Elvis died for somebody’s sins, but not Mick Farren’s
07.30.2013
07:13 am

Topics:
Books
Heroes
Literature
Music
R.I.P.

Tags:
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.
 

Written by Thomas McGrath | Discussion
Give The Anarchist A Cigarette: Counterculture legend Mick Farren dies with his boots on


 

“This is British amphetamine psychosis music and if you don’t like it you can fuck off and listen to your Iron Butterfly albums”—Mick Farren

It is with great sadness that I report the death of my friend, Mick Farren, the legendary author, novelist, journalist, leader of The Deviants and prime mover of the counterculture for five decades. A wake in London is being organized in London by Charles Shaar Murray. There’s going to be a wake in Los Angeles next Saturday, at 3pm, at The Cat & Fiddle on Sunset Blvd.

A few years back, on this blog, in a review of Rich Deakin’s excellent book, Keep It Together!: Cosmic Boogie with The Deviants and the Pink Fairies, I wrote:

The Deviants were the first British band who were true anarchists. “Street Fighting Man” was just a fashionable pose, these guys lived and snorted their politics. Agitprop bands like The Clash, Crass and Manic Street Preachers would most definitely tread in their ideological footsteps, whether conscious of it or not.

I also returned to Mick Farren’s autobiography, Give The Anarchist A Cigarette and spent some time looking over the issues of The International Times that are online. When I was in my teens, maybe 15 or 16, I found a whole stack of old issues of IT (which Farren wrote for) in a used bookstore where I’d normally buy back issues of National Lampoons, comics, Rolling Stone and Creem. How they got there, I will never know, but Mick Farren’s political rants and commie/anarchist screeds really resonated with me. Finding these underground papers demonstrated for me the existence of a world outside my hometown—an underground—that I had to become a part of myself. It was an amazing score for a kid like me, as you might imagine and I would read then over and over again. I’m sure that stack of mags had a lot to do with me picking up and leaving home when I was 17 and moving to London, where I lived in a succession of squats for a couple of years. Reading Keep It Together, I became much more aware of what a big influence Mick Farren had on me politically during my formative years and that influence, I think was major. Extremely important to me, thinking back on it. (Whenever I see that one of my own political rants makes it to Mick’s Doc 40 blog, I always get a kick out of it).

At that same time, I was also a subscriber to The Trouser Press, the “New Wave” and post-punk magazine, and Mick wrote a lot of each issue. Via that publication—which I would patiently wait by the mailbox for, psychically willing it to show up—he was probably the rock writer second only to the great Lester Bangs in turning me on to good music.

If ever there was a figure of 20th century counterculture who should be lionized and treated as a respected and revered elder statesman whilst he is still with us, it is the one and only Mister Mick Farren. Farren left sunny Los Angles to return to the UK late last year. People of Great Britain, a legend drinks amongst you! Where the hell is Mick Farren’s Guardian column already? Come on let’s pick up the pace.

Mick told me that he didn’t want to die in America and who could blame him? You know the old adage, “It’s not the age of the car, it’s the mileage”? Well, there was a helluva lot of mileage on Mick’s body. In earth years he was 69, but if you take into account all of the life lived that was crammed into those decades—and all the pounds of drugs and thousands of gallons of alcohol that have coursed through his liver and bloodstream—he was probably twice that old in real terms. In my entire life, I’ve only ever known one single solitary person who could drink with more two-fisted gusto than Mick. The guy partied with Lemmy, for chrissakes! The last time I saw Mick, right before he left Los Angeles in 2010, he could barely breathe. Walking even a short distance completely winded him.

A few years ago, the matter of Mick’s precarious health came up in conversation with a mutual friend. We both wondered how in the world he could make it through the length of an entire Deviants gig, but the conversation ended with the two of us agreeing that we both hoped he’d die onstage.

Mick Farren died last night in London after collapsing onstage at a Deviants gig at the Borderline.

He died with his boots on. Like a rockstar.

Goodbye Micky, you were truly one of the greats.
 

 
As intense as the MC5 and The Stooges and as irreverent as The Fugs, here are The Deviants, LIVE:
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Rock’n'roll as spontaneous Paganism: Mick Farren on Nick Cave, Elvis and the Devil
02.22.2013
06:29 am

Topics:
Music
Occult

Tags:
Nick Cave
Mick Farren


 
Guest post by the great Mick Farren—an exclusive extract from his contribution to Mark Goodall’s Gathering of the Tribe: Music and Heavy Conscious Creation, a collection of essays on music and the occult, featuring contributions on The Fall, The Beatles, The Wu Tang Clan and more. Now available in paperback for the special price of $20.77.

Even the most cursory theological (or even Reichian) shakedown will reveal that rock’n’roll has quantum multiples of the potential mythic/mystic power ever commanded by conventional Satanism. Where so much of contemporary Satanism—with its upside down crosses, modified but still liturgical robes and rituals, its ammended litanies, the serving of a faux-Eucharist from the naked torso of an immobilized cooch dancer on bad acid (shout out, hey, Susan Atkins!)—reveals it as nothing nothing more than an inverted critique of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. (Much in the way that Marxism was essentially a critique of Victorian capitalism rather than a stand alone philosophy.)

Rock’n’roll, on the other hand, arrived on its own mythical half-shell and right away went about its own anarchic rites and wild communions. Jim Morrison, although decidedly from the death-star dark-side, and a fully accredited Agent of Chaos knew he didn’t need any contracts with Beelzebub. He was the Lizard King. He could do anything. The only deal he’d cut would be with Dionysius. John Lennon had stood in the power-eye of the rock’n’roll hurricane and knew what he was talking about when he made his famous “the Beatles are bigger than Jesus” remark.(That is, oddly, rarely quoted in full.)

Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first—rock’n’roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.

A full decade before Lennon and Morrison, however, some of the preachers who railed against rock’n’roll showed an awareness this brand new back-beat-from-the-pit might not be an instrument of Satan at all but a whole new independent threat to the god-fearing. In April of 1956. Lutheran minister W. Carter Merbreier attended an Elvis Presley show in Philadelphia where he observed “nervous, giggling girls screaming, falling to their knees as if in prayer, flopping limply over seats, stretching rigidly, wriggling in a supreme effort of ecstasy.” A few months later Des Moines Baptist, the Rev. Carl Elgena, warned his congregation that “Elvis Presley is morally insane and leading other young people to the same end. The belief of unholy pleasure has sent the morals of our nation down to rock bottom and the crowning addition to this day’s corruption is Elvis Presleyism.”

The concept “Elvis Presleyism” brings us to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ album The Firstborn is Dead. In the opening song, “Tupelo”—a radical reworking of a John Lee Hooker classic—Cave makes the vividly dramatic suggestion that the birth of Elvis Presley, coupled with the death of stillborn twin, Jesse Garon, was the product of a supernatural, of not apocalyptic, event horizon.

The black rain come down
Water water everywhere
Where no bird can fly no fish can swim
Where no bird can fly no fish can swim
No fish can swim
Til The King is born in Tupelo!

Cave wrote ‘Tupelo’ in 1984, seven years after Presley’s death, when it was plain that many of Elvis Presley’s more obsessive fans maintained a personal relationship with their idol that was wholly akin to born-again Christians professing to have an exclusive one-on-one with Jesus. When the Reverends Merbreier and Elgena hinted, way back in 1956, that Elvis might be the dangerous pied piper of some form of neo-paganism, they had the protection of the pulpit. For a lay person to explore such a concept would have been to court accusations of being certifiably crazy or worse. Who in their right mind could seriously suggest that the Son of Gladys might be—in addition to all his other accomplishments—a 20th century fertility symbol inately desired by a frightened world, maybe even before the mushroom clouds had fully dissipated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Humanity had developed the chain-reaction capacity for global-scale species-destruction, but had failed to evolve a philosophy to handle such hideous and overwhelming power. Couple that with plans for cookie-cutter totalitarian capitalism in one hemisphere with mirror-image Marxist repression in the other, plus new and tricky concepts like consumer uniformity and the pharmaceutical-brainwash tyranny of the psycho-civilized society (a major favorite of Sidney Gottlieb and the gang at MKULTRA), and a great many people—especially young people—wondered if they’d be better off back in the jungle for some animalism among the Old Gods.

Could the Elvis, the hillbilly cat, also be a Avalon mist-figure from an Arthurian Lord-of-the-Dance saga, or the myths of wounded Fisher Kings that stretched clear back to the megaliths of prehistory — and were so seriously and ironically invoked when Constantine and St. Augustine were mixing up Jesus Christ with Mithras to create the official deity of the Roman War Machine? Elvis the Fertility God may have also found himself cross fertilized by the horned and phallic, dark Legba divinities of Dahomey with their human sacrifices and Amazon girl soldiers, but, hell, isn’t that the just story of rock’n’roll?

If the pop culture of the mid-20th century was indeed a neo-pagan theocracy on the half shell, Marilyn Monroe could well have been drafted in as goddess-consort—although that might well cause a measure of temporal confusion that perhaps Jack Kennedy was the true Boy King from Camelot who actually took the hit. This would leave Elvis—who, by 1963, had been shorn and symbolically grunt-castrated as a conscript in what had formerly been George Patton’s Second Armored Division (Hell On Wheels)—as a much more esoteric entity.

But did anyone promise theology would be fast? Religions do not coagulate overnight. Christianity has had two full millenia on the game, plenty of time to work out its tortures, terrors, inquisitions, witchhunts, and multiple varieties of auto-da-fé. Rock—should it really prove to be a pagan belief system, or, more likely, a suspension of disbelief—has only been rolling for a tad over half a century, and, although it has exerted a profound effect on the culture of the times, its behaviour has been remarkably benign. It has provoked a number of peaceful mass gatherings, a few riots, only a very modest number of actual death cults, and made something of a junkie mess of the war in Vietnam.

Rock’n’roll has yet to pull any kind shit that stacks up against the Crusades or the Malleus Maleficarum. Although the second decade of the 21st century is hardly a halcyon time for paganism of any kind, and Evangelical Christianity—in the USA at least—is being allowed to get away with wholly unreasonable acts of fundamental stupidity. Route 66 runs now through a cruelly synched Bible Belt, and bands I don’t even care to name sell holy relics of what was once truly sacred. Perhaps some minor reformation might be about due, although the time is hardly ripe for burning corporate rock bands or even Simon Cowell in the cathedral square. At best we might reflect on Nick Cave and his speculations on what wonders might have attended the birth of Elvis Presley on January 8th, 1935, and wonder where they may take us.

In a clap-board shack with a roof of tin
Where the rain came down and leaked within
A young mother frozen on a concrete floor
With a bottle and a box and a cradle of straw

And Robert Johnson? Well hell, maybe he was taking about a wholly different devil.

The King will walk on Tupelo!
Tupelo-o-o! O Tupelo!
He carried the burden outa Tupelo!
Tupelo-o-o! Hey Tupelo! [Repeat]
You will reap just what you sow

Mick Farren

Previously on Dangerous Minds: Punk Esotericism: The Occult Roots of the Wu Tang Clan
 

Written by Thomas McGrath | Discussion
Elvis Died For Somebody’s Sins But Not Mine


 
What a great title, right?

Just in time for the Aztec calendar to run out (and let’s not forget Christmas, of course) comes Elvis Died For Somebody’s Sins But Not Mine, a collection of Mick Farren’s primal ‘up against the wall, motherfucker’ style of rock and roll polemics. One man’s literary life spent railing against the machine lives between these covers. The hidden history of the twentieth century and beyond. He was there and you weren’t. Listen up, children!

Within these pages you’ll meet the likes of Frank Zappa, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry and Gore Vidal, and steam open correspondence between the author and Pete Townshend. And, much more importantly, you’re about to go one-on-one with a world-class raconteur… If this kind of mess-around seems like your cup of meat, then prepare your relaxant of choice, kick back and dig in. The greasy ’oodlums are at your door.”

—Charles Shaar Murray (from his foreword)

About the Author:
Mick Farren was born on a wet night at the end of World War II. During his long, occasionally hallucinatory, and sometimes hell-raising career, he has published twenty-two novels (including The DNA Cowboys Trilogy). He has also published more than a dozen non-fiction works on topics that range from music to drugs to conspiracy theory (including Give The Anarchist A Cigarette). An unreconstructed rock & roller, he continues to function as a recording artist and songwriter. He has also made detours into anarcho-agitprop like editing the underground newspaper IT, and defending both his liberty and the comic book Nasty Tales through a protracted obscenity trail at the Old Bailey.

He was part of what is now called (by some) the NME golden age, during which time he helped explain punk to people who still thought Rick Wakeman had merit. As a lyricist, Mick’s words have been sung by Metallica, Motorhead, Hawkwind, Brother Wayne Kramer, the Royal Crown Revue, and the Pink Fairies.

Publisher Headpress are offering a very limited stamped, numbered and signed deluxe edition hardback of Elvis Died For Somebody’s Sins But Not Mine, only available from their website, and for the special price of £28 until December 3. There’s also an unsigned hardback edition selling £20, but I sez get yours autographed. Why regret not getting it signed?

And just in case you were wondering, here is a list of the drugs found in Elvis’‘s body when he died, included in the book as a piece of found poetry:

Codeine—at a concentration ten times higher than the toxic level

Morphine—possible metabolite of codeine

Methaqualone—Quaalude, above toxic level

Diazepam—Valium

Diazepam metabolite

Ethinamate—Valmid

Ethchlorvynol—Placidyl

Amobarbital—Amytal

Pentobarbital—Nembutal

Pentobarbital—Carbrital

Meperidine—Demerol

Phenyltoloxamine—Sinutab (a decongestant)

Below, Mick Farren talks about the underground press in London with John Peel in 1967.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Road Movie: Mick Farren’s nightmare noir pulp fiction
10.22.2012
01:55 pm

Topics:
Books
Heroes
Punk

Tags:
Mick Farren


Photo of the great Mick Farren by Rebekah Weikel

An excerpt from Mick Farren’s nightmarish new “pulp fiction” novel, Road Movie, published by Penny-Ante Editions

A MORNING TOO FAR

Doc had been set up like a bowling pin. Sub-space gossip about GS-AS Pentecostal Fire Boys with snitches in tow, shaman mumblings from the jungle hinter world of insurrection and planned cannibalism, while much closer to home the ominous silence that follows and envelopes a pariah left him in no doubt that he was being fingered far and wide for Huxley Hahn’s Roman butchery at the notorious Cardinal’s fuck pad. Doc had no idea why he’d been chosen to take the fall – or if the motel interlude at the Red Barn had been a part of a long term setup – but it had clearly been decreed somewhere on the higher floors of Golgotha, and, in consequence, he was royally fucking screwed.

His only option was to run like hell until finally seeking sanctuary by holing up with The Blimp, and to hole up with The Blimp was nothing short of an application for extended turn-your-stomach revulsion. Not that Doc could exactly complain. Okay, so The Blimp was disgusting, rarely moved, and lay like a filthy, partially inflated Buddha, in a stained yukata, smoking some black sticky-bastard narcotic concoction muled out of highlands by tribesmen not much more civilized than their headhunter ancestors. Hits on the crusted pipe alternated with hits of over-proof Demerara rum straight from the bottle —the kind that would explode if brought in proximity to a lit cigarette—and all the while The Blimp was idly masturbating to bestial porn streaming from some Mongolian mob black satellite, under the constant forced observation of a purchased and paid-for, although barely legal, chained hermaphrodite.

Doc had tried a couple of hits on the glass and tinfoil burner, but it had only made him want to vomit. However, The Blimp was effectively and quite efficiently keeping Doc Forty alive, and, for that alone, Doc knew he was required to be appreciative. If he ever failed to remember, the noise from the street below the filtered up from the Blimp’s personal crew of bosozoku, known as the Dragon Gang—over-revving their lightweight Suzuki’s, all James-Dean mean, acting as his first-line lookouts—was always there to remind him.

While The Blimp stared blankly at his high definition porn parade of cocks, cunts, and come shots, rope and pulleys, blocks and tackles, Lucite heels, leather masks, and domestic animals on the huge loud flat-screen, Doc took a hamster run on the wheel of paranoia. He was wide open, exposed on every side. His reputation was shit. If they wanted him for a patsy, fuck it; they only needed to send a goddamned meter maid. No need for an extended setup or charade, Doc was a scapegoat for the asking.

When the porn and paranoia became too much, Doc retreated to the foul privacy of The Blimp’s spare bedroom—which was stuffed with old and mildewed security files and bundles of bondage magazines—in search of oblivion. Fourteen Valium had finally put him to sleep, but then he was unable to wake from the nightmare. And it was some fucking nightmare. Usually Doc came out of bad dreams screaming, in this one, he was screaming going in. He screamed until he was dizzy, but it didn’t make a blind bit of difference. The cacophony just smashed back at him with some Newtonian equal-and-opposite logic, along with a vast reverberating boom, like the towering rhythmic rage of some vast aquatic mammal. He was already getting the remote assault treatment even before they had him in custody.

Mercifully one of The Blimp’s batboy gofers had managed to score Doc a flask of Hungarian absinthe and a tiny dropper bottle of the near-impossible-to-find concentrated tincture of opium. It was about the best exit from reality that he could expect in his current situation. He quickly filled a glass with a stiff shot of the absinthe, and then placed the ornate perforated spoon across the rim. A few sugar cubes remained in the box and he put one in the spoon with a trembling hand. He filled the dropper and held it as, with his free hand, he applied a gas lighter to the sugar. When the sugar began to melt, he quickly dropped tincture on it, leaning forward to inhale the vapor that briefly curled up from the cube. Then, as the sugar and opium became a liquid sludge, he dumped the contents of the spoon into the glass and gave it a brisk stir. Pale green clouds blossomed in the absinthe, and, without any hesitation or need for ritual; he downed the unattractive cocktail in one foul tasting swallow. Oblivion did not have to taste good. They would come for him soon enough, and he might as well spend the intervening time knowing as little about it as possible.

