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Hang ‘em high: The story of John Edward Allen, Ozzy Osbourne’s “personal dwarf”


The gatefold image from ‘Speak of the Devil’ featuring Ozzy and John Edward Allen as Ronnie the Dwarf (also sometimes called Ronnie the Midget). For what it’s worth, this photograph was unapologetically taken of the author’s original U.S. pressing of the album from 1982.
 
While on tour in support of both Diary of a Madman (1981-1982), and his follow-up live album, Speak of the Devil (1982-1983), Ozzy Osbourne‘s live show included actor and dwarf John Edward Allen. You may recall Allen not only participated in the live shows but also appeared on the inside of the infamous gatefold (pictured above) of the Speak of the Devil album, made up to look like a bloody, undead disciple of Ozzy clad in a hooded black robe. My young mind could barely handle the image when I cracked my copy open on Christmas of 1982 (proof my parents are the coolest ever). I even got to see Ozzy “execute” Allen on stage by hanging him as he did nightly, typically when it came time to perform “Goodbye To Romance” from Osbourne’s first solo record, Blizzard of Ozz. During the band’s set, Allen would periodically come out on stage during the banter breaks, bringing his employer drinks and towels while Ozz regaled the crowd with his never-ending demand to let him see their “fucking hands.”

John Edward Allen was born on March 27th, 1950, in Southampton, Hampshire, England. He found work as a tailor in Southhampton but always had his sights set on acting. He would fulfill his dream performing live theater in London first, then heading to New York’s off-Broadway scene—even performing for President Jimmy Carter at the White House in the late 70s. Allen landed parts in several Hollywood films starting in 1978 with his minor role in the super-creepy John Carpenter-penned film The Eyes of Laura Mars. Other roles would follow, including his memorable portrayal of Kaiser in 1982’s Blade Runner. While all this sounds like a pretty charming existence for Allen, he was a pretty troubled guy. Allen, as it turns out, loved to drink, about as much as Ozzy himself liked to drink—which in itself is an alarming claim to make about anyone considering Osbourne’s track record with booze.

Initially, Ozzy was hell-bent on adding a dwarf to his live show and gave Allen the gig giving him the name of Ronnie the Dwarf—a direct swipe at Black Sabbath’s new vocalist Ronnie James Dio. Between Ozzy’s epic use of party favors and Allen’s love of drink, things often ended badly for Allen after the show was over.
 

A lovely portrait of Allen in his dressing room in 1985. Photo by author and photographer Mary Motley Kalergis.
 
On one particular occasion, Ozzy was chatting with a journalist outside the band’s tour bus when a seriously blotto Allen came stumbling by. This pissed off the Prince of Darkness and once Allen was within arms reach, he grabbed him and threw him inside the luggage compartment of the bus, leaning on the door so Allen couldn’t get out. The journo recoiled in shock (which I find hilarious, because OZZY), then stammered at Osbourne telling him his treatment of Allen was uncalled for.  Ozzy allegedly responded by telling the journalist he could do “what he liked with him” because he was “my dwarf.” Following this bizarre proclamation, Allen’s voice arose from the luggage compartment saying:

“He’s right, you know. I’m his dwarf, and he can do what he likes with me…”

During the North American leg of the Diary of a Madman Tour, tragedy struck when guitarist Randy Rhoads (and four other people including the pilot) was killed in a plane crash on March 19th, 1982. This devastating event sent Ozzy into an even more downward spiral. He upped his consumption of liquor and drugs, shaved his head, and constantly threatened to quit the music game forever. Of course, as we all know, the threats never came to fruition and Ozzy would keep going. Allen would continue to be ceremoniously hanged for the duration of the Speak of the Devil Tour. Following the tour, Allen was dismissed by either Osbourne, a member of his crew, or perhaps just moved on—it’s a little murky. Allen would appear in a few more films before his OD suicide in 1999 at the young age of 49. I’ve posted some behind-the-scenes images of Allen on tour with Ozzy, as well as a video of Allen on stage with Ozzy in 1982.

And now, you know...
 

A photo of Allen preparing to be hung on stage during his time touring with Ozzy.
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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09.12.2018
11:20 am
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John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Moe Tucker (and Lou Reed) play Jim Carroll’s ‘People Who Died’


 
Sterling Morrison died on August 30, 1995, just after he turned 53. A few days later, the movie Antártida, with music by John Cale, hit Spanish screens; on the soundtrack, Morrison and Maureen Tucker joined Cale for a rendition of Jim Carroll’s rock litany, “People Who Died.” (Chris Spedding and the Lounge Lizards’ Erik Sanko also sat in on this quasi-reunion of the Velvet Underground.)

Back in 1984, Carroll joined Lou Reed’s band onstage at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey, to sing “People Who Died.” If you play Cale’s version back-to-back with Reed’s, all the original Velvets will be gathered together again, in a way, for a moment, and you will remember some people who died: Sterling Morrison, Robert Quine, Jim Carroll, Lou Reed.

Make your own Velvets reunion mash-up, after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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08.02.2018
08:23 am
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Moving (but fun) ‘lost’ home movie clip of Paul and Linda McCartney
08.01.2018
08:48 am
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Without knowing the full provenance of this footage featuring golden couple Paul and Linda McCartney larking about in front of a camera, it’s a wee bit difficult to know if it is outtakes from a music promo or indeed, as claimed by the man who transferred and uploaded it to You Tube, Larry Jamieson, a “lost” home movie made by the McCartneys while holidaying in New Zealand sometime during 1997:

This is a damaged super 8 film of Paul and Linda having some fun making a home movie. I restored what was left of this film many years ago and forgot about it. It is over exposed and out of focus in parts, but it is a personal treasure.

But the clip’s provenance doesn’t really matter as what we have here is the Mozart of pop music, Paul and photographer, activist, and musician Linda McCartney making a sweet little film which is all the more moving because we know how this particular story ends.

Linda McCartney’s usual long, blonde, flowing locks have been cropped short as she was then undergoing treatment for breast cancer, which had spread to her liver. Sadly, McCartney died in Tuscon on April 17th, 1998. As a grieving Macca suggested at the time, perhaps the best way to remember Linda is to donate to a breast cancer charity—one that doesn’t support animal testing—or better still “go veggie.”
 

 
With thanks to Simon Wells.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.01.2018
08:48 am
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Harlan Ellison’s stoner rock song
07.10.2018
09:20 am
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(via Pinterest)
 
Harlan Ellison was not a head. In his review of 2001: A Space Odyssey, set in Canter’s Deli at three in the morning, Ellison tells how Rob Reiner and Sal Mineo’s raptures over the movie nearly ruined his matzo ball soup. He subjected their enthusiasm to the full 10,000-watt glare of his withering scorn, disabusing the showfolk of their fond beliefs that 2001 told a story, or had a meaning—pure bullshit, he heard straight from “one of the men listed in the credits as having devised the bloody story” (Clarke?)—and returned to slurping his chicken broth.

And while he was impressed by Three Dog Night during the week he spent on the road with the band in 1970 (“the writer[...] cannot be bought but certainly can be rented”), Ellison preferred Bach and jazz to teenage rock and roll. If he cherished any hopes for youth culture, they were categorically different from the Beatles’; see his 1973 essay, “Why I Fantasize about Using an AK-47 on Teenagers.

Now, if I had ever seen Harlan Ellison stalking the sidewalks of Los Angeles, I would have crossed the street, because I value my life. (If you think his belligerence was just an act, tell it to the ABC executive with the broken pelvis.) But somehow, despite the author’s well-documented hostility to people, places and things, the Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, an instrumental psych-rock group featuring ex-Monster Magnet guitarist Ed Mundell, coaxed these vocals out of Ellison for their self-titled 2013 album.

Here’s Harlan Ellison’s lone essay in heavy rock, “Unassigned Agent X-27.” I love the way he pronounces the “g” in “gnat,” and the way he never curbstomped me while he was alive.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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07.10.2018
09:20 am
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Ray Manzarek and Danny Sugerman identify ‘Johnny Yen’ from Iggy’s ‘Lust for Life’
06.29.2018
08:23 am
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In 1995, the Doors’ keyboardist, Ray Manzarek, and biographer, Danny Sugerman, appeared on the Australian music video program rage, smoking cigs on the couch and telling stories about Jim Morrison and Iggy Pop.

In the first clip below, Sugerman describes sharing his home with Iggy in the Seventies (“sort of like staging the Vietnam War at Grauman’s Chinese Theater”) and checking him into the mental hospital after a Quaalude overdose. He credits the quick thematic transition from “Death Trip” to “Lust for Life” to Iggy’s personal growth under the care of Dr. Murray Zucker.  In the second clip, “Iggy’s Homosexual Ballet Dancing Heroin Dealer,” they reminisce about “Gypsy Johnny,” the real-life heroin dealer immortalized as “Johnny Yen” in “Lust for Life.” Sugerman:

His black Porsche said “Gypsy” on it, and he wore a scarf around his head. He used to be a ballerina, and he was homosexual, and very hot for Iggy’s parts—body parts—and “yen” is a term that William Burroughs uses a lot describing the craving for heroin. So in “Lust for Life” there’s a line, “Here comes Johnny Yen again, with liquor and drugs and a sex machine,” and that’s Gypsy Johnny coming up to Wonderland Avenue with his scarves and his drugs and his motorized dildos and whatever else he had, his balloons full of Mexican heroin that was killing all of us.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.29.2018
08:23 am
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‘Time Machines’: When Coil interviewed Terence McKenna
03.08.2018
06:29 am
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Coil’s hallucinogenic drone album Time Machines is back in print (with Tattvic stickers!) 20 years after its initial release. (I guess, strictly speaking, Time Machines existed as a Coil side project—the credit on the live record is “Coil Presents Time Machines.”) The project, a collection of “4 tones to facilitate travel through time,” was inspired by Coil’s tryptamine friendship with arch-psychonaut Terence McKenna, as John Balance explained to Fortean Times in a 2001 interview:

FT: Psychedelics have become a more apparent theme in the more recent Coil material…

JB: And paradoxically we don’t do them any more! We were so busy doing them before that we didn’t get any records out! After Horse Rotorvator (1987) we were completely psychedelicised for about five years, and hooked up with Terence McKenna - “Coil rule!” he said in an email. It’s a great shame about his death, though I’m sure he wouldn’t see it in those terms, but as a transformation.

FT: He’s with the Machine Elves now.

JB: The self-transforming Machine Elves.

FT: Psychedelics must have transformed the way you approached sound. How do they relate to the Time Machines project?

JB: They did more than that. I was taking magic mushrooms from the age of 11 - a lot, until I was about 18, just at school. And they never did a bad thing, always taught me wonderful things. They taught me how to appreciate music and eventually told me to make music. As I’ve said before, I feel that I was brought up by mushrooms. They are teachers. Time Machines is explicitly to do with combining sounds with psychedelic tones. The Harmaline B molecule, like any other complex alkaloid, is represented as a ring, but when you take DMT, or Yage or Ayahuasca, there’s also a ringing tone, a psychic tone. And with DMT there’s a kind of crumpling sound. So Time Machines was inspired by Terence McKenna’s idea that Time Machines will only ever appear here once they have been made, and will come back to us.

McKenna, like William S. Burroughs, Taylor Mead, and John Giorno, was one of John and Sleazy’s interview subjects during the mid-Nineties; apparently, they were working on a never-realized project called Black Sun Magazine. During the 54-minute interview with Coil below, Terence plays his greatest hits—the alien consciousness encountered by psilocybin users, rave culture, Timewave Zero—but it is a pleasure to hear them as they sounded in the relaxed atmosphere of a Sunday rap with John and Sleazy.

Terence confesses (at 14:26) that he wouldn’t mind having his own Coil-type group:

The reason I like Coil is because it’s so weird. I mean without a doubt—I was talking to somebody yesterday about it who’d never heard of you, and I said “If I were making music, I would make music something like that,” that that’s my idea of what experimental music is supposed to sound like.

Guy could talk. Around the 41-minute mark, McKenna, contemplating the collapse of institutions, offers this hopeful message to the future:

There are many very dark scenarios of scarcity, fascism, disease, infrastructure collapse. But I think that the creativity that can be called upon once the old institutional structures begin to dissolve is going to create… as James Joyce said, “Man will be dirigible”!

I suppose a brave soul could use Time Machines to drop in on the transcendental object at the end of time and see if McKenna was right. Just pack your umbrella and galoshes for the end of the Mayan calendar in the incredible future year 2012. I hear tell it’s going to be a ripsnorter!
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.08.2018
06:29 am
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Leonard Nimoy’s recipe for banana cheese potatoes


 
La Jolla potatoes are no longer on the menu at Chez Jay, looks like, but patrons used to chow down on this dish cooked up by owner Jay Fiondella and his quondam roommate, Leonard Nimoy. The L.A. Times:

“Star Trek’s” Leonard Nimoy, with whom Fiondella roomed in the 1950s, helped him create what became a signature dish: La Jolla potatoes, a melange of mashed potatoes, bananas and cheese.

What did Nimoy contribute to the recipe? The bananas? The cheese? The garlic? The mashing? The browning? The “textural contrast”? I put it to you that, as Americans, we have not only the freedom, but the duty to investigate these questions. For as Leonard himself reminds us in a penetrating study of the Bermuda Triangle: “To say, in essence, that science need not investigate is to destroy the rationale for any scientific quest.”
 

Chez Jay in Santa Monica (via TripAdvisor)

 
This recipe for La Jolla potatoes from L.A.‘s Legendary Restaurants serves six:

8 x 8-inch baking pan, buttered
2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 larges cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1½ cups half-and-half
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 large, ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
4 oz. Jarlsberg or Gruyère cheese, grated

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
2. In a large pot of salted water, boil the potatoes until just tender (about 15 minutes). Drain into a colander and allow the potatoes to steam for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, wipe out the pot, add the garlic and butter and return to the heat. Allow the garlic to turn golden, then add the half-and-half, salt, pepper, bananas, and potatoes.
4. Using a hand masher, roughly mash the potato mixture. You want to have a textural contrast of smooth and rough pieces. Season to taste, then transfer the potatoes to the baking pan and top with the grated cheese. Place in the oven to heat through and brown the cheese, about 15 minutes.
5. Serve at once or set the oven at 200ºF and keep warm until ready to serve.

Heavy cream, salt, cheese, starch and butter are the fuel that keeps healthy bodies frugging to “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” all day long. Live long et cetera.

Posted by Oliver Hall
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01.26.2018
10:19 am
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Provocative portraits of Syd Barrett, Johnny Cash, David Bowie & more by comic book hero Lee Bermejo
01.25.2018
09:28 am
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A portrait of the late Amy Winehouse by Lee Bermejo. The illustration was done for Italian magazine XL and their column called ‘Dark Side.’
 
If you are a fan of comic books, artist Lee Bermejo‘s name is probably familiar to you. His work has been widely featured in modern adaptations of classic superhero comics such as Superman and Batman published during the 2000s and beyond for DC. Bermejo has many respectable accomplishments in his pencil box including an IGN Comics Award for his 2008 graphic novel Joker which also spent some time on the New York Times best-sellers list.

In 2013 the mostly self-taught artist was recruited by Italian magazine XL to do some illustration work for them. The concept, according to Bermejo, was to create images of famous musicians with superhero attributes. The column written by Ezio Guaitamacchi was called Dark Side in which Guaitamacci would detail the too-soon deaths of famous musicians, including many members of the so-called “27 Club” such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Amy Winehouse (pictured at the top of this post). Bermejo’s images are profound as they often depict his famous subjects in physical states not unlike the circumstances of their actual deaths. In addition to his poignant portraits for XL, Bermejo also did imaginative portraits of other music legends still with us such as Black Sabbath and Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses. I find it morbidly amusing Bermejo chose to illustrate Axl lying in a coffin wide awake with two pistols, adjacent to a skull with a top hat which presumably once belonged to his pal Slash—who, by the way, is still very much alive.

I’ve posted Bermejo’s illustrations for XL as well as a few others below. Some are slightly NSFW.
 

John Lennon for XL.
 

Johnny Cash for XL.
 

Syd Barrett for XL.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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01.25.2018
09:28 am
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Goodnight, sweet prince: There are ‘Big Lebowski’ cremation urns
01.05.2018
10:35 am
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It’s one of the most indelible scenes from one of the most memorable and quotable cult films in cinema history: John Goodman as the unhinged blowhard Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski, scattering the ashes of his newly-deceased bowling teammate Donny, eulogizes his friend after spending countless years of his life constantly telling him to shut the fuck up. The ashes are in a Folgers coffee can because the cost of an urn was too dear, and Sobchak utterly ruins the simple, two-person funeral with a pointless detour into his own Vietnam war shell-shock and by scattering the ashes all over the funeral’s other guest, Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski.

It’s easy to imagine that at least some among the film’s fanatical devotees—self-identified as “Achievers” after a throwaway detail early in the film—have envisioned using a Folgers can as a final resting place in homage to that scene, and if you’ve ever gone to a bowling alley in a bathrobe and ordered a White Russian, I might be talking about YOU. Well, you’re in luck. Purveyors of gorgeous handmade cremation urns Memento Memorials have tracked down the period-correct cans and mismatched lids (Folgers has never used blue lids, the one in the film is almost certainly from a Maxwell House can) and paired them with pedestals made of bowling balls to create replica Big Lebowski urns.
 

 

 

While there are plenty of Folgers coffee cans to be had on the internet, the exact version of the coffee can used in the movie was made in the mid 90s and not in the kind of quantities that make it easy to come by.  The style itself can be found with some effort but nailing down the “For All Coffee Makers” version is even rarer. There are size variations and condition factors as well. As an extra kicker, the blue lid is from a Maxwell House tin from the same decade that is just as difficult to source.

There are times when we have to buy a group of unrelated coffee cans in order to get the one sweet prize within in order to say goodnight to one sweet prince. We will accept cans that are “Automatic Drip” (or other grind styles as we find them), cans that are unopened and still have what might be coffee in them. Sometimes a seller is wise to the rarity and possible end use as a Big Lebowski Urn and jacks up the price.

 
This is apparently a key detail.

Because Memento Memorials can only sporadically procure the extremely specific cans and lids required, these urns haven’t been available very often, so instead of selling them outright, they’ve taken to auctioning them to benefit the Prevent Cancer Foundation. This month, they’re auctioning three of them. The individual auctions run from January 9-13, 16-20, and 23-27.
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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01.05.2018
10:35 am
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William Dailey, Legendary Bookman, 72
01.04.2018
02:07 pm
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William Dailey, the widely-loved, longtime proprietor of Dailey Rare Books, a landmark on the Los Angeles book scene for 40 years, passed away on Friday December 15 in an accident near his home.  Dailey was one of the last in a distinguished line of important Los Angeles bookmen.

Bill Dailey was born in Philadelphia in 1945. He studied art at Lake Forest College, Evansville College and later at University of Indiana. He moved to California in 1967 and landed in San Francisco just in time to witness the Diggers last major parade celebrating the Death of the Hippie.  He made his way to warmer Southern California where he taught at The Dunn School in Los Olivos for just one year. His students included a teenaged John Burnham, later of ICM, and Rob Forbes, the future founder of Design Within Reach.  Dailey maintained friendships with both Burnham and Forbes until the end of his life.  Dailey counted among his many friendships such diverse characters as Barry Humphries, Wallace Berman, Prince Stash Klossowski de Rola, Dane Rudhyar, Dr. John Lilly and Timothy Leary.

Dailey began his apprenticeship in the rare book world at legendary book dealer, Zeitlin & Verbrugge in 1969.  He learned the art of book scouting from “Uncle” John Martin of the Black Sparrow Press, with whom he would scour used bookstores on his off hours.  In 1970, Dailey and Michael Horowitz founded the largest collection of psychoactive drug related literature, The Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library, named after the first American to write a book about drugs and drug use.  The library eventually was housed at Harvard University.

Dailey was also a publisher and a letterpress printer.  In 1972 he co-founded The Press of The Pegacycle Lady, with his then-wife, Victoria Dailey.  Their press specialized in producing the book as art. These books were distinguished by the use of handmade paper and letterpress printing, and often included art such as tipped in watercolor paintings or woodcuts. These were considered exemplars of the book arts in which no detail was overlooked. Published books included works by Dane Rudhyar, Jack Hirschman, Stéphane Mallarmé, the Marquis de Sade, D.H. Lawrence, Edouard Roditi, Roger Bacon, Steve Martin, Ricky Jay, Don Bachardy and Gustave Baumann.

In 1975, they opened William & Victoria Dailey Rare Books, which became Dailey Rare Books in 1997. The store on Melrose Avenue became a mecca to those in search of rare and unusual books. Dailey’s love of art, design and the arcane was reflected in his inventory.  In 2007, he closed his store on Melrose and sold books via the internet and antiquarian book fairs.  In nothing resembling retirement, he divided his time between Los Angeles and the Palm Springs area, where he ran The Hacienda Hot Springs Inn and Spa, a boutique hotel which he liked to tell guests he won in a poker game.

An ardent collector, accomplished bibliographer, artist and raconteur, Mr. Dailey’s interests and knowledge always covered a wide range of topics.  Works of Transcendentalist art, sacred geometry, early travel literature of Mexico and a voluminous collection of desert literature were among Dailey’s last passions. One of the most notable collections Dailey amassed was that of books on Vegetarianism, which he began to collect in 1970. That collection contained works spanning from 1547 to 1967. The collection was later gifted to The Lilly Library at University of Indiana, where he gave a lecture about it last year.

William Dailey was a longtime Buddhist and practiced Vipassana meditation for many years with Trudie Goodman of InsightLA.  A relentless seeker, his spiritual practice informed every aspect of his life and is reflected in the many subjects he passionately explored.  He is survived by a wide circle of friends, his former wife and friend, Victoria Dailey, his sister Deanne Dailey Hansen, his beloved partner Nicole Panter and their two dogs.  A private celebration of William Dailey will be held in early February in proximity to the International Antiquarian Book Fair.

This piece was written by Maria Montgomery and Nicole Panter.

Posted by Tara McGinley
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01.04.2018
02:07 pm
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