Tales of Rock – Keith Richards Snorts His Dad

Keith said that his image was “like a long shadow,” implying that people don’t know much about the real man, but instead focus on the things written in articles

Keith Richards is one of the most talented guitarists in history. In 1962, he helped form The Rolling Stones and since that time the band has sold over 200 million records. Interestingly, Keith Richards regards the acoustic guitar as the basis for his playing, once saying that he felt the electric guitar would cause him to “lose that touch.” Richards is also a talented lyricist. The songwriting partnership of Jagger/Richards has been responsible for the majority of the catalog of The Rolling Stones.

In the 1970s, music journalist Nick Kent described the personality of Keith Richards as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” In 1994, Keith said that his image was “like a long shadow,” implying that people don’t know much about the real man, but instead focus on the things written in articles. Richards has a long history of drug abuse and has been tried for drug-related charges five times.

In April of 2006, Keith Richards made headlines when he fell out of a tree in Fiji and suffered a bad head injury. The event caused a delay in The Rolling Stones tour, but Richards made a full recovery. The following year Keith made international headlines after he was asked by a journalist what the strangest thing he ever snorted was. Keith responded: “My father. I snorted my father. He was cremated and I couldn’t resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn’t have cared. It went down pretty well, and I’m still alive.”

The comment shocked the journalist and the story instantly became a media sensation. Keith’s manager responded with the statement that the anecdote had been a joke, but many feel the story is true. In the same interview Keith was asked about his most life-threatening drug experience and mentioned an event in which “Someone put strychnine (pesticide) in my dope. It was in Switzerland. I was totally comatose, but I was totally awake. I could listen to everyone, and they were like, he’s dead, he’s dead, waving their fingers and pushing me about. I was thinking I’m not dead.” Richards remembers: “I was number one on the Who’s list of people who were likely to die for 10 years. I mean, I was really disappointed when I fell off the list.”

 

 

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Tales of Rock – Keith Moon Blew Stuff Up

“No toilet in a hotel or changing room was safe,”

When Keith Moon was 17 years-old he joined The Who and replaced drummer Doug Sandom. He immediately impacted the band’s sound and became known for his innovative drumming style. Along with Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, and John Entwistle, Moon would help The Who become one of the most popular bands of the 1960s and 1970s. The group was known for explosive concerts and destructive behavior. The first such performance occurred in 1964 at the Railway Tavern in Harrow and Wealdstone, London, when Townshend accidentally broke the head of his guitar through the ceiling, so he continued to smash it on stage and the crowd loved it. More people came back the next night wanting the band to smash and break something.

Keith Moon had no problem fitting in with the lifestyle of a rock star. He had an erratic personality and gained the nickname “Moon the Loon.” In one famous performance Moon filled his clear acrylic drums with water and goldfish, and dressed like a cat. He was a jokester and Moon’s ability to make his bandmates laugh around the vocal microphone led to him being banished from the studio when albums were being recorded. In response, Moon would sneak into the studio and join in the singing. He can be heard on several tracks, including Bell Boy, Bucket T, and Barbara Ann. He is the high backing vocals on Pictures of Lily.

Keith Moon was known to demolish hotel rooms and was incredibly destructive. He would often throw furniture from high buildings and set objects on fire. However, his favorite hobby was blowing up toilets with explosives. The blasts would destroy the toilet and often times disrupt plumbing to the hotel. It has been estimated that Moon’s destruction of toilets and plumbing ran as high as UK£300,000 (US$500,000). Moon was banned from several hotel chains including all Holiday Inn, all Sheraton, all Hilton Hotels, and the Waldorf Astoria.

According to Tony Fletcher’s biography, Moon was quoted: “All that porcelain flying through the air was quite unforgettable.” Fletcher wrote: “no toilet in a hotel or changing room was safe,” until Moon had detonated his supply of explosives. In one case, hotel management asked Moon to turn down his cassette player. In response, he asked the manager up to his room and blew up the toilet right in front of him. Moon then turned the cassette player back up and said: “This is The Who.”

In 1967, Keith Moon allegedly drove a Cadillac or Lincoln Continental into a Holiday Inn pool. In 1973, The Who was performing at the Cow Palace in San Francisco and Moon passed out during the show. Townshend noticed that he was sleeping and asked the audience, “Can anyone play the drums? I mean somebody good.” An audience member named Scot Halpin stepped up and finished the concert for Moon.

Ringo Starr once told Keith Moon that his lifestyle would eventually kill him. Moon simply replied “Yeah, I know.” Keith Moon died on September 7, 1978 (age 32) after he ingested 32 tablets of clomethiazole (Heminevrin). The digestion of six pills was sufficient to cause his death. The other 26 were found undissolved in his stomach. This caused some to speculate that Moon’s death might have been on purpose. Officially it was ruled a drug overdose.

