Monday, January 24, 2022

The Story Goes - Part 10 - Choose Your Own Adventure

Tomorrow, AM will repost the articles about the ten records every collector should have in his or her collection. The internet is a fickle thing. AM averages 1500 unique hits per day; then there will come a drought. We do something and Google gets pissed, or readers do, or maybe it's just fate, and we go through a week with 67 guests on average, with a 15 in the middle. It's all about the Google matrix or what gets posted or the time of the year.   

For the ten records posts, I think we cleverly found a way to address every collector's collection without choosing any specific LPs, bar one, Dark Side of the Moon - but based on that damned matrix, hardly anyone read it. Now that the arc is curving back our way, we'll repost, since, you know, the idea really was brilliant.

Our current series didn't play the same coy game but focused on AM's choices for the ten pinnacle moments in rock's classic era (let's call it '65 through '74, just for the sake of argument), with this exception: The Story Goes... FILL IN THE BLANK. For the 10th post in this series, the concept is your most important moment. Choose one and let us know. 

This writer's is...

The Story Goes... In the mid-60s, Bowie met British rocker Vince Taylor who recorded the 1959 classic "Brand New Cadillac," later covered by the Clash. After too much LSD and an emotional breakdown (there's a unique rock story), Taylor joined a cult and decided that he was an alien god on Earth (hmm, that part's new).

Bowie was a teenage Mod fronting his band, The Lower Third, when he bumped into Vince Taylor at La Gioconda, a club in London. Taylor was an "American" rocker who was a major star in France, but by the time Bowie met him, Taylor was a washed-up acid casualty who had fried his brain after ingesting waaaaaay too much LSD. Born in Isleworth, England in 1939, the youngest of five children, his family emigrated to New Jersey when he was seven, where Taylor grew up on a diet of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Gene Vincent. When his sister Sheila dated Joseph Barbera — one half of animation team Hannah-Barbera; that's right, Jonny Quest, Flintstones, Peter Potamus — the family moved to California.

Like millions of other young American teenagers, Taylor wanted to be a rock 'n' roll idol. His singing was so-so but he could do a swell Elvis impersonation. Joe Barbera offered to manage him. When Barbera traveled to London on business—he took Taylor with him. This was when Brian Holden adopted the name "Vince Taylor." "Vince" from Elvis Presley's character "Vince Everett" in Jailhouse Rock; "Taylor" from actor Robert Taylor. After the release of his only real hit, Taylor discovered LSD. He liked it a lot. Depending on from whom you glean the info, after about a 1000 hits of acid came Taylor's Pauline conversion. He had a vision. He was not Vince Taylor but in fact, the son of Jesus Christ — Mateus Christ. After a few more tabs and a few more beatific visions — Taylor knew he was on a mission from God and set out to tell his fans who he really was.

A few nights later, Taylor said to his band (dialogue added by the writer): "All you ever think about is money. God is what you should be thinking about. I am the son of God's son. I am the new Messiah. Money is nothing. This is what I think of money." Taylor took a wad of cash out of pocket, pulled out a lighter and burned the money in front of his hungry, penniless band. It was Taylor's version of kicking the moneylenders out of the temple.

The next night, Taylor had a major gig. He turned up clean-shaven, done-up in makeup, black leathers, and a bike chain. The place was rocking. Taylor was in top form. Two numbers in, Taylor announced that he was the son of Christ. "I am Mateus," he said and sauntered off the stage and into the audience. He walked among the crowd. He blessed his followers. He gave them the Word of Mateus. "Come, follow me. I am the way." His sister Sheila was there. She freaked. Taylor told her to "Be calm. I have prepared a plane for you and my disciples. Come with me and I will fly you to my Father's kingdom in Heaven. God will make it so."

Fast Forward to '72: Bowie's fascination with space travel and science fiction had already surfaced in "Space Oddity" "The Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud" and "Life on Mars?" but he would soon be drawn toward something grander in scope. "Until that time," he later said, "the attitude was 'What you see is what you get.' It seemed interesting to try to devise something different, like a musical where the artist onstage plays a part."

It was then that Bowie met Taylor outside the Tottenham Court tube station. Taylor said he wanted to share some esoteric knowledge with the up and coming singer and unfolded a map of all the alien bases on Earth. "They're here amongst us." Bowie knelt beside Taylor on the sidewalk hunched over the map. Picture it. 

The Legendary Stardust Cowboy
From there, Bowie developed a character based on Taylor, as well as on other eccentrics like Texas "psychobilly" singer Legendary Stardust Cowboy and Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto. "He always described how he'd take bits and pieces from all over the place, put them in a melting pot and they'd come out being him," said Bowie producer Ken Scott.
Bowie dubbed this new creation "Ziggy Stardust" (first name taken from a tailor's shop that he saw from a train). As he fleshed out the concept further, Ziggy became an omnisexual alien rock star, sent to Earth as a messenger. Bowie's plot, loosely, was that humanity was in its final five years of existence, and Ziggy was dispatched to deliver a message of hope: He's a wild, hedonistic figure ("well-hung and snow-white tan"), but at his core communicates peace and love; he's the ultimate rock star. In the end, he's destroyed by his own excesses, and by his fans. There is indeed gobs of Vince Taylor there, a bit of Syd Barrett and a touch of Tommy, for that matter.

"Ziggy is advised in a dream by the infinites to write the coming of a starman ... this amazing spaceman who will be coming down to save the Earth," Bowie explained to William S. Burroughs in a Rolling Stone interview. "Ziggy starts to believe in all this himself and thinks himself a prophet of the future starmen. He takes himself up to the incredible spiritual heights and is kept alive by his disciples. When the infinites arrive, they take bits of Ziggy to make themselves real, because in their original state they are anti-matter and cannot exist on our world. And they tear him to pieces onstage during the song 'Rock 'n' Roll Suicide.'"

And so, what is my Story Goes moment? When Bowie met Taylor? The encounter certainly ties into the series, but no. Like you, my task is to choose my own adventure, and that I will share... tomorrow. In the meantime,

Give me your hand...


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