 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
‘Watch Out Kids’: Legendary UK underground publication


 
Dangerous Minds pal Mick Farren will be performing at SPACE Exhibitions in London this Thursday night, where the 1972 alternative comic he put together with the late underground psycheledelic cartoonist, Edward Barker will be be on display. Watch Out Kids features Barker’s own work along with work by Spain, Robert Crumb, Malcolm Livingstone, Gilbert Shelton and others. From Mick’s email:

The event is a re-examination and maybe a celebration of the agitprop tome Watch Out Kids that Edward Barker and I put together way back in the 20th century. The book was a highly subjective compendium of counterculture graphics and the rogue philosophy of the psychedelic left. Since a gallery show, by definition, is primarily visual, the major tribute is really to the work of the late great Edward. But I will be showing up with master guitarist Andy Colquhoun - a once and future Deviant and Pink Fairy - plus our new friend and percussionist, Jaki Miles-Windmill, to perform poetry and other rhymed writings.

The deal is that doors open at 6.00pm; allowing us to stand around, drink free beer, pose and chat, observe and be observed, until sometime just after eight, when we the performers get down and perform. Finally after the show, we head into the after-party at which a good time will be had by all.

For the exhibition at SPACE the entire book will be displayed on the Library walls alongside a video archive featuring a new interview with Mick Farren by SPACE curator Paul Pieroni. As a lifelong Mick Farren fan, I am gratified to see that this national treasure is beginning to be properly respected about a year in from his move back home to England. (Farren lived in New York, then Los Angeles, where I know him, for many years). People of Great Britain, a counterculture legend walks among you (again).

Preview Thu 1st Sept, 6 - 9 pm at SPACE Exhibitions, 129-131 Mare Street in Dalston. 020 8525 4330

Below, Mick Farren interviewed about the underground press by John Peel.
 

 

 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Dangerous Minds Radio Hour Episode 18

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Another solo DJ excursion from Richard Metzger, spinning tunes from the Monkees, Lydia Lunch, Hawkwind, Mick Farren, Ru Paul, Liam Lynch, Big Daddy Kane, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Lene Lovich, Blur vs. The Pet Shop Boys, Eels, Jeff Beck, the Dandy Warhols, Super Furry Animals, obscure 70s glam rocker Brett Smiley and more.

01. Monkees: Tema Di Monkees
02. Monkees: PO Box 9847 (alt stereo mix)
03. Malvina Reynolds: Little Boxes
04. Lene Lovich: Lucky Number
05. Lydia Lunch: Carnival Fatman
06. Hawkwind: Silver Machine
07. Mick Farren: Aztec Calendar
08. The Tomorrow People: Delia Derbyshire, Dudley Simpson, Brian Hodgson & David Vorhaus
09. PJ Proby: You Can’t Come Home Again If You Leave Me Now
10. Blur vs Pet Shop Boys: Boys & Girls
11. Ru Paul: Ping Ting Ting
12. Liam Lynch: My United States of Whatever
13. Monkees: Zilch
14. Del Tha Funkee Homosapien: Mister Bobalina
15. Big Daddy Kane: Warm It Up Kane
16. Jeff Beck: Hi Ho Silver Lining
17. Brett Smiley: Va Va Va Voom
18. Eels: That’s Not Really Funny
19. The Dandy Warhols: Bohemian Like You
20. Super Furry Animals: The Man Don’t Give A Fuck
 

 
Download this week’s episode
 
Subscribe to the Dangerous Minds Radio Hour podcast at iTunes

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Keep It Together! Mick Farren and The Deviants, LIVE, Hyde Park, 1969

image
 
Last week as I was reading Keep it together! Cosmic Boogie with The Deviants and The Pink Fairies Rich Deakin’s sprawling, exhaustively researched and extremely engaging biography of the ever shifting n’er do well personnel of the bands variously known as The Social Deviants, then just The Deviants, and eventually The Pink Fairies, I was annoyed to find that there was little video footage of the group—little? Try none! WTF?—on YouTube. What a difference a week makes because something amazing was posted there in the few days since I last looked.

