Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Very Strange World of VINCE TAYLOR

Vince Taylor
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vince Taylor (born Brian Maurice Holden on July 14, 1939 in London, England; died August 28, 1991) was a British rock and roll singer.
As the frontman for The Playboys, Taylor was successful primarily in the UK and Europe during the late 1950s and early 1960s, afterwards falling into obscurity amidst personal problems and drug abuse.

Taylor's early life was in Isleworth, Middlesex. When he was seven years old, the Holdens emigrated to America and settled in New Jersey where his father took work in a coal mine. Around 1955, his sister married Joe Barbera, of Hanna-Barbera productions, a successful animated cartoon company. As a result of the marriage, the family moved to California where Brian attended Hollywood High.

At age 18, impressed by the music of Gene Vincent and Elvis Presley, Taylor began to sing, mostly at amateur gigs. Joe Barbera, his brother-in-law, became his manager. When Barbera went to London on business he asked Taylor to join him to check out the music scene. At that time, rock was experiencing phenomenal international growth amongst teenagers, and American rockers were high in demand in the UK. Concerts starring Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Chuck Berry and Bill Haley & His Comets (referred to collectively as the "American Invasion"), played to crowds of UK teenagers in sold out halls.
In London, Taylor went to a coffee bar on Old Compton Street in Soho, called “The 2 I’s” where rocker Tommy Steele was playing. There he met drummer Tony Meehan (later of The Shadows) and bass player Tex Makins (born Anthony Paul Makins, 3.7.1940, in Wembley, Middlesex). They formed a band called The Playboys. Whilst looking at a packet of Pall Mall cigarettes he noticed the phrase, “In hoc Vince’s”, thus giving rise to his new stage name of Vince Taylor.

His first singles for Parlophone, “I Like Love” and “Right Behind You Baby”, were released in 1958, followed several months later by “Pledgin' My Love” b/w “Brand New Cadillac”. Parlophone wasn’t satisfied with the immediate results and broke the contract. Vince moved to Palette Records and recorded “I’ll Be Your Hero” b/w “Jet Black Machine”, which was released on August 19, 1960.

However, his unpredictable personality, although dynamic on stage, caused several arguments within the band, and The Playboys fired Vince Taylor and changed their name to "The Bobbie Clarke Noise". "The "Noise" was contracted to play at the prestigious Olympia in Paris in July, 1961. The top of the bill was Wee Willie Harris.
Despite his sacking Taylor remained friendly with the band and he asked if he could come to Paris too. Here he dressed up for the occasion in his black leather gear and added a chain around his neck with a Joan of Arc medallion which he had bought on arrival at Calais. He gave such an extraordinary performance at the sound check that even the band was amazed, and the organizers decided to put Vince at the top of the bill for both shows. As a result of his performance at those two shows, Eddie Barclay signed him to a six-year record deal on the Barclay label.

During 1961 and 1962, Vince Taylor toured Europe including The French Riviera, Brussels, Belgium, Spain, and The Netherlands, with Bobbie Clarke's band, once again called Vince Taylor and his Playboys (in French this was translated as "Vince Taylor et ses Play-Boys").

By the end of 1962, Vince Taylor and The Playboys were the top of the bill at the prestigious Olympia, in Paris.
Despite an on-stage rapport with The Playboys, the off-stage relationship faltered: as a result, the band once more broke up. Taylor left for La Côte d'Azur with his new love, top model Helene April and Bobbie Clarke became the drummer for Johnny Hallyday and the Golden Stars backed up by Joey and the Showmen, resulting in three EPs released in 1963. Meanwhile, Taylor played engagements backed by the English band "The Dragons" (who backed Gene Vincent whenever he played the UK), but he still presented the band as The Playboys.

Shortly thereafter, the band grew in size for an upcoming gig, by adding two new musicians, Ivan Jullien (trumpet) and Bob Garcia (saxophone). However, several days before the concert Vince and Stash went back to London for a gig where they met Bob Dylan, Nico and a few other people from the Acid Rock scene. A mixture of acid, amphetamines and alcohol proved fatal to his mind and in front of a full house, on the brink of becoming a huge international star, he had a break down - coming on stage and trying to evangelize the audience, he claimed to be the prophet Matthew, and he preached until the band agreed with everything he was saying. The audience pretended not to understand, thinking that it was part of the show. But after 15 minutes and a few poorly executed songs, he began to wreck the whole stage like The Who, but this was before the set was even played.

The band disbanded and Taylor joined a religious movement. Danks left to play guitar with Three Dog Night, and later Tom Jones, Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. Stash, a close friend of The Rolling Stones, would later produce The Dirty Strangers album featuring Keith Richards and Ron Wood. Bobbie Clark went on to replace drummer Don Conka for several studio sessions with the original line up of the band Love. He also played with Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, and the first incarnation of Deep Purple before forming a group, Bodast, with Steve Howe and Dave Curtis. In 1968, Bodast recorded an LP for MGM Records, opened for The Who, and were the backing band for Chuck Berry at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Meanwhile, Clarke was involved in one last comeback for his friend Taylor, a small one-month tour across France, billed as "Vince Taylor and Bobbie Clarke backed by Les Rockers". After the first show, Vince stopped singing and moving; the band started a song and he sang the first verse of another. However, occasionally Taylor came out of his state, suddenly singing 5 or 6 songs correctly, and then without any apparent reason left the stage without a word. The finish of the tour was at Le Cadran at Colombes, a large bar with a room, seating 500 people. That year they booked The Animals, The Spencer Davis Group, and Jimi Hendrix & the Experience, before they played The Olympia as the opening act for Johnny Hallyday.
Just before going on stage, Taylor is reported to have said, “I can't sing. There is a bad spell here. If I start to sing, everything will blow up. I feel it.” “Don’t be stupid,” said the band, “We've got to go on stage.” “I can't. I can't. It's all gonna explode… everything...”.

The crowd started to get impatient and shout, and the owner came into the dressing room and forced the band on stage. They played the instrumental version of Memphis Tennessee, and then began the intro of 'Trouble' from the film King Creole. As soon as Vince began to sing, the sound system and the amplifiers went down, and all the lights in the club blew out. There was no sound apart from Taylor who shouted uselessly into the microphone, “ I said so. I said so, and now look. I said so..."

In autumn 1969, the magazines 'Bonjour les Amis' and 'Disco-Revue' started a support campaign for Taylor asking its readers to write in to Barclay's Record Company saying how much they would love to see the rock star make another record. Eddie Barclay, finally convinced, gave a new chance to Vince who recorded again and performed intermittently throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, until his death in 1991.

During his career, Taylor wrote and recorded many songs, among them his hit in Europe, "Brand New Cadillac" which has been covered by many other artists, such as The Clash. According to David Bowie, Taylor was the main inspiration for Bowie’s song Ziggy Stardust.

During his last years, Vince Taylor lived in Switzerland where he took work as an airplane mechanic. He said it was the happiest time of his life.

Here are some examples of Vince's remarkable work:

"There's a Lotta Twistin' Goin' On"

"Twenty Flight Rock"

"Twenty Flight Rock" (Live 1961)

"Too Much"

"Shakin' All Over"

"What'd I Say"

"Peppermint Twist (1962)

"Long Tall Sally (1961)

"Brand New Cadillac" (Live 1979)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Tribute to the great JACQUES DUTRONC

From the Wikipedia:

Between 1963 and 1964, Dutronc played guitar for the group "El Toro et les Cyclones" with Hadi Kalafate. During this time he also appeared at Le Golf Drouot in Paris as backing guitarist for stars including Eddy Mitchell. After performing his obligatory military service, he landed a job as assistant at Vogue Records to Artistic Director Jacques Wolfsohn. In this capacity, he arranged songs for several lesser known artists such as Zou Zou and Cleo. At Vogue Records, he teamed with writer Jacques Lanzmann, then director at Lui magazine, to create songs for up-and-coming artists. One of their first commissions was for the pop singer Benjamin, however, after his first EP failed to perform, Vogue Records unceremoniously booted him from their roster. After hearing one of the demos that Dutronc had produced, Wolfsohn declared that Jacques should perform the record for release. This single, "Et moi, et moi, et moi" was released in 1966, and its popularity turned Dutronc into a star.
With Lanzmann writing lyrics and Dutronc producing the music, the two created several significant songs. Songs such as "Et moi, et moi, et moi", "Les Playboys", and "Le cactus", are still frequently played. Other songs include "Mini, mini, mini", "Le responsable", "J'ai un tigre dans ma guitare", and "L'opportuniste".
Dutronc's songs combine American and British musical influences with French lyrical themes. Many of his early songs feature a British garage sound comparable to that of Ray Davies of The Kinks. Dutronc's "La fille du père Noël" and David Bowie's "Jean Genie" share a riff likely derived from the Yardbirds' accelerated version of Bo Diddley's "I'm a Man" (the Belgian singer Arno recorded a medley of the Dutronc and Bowie songs ("Jean Baltazaarr") with the American singer Beverly Jo Scott that highlight these similarities). However, Dutronc is distinctive for his mocking attitude toward late 1960s French youth culture. Dutronc's biggest hit was "Il est cinq heures, Paris s'eveille", with the classical flute player Roger Bourdin performing an essential part. In this song, Dutronc paints an evocative portrait of the French capital in the early morning hours.
In 1973, "Et moi, et moi, et moi" was adapted with English lyrics by Ray Dorset, leader of Mungo Jerry. "Alright Alright Alright" became a UK No. 3 hit for the group.
Also in 1973, Dutronc began a second career as an actor in the film Antoine et Sébastien, directed by Jean-Marie Périer. In the following years, Dutronc devoted most of his energies toward his acting career. He has appeared in films directed by Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Lelouch and Maurice Pialat.
Dutronc returned to music in recent years, and also has enjoyed a resurgence of popular interest in his music. Since the early Dutronc songs had a classic late-sixties freakbeat backing (provided by session musicians), his songs were played in the hip retro clubs of the UK and USA in the late 1990s, a practice which continues to this day. (Ironically, most of the people who will be dancing to the likes of "Le cactus" will have no idea what the words actually mean). He is celebrated in the 1997 Cornershop song "Brimful of Asha" with the line: "Jacques Dutronc and the Bolan Boogie/The Heavy Hitters and the Chichi music."
He currently lives in the town of Monticello on the island of Corsica.

le plus difficile

Les Playboys

Mini Mini Mini

Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi (Live)

Les Cactus

Jacques Dutronc, Serge Gainsbourg and Jame Birkin

Les Playboys, 1967

Paris s' éveille

Friday, October 12, 2007


The Musuem of Moving Image in New York City are showing an Andy Warhol retrospective, and one of the (many) gems they are showing is a film with my father, Wallace Berman and his son (yours truly) Tosh Berman called "Tarzan and Jane Regained, Sort Of..." Made in 1964.

The film also stars Taylor Mead (as Tarzan) and Dennis Hopper

And Naomi Levine as Jane

My Dad plays the heavy, and fights with Tarzan (Mead). And I am Tarzan's son "Boy." And like all child actors, my life is now in ruins! Nevertheless a part of the film was shot at our house in Beverly Glenn.

The film is playing with the legendary "Blow Job," a classic of big portions.

Saturday, October 20, 6:30 P.M.

A Very Little Flm Tribute to Boris Vian

Friday, October 5, 2007

TamTam Books' Salutes Les Rita Mitsouko

For over 15 years I have been a huge fan of Les Rita Mitsouko. It's kind of lonely being a fan of this band here in Los Angeles, but nevertheless locations don't exist anymore thanks to the Internet.

"Marcia Baila"
This is the first Les Rita Mitsouko song I have ever heard. My friend Eric invited me to his studio and he was playing this song as I walked in. I was instantly hooked. Oh by the way, clothing by Jean Paul Gaultier.

"Le Petit Train"

Perhaps the greatest music video of all time. Les Rita Mitsouko Bollywood style. I love the dancing and what a fantastic tune.

"Y'a d'la haine"

Catherine Ringer gets attacked and Fred dances. It's beautiful.

"C'est Comme ça"

Nothing on TV as good as this.

"Singing in the Shower"

Sparks are truly one of the greats, and this is footage I have never seen before. Some European TV show?

"Hip Kit"

Like an old French film clip, Sparks and Les Rita Mitsouko do another classic.

"A Conversation between Catherine Ringer and Serge Gainsbourg"

The Greatest Hits of Lun*na Menoh

For those in the know, Lun*na Menoh is very much part of my life. To say that I am a huge fan is an understatement from me. Also when you have the chance check out her band "Jean Paul Yamamoto" on MySpace: