Keiko Fuji, the ‘Joan Baez’ of Japan dead in apparent suicide
02:39 pm


Keiko Fuji

Keiko Fuji, famed Japanese singer of sentimental folk (“enka”) songs, threw herself off her Tokyo apartment building in an apparent suicide yesterday morning. Fuji, the mother of J-pop superstar Hikaru Utada, was thought of as the Joan Baez of Japan and was famous for playing a white guitar.

From Japan Daily Press:

It was around 7AM when the body of Fuji was found on the street where she lived. She was living with a male friend, who claimed to be sleeping at the time of incident. Only a pair of slippers was left on the railing of her apartment’s balcony. As no suicide note was left, the police haven’t ruled out the possibility of foul play and are still making investigations.

The 62-year old Keiko Fuji, whose real name was Junko Utada, was a famous enka singer and actress in the 1970s. She made her singing debut in 1969 and had her debut album titled Shinjuku no Onna (“Woman in Shinjuku”) a year later. The album spent 20 weeks at the Oricon chart. Fuji, a native of Iwate Prefecture, ended her singing career in 1979 and went to the United States, where she lived for a time. She gave birth to her only child, Hikaru, in 1983 in New York.

Keiko Fuji’s biggest hit was “Keiko no Yume wa Yoru Hiraku” (“Keiko’s dreams blossom at night”). It’s about a prostitute who dreams of a better life while she services her clients.

Thank you Chris Campion of Berlin, Germany!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
RIP: Cult actress Karen Black has died
03:53 pm


Karen Black

After months of fighting against cancer, Karen Black, the cult actress who starred in such films as Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces and Nashville has died at the age of 74. Her husband Stephen Eckelberry posted news of her death on Facebook:

It is with great sadness that I have to report that my wife and best friend, Karen Black has just passed away, only a few minutes ago. Thank you all for all your prayers and love, they meant so much to her as they did to me.

Yesterday, in a heart-rending update on Karen’s blog, Stephen wrote:

A lot of people have been asking me what’s the latest with Karen, so here it is:

Last post I did was mid-June, we were in St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica. A week later, everything the hospital could do for Karen had been done; bacterial infections & anemia handled, heart & lungs working - everything but the cancer itself.  By the way, props to St John’s, a top notch hospital with a great staff of doctor’s and nurses.

Karen’s health continued to deteriorate at an alarming pace. She became bed-bound: the spreading cancer having eaten away part of a vertebra and nerves in her lower back. Her left leg stopped functioning.  We could not go to Europe as we had hoped. It would have been almost impossible to travel to the airport.  So we brought alternative treatments to her bedside.  Hardly as effective as doing a full treatment in a clinic, but I firmly believe that these treatments have been keeping her alive.  I can’t tell you how many times doctors and nurses have pulled me aside and told me that I better start hospice, as she was about to die….The cancer is still spreading slowly and it takes its toll.

Stephen and his daughter Celine gave up work to take care of Karen, and in June this year, they filmed a “deeply moving and candid conversation” between Karen and her friend Elliot Mintz. Though emotionally “raw,” it is hoped that this footage will one day be released. Read the full blog here.

R.I.P. Karen Black 1939-2013

Above, a Karen Black audio interview with Movie Geeks United from May 2012. Below, Karen Black in Trilogy of Terror, the legendary 1975 portmanteau TV horror movie that scared the living daylights out of a generation of Americans (skip straight ahead to about 45 minutes in for the devil doll story.)

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Elvis died for somebody’s sins, but not Mick Farren’s
07:13 am


Mick Farren

A swashbuckling young rockstar Farren onstage with The Deviants.

During the last couple of years of his life, I had the pleasure of visiting the late, great Mick Farren a handful of times in his flat in Seven Dials, Brighton, mostly to discuss his Elvis Died For Somebody’s Sins But Not Mine collection, which I was helping to edit and flog for the publishers, Headpress. He was a very lovely geezer.

