celebrity obit http://www.culturecatch.com/index.php/taxonomy/term/553 en The Queen Is Dead. Long Live The King! http://www.culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3943 <span>The Queen Is Dead. Long Live The King!</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/user/460" lang="" about="/index.php/user/460" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Robert Cochrane</a></span> <span>May 9, 2020 - 11:58</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/553" hreflang="en">celebrity obit</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8SlOj_-_rTI?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>For sheer tear down the house, hollerin' bravado and pure passion. </p> <p>Conflicted and contrary. </p> <p>Scandalous and screaming and black. </p> <p>There was only ever Little Richard.</p> <p>The true originator of Rock &amp; Roll.</p> <p> </p> <p>All the brass, sass and androgyny from the Stones to Bowie. </p> <p>From Michael Jackson to Prince.</p> <p>From Madonna to Lady Gaga.</p> <p>All roads lead back to Richard Penniman.</p> <p> </p> <p>He wasn't just the most extreme presence of his era.</p> <p>He left every era standing in the shade of his sheer bravado.</p> <p>He knocked hell out of those piano keys.</p> <p>As the hairline receded the wigs just got bigger.</p> <p> </p> <p>Conflicted and at times provocative.</p> <p>His recent unfortunate views on homosexuality came from inner conflict.</p> <p>From that came the songs.</p> <p>His contradictions drove and made him who he was.</p> <p> </p> <p>We don't want our icons perfect.</p> <p>We need them chipped and flawed.</p> <p>There were the convictions for voyeurism and lewd conduct.</p> <p>The revolving doors on his sexual closet.</p> <p>The extreme swings of religiosity.</p> <p> </p> <p>You simply can't ignore the jerking electricity that still fizzes in his songs.</p> <p>The joy combined with madness.</p> <p>Good Golly Miss Molly, Tutti Fruitti, Lucille, Rip It Up!</p> <p>The sheer poetry of Awopbopallbopalopbamboom.</p> <p> </p> <p>As Jobriath once sang  "A Little Richard Goes A Long Long Way"</p> <p>It did then and it always will.</p> <p>This is the end of the very beginning.</p> <p>Something pivotal has died with him.</p> <p>The baton has fallen.</p> <p>There is, in this instance, no successor waiting in the wings.</p> <p>The Queen Is Dead! Long Live The King!</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3943&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="k8DEdrt-TH5OqDpb6O6j848ok3c47RnaI3FTySke1s4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 09 May 2020 15:58:48 +0000 Robert Cochrane 3943 at http://www.culturecatch.com All For The Love of Rock 'N' Roll http://www.culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3934 <span>All For The Love of Rock &#039;N&#039; Roll</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/user/460" lang="" about="/index.php/user/460" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Robert Cochrane</a></span> <span>April 5, 2020 - 15:33</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/553" hreflang="en">celebrity obit</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div style="text-align:start; -webkit-text-stroke-width:0px"> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8AT_Pbtyid0?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong>Alan Merrill 1951-2020</strong></p> <p>Alan Merrill tasted success in many different territories of the globe. He was a star, but his stars didn't align in the way for him to become a household name. Big in Japan before such a reality was thought possible for a Western act. A success in the UK and Europe with a band that never saw their music released in his American homeland, apart from one single on Private Stock Records. A consistently active and productive musician and one who saw a song, written as a riposte to a Rolling Stones anthem in the making, become one of the best known songs of the '80s and today, despite being written in the mid-seventies and originally marooned on the flip-side of a flop single.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/D6Zo6vk7w5U?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Born Allan Preston Sax in the Bronx February 19th 1951, his mother was the jazz singer Helen Merrill who was variously signed to Atco, Milestone, and Mercury Records, whilst his father Aaron Sachs was a clarinet and saxophone player who recorded with the likes of Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, and Stan Getz. In the mid sixties he played in a series of semi-pro bands in the Cafe Wha in Greenwich Village, and in 1968 he joined the dying embers of The Left Banke, but didn't record with them. By 1969 he was in Japan as the front man for The Lead a group of foreigners based in Tokyo who scored a No. 1 hit with "Blue Rose" and then promptly fell apart when two of their members were deported over irregularities with their visas. Merrill remained, secured a deal with Atlantic Records and released the album <em>Alone In Tokyo</em> and the single "Teardrops." To make his name more manageable for the Japanese market, and less risque than Sax, he adopted his mother's maiden name. In 1971 after starring in a jeans commercial, and a teen orientated soap opera he released <em>Merrill 1</em> -- an album of self-composed songs that is rightly valued as a precursor of the power-pop genre. He next formed Vodka Collins, the first Japanese glam rock outfit who recorded the album <em>Tokyo-New York</em> and had a double A sided hit with "Sands Of Time/Automatic Pilot." One of Merrill's songs "Movies" from <em>Merril 1</em> cropped up on the flip-side of a Tiny Tim single in 1972. Mr. Tim would once more return to Merrill's back catalogue in 1996 to record "I Love Rock 'N' Roll."</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/J7SNLZVMZH0?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>By 1974, Merrill had taken up residence in London. He formed a pop-glam outfit named Arrows who secured a deal with Mickie Most's RAK Records. Although the other members were English, Merrill's frontman status Arrows made a virtual trinity of American glam poseurs in London exile, the other two being Sparks and Milk 'n' Cookies. Caught between the label owner Mickie Most dominance, and the label's consistent success and endless thirst for hits, the band's own writing abilities were excluded from the forefront. Their first chart hit  "A Touch Too Much" had fallen from the pens of Chinn &amp; Chapman. Despite having their own national television series that ran for two series, fourteen shows in each, whose guests included chart acts of the day, including the likes of The Bay City Rollers, Marc Bolan, Slade, and Peter Noone. Amazingly whilst both series were being shown, the band had no new releases available to promote. The show aired in Europe and territories like Hong Kong, but with nothing to sell, they didn't benefit from their fame oy their ubiquity. When their single "Broken Down Heart" was released in 1975, a song on the b side was what captured the attention of the disc jockeys. Eventually "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" was made the official A side. It was the only piece of product that they performed in the series, but the single tanked.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/d9jhDwxt22Y?