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‘I thought I was dead’: Frank Zappa’s brush with death after being pushed off stage by a jealous fan


 

“I did it because my girlfriend said she loved Frank.”

—Trevor Howell on why he pushed Frank Zappa off the stage during a show at the Rainbow Theater in London in 1971

Ah, jealousy. The ugly sometimes side-effect of falling in love. Recently we told the story here on Dangerous Minds about the time Axl Rose threatened to kill David Bowie because he thought Ziggy was trying to make time with his girlfriend, Erin Everly. This horrifying incident is far worse, though, and involves Frank Zappa plummeting approximately fifteen feet off the stage at the Rainbow Theater in London.

Zappa and The Mothers of Invention had just survived a massive fire at the Montreux Casino in Switzerland the week prior. After Zappa and the group returned onstage for their encore, 24-year-old Trevor Howell shot out from the backstage area and assailed Zappa causing him to fall from the stage where he landed on the concrete floor of the orchestra pit. As if this wasn’t bad enough, as he lay unconscious in the pit, a monitor fell on top of him. In his book Zappa: Visual Documentary biographer Barry Miles recalled the scene inside the Rainbow after Frank fell:

“A chaotic scene ensued outside The Rainbow where the audience for the second concert were joined in the street by the audience from the first show. Wild rumors that Frank had been killed flashed through the massive crowd, and for upwards of at least an hour no one knew what was happening.”

 

The frantic scene following Zappa’s unscheduled landing in the orchestra pit.
 
But wait! It gets WORSE. After coming to, Zappa was taken away by ambulance to the Royal Northern Hospital in Holloway. There he was treated for the following conditions: an acute concussion/head trauma, a fractured leg, a broken rib and a series of fractures and other injuries to his neck, legs and back, as well as suffering from temporary paralysis of one of his arms. The fall even managed to crush Zappa’s larynx, which dropped Frank’s voice a third of an octave lower, making it more throaty and gruff. So what about the man who attacked Zappa, nearly costing him his life? In the book The Real Frank Zappa (written by Zappa and Peter Occhiogrosso), the revered musician wrote about two possible scenarios as to why Trevor Howell, who by various accounts had dropped a bunch of acid that night, came for him while he wasn’t looking:

“He (Howell) gave two stories to the press. One of them was that I had been “making eyes at his girlfriend.” That wasn’t true since the orchestra pit was not only fifteen feet deep but was also twice as wide and the spotlight was in my face. I can’t even see the audience in those situations—it’s like looking into a black hole. I never even saw the guy coming at me. Then he told another newspaper that he was pissed off because he felt we hadn’t given him “value for the money.” Choose your favorite story. After he punched me, he tried to escape into the audience, but a couple of guys in the road crew caught him and took him backstage to hold for the police. While I was recuperating at the Harley Street Clinic, Howell was released on bail, so I had a twenty-four-hour bodyguard outside my room because we didn’t know how insane he was.”

When he appeared in court to answer the charges on March 8th, 1972, Howell was sentenced to twelve months in jail after he admitted to “maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr. Zappa”. Initially, Howell stated he attacked Zappa because his “girlfriend said she loved Frank” (who doesn’t?), but when the judge presiding over the case queried Howell as to why he had assaulted Zappa he said he thought that “Mr. Zappa was not giving value for the money” adding that Zappa and The Mothers of Invention were treating the audience like “dirt” (noted in the book Electric Don Quixote: The Definitive Story Of Frank Zappa). Zappa would end up spending almost a year rolling around in a wheelchair following the incident and his body never completely healed, specifically his fractured leg which, once deemed healed, was shorter than his other leg. Frank would later write a song about his wonky leg “Dancin’ Fool” including the lyric “Ì don’t know much about dancin’, that’s why I got this song. One of my legs is shorter than the other and both my feet’s too long.” Proof that you really can’t keep a good man down.

A few images of Frank Zappa in his trusty wheelchair follow, along with a clip of “Dancin’ Fool” from 1978…
 

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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02.25.2019
08:18 am
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Thomas Jefferson on buggery, sodomy and bestiality
12.13.2018
08:43 am
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‘Thomas Jefferson’ by N. C. Wyeth

“Ideas of justice are as timeless as fashions in hats,” the philosopher John Gray writes. Consider a bill submitted to the Virginia Assembly in 1779, proposing some liberal reforms to colonial laws: Bill 64, “A Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments in Cases Heretofore Capital,” penned in Thomas Jefferson’s own hand. Seeking to make murder and treason the only capital crimes, it was progressive legislation for its day. Bill 64, a product of two years’ deliberation by the Committee of Revisors, grouped rape, polygamy and sodomy together, and prescribed the same punishment for each:

Whosoever shall be guilty of Rape, Polygamy, or Sodomy with man or woman shall be punished, if a man, by castration, if a woman, by cutting thro’ the cartilage of her nose a hole of one half inch diameter at the least.

The bill’s extensive footnotes review legal authorities from antiquity through the 18th century on criminal law’s greatest hits, such as arson, robbery, counterfeiting, manslaughter, murder and treason, along with some old standards known to very few of today’s felons, like asportation of vessels and horse stealing. When it comes to the rationale for drilling holes in women’s noses, the footnotes are silent, but there is a lengthy disquisition on buggery. Properly considered, Jefferson writes, buggery subsumes two distinct crimes: buggery of people and buggery of animals, the first of which is a serious transgression, the second a hilarious indiscretion.

Buggery is twofold. 1. with mankind, 2. with beasts. Buggery is the Genus, of which Sodomy and Bestiality are the species. 12.Co.37. says ‘note that Sodomy is with mankind.’ But Finch’s L.B.3.c.24. ‘Sodomitry is a carnal copulation against nature, to wit, of man or woman in the same sex, or of either of them with beasts.’ 12.Co.36. says ‘it appears by the antient authorities of the law that this was felony.’ Yet the 25.H.8. declares it felony, as if supposed not to be so. Britton c.9. says that Sodomites are to be burnt. […] The Mirror makes it treason. Bestiality can never make any progress; it cannot therefore be injurious to society in any great degree, which is the true measure of criminality in foro civili, and will ever be properly and severely punished by universal derision. It may therefore be omitted. It was antiently punished with death as it has been latterly. Ll.Aelfrid.31. and 25H.8.c.6. See Beccaria §.31. Montesq.

Jefferson wrote Madison that the bill’s punishment for rape was a hard sell in the Virginia Assembly, where his colleagues found it “indecent and unjustifiable.” He also would support changing the punishment for rape, but only because, as written, “women would be under [the temptation] to make it the instrument of vengeance against an inconstant lover, and of disappointment to a rival.” I think both reasons amount to anxiety about what women might do with the power to hand out gonadectomies like jaywalking tickets, a development that certainly would have made high school U.S. history textbooks more interesting.

None of these considerations seems to have affected the fate of Bill 64. When it was defeated in 1787, Madison attributed its failure not to the brutal penalties for sex crimes, but to the current “rage against Horse stealers,” who would have faced hard labor rather than the gallows under its permissive code.

Laws come and go; below, Charles Manson dispenses timeless wisdom in his song “Don’t Do Anything Illegal.”
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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12.13.2018
08:43 am
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Was the Yorkshire Ripper serial killer a devoted Joy Division fan???


 
In his 2012 memoir, Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division, Peter Hook tells the tale of how he and Joy Division drummer Steve Morris were questioned in 1979 by police investigating the then-unsolved Yorkshire Ripper murder case. That year, Peter Sutcliffe’s reign of terror was at its height and Joy Division’s touring itinerary took them to some of the very same neighborhoods where the serial killer had killed his victims. With their touring schedule not dissimilar to the murderer’s movements, they were questioned about their activities around the North West of England that year.

Interviewed on Xfm radio, Hook explained:

“What happened was that every club we played in was run by a dodgy promoter in some dodgy part of town. We managed to play in the red light districts of Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds, Manchester and probably London as well. The police had asked the public to note down the license plate numbers of any strange cars in the area, so they could investigate them later. Somehow mine and Steve’s cars had gone in the system a couple of times and basically we got picked out!”

“Steve was very very nervous in those days and when the police questioned him, he lost it. He got taken to the police station and his mum had to come and rescue him. It was very frightening – they basically asked you straight out if you were the Ripper.”

 

 
Sutcliffe, who was questioned and released an incredible ten times, was pulled over by police for driving with false license plates in January 1981, and he ultimately confessed to being the Yorkshire Ripper. Now 72, he is serving 20 concurrent sentences of life imprisonment for murdering thirteen women and attempting to murder seven more.

This anecdote begs the question: Was Peter Sutcliffe was a devoted Joy Division fan? Perhaps he followed them around? Has anyone ever asked him?
 

Joy Division play “She’s Lost Control” live at Bowdon Vale Youth Club, Altrincham. Video by Malcolm Whitehead.

Posted by Richard Metzger
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11.28.2018
08:55 am
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Inside the Hollywood estate auction of Sharon Tate
11.20.2018
09:06 am
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As we approach 2019, let us take a moment to brace ourselves for the oncoming onslaught of Manson Family “tributes” destined for the 50th anniversary year of the Tate-LaBianca murders. Here at its epicenter, in the city of Los Angeles, it seems like every other week that there are murmurings about the new Tarantino flick, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. And I wasn’t aware of this, but apparently there will be two additional Sharon Tate films released next year as well - The Haunting of Sharon Tate and Tate. Manson’s orders may have led to the gruesome murders of eight innocent individuals between August 8-10, 1969, but we will always remember Sharon Tate.
 
Our frame of reference today may primarily recognize her as one cult’s sacrifice to Helter Skelter. Had these random, senseless killings not occurred, however, Tate would have been known for her promising career as a beloved Hollywood actress and style icon. Emerging onto the Hollywood scene in the early Sixties, Tate was part of a new generation of actors during a renaissance of film making known as the “American New Wave.” Beautiful and naturally talented, she starred in a number of films including Eye of the Devil, Valley of the Dolls, and The Fearless Vampire Killers, the prelude of her marriage to famous director and certified-creep, Roman Polanski. It was at Polanski and Tate’s home where the murders on 10500 Cielo Dr took place.
 

 
Over the weekend, located just three miles and essentially one long street from the scene of the crime, Julien’s Auctions of Beverly Hills held an estate auction of the property of Sharon Tate. While there were plenty of theories online as to why, the sale’s coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of Tate’s untimely death seems aptly timed. The auction was arranged in accordance with Sharon’s sister, Debra, the owner of the former belongings and someone who has been vocal over the years toward victims’ rights and preserving her sister’s image. An excerpt of her intent to auction Sharon’s memorabilia is below:
 

When Julien’s first approached me with the idea of doing an auction of my sister’s considerable collection of clothes, accessories, and personal effects, I was immediately apprehensive. For 49 years I had lovingly stored and preserved these items as a way of keeping Sharon close by. While my sister is never far away in spirit, over the decades I have always been able to turn to these treasures for comfort and as a tangible reminder of the wonderful times we spent together.

Sharon was the sweetest, most gentile, most giving soul you could ever hope to meet - even more beautiful on the inside than she was on the outside. She had a special radiance, beyond the perfection of her features, that touched everyone she met. As her husband Roman Polanski said, “In those day, she was not just the love of my life, she was the love of everyone’s life.” And it’s true.

And as the years pass I have come to realize that my sister’s enormous popularity, both as an actress and as a ‘60s fashion and style icon, is continually growing. Sharon’s signature style - whether in couture, hippie chic, or her classic “Hollywood” look in Valley of the Dolls with the dramatic eye makeup and cascading blonde hair - are constantly referenced on the runway, the red carpet, and in magazine editorials worldwide. Today, my sister is loved and adored by so many fans and admirers. For this reason, and after much consideration, I now feel the time is right to share a little of Sharon with others.

As the world knows, in 1969 my sister was involved in an event that changed America in ways that still resonate. Through her fame, and the hard work of my family and I, she has become the face of a cause - Victim’s Rights - that continues to save lives to this day. That said, I always felt it was very unfair for her life to be remembered primarily for its final moments. Sharon had a magnificent life. Born into a family who loved her very much, she had a wonderful childhood. She traveled the world. She was talented. She became a film star. She met and married the man of her dreams. She experienced impending motherhood. She achieved so much in such a brief time, made a significant impact, and continues to fascinate and delight. It is important that her life be celebrated.

 
Among the items for auction were some of Sharon’s most favored dresses, including the one worn at her wedding, and those from film premieres, the Golden Globes, Cannes, photo shoots, etcetera. Also on display were clothing accessories such as jewelry, coats, bags, and sunglasses. And then there were souvenirs from her home, which were most likely present the night of her murder. Items like framed photos, makeup kits, treasured books, dishware, and other decorative items. Every single piece had a starting price from the hundreds to the five-digit thousands (the wedding dress sold for $56K). It was an ominous feeling in such an alluring setting. And while no one mentioned Manson, everyone was obviously thinking about him.
 
I was able to obtain some scans from the official Julien’s Auctions estate catalog, available below for the first time:
 

 

 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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11.20.2018
09:06 am
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Neil Hamburger reads Nixon’s resignation speech (and other greatest hits)
08.09.2018
08:36 am
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Richard Nixon resigned from office 44 years ago today. Many of your pundits, eggheads, critics, and other nosebreathers have never tired of kicking Nixon around. But on Independence Day 2002, one citizen had the guts to meet Dick on his own terms, in the arena: America’s $1 Funnyman, Neil Hamburger.

In the Neil Hamburger catalog, perhaps only his tribute to Princess Diana so touches the heart, and I’m not just talking about the stirring, patriotic strings in the background of “Hamburger Remembers Nixon.” No, as few others could, Neil captures the warmth of Nixon’s straight-talking 1952 speech about the joys of dog ownership; the magnanimity of his gracious concession of the ‘62 California gubernatorial race to Jerry Brown’s father; the bold vision of his remarks at the ‘68 victory party on the relative friendliness of handheld signs. Hamburger also pays tribute to the April ‘70 “pitiful helpless giant” TV address, the November ‘73 “I’m not a crook” press conference, and the August ‘74 “we don’t have a good word for it in English” farewell speech.
 

 
Listen after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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08.09.2018
08:36 am
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Jello Biafra and his father interviewed at the ‘Frankenchrist’ obscenity trial
06.22.2018
08:54 am
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Jello Biafra in court, 1987 (via Heather Harris Photography)
 
In December 1985, a Southern Californian teenager named Tammy Scharwath bought the Dead Kennedys’ latest album, Frankenchrist, from the Wherehouse at the Northridge shopping mall. Then her mother saw the poster of H. R. Giger’s “Penis Landscape” included with the record and lodged a complaint with the Los Angeles city attorney, setting in motion a series of events that culminated in the breakup of the Dead Kennedys and a 1987 obscenity trial for singer Jello Biafra.

The hysteria that surrounded rap and rock music 30 years ago is hard to imagine today, now that the anti-smut crusaders have elevated Mr. Obscenity himself to the White House, but the incoherent language of the reactionary right hasn’t changed much: at one point during the trial, in an ecstasy of outrage, the prosecutor compared H. R. Giger to the Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez. (Biafra discusses the PMRC “porn rock” panic and recounts the whole ugly Frankenchrist mess from his point of view on his second spoken word release, High Priest of Harmful Matter.)

During the trial, the Canadian TV show The NewMusic sent correspondent Erica Ehm to Los Angeles, where she interviewed Jello and his father at the courthouse. How cool was Jello’s dad?
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.22.2018
08:54 am
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Here’s how to hack an election
06.13.2018
08:34 am
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Election hacking has been a pretty hot topic recently. Now that we know it is possible, you know, controlling the fate of a governed body through manipulated misinformation, we must acknowledge that it could happen again. Especially in a place like Manitoba, Canada.

The term “hacker” has been around for much longer than you think. The first reported case of an unauthorized entry into a private network was conducted on June 4th, 1903—by a magician. By this point on our technological evolutionary timeline, electromagnetic waves had been discovered and were being experimented with to communicate wireless messages. Italian engineer Guglielmo Marconi had gained much international attention for his accomplishment of the first successful wireless transmission across the Atlantic ocean (2,200 miles). Marconi claimed his methods to be impenetrable and Nevil Maskelyne, the skeptic British magician, sought to prove him wrong. During a very public demonstration at the Royal Academy of Sciences, Maskelyne tapped into Marconi’s signal, which was being broadcast from Cornwall, over three-hundred miles away. The hacked messages appeared in morse code on a projector screen and consisted of several jabs at Marconi and his “secure” network. Turns out, besides magic, Maskelyne was also employed by the Eastern Telegraphic Company, whose wired system would suffer from these new innovations to communication technology.

And then came phreaking. In the 1960s, it was discovered that one could “hack” into the public phone network through the manipulation of sounds. The most notable figure of the “phone freak” movement, which predates the personal computer, was a man who went by the alias of Cap’n Crunch. Mr. Crunch got his nickname from a toy whistle that came in specially marked boxes of the sugar cereal. When blown, the whistle could emit a frequency at 2600Hz, which, it was discovered, allowed a user to tap into nexus of the AT&T phone system and place free long distance calls. More advanced techniques of phreaking soon developed, through use of “blue boxes” that were built to replicate unique tones and frequencies. Before they started Apple, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak sold blue boxes to the hacker community. The first example of a fictional hacker in popular culture came with the Firesign Theatre’s 1971 comedy album I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus where the main character causes an audio-animatronic Nixon robot to malfunction by asking it surreal and confusing questions.
 

Phreakers unite
 
2600: The Hacker Quarterly was started amid the phreaker scene in 1984. The seasonal publication, edited by a guy with the Orwell-inspired pen name of Emmanuel Goldstein, has served as an important resource within the hacking community as it has evolved over the years. Rather than focusing on the deliberately destructive and malicious tactics of hackers often portrayed in the media, 2600 benefits the less illegal intentions of the “grey hat hacker,” who is merely demonstrating his/her capabilities of penetrating into an off-limits system. In our complex digital world, the publication today has taken on more of an activist approach toward our digital and personal freedoms.

More of a dark-grey hat than anything, the Autumn 2007 issue of 2600: The Hacker Quarterly contained an article about hacking an election.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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06.13.2018
08:34 am
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Ulrike Meinhof’s teenage riot TV movie


“If you obey, they are happy because you are ruined. Then they are cool because they have crushed you.”
 
Right before she embarked on a campaign of left-wing terror, Ulrike Meinhof produced her screenplay for Bambule, a TV movie about the miserable lot of girls in a juvenile reform institution. It was supposed to air in 1970, but the broadcast was canceled after Meinhof helped the Red Army Faction bust Andreas Baader out of prison.

The title means “prison riot,” though apparently the bambule originated as a form of nonviolent prison protest, making a “Jailhouse Rock”-style racket by drumming on anything available. “You lousy screws!”

During one scene, the girls beat a frenzied tattoo on their doors. But in Meinhof’s own definition of the term, from a 1969 radio report (quoted in Baader-Meinhof: The Inside Story of the R.A.F.), there is no mention of noise:

Bambule means rebellion, resistance, counter-violence – efforts toward liberation. Such things happen mostly in summer, when it is hot, and the food is even less appealing than usual, and anger festers in the corners with the heat. Such things are in the air then – it could be compared to the hot summers in the black ghettoes of the United States.

 

(via ARD.de)
 
Meinhof based the screenplay on her conversations with girls at the Eichenhof Youth Custody Home, for which Bambule is not much of an advertisement. They had a prescription for teens like Monika, expelled from a convent for kissing another girl: discipline and work, with occasional breaks for obeying the rules. The only pleasures in Bambule are the small acts of disobedience available to teenagers. They smoke cigarettes, curse out a few fuckwords, write graffiti about LSD and hash, play the Bee Gees’ “Massachusetts.” All relationships with adults are characterized by violence, cruelty and exploitation; everyone over 20 is dead inside. It’s like watching an episode of Dragnet written by a militant leftist.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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05.11.2018
08:56 am
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When Bowie got busted: Local news reports from his & Iggy’s 1976 arrest for nearly a pound of weed
04.03.2018
09:30 am
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On March 21, 1976, David Bowie was on his “Isolar” trek around America (aka “The Thin White Duke tour”) and “Golden Years” was high on the US pop singles charts. But when the tour pulled into Rochester, NY for a concert at the War Memorial Arena his golden years could have been derailed when the singer and Iggy Pop were arrested on marijuana charges for an impressive amount of herb, about half a pound. Under the harsh Rockefeller drug laws, that could have resulted in fifteen years in prison, but ultimately resulted in nothing other than a minor inconvenience for Bowie, and one of the very best celeb mug shots of all time.

John Stewart reporting in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle of March 26 1976:

After silently walking through a crush of fans, police and reporters, English rock star David Bowie pleaded innocent to a felony drug charge yesterday in Rochester City Court. Bowie, 28, entered the Public Safety Building through the Plymouth Avenue doorway at 9:25 a.m., just five minutes before court convened, with an entourage of about seven persons, including his attorneys and the three other persons charged with him.

He was ushered into a side corridor by police and was arraigned within 10 minutes, as a crowd of about 200 police, fans and reporters looked on. Bowie and his group ignored reporters’ shouted questions and fans’ yells as he walked in — except for one teenager who got his autograph as he stepped off the escalator.

His biggest greeting was the screams of about a half-dozen suspected prostitutes awaiting arraignment in the rear of the corridor outside the courtroom.

Asked for a plea by City Court Judge Alphonse Cassetti to the charge of fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, Bowie said, “not guilty, sir.” The court used his real name — David Jones. He stood demurely in front of the bench with his attorneys. He wore a gray three-piece leisure suit and a pale brown shirt. He was holding a matching hat. His two companions were arraigned on the same charge. Bowie was represented by Rochester lawyer Anthony F. Leonardo, who also represented his companions, James J. Osterberg, 28 of Ypsilanti, Mich., and Dwain A. Vaughs, 22, of Brooklyn. Osterberg, described as a friend and Vaughs, described as a bodyguard, also pleaded innocent to the drug charge.

Osterberg also is a rock musician and performs under the name of Iggy Stooge. Bowie has produced at least one of Osterberg’s album in the past. Judge Cassetti set April 20 for he preliminary hearing for the three men. He also agreed to set the same date for the Rochester woman charged with the same offence, Chiwah Soo, 20, of 9 Owen St., who was also in the courtroom. Cassetti allowed Bowie to remain free on $2,000 bail, as well as continuing the $2,000 bond on the other three persons charged. Bowie and the other three were arrested by city vice squad detectives and state police Sunday in the Americana Rochester hotel, charged with possession of 182 grams, about half a pound, of marijuana in his room there. Bowie was in Rochester of a concert Saturday night.

 

 

Bowie’s arrangement was witnessed by his fans, some of whom had waited two hours to catch a glimpse of him. All remained quiet in the courtroom and scrambled after his arraignment to watch his exit from the building. But fans and reporters were disappointed as city uniformed and plain-clothes police slipped him out unnoticed. Using a maze of elevators and stairwells, police took Bowie and his entourage out a side exit, across the Civic Center Plaza and into Leonardo’s office on the Times Square building’s seventh floor.

Only about 30 fans were on had to yell goodbye as Bowe and his friends left from Leonardo’s office at 12.30pm. Bowie, for the first time, waved to the crowd as his limousine pulled out from a parking space on West Broad Street, made a U-turn and headed for the expressway and the drive back to New York City. The blue-and-black Lincoln Continental limousine had been ticketed for overtime parking, but a plainclothes policeman took the ticket, and put it in his pocket.

Bowie had remained silent throughout the morning but granted a five-minute interview to newspaper reporters in Leonardo’s office. Leonardo, however, wouldn’t allow any questions directly concerning the arrest, saying it was the first criminal charge he’d ever faced. He complimented city police, though, for the protection they provided him yesterday.

“They (city police) were very courteous and very gentle,” Bowie said. “They’ve been just super.” Quiet and reserved, Bowie answered most of the reporters’ questions with short answers, shaking hands with them when they entered and left. Asked if the arrest would sour him on returning to Rochester, Bowie said “certainly not, absolutely not.” He also said he was “very flattered” by the fans who turned out for this arraignment. “I felt very honored,” he said.

Bowie and his entourage arrived in Rochester about 4am after performing a concert in the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island Wednesday night, Leonardo said, he will appear tonight at Madison Square Garden, his final concert of his America tour, Pat Gibbons, said.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.03.2018
09:30 am
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When Iron Maiden’s mascot knifed Margaret Thatcher
03.29.2018
08:45 am
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Derek Riggs’ original artwork for the ‘Sanctuary’ single sleeve
 
Who doesn’t love the metamorphoses of Iron Maiden’s cover star, Eddie? (Don’t answer that.) To flip through a stack of Maiden LPs is to revisit his many guises: ancient Egyptian pharaoh, lobotomized mental patient, time-traveling cyborg, zombie shock jock, outer space alien, outer space alien outlaw in an outer space saloon, and so on.

But before he set out on any of these merry adventures, Eddie spent an unforgettable evening with Mags. There he is on the cover of the “Sanctuary” single—the one with Maiden’s best singer, the future inmate Paul Di’Anno, pleading for “sanc-choo-ree from the lahhhhhhhhhhhh-hawwwwwwwww”—there’s Eddie the Head, fresh from knifing the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on a desolate streetcorner. He does not appear extra jazzed that you, the viewer, have caught him in the act.
 

The censored version of Riggs’ artwork on the Japanese ‘Prowler’ single
 
Neil Daniels’ Iron Maiden says the depiction of Thatcher was the band’s idea, some kind of goof on her nickname, “the Iron Lady.” In Run to the Hills: The Official Biography of Iron Maiden, Mick Wall places the image in the context of UK politics and tabloid reporting c. 1980:

A knife-wielding Eddie is depicted crouching over the slain, mini-skirted figure of a woman that, on close inspection, appears to be Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative prime minister who had been swept into power in Britain at the 1979 general election. Judging by the scene, Eddie had apparently caught the malingering PM in the unforgivable act of tearing down an Iron Maiden poster from a street wall, a crime – in Eddie’s mad, unblinking eyes – worthy of only one punishment. The blood is still dripping from his twelve-inch blade as we catch up with them. However, the single’s release had coincided with a series of highly publicised real-life acts of violence perpetrated by the various disaffected members of the British public against several top-level Tory government officials. (Lord Home had reportedly been set upon by a gang of skinheads at Piccadilly Circus tube station and Lord Chalfont was given a black eye by another closely cropped youth while walking down the King’s Road.) [...]

On 20 May, The Daily Mirror reproduced the uncensored version of the ‘Sanctuary’ sleeve under the banner headline “It’s Murder! Maggie Gets Rock Mugging!” Soon questions were being asked in Parliament. “Premier Margaret Thatcher has been murdered – on a rock band’s record sleeve,” reported The Mirror in shocked tones. Hilariously, it quoted a ministerial spokesman as saying, “This is not the way we’d like her portrayed. I’m sure she would not like it.”

 

There’s no such thing as society’: the ‘Women in Uniform’ single
 
On the advice of their publishing company, Zomba Music, Maiden’s next single was a cover of Skyhooks’ “Women in Uniform” recorded with AC/DC producer Tony Platt. (Can you guess what Zomba Music was trying to achieve, and in what part of the Australasian subcontinent?) The sleeve art picked up the continuing story of Eddie and Maggie: as the ghoul struts down the street with a girl on each arm, just around the corner, the PM lies in wait in beret and olive drabs, ready to cut them all in half with a few blasts from her submachine gun.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.29.2018
08:45 am
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