Wayne Cochran was the baddest motherfucker to sport a platinum blond pompadour in the history of rock and roll. He was the honky doppelganger to the hardest working Black man in show business. But, the booze, the pills, the nightsweats, the trembling heebeegeebees and soul twisting demonic machinations of the Devil’s music drove him into the cold stiff arms of suicidal despair. Some men cannot handle the Hermetic heaviness bestowed upon them, the alchemical fire scorches and blinds them.
Like so many tales of rock and roll redemption, Jesus appeared to Wayne and laid his hands upon that sinner’s radiant wighat and the Satanic sunglasses of sin fell from Wayne’s eyes and the light of salvation penetrated his supplicating optic nerve sending a bolt of Christ-like illumination into the pulsating pink folds of his frontal lobes. Wayne was a changed man and Jesus had a new brother in arms, but rock and roll had lost a sharkskin suited shaman who had sent the serpent power of sexual bliss up the spinal column of sweet soul music.
And the black angels wept.
As one who had seen Cochran perform in the early 70s, I can testify to the man’s powerful transformative mojo. I was struck down and raised up.
45 years after appearing on Jackie Gleason’s Miami-based TV show, Wayne is running a Christian ministry in the same city where he once dazzled an audience with his lime green threads and his Mephistophelian moves.
In many cases, the transformation from rock star to Christian minister is lateral and redundant. But, sometimes the lord moves in mysterious ways and He does the watusi. Wayne Cochran was a cosmic force before he found religion. Religion found him - a primal, wild, uncontrolled religion. Sometimes that’s more than a man can handle. So, he turns to the script, scripture, where the rules are neatly laid down - ‘Jesus For Dummies.’ Every man or woman needs to do what they have to do, but it saddens me to see great artists retreat from their work because they can’t mentally process it. Art is supposed to be scary, it takes you places where you’ve never been and that is knowledge.
Wayne Cochran’s pompadour was a crown, not of thorns, but that of the Magi.