Mick’s place, as you’d imagine, was well littered with music and literature, as well as framed posters and other random knickknacks and artifacts from his distinguished life. There was always an open bottle of JD floating about, as near to hand as the plastic mask and oxygen tank that helped keep him relatively comfortable and alive. At his desk in the far corner, his chair was cocked between the computer he worked at, and the constantly murmuring television by the window—a set-piece that struck me as a pretty apt symbol of his prose.

In person, Mick was quite a sight. Physically, aging appeared to have almost uniquely traumatised him. Outraged folds of flesh drooped down between the curtains of his long curly black hair. “Don’t ever get old, will ya!” he once implored me, in his memorable, wheedling voice, after having had to avail himself of a few especially long pulls of oxygen.

But here was the thing…

Even as he was, essentially, slowly dying, Mick’s writing was still, I thought, getting stronger. The handful of new pieces Headpress commissioned him to write were among the finest he’d written (one of them we posted here at DM, an amazing article on Nick Cave and the devil): on the page, the man could boast almost burgeoning youth.

Only when he read his work aloud was this disparity brought into full relief. On the brink of publication, David Kerekes and I brought along a video camera and invited Mick to read a few passages from the collection. (See below.) Mick, of course, was up for it, and his sentences fell with chaotic but pleasing rhythm from his lips. At the end of each, though, he would have to inhale, gaspingly, his chest set off like a drill.

I was under the impression that Mick very rarely left the house other than to do gigs, and the thought of these genuinely daunted me. I imagined the words just about making it out, and the PA morbidly amplifying that deathly rattle…

So when I finally made it to a Deviants gig earlier this summer, I was in for a surprise. Mick sat there, hunched on a stool in the middle of the stage, and as the band rang out with impressive muscularity, his songs flew from his lungs, absolutely full bodied. I stood there grinning from ear to ear and shaking my head. How the fuck was he managing it? Not only getting through the set, but doing so in such style?  That he collapsed and died following one of these performances shows just how difficult these near miracles must have been… and how much he must have loved to pull them off.

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Discussion
The death of Jerry Garcia as it was reported on ABC’s ‘Nightline’
04:26 pm


Grateful Dead
Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia was a tie-dyed human symbol of the survival of the ideals of the hippie generation. Accordingly, when he died, a lot of people were very cut up about it, as this report reminds us with its live shots of grief-stricken fans in Washington, DC, New York and San Francisco on August 9, 1995.

I remember the day it happened. A guy I was friendly with from taking cigarette breaks outside of my office building—a fellow who always wore a suit, crisp white shirt and a tie, maybe mid to late 50s at the time and the manager of a big Hollywood sound stage—told me that he’d locked the door of his office and cried like a baby behind it for 20 minutes before regaining his composure.

He’d gotten into following the Dead around (and ‘shrooms) as a way to stave off a mid-life crisis after a divorce blind-sided him. He had a sort of “On the Road” moment as a Deadhead and that was really a liberating thing for him. Jerry Garcia’s death represented the end to something that was of huge emotional importance in his life, something that obviously a lot of people also felt.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Bruce Lee’s kick-ass co-star in ‘Enter The Dragon’ Jim Kelly R.I.P.
01:49 am


Bruce Lee
Jim Kelly

Karate champ and film star Jim “The Dragon” Kelly has died of cancer at the age of 67.

Six foot two with an explosive Afro, Kelly made an indelible impression in 1973’s Enter The Dragon by holding his own against the film’s massively charismatic star Bruce Lee. Kelly’s character, Williams, was somewhat of a symbol of the Black Power movement in America at the time and Kelly’s look, defiant demeanor and no bullshit attitude fit the role perfectly.

Kelly went on to make a string of films in the 70s, the most popular of which were Black Belt Jones and Three The Hard Way. He also appeared briefly in the wildly twisted The Amazing Mr. No Legs.

Kelly exuded a cool intensity and had a screen presence that should have made him a bigger star than he was. But the scripts he was offered he turned down because they were generally exploitation flicks that he felt didn’t give him an opportunity to project a positive image. His martial arts training had made him very aware of directing his energies toward a higher goal. Playing Black stereotypes in low-rent B-movies wasn’t the kind of karma he wanted to accrue.

In this video shot during the 2012 Albuquerque Comic Expo, Kelly is interviewed by martial arts film historian Ric Meyers. The result is a wonderfully insightful take on one of cinema’s shooting stars and one of martial arts true legends. Kelly’s feelings for Bruce Lee are profound.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Devo drummer Alan Myers R.I.P.
05:49 am


Alan Myers

Alan Myers, Devo’s drummer from 1976 to 1985, has died of cancer.

Devo’s Gerald Casale praised Myers on Twitter:

... the most incredible drummer I had the privilege to play with for 10 years. Losing him was like losing an arm. RIP!! I begged him not to quit Devo. He could not tolerate being replaced by the Fairlight and autocratic machine music. I agreed. Alan, you were the best – a human metronome and then some. A once in a lifetime find thanks to Bob Mothersbaugh. U were born to drum Devo!”

Myers laying down his indelible and deeply quirky groove:

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
A Door closes: Ray Manzarek dead at 74
02:07 pm


The Doors
Ray Manzarek

Sad to hear this.

Via The Doors’ Facebook page:

Ray Manzarek, keyboardist and founding member of The Doors, passed away today at 12:31PM PT at the RoMed Clinic in Rosenheim, Germany after a lengthy battle with bile duct cancer. He was 74. At the time of his passing, he was surrounded by his wife Dorothy Manzarek, and his brothers Rick and James Manczarek.

Manzarek is best known for his work with The Doors who formed in 1965 when Manzarek had a chance encounter on Venice Beach with poet Jim Morrison. The Doors went on to become one of the most controversial rock acts of the 1960s, selling more than 100-million albums worldwide, and receiving 19 Gold, 14 Platinum and five multi-Platinum albums in the U.S. alone. “L.A.Woman,” “Break On Through to the Other Side,” “The End,” “Hello, I Love You,” and “Light My Fire” were just some of the band’s iconic and ground-breaking songs. After Morrison’s death in 1971, Manzarek went on to become a best-selling author, and a Grammy-nominated recording artist in his own right. In 2002, he revitalized his touring career with Doors’ guitarist and long-time collaborator, Robby Krieger.

“I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today,” said Krieger. “I’m just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last decade. Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him.”

Manzarek is survived by his wife Dorothy, brothers Rick and James Manczarek, son Pablo Manzarek, Pablo’s wife Sharmin and their three children Noah, Apollo and Camille. Funeral arrangements are pending. The family asks that their privacy be respected at this difficult time. In lieu of flowers, please make a memoriam donation in Ray Manzarek’s name at

Below, a post-Jim Morrison Doors do “Love Me Two Times” on Germany’s Beat Club TV show, with Manzarek taking over the vocal duties:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Warhol Superstar and Beatnik poet, Taylor Mead RIP
02:21 pm


Andy Warhol
Taylor Mead

Sad to hear that Taylor Mead, underground movie star, Lower East Side fixture, bon vivant, Warhol Superstar, poet, feeder of stray cats, teller of funny stories and sweet and charming old guy died yesterday in Colorado at the ripe old age of 88.

A gay icon who was never in the closet, Mead was the subject of a documentary Excavating Taylor Mead, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2005. Mead had been in the news recently over his travails with his landlord.

Above, Marcel Duchamp, Ultra Violet and Taylor Mead, 1967
Below, Taylor Mead, Craig Vandenberg and Candy Darling in Anton Perich’s short film Candy and Daddy:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Ray Harryhausen: The film-maker who made the impossible possible has died

The legendary visual effects master Ray Harryhausen died today at his London home, he was 92.

A statement was issued on behalf of The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation:

The Harryhausen family regret to announce the death of Ray Harryhausen, Visual Effects pioneer and stop-motion model animator. He was a multi-award winner which includes a special Oscar and BAFTA. Ray’s influence on today’s film makers was enormous, with luminaries; Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, George Lucas, John Landis and the UK’s own Nick Park have cited Harryhausen as being the man whose work inspired their own creations.


Harryhausen’s genius was in being able to bring his models alive. Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray’s hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right, just as important as the actors they played against and in most cases even more so.

If it wasn’t a monster movie, then it wasn’t worth watching. That was my narrow view of films when I was a child. There was the usual list of werewolves, and vampires, and stitched-together cadavers from Frankenstein’s lab, but there was nothing quite as thrilling as seeing Ray Harryhausen’s name on a film.

Harryhausen’s name on a movie meant unforgettable special effects that made any average film extraordinary. Before VHS or DVD recorders, we memorized those key scenes to replay in our heads, and discuss at our leisure. The ghoulish, resurrected skeletons that fought Jason and the Argonauts; the Rhedosaurus that tore up New York in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms; the Terradactyl that terrorized Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C.; the sinewed goddess Khali that fought Sinbad; these were memories that made many a childhood special - mine included.

It was seeing the original version of King Kong that started Harryhausen off on his career. His ability to duplicate some of Willis O’Brien’s groundbreaking effects led the young Harryhausen to meet and then work with his idol on Mighty Joe Young, in 1949. Their collaboration won an Oscar, and set Harryhausen off on his career.

Today, tributes poured in from across the film industry praising Ray Harryhausen‘s genius:

“Ray has been a great inspiration to us all in special visual industry. The art of his earlier films, which most of us grew up on, inspired us so much.” “Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no STAR WARS”  —George Lucas.

“THE LORD OF THE RINGS is my ‘Ray Harryhausen movie’. Without his life-long love of his wondrous images and storytelling it would never have been made – not by me at least”   — Peter Jackson

“In my mind he will always be the king of stop-motion animation”  —-  Nick Park

“His legacy of course is in good hands because it’s carried in the DNA of so many film fans.”  — Randy Cook

“You know I’m always saying to the guys that I work with now on computer graphics “do it like Ray Harryhausen”  — Phil Tippett.

“What we do now digitally with computers, Ray did digitally long before but without computers. Only with his digits.”  —Terry Gilliam.

“His patience, his endurance have inspired so many of us.” — Peter Jackson

“Ray, your inspiration goes with us forever.” — Steven Spielberg

“I think all of us who are practioners in the arts of science fiction and fantasy movies now all feel that we’re standing on the shoulders of a giant.
If not for Ray’s contribution to the collective dreamscape, we wouldn’t be who we are.” — James Cameron

A sad loss, and a sad day, but what movies he has left us!

Ray Frederick Harryhausen


With thanks to NellyM

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
‘Prick Up Your Ears’: Kenneth Williams and John Lahr talk Joe Orton in 1978

John Lahr discusses Prick Up Your Ears, his superb biography on playwright Joe Orton, with actor and friend, Kenneth Williams and theater critic, Michael Billington, on the book’s release in 1978.

The cherubic Orton was arguably the most exciting and original playwrights to break through in the 1960s—his first play Entertaining Mr. Sloane was an influence on Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming, while his last What the Butler Saw led to political controversy and questions being raised in parliament—in reference to the size of Winston Churchill’s cock. Sadly, Orton’s life was cut short by murder—he was working on a film script for The Beatles (Up Against It) when he died (the Fabs made Magical Mystery Tour instead)—and one can only imagine what works of brilliance he would have concocted had he lived.

The quality of this interview is iffy, but it is a marvelous and important piece of cultural history for those with an interest in Orton (or even Williams). It’s also fascinating to hear some of the “politically correct” language used by presenter, Valerie Singleton, and interviewer Billington, where Orton is described as a “practicing homosexual”—as if he was in training for an examination. All jolly good fun.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Because We’re Queer: The LIfe and Crimes of Joe Orton

Book-jackets defaced by Joe Orton in 1962

With thanks to NellyM


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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