Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Meditation On Hendrix, Lennon and The Counterculture

A Meditation On Hendrix, Lennon, and The Counterculture by Antonio G. Pereira
Antonio G. Pereira © 1997, 2007 Antonio G. Pereira

Recently, upon reflection and thinking about the 1980’s and 1990’s, having already come through the 1960’s and 1970’s; I have found myself putting two and two together and discovered that they have not added up to four. What’s more, I found that something in the mathematical process itself just wasn’t functioning properly. To put it bluntly, something just didn’t smell right. In fact something smelled rotten; and its name was ‘Journalism’, or what passes for Journalism these days. And two and two now seems to add up to zero. In an age where ‘marketing idea equals, “What’s the best spin I can put on this story to get me to the bank the fastest”.’ there are some things, in my opinion, that now need to be said.
The era of the 1960’s Counterculture, which was a major period of not only upheaval, but ‘correction’ on this planet (including the continuation of the battle for Civil Rights {and Human Rights for that matter}, the rise of a new pride in being Black, and the flood that became a tidal wave of protest against the war in Vietnam); left much unfinished work that still needs to be done. Some important work was done however. And that, (among the other related and more obvious things I have just mentioned) was throwing a spotlight on ‘hypocrisy’; in all its forms.
Hypocrisy unfortunately, is still with us; and thriving in a new form. A blatant case in point, is that which under the heading of ‘Rock Magazine Functioning As Psychology Today’, numerous unctuous publications, many of them based in England (besides a few in America) are regurgitating information in a different form; from old magazines and newspapers like ‘ Mojo Navigator, Rock, Circus, Blues Unlimited’, and ‘Black Music’.
The late Music Journalist, Ray Coleman (former editor-in-chief of both ‘Melody Maker’ and ‘Black Music’) made the best description of the new type of writers that populate current media, in his introduction to the 1995 revised and updated edition of his epic and groundbreaking biography of John Lennon: Lennon The Definitive Biography, on pages 1 to 10; where he described the reception given to the Beatles BBC Recordings, and the songs ‘Free As A Bird’ and ‘Real Love’, by Journalists short on research but long on criticism.
From my observations, one can’t help but begin to question why more and more the Counterculture of the 1960’s is viewed the same way, through one prism, by a plethora of eye catching print publications, that all resemble each other, are basically formatted the same glossy way, and are populated by practically the same interchangeable type of networking writers; that deal in Journalism which is productive of empty sensationalist negativity. What is also interesting, is that this Yuppie New Age Matrix hack, is only capable of viewing their subject matter, through a veritable inquisition; based from the standpoint of an ultraconservative establishment oriented mindset, with an, in all likelihood, previously upset comfort level or perhaps is just a frightened rabbit with a drone’s mantra: “I don’t want to make any waves or upset anything”.
Which is to say, that a story on the 1969 Woodstock Festival, for example, ends up being about location, the town council not wanting these antiestablishment hippies with their free thinking anti-normal order of things, anti-Vietnam war ideas, to come into town; and if the same thing were to be done today, what would the logistics and statistics be, concerning how much money could be made off of them. And how could Wall Street figure into this, as there could be corporations set up and future investments accrued from film, video, c.d.’s, clothing etc…
As most of what this type of mentality represents, is opposed to just about everything the music of the period covered was about, (not forgetting what was taking place at the time, which of course the music was a reflection of?) it is no small wonder that the stated so-called ‘analysis’ of the period is open to question.
How do you represent what you are not capable of understanding? (In much the same way that a hack writer for a newly incorporated Cable T.V. magazine tells you that a movie is “alright for taping” with your VCR. ‘Alright for taping’ from a cable station where you have to pay to see an old movie that many years before there was the concept of a ‘cable station’, was regularly screened on your local television station for nothing.) After the discographies are all written up, and the glossy photographs have all been used; what do you do then? After you have already depicted the artists who created this great body of music that you benefit from, (a ‘treasure’ if there ever was one) as psychological cripples, attempted to define the process of exposing hypocrisy as misguided, and “something current music fans have no interest in” (perhaps someone’s hypocrisy is being exposed?) and set yourself up (under the guise of not being ‘patronizing’, but being ‘objective’) as a wise pontiff above criticism; with the appearance of being so all knowing and knowledgeable (thanks to your many slick networking colleagues, who like yourself, are not capable of putting together a simple article by themselves) and above all (unlike the subjects whom you write about with such smug contempt) present yourself as ‘normal’. What do you do then? Maybe the future holds entire concerts performed by artists playing technically brilliant and precise regurgitated Rock/Blues music, with all lyrics to the songs pertaining to the products the sponsors of these concerts (and other corporate subsidiary or separate corporate manufacturers who pay a fee) are selling. And the musicians all do what they are told, by men in well tailored suits (no longer making any attempts to be ‘hip’ like the musicians on stage, or for that matter even trying to conceal their presence) who are standing offstage, nodding their heads and smiling. Can’t you feel the ‘normality’ of it already? And you have a new type of Journalist to pave the way.
This manner of thing has been done before, albeit on a less sophisticated level. Witness Memphis Tennessee, August of 1966. A certain Right Reverend Jimmy Stroad (a local Televangelist) wants to deter his flock (read: the young folk) from going to the Beatles concert at Memphis Coliseum. So he puts together a band that plays loud Rock music, but sings with Fundamentalist Christian lyrics. The added bonus of the promised appearance of Jay North (Yes from Dennis The Menace!) who never shows up, leaving the flock to surmise, “We might as well have gone to see the Beatle concert.” (For those of you who might think I’m making this up, check out History Professor Jon Weiner’s book, ‘Come Together: John Lennon In His Time’, Chapter 1 The 1966 Tour. One begins to really wonder about the motivation behind the backlash against Lennon’s ‘the Beatles are more popular than Jesus Christ’ comment in the Evening Standard in 1966, as in the Fall 1964 group interview for Playboy magazine (later published in 1965) conducted during their 1964 tour of the U.K., John commented about the hypocrisy of the Christian Church, and nobody said anything about it. (Maybe the same people, who were burning the Beatles in effigy and the folks at the radio stations that refused to play their records in 1966, hadn’t learned how to read yet in 1965. Or maybe they just bought Playboy to look at the pictures.) At any rate, you can read the Beatles 1965 Playboy Interview in it’s entirety (among other interviews by the group and separately) by logging onto: http://www.beatlesinterviews.org/ . A wonderfully put together website. And by the way, you can also read the entire un-edited 1966 Maureen Cleave interview with John Lennon from the London Evening Standard by logging onto: http://www.beatlesagain.com/ The Dark Side Of Beatlemania.
