An auction of the late Sir Jimmy Savile’s belongings raised almost half-a-million dollars yesterday in Leeds, England. 700 on-line bidders competed with 350 buyers at the Savile Hall for an excess of gold lame suits, platform shoes, and a selection of the DJ’s bling.
549 lots were up for grabs in a sale organized by Dreweatts. These included gold lame suits, jogging gear, kilts, cigars, cigar boxes, shoes, trainers, furniture, records, record player, photographs, cartoons, numerous awards, assorted glasses, memorabilia, including Christmas cards from Royalty, and Jim’ll Fix It medallions, presentation gifts and the famous red-upholstered chair.
The auction lasted 13-hours, which saw the legendary DJ and broadcaster’s Rolls-Royce (nick-named “The Beast”) sold for $200,000, his famous red chair sold for $13,300, and individual items, such as one highly sought after Jim’ll Fix It medal reach $3,130.
All of the items reached over their original asking price:
Lot 174 - A pink satin padded bedspread with a gold J.S. monogram was sold for over $200.
Lot 185 - A novelty egg cup teapot with picture of Sir Jim holding it raised $60.
Lot 549 - Sir Jimmy’s favourite ashtray complete with a Romeo Y Julieta cigar - went for $220.
Chris Marker the influential French artist and film-maker has died aged 91. Marker died on his birthday, July 29th, which oddly reminded me of the time traveler in his 1962 film La Jetée who returns back in time only to see his own death at Orly Airport.
La Jetée is Marker’s best known work, which questioned the form of cinema, and the role within it of image, sound, editing and script. The film consisted of a series of still images, and one film sequence, which told the story of a post-apocalyptic world where a time traveler returns to the past to change the future. The film was the basis for Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys, and original conceit for James Cameron’s Terminator. Today, French President Francois Hollande led tributes to Marker, saying La Jetée “will be remembered by history.”
Born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve on July 29th, 1921, Marker was vague about his biography, preferring to mislead and fictionalize elements of his story. He variously claimed he was born in Paris, Neuilly-sur-Seine, and Outer Mongolia. Marker never gave interviews, and refused to be photographed, though in later years pictures were secretly taken.
Marker was studying philosophy when the Second World War broke out, he served with the French Resistance, after the war he wrote a novel, Le Coeur Net (1949), joined the left-leaning magazine Esprit, contributing to poems, stories, and co-wrote the film column with André Bazin. He then wrote for Cahiers du Cinéma, before starting the globe trotting that would continue for the rest of his life, photographing and documenting his many excursions.
Marker’s first experimental film was a documentary on the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. He then worked with Alain Resnais on Les Statues Meurent Aussi, a hugely controversial film dealing with colonialism and art, which was banned in France on the grounds it attacked French foreign policy. Marker was a Marxist and his politics informed much of his work. However, Marker could be critical of Soviet Russia as he was of the west. In Letter from Siberia (1958), he famously critiqued Soviet and Western propaganda by showing the same piece of film three times, reporting it twice through East/West propaganda, and finally, ‘telling it like it is.’
Durng the 1950s, he also started a series of photographic books, one in particular on Korean women, developed Marker’s idiosyncratic style of mixing image and text, which possibly inspired the form of La Jetée.
Marker followed La Jetée with the less successful Le Joli Mai (1962), a 150 minute film made up from almost 60 hours of interview material on the lives, loves and politics of Parisians. He was then involved in establishing Société pour le Lancement des Oeuvres Nouvelles (SLON), which made collectively directed films and documentaries. Their first film was on Vietnam, and continued with the style of documentary Marker had devised with Le Joli Mai.
During the 1970s, Marker seemed to lose his way, making films about the politics of previous generations rather than the issues of feminism, sex, and personal liberty, that were central to the decade. It wasn’t until the 1980s that Marker returned to form with the cinematic essay, Sans Soleil (1983) and AK (1985), a documentary on Akira Kurosawa, making his epic movie Ran.
Marker continued working through his seventies and eighties and began developing a more personal and intimate style of film-making, focussing on his pets and zoo animals, creating his own bestiary.
Chris Marker wrote with the camera - his best works told cinematic essays that mixed the personal with the social and political.
Chris Marker (Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve), July 29 1921 - July 29 2012
In honor of the passing of Sherman Hemsley, the actor who played “George Jefferson” on the The Jeffersons and All in the Family television series, here’s a re-post from the Dangerous Minds archives.
Sherman Hemsley was known to be a huge fan of prog rock, especially Gentle Giant, Nektar and Gong.