I’ll let Mick Farren, one of the main characters in this rock and roll saga, take over. Quoting from Mick’s Doc 40 blog:

After waiting more than an unbelievable forty years to see the light of day or be seen by anyone, glorious grainy black and white footage of The Deviants in Hyde Park in September 1969 has finally been posted on YouTube by a crew called VideoHeads out of Amsterdam, led by the legendary Jack Henry Moore. It makes me very happy for a number of reasons, not least of which – after taking so much shit at the time as the allegedly “worst band in the world” – we actually kicked ass in front an estimated audience of 80 thousand in a manner that would have been wholly acceptable and even lauded some six or seven years later. Russell and Sandy are a rock solid foundation. Paul Rudolph’s guitar is mighty, and, as for me, when did you see jackknife shaman dancing the like which closes the show? Okay, so Rudolph and I engage, at one point, in some the atonal freeform bellowing that we called “mouth music”, but no one seems to have a problem with it. And we always attracted Hells Angels and crazy naked psychedelic women.

What you have up on YouTube right now is two sections of around nine minutes each, which – believe it or not – make two halves of one song – what the Pink Fairies would title “Uncle Harry’s Last Freakout”. I guess that was the real difference between the 1960s and 1970s. We could make a thrash last 17 minutes where the Clash or the Pistols would cut it off after three. And, by way of explanation for the opening harangue, the London Street Commune were staging a protest against homelessness by occupying the mansion at 144 Piccadilly at the other end of Park Lane. I’d been warned by the ranking cop at the park concert that my feet wouldn’t touch if I got into any kind of rant about the squatters who were about to be evicted in a massive police action. I just had to test the limits.

But don’t take my word for it. Here are some reminiscences from ukrockfestivals.com

“The most memorable bit for me was when The Deviants were playing and a semi-nude young lady got up on stage and began to dance. As she started to remove the rest of her clothes there was a huge cheer from the crowd. Then a Hells Angel also got on stage and took his leather jacket off to another great cheer but then he put the jacket over the young lady’s shoulders and guided her off the stage, this time to a chorus of boos from the disappointed audience. It was though, another wonderful afternoon in Hyde Park with great music and relaxed atmosphere.” – Steve Trusler

“I remember Al Stewart sitting down on a chair on stage and playing a mellow set of bedsitter folk songs. Quite a few people seemed to like him, but I found him rather wishy-washy (yawn). I remember that the Deviants were absolutely not wishy-washy ~ very aggressive and angry. I’ve heard them described as being the first real punk band. Works for me. But most of all I remember being entranced by the sublime musicality of the Soft Machine. A brilliant band. So totally outside. Imprinted on my memory is the sight of Robert Wyatt singing, and playing amazingly complex drum patterns, wearing just a pair of Y-fronts.” – Jeremy S.

Reading Keep it together!, I was listening daily to the music that Mick Farren has made over the years, primarily Ptooff! and the best of selection, People Call You Crazy: The Story of Mick Farren. Some of it’s pretty amazing stuff, but sadly unheard by many of the music fans who would appreciate it the most. The Deviants’ sound was quite obviously influenced by early Mothers of Invention, The Fugs and The MC5. It could be menacing and leering (“I’m Coming Home”), proto-punk protest (“Garbage”) and sometimes they just wanted to rock out with a Bo Diddley beat. Although I do like the Pink Fairies and also some of Twink’s solo material, I’m really mostly interested in the era when Farren was providing the radical, intellectual lyrics and fronting the group. The Deviants were the first British band who were true anarchists. “Street Fighting Man” was just fashionable pose, these guys lived and snorted their politics. Agitprop bands like The Clash, Crass and the Manic Street Preachers would most definitely tread in their ideological footsteps, whether conscious of it or not.

I also returned to Mick Farren’s autobiography, Give The Anarchist A Cigarette and spent some time looking over the issues of The International Times that are online. When I was in my teens, maybe 15 or 16, I found a whole stack of old issues of IT magazines (which Farren wrote for) in a used bookstore where I’d normally buy old National Lampoons, comics, Rolling Stone and Creem. How they got there, I will never know, but Mick Farren’s political rants and commie/anarchist screeds really resonated with me. Finding these underground papers demonstrated for me the existence of a world outside my hometown—an underground—that I had to become a part of myself. It was an amazing score for a kid like me, as you might imagine and I would read then over and over again. I’m sure that stack of mags had a lot to do with me picking up and leaving home when I was 17 and moving to London, where I lived in a succession of squats for a couple of years. Reading Keep It Together, I became much more aware of what a big influence Mick Farren had on me politically during my formative years and that influence, I think was major. Extremely important to me, thinking back on it. (Whenever I see that one of my own political rants makes it to Mick’s Doc 40 blog, I always get a kick out of it).

