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  • John Lennon becomes the first Beatle to admit to taking drugs, in 1965: A DM exclusive

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    It was fifty years ago today…well, almost…

    While it has been long believed that Paul McCartney was the first Beatle to ever admit taking drugs during an interview with Independent Television News (ITN) in June 1967, it can now be revealed that John Lennon was in fact the first Beatle who owned up to the band being “stoned” two years before this in an interview with an American journalist.

    Writer Simon Wells discovered Lennon’s comment in a rarely heard interview while researching his book Eight Arms To Hold You—a definitive history on the making of The Beatles’ second movie Help!. Wells is the best-selling author of Coming Down Fast (a biography of Charles Manson), Butterfly on a Wheel: The Rolling Stones Great Drugs Bust, Quadrophenia: A Way of Life and the drugs, sex and paganism novel The Tripping Horse.
     
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    February 1965, The Beatles had just arrived on location at New Providence Island in the Bahamas to film Help!.  On being asked what The Beatles had been up to on their flight over, Lennon replied “We got stoned.” There is a stunned silence before the interviewer says: “Alright. I know you’re only kidding.”

    Of course, Lennon wasn’t kidding, as The Beatles had been popping pills since at least 1960 and smoking weed since being “turned-on” by Bob Dylan in 1964. Simon Wells exclusively explains for Dangerous Minds:

    The Beatles took a chartered jet to the Bahamas for the start of filming of Help! on Monday 22nd February 1965. Perversely as it may seem, the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein had become intoxicated with the idea of tax shelters and havens—and after his dismal performance of selling off the Beatles rights to A Hard Day’s Night for little more than the average house price in Britain, he sensed an idea to set up an offshore interest in the Bahamas, hoping that the money from the film would escape the extortionate financial red tape and punitive taxes that would attract to the film’s future successes.

    To defer suspicions, Epstein cooked up the idea of filming part of Help! in the Bahamas and so eager was he to establish a presence there, filming for what would be the finale of the movie was shot first. Temperatures at a constant high for the area, the group would have to shield themselves from the likelihood of considerable tanning – an issue that would have colored (excuse pun) the earlier shots in the film, all set in London. Nonetheless, The Beatles knew little about this, and happily trundled onto the caravan of filming—the shores of Nassau were far more attractive than a gloomy British February. Equally, it meant a break from the rigours of touring, something they had grown to hate.

    The group’s plane continued the majority of the film’s attendant circus, plus a few liggers and reporters to help things along. The nine-hour flight requiring more than just alcoholic sustenance, the band happily tugged on a succession of marijuana joints to elevate the time between touching down in the Bahamas. Since August the previous year when Bob Dylan famously turned the band onto the magical herb, the group had indulged heavily in the newly found pursuit. The effects were immediate on their dress and music, heavy shades and dissonant chords were now pitting their senses; introspection tossing “boy meets girl” out of the window.

    While the media were well aware that The Beatles (and most of the other groups of the period) took drugs, there was no need for them to spill the beans and spoil the party. By 1965 standards, The Beatles were still good cheeky copy—guaranteed to bring a smile to the nation’s breakfast tables, and still with the consent of Britain’s parents, the girls and boys could shower them with unbridled adoration. Behind closed doors in Buckingham Palace and at (the Prime Minister’s home) Number 10 Downing Street, plans were already afoot to adorn the band with the M.B.E. If an admission of naughty chemical use had surfaced prior to the award announcement, it would have clearly stymied the whole pantomime. The press knew this too—so all was on course to preserve the Fab’s innocence—for the time being.

    For those who chart such things, this is the first admission from a Beatle that drugs were now a part of their lives. The evident shock from the reporter is testament to the disbelief that these sweet boys could ever do such a thing. Predictably, the comment was not used in print, and it remained buried on the reporter’s tape – until now!

    Simon Wells new book on The Beatles Eight Arms To Hold You is available from Pledge Music, details here.
     
    After the jump, hear the recording…

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    Just imagine how STRANGE this Residents’ radio special from 1977 sounded in 1977
    04.24.2015
    06:28 am

    Topics:
    Music

    Tags:
    The Residents


    “SIAMESE TWIN TAG TEAM WRESTLERS INDEED”: Arf and Omega on the Vileness Fats set
     
    In 1977, the Residents marked their fifth anniversary with an hour-long radio special. It purports to be a broadcast from RAO (Residents Arf Omega?) Studios in Houston, Texas. Along with a number of obscurities—such as the entire The Beatles Play the Residents and the Residents Play the Beatles 7-inch, the B-side of the “Satisfaction” single (“Loser ≅ Weed”), and Snakefinger shredding Zappa’s “King Kong” in the style of Les Paul—the program includes incidental music performed by the Residents, who are, we are told, “content to walk around the studio, banging on instruments and making strange noises.” Meanwhile, a hostile interviewer, one “Sid Powell,” asks Jay Clem of Ralph Records Cryptic Corporation a series of insulting questions about the group. (“Now, don’t you feel a little foolish in this position? You’re no more than babysitters to a group of malcontented young fops.”) While I generally avoid speculating about the Residents’ identities in print, I can’t help but observe that Powell sure does sound an awful lot like one member of the band.
     

    The J-card from the cassette release of The Residents Radio Special
     
    Ralph Records released the program on a few small cassette runs in the early 80s. In 2002, Ralph re-released the radio special on the limited-edition CD Eat Exuding Oinks (named for a lyric in “Walter Westinghouse”), now equally scarce. Long ago, at one of the Bay Area’s gigantic record emporia, I snagged one of the original unmarked white tapes, still in the J-card printed on blue construction paper, for less than one dollar. Granted, that’s more than what it’s going to cost you to listen courtesy of YouTube, but it’s significantly less than what today’s junior Residents collector will expect to pay. I bring this up not so much to illustrate a point, as to gloat.
     

     
    Anyway, this Fingerprince-era artifact is a delightful piece of radio theater. You’ll hear Clem and Powell discuss the relationship between the Residents and the Beatles and the possible identity of same; the Theory of Phonetic Organization developed by the Mysterious N. Senada, who, we learn, sat in on “Kamikaze Lady” from Baby Sex; and the band’s work-in-progress Eskimo.

    Hear the broadcast after the jump…

    Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
    Hoarders: Photographer recreates grim scenes from his childhood
    04.24.2015
    06:15 am

    Topics:
    Art

    Tags:
    photography
    hoarders


     
    The hoarders I’ve seen on reality TV tend to be isolated and lonely. Often the shame of hoarding fosters seclusion, and/or the environment their disorder has produced alienates and repels friends and loved ones. I’ve never seen a hoarder living with children, presumably because a lucid parent (most hoarders appear to have some level of self-awareness about what they’re doing), would know that a filthy home is a health hazard. Hoarder parents would have to be more secretive for fear of losing their children, though tragically this would leave them less likely to reach out for help, preserving the conditions of an afflicted family. Photographer Geoff Johnson and his sister grew up in hoarder’s house, and his series, “Behind the Door” tells the story eloquently:

    Behind the Door explores the daily life of living with a parent who is a hoarder from a child’s perspective. This work is a personal reflection from Geoff and his sister’s life growing up.

    Geoff recreated images displaying how stuff not only consumed his childhood home, but deteriorated conditions for daily living, ultimately shaping who he would become.

    Johnson actually went back to his childhood home to stage the scenes—the first time he’d been in the house since he moved out in 1995. The photos are immediately tragic, but there is an anxiety too, as you try to imagine little feet navigating such irregular and unstable terrain.
     

     

     

     
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
    Everything ever recorded of Bill Hicks—EVER—to be released in 2015
    04.24.2015
    06:05 am

    Topics:
    Amusing
    Heroes

    Tags:
    Bill Hicks


     
    The premature death of Bill Hicks was one of the greatest tragedies to ever befall American comedy. His hilarious and unabashedly angry attacks on conservatism, complacency, and stupidity made him a cult figure in his lifetime, but cancer claimed him in early 1994, just as he was poised to achieve real fame, so we never got to see him continue maturing into the gifted comedic truth-seeker he seemed bound to become, a legitimate heir to Lenny Bruce and George Carlin. Like any tortured genius type worth discussing, Hicks was full of contradictions—he criticized the alcohol industry for peddling poison, but he took a perverse and boastful pride in his own cigarette consumption. He embraced a deeply moral we-are-all-as-one-in-the-cosmos philosophy, yet he sometimes took a sadistic glee in dehumanizing the rural underclass (as a conservative-raised southerner himself, he gets a pass on that). And though he constantly torpedoed commercial opportunists, he himself was seeking career visibility, and paradoxically, purity, in a milieu that necessitated rather a lot of commercial engagement. His career wasn’t helped, either, by his willingness to derail a performance to attack his audience, or even just a single member thereof, though that shit was every bit as golden as his prepared material. Behold:
     

     
    If you’re skeptical of Hicks’ counterculture bona fides, consider that one of his most infamous bits was a call-to-action for the entire advertising industry to commit suicide.
     

     
    A 1997 drop of CD releases on the Rykodisc label kept Hicks’ memory and work alive while introducing him to those who missed out. Four were issued in the first batch, the excellent Dangerous and Relentless, which were reissues of albums released during Hicks’ lifetime, and Arizona Bay and Rant in E Minor, which Hicks completed and mixed, but were only released posthumously. Those latter two feature Hicks’ guitar playing layered in with his standup, to deeply mixed effect—there are significant portions of Arizona Bay where Hicks’ words are rendered maddeningly inaudible by his psych guitar efforts, while Rant is the Hicks album to get if you can only get one. It was recorded after his cancer diagnosis, and is unparalleled in its bitterness and audacity—as though cancer were vitriol and he was trying to purge himself— and good GOD, it is funny as hell. The bit about Rush Limbaugh in the bathtub alone could have made Hicks a legend.

    Continues after the jump…

    Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
    ‘The Twilight Zone’ meets M.C. Escher meets Dali in the philosophical comic strip ‘the bus’
    04.23.2015
    02:08 pm

    Topics:
    Amusing
    Art
    Books

    Tags:
    Heavy Metal
    Paul Kirchner


     
    A few weeks ago I highlighted “Dope Rider,” the trippy Wild West cartoon that appeared in High Times over a number of years in the 1970s and 1980s. The talented artist of those comic strips was Paul Kirchner, whose masterwork may well be a thoughtful and surreal strip about a municipal bus that appeared regularly in Heavy Metal over the same period, from 1979 to roughly 1985. That strip, “the bus” (always scrupulously set in lower-case), provided an ideal starting point for Kirchner’s fertile imagination, as the strip explored many variations of futility and disaster, fueled as much by The Twilight Zone and Godzilla as the paintings of Salvador Dali and M.C. Escher. As Kirchner himself writes in the afterword to a dandy collection of “the bus” published in 2012 by a French company called Éditions Tanibis,
     

    The humor was inspired by the crazy logic of Warner Brothers cartoons; the paranoia of the Twilight Zone television program; and the surrealistic artwork of Bosch, Magritte, Dali, and Escher.

     
    Escher, for sure—although the comic strips remind me of nothing so much as the playful, deadpan philosophy presented in the works of Jorge Luis Borges.

    The book collects 73 of the strips (if my counting is accurate), which would represent almost precisely six years’ worth of output, as reflected in Kirchner’s account. According to Kirchner, he had wanted to present the strip in a horizontal format in the hopes of selling it to the Village Voice, but an editor at Heavy Metal had the shrewd idea of reducing the size:
     

    Shortly after getting my foot in the door, I approached editor Julie Simmons [at Heavy Metal] with a comic strip called “the bus” (always written in lower case). I had drawn the first ten episodes in a horizontal format because I had intended to sell it to a weekly newspaper, the Village Voice. However, the Village Voice turned it down, though the art director was gracious enough to tell me it was the best thing he had ever rejected. Julie liked it and decided to run it as a half-page feature, as Heavy Metal often sold half-page ads and had to fill the remaining space.

     
    Many, though not all, instances of “the bus” have precisely six panels, and most of my favorites are wordless. Tanibis to be saluted for rescuing these great strips from obscurity—even Kirchner himself admits that he never had much idea if anyone really liked the strip:
     

    In those days before the internet, I rarely got feedback from readers about my work. It was published and I was paid, but what did people think of it? I didn’t know.

     
    According to Tanibis, Kirchner has recently started doing “the bus” cartoons again, and Tanibis intends to publish an updated collection before the year is out. Very good news for all of Kirchner’s fans.

    (For all the comics embedded in this post, clicking on the image will spawn a larger version.)
     

     

     

     
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    Douchebag denim company sells $298 jacket and $348 jeans with fake heavy metal patches on them
    04.23.2015
    12:53 pm

    Topics:
    Fashion
    Music

    Tags:
    heavy metal
    clothes


     
    Apparently “Heavy metal Chic” is the hot new look, whether you like the music or not! First, retailer H & M created an affordable line of metal vestmentss for bands that have never existed, including a few pieces that appear to reference white supremacist imagery (you’d think as a Swedish retailer, they’d know better). It was an absurd stunt, and we all had a laugh, but at least we all learned something. Right?!?

    Wrong! Diesel—commonly known as the denim line of Guido douchebags—is now selling a $298 jacket and a pair of $348 jeans, both covered in “metalesque” patches. Again, these are not real bands, nor do they sound even passably cool—“ACAB” is apparently an acronym for “All cats are beautiful?!?” You know, at least with the H & M stunt, this stuff was affordable, but these prices for phony bands and “70% Cotton, 26% Polyester and 4% Elastane-Spandex?” The denim isn’t even real!

    If I may dust off an old chestnut: death to false metal! (And death to false denim!)
     

     

     

     
    Via Metal Sucks

    Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
    ‘Bringing eye contact back to the 21st century’ with The Texting Hat
    04.23.2015
    09:40 am

    Topics:
    Amusing
    Pop Culture

    Tags:
    texting hat


     
    Okay, so maybe this isn’t a real thing yet… but, c’mon, you know it’s coming! With the tagline “Bringing eye contact back to the 21st century” the Texting Hat is here to solve all your phone zombie problems. What a great invention. You look like you actually care when in reality zero fucks are given!

    Right now they’re not for sale, but the Texting Hat website encourages you to just make your own goddamned hat:


     
    The directions are foolproof.

     
    via The Kraftfuttermischwerk

    Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
    SATAN! Amazing trove of outsider art found in Detroit
    04.23.2015
    08:22 am

    Topics:
    Art

    Tags:
    Detroit
    Clifton Harvey


     
    A very Henry Darger-ish story has begun to unfold in Detroit, USA—an asbestos inspector (what a thankless job THAT must be in Detroit) found several drawings in a house slated for demolition, and gave them to that city’s alt-weekly, the Metro Times.

    Reader Joseph Goeddeke found these drawings in an abandoned Detroit house that he was inspecting for asbestos while working for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The house was scheduled to be demolished later that day, and Goeddeke (who says he’s “not an art guy” but thinks “they are great drawings”) decided to save the art and send it to us. We’re glad he did.

    We don’t know anything about the artist other than that one of the pages is signed “Clifton Harvey” and dated “12/79.”

    The Metro Times’ Lee DeVito has asked that anyone knowing who Clifton Harvey is or was contact the paper at arts@metrotimes.com.

    The drawings are not entirely unlike editorial cartoons, some depicting Satan leading humans into hateful acts. Harvey seems to have had a very specific loathing for racism.
     

     

     
    Some, unsurprisingly, depict eschatological themes, especially Satan’s ultimate demise.
     

     

    Oh great and powerful Satan, King of all kings, the coming of the other Lord has drawn very near. Most of your people have gone into hiding and say they will not fight by your side against such a great and powerful force. More and more people on the Earth’s surface are starting to turn toward the Bible and worship this enemy. They say they can no longer fear a king who can take only the body, but the one who can take both body and sole great Lord.