Hemsley collaborated with Yes’s Jon Anderson on a funk-rock opera about the “spiritual qualities of the number 7” (never produced). Hemsley also did an interpretive dance to the Gentle Giant song “Proclamation” on Dinah Shore’s 70s talkshow, that was apparently somewhat confusing for her.
But the best story, I mean the best story of all time, is the one told by Gong’s Daevid Allen about his encounter with the beloved 70’s sitcom star. Here is Allen’s verbatim tale as related to Mitch Myers (and originally published in Magnet magazine):
“It was 1978 or 1979, and Sherman Hemsley kept ringing me up. I didn’t know him from a bar of soap because we didn’t have television in Spain (where I was living). He called me from Hollywood saying, ‘I’m one of your biggest fans and I’m going to fly you here and put flying teapots all up and down the Sunset Strip.’ I thought, ‘This guy is a lunatic.’ He kept it up so I said, ‘Listen, can you get us tickets to L.A. via Jamaica? I want to go there to make a reggae track and have a honeymoon with my new girlfriend.’ He said, ‘Sure! I’ll get you two tickets.’
I thought, ‘Well, even if he’s a nut case at least he’s coming up with the goodies.’ The tickets arrived and we had this great honeymoon in Jamaica. Then we caught the plane across to L.A. We had heard Sherman was a big star, but we didn’t know the details. Coming down the corridor from the plane, I see this black guy with a whole bunch of people running after him trying to get autographs. Anyway, we get into this stretch limousine with Sherman and immediately there’s a big joint being passed around. I say, ‘Sorry man, I don’t smoke.’ Sherman says, ‘You don’t smoke and you’re from Gong?’
Inside the front door of Sherman’s house was a sign saying, ‘Don’t answer the door because it might be the man.’ There were two Puerto Ricans that had a LSD laboratory in his basement, so they were really paranoid. They also had little crack/freebase depots on every floor. Then Sherman says, ‘Come on upstairs and I’ll show you the Flying Teapot room.’ Sherman was very sweet but was surrounded by these really crazy people.
We went up to the top floor and there was this big room with darkened windows and “Flying Teapot” is playing on a tape loop over and over again. There were also three really dumb-looking, very voluptuous Southern gals stoned and wobbling around naked. They were obviously there for the guys to play around with.
[My girlfriend] Maggie and I were really tired and went to our room to go to bed. The room had one mattress with an electric blanket and that was it. No bed covering, no pillow, nothing. The next day we came down and Sherman showed us a couple of [The Jeffersons] episodes.
One of our fans came and rescued us, but not before Sherman took us to see these Hollywood PR people. They said, ‘Well, Mr. Hemsley wants us to get the information we need in order to do these Flying Teapot billboards on Sunset Strip.’ I looked at them and thought they were the cheesiest, most nasty people that I had ever seen in my life and I gave them the runaround. I just wanted out of there. I liked Sherman a lot. He was a very personable, charming guy. I just had a lot of trouble with the people around him.”
Oi, if Daevid Allen thinks you’re weird, you must be a stone freak! (Like our pal, opera singer/actor Jesse Merlin. He met Daevid Allen in San Francisco and Allen said “Just look at him. He’s a perfect example of himself!” Coming from Daevid Allen, that’s the best compliment in the history of the world, isn’t it?)
Below, Sherman Hemsley as “George Jefferson,” dancing up a storm to Nektar’s “Show Me the Way”!
Hunter S Thompson would have been 75 today, had he not blown his brains out one cold winter’s day in 2005. Thompson was a brilliant and exuberant writer, who may have been the last great journalist to inspire generations of wannabes to follow in his footsteps - perhaps more for the drink, drugs and counter-culture life-style, than a dedication to the solitary toil.
Thompson’s best writing came between 1965 and 1980, with Hell’s Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail and The Great Shark Hunt. These books contain the essays, articles and tales that revolutionized the contents of every editors in-tray, and spawned a flood of Gonzo-lite writers.
Sadly, the life of excess took its toll, and by 2005, Thompson’s writing was read with the affection one has for an old and trusty dog, now too gone to run and hunt through the woods, but one is warmed by a sense of longing for those past adventures shared. The problem for Thompson was he became, or was perceived to be his alter ego Raoul Duke, and a point he raised during a BBC documentary in 1978:
“I’m never sure which one people want me to be [Thompson or Duke], and sometimes they conflict… I am living a normal life, but beside me is this myth, growing larger and getting more and more warped. When I get invited to Universities to speak, I’m not sure who they’re inviting, Duke or Thompson… I suppose that my plans are to figure out some new identity, kill off one life and start another.”
It left Thompson the writer little scope to progress with his literary ambitions. He became cuffed to the drug-addled doctor, firing handguns into the reddening twilight.
Yet, for all that, Thompson has been and still is a major influence on journalism and blogging and literature. How long for, is up to those who can come fresh to his work and see the brilliance of the man and his talents. But today, let’s celebrate the great Gonzo’s 75th anniversary.
Happy Birthday Hunter S Thompson!
Below is Buy the Ticket. Take the Ride a profile of HST, with some fine moments, with rare archive, a selection of interviews (including John Cusack, Johnny Depp, Ed Bradley) and a bizarre opening sequence with the inimitable Gary Busey.
One time Deep Purple keyboardist, Jon Lord has died in London at the age of 71. In a band with such a continuously flucuating line-up, Lord was one of the heavy group’s few constant members, co-writing hits like “Smoke on the Water,” “Strange Kind of Woman” and “Black Night.” Lord played keyboards in Deep Purple from the band’s formation in 1968 through their first split in 1976 and when they reformed in 1984 until he retired from music in 2002.
It is with deep sadness we announce the passing of Jon Lord, who suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism today, Monday 16th July at the London Clinic, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Jon was surrounded by his loving family.
Jon Lord, the legendary keyboard player with Deep Purple co-wrote many of the bands legendary songs including Smoke On The Water and played with many bands and musicians throughout his career.
Best known for his Orchestral work Concerto for Group & Orchestra first performed at Royal Albert Hall with Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1969 and conducted by the renowned Malcolm Arnold, a feat repeated in 1999 when it was again performed at the Royal Albert Hall by the London Symphony Orchestra and Deep Purple.
Jon’s solo work was universally acclaimed when he eventually retired from Deep Purple in 2002.
Jon passes from Darkness to Light.
Born in Leicester, June 9, 1941, Lord was a classically trained pianist, who originally planned a career as an actor. He attended the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, while keyboards (piano, Hammond organ) with various Jazz combos.
In 1960, he joined the jazz band the Bill Ashton Combo. He also worked a as session musician playing keyboards on The Kinks first hit “You Really Got Me”. During the mid-1960s, Lord formed and played with a variety of bands (including one with Ronnie Wood) before forming Deep Purple with Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Paice in 1968.
Deep Purple, along with Black Sabbath, pioneered Heavy Metal during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Purple had the edge through the Blackmore’s brilliant guitar-playing and Lord’s mastery of the keyboards (primarily the Hammond organ). Together they made Deep Purple one of the most exciting bands on the planet. Of particular merit was their ability to perform a classical album Concerto for Group and Orchestra, mainly under Lord’s influence, and one of Rock’s greatest albums Machine Head, mainly under Blackmore’s influence. It was this ability to try out each other’s musical ideas that made the band so successful. Or as Lord said in 1973:
‘We’re as valid as anything by Beethoven.’
After he left Deep Purple in 1976, Lord released a solo album Sarabande and then went on to join Whitesnake, remaining an integral part of the band until 1984.
Lord was a brilliant musician, whose talents went beyond his work in Rock and Heavy Metal. He wrote and released several classical music albums including The Gemini Suite , Windows and To Notice Such Things. He also had a fruitful collaboration with the singer Sam Brown on the albums, Before I Forget, the concept album, Picture Within and Beyond the Notes.
Jon Lord 9 June 1941 – 16 July 2012.
Bonus: Deep Purple in concert from New York, 1973, after the jump…
Here’s something from the Dangerous Minds’ archives. The original article contained a link to Charlie Is My Darling in its entirety. Unfortunately, it was removed from the web. I did manage to find this compilation of clips featuring Brian Jones excerpted from the movie. I thought you might appreciate them on the anniversary of his untimely death.
Produced by the The Rolling Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham and directed by Peter Whitehead Charlie Is My Darling documents the band’s 1965 two city tour of Ireland. A somewhat haphazard affair, the film is none-the-less a fascinating glimpse into the life of The Stones on the road, backstage, performing and getting drunk. It also includes some footage of fans rioting at London’s Royal Albert Hall which was later inserted at Oldham’s behest to make the movie more commercial.
Whitehead directed one of the seminal films about the swinging sixties, Tonite Let’s All Make Love In London, and the exhilarating documentary of the infamous beat poet gathering at Royal Albert Hall, Wholly Communion. After seeing Wholly Communion, Oldham picked Whitehead to direct a freewheeling film that would compete with the success of the Beatle movies. The result was something a bit darker and rougher than anything produced by the Beatles at the time.
Charlie Is My Darling was given its premiere at the Mannheim Film Festival in 1966 when Joseph von Sternberg was Director of the Festival. He said - “When all the other films at this festival are long forgotten, this film will still be watched - as a unique document of its times.”
Filmed over three days in Dublin and Belfast, the film captures the boys in all their pristine and unspoilt pagan energy and satanic glory - soon after the release of their first big single in America - the record which established them there - “I can’t get no satisfaction.”
The passionate stage performances are finally wrecked by fans getting on the stage - the boys have to flee for their lives over railway lines when they arrive in Belfast. Scenes in the dressing room are highlighted by Keith playing acoustic Blues guitar - showing what a master he was on the guitar, and how serious he had always been about Blues music. Interviews with Charlie and Bill are very revealing - but most poignant of all is the interview with Brian Jones in which he discusses his threatened future as a Rolling Stone. Speaking only of ‘time’ and ‘insecurity of his future as a Rolling Stone’, he seemed already unconsciously aware of his fate. Did he not deliberately bring it upon himself?
The film ends with the legendary scenes of Keith and Mick drunk in the hotel ballroom - Keith playing the piano (extremely well!) and Mick doing an accurate and subversive impersonation of Elvis.”
The rights to Charlie Is My Darling and its soundtrack became entangled in legal problems when Allen Klein took over management of The Stones. Klein had a rep for being difficult (which is putting it kindly) when it came to controlling the band’s assets. So the original cut of the film was never released on video. A DVD version was released in England with a soundtrack of generic instrumental pop as background music and is basically unwatchable.
It’s Ken Russell’s birthday, and what better way to celebrate the genius of British film, than to share one of his classic biopics. From 1968, here is Delius: Song of Summer, the story of a young amanuensis, Eric Fenby, and his relationship with the monstrous, blind, womanizing and syphilitic composer, Delius. Perfect material for a Russell film, but here Unkle Ken shows his mastery as an artist by creating a subtle, moving and highly effective tale of the relationship between composer and his assistant. The film was co-written by Russell and Fenby, and based on Fenby’s memoir, Delius As I Knew Him. It contains excellent central performances from former ballet dancer, Christopher Gable, and the great Northern Irish actor and founding member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Max Adrian. Song of Summer also shows why Ken Russell was such a brilliant director, and why he is still sadly missed.
Susan Tyrrell always brought a unique and offbeat magic to movies she starred in…even the ones that sucked. Her film credits read like the index for a book on cult films. From Andy Warhol’s Bad to Marco Ferreri’s Tales Of Ordinary Madness and Richard Elfman’s Forbidden Zone, Tyrrell could ignite flicks that strained to be weird with flashes of her eccentric brilliance, often salvaging otherwise unwatchable pieces of crap.
Tyrrell’s free and fearless spirit was a rare thing in the increasingly uptight world of commercial cinema. And when she had a good role in a good movie she could create something great. Her performance as Oma in John Huston’s Fat City is absolutely heartbreaking, an embodiment of the dark night of a woman’s soul, and deservedly garnered her a Oscar nomination in 1973.
Tyrrell suffered from a rare blood disease, thrombocythemia, and lost both of legs in 2000. But despite the handicap, she continued to take on some small film roles, including an appearance in the Felliniesque Masked and Anonymous starring Bob Dylan.
I’m a loner. I don’t like beautiful people, but I find beauty in the grotesque. And in the sweet soul inside someone who has been able to get through their life without being a rat’s ass. Such people should be collected, should be swept up immediately and kept in a box of broken people. I’ve collected people my whole life. Sometimes it ends badly, but it’s absolutely never on my part. Because I know how fabulous I am. You’re just going to have to take my word for it - I’m an incredible person. I do good deeds, and I love people, but the only way I can do these things is to stay apart. Because you can just stand so much. But the people who you meet in your life, who cross your path, the ones who are decent, should be collected.” Susan Tyrrell.
Tyrrell died this past Sunday. She was 67 and living in Austin. Details of her death have yet to be released.
Here’s a clip from 1982’s Forbidden Zone, featuring a delightfully demented Tyrrell as Queen Doris of the Sixth Dimension.
When she found him in the early hours of the morning, it seemed as if he was sleeping. Lying on the bed, with an ink-marked script beside him, still dressed, his shoes carelessly kicked off, a television flickering in the corner. The room smelled of smoke and sweat, a table lamp, cigarettes, an overfilled ashtray. It seemed as if he’d fallen asleep as he worked on his latest screenplay Rosa L., a film about the revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg. He looked pale. An unlit cigarette drooped from his lips, a small trickle of blood glistened from one nostril. For 4 years, Juliane Lorenz had been his partner, she had seen him tired out like this before, falling asleep while working late at night, geed-up by cocaine and alcohol, but this time there was something different. Juliane listened. He was too quiet. When he slept he snored. But now, all she heard - the ticking clock, the television, the hush of traffic outside - was his silence. Rainer Werner Fassbinder was dead.
It’s still hard to believe Fassbinder managed to do so much in his short thirty-seven years of life. That fact he was working on a script at the moment he died, says everything about his dedication to his art. In less than 15 years, Fassbinder made 40 feature films, 3 short films; 4 TV series, 24 stage plays and 4 radio plays. He also acted in 36 productions and worked scriptwriter, cameraman, composer, designer, editor, producer and theater manager.
Born into a middle class family, his father was a doctor who worked near Munich’s red light district. His mother helped with her husband, and neither had much time for their son. After their divorce, Fassbinder lived with his mother, who worked as a translator but was often absent, hospitalized with tuberculosis. Then, Fassbinder spent his time with neighbors, listening to their life stories or, going on his own to the cinema - he later claimed he saw a film a day during his childhood.
“The cinema was the family life I never had at home.”
His favorite films were melodramas, his favorite director Douglas Sirk, of whom Fassbinder said:
“The important thing to learn from Douglas Sirk’s movies is that on the screen you are allowed to, or better still, supposed to, enlarge people’s ordinary feelings—as small as they may be—as much as possible.”
Fassbinder started writing plays, and read about the Spanish playwright Lope de Vega, who had over 1,800 plays attributed to him. This became the gold standard to which Fassbinder aimed his ambitions. At 18, he joined a theater group, and the first hint of his incredible talents and ambitions became apparent.
Within 2 months of joining the Action Theater group, he became its leader. This proved too much for other, older members, who led to the group’s disbandment. Fassbinder then created a new company and drew together a team, or family of actors - Peer Raben, Harry Baer, Kurt Raab, Hanna Schygulla and Irm Hermann - who were to work with him until his death.
His first movie was a “deconstruction of the gangster films”, called Love is Colder than Death, it caused considerable controversy at its premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in 1969, where Fassbinder was jeered and denounced as a “dilletante” by members of the audience. Even so, it established his reputation as a talent to watch, and led on to his next film, Katzelmacher, which was adapted from his stage play. It was the start of his movie career that saw such an unparalleled output. Everything in Fassbinder’s life went towards his film-making. He was often ruthless and allegedly pimped some of the theater group actresses to raise money for his films.
“I would like to build a house with my films. Some are the cellars, others the walls, still others the windows. But I hope in the end it will be a house.”
The turning point came in 1971 with the release of The Merchant of the Four Seasons, the tale of a merchant who is slowly destroyed by circumstances beyond his control. the story epitomized Fassbinder’s world view as tragedy. Life was battled out against insurmountable odds, at great cost to its players. Though his films were often described as “bleak”, I never found them less than engrossing, for the theme to all his films is love - the cost love has on us all.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Fassbinder made such unforgettable films as The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972) (adapted form his play); World on a Wire (1973); his first major international success Fear Eats the Soul (1974), the story of love between an older woman and Moroccan immigrant, played by Fassbinder’s then lover El Hadi ben Salem; Effi Briest (1974); Fox and His Friends (1975); Mother Küsters Goes to Heaven (1975); Despair, his first English film, with a script adapted by Tom Stoppard form the novel by Vladimir Nabokov; In a Year of Thirteen Moons (1978), Fassbinder’s bleakest and personal movie, made in response to the suicide of his lover, Armin Meier; The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978), which became a breakthrough movie in America; Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980), a 13-hour TV series adapted form Alfred Döblin’s novel; Lili Marleen (1981), another big budget English movie; Veronika Voss (1982) which was inspired by Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard; and his last major feature, which progressed cinematic narrative in a new and original way, Querelle (1982), adapted form the novel by Jean Genet. Fassbinder had just finished editing Querelle when he died.
The official cause of his death was “an overdose of cocaine and sleeping pills”. The cost of his lifestyle and his ambition took too great a toll. Before he died, his body had bloated from an excess of drink, food and drugs, and he once said, he became fat to make it harder to be loved. Fassbinder used his body, as he used chain-smoking, or his excessive drinking, as means to protect and distance himself from others. His sense of being unloved or, of being unworthy of love, stemmed from the parental indifference of his childhood. When he was older, he often treated his lovers and those closest to him badly, testing their loyalty and love for him. Emotionally, Fassbinder was childlike, as he always searched for that imagined lack, which would make him feel loved. It was this, Fassbinder’s own emotional biography that underscored his films.
Thirty years after his death, we can more fully appreciate the scale and quality of Fassbinder’s genius; and see the real beauty of the man who was Rainer Werner Fassbinder.