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>The band's performance of it was watched by a young Joan Jett, then on tour in the UK with her band The Runaways. The song stuck in her head and in 1981 she turned it into the bona fide smash it had always deserved to be. Merrill had written it as a casual riposte to the Rolling Stones "It's Only Rock And Roll But I Like It." Since he owed some money to his band mate Jake Hooker he added him as co-author of it. It would prove an expensive act of kindness. Their debut and sole album <em>First Hit</em> is a fairly unsatisfactory affair because many of the band's own compositions were squeezed out in favour of less inspiring, but seemingly more commercial offerings by the hit writing team of Phil Martin and Phil Coulter  Arrows limped into 1977 when punk effectively hastened their decline, and despite having several tracks produced by Rolling Stone Bill Wyman, these never were released at the time. It seems that RAK Records had little idea how to handle the band to achieve greater success. It is a major oversight that a producer like Mickie Most missed the potential in Alan Merrill's "I Love Rock 'N' Roll." It is a song that speaks for itself.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/B01AoFjlvFQ?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Merrill then joined forces with his friend the former Rare Bird singer and guitarist Steve Gould. They formed Runner a band who signed to Arista Records short lived Autograph label. Their excellent debut album saw the dent them US charts, and a second album was under way with Alex Sadkin at the production duties but tensions within the band meant they never completed the record. Their single "Run For Your Life" would eventually be covered by Sammy Hagar. The 1980s were kinder to Alan Merrill. He teamed up with Rick Derringer, a collaboration that saw three albums released and the movie <em>The Rick Derringer Rock Spectacular</em>. Merrill released a self-titled solo album on Polydor Reocords in 1983, and by the end of the decade he was part of Meatloaf's touring band, appearing on the <em>Live At Wembley</em> album from 1987. He returned to acting in the hit series <em>Encyclopedia Brown </em>on HBO to success and acclaim in the role of casey Sparkz. 1982 had seen "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" become a global smash and a US No. 1 for Joan Jett and her band the Blackhearts. It remains her signature song. In 1990 Alan Merrill successfully reformed Vodka Collins and they toured Japan when their debut LP was released on CD. It was a reunion that would spawn a further four successful albums.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ITuOddPeYoc?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>In the new century Merrill continued to write and record. Britney Spears had a No. 1 in the UK and all across Europe with her version of "I Love Rock 'N' Roll." A song that seems impossible to contain, a little like Norman Greenbaum's perennial "Spirit In The Sky." Albums kept on appearing, his most recent being 2017's <em>A Blue Avenue</em>. Eminem sampled "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" on the song "Remind Me" from his album <em>Revival</em> which topped the American charts in the same year. Merrill's song that simply won't go away because of its brilliant encapsulation of attitude and ambition with a heart. Alan Merrill had the looks, the talent, and the charisma that is required for success. His is an astonishing back catalogue of continued effort and enterprise and it is a tragedy that like so many victims of Covid 19 that he died alone on 28th March 2020 in hospital in his native New York. He was the last surviving founding member of Arrows. </p> <p>Paul Varley died in 2008 in London after living for years in LA. He fathered a daughter Iona. with Marc Bolan's former wife June.  Jake Hooker married Judy Garland's daughter Lorna Luft, becoming her manager. He died in Malibu in 2014.  Arrows' manager Peter Meaden, who had once handled The Who's affairs died in 1978 at the age of 38 after years of drug abuse.</p> <p>Like the band itself, all theirs were stories ended before their allotted time.</p> </div> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3934&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="xFU0Dns14eNNaWKSqbPJdPLfCGOgAtE0gFXdCGteKpk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sun, 05 Apr 2020 19:33:37 +0000 Robert Cochrane 3934 at http://www.culturecatch.com Friend of the Dead http://www.culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3879 <span>Friend of the Dead</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/users/webmaster" lang="" about="/index.php/users/webmaster" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Webmaster</a></span> <span>September 24, 2019 - 15:48</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/553" hreflang="en">celebrity obit</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/b9SKxL9CnW0?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Robert Hunter, one of my favorite songwriters, has left this mortal coil. For the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia and Hunter teamed up for many of the band's most iconic tunes, including "Friend of the Devil," "Uncle John's Band,” "Sugaree," “Truckin'," "Franklin's Tower," "Casey Jones," "Eyes of the World," and many others. Hunter also worked with Bob Dylan on songs from the late-'80s onward and more recently collaborated with songwriters like Jim Lauderdale, David Nelson, Bruce Hornsby, and Steve Kimock . He deservedly received the Americana Music Association's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, and then he was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame with Jerry Garcia in 2015. He will be missed by one and all.</p> <p> </p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3879&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="mvG8gQTcHk5SsDfERhl3ZuJTK5j3MroG7q2axDiN4A4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 24 Sep 2019 19:48:42 +0000 Webmaster 3879 at http://www.culturecatch.com Neal Casal 1968-2019 http://www.culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3870 <span>Neal Casal 1968-2019</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/index.php/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>August 27, 2019 - 08:10</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/553" hreflang="en">celebrity obit</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/820" hreflang="en">Neal Casal</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/821" hreflang="en">Circles Around the Sun</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/455" hreflang="en">CRB</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Doan_MJfU44?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>I had the honor to interview Neal Casal back in 2012 when I was recording video podcasts about once a week. He was touring as the lead guitarist with Chris Robinson Brotherhood, an act that I was just getting into, but still needed to share his own solo material. I knew he was good, but was blown away by how effortless he sang and played in person. So smooth and carefree. A real gentle and peaceful soul, too.  He'd just released his tenth album <em>Sweeten the Distance</em> (The Royal Potato Family), one of my favorite albums of the year. And getting the chance to record him solo -- just voice and acoustic guitar -- was a very special moment for me. Check out that performance of "Need Shelter" (above) and this mournful ballad "White Fence Round House" (below), written following a near-death experience while surfing, both from the aforementioned solo album. </p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RQPLfg7tkZU?