Tales of Rock – Pink Floyd Unleashed A Giant Inflatable Pig On London

“They commissioned a gigantic helium-filled pig and strapped it to London’s Battersea Power Station, because nothing drums up publicity for a progressive rock record like a giant inflatable pig.”

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In 1977, Pink Floyd were under tremendous pressure to ensure that Animals — their long-awaited 10th album — was a commercial success. The answer was simple: They commissioned a gigantic helium-filled pig and strapped it to London’s Battersea Power Station, because nothing drums up publicity for a progressive rock record like a giant inflatable pig.

However, in a turn of events that would provide yet another footnote to the adage “props are a musician’s worst enemy,” the 40-foot-long pig — nicknamed “Algie” — broke free from its moorings and escaped to sow (pun intended) a rampage of confusion and mild public endangerment. After it floated above London’s Heathrow Airport, authorities were forced to ground every single flight to avoid any sudden collisions with an enormous pig-shaped balloon. At this point, the Royal Air Force had to be deployed to try to bring down the errant porcine.

The balloon eventually crashed in a field in Kent, where it scared the shit out of some cows. Oddly enough, Pink Floyd had anticipated that Algie might break free of his moorings and had actually hired a sharpshooter to watch over the giant pig and take it out in case it escaped. Fortunately for history, the sharpshooter didn’t show up, leading to the incident that we’re amazed nobody called “The Great Pig In The Sky.”

 

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Tales of Rock – Frank Zappa Attacked

The casino quickly caught fire and burned to the ground. All of Zappa’s equipment was lost, but he survived the fire. The event was the inspiration for the song Smoke on the Water by English rock band Deep Purple.

Frank Zappa was an American musician that had a large impact on musical freedom. His father was Francesco Vincente Zappa who was an extremely intelligent chemist and mathematician who worked with the United States defense program. Zappa grew up near the Aberdeen Proving Ground and was regularly sick as child. He suffered from extreme asthma, earaches, and sinus problems caused by mustard gas exposure. Zappa’s upbringing gave him a negative stance on the use of chemical weapons. He often wrote references of germs, germ warfare, and the U.S. defense industry in his lyrics.

Frank Zappa was a great performer and his musical message was important, but deemed bizarre and strange by the media. His band’s debut album featured a song that asked Who Are the Brain Police? and in 1968 Zappa satirized the hippie culture as a motivation for money and profit. He was a charismatic personality and Zappa’s music was extremely popular in some European countries. He was also highly monitored by the U.S. government.

On December 4, 1971, Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention were performing a concert at the Montreux Casino when a member of the audience decided to fire a flare gun into the rattan covered ceiling. The casino quickly caught fire and burned to the ground. All of Zappa’s equipment was lost, but he survived the fire. The event was the inspiration for the song Smoke on the Water by English rock band Deep Purple.

A week after the casino fire, Frank Zappa and The Mothers played at the Rainbow Theatre, London, with rented gear. During the encore of the show, an audience member rushed the stage and pushed Zappa into the concrete-floored orchestra pit. It was a long fall and Zappa was nearly killed. He suffered serious fractures, head trauma, and injuries to his back, legs, and neck. He crushed his larynx, which caused his voice to drop a third after healing. Zappa was lucky to survive the event and was forced to use a wheelchair for an extended period. The assailant was a man named Trevor Howell who told reporters that he believed Zappa was eying his girlfriend.

The two events had an emotional impact on Frank Zappa and he was concerned that someone was trying to murder him. After making a recovery, Zappa went on to have a successful career, but was regularly bashed by the U.S. media for his edgy lyrics. Frank Zappa is quoted: “What do you make of a society that is so primitive that it clings to the belief that certain words in its language are so powerful that they could corrupt you the moment you hear them?”

In 1990, Frank Zappa was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and the disease killed him in 1993. For some reason he was buried in an unmarked grave in Los Angeles. Many people have wondered why Zappa was not given a gravestone for identification. Some theories suggest a family request or evidence of mustard gas exposure Zappa experienced as a child.

 

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Tales of Rock – Neil Young Needs Special Effect to Hide Coke in his Nostril

With his wide-eyed, shaky demeanor, Neil Young just has the look about him of a guy on drugs. The thing is that’s probably more the effect of his lifelong struggles with epilepsy than anything else.

With his wide-eyed, shaky demeanor, Neil Young just has the look about him of a guy on drugs. The thing is that’s probably more the effect of his lifelong struggles with epilepsy than anything else. He’s definitely done his share; last year, the story broke that he’d finally quit smoking pot and drinking—at 66-years-old—to write his memoir.

And he’s created some great music ruminating on the ill effects of addiction; his 1971 song “The Needle and the Damage Done” is one of the most poignant ever written about heroin, and his 1975 album Tonight’s The Night eulogized his roadie Bruce Berry and guitarist Danny Whitten, both of whom died of heroin overdoses in 1973.

Despite all this, Young has generally avoided a reputation for doing heavy drugs himself. However, there have been some close calls. When he appeared in the Band’s concert film The Last Waltz in 1976, Young was apparently snorting cocaine backstage directly before his performance. In Band drummer Levon Helm’s autobiography, he wrote, “Neil Young had delivered a good version of ‘Helpless,’ but performed with a good-size rock of cocaine stuck in his nostril. Neil’s manager saw this and said no way is Neil gonna be in the film like this. They had to go to special effects people, who developed what they called a ‘travelling booger matte’ that sanitized Neil’s nostril and put ‘Helpless’ into the movie.” As a result, that crumb of cocaine is surely one of the most expensive ever snorted.

 

 

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Tales of Rock – Guns N’ Roses’ Izzy Stradlin Ends Up in a Coma for 96 Hours After Swallowing Drugs

Guns N’ Roses rode to massive popularity as part of a wave of L.A. ’80s bands that made a career of looking like degenerates.

Guns N’ Roses rode to massive popularity as part of a wave of L.A. ’80s bands that made a career of looking like degenerates. But GNR eclipsed their peers because they walked the walk down to a man. Axl Rose largely stopped doing hard drugs once the band was successful, but had enough experience with “Mr. Brownstone” to sing about it and clearly didn’t dial down his propensity for rage, drinking and insanity.

Slash kept at it; he once told GQ magazine that his smack habit amounted to; “However much I could get my hands on. If I finished a batch, I’d go hunting for it. It never stopped.” Entering Japan on tour and ordered by GNR’s tour manager to get rid of all drugs in his possession, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin swallowed his entire stash and ended up in a coma for 96 hours. Bassist Duff McKagan abused drugs so heavily that in the ’90s his pancreas exploded resulting in third-degree burns inside his body.

Yet, the worst drug casualty of GNR was surely Steven Adler, who was kicked out of the band for being too fucked up in 1990 (Stradlin later claimed Adler’s dismissal ruined the band’s sound) and in the 22 years since, has basically done nothing but occasionally show up in news stories about the band, always supposedly newly sober.

 

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Tales of Rock – Zakk Wylde Accidentally Survived A Fatal Disease By Drinking All Of The Time

“Because you are shitfaced, all of the time.”

As a guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde isn’t a stranger to the world of wild partying, it’s fair to say. His last name is literally the word “wild” as spelled by a drunk person. We wouldn’t be surprised to hear that this is the only reason he got into rock music.

However, after a monthlong bout of extreme illness finally forced him to see a doctor, Wylde discovered that he was suffering from a rare blood condition that caused his body to overproduce blood clots, which are things that can suddenly kill you at any moment without warning. Furthermore, he’d been suffering from the condition for several years. Wylde sagely asked how the hell he had managed to stay alive for so long with such a deadly affliction, to which the doctor responded, “Because you are shitfaced, all of the time.”

You see, the treatment for Wylde’s condition involves a course of strong blood thinners, which slow down the rate at which blood clots develop. You know what else thins the blood? Alcohol. Zakk Wylde’s years of being heroically wasted saved his life, although nowadays he’s banned from booze and restricted to taking standard medicine, which we feel is a little unfair to the booze.

 

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Duncan – 1997 to Present – Concentrated Dosage – Part 3 – Saturday Night

Me: “What would happen if you didn’t inject your medicine every week, Duncan?”

Duncan: ” I would turn into a chair.

We walk all the way from the river back to the hotel. I loved the film. Go see it. We stop at the bar and have a couple of drinks. Duncan does his rum driven white russians, and I go with Manhattans and old fashions. Duncan says all the drinks are on his room, so all of this has fixed the missing bottle of Grey Goose he promised me. (See: Phicklephilly – The case of the Missing Bottle of Vodka)

I’ll get my hands on that sometime soon. I have a really nice bottle of rare South African rum for him that I can offer up for trade if I have to!

We decide we’re both hungry and can’t sustain ourselves on popcorn and sugar. I decide to take him over to Tavern on Broad because I have drink tickets. We get there and the vibe just isn’t working. We leave and I have an idea. We go to the place my friend Prova works, and is owned by the Uncle of my partner at the tanning salon, Achilles. (Prova – 2016 to Present – Glow of the Sun and Achilles – 2016 to Present – The Bronze God)

We head over there and it’s choice. We get a table and Prova is there and so is the owner, Achilles, uncle. It’s all good. We have a glorious dinner and the service is great. He’s drinking his usual and I’m having a Manhattan. It’s a great place and the vibe is good.

Lovely Prova comes over to the table to chat near the end and I introduce her to Duncan. He agrees she’s smoking hot and sweet and we’re having a great day. We split the check and it’s time to go see the German heavy metal band UDO at the Trocadero in Chinatown.

Time is tight and we need to grab an UBER to get there on time for the show. Duncan planned this gig eight months ago so I need to be on point for my pal. It’s his weekend and his night. I can’t fuck this up. I want him to be happy and not miss any of it. We step onto Sansom street and the car is on its way. The driver can’t get it together and ends up a block away from us. I think more taxi drivers in this city are packing it in on being taxi drivers and going for UBER and Lyft because there is more money in it and it’s the future. But they’re struggling with it.

Fuck it. We’re in the car, and I’m paying for it with my $600 in UBER credits from my previous job. Thank you ME, deadly sales guy and my previous employer.

We get to the venue and the opening act is on. They’re a tight metal band and we like them, but we immediately identify that the singer sucks and needs to go. That happens with metal heads. We want quality and can identify it instantly. Priest. Maiden. come on. You can have the hair and the moves but if you can’t sing amazing for your band… you’re out. But we’re happy to be there because UDO is coming for Duncan. He’s going to do a bunch of songs from his former band Accept and that’s why Duncan flew up here this weekend and planned this trip eight months ago.

They finish and some time passes, and UDO comes out. Now to refresh, this is a Duncan band. I have turned this clown onto some of the greatest rock and metal on the Earth and I am here now about to see a band where I only know one of their songs from the eighties.

Nothing else. Let’s see how this unfolds.

UDO hits the stage and he is a very rotund German gentleman. Duncan says he’s fatter than he remembers. He’s a sixty something, fat, bald dude that’s ready to rock. He has a Finnish and a Russian guitar player at his side. Both of these guys are deadly musicians that are hot and smile while they shred through the songs of Accept. These guys are amazing. I rock out to the unfamiliar songs like they’ve been written by AC/DC. This band is fantastic.

UDO sings like Bon Scott, the long dead lead singer from AC/DC and the band is tighter than a crab’s ass. (that’s water tight!) I love his band. The guitarists are amazing musicians and elegant showman. I can see the show is choreographed, but I love it. They are sooo good. Their personalities are coming through in the show. I love it.

Just like Aerosmith.

Just like me. What I wanted to do in music, and what I do in my everyday life. Push the energy outward into the people around you, and it will all come back to you so bright and wonderful so you can give it again.

That’s how I felt that night with Duncan.

The show was long. He played for two and a half hours! It was magnificent but I could see that Duncan was getting tired. This was his night but even he was folding. I loved this band, but at our age after the first finale, and one encore, we’re done.

They finally leave the stage and so do we. Duncan always does this thing when we go to shows. He always gets the set list and as much info on the show as possible. I’m not into presents or holidays or birthdays, but I like to be surprised by art. Men don’t like to be surprised, but we like to be delighted. But I feel like Duncan takes the mystery out of the musical acts we see, because he knows what they are going to play. I prefer to just show up at your concert, art gallery or movie and just light me up. But Duncan always knows what they are going to go play before hand. He’s always been this way. I never understood this. Part of seeing live music performed by the guys you love was about the surprise. What will these guy play next? Oh I love that. But Duncan always knows the playlist.

Duncan: What did you think of the show?

Me: That was the greatest rock show you’ve ever taken me to where I only know one song by the band. I LOVED it!

We leave the venue and are walking back to the Ritz Carlton. It’s like we’re in our thirties again. Maybe even our twenties. Duncan has rheumatoid arthritis and has to deal with that every day. He’s always been fit and been working out, and this is a disease that wants him. My mother got RA in her late forties and it was with her until her death.

Duncan has this and it kills me. My Mom had this and I watched her suffer. Here is my friend with the same health issue.

Me: “What would happen if you didn’t inject your medicine every week, Duncan?”

Duncan: ” I would turn into a chair.

We leave Chinatown and walk towards Broad street. Duncan and I cross Broad street. A famous street in Philly. A block from the foot of Billy Penn. We’ve had a glorious couple of days, and I didn’t have to have this fucker at my house for two days.

This has been wonderful and peaceful with my old friend. Drinks, food, games, movies and metal. No strippers or vice. We’re good. We don’t need that. Our connection and our history is our glue. I love Duncan.  I’m happy that we’ve reconnected and sustained our friendship.

We arrive back at the Ritz, and take a seat at the bar. Duncan closes with his signature Rum Russian, I lean into the Manhattan.

In an hour we hug and promise to hang again before memorial day. I step out onto Broad street, (Avenue of the Arts) and make my way home.

I’ve had amazing weekend with an old friend. Duncan and I are connected and there’s no breaking that bond.

 

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Duncan – 1997 to Present – Concentrated Dosage – Part 1 – Friday

Duncan: “Dude. Can I crash at your place?”

Me: “Dude. My daughter Lorelei lives with me now. There’s no room.”

Duncan: “Cool. I’ll stay at the Ritz Carlton.”


Eight months ago Duncan scheduled for us to see the German heavy metal band UDO at the Trocadero here in Philly. Duncan lives in Charlotte, NC. Apparently, he likes to make plans far out into the future. I’ve known Duncan for twenty years now, and when he says he’s going to do something, he does it. Especially when it comes to seeing rock shows.

He loves UDO. His full name is Udo Dirkschneider (born 6 April 1952 in Wuppertal, Germany) is a German heavy metal singer who rose to fame with German heavy metal band Accept. After leaving Accept in 1987, he formed U.D.O., with whom he has enjoyed commercial success as well.

Duncan loved the band, Accept back in the eighties. I only remember Accept from seeing their video, “Balls to the Wall” on MTV back then. Other than that one video and the image of UDO riding on a wrecking ball while seeing the song, that’s all I remember. But Duncan loves the songs of Accept. I only know that one. But that’s why he flew up here to hang out with me. I haven’t seen him in over a year.

We’re going to see UDO Saturday night.

Duncan is thrifty with his money. He will always spend money on things he likes or other people, but when it comes to himself he’s cheap. Normally in the past when he came to Philly he’d always stay at my place. A week before his arrival he texts me to check in.

Duncan: “Dude. Can I crash at your place?”

Me: “Dude. My daughter Lorelei lives with me now. There’s no room.”

Duncan: “Cool. I’ll stay at the Ritz Carlton.”

What? That’s Duncan. He’d love to crash at my place for free, but if that’s not happening he stays at one of the best hotels in the city. Crazy, right?

So Friday rolls around, his flight gets in and he settles into his hotel. I text him and tell him I’m on my way. I took the day off so I can hang with him. He loves my sacrifice. I get there, and he’s already sipping a cocktail at the bar. It’s eleven o’clock in the morning, but it is Friday, and it is Duncan. (Oh, and he did not bring the giant bottle of vodka that he was supposed to give me for Xmas. (See: The Case of the Missing Bottle of Vodka)

Like I’ve said before, Duncan is not much of a drinker but this is a special weekend, and I haven’t seen my buddy in over a year. He’s sipping a version of a White Russian but instead of two parts vodka he asks the to make it with rum. It really is a creamy delicious drink, but I prefer my booze hard and dry. I order a glass of champagne to kick off our day of fun.

After a couple of rounds, we decide we’re hungry and head out for some food. I decide to take him to a local sports bar in Rittenhouse. My friend Ann Marie works there and I know Duncan will love her. She’s Vietnamese and cute as a button.

We get there and we realize that we’re actually starved. We peruse the menu and start out with their sampler platter of all of their appetizers. I intro Ann Marie to Duncan, and she takes the rest of our order. I think Duncan orders another one of those drinks like he had at the Ritz, but they don’t make it so he describes it. Ann Marie says she’ll do her best to create something as close as possible. I go with their spin on a Manhattan. It’s not very good, but it’s spirit forward and that’s all I care about.

So we obviously destroy the sample platter which I hadn’t had before and was actually very good. We both ordered cheesesteaks. It’s philly. I have to feed Duncan all the fun philly foods.  I went with a side of fries and Duncan chose the tater tots. Who doesn’t love tater tots?

During lunch and more drinking we decide that we’re going to go down to Columbus Blvd., by the Delaware River and go play games and drink at Dave & Buster’s. I hope if you’re reading this you know what Dave & Buster’s is but if not I’ll explain. It’s a national chain of family and adult entertainment centers. It’s a huge building that has a restaurant and several bars, and in the back is all kinds of cool arcade games you can play. There’s tons of stuff to do.

Check it out: http://www.daveandbusters.com/

I call us an UBER and off we go from Rittenhouse to Penn’s Landing.

We head in, power up our playing cards, grab a couple of rum and cokes and hop into this zombie killing game. It’s actually scary. We didn’t want to hog the machine away from the kids that were there, so we jump out after awhile and go to my personal favorite, Jurassic Park. Pretty much the same thing. Me and Duncan, shoulder to shoulder, blowing away all of the dinosaurs that are pursuing us throughout the game. After that we hit up the Transformer game. It’s pretty much all of the same shit. Just dudes shooting, killing, and blowing up stuff. We laugh and play like children, but drink like men.

We burn through $40 of gaming each. I suppose we were there for a couple of hours. When we go outside I decide I want to smoke a little grass. I don’t smoke very often, and when I do it’s normally a little skinny joint with very little in it mixed with tobacco. I never did drugs, and never liked marijuana, but I like to drink. Certain substances work differently with each persons physiology. But a little weed at my age is nice. I offer some to Duncan. He used to be a HUGE pot smoker. But he gave it up. He says he did so much weed and drugs when he was younger, that he wants to hold onto what little he has left. He realizes now that when he would be drinking and getting high, it would change his personality. I like the drinking Duncan way better than the high Duncan.

I smoke up my skinny doob and he says he loves the smell, but just can’t do it anymore. I toss the roach and we’re on our way.

We wander up South Street and so much time has passed it’s time for more chow. I bring him to Lorenzo’s. Lorenzo’s is one of the most famous pizza places in philly. They only serve plain slices, but they are HUGE. It’s what they’re known for. Duncan is blown away at the sheer size of these monster sized slices. But they’re just what we need at this point.

When we finish we make our way west on South street. We have so many fond memories of South street. We’ve been coming down here for twenty years when he visits. We stop in a few of the sex shops and look at some of the toys and gear for shits and giggles. Because I’m half in the bag and high, I can’t help but pick up the rubber dildos and hit Duncan in the face with them. Mostly around his mouth.

I remember talking to some crazy woman in one of the stores and she was going on and on about how she dominates her man. Whatever keeps the marriage alive!

We leave,and we’re walking along, and this guy that is walking towards us. He walks past us and we don’t think anything about it. We get to about 12th and South and suddenly we hear, Pop! Pop! Pop!

“Dude, that’s gunfire!”

Duncan looks back and sees the guy that passed us running in a different direction. We spring into action, and take off at a dead run. We run north on 12th street up to Pine. Once we round the corner, we slow down. We both look back and with no one there we just keep going. We head west and north zig zagging away from whatever that was behind us.

We decide we’ve had enough excitement for one day and head back to the Ritz for a final nightcap. Great thing was, every drink I had at the Ritz that weekend was paid for by Duncan!

Tomorrow we’ll be on to see UDO!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 9am EST.

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