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My grandfather is on the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ album cover and here’s the story
05.25.2017
07:06 am
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From the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ photo shoot
 
The Summer of Love hasn’t begun. There’s LBJ at Expo 67, thanking God for putting the U.S.A. next to Canada instead of, say, Pakistan or Greece; there’s Cher modeling the short-cut pantsuit. There’s Robyn Hitchcock saying goodbye to his late grandmother with a little help from Brian Eno, and there’s my father, Gary, not yet 18, hearing Peter Bergman announce on Radio Free Oz that his own father, Huntz Hall, is pictured on the cover of the Beatles’ new album.

In the original photo shoot for the album cover, Huntz appeared next to Leo Gorcey, his co-star in hundreds of Dead End Kids, East Side Kids, and Bowery Boys movies, or “pictures,” as he would have said. (Though Leo isn’t in in it, I’m partial to Looking for Danger, in which the Bowery Boys lend Uncle Sam a hand by impersonating Nazis in North Africa.) But Leo asked for money, and Peter Blake airbrushed him out. Huntz, bless him, did not ask for money, so he stands alone in the back row between a Vargas girl and Simon Rodia, whose head seems to be growing out of Bob Dylan’s. Lined up in front of him are Karl Marx, H.G. Wells and Paramahansa Yogananda.
 

 
Now, some smart aleck will claim FEAR settled the balance when they conspicuously thanked Leo, but not Huntz, in the liner notes of More Beer, another album that is close to my heart. This game of one-upmanship will only end in triumph for my mighty clan and tears of shame for the rest of humanity. He can deny it all he likes, but Rick Nielsen of John Lennon’s onetime backing band Cheap Trick bit gramps’ style. And it was Huntz, not Leo, who shared the stage with Duke Ellington, busted a hang with Alice Cooper, and accompanied Ken Russell to a Sex Pistols show during the filming of Valentino. After which these candid shots of Huntz posing with members of THOR at a Travelodge in 1983 seem hardly worth mentioning. Q.E.D.!

It is strange and puzzling to see your grandfather on the cover of a Beatles album. When you are on the playground 20 years after the Summer of Love and you tell your school chums your grandfather is on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s, they respond that you are wrong and he is not. Juvenile rock scholars immersed in the backstairs literature of the Satanic panic tell you about the “Paul is dead” clues, so you lie awake all night wondering: My God, what was peepaw’s role in all that? And the title of the NME compilation Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father had an unusual resonance.

The biggest puzzle was Huntz’s appearance. Squinting in the daylight, wearing a tarboosh, a green djellaba and a red velvet scarf, he looks more like a carpet dealer standing in the Jemaa el-Fnaa at high noon than a Depression-era NYC tough. But, at last, I have discovered the solution to this puzzle: he is not wearing any of those things. Thanks to the good work of the Sgt. Pepper Photos blog, I now see that cover artist Peter Blake’s source was this black and white group shot of the Dead End Kids, with Huntz in familiar attire.
 

via Sgt. Pepper Photos
 
While Blake says the Bowery Boys were his choice, my father—who has contributed to a forthcoming book of essays about the crowd on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s whose name I do not yet know—thinks the pot bust that sent Huntz to jail in 1948 must have endeared him to the Fabs. (Though he was exonerated, I can confirm that Huntz was a lifelong slave to the ruinous vice of marijuana abuse. He may have been a comedian, but take it from me: there is nothing funny about watching a loved one support a $2-a-day drug habit.)

Keep reading after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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05.25.2017
07:06 am
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Before James Bond: Roger Moore knitwear model
05.24.2017
11:37 am
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Depending on your age and first exposure to a James Bond movie, Sir Roger Moore may well be your favorite 007. Younger viewers, ahem, may prefer Daniel Craig or maybe Pierce Brosnan, but for many, it is the late Roger Moore (who died yesterday) or (my own choice) Sir Sean Connery who best epitomize the “real” Bond, James Bond. (I’d say Ian Fleming’s character lies somewhere in between these twin poles of Connery and Moore.)

Yesterday, in among all the tweets of Roger Moore photos, clips, and comments, was this rather delightful story about Moore as Bond.
 

 
Sweet.

But Roger Moore was more than just another James Bond, he was also Ivanhoe, and Lord Brett Sinclair to Tony Curtis’ Danny Wilde in The Persuaders, and my personal favorite, Simon Templar in The Saint.

Moore’s performance as Simon Templar led me to write my first ever fan letter asking for a signed photograph. A week or so later, I duly received a beautiful color photo with Moore’s signature—something I still treasure. Moore as Templar epitomized all the charm and bravery of a cultured super-spy I hoped to emulate when I grew up. As you can appreciate, I never quite managed these fine qualities but it’s always good to have ambition… In real life, Moore was by all accounts equally as charming and as debonair as the characters he played, although he once quipped that his acting chops were limited to his right eyebrow being raised, his left eyebrow being raised or both being raised together. What came across on screen was apparently very much the real man.

During the few lean years of his early career in the 1950s, Moore supplemented his acting work as a model for knitting patterns. This led the more cynical to dismiss his acting talent and label him the “Big Knit.” It didn’t irk Moore, who was always more than capable of pricking his own image and deflecting the most ridiculous of criticisms. I think Moore’s career as a model for cardiagns, pullovers, and v-neck sweaters makes him all the more likable as he managed to carry it all off with great style and considerable aplomb, not that James Bond would have ever been caught dead in any of these.
 
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More fashions worn by the ‘Big Knit,’ after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.24.2017
11:37 am
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Ultramega OK: Soundgarden destroy the Whisky a Go-Go, 1990
05.22.2017
12:59 pm
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Like many of you, I’m still trying to process the sudden death of Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell last week. Here in Seattle, where Cornell was born, there were several memorials held around the city including one at the site that inspired the band’s name—A Sound Garden—a musical sculpture park where twelve 20+ foot structures outfitted with organ pipes emanate with sound whenever the wind blows. After Cornell passed, Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog and Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron posted a heart-wrenching comment on his Facebook page saying “My dark knight is gone,” a sentiment that hit entirely too close to home for those who knew Cornell as well as those who often suffer in silence—forever searching for ways to deal with their own depression and anxiety.

At an impromptu memorial held at the radio station KEXP on the day of Cornell’s death, 400 people showed up to collectively grieve at the station’s gathering space. While addressing the crowd, long-time DJ John Richards said that “part of the city (of Seattle) had died” that day. Often, music is something that can be hugely helpful and cathartic when you’re trying to make sense of unfathomable events such as Cornell’s impossibly sad, untimely passing. And that is exactly the purpose of my post today—to share Soundgarden’s legacy by way of their sonic, ear-smashing music.

Though I know your social media feeds have likely been filled with news about the legendary vocalist, I really wanted to support as well as spread the idea of celebrating Cornell’s life and his work with Soundgarden, who are/were without question one of the greatest rock bands of the last 30 years. A large part of their appeal was, of course, the animal magnetism of Chris Cornell’s stage presence and his immaculate four-octave vocal range. Cornell was also the primary lyricist for Soundgarden, which helped solidify his deep connection to their fan base.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.22.2017
12:59 pm
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‘100,000 tabs of acid’: Lemmy talks records, touring with Hendrix, and sex with a trans person
04.20.2017
08:25 am
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Back in 2000, Lemmy was the guest on Channel 4’s series All Back to Mine, an interview show based on Desert Island Discs. Usually, Sean Rowley, the host of the show, would visit musicians at home and listen to a few of their favorite records, but this episode was filmed at a bar table with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.

Lemmy lists a few favorite records—“Good Golly, Miss Molly,” something by the Shadows he doesn’t name, “Hotel California”—in the course of this freewheeling conversation, which is not really about his favorite records and offers something for everyone. There’s material on being a Ted and hating Mods (“How can you be mean on a Vespa?”), the Hawkwind way of life (“We weren’t in a regular job, we weren’t paying our taxes regular, we weren’t like joining the Young Conservatives or whatever it is, y’know—we were just, like, gettin’ wrecked and playing music that we liked”), and megadosing with Jimi:

Lemmy: I was Jimi Hendrix’s roadie, what’d you expect? I mean, he’d come back from America with a hundred thousand tabs of acid, right?
Rowley: Who, Jimi had?
Lemmy: Yeah, and it wasn’t even illegal then. He brought it back in his suitcase. And he gave half of it ‘round the crew. I mean, that’s a lot of acid, you know.
Rowley: And you were part of the crew, at the time, then.
Lemmy: There was only two of us.

And then there’s the astonishing answer to Rowley’s question about having sex with a trans person, in which Lemmy frames gender reassignment surgery in terms of manly virtue…

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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04.20.2017
08:25 am
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Lou Reed, Steve Buscemi, and the death of the 90s: Maggie Estep’s cover of ‘Vicious’
04.03.2017
10:08 am
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This clip is basically the most perfect eulogy for the 90s I can ever imagine.

It is not the job of the Gen X-er to lament or to wax nostalgic. We have essentially made a generational pact to shrug our collective way to the grave. And that’s cool, but still, let us count the things that once existed in this video that are, simply, no more: viable spoken word performers, viable music videos, viable indie record labels, affordable NYC art scenes, Maggie Estep (RIP), Lou Reed (RIP). The 90s really were fucking magnificent, man.

Anyway, this spoken-word cover by poet Estep was from her second album, Love is A Dog from Hell. (Bukowski reference! Everybody loved Bukowski in the 90s!) It was directed by Steve Buscemi (!) and features a cameo from Mister Lou Reed himself. Shortly thereafter “downtown” died and so did virtually everything and everybody that you love.

Oh well, whatever. Nevermind.
 
Watch it after the jump…

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Posted by Ken McIntyre
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04.03.2017
10:08 am
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The space burial of Dr. Timothy Leary and ‘Star Trek’ creator Gene Roddenberry
03.23.2017
08:54 am
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Twenty years ago, the perihelion of the Hale-Bopp comet coincided with the mass suicide of the Heaven’s Gate cult, whose members believed death was a sure way of hitching a ride on a spaceship. They put on new pairs of Nike Decades before eating phenobarbital and tying bags around their heads. Among the dead in Rancho Santa Fe was Thomas Nichols, whose sister Nichelle played Lt. Uhura on Star Trek. “He made his choices, and we respect those choices,” she told Larry King.
 

 
One month later, a Pegasus rocket carrying the remains of Dr. Timothy Leary, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, physicist and space colonization advocate Gerard O’Neill, Operation Paperclip beneficiary Krafft Ehricke, and 20 other former space enthusiasts launched from the Canary Islands.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.23.2017
08:54 am
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Chuck Barris is dead, but the scandalous ‘Popsicle Twins’ will live forever
03.22.2017
10:05 am
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Well, the CIA lost their greatest assassin today. Gong Show host Chuck Barris has died, aged 87.  Dumb but beautiful and entirely emblematic of the decade in which it flourished, The Gong Show was quintessential 1970s junk TV, a swirling, whirling dimestore cocktail of low-watt celebrity worship, vaudeville schmaltz, and punk ferocity. Half game-show, half freakshow, it allowed ordinary knuckleheads a chance to shine on national television while D-grade stars like Jamie Farr, Jaye P. Morgan, and Rip Taylor mocked them. It was like American Idol, except for that everyone was in on the joke. Lording over the whole chaotic enterprise was game-show impresario Barris, a bucket hat wearing goofball who could not care less if anybody won or if anybody died. It was so, so good, a riot of polyester, bubbles, desperation and abject failure. It made legitimate stars out of unlikely characters like Gene Gene the Dancing Machine and The Unknown Comic.

It was everything the 1970s promised and more.
 

‘Gong Show’ greatness: Gene Gene the Dancing Machine
 
Barris also created The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game and, according to his kooky autobiography Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (!), he ran his media empire while working as a spy-slash-assassin for the CIA. The CIA denied it, but of course they would.

Anyway, let us not mourn the man’s tragic passing, but celebrate his most towering achievement: the 1977 Gong Show appearance of “Have You Got A Nickel” AKA the Popsicle Twins. We could analyze it, but that’s not what Chuck would’ve wanted. All you really need to know is that sometime in 1977, The Gong Show featured 17-year-old twins eating orange popsicles on stage—that’s it—and the whole country almost had a heart attack.

Rest in peace, Chuck. You truly were a Dangerous Mind. Gong, but not forgotten…

Watch the Popsicle Twins after the jump…

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Posted by Ken McIntyre
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03.22.2017
10:05 am
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Jimmy Page and the Yardbirds cover the Velvet Underground in 1968
03.02.2017
09:18 am
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In honor of what would have been Lou Reed’s 75th birthday, here’s the Yardbirds covering the Velvet Underground in 1968.

You may recall that Michelangelo Antonioni considered the Velvet Underground for the club scene in Blow-Up before choosing the Yardbirds, but the connection between the two bands does not end there. As I learn from Richie Unterberger, the Yardbirds’ last lineup—the one with Jimmy Page on lead guitar—had “I’m Waiting for the Man” in its repertoire. A recording survives from the May 31, 1968 gig at the Shrine Exposition Hall in Los Angeles, one of the Yardbirds’ final shows.
 

 
“I’m Waiting for the Man” was a forward-looking selection in May ‘68. John Cale was still in the VU; White Light/White Heat had been out for a few months, The Velvet Underground & Nico about a year. Yardbird Chris Dreja, who remembers “hanging out with Andy Warhol at The Factory” on the Yardbirds’ first US tour, suggests the cover was Page’s idea. As a session musician and arranger, Page had worked on Nico’s 1965 debut single “I’m Not Sayin’,” whose B-side, “The Last Mile,” he co-wrote with Andrew Loog Oldham. The following year, as Unterberger points out, the Yardbirds and the VU both played at Detroit’s Carnaby Street Fun Festival.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.02.2017
09:18 am
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Behold a custom built Lemmy Kilmister fire pit that that spews flames from its face
03.01.2017
09:22 am
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The most metal fire pit known to man (or woman), the custom-built Lemmy Kilmister fire pit by Kustom Fire Pits.
 
So here’s the deal—I don’t know a whole lot about this custom Lemmy Kilmister fire pit. But I do know enough to tell how to get your hands on one, or one of the other Motörhead inspired fire pit designs done by an outfit in the Netherlands called Kustom Fire Pits.

According to their Facebook page, the incredibly cool artisan behind these completely metal creations is an artist known as Sjaak. In addition to his many designs, he also accepts commissions. Over on Sjaak’s official site, I learned a little more about the Lemmy fire pit, specifically that it took 120 hours to craft and weighs about 88 pounds. Which unless you live in the Netherlands or Netherlands adjacent, getting the massive Lemmy fire pit to your zip code without taking a second mortgage out on your house might be a challenge. However, once you get a look at some of the other Motörhead pits as well as more of the creations by the talented Dutchman, I think you’ll seriously consider making one of them yours. Here’s a link to Kustom Fire Pits official site where you can get more info on how to do that. Images of the metal as fuck fire-burning Lemmys and other very metal fire pits follow.
 

 

 
More fire-breathing Lemmy after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.01.2017
09:22 am
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The art of mourning: Vintage wreaths & other memorial keepsakes made with the hair of the dead
02.21.2017
10:22 am
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A depiction of a French cemetery scene in a mourning dome made with human hair from 1881.

Memorial artifacts that were made or contained the hair of the recently deceased is a mourning tradition that dates as far back as the 1600s. As a matter of fact, a place in Independence, Missouri that claims to be the “only hair museum in the world” Leila’s Hair Museum is in possession of a Swedish mourning brooch by that dates to 1640. Works of art made from hair were actually a pretty common thread throughout the world and while not all were intended to symbolize a person’s passing, the examples featured in this post were.

During the Victorian era, owning mementos made with or containing hair was a way of life. Some families would create a hair wreath using hair from every member of their family which were used as a family tree of sorts and utilizing the hair as a way to communicate details about their lineage. Even churches were known to create hair wreaths created by donations from members of their congregations. Mourning wreaths would generally be constructed in a distinct half-moon style to convey that the deceased had begun the journey to the afterlife. Though they are in every sense of the word macabre, they are also intricate, intimate works of art.
 

A close look at a memorial hair dome created in 1886.
 

A mourning hair wreath made with human hair, wire, and wood. Approximately 1850-1900.

More mourning wreaths after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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02.21.2017
10:22 am
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