There is a new type of criminality, (or is it a weird type of green envious sickness?) with its basis in an old time tested and well worn ready pen manoeuvre. Sullying and dirtying someone’s name and memory (when they are conveniently dead) in the name of Journalism; or as it is better known, ‘the people’s right to know’. This is done by using half-truths. (A specialty of Albert Goldman (who at various times has been described as a ‘knowledgeable Journalist’ and an old ‘hipster’-now from under what rock was that word recycled?) It is most useful, if you want to have a complete picture of what someone like Albert Goldman was, and what he became, to check out the anthology of his writings, ‘Freakshow: Misadventures in the Counterculture, 1959-1971’. Although he did contribute to or write some very thought provoking pieces (variously, an article in Crawdaddy magazine concerning the Door’s 1968 Promotional Film for ‘The Unknown Soldier’, and his 1970 New York Times review of the Maysle’s Brothers film documentary of the Rolling Stones 1969 North American Concert Tour, ‘Gimmie Shelter’), the picture you begin to get, if you are paying attention, is of someone who time and the rapidly changing accelerating culture around him (the 1960’s), was leaving behind. What also comes through is a weird obsession with freakish sexual proclivities, as evidenced in his mid-sixties review of French novelist Pauline Reage’s controversial and brutally disturbing book about the underground S&M raw sex trade, ‘The Story of O’. (I have a hunch that if the real book ever gets written about Albert Goldman, some folks financial futures may be on some pretty shaky ground). What he became, starting with the book, ‘Ladies And Gentlemen Lenny Bruce’ in 1974, was a progressively destructive, sickeningly poisonous, and obsessed old man, bent on uncovering (what he saw as) the darker sordid nocturnal hidden excesses and contradictory existence of well known deceased entertainers, for money and profit; (Viewing him in retrospective hindsight, it is rather interesting to note, that Goldman’s obsessive behavior is vaguely reminiscent of Conspiracy Theorist Mae Brussell {who by the way, has a very informative web site devoted to her at http://www.maebrussell.com/ While there, you might want to check out her July 1981 interview concerning John Lennon; by clicking on ‘Articles’}; but unlike her obsession with research and fact finding, Goldman’s execution of his craft rested in high speculation, questionable credibility, and a rotten vindictiveness.) getting his books written through interviewing those eager to dish dirt, while they were either in financial straits or on the fringes of it, with more often than not, the addition of a secret grudge (all key important inducements and not too hard to figure out once you understand who the players are, if you want to write the kind of books he was writing). And who ended up dying of a heart ailment on an airplane at Miami International Airport, preparing his next book, on Jim Morrison (Check out the late Music Journalist Alfred G. Aronowitz’ {whose own website: http://www.theblacklistedjournalist.com/ is an archive of his articles written for the New York Post and the Saturday Evening Post, during the 1960s and 70s; with links to other Contributors like Amiri Baraka and John Sinclair} interview with ‘American Legends’, with regard to Goldman’s reputation – as well as Music Journalist Patricia Kennealy’s interview about Jim Morrison – at: http://www.americanlegends.com/ - click Jim Morrison); having become a Pariah with a lot of money, and so paranoid he could no longer live in the United States. This was the reality of the dark side of the ‘economic rebirth of the 1980’s’, which no one who was riding on its coattails wanted to talk about. And it spawned a whole industry. As in much the same way that some cynical, smug, and (in a hurry to pay off their mortgage) opportunist Journalists have said that, “After reading Albert Goldman’s book on John Lennon, you’ll never look at Lennon the same way again.”; after reading Editor/Reporter James Fallow’s book, ‘Breaking The News: How The Media Undermine American Democracy’ (Published by Pantheon Books), you’ll never look at Journalists (or their profession) the same way again. Many of these Journalists seem to take great pleasure in focusing on someone’s freakish proclivities (whether they are true or not seems irrelevant to them). You begin to wonder about the Journalists themselves). A half-truth is much more dangerous than a lie, because it’s true enough. A lie you can automatically point to and say, “Hey, that’s a lie!” But a half-truth is something much more sinister. Because of its obscurity, you can’t really be sure; because you don’t have all the facts. And to wit, direct or not always immediately discernable indirect, dead subject matter is quite helpful.
Let’s take Jimi Hendrix as an example. Jimi, having been a member of Little Richard’s backing band, off and on, for roughly two years, before playing with him at the Apollo Theatre and the old Paramount Theatre on Broadway in New York in late 1965. Was he? True or False? Unfortunately Bumps Blackwell, who was Richard Penneman’s manager, died in 1985 (not too long after Little Richard’s autobiography was published), and was no longer alive to corroborate Little Richard’s version of events; when a spate of publications slowly came out, making Richard out to be a blatant liar.
There is however, an interesting footnote to this. During 1988, there occurred a reunion of artists from the old Stax label in Memphis, Tennessee. Stax, you might remember, was the label that gave us Otis Redding, Booker T. and The MG’s and Carla Thomas, among others. The event was covered by The Black Entertainment Television Network, better known as BET. A broadcast that was shown on a weekly basis on the BET Network named, ‘This Week In Black Entertainment’, included interviews with many of Stax’ original artists. Among them, Rufus Thomas (remember ‘The Funky Chicken’ and ‘Walkin’ The Dog’?), Isaac Hayes, Johnny Taylor, Sam and Dave, and interestingly, one ‘Gorgeous George Odell’. George Odell (or ‘Gorgeous George’ as he was known on the Southern R&B Circuit, because he wore a blonde wig like the famous wrestler of the same name), gave a very interesting interview. (Remarkably, in subsequent years, when viewing the VHS tape copy of this show, it always amazes me that George Odell was wearing a blonde wig while giving the interview.) He talked about having been Stax’ first recording artist of note, and having made a record named, ‘The Biggest Fool In Town’; that sold 13,000 copies in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Kentucky, and being paid 310 dollars, thinking he was rich. It is around this time, 1962, that Little Richard (freshly returned from a string of successful concerts in Europe {accompanied by teenage piano prodigy Billy Preston}, that had included a few with a band named The Beatles (who in turn had a hit single at the time named, ‘Love Me Do’) as his opening act) enters the picture. George Odell, though a small time recording artist on the Stax label, has a backing band. And who do you think is playing guitar in that band? None other than Jimi Hendrix (who at the time was calling himself Maurice James). Since Hendrix was a member of George Odell’s backing band in 1962, perhaps from there he began playing in Little Richard’s band? Little Richard has stated many times that Hendrix played in his band, on and off, for a couple of years. That would be 1962 through 1966, wouldn’t it? But I guess Bumps Blackwell, Little Richard’s late manager, could have really elaborated on a lot of this, and cleared up some things, as he not only was well versed in and knew the inner workings of the entertainment and record business, but knew Hendrix as well. And what of George Odell’s record ‘The Biggest Fool In Town’? Unfortunately, George Odell died some time after his appearance on ‘This Week In Black Entertainment’. So we end up with more half-truths.
John Lennon was a wife beater, closet homosexual, unconvicted murderer, heroin addict, drunk and cokehead. True or False? John Lennon is not here to say anything, but a number of books found publication. I myself, wonder where he found the time to compose songs, write books and articles, paint, design, do other artwork and films (with and without the other Beatles or Yoko, besides his regular attendance of art exhibitions and associating with friends like Peter Cook and Victor Spinetti - http://www.walesonline.co.uk/showbiz-and-lifestyle/news/2008/10/31/why-i-turned-hollywood-down-by-victor-spinetti-91466-22156166/ ), if he was doing all the things he is accused of. The point being that John Lennon consistently created during his whole lifetime. Whether it was with his musician’s hat on, or as an artist, {John Lennon's Bag One http://www.artbrokerage.com/_main/slideshow2.php?a=187 } or a writer. (It’s debatable if his critics understand the difference or significance of the three.) So John argued with his wife, knew Brian Epstein, would just as soon have a punch up if he had a couple of drinks, sniffed heroin besides using cocaine, at some point during the tail end of the sixties and early seventies (along with the pot smoking, pills and LSD trips that a lot of other people were also doing at the time). It would be as foolish to deny John’s drug use, as it would be to deny that drug use during this period (late 60’s-early70’s) was rampant in the entertainment industry itself. (A point well made by John himself, who had finally come out of it, (after he wisely decided that what he really wanted was a stable home life with Yoko and a child to go with it – check out the book of photographs, ‘The John Lennon Family Album’ by Nishi F. Saimaru – Published by Chronicle Books San Francisco, and make up your own mind - {And while you're doing that, you might want to check out The John Lennon Dreamsite: http://www.johnlennon.it/} ) during his interview with Tom Snyder on the Tomorrow Show in 1975; where he went on to say (referring to his lost weekend in Los Angeles) that there were people using drugs who you wouldn’t believe would be drug takers. ‘Old people, men with briefcases etc…’ Bob Woodward later confirmed this situation in his book about John Belushi. (It is interesting to note that in Albert Goldman’s case, he in effect continued rewriting the same book he co-wrote about Lenny Bruce over and over again, when writing about Elvis Presley and John Lennon. A similar job having been done by a former drug counselor turned music biographer in England; when rewriting the same assembly line psychological drug profile situation scenario of British Jazz musician Graham Bond, for Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Jimi Hendrix.) The Beatles second manager Brian Epstein stated publicly to the British Press in June of 1967, (shortly after Paul McCartney, who was questioned by an ITN newsman and admitted to taking LSD) that he also had taken the hallucinogenic drug. The interview is mentioned in Beatle Press Officer Derek Taylor’s book, ‘It Was Twenty Years Ago Today’- Published by Simon and Schuster. (This was during the period when the Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper, and Brian Epstein was staging Rock and Soul shows at the Saville Theatre in London; and where John, Paul, George and Ringo, had their own regular box seats for the performances. Among the acts appearing were, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, The Four Tops, The Who, and a new group named The Jimi Hendrix Experience.) Lennon incidentally, spoke at length about his complex relationship with Brian Epstein, during his ‘Lennon Remembers’ interviews with Rolling Stone in 1970. Pieced together from the hard cover Straight Arrow edition of ‘Lennon Remembers’ and various subsequent editions of same, and excerpts from ‘John Lennon In His Own Words’ and ‘The Beatles Anthology Book’, is the following:
(Q). Let me ask you something about Brian.
(A). Ah, fuck knows what was said. I was pretty close to Brian because if somebody’s going to manage me, I want to know them inside out. And there was a period when he told me he was a fag and all that. I introduced him to pills, - which gives me a guilt association with his death, - to make him talk; to find out what he was like. I mean they go that way anyway. And I remember him saying, “Don’t ever throw it back in me face, that I’m a fag.” Which I didn’t. But his mother’s still hiding that.
I liked Brian and I had a very close relationship with him for years, because I’m not gonna have some stranger runnin’ things, that’s all. I like to work with friends. I was the closest with Brian, as close as you can get to somebody who lives a sort of “fag” life, and you don’t really know what they’re doin’ on the side. But in the group, I was closest to him and I did like him. He had great qualities and he was good fun. He had a flair. He was a theatrical man, rather than a businessman, and he was a bit like that with us. When he got Cilla Black, his great delight was to dress her and present her. He would have made a great dress designer, ‘cause that’s what he was made for. With us he was a bit like that. I mean, he literally fuckin’ cleaned us up and there were great fights between him and me over not wanting to dress up. In fact he and Paul had some kind of collusion to keep me straight because I was spoilin’ the image. It never got too bad like that, though. Brian was never overbearing, and if Brian and Paul and everybody said, ‘Well, look, why don’t we just trim our hair a bit and look like this, ‘You’re going to say ‘all right’ in the end, or ‘Fuck it: I’ll just loosen my collar.’
We had complete faith in him when he was runnin’ us. To us he was the expert. I mean originally he had a shop. Anybody who’s got a shop must be all right. He went around smarmin’ and charmin’ everybody. He had hellish tempers and fits and lock-outs and y’know he’d vanish for days. He’d come to a crisis every now and then and the whole business would fuckin’ stop ‘cause he’d been on sleepin’ pills for days on end and wouldn’t wake up. Or he’d be missin’ y’know, beaten up by some old docker down the old Kent Road. But we weren’t too aware of it. It was later on we started findin’ out about those things.
I didn’t watch him deteriorate. There was a period of about two years before he died when we didn’t hardly see anything of him. After we stopped touring, he had nothing to do, really. The money just came in from records. Billy J. (Kramer) and all of them were sinking fast, and all his other protégés – his bullfighters and all those people – were vanishing. So really, we grew apart.
We’d never have made it without him and vice versa. Brian contributed as much as us in the early days, although we were the talent and he was the hustler. He wasn’t strong enough to overbear us. Brian could never make us do what we really, really didn’t want to do. He wasn’t strong enough.
Brian came to us in Paris once and said he’d had enough, and he wanted to sell us to Delfont or Grade, I’ve forgotten which one. And we told him – I told him personally – that we would stop. We all said it: ‘Whatever you do, if you do that, we stop now. We don’t play anymore, and we disband. We’re not going to let anybody else have us, especially them.’
And Brian was a nice guy, but he knew what he was doing, he robbed us. He fucking took all the money and looked after himself and his family, and all that. And it’s just a myth. I hate the way that Allen (Klein) is attacked and Brian is made like an angel, just cause he’s dead. He wasn’t, he was just a guy.’
The accusation of ‘unconvicted psychotic murderer John Lennon running around loose’, which concerned John’s close friend Stewart Sutcliffe dying of a Brain Hemorrhage? If you read the book, ‘The Man Who Gave The Beatles Away’, by the Beatles first manager Allan Williams (written with William Marshall and Published by Ballantine Books), he explains that during an early tour, in a very rough area of Liverpool, John actually saved Sutcliffe’s life one night, after a vicious beating by a gang of thugs; who after beating Stewart up, kicked him in the head. And thereafter, Stewart Sutcliffe had terrible headaches, that got worse as time passed by; until he resultantly died. Half-truths. The best description of John Lennon I ever read, was by his beloved Aunt Mimi, in Hunter Davies’ 1968 biography, ‘The Beatles’; in Chapter 28: Friends and Parents Today. If anyone knew the real John Lennon, it was his Aunt Mimi; she raised him with her husband, (John’s also beloved Uncle George). These are the people who washed and bathed him when he was a little boy. In the section of Chapter 28 concerning herself, Mimi went on to describe with crystal clarity, the person behind the John Lennon we all knew. His humor, warmth, generosity, faults and foibles; everything that made him a human being, rather than a Rock Star or some hack nonentity’s pay packet. What she had to say about John in that two and a half pages, pretty much summed him up; and is well worth reading. Half-truths.
It is amazing in the case of John and Yoko for example, how many of these hack writers consider themselves instant Art Critics and Junior (And I use the term ‘Junior’ with enormous charity, due to the fact that you constantly hear the same excuse, “I could have put more in my book (or article) but there are things I can’t say anything about”.-Or maybe don’t know?)Psychologists; with endless dead end judgments (Read: “I need to find a different angle, or make one up, so I can sell my book.”) for their bargained and blusterous fifteen minutes, rather than deal with their own shortcomings, as in replacing honest research with opportunistic greed. Perhaps Lennon’s ‘after the fact critics’, knowing that they themselves are not capable of understanding a truly creative mind (in Lennon’s case, as a writer and artist, as well as a musician; brought out into full flowering by “That Japanese Woman”) and the workings of the creative mind in motion; (sometimes capable of doing two or more things well at the same time, sometimes only individually) find themselves not only at a loss, reflecting their lack of understanding of their subject, but also have a lack of integrity, in having to resort to suggestive subliminal half-truths as well. What is also worth studying, is that the behavior of this new batch of ‘after the fact critics’ (surely the luckiest people on the planet that Lennon is not here to answer them back), pretty clearly presents them as a poor second rate version of the ones depicted in The Press Book of clippings; that accompanied John and Yoko’s 1969 record, ‘The Wedding Album’. It must have been quite a shock (and maybe a little hard to take) for the whole lot of them, as events finally unfolded a while back on an ITN News Report on Public Television, concerning ‘The James Hanratty Case’; that proved that those two so-called ‘crackpots’ John and Yoko, were right all along. John and Yoko’s support of James Hanratty’s parents, is very well documented in the book, ‘John Lennon: Unseen Archives’, Published by Parragon Publishing. In this book you really get to see how supportive they were back then. It is also very enlightening to read the transcript of Lennon’s ‘Man Of The Decade’ interview. His segment of the ATV series, from an interview conducted with him on Dec. 2nd 1969, is most interesting for it’s clarity and lucidity; as Lennon discusses subjects ranging from the effects of the current drug scene, to The Peace Movement (and the reaction to it), to he and Yoko’s relationship, mentions of friends like Donovan, Mick Jagger and Eric Burdon, the 1969 Woodstock and Isle Of Wight Festival gatherings, and the coming decade. His optimism is very apparent. (This interview in its entirety can be read off The Beatles Ultimate Experience database at
http://www.beatlesinterviews.org/ . Within a matter of weeks, he was to perform again with The Plastic Ono Band in concert, at a charity benefit for Unicef at the Lyceum Ballroom in London. The Plastic Ono Band put on a riveting performance, which is documented on the two LP set ‘Sometime In New York City’. It is interesting as well to note that when John Lennon gave back his MBE Award, besides making clear his anti-war stance, he also mentioned his current 45 ‘Cold Turkey’ slipping down the charts; a not to subtle thumbing of the nose at the ‘war heroes’ who gave back their MBEs in disgust, when ‘entertainers’ like the Beatles were awarded theirs. One should also take note of the movies John and Yoko were producing at this time. The movie ‘Rape’, which was seen by many in the media as a ‘confrontational movie’, turned harassment by the press around the other way; putting a spotlight on the tactics of the press and media themselves. ‘Apotheosis (Balloon)’, possesses an ethereal beauty and a certain otherworldly charm. You can read about John and Yoko’s films and television appearances (along with a wealth of other articles and interviews), by logging onto http://www.ntlworld.com/ ; and then typing in, ‘John Lennon You Are The Plastic Ono Band’, and clicking ‘Search’. And last but definitely not least, we can’t leave out The Peace Bed Ins, which the press originally made fun of and dismissed as a joke put on by two clowns (some referred to them as monkeys), which turned into a situation where the same press was swept along in a sea change of sentiment, by the public; as the AntiWar Movement grew and grew to humongous proportion, and finally became the majority (they thought better of messing with what became the Peace Movement’s call-to-arms anthem ‘Give Peace A Chance’) helped along the way by John and Yoko.
But all of that is getting away from the point. The point is this: John and Yoko were two people who were artists (in every sense of the word), who were lucky enough to find each other, at the right time in history. Frankly, two heads that thought and moved forward like one determined brain. (Other examples being Oscar Brown Jr. and Jean Pace, Harry and Julie Belafonte, and Frank and Gail Zappa.) Such a marvelous match up does not happen often. The fact that for them, this went beyond a difference in race is remarkable.
What was so interesting in Lennon’s case, was that he went through his ‘mid-life crisis’ relatively early, as compared with most men; as I’m sure a lot of spouses out there can attest. So, in a sense, it’s not too hard to understand where some of that ‘weird type of green envious sickness’ I mentioned earlier, may stem from and be rooted.
An admirably well researched and well written book, with a balanced view of John Lennon, in my opinion, is ‘Come Together: John Lennon In His Time’ by History Professor Jon Weiner; as well as his follow-up, ‘Gimmie Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files’, which gives an accurate picture of what not only John Lennon, but anyone who was in opposition to Vietnam or gave any faint indications of having radical ideas that the Nixon Fiefdom/Corporate War Machine looked upon with displeasure, was up against.
And another quite interesting read, that ended up being about a lot more than it’s title implies, is ‘The Mourning of John Lennon’ by Anthony Elliot. Published by University of California Press. It is a remarkable book on Pop Culture, with a deeply thoughtful and reflective look at the life of John Lennon, and an unprecedented study of people who orbit in the cult of celebrity and profit; that also contains a fascinating analysis of Albert Goldman. (The books I have just mentioned are marvelously enlightening and noticeably different from numerous books by the potentates and inhabitants of the land of unprofessional Journalistic innuendo and reformed drug addict interviewees, speaking from their newly enlightened understanding of what was wrong in the past, with everybody and everything else (except themselves), and their newly conservative, and much quieter, born again afterlife; for money and profit).
Let’s take Jimi Hendrix and the dodgy subject of the explosive political situation in the United States, during the late 60’s; right up until his (in my opinion still suspicious) death in 1970.
Beginning in the latter part of 1968 on, Hendrix’ interviews in magazines like ‘Circus’ and ‘Teenset’, began to show a heightened awareness of the explosive political transformation taking place in American Society. The views he expressed during his interview with the British radical newspaper, ‘International Times’ in spring of 1969 are really an eye opener; in light of what was taking place in the United States at the time. (It would be interesting to hear what his sentiments were, from some of the American Servicemen he came in contact with during that 1969 European tour.) Originally reprinted in it’s entirety in the first hard cover edition of the book, ‘Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child of The Aquarian Age’ by David Henderson, it was edited for the condensed subsequent paperback editions; but finally reprinted again in it’s entirety, for the soft back fourth edition. (There has been a tendency to portray Hendrix as “drug addled” and “talking out of his head” and “not aware of what he was saying”, each time he spoke out about the political situation in the United States, (which of course among other things, automatically meant ‘race’ as well) by people in some quarters. Notably, these same ‘experts’, for some strange reason, also portray him as “lucid” and “clear minded”, whenever he was talking about anything else. This begs the question, ‘What motive would these characters have for not wanting Jimi Hendrix to appear as having made the same informed historical political statements that everyone else was making at the time?’ Could it have to do with the climate created by the temporary and selective rise of Reaganomics and Thatcherism, accompanied by that old ancient adage, “I could make a buck offa this.”?)
Most of what Hendrix spoke about in ‘International Times’, were areas previously covered in his interviews in ‘Circus’ and ‘Teenset’, like the increasing influence of a group like the Black Panthers, and the blatant hypocrisy that was being exposed by young students across the country. (Of considerable related interest to some readers, may be that in 1996, the Doctoral Dissertation that the late Huey P. Newton submitted for his Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, at the University of California, Santa Cruz, was published in book form; as ‘War Against The Panthers: A Study of Repression in America ‘ by Writers and Readers Publishing (USA) and Airlift Book Company (UK) http://www.archive.org/stream/WarAgainstThePanthersAStudyOfRepressionInAmerica/WATP_djvu.txt . {The history of how this book came to publication, is a story in itself; and told through the life of a very dedicated gentleman named Glenn Thompson: http://aalbc.com/reviews/remembering_glenn_thompson.htm He is also part of the following presentation: http://reviews.aalbc.com/harlem_literary_scene.htm by Literary Agent Marie Brown: http://aalbc.com/reviews/marie_brown.htm } It is quite a harrowing, detailed blueprint study, for how the media, through government manipulation, can be used to crush and destroy any movement or group it considers ‘nonconformist’. Also of considerable interest, is Newton’s ‘Selected Bibliography’ at the end of the book, which contains many books published in the wake of the Post-Watergate ‘Freedom Of Information Act’; and before the Presidential Reign of former Governor of California, Ronald Reagan. It should also be added that some very useful additional reading on the subject, is San Francisco Digger, the late Emmett Grogan’s book, ‘Ringolevio’. You can read his entire book online, by logging onto The Digger Archives web site: http://www.diggers.org/ (The Introduction by friend and associate, Peter Coyote is: http://www.petercoyote.com/playkeep.html and Ringolevio is: http://www.diggers.org/ringolevio.htm ). Newton’s and Grogan’s books of course, were written by people who were ‘there’ as opposed to people who are ‘guessing’. And it’s interesting to note, that the ‘guessers’ (or ‘experts’) I am referring to, are very reminiscent of the ‘Haight Independent Proprietors Merchants Association’, that Grogan describes in his book. (You might also want to check out what former Digger and present Actor and Writer, Peter Coyote, has to say in an interview concerning his book about the Diggers, ‘Sleeping Where I Fall’; by logging onto http://www.petercoyote.com/shambhala.html You might remember Peter Coyote as having played a Faculty member in the PBS television series ‘Up And Coming’, that starred Robert Duqui and Gammy Singer. And finally, there is quite an informative and detailed interview conducted with Tony Funches (who was Jim Morrison's bodyguard), discussing what went on during the 60s era; which you can access on http://www.doorscollectorsmagazine.com/magazine/Tony_Funches.html  . ) The growing AntiWar Movement had now linked up with what was left of the Civil Rights Movement; in the wake of Dr. King’s murder (not long after declaring his opposition to the Vietnam War and speaking openly about ‘economic justice and parity’ {see the documentary, 'Free At Last', by the late filmmaker, Gregory B. Shuker http://www.nytimes.com/2000/04/03/nyregion/gregory-b-shuker-67-documentary-filmmaker-using-cinema-verite-style.html?pagewanted=1 }), followed by the murder of Bobby Kennedy (who wanted to do something about it). The final link that was taking place at the time, (interestingly, in a fascinating historical sense - http://panafricannews.blogspot.com/2008/02/pages-from-history-movement-interview.html ) was the Black Power Movement, of which The Black Panthers (who started a breakfast program for children, for which many local churches, black and white alike, opened their doors, and to which many people contributed money) were only a part; inheritors and heirs to a tradition of Self Defense, going back to The Deacons For Defense, in Louisiana (occasionally aiding the Civil Rights Workers in that state), to fiery thought provoking speakers and activists like Kathleen Cleaver, Malcolm X, Paul Robeson, History Professor John Henrik Clarke http://aalbc.com/authors/john1.htm , Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan {Professor of Ancient History, his groundbreaking and outstanding scholarly works, 'Black Man Of The Nile' Published by ALKEBU-LAN BOOKS 1970 and 'African Origins of the Major "Western Religions" ' Published by ALKEBU-LAN BOOKS 1970 http://www.blackclassicbooks.com/servlet/Categories?category=Titles+by+Yosef+ben-Jochannan  , rewrote and corrected how we view Ancient History on this planet.}, Sojourner Truth - {Pulitzer-Prize winning author Professor Carlton Mabee's biography, 'Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend' Published by New York University Press, is a powerful historical work.}, Harriet Tubman, all the way back to Frederick Douglass. The emotions and pictures Hendrix painted with his guitar, as in ‘Star Spangled Banner’, (besides defining the best and the worst of what the national anthem represented in 1969, also keeping in mind that there were a growing number of returning Vietnam Veterans opposed to the war) reflected all this and more. All you had to do was turn on the nightly news. (It should be noted here that the unedited performance of Hendrix playing ‘The Star Spangled Banner, Purple Haze’ and most importantly, the entire solo passages between ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘Instrumental Solo’, where Hendrix ideas were flowing like water, and you get to really hear what an incredible musician he was, developing at an astounding rate, is documented in the home video, ‘Woodstock: The Director’s Cut’.) Yes it was also the America of John Brown, Vernon Johns, James Farmer, Fannie Lou Hamer, Caesar Chavez, Russell Means, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Viola Liuzzo, Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney; all those who were giving their lives to build a better America. And all those who were losing their lives in a foreign war, without realizing who was profiting from it, and why. And even after his physical death, that emotion, that sound, remained alive, burning bright and deeply emotional, deeply moving, in artists of the following decade; like Eddie Hazel, Ernie Isley, Randy California, Pete Cosey, Robin Trower and many others.
As Billy Cox, Hendrix’ good friend (who played bass), and musical collaborator, said in his beautiful interview with Guitar Player (which made mention of his remarkably crafted and deeply spiritual solo album ‘The First Ray Of The New Rising Sun’ Lil’ Wing Records P.O. Box 158559 Nashville, Tennessee 37215 {See the review 'The First Ray Of The New Rising Sun. Billy Cox With Gypsy Sons And Rainbows' Soul Patrol Digest: http://www.soul-patrol.com/spmag/april03_mag.pdf  }), in the May 1989 issue: “There are those who come before the public eye and are commercialized into the consciousness of the masses. We are told they are popular, and we echo, they are popular. Then there are a few who are so intuitively tuned into the universe that they are still influential, even though they are beyond sight. This is immortality, and Jimi Hendrix is immortal.”
Eric Burdon made some very interesting comments concerning Jimi Hendrix in Goldmine’s Sept. 21st 1990 Jimi Hendrix issue, and in Guitar World’s Sept. 1985 issue; both Hendrix tribute issues. Goldmine interview: “When I first met him, he still had a very military/politicized mind. You know, it was anti-military and anti-Vietnam (the time period) and all that shit, and he was still like, soldier boy. I’d say to him, as we looked out his apartment window over Grosvenor Square in London, ‘Lookit Jimi, what do you think of those riots against the US Embassy?’ And he’d say, ‘Well when the Chinese hordes come screamin’ down from China through North Vietnam and South Vietnam, you’ll understand why we’re trying to stem the tide of communism.’
“And to watch him drop acid and pick up a guitar, instead of a machine gun, and go through these changes was phenomenal. He was like a caterpillar changin’ into a butterfly.”
Guitar World Interview: “Within his own life he had to set the precedents and set the rules. He was a real life street guerilla missionary. I mean he slept with his fucking guitar! The real danger came when he stopped doing that, no matter what the cause of it, when he stopped carrying his ax with him and started riding around in Cadillacs.
But he knew his end was coming, he knew it a long time before.”
The complete Goldmine interview in particular is fascinating to read (as well as the Guitar World interview) because you get a detailed picture of what was happening to Hendrix, as told by another good friend. And you can read it by logging onto: www.ericburdon.com/jimi, or log onto The Internet Archive: http://www.archive.org/ , and type http://www.ericburdon.com/ into the Wayback Machine, and click Take Me Back. (Additionally, you can check out Burdon’s two autobiographies: ‘I Used to Be an Animal, but I’m All Right Now’ by Eric Burdon – Published by Faber and Faber, and ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’ by Eric Burdon with J. Marshall Craig – Published by Thunder’s Mouth Press.)
Hendrix’ appearance on the Dick Cavett Show in New York, not long after the Woodstock Festival in 1969, (where he played the definitive version of ‘Star Spangled Banner’) was notable for the fact that he performed ‘If Six Was Nine’ from his album, Axis Bold As Love, with a ‘Magic Bag’ (Hendrix’ possession of this device is mentioned in Guitar Player’s Sept. 1975 Special Hendrix Issue, ‘Guitars, Amps and Devices. The Equipment of Jimi Hendrix.’ Page 52) attached to his guitar. ‘The Bag’, as it was better known, was played like a Bagpipe, with a tube put into the mouth; with which someone could ‘talk’ while playing the guitar. {It should be noted that Public Television Channel 13 in New York used to broadcast a program during this time period named, ‘The Show’, that used to feature artists like Taj Mahal, Mountain, Grand Funk Railroad, and Folk Singer Donal Leace; as well as once featuring an angry Al Capp (the cartoonist who drew Lil’ Abner in the Sunday News) not too long after his confrontation with John and Yoko, during their AntiWar Peace Campaign in Canada. Al continued his venomous Pro-Vietnam War ‘anti everything else that didn’t fit into his narrow definition of patriotism’ rhetoric; arguing with members of the audience that night in the Channel 13 studio at ‘The Show’. You can access quite a bit of history from this period, by logging onto The Internet Archive: http://www.archive.org/ and typing http://www.eye.net/torontorockhistory/johnlennon/header.htm , for John and Yoko, or http://www.eye.net/torontorockhistory/jimihendrix/header.htm , for Jimi Hendrix, or http://www.eye.net/torontorockhistory/header.htm  for Hendrix and Lennon, into the Wayback Machine, Press Enter, then choose 2005.} A few weeks after Hendrix appeared on Dick Cavett playing ‘If Six Was Nine’ using The Bag, Iron Butterfly appeared on The Show with their guitarist using one during their performance. But it was Hendrix’ startlingly skillful use of The Bag that made his performance unforgettable. {Approximately three years later, after emerging with a totally fresh and new musical direction (and ‘creating’ a new musical direction in the process! – Check out the book ‘Stevie Wonder’ by Constanze Elsner Published by Popular Library Books), Stevie Wonder used something similar to a Magic Bag with his Moog Synthesizer}. This was the only known time that Hendrix ever performed the song in public, or used the Magic Bag in performance. It is common knowledge that when the Dick Cavett Show was first broadcast in New York, that there was more than one taping each day. Where’s the rest of the footage? Whether he played, ‘If Six Was Nine’ to put even more emphasis on his earlier in the program playing an advance version of ‘Machine Gun’, besides his political disagreement with Actor Robert Young (another guest that night), or to bring attention to the release of the film, ‘Easy Rider’ (in which ‘If Six Was Nine’ was part of the soundtrack) maybe both; it was quite a performance. It would be nice if people get a chance to see that show again one day, unedited, and in it’s entirety. It would be a very enlightening experience. This show, viewed back to back with Hendrix’ next appearance, (on Public Television Channel 13 in New York) as guest on Producer and Host Ellis Haizlip’s program ‘Soul’, (You can check out archival footage of the late Mr. Haizlip’s wonderful program, by logging onto the WPA Film Library web site at: http://www.wpafilmlibrary.com/ ) and finally the Band of Gypsys concerts at Fillmore East, should be carefully and thoroughly studied by anyone who wants to form a complete picture of Jimi Hendrix, rather than what some folks would like you to see; or maybe more importantly, how you might begin to see them.
A most enlightening and welcome experience, has been the recent release (finally!) on home video, of the uncut 125-minute movie ‘Rainbow Bridge’; that was filmed in1970. Even though it is not a Hendrix film proper, but a fascinating look at the Counterculture as it was in the 60’s era, there is participation in the film by him. Shot near the end of Hendrix’ final 1970 American Tour, it contains recent songs that were being recorded by him in Electric Lady at the time, in the soundtrack, along with additional music by a Gospel Duo and some Folk musicians named Jimmy and Vella Cameron. The film stars Actress Pat Hartley, (for a complete profile on Actress-Director Pat Hartley, log onto The Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/. ) and Hendrix first appears in a spacey scene during a discussion about Reincarnation. (The film, which revolves around Pat Hartley’s trip from California to Hawaii, covers many diverse counter cultural subjects such as, Reincarnation, Meditation, Sex, Religion, Astrology, Politics, Drugs, UFO’s, Natural Food, etc…) Jimi’s next appearance, is in a scene where one of the people from the Rainbow Bridge Commune is making a speech concerning government manipulation of the population, that is cut short when Hendrix leans out of a window with a rifle and shoots him; then makes (depending on your interpretation)quite a political statement. The movie then cuts into a scene of a conversation between Pat Hartley and two members of the Rainbow Commune, discussing the government’s attempt to eliminate the Black Panthers and leaders of other radical groups. This of course, was later exposed around Watergate, as what came to be known as, ‘Cointelpro’. What makes these sequences so interesting, is that this was a few years before the extent of what J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI were doing, became public knowledge. And this is on film! (It might be interesting at this juncture, to check out Chapter 7 of Conspiracy Theorist Alex Constantine’s book ‘The Covert War Against Rock’. You can read it by logging onto: http://www.maebrussell.com/, clicking Articles, excerpts & notes, scrolling down and clicking The Covert War Against Rock by Alex Constantine {chapter 7 of the book}; as well as reading the additional chapter on Jim Morrison: Go to The Internet Archive http://www.archive.org type http://www.subcin.com/chaos.html  into The Wayback Machine, and click Take Me Back. Additionally,you may find Psychedelic Era very useful. Go to the Internet Archive http://www.archive.org  Type http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/4524/musicpage.html  into the Wayback Machine Click Browse History and choose 2001 ). Hendrix’ next to last appearance, near the end of the movie (apart from a continuation of his discussion with Pat Hartley and a member of the Commune about Reincarnation), is during a concert where first Jimmy and Vella Cameron perform a pleasant Folk song, and then Hendrix mounts the stage with Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell; and puts on a blistering hell-to-pay performance.
At the end of this tour, Hendrix returned to New York and continued recording at Electric Ladyland. During this time, Hit Parader Magazine put out a special issue: ‘The 1970 Rock and Soul Yearbook’. It included articles about Hendrix, James Brown, Sly Stone, The Ike and Tina Turner Revue, Joe Simon, Dee Dee Warwick, Isaac Hayes, and Esther Marrow. (I wonder if any photographs exist of Jimi reading this magazine?) At the end of his still-in-progress recordings there, and then following the official opening of Electric Ladyland Studios for business, Hendrix immediately embarked on his last set of performances, in Europe.
The book, ‘Hendrix The Final Days’ by Tony Brown, has quite a number of different interviews, conducted with Hendrix by different Journalists during his final concert tour of Europe; in the early Fall of 1970. The interviews, which are mostly in their entirety (in a similar fashion to David Henderson’s book), find Hendrix commenting on a wide range of subjects. Among the most notable is an interview with a reporter from a Danish periodical named ‘Arhus Stiftstidende’, where it appears the reporter came to the interview with his mind already made up about Jimi Hendrix; and got more than he bargained for. The discussion (if you can call it that) touches on Hendrix’ opinions covering Politics, Religion, and Groupies. (For a complete English translation of this entire interview, and others conducted with Hendrix in Scandinavia, along with concert reviews and accounts by fans during the years 1967-1970; which also offer a window into the Scandinavian way of thinking, Go to The Internet Archive http://www.archive.org  Type http://alrunen.melipona.org/jimihendrix.html  into the Wayback Machine and choose 2011. What you also begin to get is a very peculiar picture of that 1970 European tour. In particular, the ‘Arhus’ concert.) In another interview for a Danish newspaper named ‘Morgenposten’, he discusses starting a record company with The Rolling Stones, and his fondness for Arthur Lee of the Los Angeles band Love; along with mentioning their having recorded an album together. The album, aside from the song ‘The Everlasting First’ (which is on Love’s 1970 album, False Start) remains unreleased to this day. (Arthur Lee, a notorious interviewee, for not suffering fools gladly, has over the years, in bits and pieces (where you have to read between the lines and figure out the rest of it for yourself) mentioned the studio recordings he did with Hendrix. One of the more interesting interviews was with a fanzine named Univibes. You can read that one by logging onto: www.univibes.com/Arthur-and-Jimi , or log onto The Internet Archive: http://www.archive.org/ , and type http://www.univibes.com/ into the Wayback Machine, and click Take Me Back. As Arthur Lee is now in the process of writing his autobiography, things should get pretty interesting.
The time period (during which Monika Dannemann said she went out for cigarettes) when Hendrix was supposedly alone, has always been open to question; and the nagging feeling that there is a loose end (or a louse) somewhere in this story, persists. Perhaps we may never know the whole truth. (However, it may be food for thought to consider the questions raised, in Chapter 12 of Conspiracy Theorist Salvador Astucia’s book, ‘The FBI’s War On Rock Stars’. You can read it by logging onto: www.jfkmontreal.com/john_lennon/Chapter12 . But the artistry he has left behind has continued to enrich and nurture people’s lives. There was truly something special about him.
Jimi Hendrix was not a one-dimensional man, and gave money to radical causes as well as donating money to The Martin Luther King Foundation. (Come to think of it, those Civil Rights Workers and those Freedom Riders that got the living daylights beaten out of them, were a pretty radical bunch too. Weren’t they?) The late Abbie Hoffman, who himself among many young Americans of conscience, had gone to the South in the mid-sixties to aid King, Abernathy, Hamer, Jackson and others in the Civil Rights Movement, in registering other American citizens, who had been previously too frightened and brutalized, to vote and break the mind numbing Segregation Laws that proliferated there in the name of Democracy, and later in the decade, became a radical in the AntiWar Movement, said in an article concerning his at the time forthcoming book, ‘Woodstock Nation’, in Circus Magazine’s October 1971 issue: “Jimi was the only Rock performer I know of who gave bread to anything most of us would call ‘radical’. It’s possible that some others gave to projects out in California, especially in the heyday of Haight-Ashbury, but as far as the things I came in contact with, only Jimi gave. Like he laid some bread on us for the trial in Chicago.” Hoffman of course is talking about the Chicago 8 Trial, presided over by Judge Julius Hoffman.
So where does all this leave us? Maybe with the air cleared a little bit? Maybe with a whole new set of questions? ‘That’ my friends, is as it should be. READ!

Peace (and Stay Free!)
Happy Xmas (war is over),
Antonio Pereira

PS As events on that new frontier ‘The Internet’, are still unfolding as of this writing, with growing numbers of talented musicians (who were either ignored, bypassed or screwed by the Record Corporate Mega conglomerates) now having an alternative open to them, it will be interesting to see what happens in future; when more people begin to have access to The Internet.


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