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>In fact, it was back in 1995 when I first discovered him. He'd just released his first solo effort <em><a href="https://www.allmusic.com/album/fade-away-diamond-time-mw0000645414" target="_blank">Fade Away Diamond Time</a></em> (Zoo Records) and that album quickly became one of my favorite albums of the year. It's a timeless classic of Americana roots-rock. For me, that album was a modern day version of Neil Young's <em>After The Goldrush</em>. I was instantly smitten with his talent -- voice, songs, guitar playing, tone, vibe. His sound was something that I would try to replicate for my debut solo album a few short years later.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/sTVCJwUS6b8?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>As a member of Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Ryan Adams &amp; The Cardinals, Hard Working Americans, and his killer jam band <a href="https://www.circlesaroundthesun.com" target="_blank">Circles Around The Sun</a>, Neil had become a stellar touring lead guitarist. He was the perfect foil for Chris Robinson, too. I'd seen him with the Brotherhood several times, and each time I was impressed with his chops, tone and inventiveness.  The very first concert I took my son Luca and his friend to see was with Neal and CRB at Irving Plaza. Not sure if he understood how cool a father-son moment it was for me; sharing a cherished musician with your child.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/qEN6-g_r4uU?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>RIP, Mr. Casal. All of us who knew you and followed your career were blessed to have witnessed your passion for music. </p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3870&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="7H_ASTSlYREIbf7oWqf2vBcYC_xzQU_w_QQtOAl_4HE"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 27 Aug 2019 12:10:32 +0000 Dusty Wright 3870 at http://www.culturecatch.com RIP, Mr. Hollis http://www.culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3825 <span>RIP, Mr. Hollis</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/index.php/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>February 25, 2019 - 21:02</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/553" hreflang="en">celebrity obit</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yVQlFEynONQ?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Mark Hollis, frontman for Talk Talk, one of my favorite bands to emerge from the new romantic genre of UK rock, has died, age 64. Though he retired from the music biz twenty years ago, he left a lasting mark by releasing some of the most dynamic post-rock music ever recorded. Moreover, even though the band scored chart success with the synth pop-rock single "It's My Life" (1984), no one could have predicated, especially the critics, that the experimental minimal realistic sound on <em>Spirit of Eden </em>(1988)<em>, </em>their<em> masterpiece, </em>and <em>Laughing Stock </em>(1991) would leave such a last mark<i>.</i> Both of those albums, as well as his lone solo effort entitled <em>Mark Hollis </em>(1998), are essential for any music fan/collector. In my opinion, without Hollis and Talk Talk there is no Radiohead, no Elbow; melodic art rock created with minimal chords and notes that still created dynamic tension in a profoundly soulful manner.  Listen to the celestial track "Eden" above.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3825&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="w3hj2LHdeobsHNgIN51BDqBTU4Sj29keIwiax01uTKg"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 26 Feb 2019 02:02:25 +0000 Dusty Wright 3825 at http://www.culturecatch.com A Long Life In Words http://www.culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3817 <span>A Long Life In Words</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/user/460" lang="" about="/index.php/user/460" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Robert Cochrane</a></span> <span>January 25, 2019 - 10:10</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/literary" hreflang="en">Literary Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/553" hreflang="en">celebrity obit</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/689" hreflang="en">author</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_KR1wPK8T4Q?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>A Long Life In Words</p> <p>Diana Athill, 1917-2019</p> <p>Editor and Memoirist</p> <p>At a time when most people have left the building, or are in the process of preparing to do so, Diana Athill found herself embarking upon a career of tremendous literary success in 2008 at the age of 90. Her book about old age <em>Somewhere Towards The End</em> became a surprise bestseller, and she a regular contributor to the papers, invited to speak on the radio, and a doyenne of many a literature festival. It won the Costa Award for biography that year and was unflinching in the way it dealt with the passage of time. In it she remarked of one elderly friend's abiding faith in the restorative power of red lipstick, observing that the way it bled into the cracks around her mouth rather left her resembling a vampire bat that'd been interrupted mid-lunch. She was equally unflattering about her own foibles, and the diminishment of any remnant of sexual cachet.</p> <p>Books had been Athill's life, the editing, promotion, and the production of them at Andre Deutsch, so her new career was simply a late and logical extension of that. She had cast her meticulous eye over offerings from the likes of Margaret Atwood, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, V S Naipaul, a writer whose work she greatly admired, but that feeling didn't extend towards its creator, Philip Roth Jean Rhys and John Updike. Her influence on the literary output of the last century has yet to be fully realised, and reads like a "Who's Who" of the great, the good and the gone. She didn't retire as an editor till she was seventy five years old, in fact Diana Athill never really retired.</p> <p>Athill only published two works of fiction by her own pen <em>An Unavoidable Delay, </em>a collection of short stories in 1962, and the remarkable, if still somewhat underrated, <em>Don't Look At Me Like That</em> in 1967, a novel which concerns a free-wheeling girl living against the grain of conventional standards. Despite her rather reserved manner and appearance, she was unorthodox in her outlook and behaviour. Her lack of fiction allowed her to trawl her long life, and it was one cluttered with unusual incidents and characters, and these she dissected with shocking frankness. An initial literary splash was created in 1963 with 'Instead Of A Letter', a book that pre-dates by decades the confessional memoir. It concerns her failed relationship with Tony Irvine, an RAF pilot with whom she fell in love at the age of fifteen. When he married another girl she was devastated, a wound detailed years after in that book. It took her years to apparently recover, but when she did she was initially distant in relationships, and the developed a liking for, in her own words "'lame ducks" and "oppressed foreigners."</p> <p>Diana Athill was born in Norfolk on 21st December 1917 into a privileged background at Ditchingham Hall which she detailed in her 2002 book <em>Yesterday Morning, A Very English Childhood</em>. She graduated in 1939 from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and spent the war years working for the BBC. In 1952 Athill helped Andre Deutsch found the publishing house that bore his name. This she used as the basis for her tremendously readable 'Stet' her memoir of her life as an editor, published in 2000. She successfully translated several French novels that their imprint championed. Instrumental in the late second flowering in the 1980's of the Irish novelist Molly Keane,1904-1996 who had been successful as M.J Farrell in the 1930s through to the '50s, she also had long, often difficult dealings with the writer Jean Rhys, 1890-1979, a gifted, reclusive author, but a chronic alcoholic. </p> <p>Athill's private life was far from conventional. Her longest relationship was with the Jamaican playwright Barry Reckford (1926-2011). It lasted a mere eight years of the forty of which he shared her Hampstead flat, at one time with his much younger girlfriend, who moved in at Athill's suggestion. She and the girl became good friends, a period which she described as being amongst the two happiest two years of her life. It was she remarked a "detatched sort of marriage." It was by the standards of the time, a progressively interracial one, and not what was expected from a woman of her background. In the early sixties she became emotionally involved with the gifted but manic depressive Egyptian novelist Waguih Ghali circa 1927-1969. It was a toxic and manipulative affair, consummated only once in a drunken fervour. He'd leave his diary open, fully aware that Athill would read his unflattering opinions of herself. Ghali committed suicide in her flat, a torrid tragedy that she would later dissect with incredible honesty in <em>After A Funeral</em> published in 1983. Her other strange and significant affair was with Akim Jamal 1931-73, a cousin to Malcolm X who believed he was God. Athill managed to get his autobiography <em>From The Dead Level: Malcom X and Me</em> published in 1971, a period briefly touched upon in the 2008 movie <em>The Bank Job</em> where he is played by Colin Salmon. She retraces their relationship in <em>Make Believe</em> which was published in 1993 and brilliantly observes his descent into madness and delusional activity. Jamal was shot dead in a Black Power factional struggle in Boston in 1973.</p> <p>Athill was of the generation that still wrote and valued letters, but was far from absent from the computer world. Once in a correspondence with me about Waguih Ghali a parcel arrived in the mail. It was her own copy, and only one that she possessed of his lone novel <em>Beers At The Snooker Club</em>. Unsolicited, she lent it to me, aware it was then hard to find, and felt that we had corresponded sufficiently for her to entrust it to me. She also ruefully remarked that it was a shame that having once written such a wonderful book that it was a feat he would never repeat, then adding that to do it once was perhaps a sufficient achievement in itself. Read and returned in utter agreement with her assessment of the book's worth, it remains a rare and valued act of emotional charity, as well as her taking the time to cast her eye over my poems, and to respond with precise and accurate suggestions for their improvement.</p> <p>In 2009 Athill was made a OBE in the New Year's Honours List, and was the subject of <em>Growing Old Disgracefully,</em> a BBC documentary of her life. She was described as one of the best dressed women over 50 by <em>The Guardian</em> in 2013. Having opted to move into a care home for for sprightly seniors in North London, she was sorry to lose so many books in order to facilitate such a drastic transition to one room living transition, but adored her new surroundings calling it, "A life free of worries and a snug little nest." Her 2015 book <em>Alive, Alive Oh!</em> covers this period of her life. As she passed her century she was still writing and broadcasting, a force of nature, and a trail blazer from a time when women in publishing were there to either type or make coffee. One of her many adagesm -- "Enjoy yourself as much as you can without doing damage to other people" -- is rather like her books, direct and deceptively simple, but much more difficult to achieve in the process of any life, let alone one as long and productive as hers.</p> <p>Her books are laced with astute observations, wry comments on the human condition, and are a crash course in brevity, and the fine art of a deceptively simple style.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3817&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="96Fd4GDjne_y_pA46ehDvYHgQShdwSTQGfqb31FRuuw"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 25 Jan 2019 15:10:32 +0000 Robert Cochrane 3817 at http://www.culturecatch.com A Bohemian's Rhapsody http://www.culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3769 <span>A Bohemian&#039;s Rhapsody</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/user/460" lang="" about="/index.php/user/460" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Robert Cochrane</a></span> <span>September 22, 2018 - 19:10</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/553" hreflang="en">celebrity obit</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p> </p> <p><strong>Fenella Fielding  (17th November 1927 - 11th September 2018)</strong></p> <p>Few actresses can have sabotaged their seriousness via one role, but such was the fate of Fenella Fielding. Her accomplished portrayal of the outrageously slinky Valeria Watt in <i>Carry On Screaming</i> became both her meal ticket and her millstone. She realized the dangers implicit in a job well executed in a red velvet dress so tightly fitted she couldn't bend, when she sadly refused the title role in the next film <i>Carry On Cleo</i> for fear of being typecast as a comedic turn. It remains a staggeringly lost opportunity, although Amanda Barrie played it wonderfully, Miss Fielding would have brought an extra frisson to the part with that fabulous voice, implicitly suggestive of sin and other things. An instrument that served her well for seventy years of performing, instantly recognizable as a cross between a purr and a beckoning growl. Although she played Wilde, Ibsen, Chekhov and Coward to tremendous acclaim, her natural sense of mischief saw her equally at home on the <i>Morecambe &amp; Wise Show</i>, she was also the voice of the announcer in Patrick McGoohan's cult series <i>The Prisoner</i> and appeared in episodes of the <i>The Avengers</i>.</p> <p>Fenella Marion Fielding was born to a Lithuanian father and a Romanian mother, both Jewish, in London in 1927. Her relationship with them was fraught. He proved abusive and violent to her, sometimes at the mother's instigation, and although she won a scholarship to RADA, her parents disapproval saw her leave after only a year, taking a secretarial course, but also studying at St Martin's School Of Art. She had an abortive suicide attempt around this time, such was the toxicity of their parental control. Fielding still hankered after a career in the theatre, much to her father's chagrin and gradually she became a regular on the night club circuit. By 1959, having proved a tremendous success the previous year as Lady Parvula de Panzoust, a brazen devourer of men's affections in Sandy Wilson's adaptation of Ronald Firbank's louche novel <i>Valmouth</i>, which had earned her the tag "England's first lady of the double entendre," she was appearing at the Apollo with Kenneth Williams in the revue <i>Pieces Of Eight</i> written by Harold Pinter and Peter Cook.</p> <p>It was, a far from easy professional relationship, Williams being vindictive of her favorable reviews. She later recalled:</p> <blockquote> <p>"Kenneth came out of the wings and had the paper in his hand and he had the most terrible temper about it. I thought 'God! I can't help it if they've said something nice about me!'"</p> </blockquote> <p>When she revived the role of Lady Parvula fourteen years later the critic Sheridan Morley wrote that Fielding was "so far over the top as to be almost out of sight."</p> <p>Fielding had large screen success most notably in <i>Drop Dead Darling</i> with Tony Curtis and Zsa Gabor in 1966 and also in comedies like <i>Doctor In Clo</i>ver with Leslie Phillips, but her off screen relationship with the diminutive comedy actor Norman Wisdom was difficult to negotiate. "Hand up your skirt first thing in the morning, not a lovely way to start a day's filming" and she loathed the actor Warren Mitchell who she described as "horrible" whilst Tony Hancock was mostly "drunk."</p> <p>Although she was always associated with the <i>Carry On</i> series of bawdy films, she only appeared in two, <i>Carry On Regardless</i>, a minor but tarty part played perfectly, but it was the Hammer Horror spoof <i>Screaming</i> that she made her own. When she huskily asks Harry H. Corbett "Do you mind if I smoke?" as she writhes suggestively on the sofa, sensually consumed by clouds of dry ice, a moment of comedy gold had just been minted. In 1969 her performance in Ibsen's Hedda Gabler at Leicester's Phoenix Theatre was described by <i>The Times</i> as "among the theatrical experiences of a lifetime." And on it went, a talent to amuse and another to be serious, played equally well and effortlessly so.</p> <p>The legendary director Federico Fellini was transfixed by her, reputedly offering her a film directed by him in which she would play all six parts of various elements of women that men desire. This over a dinner at Claridges in the late 1960s, but as she'd signed to do a play at Chichester she refused him, and a great opportunity was lost.</p> <p>There were other more difficult twists and turns. An agent swindled her and she lost her home. Reduced to signing on for benefits, a humiliating experience for her when her name was called, she invariably soldiered back doing radio, voice-overs and guest appearances on TV. She even made an album where she tackled, and makes her own contemporary songs like New Order's "Blue Monday," Kylie's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head," and amazingly 'Rise' by 'Public Image Limited' which she conquers by virtually dismissing it. The liner notes were effusive and from the pen of Kim Fowley.</p> <p>Age did not wither her. The voice remained as alluringly beguiling as ever. The wigs became bigger, more Warhol-like in scale, the aphorisms more honed like a female Quentin Crisp, the lips continued to be red and the eye lashes resembled expired tarantulas showing their legs to the sun, and there was still a deliciously naughty aspect to the twinkle in her beady eyes. At 90 she was tirelessly promoting her autobiography <i>Do You Mind If I Smoke</i>. Capable of accepting that it had become her legacy, she promoted it, though frail, with exquisite grace and charm. She could have been her generations Joanna Lumley, had her times been more kind to maverick, breathy and eccentric ladies. In her own way she became a petite, immaculately attired, cultural icon. As Robert Chalmers rightly observed in <i>The Independent</i> in 2008 "that Fenella Fielding, whose wit and distinctive stage presence captivated figures such as Kenneth Tynan, Noel Coward and Federico Fellini should have drifted into obscurity rather than being celebrated... as a national treasure was a travesty."</p> <p>Still working up until the stroke that stilled her a few weeks ago, she was an intellectual, a lover of philosophy and ancient poetry. Her frivolity was a foil, a coy defense mechanism that masked a steely and determined wit. She once remarked that car manufacturers could allow the likes of her to dispense with contacts and glasses if they cut the windscreens to become like giant lenses! At an evening a few years ago when she introduced an event for her friend, the artist and designer Andrew Logan in Stoke Newington Town Hall, she was a tiny bag of nerves, a small kabuki doll being comforted and consoled before she effortlessly strode onto the stage and introduced him with tremendous aplomb, without any evidence of her prior hesitancy. She never married but managed to maintain simultaneous affairs with two men for twenty years without either ever discovering the truth. She late explained "I think it's just an art!" Of her affair with the journalist Jeffrey Barnard she admitted: "It wasn't a serious thing; he was always so pissed."</p> <p>Fenella Fielding died peacefully in London with her lashes on!</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3769&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="IAO0EYMoP_1fA_rlkCZWG3YhPgp9dgIxOakLdALlNTA"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 22 Sep 2018 23:10:37 +0000 Robert Cochrane 3769 at http://www.culturecatch.com The Poet Of Gaudy Silence http://www.culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3758 <span>The Poet Of Gaudy Silence</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/user/460" lang="" about="/index.php/user/460" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Robert Cochrane</a></span> <span>August 28, 2018 - 19:29</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/theater" hreflang="en">Theater Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/144" hreflang="en">obituary</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/553" hreflang="en">celebrity obit</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-or_TSm8IEQ?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Lindsay Kemp 1938-2018</p> <p>That the performer and maverick choreographer Lindsay Kemp who died suddenly on 24th August was a precocious and different child should come as no great surprise. Born as a replacement for his deceased elder sister Norma who had been a talented dancer when she died from meningitis aged five, her future brother found no problem on taking on the mantle of her creativity, or her ghostly costumes. Always in search of an audience he would regularly stage shows for the neighbours with his friends. When he joined forces with the son of a local undertaker, they discovered that tap dancing created fabulous acoustics when performed on the lids of the coffins. As a result of his father’s death in 1940, his ship “The Patroclus” had been sunk by a German torpedo, this tragedy entitled him to attend at the age of eight, Bearwood College in Wokingham, the Royal Navy School. His mother had hoped this might rid her only son of his eccentric ways, if anything his desire for self-expression flourished further and he was almost expelled for staging a late night performance in the dormitory as Salome, naked and festooned in rouge after conscripting much toilet roll for veils. It was a role he would successfully reprise in later life with a live boa constrictor for added dramatic value. Born in Birkenhead, and later a native of South Shields, he is proof that strange flowers blossom grow in unlikely and inhospitable climes</p> <p>Aged 16 he returned North and enrolled at Bradford Art College. There he met a fellow classmate called David Hockney. It was his advice that Kemp should point his toes in the direction of London and its various dance schools. There was one major barrier though. National Service. Kemp joined the RAF, but was as an unorthodox recruit as he had been a schoolboy. He staged various <em>camp</em>, the pun is entirely intentional, productions and sought to escape the confines by wearing eyeliner and bangles and declaring himself, it was then illegal and totally unacceptable, homosexual. Kemp discovered sex whilst there, and his brazen proclamation had the desired consequence. He found a place, albeit short-lived at the Ballet Rambert, he was removed for being undisciplined, shared a flat with the future actor and director Stephen Berkoff, ending up in the chorus line of various London shows. It was at the Edinburgh Festival that he impressed the mime artist Marcel Marceau who took him on as a pupil. Soon the novice would become a teacher with startlingly influential results.</p> <p>Kemp in 1967 was performing at a theatre in London's St. Martin's Lane when a young, terribly disillusioned singer called David Bowie appeared in the audience. Kemp had been using a song from his debut album <em>When I Live My Dream</em> as part of his show. Bowie, who was about to give up on his musical ambitions introduced himself afterwards. A sexual and creative relationship flourished which resulted in a touring show <em>Pierrot In Turquoise </em>which was filmed in 1970 as <em>The Poet Of Gaudy Silence</em>. Kemp was an emotionally charged pierrot whilst Bowie aloft a ladder performed his songs. The highly fevered atmosphere transferred into real life dramatics when Kemp discovered Bowie in bed with the production's female designer. His response was to slash his wrists under the influence of a lot of whiskey, he later admitted, it had been a rather half-hearted attempt. The tour continued with him using his bloodied costumes, the blood stains adding an extra frisson to the proceedings. I remember him enquiring if some ephemera I'd found relating to that time held anything relating to Bowie and himself. I said there was only one yellowed clipping to which he responded with his inimitable drawl: </p> <blockquote> <p>“If it relates to me and Mr Bowie then it will be very yellow indeed!”</p> </blockquote> <p>Bowie and he would later re-unite when he asked Kemp to collaborate on the staging of two <em>Ziggy Stardust</em> shows at the Rainbow Theatre, Finsbury Park in 1972. It proved a pivotal moment in the fusing of theatrics and rock, paving the way for Bowie's next incarnation of Aladdin Sane. The perfect collision of decadence and camp. Bowie, ever the thieving magpie copiously borrowed from the ideas of his former lover and teacher. Elton John even declared the proceedings “too camp” but Kemp's glittering genie was out of the bottle and in the guise of Bowie was attracting a mass audience. Kemp too was prolific in the 70s. He formed his own troupe, and tackled the likes of Jean Genet's <em>Our Lady Of The Flowers</em>, a hedonistic mix of glitter, nudity and debauchery though his productions offended the dance critics, who found him showy and iconoclastic. theatre scribes proved much kinder. He also found himself in demand as an actor. In 1973 he appeared in Anthony Shaffer's cult chiller <i>The Wicker Man</i> and also featured in Derek Jarman's <em>Sebastiane</em> and <i>Jubilee </i>as well as an unlikely appearance in The Stud starring Joan Collins, and the more likely <em>Savage</em> <i>Messiah</i> by Ken Russell. This provided him with a considerable amount of money which he frittered away on extravagant living, expensive productions and the inevitable booze and cocaine. His productions were always a visual treat, a trip into another world be sourcing texts and influences as diverse as Lorca and William Walton, touring Europe, the US &amp; Japan.</p> <p>By the mid-70s a shy retiring girl turned up at one of his teaching classes. With Kemp's persistent encouragement she blossomed. He reflected recently in a Q&amp;A session at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall in late June this year that he had little idea of what she wanted to achieve, but that she was good. Returning home one evening he found a album pushed under his door, it was her debut <em>The Kick Inside</em> and the track “Moving” was dedicated to him. The girl in question was  Kate Bush who would later collaborate with him in her film <em>The Line, The Cross &amp; The Curve</em> in 1993, the time of her album <i>The Red Shoes</i>. She sent him an enormous bouquet of flowers at his recent Manchester performance. He was momentarily speechless. Like many great English eccentrics, Quentin Crisp springs languidly to mind, Kemp found much greater acceptance for his showmanship and maverick spirit, abroad. He initially settled in Spain, but eventually made his home in a crumbling convent in Umbria where he was feted as the undoubted legend, albeit  the kind and modest one, he had become. He toyed with opera, his first sojourn Rossini's <em>The</em> <em>Barber</em> <em>Of Seville</em> was criticised for being too slavish to the composer's.</p> <p>In recent years he had found a fruitful and meaningful collaboration with the English singer-songwriter Tim Arnold. The video for the song “Change” is as touching, and unintentional a legacy that one could hope for. The wonderful face of Kemp emotes starkly the haunting lyric. For a man who brought a silent eloquence to every nod and gesture, it is as brave as it bold and unadorned, and is akin to an animated photograph. His performance to the song “What Love Would Want” at The Bridgewater Hall was a sweeping arc of sublime simplicity. A small man filling a large stage with elongated arms and a tremendous ease of movement for someone who'd just turned 80. The lighting was superb, and the song superlative. Few of those there could have envisaged that we were witnessing his final performance in the land of his birth. After the show as he sat signing posters and photographs he looked like an ageless androgyne in white face paint and Japanese pyjamas with his trademark red dots at the edges of his eyes. It was magical and he was serene. Even his hands were painted white. As I was about to leave he beckoned me over. “You aren't going anywhere without a kiss!” I duly obliged as did he whispering that we'd stay in touch...</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3758&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="TmS43znTudlf33oiI0K19PhALsTYllXLEJxoBliXeYM"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 28 Aug 2018 23:29:57 +0000 Robert Cochrane 3758 at http://www.culturecatch.com RIP, Ms. Franklin http://www.culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3751 <span>RIP, Ms. Franklin</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/index.php/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>August 16, 2018 - 11:08</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/553" hreflang="en">celebrity obit</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Vyx34kgHGng?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Aretha Franklin is one of the giants of soul music, and indeed the world of popular music as a whole. In particular, her Atlantic Records songs are known by everyone. More than any other performer, she epitomized soul at its most gospel-fueled. She will always been remembered best for her string of '60s hits with Atlantic Records -- "Chain of Fools," "Respect," "I Never Loved a Man," "Baby I Love You," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Think," "The House That Jack Built," and several others.  She was the epitome of "Lady Soul," unrivaled by those pop and R&amp;B singers who were her peers and who would follow in her shadow.  The Queen of Soul has passed on, but her dynamic voice and her spirit shall live on. The world of music lost another giant today. Watch this remarkable concert from the Filmore West from 1971 to witness her action. RIP, Aretha Franklin, I shall say a little prayer for you and your family.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3751&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="lCgD0osFg4Gp7EJkPG2S9ypadsS4MDb28h2eKFWg4X4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 16 Aug 2018 15:08:23 +0000 Dusty Wright 3751 at http://www.culturecatch.com A Talent To Amuse http://www.culturecatch.com/index.php/art/andrew-heard <span>A Talent To Amuse</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/user/460" lang="" about="/index.php/user/460" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Robert Cochrane</a></span> <span>January 7, 2018 - 06:57</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/art" hreflang="en">Art Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/553" hreflang="en">celebrity obit</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p style="text-align:center"><img alt="" height="804" src="/sites/default/files/images/heard_portrait_0.jpg" style="width: 560px; height: 560px; " width="800" /></p> <p><b>Andrew Heard 21st August 1958 - 9th January 1993</b></p> <p>The artist Andrew Heard was a combination of contrasts, contradictions and charm. Although his large immensely detailed canvases referenced quintessentially English topics, it is a testament to their brilliance of construction that the viewer didn't need to know who his subjects were in order to be engaged by them. Usually British actors, comedians and neglected television personalities held centre stage. It helped, enhanced and enriched the viewing experience if you knew them, but as he was more successful in Europe, the references were secondary to the visual impact of the work. Heard had more recognition in Germany where his paintings sold well via the Friedman-Guinness Gallery in Frankfurt, he also exhibited at Turske &amp; Turske in Zurich, where the essentially English comic Arthur Askey held little in the way of a visual translation abroad. His work was initially monochromatic and stark but developed into a cavalcade of color. Andrew Heard's pictures are layered, complex and deeply emotional, littered with references both subtle and profane. The term exquisite could be applied to many of his works. They remain a gift to the eyes.</p> <!--break--> <p>Heard was born in Hertford on August 21st 1958. He initially graduated in 1979 from the University of London with a degree in Art History, the year in which he entered the Chelsea School of Art. Whilst working as a waiter at the legendary Blitz Club he encountered the artists Gilbert &amp; George, presenting them with a bottle of wine as a token of his admiration, but scarpering with nerves before he'd taken the time to uncork it. This brief commotion instigated a friendship which lasted till his death; he even featured as a model in some of their work, "Shame" being one notable example.</p> <p>By 1983 he was living in West Berlin and later shared a studio in Garden Walk with the poet and artist David Robilliard (1952-1988). Just round the corner from Old Street tube station, it was a remarkable space occupying two floors of an old warehouse, the ground being the work area and open plan, whilst the first was roughly divided with plaster board partitions into room-like spaces. Needless to say it is now a luxury apartment block whose redevelopment was advertised in the national press. No aspiring artist could now live in such cold yet spacious luxury. There was a huge walk-in safe in the far corner of the first floor, although he managed to drill a hole in the door Andrew never succeeded in cracking the lock. It was like living with a mystery, one that intrigued and frustrated him in equal measure. He and Robilliard organized parties and exhibitions there. They were a combination of extremes. Andrew's mediative and considered contemplations were at the other end of the spectrum to David's didactic and spontaneous paintings. An odd artistic pair they both achieved much beneath the lingering and encroaching shadows of mortality It was an organic and youthful time, and with hindsight a sadly brief flowering of artistic freedom. David Robilliard died on 3rd November 1988, the opening night of Andrew's Cork Street show, Gilbert &amp; George in attendance by his hospital bed. Andrew's painting "That's All Folks" was dedicated to David, adding a subtle, sad poignancy to the Warner Brothers cartoon caption that it celebrated with sorrow. It was a return compliment to David's poem:</p> <p><em>A LITTLE POEM FOR ANDREW HEARD</em></p> <blockquote> <p><em>You don't often see a goat on a London bus and if you did there'd be a lot of fuss.</em></p> </blockquote> <figure class="image" style="float:left"><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/images/dear-heaven_0.jpg" style="width: 350px; height: 699px;" /><figcaption>"Dear Heaven"</figcaption></figure><p>Most people wouldn't recognize the eye of Kenneth Williams as a leering moon in the picture "Dear Heaven"<em> (image left)</em> accompanied by Benny Hill dressed as a cherub taking aim at a mermaid from a largely forgotten black and white comedy of the 1950s. In this way, Andrew Heard harnessed and shared his interior world into a cohesive and evocative visual statement. His very personal obsessions would prick the curiosity of the viewer and inform them in the way that Morrissey's album sleeves still do. Andrew greatly admired The Smiths. He reflected in a 1990 interview with the art critic and poet Adrain Dannatt: "What I'm doing in art is in some ways paralleled by what Morrissey is doing with The Smiths. Their songs were based on observation, very human, very straightforward, and witty as well."</p> <p>Morrissey was aware of Heard, but the two never met. Andrew however was quite aware of the eccentricity of inherent in his work and its methodology and myth making. He once wrote to me that he'd been up in bed reading a 1958 copy of <em>TV Times</em> which made him confess that he realized he really was a rather strange man. His letterhead was adorned by a bowler hat, a reference to his love of Terry Thomas, that utter embodiment of eccentric Englishness, and also a casual link to the skinhead mythology of <em>A Clockwork Orange</em>. Add to that Max Miller, Norman Wisdom, Margaret Rutherford, Joyce Grenfell, and host of major and minor English stars of the '50s and '60s, and there was an elegiac nature at play, re-inventing the past as a means of explaining the future.</p> <p>Andrew Heard wasn't merely a merchant of nostalgia. Via his great love and affection for images and colors that held echoes of his childhood he created an expansive and intoxicating world. There is great humor and pathos in his manifestations and he was continuing in the footsteps of the likes of Peter Blake, Pauline Doty, and early era David Hockney. He was essentially a pop artist, an English Warhol since his paintings also contained slogans from advertising campaigns of the yesteryear, and were often a mix of painterly technique and screen-printing, whilst referencing cinematic cliches. His art reveled in the status of the outsider, which he enhanced by his physical appearance as a skinhead. He had honed that look to perfection, the braces, the jeans, the shaved head, all in utter contrast to his impeccable manners, his soft-spoken nature and his chosen mode of transport, his pride and joy, a vintage TR7 sports car. Seeing him step out of it was a rather jarring, almost comic confection. Despite his meticulous nature, and having pulled off a very good line in downward mobility, tattoos and all, he had little time for the pretensions of the art world he had to inhabit. Once, in another letter, he was bemoaning his rather frustrating dealings with a lady who was determined to have her own way. He archly informed me that I had to remember that she was from the "Art World" where if something means nothing it therefore has to mean something! He was also a regular contributor to the letters page of the Evening Standard, usually on the decline of the British manufacturing industry in general, and of British cars, in particular. He managed to straddle this patriotic aspect of his nature with a profound sense of irony.</p> <p style="text-align:center"><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/images/wisdom_and_thomas_0.jpg" style="width: 560px; height: 642px;" /></p> <p>Nothing was too low brow to be included in his paintings. He referenced everyone from the Kray twins to such cult television classics as <em>The Avengers</em>, Ealing Comedies and the <em>Carry On</em> series of bawdy smut. He even sent flowers to the hospital where one of their major stars, the camp and effete Charles Hawtrey, whom he had included in the paintings, was dying, and adored Barbara Windsor, another Heard subject along with Sidney James. By delving into the past his work created subtle symphonies for the present day to dwell upon. One of his most evocative and haunting works  -- "Happy Ever After" -- a tondo that features the boy from the Pears Soap advert looking skywards. Against a classic English country lane background whilst staring up at bubbles, each one containing a forgotten television personality, it is both wistful and melancholic. An achingly powerful image and one that deserves greater recognition. Although his career was in ascendency for much of the Eighties, by the time of his death in 1993 life had taken a dark and distressing turn. One of his galleries had gone into liquidation which resulted in the loss of many of his paintings and he was dealing with the infirmity brought on by his HIV status. Had he survived into the era of Blair and Blur he was the perfect visual advocate for "Cool Britannia." The round canvasses he created in his final years are a perfect cohesion of his vision and ability, and remain strikingly wistful and startlingly unique. For all their lingering tenderness, they possess inevitable intimations of mortality. At his memorial show amongst those in attendance on the opening night were David Hockney and Gilbert &amp; George. His painting "Lovechild" (<em>below</em>) is a metaphor of gentle fragility; moths and flame and a fading innocence.</p> <div style="text-align:center"> <figure class="image" style="display:inline-block"><img alt="" height="800" src="/sites/default/files/images/lovechild_0.jpg" style="width: 560px; height: 560px;" width="800" /><figcaption>"Lovechild"</figcaption></figure></div> <p>Andrew Heard tirelessly and successfully promoted the work of David Robilliard in the years after his friend's death. Nowadays Robilliard is rightfully recognized as an important and ground breaking talent, having recently had a major retrospective at the I.C.A in London, whilst Heard's reputation is almost entirely forgotten. There is talk of a show in London sometime soonish but apart from the occasional picture in a group exhibition, and a small exhibition in Germany last year, organized by the gallery owner Rob Tufnell, his work is a treasure trove that awaits rediscovery as a reward to those who have never encountered it, especially in his home country, where his references could easily be de-coded. Despite the use of nostalgic images there is nothing dated about his artistic output. It is witty, vibrant and enchanting, and very much like the man who created it. Given his montage and magpie outlook Heard would have been an inspired participant in the digital revolution, which would have suited him perfectly. A few years after his death a major gallery turned down a proposed exhibition of his work because the gallery felt it was too sad, a perfect case of getting the point whilst missing it completely.</p> <p>Gilbert &amp; George once wrote:</p> <blockquote> <p>"Andrew's belief in himself as an artist of England resulted in a unique body of pictures that are as English as fish and chips. (A favorite supper of his.) Andrew was a public-school boy with lower-class aspirations, dressing as a skinhead, behaving as a gentleman."</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align:center"><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/images/sea_of_love_0.jpg" style="width: 560px; height: 571px;" /></p> <p>One Sunday afternoon whilst we were returning from Brick Lane Market where many of the vendors would simply discard what they hadn't managed to sell, I picked up an old annual from the 1930s laden with sepia photographs. After a quick flick through the pages I put it back on the pavement. Andrew enquired why I didn't want it? I just shrugged absently saying I'd lots of things just like it and didn't need another, but maybe he should take it as there might be something there he could blow up on the photocopier and turn into a painting. I instantly realized how dismissive those words sounded, and began an apology, but he just smiled and said: "I think you rather know my working techniques a little too well!" As we approached Garden Walk he suddenly knelt by a small patch of earth exclaiming with genuine delight. "Oh Wow! They've come up!" He was gently stroking some crocuses in bloom. "I planted these!" he explained and then looked at his skinhead regalia and sighed knowingly, "I guess that wasn't terribly butch!"</p> <p>He once related a comic tale very much at his own discreet expense. Having saved vouchers he'd managed to secure a weekend break for two at a hotel on the South Coast of England. In the middle of the night there was a fire alarm and the building had to be evacuated. Outside on the lawn the guests were assembled as an inventory was undertaken. When it came to Andrew's booking the manager called for "Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Heard." After a second or two of understandable hesitancy, Andrew stepped forward exclaiming "That's us!" The guests looked round to see him accompanied by Chris Hall, his partner, sometime model, and at over six foot tall an imposing if somewhat menacing figure who'd graced the cover of Italian Vogue. Their embarrassment was saved by an apparition appearing in the supposedly empty hotel's doorway. It was an elderly woman who'd finally made it out on her walking aid to utter the immortal query: "What's going on?" Had there been an actual fire she'd have been cremated.</p> <div style="text-align:center"> <figure class="image" style="display:inline-block"><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/images/paradise_lost_edited_0.jpg" style="width: 560px; height: 581px;" /><figcaption>"Paradise Lost"</figcaption></figure></div> <p>Twenty-five years on from his demise his intelligence, wit and artistic talent remains a tangible loss, both to those who knew him, and the wider world, but in order to be reassessed and valued afresh one needs to first of all be remembered. An artist of importance with a talent to amuse Andrew Heard remains a profoundly unusual individual. He was "Pop" but with a sense of history and tradition, nostalgic without falling foul of sententiousness, and a purveyor of an Englishness in decline without subscribing to exclusivity. There lies the essence of his creativity. It was, and remains a visual prayer to a fading past, and one that he deserves to emerge from in order to inform and remind us that we are all products of it. In the painting "Paradise Lost" (<em>above</em>) there is a cavalcade of cartoon fun on a beach, a wonderfully colorful pean to childhood vivacity and imagination, but eventually the viewer's eye is drawn from the comic book dynamic to a statue of a small boy with his hand resting upon a ball, as frozen and as static as the background is chaotic with delight. The painting is a parable. We cannot recapture the former happiness, the innocence of childhood, can only try to remember it as best we can for there is no point of return. That subtle directness encapsulates the work of Andrew Heard. Modernity with an almost Victorian morality at its core, and a profound feeling of elegy and a narrative of sorrow. Few artists possess such an intelligence and power.</p> </div> <section> </section> Sun, 07 Jan 2018 11:57:56 +0000 Robert Cochrane 3659 at http://www.culturecatch.com