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The psychedelic genius of Victor Moscoso
12.14.2017
02:01 pm
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Junior Wells and His Chicago Blues Band, 1966
 
Victor Moscoso was an unusually prolific and eye-catching psychedelic artist of the Bay Area who came to prominence in the mid- to late 1960s. He was born in Galicia during the first weeks of the Civil War, and by the time he was four years old, his family had relocated to Brooklyn. Moscoso had a wide-ranging education that led him to Cooper Union, Yale University, and the San Francisco Art Institute, where he later signed on as an instructor.

Kerouac’s On the Road was one of the factors that induced Moscoso to move to the West Coast, which he did in 1959. Around 1966 started a career as a designer of rock posters, creating arresting images for bands like Big Brother & the Holding Company, the Steve Miller Blues Band, the Doors, and Junior Wells. Forging this new identity required unlearn a healthy chunk of the conventional design fundamentals he had earlier absorbed in school. This he did with remarkable alacrity, which catapulted him into a select group of accomplished and successful poster artists that included his close friend and collaborator Rick Griffin as well as Stanley Mouse, Wes Wilson, and Alton Kelley.

In 1968, he met Robert Crumb, who had recently put out Zap #1. Crumb made it known that both Moscoso and Griffin would be quite welcome to join the Zap collective, which also boasted names such as Spain Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, S. Clay Wilson, and Robert Williams.
 

Victor Moscoso, with the mask from Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters album cover not far from his head
 
In a long and interesting interview that appeared in The Comics Journal #246 (2002), Moscoso discussed his career and process with Gary Groth. After Groth observes that the lettering in many of Moscoso’s posters was hard to read, the artist amusingly responded, “Exactly. The lettering should be as difficult to read as possible! Use vibrating colors as much as you can, and irritate the eye as much as you can. Hang the viewer up for as long as you can! A week! A month! A year, if you can! An hour will do.”

At a different point in the interview, Moscoso discussed studying color theory under Josef Albers at Yale:
 

At Cooper Union, I learned Josef Albers’ color theory and all his ideas about color from Neil Welliver, a student of his who was a teacher at Cooper Union. By the time I went to Yale and took Albers’ color class, I was already familiar with it.

-snip-

It was like he had given me a textbook, or a manual on color, because at the time I was not a colorist. If you look at my work that I did at the time, it bears no influence of Josef Albers. He did not influence my work at the time. I just filed it away in the back of my mind. Now, when I saw Wes Wilson’s Association poster, click! The red and green lettering that vibrated. I said, “Holy shit! I can do that.”

 
Moscoso found it amusing that so many people would single out his use of florescent colors, which he claims he never used—rather, his effects were achieved by juxtaposing two colors with a specific relationship on the color wheel that the eye had difficulty processing:
 

Where two colors from the opposite ends of the color scale are at equal intensity, your eye will not be able to tell which one is in front of the other. It’s what Albers called “simultaneous contrast.” They have to be equal, though, in intensity and in value. You see this at Christmastime; they’ll pick red and green for decorations because red and green are on opposite sides of the color scale; you’ll see where there’re colors buzzing at the edges. Now if it was a dark green and a light red, that wouldn’t happen. They have to be of the same value and intensity. At that point your eye cannot distinguish which one is in front and which one is back — you’re really fucking with the limits of your eyesight, of the physical limitations of your optic system. And what you see is this buzz of confusion! Excellent.


 
The cover art for the recent novel by Emma Cline called The Girls appears to be heavily influenced by Moscoso’s Chambers Brothers poster from 1967.

What follows is a selection of his posters, album covers, and comix work.
 

Avalon Ballroom, 1967
 
Much more after the jump…....
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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12.14.2017
02:01 pm
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Beetleboards: Volkswagen bugs used as advertising billboards in the 1970s
11.30.2017
12:41 pm
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The Volkswagen Bug is one of the most familiar cars ever designed. More than 20 million have been produced, making it the most-manufactured car of a single platform ever made. The model managed to overcome its roots as an artifact of Nazi Germany (first year of production: 1938) to become a scruffy, sporty symbol of the Boomer generation.

The Beetle (as it was also called) lasted until the early 2000s—the New Beetle lasted from 1997 to 2011. In a sense, Volkswagen was to 1970 as Apple is to, say, 2010…. a very big corporation that was mass-producing machinery that, largely through the miracle of design and advertising, was admired and even loved by enormous numbers of people. It’s one of the few car models that has a bunch of books dedicated to it, such as Edwin Baaske’s Volkswagen Beetle: Portrait of a Legend.

The Beetle was so well-loved and popular with students in the 1970s that special business opportunities arose around it that were not true of any other car. In our own era, marked by stagnant wages, the prospect of earning money by using your car as a billboard has come to seem a sign of the times, but the idea is not new. There was a company dedicated to that exact thing in the 1970s. The only car you could do it with was the Volkswagen Bug, and the company was called Beetleboard.
 

Charlie Bird with two of his Beetleboards
 
Beetleboard was the brainchild of a youthful marketing executive named Charlie Bird, who was not, in fact, Charlie Parker and also not Charlie Byrd. The company existed from 1971 to 1984 and was far from a flash in the pan. Bird himself is still around and actually has a Facebook page up about the Beetleboards; apparently he intends to release a book about the phenomenon soon.

The primary target audience for the Beetleboards was college students. Anyone willing to turn his or her VW jalopy into a platform for hawking Dr. Pepper or KOOL cigarettes or Dom Emilio Tequila would receive about $50 a month with the additional possibility of participating in promotional events. As a choice bit of R.J. Reynolds ad copy stated at the time, “Most importantly, KOOL Beetleboard drivers enjoy the constant excitement of becoming the instant center of attention whenever and wherever they drive their KOOL Beetleboard!”

Aside from Bird’s Facebook presence, there’s very little about the Beetleboards online. One of the main resources is a website called Kevmania, which ran a post about it in 2010. The comments section of that post brought a few former Beetleboard drivers and employees out of the woodwork. Such as this:
 

I represented Beetleboards of America in Hawaii back in the mid-70s. Recruited, got cars painted, put on the decals, and promoted the advertisers in Waikiki parades, gatherings, special events, etc. I didn’t make a lot of money, but it was fun. We had Jack-in-the-Box cars, Kool cigs, El Charro Tequila, and Bank of Hawaii. It was great to see the cars on the highways and byways of Oahu and be a part of something special. The guy sitting on the bug is Charlie Bird, president and founder of the company–one of the most creative advertising men I’ve ever come across. I do have a bunch of pictures. Even one of a Time Magazine bug, Levi’s Jeans and a whole bunch of others.

 
An article from The Palm Beach Post dated December 1976 states that Bird was in his mid-twenties when he came up with the idea in 1971 while touring colleges giving lectures. In the article Bird is quoted saying, “It’s the greatest ice breaker with the kids because it’s kind of wacko.”
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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11.30.2017
12:41 pm
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Trumpy Bear is the best ‘dumb idea’ since the Pet Rock
11.29.2017
03:26 pm
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I guess you could say that I was one of those imperturbable optimists, thinking that America was still worth saving. Then I woke up and read the news today (oh boy) and now I’m not so sure about that anymore, or if it would even be desirable. Matt Lauer? No, no one was surprised by that, but Garrison freaking Keillor? JFC, yo. And did you hear about this? Or this? Or this? Or this? Or this? How’s about this?

What about THIS??? (Say what you will about the Russians, they have PANTSED and humiliated the US intelligence agencies. Who can blame them from wanting to do a drunken victory lap right out in the open around Red Square and have a good laugh about how dumb the Americans are?)

ANYWHO… there’s nothing quite like a good “dumb idea”—the sort of thing that’s “ironic” to smarter folk (who will “ironically” purchase or support whatever “it” is, often for a “joke” gift) and that only idiots think is cool and they don’t even know that it’s something that only a seriously uncool fucknut would want.
 

 
The “Trumpy Bear” is one such item. The manufacturer—evil geniuses—can sell the item to your Fox News-watching dumbshit uncle AND your liberal friends who think it would be “edgy” to purchase such an item for laffs for a Trump-loathing pal! (I’ll just bet Keith Olbermann was given several of these hideous things yesterday alone.)

The goofy “Trumpy Bear” TV commercial is a surgical precision masterclass in not appearing to be insincere to idiots, but also in creating “content” that “smart people” will think is oh-so-funny and tongue-in-cheek and even share on your behalf (like right now as you read this). You might suspect that this is an elaborate prank devised by John Oliver and co., but THIS IS EXACTLY THE LOOK THEY’RE GOING FOR. Whoever wrote and produced this supreme masterpiece of marketing ambiguity (the biker/vet guy and the old codger “patriot” were pitch perfect, no?) deserves whatever monetary compensation comes their way, whether from a proper idiot-idiot or a “smart person”-idiot. Their money spends the same. Virtually every American with a low IQ or absolutely no imagination whatsoever is a potential customer! THAT is one hell of a Venn diagram and if this is not a recipe for untold riches, I don’t know what would be. I’m not planning to buy one, and yet I too have been ensnared by their insidious black magic media virus and I am now passing it on to you. Good times!

And THAT is what you call a good—nay GREAT—dumb idea. A magical formula for separating a fool from his money and depositing it directly into your own bank account.
 

 
Apparently the close-to-the-vest Trumpy Bear TV commercial is airing in some very carefully selected places: according to Ad Age magazine, the 2-minute infomercial is being seen on at least ten nationally carried cable television networks including Animal Planet, Discovery, Grit TV, Outdoor Channel, some inspirational channels and the American Heroes Channel. Of course it’s been also spotted on MeTV and Fox News. The sort of show you might see the ad airing on would include reruns of vintage programs appealing to older, less-complex Americans such as Cops, Walker, Texas Ranger and Bonanza. The target audience of such fair would probably not sense that this is a joke (and perhaps it’s not) or that they were being fleeced for two LOW LOW PAYMENTS OF JUST $19.95 by godless big city-dwelling cynics who might not even be Trump fans themselves. [To be clear, the folks behind this could be huge Trump supporters, I have no idea. I would prefer to think they aren’t, but that’s my bias showing.]
 

 
Nevertheless, the fact that actor Michael Urie (Ugly Betty; Torch Song on Broadway) was confronted with the Trumpy Bear spot whilst watching a goddamn Hitler documentary sort of indicates strongly what a high level of sophistication has gone into the tightly targeted marketing of this ridiculous item, don’t cha think?

To be clear, I’m not ragging on them: I just wish I’d have come up with this infernal thing m’self…

 

 
PS: And then there is this. I don’t know what to think anymore.
 

 
Thank you Chris Campion!
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Posted by Richard Metzger
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11.29.2017
03:26 pm
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‘Consumerism cums in your hair’: Hijacking capitalism one advert at a time
10.24.2017
08:23 am
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I suppose some may say, “It’s not big. It’s not clever.” But still, it is quite amusing. Artist provocateur Hogre is waging a war against capitalism, consumerism, right-wing politics, and religion one advert at a time.

Hogre illegally takes over large billboards and bus stop advertising displays across London and reinvents them with subversive messages. Santa Claus is no longer celebrating Christmas with a Coke but preparing to start the revolution with a fiery Molotov cocktail. Neighborhood Watch is really Neighborhood Snitch. And car companies are shitting all over the world because “Why worry about Global Warming? We all die anyway!”

Originally from Italy, Hogre’s been making his presence known for about ten years with his clever, amusing stencils and inventive acts of vandalism. It’s all jolly good fun and thought-provoking to boot but I do wonder if such well-intended artistic anarchy is more likely to result in Hogre’s work being curated in an art gallery than awakening the “sheeple” from their addiction to consumerism. But I suppose one can hope.

See more of the mighty Hogre’s art here.
 
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See more of Hogre’s sterling work, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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10.24.2017
08:23 am
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Earworm Indian PSA warns against street-shitting
09.29.2017
07:23 am
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I had no idea that just dropping a deuce in the streets was a thing in India, and I probably wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t read the statistics on UNICEF’s “Poo2Loo” website.

According to UNICEF’s figures, about half the population of India uses toilets, with “more than 620 million still defecating in the open.” Almost 70 percent of the population in rural India have no access to toilets.

That’s half the population dumping over 65 million kilos of poo out there every day. If this poo continues to be let loose on us, there will be no escaping the stench of life threating infections, diseases, and epidemics.

Apparently, the amount of human excrement that people come into direct contact is causing a public health crisis, and in an effort to educate the Indian public on the necessity of using toilet facilities, UNICEF has come up with the most unbelievably insane PSA of all time.
 

 
“Take the Poo to the Loo” is not only one of the most bizarre PSAs I’ve ever seen, it’s also got one of the catchiest songs. In fact, this thing is a straight-up jam that’s likely to be stuck in your head for days after just one listen. The animation in the clip is also top-notch. The entire thing is extremely well done in spite of how utterly crazy it might seem.

In the climax of this completely bonkers video, the residents of the town build a gigantic disco toilet and throw a “Poo Party,” in which all of the poo (that had been antagonizing people in the streets) congregates and dives in. The townspeople summarily flush all of the poo down the disco toilet just before instructions appear on screen allowing you to make “Take the Poo to the Loo” your ringtone.
 

 
The first time I watched this thing, I was taken aback at the opening line which is “First thing in the morning, what do I see? A pile of shit staring at me.” It just gets weirder from there. I almost lost my shit (no pun intended) when the Indian “happy birthday” crap rap started. This is seriously the best song I’ve heard in 2017.

See for yourself, after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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09.29.2017
07:23 am
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That time the Velvet Underground’s ‘Venus in Furs’ was used to peddle tires…
09.27.2017
01:21 pm
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It’s difficult to tell which lyric in Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs,” off of the band’s debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico, so causes tire manufacturers to incorporate the song into their commercials. Is it “downy sins of streetlight fancies” or “tongue of thongs, the belt that does await you”? See, rumor has it that Goodyear once made a commercial that uses “Venus in Furs” but it was clearly not shown for long, hardly anyone seems to have seen it. Somewhere there lurks a royalty-clearance attorney who knows the answer to this question.

In James Dean Transfigured: The Many Faces of Rebel Iconography, Claudia Springer mentions the Goodyear commercial one time, in between references to William S. Burroughs’ Nike ad and Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” appearing in a Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines spot. Ah, the 1990s.
 

 
That Goodyear spot is lost to the sands of time, alas—until some astute video collector finds it and posts it on YouTube, that is. But Goodyear wasn’t the only company that wanted “Venus in Furs” in its ad. Dunlop Tyres (a subsidiary of Goodyear’s) also ran a completely different commercial for tires in 1993 that used the song. Dunlop Tyres was a British concern—does the name give it away?—and the ad was a product of the ad agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO in London.

The commercial was directed by British director Tony Kaye, whose name you might recognize from the ugly fight over the Edward Norton movie American History X, which he directed and then disowned. This minute-long commercial featured tons of self-consciously “weird” imagery, such as a falling piano, a cackling voodoo master, a skull in flames, and a bald albino in a corset. Basically it’s what would happen if the album art for the Pixies’ Doolittle (or really any 4AD album) suddenly came to life. The name of the ad is “Tested for the Unexpected.” The people who made HBO’s Carnivale probably had to memorize this commercial. 

One wonders if the people who commissioned the ad ever heard of Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch, who bequeathed us one-half of the term sadomasochism? (For the record, I’m guessing Kaye had, at least.)

More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.27.2017
01:21 pm
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Dig these high-octane Italian lobby cards for ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’
09.25.2017
10:26 am
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The first season of Ryan Murphy’s docudrama series Feud, released earlier this year, has triggered an uptick in interest in the sublimely dishy goings-on that led to Robert Aldrich’s overwrought 1962 melodrama (if that is even the word for it) Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, which featured two actresses widely known to despise each other, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. (Weirdly, I’ve copyedited bios of both women.) Ideally cast with Susan Sarandon as Davis and Jessica Lange as Crawford, the eight-episode narrative tackled one of Hollywood’s most curious releases, a pulpy embrace of camp, kitsch, and lurid material that seems miles ahead of its time.

In Italy, the movie, under the title Che fine ha fatto Baby Jane?, didn’t debut until the spring of 1963, but when it did Italian audiences were no doubt lured to purchase a ticket by this utterly fantastic atomic-age lobby art, done up in an eye-popping palette including a garish combination of hot pink, powder blue, and bright yellow. The irony, of course, is that none of these colors are to be found in the film itself, being that it was shot in black and white.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.25.2017
10:26 am
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Kate Bush’s charming Japanese TV ad for Seiko watches, 1978
09.21.2017
08:50 am
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As quickly as the young Kate Bush had won over the British public, she was even more of an overnight sensation in Japan where she performed “Moving” at the Nippon Budokan arena during the 7th annual international Tokyo Music Festival. The performance was broadcast on Japanese television on June 21, 1978 and was watched by an estimated audience of 35 million people. Bush came in second, awarded the silver prize, to American soul singer Al Green.

You’ll note that her microphone is nestled inside of the flowers that she’s wearing, allowing her free movement during a song called… “Moving” (inexplicably retitled as something that translates as “Angels and Little Demons” when it was released in Japan as a single). The song was from her debut album The Kick Inside and is a tribute to Lindsay Kemp, who taught Bush (and before her David Bowie) mime in the mid-Seventies.
 

Kate Bush performs at the Tokyo Music Festival in June 1978.
 

 
Bush may not have nabbed the top prize at the contest, but an offer did come her way immediately afterwards for a lucrative commercial sponsorship deal for Seiko watches that must’ve taken the sting out of losing.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.21.2017
08:50 am
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When the legendary Hipgnosis did fashion shoots for ‘classy’ porn mag Club International (NSFW)

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It’s a fair bet that a large part of many (most?) record collections includes a good percentage of covers by the legendary London-based graphic designers Hipgnosis.

Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell who were the original founders of Hipgnosis turned out a massive array of iconic designs for bands as varied as Pink Floyd (who had been the first band to commission the duo), T.Rex, Hawkwind, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, 10CC, Wings, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Genesis, Jon Anderson, Depeche Mode, XTC, ABC, Megadeth, and even England’s former poet laureate John Betjeman.

Apart from album covers, Hipgnosis also designed a series of fashion spreads for the softcore porn mag Club International and its more hardcore American edition Club.

Club International was founded by porn supremo Paul Raymond, who ran the legendary strip club the Raymond Revuebar in London’s seedy Soho district and a series of best-selling porn mags. Under its first editor Tony Power, Club International was intended as a high-quality adult entertainment magazine mixing the best of writers with the finest photographers and designers.

Hipgnosis was hired to add a classy touch to the magazine’s fashion spreads. The gig allowed Thorgerson and Powell to try-out a few ideas which they would later re-use on album covers—the flasher who would reappear on Pink Floyd’s A Nice Pair, for instance, while the water-in-the-face shots would feature on Peter Frampton’s Something’s Happened. See more Hipgnosis glorious work here.
 
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See more of Hipgnosis’ fashion work for Club International, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.20.2017
12:55 pm
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AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson’s balls out metal vocals for a Hoover vacuum commercial in 1980
08.24.2017
08:34 am
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An early shot of AC/DC with vocalist Brian Johnson (pictured in the center).
 
I recently got into a profound internal dialog about AC/DC’s post-Bon Scott days, which, as much as my heart will always belong to Bon, were still very formative for me. It’s also a bonafide fact that Brian Johnson himself helped give us another 34 years of music from one of the greatest rock bands fucking ever. Honestly, just think for a minute about it this way—imagine if 1980’s Back in Black never got made. It could have happened. But as usual, I’ve digressed away from the awesomeness that is this post—that time back in 1980 that Johnson got a call from the folks at the Hoover Vacuum company about recording a jingle for one of their television commercials.

According to Johson, he was offered “350 quid” (or about $700 at the time) with residuals to do the commercial for Hoover, on the very same day he got the call from a representative of his future bandmates in AC/DC about auditioning as Bon Scott’s replacement. In an entirely awesome turn of events, after Johnson came in and recorded the most metal jingle of all time for Hoover, he walked across the street to Vanilla Studios where AC/DC was holding their auditions. As Johnson recalls, he opened the door to the studio where Angus, Malcolm, Phil Rudd and Cliff Williams were jamming announcing himself as “Brian from Newcastle.” Malcolm brought the weary Johnson a bottle of beer which he immediately sucked down to get into the mood. The band then asked him what he might like to sing for them to which Johnson suggested “Nutbush City Limits” the ass-kicking 1973 single from Ike & Tina Turner. Johnson was offered the dream gig a few days later.

The Hoover commercial, and more, after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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08.24.2017
08:34 am
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