     

     

    Behold Satan, Lord of all evil, your last day has come. Death to you and all like you. No longer shall your wickedness be tolerated. I shall [indecipherable] you and yours from all the rest. As of this day never again will you bother anyone.

     
    A great big, sloppy, wet Ave Satanas to Taylor Rick for this find.

    Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
    The Rolling Stones take over ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ 1965-66

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    “The weekend starts here!” was the opening catchphrase for Ready, Steady, Go!—the preferred pop show of choice for millions of British youth between 1963 and 1966. Filmed in a small studio in central London, Ready, Steady, Go! was the first pop show (from 1965 onwards) to present bands playing live—unlike its rival Top of the Pops that continued with predominantly mimed performances until the late 1990s.

    Though it may not seem it now, Ready, Steady, Go! was revolutionary television when first broadcast, leading one TV historian to see the program as “a line of demarcation drawn between one kind of Britain and another.”

    The “Queen of Mods,” Cathy McGowan was the program’s best known host, who had originally been hired as a production advisor after replying to an advert looking for “a typical teenager.” Other presenters included the (middle-aged) Keith Fordyce and (briefly) singer Sandie Shaw. Unlike most music shows at the time, Ready, Steady, Go! brought in a live audience that could be seen dancing, cavorting and occasionally mobbing the acts.
     

     
    The show also benefited from allowing artists to play full versions of their songs, and one of the highlights was the specials featuring bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Animals showcasing recent hits.  Between ‘65 and ‘66, The Rolling Stones made two showcases performing a variety of tracks including “Under My Thumb,” “Paint It Black” and “Satisfaction.” These sets have since been edited together as a Ready, Steady Go!: Rolling Stones Special which was aired on Channel 4 some thirty-odd years after first broadcast.

    Watch the Rolling Stones on ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ after the jump…

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    The Cramps’ long-lost video for ‘Human Fly’ FOUND!!!


     
    The story goes that in 1978, the Cramps made a video, filmed by Alex de Laszlo, for their song “Human Fly,” that featured singer Lux Interior (RIP 2009) in a classic movie-monster transformation scene—but it seemed like nobody saw it, or could even prove it existed. A close perusal of Thomas Owen Sheridan’s collection of contemporary zine articles about the band—itself a rare Cramps collectible—yielded exactly one reference to its existence.
     

    Seriously, that’s it.

    The 1990 book Wild Wild World of the Cramps, by Ian Johnston, who also wrote the book on Nick Cave, offered this:

    In May, The Cramps made their first tentative steps into the world of promotional video. A friend who was studying at film school suggested his services and a short three-minute film, based on the song ‘Human Fly’ was produced. The film was made for under $200 and featured Lux painfully transforming into a fly. This artefact is now so rare that even Lux and Ivy do not have a copy of the film.

    In 2011, an amazing blog post by Kogar Theswingingape proffered actual screen caps and a scene-by-scene breakdown, but the video itself wasn’t posted.

    The film opens with a countdown and a placard with: Vengeance Productions Presents a Film by Alex de Laszlo. It immediately cuts to a shot of Ivy walking down the street, transistor radio glued to her ear (The Way I Walk is playing), blowing bubbles and holding a glass bottle coke. Cut to a somber looking Lux in a smoking jacket sitting on what appears to be a leopard print sofa. He’s prepping a huge hypodermic needle by lighting a match and holding it under the needle.

    Lux then gathers up some flesh from around his throat and slowly injects himself.

    The result is immediate; he begins a transformation!

     

     
    Well, it seems that a couple of months ago, the actual film, AT LONG LAST, after decades of existing as little more than a tantalizing rumor, finally and with little fanfare found its way to YouTube. It’s amazing that this sine qua non of Cramps ephemera has been online for months with such a paltry view-count. Let’s ramp those numbers up a bit, shall we?
     

     
    This post is dedicated to the memory of “Brother Ed” Wille, who probably had this on an 8MM reel or something. Many thanks to Shawn Swagerty for alerting me to this find.

    Previously on Dangerous Minds
    The Cramps ‘Human Fly’ opera version
    The Cramps want to know: ‘Can Your Pussy do the Dog?’

    Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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