 

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Tales of Rock – Edgewater Hotel Incidents

The Edgewater is a hotel in Seattle, Washington that is located on a pier over Elliott Bay. It is currently the only hotel in Seattle that sits over-water. In the 1960s the Edgewater became a popular destination for famous rock stars. Some of the bands to visit the hotel include the Beatles in 1964, the Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, and Led Zeppelin. The Edgewater is unique because in the past it allowed customers to fish from their rooms on the north elevation.

On July 27, 1969, Led Zeppelin performed at the Seattle Pop Festival and stayed at the Edgewater. The band was known to have wild parties and was often joined by groupies. According to Zeppelin’s road manager Richard Cole, during one incident, things between a fish and a sexy red head got a bit intimate. On the day in question, Cole was in his room fishing with drummer John Bonham when they were joined by some women. Cole and Bonham had caught a large collection of sharks, at least two dozen, stuck coat hangers through the gills and then left them in the closet. The hotel room was also scattered with various types of smaller fish.

As parties go, one thing led to another and people began to lose their clothing. One particular woman in the crowd with red hair found herself with Cole. She made a unique request, so he decided to reach for a fish and the shark episode was born. Cole was later quoted: “Let’s see how your red snapper likes this red snapper.” It was the nose of the fish and the girl liked it. There was nothing malicious or harmful and Mark Stein of Vanilla Fudge filmed the whole thing. After the story was published by the media a large collection of rumors began to circulate, but many were exaggerated. The band received bad press so they stopped talking about the event.

In 1973, Led Zeppelin returned to the Edgewater and the band was officially banned from the hotel after it was discovered that they had caught some 30 mudsharks and left them under beds, in closets, elevators, hallways, bathtubs, and all over their rooms. They threw stuff out the windows into Elliott Bay, including beds, TVs, mattresses, lamps, drapes, and glassware. Since that time Robert Plant has been welcomed back to the Edgewater. The mudshark incident remains one of the most popular rock stories from the 1960s.

Here’s a version of this song I’ve never heard before. It’s a rough mix. Interesting imagery by Brandy and Coke.

 

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Tales of Rock – Marianne Faithfull Ends Up Homeless

You’ve got to feel for Marianne Faithfull. At the age of 17, she was snapped up by the Rolling Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham merely for being “an angel with big tits” and shoved at the Stones. She churned out some blandly alluring pop records but was most famously Mick Jagger’s girlfriend and muse. When the police raided Keith Richards’ Redlands mansion in 1967 as its occupants concluded an epic acid trip, they claimed they found Faithfull wrapped in nothing but a rug with a candy bar inserted in her vagina (Richards debunked this myth in his 2010 book Life).

She co-wrote the tellingly titled “Sister Morphine,” only to see the Stones wrest control of the song and release it, without crediting her, on their 1971 album Sticky Fingers. By the end of the ’70s she was homeless, living in an abandoned building in London. It was a fate once unthinkable for a woman so beautiful and sexual that still images of her alone created a media sensation and who directly influenced one of the most significant bands of her generation and place.

But Faithfull got the last laugh.

Given the opportunity to cut another album, she turned in the raw, confessional Broken English; an unflinching narrative of what it was like for a glamour model and pop star to find herself an addict living on the street, all backed by understated yet fashionable musical accompaniment. The Stones of this era were singing about “Some Girls,” and this was first person reporting from one they’d cast off.

 

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Tales of Rock – James Brown Pulls a Shotgun on Someone for Using His Toilet

“Experimentation with drugs was more a qualification than a fire-able offense.”

Watching James Brown in action in video of his performances in the 1960s and ’70s, it’s difficult to imagine someone so assured and in control of himself and his band descending into drug-induced chaos. He even insisted his musicians remain drug-free, which alienated some, including Catfish and Bootsy Collins, who departed for Parliament-Funkadelic where experimentation with drugs was more a qualification than a fire-able offense.

But the ’80s took their toll on the “Soul Brother No. 1” as he started using PCP. He was arrested numerous times before, in 1988, he reportedly pulled a shotgun on a man for using the toilet in his office before fleeing, leading police on a chase near the border of Georgia and South Carolina. He was convicted of possession, driving under the influence, carrying an unlicensed pistol and assaulting a police officer and sentenced to six years in jail; released in three. He continued to have problems with the law for the last 15 years of his life, most often owing to charges of domestic violence.

His relationship with Adrienne Lois Rodriguez was insane. They met on the set of the TV show Solid Gold, on which Rodriguez worked as a hairstylist. Brown told Sharpton to get her number. The two fell in love, got married (she would be Brown’s third wife), and had a tumultuous relationship: They were both addicted to PCP; she called the cops on him a number of times for domestic violence; she once stabbed a woman in the butt who she thought was sleeping with Brown; she set his clothes on fire; she allegedly put PCP into his creamed corn. In 1996, she died after undergoing liposuction owing to a combination of PCP and prescription medications.

Brown kept up a rigorous tour schedule well into his 70s. His trumpeter Hollie Farris remembered they were doing a show in South America when the doctor gave him shots, put a catheter in him, only to take it out, do a one-and-a-half-hour show, and then come back and put the catheter back in. In another performance in Tbilisi, Georgia, Brown performed in a swimming facility with the stage at the edge of the pool. Brown jumped into the pool at the climax of “Sex Machine” and had to be fished out by his bandmates. He got back onstage and finished the song.

 

 

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Tales of Rock – David Crosby Rams Car into a Wall While High and Armed

“Why do I keep fuckin’ up?”

A lot of musicians who came of age during the ’60s exited the decade with serious drug problems, but few were still running wild decades later. David Crosby of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash and (sometimes) Young, has proven a noteworthy exception here. In 1982 he went to prison for nine months after being charged with possession of cocaine and heroin. In 1985, while on probation for DUI, he was arrested for driving into a fence with a gun and cocaine in his car. Asked by a reporter why he was armed, he said it was his response to the murder of John Lennon by a crazed fan.

In Crosby’s episode of VH1’s Behind The Music, one of his band mates in Crosby, Stills and Nash complained that he once interrupted a jam session to stop his crack pipe from falling off his amp and breaking. As recently as 2004, Crosby was arrested after leaving his luggage, which apparently contained an ounce of pot and a gun, in a hotel room. The bag was searched and when Crosby returned for it he was arrested. To quote his occasional collaborator Neil Young, Crosby might want to ask himself, “Why do I keep fuckin’ up?”

You really should slow down in middle age. Especially when you’ve already had your liver replaced.

 

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Tales of Rock – Badfinger

Badfinger should’ve been a huge success story, but instead became a cautionary tale for the myriad ways the music industry exploits and throws away so many talented but naive artists.

Possibly the most heartbreaking story in rock and roll happens to have happened to one of the best bands in its history.

Badfinger should’ve been a huge success story, but instead became a cautionary tale for the myriad ways the music industry exploits and throws away so many talented but naive artists. After supporting major outfits including The Yardbirds, Pink Floyd and the Who, the band — then named the Iveys — was picked up by manager Bill Collins in 1966. It was a move that would help them reach early stardom and contribute heavily to their downfall. Ray Davies of the Kinks recorded three early demos, which Collins managed to get to Apple Records; Badfinger signed with Apple in 1968, making them the first band that wasn’t the Beatles on the label. After a lineup and name change to Badfinger, Paul McCartney penned their first hit, the timeless power pop classic “Come and Get It.” (Written for the soundtrack of The Magic Christian, a loopy, cameo-filled British comedy starring Ringo Starr and Peter Sellers that’s worth watching for the sheer absurdity of it all.) The song became an international hit. The band’s two primary songwriters, Pete Ham and Tom Evans, also wrote “Without You,” a standard since covered by more than 180 artists, including Shirley Bassey, Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra and, perhaps most famously, Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey.

George Harrison had them play on his 1970 album All Things Must Pass and featured them as part of his backing band at The Concert for Bangladesh in 1971. The point is, Badfinger should’ve been rolling in dough, their names solidified among rock’s most important acts. But taking manager Collins’s advice, the band trusted their money to an American businessman named Stan Polley who absconded with their funds, leaving the band in contractual binds that made it virtually impossible to continue on their own.

Lead singer Ham — by all accounts, an incredibly sensitive, sweet man who believed to the very end in Polley’s honesty despite all indications otherwise — hanged himself shortly thereafter. (Polley, in a move that even most scumbags would be disgusted by, tried to cash in on Ham’s life insurance.) Inconsolable and unable to restart his own career in music, Tom Evans — who reportedly said numerous times over the ensuing years that he wanted to be “where [Pete] is” — also hanged himself eight years later. Badfinger finally got a sliver of the rediscovery they deserve when their 1972 song “Baby Blue” was used in the series finale of Breaking Bad. The nod helped the song’s Spotify streams jump an astounding 9,000 percent in the hours after the show ended, and to sell 5,000 copies of the single on iTunes in a single night.

 

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