About that same time, I was a subscriber to The Trouser Press magazine, which Mick wrote a lot of each issue. Via that publication—which I would wait by the mailbox for each month, willing it to show up—he was probably the rock writer second only to the great Lester Bangs in turning me on to good music.

If ever there was a figure of 20th century counterculture who should be lionized and treated as a respected and revered elder statesman whilst he is still with us, it is the one and only Mister Mick Farren. Farren left sunny Los Angles to return to the UK late last year. People of Great Britain, a legend drinks amongst you! Where the hell is Mick Farren’s Guardian column already? Come on let’s pick up the pace.

“This is British amphetamine psychosis music and if you don’t like it you can f*ck off and listen to your Iron Butterfly albums”—Mick Farren

As intense as the MC5 and The Stooges and as irreverent as The Fugs, here are The Deviants, LIVE:
 

 
More of the Deviants LIVE after the jump…

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
John Peel interviews Mick Farren about the underground press

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Fantastic! Vintage interview with Dangerous Minds pal Mick Farren (seen here with ex-wife Joy) conducted by John Peel!

Here the legendary Mr. Farren discusses how “the authorities” would pressure printers not to deal with the International Times or the underground press as a means of suppressing it. Towards the end, he sketches out how an underground economy would work. What a thrill to see this. Imagine if rock stars today were this smart!

When Mick gets back to me about this interview (not mentioned in his autobiography Give the Anarchist a Cigarette) I will update this post.
 

 
Via Blog to Comm

More Mick Farren on Dangerous Minds

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Early Marc Bolan: Tyrannosaurus Rex perform ‘The Seal of the Seasons’

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Not T-Rex, but the earlier incarnation of the band, when they were still called Tyrannosaurus Rex. Marc Bolan is seen here with percussionist Steve “Peregrin” Took, performing “The Seal of the Seasons” from their 1969 Unicorn album.

After an American tour where the decidedly much more “party hardy” Took, well, partied heartily, Bolan sacked Took, replaced him with Mickey Finn and promptly became an internationally recognized superstar. Took immediately went off to work with more underground and anarchic types like Twink (from The Pretty Things) and Mick Farren (who’d been ousted from his band, The Deviants), forming a proto-version of what became The Pink Fairies.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Bon voyage Mick Farren! LA’s loss is England’s gain!
10.26.2010
08:42 am

Topics:
Heroes
History
Literature
Punk

Tags:
Mick Farren

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When I was a bored teenager living in Wheeling. West Virginia in the early 1980s, the absolutely indisputable highlight of my month was receiving my subscription copy of The Transatlantic Trouser Press magazine, of which Mick Farren was one of the two main writers. As I also felt about CREEM’s Lester Bangs (who had a huge, huge influence on my musical tastes and indeed, my young mental growth, in general), when a new group had the Trouser Press/Mick Farren seal of approval, I had to rush right out and check it out.

In the post-punk era, there were fantastic new bands coming out every week and the Trouser Press (named for a Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah song, so I was already inclined to love it) was the indispensable guide to this era, musically speaking in the US, for extreme music heads (and it had a flexi-disc in each issue. This is how I first heard groups like REM, Human Switchboard. Japan, OMD and others). The Trouser Press was where Mick Farren came into my life, but British readers of the alternative press already knew Farren from his stints at the International Times, Oz magazine, and the NME. His famous essay “The Titanic Sails at Dawn” predicted that *something* like punk was bound to happen, and presented as inevitable (Rod Stewart, Queen and the Stones were the objects of his analysis, and ire) several months before the first spiky-haired, safety-pinned punk rocker appeared on the streets. Some recall Mick Farren from his time as a doorman at the UFO Club in 1967, where Pink Floyd and the Soft Machine played for the nascent psychedelic underground. Or as one of the hell raisers at the Isle of Wight festival. Or for his amazing proto-punk group, The Deviants, and their Fugs and Mothers of Invention-influenced “balls to the wall” rock.

Mick Farren’s been active for five decades now and at 67, can still outdrink you.

In 2005, Mick wrote a cover story about me and Adam Parfrey of Feral House for the now defunct City Beat alt weekly (where Farren also wrote the best TV column in history, bar none). Thirty years after I waited patiently for Mick’s monthly recommendations and reviews in the Trouser Press to arrive in the post, he was writing about little old me. If you’d have told my 14-year-old self that 25 years later, I’d be a subject of a Mick Farren profile, he’d have been quite thrilled, too, but no less thrilled than I was at 39 years of age, I can assure you.

But soon, Los Angeles is about to lose this prophet without honor: in just a couple of days Farren’s moving back to England, the seaside town of Brighton, specifically. I got a chance to say goodbye to Mick—who told me bluntly—“I don’t want to die in America”—at a bon voyage party this past weekend. Pandora Young was there, and wrote at Fishbowl LA:

After nearly three decades in the states, prolific author, punk musician, and counterculture journalist Mick Farren is returning to jolly old England. La La land yokels who don’t know their punk rock history may still recall Farren from his stints as a columnist at the now-defunct alternative rags LA Reader and LA CityBeat.

This past Saturday night the 67-year-old Brit celebrated his departure at El Chavo in Silver Lake, signing his many books, reminiscing, and drinking friends half his age under the table. At the end of the evening, as we were saying goodbye, he put his hands on my shoulders and slurred at me, “Pandora, what this town needs is a proper alternative press. You have the talent and you have the readers. Someone just needs to make it happen.”

“Why not you, Mick?” I asked, wiping the spittle from my cheek.

“It’s nothing to do with me,” he replied, stumbling towards a waiting car. “I’m going home.”

Godspeed. Mick. Respect and love.

And people of Brighton, buy the anarchist a beer, won’t you? There will be a living legend amongst you, take advantage of this fact.
 
Below, a recent interview I did will Mick Farren about his new book Speed, Speed Speedfreak (Feral House):
 

 
More Mick Farren after the jump…

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Speed-Speed-Speedfreak: Mick Farren
08.10.2010
01:33 pm

Topics:
Books
Drugs
Heroes
Music
Pop Culture
Punk

Tags:
Mick Farren
speed

Legendary rock journalist, performer, novelist and countercultural gadfly since the 60s, Mick Farren discusses his newest book, Speed-Speed-Speedfreak (Feral House). Elvis Presley, The Hell’s Angels, Hunter S. Thompson, Truman Capote, the Beatles, Hank Williams, the Manson Family, Jack Keroauc, Johnny Cash, JFK, Adolph Hitler: all of the above were, at one time or another, to put it bluntly, speedfreaks.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Counterculture legend Mick Farren reads at La Luz de Jesus Gallery

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In his 60+ years on Earth, Mick Farren has worn many hats. He’s one of the founders of the “underground” press in Britain, he was the doorman at the psychedelic UFO Club (where Pink Floyd and the Soft Machine got their starts), a political activist, a well-respected science fiction novelist, a TV and media columnist, a poet, and, not least, he was the lead singer of the proto-punk band, The Deviants. His autobiography Give the Anarchist a Cigarette is an indispensable volume in any library about the ‘60s and ‘70s. In short, the man is a counterculture legend, and one of the last of the “gonzo” journalists.

Saturday night, Farren will be reading at La Luz de Jesus Gallery from his recently published anthologyZones of Chaos (which features an introduction by sci-fi great Michael Moorcock) accompanied by fellow Deviant, guitarist Andy Colquhoun.

La Luz de Jesus Gallery, 4633 Hollywood Blvd, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2009, 6 ?

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Give the Anarchist a Cigarette: Happy Birthday Mick Farren!
09.05.2009
03:46 pm

Topics:
Thinkers

Tags:
Mick Farren

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Mick Farren, legendary British counterculture radical, sci-fi/horror author, cultural journalist, critic, blogger and rock ‘n’ roller has had another birthday. I hope it was a happy one!

I couldn’t resist pilfering another of Mick’s rants, they’re just too good, too eloquent and too true:

It?

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Shall We Cut the Crap?
09.05.2009
03:04 pm

Topics:
Politics

Tags:
Mick Farren
Low IQ Buffonery

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I loved this rant from Mick Farren’s blog so much that I am reposting it here. I’m 100% in agreement with this. I’ve had enough of these people myself. Nice one, Mick!

Shall we all just stop messing around? Will politicians and the media can the mealy-mouthed acceptance of right wing assholes doing their level damnedest to throw this country into chaos by toting AR15s into public meetings? Shall we stop pretending that any of this is about healthcare or even conventional party politics? All the Fox/Palin/Glenn Beck bullshit, the white trash whining about how they want their country ?
Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion