with multiple organ failure. From that update:
Please know that Clarence is being made comfortable and that his sister Virginia has stood tall for him, and taken care of her brother as best as humanly possible. Please say a prayer for her and for Clarence Reid, the Maestro of the Miami Sound who loved being Blowfly - the King of the Freaks.
Cards and letters may be sent to Reid via: Florida Medical Center ATTN: Patient Clarence Reid Room 355, 5000 Oakland Park Boulevard, Lauderdale Lakes, Florida 33133.
Blowfly’s recently completed album, 77 Rusty Trombones is expected to be released in February.
That dirty motherfucker Blowfly, doing his thing live after the jump…
David Bowie playing at Rodney Bingenheimer’s club in Los Angeles, 1970. Courtesy of Getty Images. Buy a print of this photograph at Photos.com.
As—ahem—some of our readers may have noticed over the years, the late David Bowie has always been our patron saint here at Dangerous Minds. You might say he was our spirit animal. Below, three of our writers pay tribute to the Thin White Duke and contemplate a world without David Bowie in it…
Christopher Bickel: Let’s be honest. At Dangerous Minds there are certain subjects that we have covered rather extensively. We’ve taken our share of good-natured ribbing over that fact that we jock Bowie hard and often. It goes without saying that the writers here are going to have something to say on this day when we celebrate the career and legacy of one of the true giants of the rock and roll era.
No celebrity death has emotionally affected me to this degree. We haven’t had a musician pass who was so universally loved for their talent and influence since the assassination of John Lennon. Michael Jackson, maybe, but his legacy was so tainted by the time of his death. Bowie’s life and artistic output remained inspiring up until the very end. Last November when the video for “Blackstar” dropped, I remarked that it was a “masterpiece.” Little did I know, then, that it was Bowie’s “parting gift” to us all. Certainly he knew.
I loved Bowie from the first time I heard him—which was “Rebel Rebel” on the radio. But as a kid, I thought the words I was hearing were “Grandma, Grandma—who tore your dress?” I remember at the time thinking “it’s really rude of this singer to call his grandmother a ‘tramp’”—but also kind of cool. I was wrong about the words I was hearing, but I wasn’t wrong about loving the music. The man never put out a bad record. Sure, there’s varying degrees of quality in his catalog, but I challenge anyone to name a single Bowie record that “flat out sucks.” You can’t.
It’s hard to pin down a favorite. I called it as Low for years, but I’ve eventually settled on Scary Monsters as my top pick. New Wave Bowie is my guy. Bowie knew how to pick a backing band, and Fripp just kills it on that record. Reeves Gabrels later picked up that torch and THIS VIDEO from 2006 of “Scary Monsters” is absolutely scorching—and is as good as any Bowie performance from any point in his career. That’s the thing: Bowie remained relevant and exciting as both a writer and performer all the way until the very end. There will never be another.
Martin Schneider: What is there to say? One mark of an artist’s power is a general inability on the audience’s part to imagine our world in their absence; we’re all experiencing that weird pang right now, big time. No rock star was more forward-looking or incorporated so many different cultural streams; it shouldn’t be surprising that his influence and resonance have only increased over the years. He was a cultural vampire, in the best sense; he took from everybody and he never aged.
As a teen, I found Bowie incredibly intriguing but also a bit chilly (Pink Floyd was easier); it took me a long time to warm up to him. Of course I did, finally—he’s inescapable, after all. As I get older he strikes me as the very best, the most mature and the most complex, that a rock star can realistically be.
So long, Star Man.
Richard Metzger: I first heard of David Bowie when I very first started listening to pop music. My interest in Bowie was probably what got me interested in music to begin with. I was eight and it was early 1974. A local AM radio station played “Space Oddity” at 11pm one night and I happened to be be up late listening and had my young mind totally blown into a million pieces. That song entered my consciousness and exploded there, rearranging my outlook on the world like nothing had before and like nothing has ever since, I can promise you. It was, for me personally, probably the Ur-epiphany of my entire life. But I didn’t catch the name of the singer or the song. The next night, at the exactly same time, the DJ played it again, and then the following night he spun it again. This time I was ready. I taped it with my $30 Sears cassette recorder, the mic held up to the clock radio’s speaker. Soon afterwards I had the 45rpm record and soon after that—a matter of just days—I had the ultra-heavy single only version of “Rebel, Rebel” (a record cut so loud that it threatened to blow out your speakers, as anyone reading this who owned it can attest to). My parents were okay with buying me a 99 cent single from time to time, but an LP (which might’ve cost about $4.98 then) was out of the question and I needed to have everything David Bowie-related. Immediately if not sooner.
So I did yard work and gardening around the neighborhood—weed-pulling to be exact, I was too young for pushing a lawn mower around—to be able to afford first Diamond Dogs, then in fairly rapid succession Aladdin Sane, Pin-Ups, The Man Who Sold the Word, David Live, Young Americans, etc. (Oddly enough, it would be Ziggy Stardust that I acquired last and it remains my least favorite of the pre-ChangesOneBowie catalog.)
And then I saw that they were repeating “The 1980 Floor Show” on The Midnight Special. I don’t think I was ever the same again after I saw that. It was a powerful and visceral lesson in… well… something. I was too young to know exactly what it all meant, but I did know intrinsically what he—David Bowie as an iconic entity—meant. Bowie-fandom was closer to a religion than a hobby. It was a revelation, you might say.
I would scour the TV Guide hoping for a Bowie-sighting and—in lieu of a VCR—I’d tape the audio on my cassette recorder whenever he appeared on things like Soul Train, Dinah!, Cher and the Grammy Awards telecast. I listened to them so many times that 35 years later I would see them again on YouTube and I’d know each and every word. On Dinah! he invited Dr. Thelma Moss on as one of his hand-picked guests, a UCLA professor who was known for investigating the science of Kirlian photography. This was in 1976 and I would have been, at that point ten and in the 5th grade. My Bowie-fanaticism was so ingrained in me by then that I built a rudimentary Kirlian photography device after finding plans for it on microfilm in the local library!
I wrote about this in 2010, on the occasion of the publication of the coffee table book Bowie: Object.
To give you a personal (and very small) example of the multitude of ways David Bowie has influenced little old me, when I was ten years old and Bowie was the guest on Dinah Shore’s afternoon talk/variety show, he was able to invite Dr. Moss on as a guest as well. Moss demonstrated the ability of the Kirlian device—a high voltage electric field “camera”—to basically take snapshots of plant and human “auras.” Because Bowie was fascinated by this wild new science of Kirlian photography, then, hey, so was I and—this is true—I built a homemade version of the Kirlian Photographic device for a grade-school science fair.
It was made with a battery, a wood base, some wire, a metal plate and used 2” by 2” film, which was placed under the plate, and sent a jolt via the battery to expose the film. Now, granted, at that age, I wasn’t testing the “before and after” side-effects of snorting cocaine on my aura (see above) like Bowie was—-I used leaves and my thumbprint—but still, you can see clearly in this stupid example of how I, a little kid at the time, saw David Bowie as this like, larger than life cultural avatar of the newest and coolest things around.
Beyond influencing my 5th grade science fair entry, I’m pretty sure that it was David Bowie that led me directly to my interests in Andy Warhol, Iggy, Lou Reed, the Velvets, George Orwell, and even William Burroughs. My interest in most things artistic and countercultural probably began with David Bowie when I was a kid and simply fanned out from there. I honestly don’t think I would be the same person today, or would have lived the life that I have or that I would even be doing what I do professionally without his influence on not only what I was thinking or feeding my head with when I was very young, but also on the way his life and art demonstrated what was possible to aspire to.
Twelve years ago, when someone working the register at St. Mark’s Books told me that David Bowie had purchased my Disinformation book and DVD—David Bowie knew who I was???—it was one of the proudest moments of my entire life. I simply can’t believe he’s gone.
Below, David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars on the ‘Ziggy’ tour in Dunstable, June 21, 1972 doing “Song for Bob Dylan”: