Friday, July 30, 2010

more DENIZ TEK

R.e. the previous post, my 2010 photo of legendary Radio Birdman guitarist Deniz Tek, another rock and roll over-achiever, as he's a former Navy "Top Gun" pilot, an E.R. surgeon and fine artist in painting. Currently seen gigging with The Soul Movers and the Godoy Twins. He's full of stories recounting his adventures playing with his fellow Midwest legends in the MC5, Stooges and others. For details on the original session with the Godoy Twins and Jimmy Recca, click this LINK.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

VIDEO STORY on JAMES WILLIAMSON

Click HERE for a short CNN/Fortune video piece on Stooges' guitarist James Williamson, who talks about his journey from punk rock pioneer to Silicon Valley executive and back. I was wondering when the light bulb would go off in the media that this highest level of achievement in two such different fields is unique, his going so far up two such different ladders, as if Steve Jobs were also Jeff Beck. Some nice black and white photos therein too.

JELLYFISH, live


Now that Iggy and the Stooges have reunited with original members, here's another band I'd like to witness in a comeback. They had it all, terrific songwriting, a BIG sound, wondrous vocals plus harmonies, expert playing to match their sophisticated releases, bite, a singing drummer who stood over his kit, danger, smooth deception, cute guys in oddball attire, varieties of styles, and borrowings from the best before them (partial list: The Move, Harry Nilsson, The Beach Boys a la Pet Sounds, Steely Dan, 10CC, Emitt Rhodes, the Roy Wood ELO, McCartney, etc. etc.) They had it all... except timing. Jellyfish, a hard pop band extraordinaire, recorded and performed during the cusp of Hair Metal into Grunge. Witness their lack thereof here in these two videos:

Useless trivia: In John Mendel(s)sohn's last spate of reviews for Rolling Stone, he listed his Top Ten selections for 1990 as 1. Jellyfish-Bellybutton 2. Jellyfish-Bellybutton 3.Jellyfish-Bellybutton et cetera on through #10.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

TEX & THE HORSEHEADS, live

Amidst the schmutz of evil juju and hair-raising cacophony, Ms. Texecala Jones led her fellow, unbottled reprobates in Tex & The Horseheads down a blues-stained trail in the 1980s. These two shots was taken as they opened Club Lingerie, Hollywood for Gun Club (see LINK and stray pic below.)










Tuesday, July 27, 2010

LONDON, 1978

A lovely boat ride on the Thames circa October, 1978. Spot the soulmate, seagulls and pouting schoolboys.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

1978 COMPUTERS + DISCOMANIA!

Dig those krazy reel-to-reel mainframes, kats and kittens! Yes, office computer systems in 1978 seem just as retro-antiquated as 1950s hipster slang does at present. But there's a method to the madness of these highly uncharacteristic shots of mine.

Why did I, assistant Art Director and rabidly ardent on the subject authoress of "Punk Rock 'n' Roll" at Almo, the publications arm of A&M Records, request the assignment for the cover of their book of Disco favorites?

Because I've never let subjectivity get in the way of commercial collaboration or a good idea, and I'd envisioned a great one for this cover. I wanted to photograph disco dancers in what I speculated to be the disco of the future, a computer repository (and I was right.) My pic above displays the original Polaroid photos (hence the completely accurate color balance 32 years later, a Polaroid trait) and the original registration marks for the masking overlays to concoct the pre-digital era layout for the 4-C printers of the cover. Very different graphic art world then, kiddies.

The locale was the then spankin' new computer room of A&M, and I had the perfect model in mind, the drop dead gorgeous receptionist of our own art department. She was so model-perfect (unusually pretty face, wide-shoulders, 5'8" Size 6 [which was the standard then, not like the impossible in real life 5'11" Size 2 today]) and wore clothes so beautifully that I couldn't understand why she had eschewed becoming a star in the better paying haute couture world in the first place, but she was sufficiently gracious to pose for the shoot with her husband. Together they made an outstandingly pulchritudinous couple dancing in their sophisticated style.

I've always tried for a universality as well as project-specific timeliness in my work, and this cute couple appears just as genuinely glamorous to today's eyes as they would have then. It's the reel-to-reel mainframes of this computer room that jar with time warp oddness, plus our hindsight knowledge of what computers became. A&M only had just made its switch to computers for all its departments the year I left it and my last ever office job, 1978 for the uncharted waters of freelance-dom...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

RON ASHETON

I photographed Ron Asheton thrice, once at the Coconut Teazser club in L.A. sitting in with The Empty Set (you actually can order a legit cd of that gig here http://birdcagerecords.com/?page_id=3460 ;) once with Dark Carnival at another venue (middle photo with the inimitable Niagara;) and once at a recording session with Scott Richardson (SRC,) and Ray Manzarek (The Doors) (third pic above with yours truly by their producer, Harvey Kubernik. It was eighteen years ago, and I hardly resemble that now, although I still wear the same Death Cult t-shirt with Mickey's skull.)

The aforementioned SRC/Stooges/Doors confab alligned for Richardson's 1992 spoken word release "Tornado Souvenirs" on New Alliance Records, a SoCal punk label. Scott also corralled his former father-in-law Robert Mitchum to contribute dialogue. Ron and Ray noodled interesting musics behind Scott's prose-poems.

There were a few very late night phone calls to me as well that annoyed my better half, who had to arise at 5 a.m. for work. I regret that I never was able to get the two of them together to talk guns and military history from similar well-informed, warped/witty, rock and rollers' P.O.V.s. Ron was always photogenic slamming into his guitar. July 17 is the anniversary of Ron's birthday. R.I.P.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

RADIO FREE HOLLYWOOD! THE POP, THE DOGS and THE MOTELS

(above photo only, photographer unknown)


Martha Davis in The Motels











The Dogs (in later incarnation Attack which morphed back into The Dogs)




David Swanson after The Pop but pre-fine art revival

Incubated in the early 1970s when various band members met at a concert in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, a major metropolitan center that offered no clubs which booked unsigned bands, Radio Free Hollywood vowed to change that. The first DIY-ers in the proto-punk scene to four-wall (self-rent) entire clubs just to play for their many fans, Radio Free Hollywood is often overlooked in the history of alternative music collectives. Vintage 1976 flyer below:

Comprised of The Motels, The Dogs and The Pop, they swapped rehearsal spaces and occasionally musicians while presaging the orthodox punk scene in L.A. normally associated with the Germs, The Screamers etc. The Motels proffered Martha Davis' emotive charisma and sultry vocals, The Dogs blasted their power-trio, Detroit-born hardest rock testimonials while The Pop grafted a catchy commercial sound with new wave and rock grit. My photos of these artists post-date their respective punk heydays as I was busy at the time not only with full-time Asst. Art Director, Publications employ at A&M Records but also writing the first book published on the subject of Punk in the U.S. (which went to press the week the Sex Pistols broke up,) not photographing it as much.

The Motels garnered actual chart hits, many of its members still play, and Martha herself should have become the Gold Standard for Adult Contemporary with her emotional balladry and inimitable voice, but sadly didn't. The Dogs continue their remarkable history (see LINK,) still rocking with occasional releases and many reunions including a 2007 tour of Japan. The only member of The Pop that I knew and kept up with, David Swanson, lead voice and lead looks therein, cashed out of the pre-recession Hollywood real estate scene in time to bankroll buying a ranch in Montana, where he found ample subject matter painting fine art Western realism, prints and information available here LINK. He's still an amazing talent in this newer field.

Video examples from various eras:




NOTE: link directly back to http://fastfilm1.blogspot.com if all elements such as photo layouts or videos aren't here.

JOHNNY RIVERS, CHRIS HILLMAN, STEPHEN STILLS, JOHN MAYALL, HUGH MASEKELA, 1.29.09 Whisky A Go Go Tribute to Elmer Valentine






From 2009-- Personifying Los Angeles' 1960's Sunset Strip legacy incarnate, Stephen Stills, John Mayall and Chris Hillman joined Johnny Rivers onstage January 26, 2009 at the Whisky A Gogo for a tribute concert to the legendary nightclub's owner and promoter Elmer Valentine, who died Dec.3, 2008. South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela also added grace notes forty years after first accompanying Hillman's Byrds and Stills' Buffalo Springfield both in sessions and live venues. (I had indeed also photographed or witnessed all but Mayall live 43 years ago, gasp.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

LESLIE KNAUER-- 38th BEST ROCK SINGER EVER!

Top photo, Leslie fronting power trio Kanary, late 1990s-2000s, next photo 5.20.11 with The LovrBombz. An assortment of Kanary and Precious Metal photographs below.



Some British magazine in the '90s whose name escapes the leaking brain cell sieve listed Leslie Knauer as the thirty-eighth best rock singer ever, male or female, of all time, out of one hundred choices. Ever! I first photographed her in the '80s band Precious Metal, formidable players who warranted three major label releases. (see Glam pic below) Oozing idiosyncratic style Leslie's vocals evinced comparisons to Terry Reid or Noddy Holder, were they of the XY chromosome persuasion and sang about two octaves higher. She's sufficiently world class in powerhouse vocal talent to sing anything she sets her mind to, so the challenge is to send that voice hither and yon, full throttle or wistful, operatic warble or quasi-rap, contemplative personal/confessional or all out bliss incarnate.
Once my friends Mary and Tony of the Dogs joined up for double duty in Kanary (a pun on the Germanic pronunciation of her last name,) Leslie's band of the 21st century, there were few gigs I looked forward to photographing more than theirs. Their left field kooks' power trio truly rocked, hard, fast, and always joyously. I'd be lying if I didn't admit to missing Kanary. Once fuschia/red/pink/black/eggplant/polychrome-haired, Leslie's blonde now, and at least you still can catch her singing her amazing compositions (like the poignant "Two Steps" about her daughter, Hollywood's own BoyCrazy Alexi Wasser) acoustic or electric with boyfriend Al and The LovrBombz currently.(Ed.- now called Naked Hand Dance as of 2014.)




NOTE: link directly back to http://fastfilm1.blogspot.com if all elements such as photo layouts or videos aren't here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bill Brandt and Murder For Hire retro songstress

Want a four minute quickie course on early to mid-1960's Brit-pop multi-media culture, manufactured just a couple of years ago?

Check out Duffy's video "Rockferry"
Everything's there r.e. Bill Brandt-esque high key, stark black and white cinematography like Rita Tushingham, Dirk Bogarde, Carol White and James Fox movies; a simple pop ballad made complex by the singer's Dusty Springfield-esque perfection; the singer herself a good looking young woman with long straight hair and bangs/fringe to the eyebrows, replete with haute couture Chanel jacket worn over far more casual pret-a-porter. And a ballad of somewhat undefined longing alongside specific geographic referencing, rather like "Ferry Cross The Mersey."

Initially lumped in the "we want a better behaved Amy Winehouse" crowd of '60s white-soul-influenced poppets, Welsh lass Duffy may prove the real deal. Time will tell (at present she's retrenching from initial fame blind-siding.) In very young singers, it's hard to channel the deepest meanings necessary to soul-influenced music, due to teens'/early20somethings' rather understandable lack of life experience. As a child, Duffy was put in a safe house due to her step-parents' involvement in a murder for hire. One suspects the life experience just might be there.

Her better known single "Mercy" to me straddled dance-y Joss Stone-ism to kickstart her career to her peers, understandable. But if you love the same '60s influences that this young singer (and Ms. Winehouse when she's not using) so obviously does, join Duffy in losing yourself in her sublime fadeout of "Rockferry" with the ebbing repeats of "...I wouldn't write to you, I'm not that kind..."

NOSTALGIC PUNK NIGHTS AND ARTIFACTS












The Roxy, Hollywood, band called The Dead Milkmen from Philly. My photo demonstrates the difficulty associated with documenting punk acts for posterity: one can't be close to the stage lest one as short as I get trampled, one's contact lenses forcibly ejected or one's expensive equipment necesary for livelihood smashed. I opted for crashing the VIP riser above it all until I myself was forcibly ejected. And this was a press assignment
.
Next to the "Great White North" Doug and Bob McKenzie Action Figures (note tiny little half-eaten donuts, back bacon and empty beer bottles) are two Gary Panter paintings, illustrations for my 1978 Punk Rock & Roll book, which I believe was the first time he was paid for his excellent work, and paid twice at that, once for commercial usage and once for purchase for my private collection. Panter later was tapped for Art Director of Pee Wee's Playhouse tv series, and garnered a Time Magazine cover illustration. I can pick 'em.

Displayed in our living room of course.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

WILLIE DIXON AND BO DIDDLEY

Blues titan Willie Dixon (left) and rhythm-meister titan Bo Diddley (right) put their signatures in cement for posterity at the Guitar Center Rock Walk, April 27, 1989. This necessitated positioning right next to the action at hand, as I am short-ish and couldn't shoot over attending media: the other photographer mimics what I did, hunkering down not only for a better shot but also not to block others' view of this historic event.

Dixon's importance as a songsmith of blues classics remains at least well portrayed in the recent bio-pic "Cadillac Records" about the Chess blues stable, although it fictionalizes content as much as Old Hollywood studio fare of the 1930s and 40s. Diddley of course originated the first riff most of you guitar players probably learned, DA da DA-da-da, da DA!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

THE TRUE STORY OF THE STOOGES' FIRST MAINSTREAM PRESS COVER FEATURE

May 21, 1970 Edition of Entertainment World magazine.
Cover photo (C) 1970 Kurt Ingham, The Stooges live, San Francisco, 1970

This was one of the first if not the first nation-wide cover stories on The Stooges seen in a mainstream multi-arts magazine, not just a regional, music-based one. This centerpiece article by John Mendelsohn featuring lots more natural stage light, live performance photos (which took great skill then and a close, personal relationship with a pro lab that would push film beyond recommended specs) by Kurt Ingham (AKA singer Mr. Twister) (and future Mr. Fastfilm) extolled Stooges virtues that we all now consider Gospel right as they happened for the first time. And back in the day, it took someone like Mendelsohn to spot the appeal and potential of The Stooges beyond Detroit.

Forty years ago, Mendelsohn was characterized as a rather prickly character by our late mutual friend Shelley B. However, he was a genius pop culture writer of witty style, full of himself and well-employed: a Los Angeles Times staff music writer in additional to Rolling Stone and Creem music reviewer (The Who and The Kinks were indebted to his efforts instrumental in their finally breaking the US market.) He mattered in the press, and didn't just like but loved the Stooges as kindred subversives. He trumpeted same to anyone who'd read or listen, particularly like-minded, quirky new friends such as visiting rookie musician David Bowie. (Here in L.A. as with most of the world in the pre-internet Pleistocene, absolutely no one beyond Midwestern zip codes had any prior Stooge exposure.)

(Fun factoid: Bowie's first trip to the USA during which Mendelsohn introduced the former to the Stooges' music (Paul Trynka's Iggy bio "Open Up and Bleed," pg. 148) found David without a work visa coming through. Consequently his only live performance was with Twister and John's bandmate's guitar, solo in a living room for assorted insiders. I wasn't one of them.)

Mendelsohn, a contrarian by hobby (just try engaging him in discourse on the Facebook Christopher Milk Fan Club) instantly had adored all the deliberate antagonism aspects of the Stooges, both musically and stagecraft-wise. Remember, all Iggy's then new in-your-faceness and Ron Asheton's snarky simplicity were years before punk.

John then incorporated rather a bit of it into his own band Christopher Milk with his sardonic between-song patter, and wanted lead singer Mr. Twister to attain more Iggy-esqueness. Twister liked the wild abandon aspect but not the mimicry, and opted to try more originality. After he photographed the Stooges 1970 gig in San Francisco for Entertainment World, espying that the Ig also ran around into the audience on table tops and biting people, Twister upped the ante by setting his own bare torso on fire onstage (with movie special effects chemicals.) This stunt wasn't repeated not due to Fire Dept. Safety intervention but because the band lacked a professional lighting system necessary to illuminate the flames atop his skin.


When the Stooges evolved musically with new guitarist James Williamson into the blast furnace aggression/ innovation/ nastiness/ speed of light musicality of "Raw Power," John, perhaps preferring any band's antagonism be more like his own verbal version, just wasn't as interested. He now spells his name with an additional "s" and blogs here at LINK Nepotism disclaimer: I know/ have met/ have worked with all of the people mentioned in this treatise, and forthwith now apologize both to them and all readers for any injustices perceived or merely abstractly inferred.


Photo at bottom right for the curious: Mr. Twister and John Mendelsohn in Christopher Milk 1970, photographer unknown

Thursday, July 1, 2010

PROPS TO PAULA PIERCE: The Lost Tale of THE PANDORAS

    Resilient, local "Paisley Underground" figurehead driven to national notoriety, self-absorbed sexiness pulled like taffy from vulgar to sublime and shared with the masses like communion: Paula was a gas to work with, capable of brainstorming terrific visual ideas for our brief collaborations.

    Her first band of acclaim, The Pandoras, was spotlit for its 1960's costume and garage-sound accuracy. Early press praised its Standelles' redux vocal quality as so very garage that it barely registered as female. The aggregate then bisected into warring factions, with Gwynne Kahn, now Nipper Seaturtle ( a Westlake School For Girls alumna like yours truly, and its implication of heavy biz connections [Tin Pan Alley/Broadway composer blood relation in this case,] to help launch the band ) versus Paula Pierce, Chino outback trailer park pop fanatic newly relocated to the bright lights of the big city.

    This became the first ever overture in my whole career to document a group gratis from sheer enjoyiment of it. I sought access via Greg Shaw, indie mogul and magnate of all things neo-'60's in the U.S. (which is not hyperbole, mind you.) He clarified the then mystery of the duelling divisions each calling itself the Pandoras (Gwynne's was the original plus one, but Paula, its singer/guitarist frontwoman, had written all the material, hence her sturdier claim to the band's concept, and had assembled her new ensemble without missing a beat, to much publicized rancor from her former teammates.) Greg only volunteered the former's whereabouts: Paula's were obtained through minions of Rodney Bingenheimer, magnate of all this neo-'60's in the greater Los Angeles basin (no exaggeration as well.) 


Intrigued by female musicians attempting accuracy of any sort even as the two separate bands continued to perform under the same moniker (itself a clever reference to the most volatile of the "Riot on Sunset Strip" era teen music venues) that they both lay claim to, I made the usual scientific comparison and promptly was  bowled over by Paula's ironclad confidence in her own onstage authority as a pop persona, the kind you can't practice in front of a mirror. In contrast, the Gwynnedoras explored, however high-spirited or well-researched authenticity-wise, something of a recherche of '60's perdus endemic to her wannabe generation (subsequently cured for all when the recession of the late '80's restored some sense of urgency/purpose needed to inspire any original reclamations of the rebel pop music form.)       

The Pandoras' '60's revival studio session, 9/23/84, featured props from my personal archives, and two Pandoras are wearing my boots. (Their query: "Why aren't there neat things like these in the thrift stores?" Answer: "Because people like me saved them.") I taught them how to negotiate sitting while wearing micro-minis the hard way, as the the proofs revealed that this photographer, unused to looking up women's dresses, had revealed what necessitated later retouching.

    Paula's next visual extravaganza shifted its '60' focus to Roger Corman-style biker movies, and our 1985 Pandoras on giant Harley Davidson hogs predated the Hollywood fad for bikes as rock photo accessories by quite a few years. All her own ideas. Band boyfriends assisting at the session wailed with escalating paranoia, "Isn't this how Altamont started?!" at the intensity of attendant prop owners' fascination with nubile feminine forms poised atop with their own mighty Harleys betwixt their legs.
     Paula's Pandoras (Gwynne's mutated entirely away to different concepts--Mad Monster Party, Boo!, The Negro Problem etc.) then navigated a succession of record deals, releases and dismissals on Bomp, Rhino, Elektra and Enigma. One even wholly restaged my Pandoras-on-the-floor-amidst-clutter pose with its own toady photographer, as instance of borrowing from me not unprecedented in this label's methodology. Every so oft emerged new power-boyfriends for Paula. She ditched the '60's baggage and honed her vulgar-but-fun stage posture worthy of Dr. Ruth Westheimer turned guitaroid, to complement her music's eternal quality of unreconstructed rawness. 
 

    After publication of the Sunset Stp. and biker shots, I lost touch with their goings-on except for meticulous reportage by a video-trader who forever defined for me the difference between a fan and a fanatic. Quoth he: "When my buddy caught the pantyhose Paula threw him from onstage, he framed it: I wore mine!" (not for pragmatic glam couture but empathetic immersion.) He was, at least, the type of fanatic gracious towards his obsession's right to privacy, and only troubled Paula to proclaim her wonderfulness in person at every gig, and once to request that she sit upon his lap for his Christmas card photo. Trash afficianada, adulation enjoyer or media mindful, she readily complied.

    When similar enthusiasts' ranks swelled minus the comcomitant politeness, she labelled them GBG'ss, or Girl Band Geeks. The most frightening example I encountered at one of my friend Mary's shows very badly wanted to impress me, band photographer, with his proclamation of his perfect attendance record for all female performances staged in Los Angeles for three decades, and with his "credentials": a business card crammed with 4-point type life's work accomplishments, stellar pinnacle represented as having attended Hal Blaine's party. The aforementioned should warn of no small amateur level of dysfunction.
    My last encounter with Paula took place at Elektra's press party celebrating the label's release of Pandora product. With gushing surprise, she sincerely complemented my post-illness (cancer) makeover. (I liked and respected Paula who in turn professed admiration for my work, but sensed she heretofore had considered older yours truly a tad square in the persona department.) She'd wrangled new high-power management (that of Little Caesar, thus quelling any notions I might entertain of ever collaborating with her during that mgmt's tenure.) Her lifelong efforts and dreams seemed all systems go, and she looked genuinely radiant, triumphant (see photograph below.)
    The high-power management helped the Pandoras accomplish little except getting dropped from the label without any music released whatsoever. Some retrenchment here and there. But Paula Pierce died on Aug. 10, 1991 at age 32 from an aneurysm, problems that were neither alcohol nor drug-related.

    The orderly fanatic thanked me for the letter of condolence that I'd sent him. He said it was the sole acknowledgment of his role in lionizing her saga to anyone within earshot from someone he considered to be part of her hallowed inner circle, and opined how that selfsame elite now snubbed him at mutually attended concerts.

     The eulogies, excepting Pleasant Gehmen's, dwelled on the ensemble girl-band antics where I had seen a singular performer of real Rock authority. Some pronounced judgement on her "work the industry"-opportunism streak: I just figured she had acted on the question we all secretly address, "How badly do you want it?" Others out and out faulted the Pandorean derivativeness. Instead, my firsthand witness I knew that she had understood, then expropriated the most important ingredient to fuel earlier Rock greats which forever eludes mere roots' band stylists: its central passion. Paula Pierce wrote, performed and sang like her very life depended on Rock 'n' Roll music. And apparently it did.


    On Dec. 2, 1992 I dreamt about Paula as if she were still around on the scene, just a normal conversation dream with, as in real life, no punchline whatsoever. Motivation finally kicked in to confront her memory with this essay, but in computer review, it all inexplicably crashed, my first instance of total copy eradication for this text or any other. Paula Pierce's intangible strength apparently endured. . .

                                         All photographs © 1984 - 1989 Heather Harris. All Rights Reserved.
 
Pandoras' Video Fest:
 *Original lineup, Paula Pierce, Gwynne Kahn, Bambi Conway, Casey Gomez 1984;
* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4Rm158V3eA
**1985 lineup with Paula Pierce, Melanie Vammen, Karen Blankfield, Julie Patchouli

 **https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zxdMkHSeJE
 **one of the last lineups, 1990, Paula Pierce, Melanie Vammen, Kim Shattuck, Sheri Kaplan
 
***https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v85FEH-0k1w
****hijinx from last line up, post-rehearsal karaoke with Sheri Kaplan, Paula Pierce, Kim Shattuck, 1989
****https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kYNLCwdgE4
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