Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Buddy Miles : R.I.P - Darby Crash lives

I am sitting here thinking I might go see the Germs movie tonight, What We Do Is Secret, but chances are it may already be sold out...

Actually that was then, this is now, and I'm happy to report I was able to get into the theater, and the very helpful ticket booth operator was Sunny and not the cranky nerdboy that I had spoken to earlier...

and despite my apprehension...

It turned out to be a great lil' rock n roll movie...

Ironically, or not, the film's cast and backers couldn't be farther from the real life of Darby Crash, amongst those appearing at the screening on behalf of the production were ER star Shane West as Darby, and film producer and millionaire scion of the SF socialite scene, Todd Traina. Other cast members up on the screen include the daughters of 60's & 70's music industry big wig's Lenny Waronker and Papa John Phillips, showing that a lil' nepotism is still hip in show biz.

These two pedigreed young ladies, Anna Waronker & Bijou Phillips, get to play the punky pioneering presences of Joan Jett and Germs bassist Lorna Doon respectively, women in reallife who weren't handed any family favors by the entertainment industry, gals that had to prove their worth in inexorably inhospitable conditions.

But who ever said Hollyweird was about "keeping it real..."

It's more about attempting to keep it "presentable"...

But how does one present the life of Darby, a junkie punk who has been dead for decades, and unlike Elvis, he was pretty much last seen in 1980...

Dying a day before John Lennon, he didn't even get the press, much less the dramatic rock n roll infamy he had in mind...

His punky little life story is one of a frustrated, needle freak street hustler and his obnoxious hardcore punk band breaking down barriers to blow minds (and ear drums) in L.A's monied moron moustache rock scene of the late '70's. Let's just say the Eagles, Stevie Nicks and the rest of the denim & diamonds crowd didn't look up from their mirrored coffee tables to notice the dirty din blasting out of the Starwood in Hollywood.

I wasn't expecting there to be much meat on the film's bones, and despite my snarky suspicions, it was really a great rock n roll movie.

One really got the sense the filmmakers tried to get to the core experience of being broke, and in a band in those heady times. I actually went in thinking I was gonna hate it, and it was way better than I anticipated...

The film has been in works for the better portion of a decade, and has already generated quite a bit of "alternative" press, even inspiring the surviving band members to reunite with lead actor West singing. If the crowd I saw at Oakland's Metro club on New Year's Eve is any sign, there's still quite an appetite for the Germ's uh, music today.

That's good news for my ol' pal and Germs drummer Don Bolles, who no doubt could use a couple royalty checks. Hell his last brush with fame was when Cops last year pulled him over on his way to an AA meeting and claimed his Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap was actually a date rape drug...

Poor bastard, at least the kind folks at Dr. Bronners helped defend him and show the cops testing kits are actually wack, not simply Don Bolles...

I'll never forget him hitting on the lesbian mother of the lead singer of the Rolling Scabs one night when she gave us a all a ride home from a keg party that her 12 year son had no business being at.

The Rolling Scabs - My Mom Smokes Pot

I didn't recall having any high expectations for Don getting busy with the kid's mom, nor this film...

The reasons I didn't have real high expectations for the Germs film, are most music films suck, it's also the first effort from the director, Rodger Grossman, and it seems to have taken a roundabout route to get out to the public, and that is generally a bad sign...

The Germs - Round & Round

The truth is that this film was a labor of love, that nearly collapsed in on itself several times during filming, but the fillmakers prevailed and made a remarkable document.

Im not sure the subject matter or plot points could sustain mass audience interest, but for a fan and participant in underground music culture like myself, it has depth, and few of the faux finish type flaws I expected.

Unlike so many of the crappy music films I've seen ( think Sid & Nancy, VH1's Def Leppard movie, or even Reese Witherspoon as June Carter...huh? ) this one seemed a lot more realistic than I expected. The story is as real as could be expected, and the times and atmosphere are portrayed very accurately overall.

The viewer is immersed in the era, and the sleazy rock club world of late 70's LA.

While some characters like rodney Bingenheimer are played for comic relief, the actor playing Darby never really crosses that paradoxical line where it becomes a parody.

I was sitting there right down the aisle to Penelope Houston, whose band the Avengers graced the soundtrack and aftwerwards she was as impressed as anyone else.

early Germs

Germs - Forming

Word arrives that Buddy Miles has died at age 60 in Austin Tx where he had been living since suffering a stroke in 2005...

The Omaha Nebraska native is survived be his wife Sherrilae Miles, and many other family members.

In lieu of flowers; the family has asked to please make donations to the Jazz Foundation of America specifically in Buddy Miles' name to assist with funeral, and other expenses at

The son of a jazz be-bop bassist, young George Miles ( aka Buddy) had an early interest in music, and had reportedly played drums on Otis Redding sessions, and done stints in Ruby & the Romantics, the Ink Spots, Wilson Pickett and even the Delfonics while still a teen.

Best known as a member of Jimi Hendrix Band of Gypsies, he also played with Santana, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Muddy Waters, Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Barry White, Aretha Franklin, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Robert Lockwood, Jr., and so many others over the years.

Before hooking up with Hendrix and playing on "Electric Ladyland", Buddy Miles had already had his own group Buddy Miles Express, and also helped found The Electric Flag with Mike Bloomfield prior to that. Sadly, all three guys I just mentioned in this paragraph were hugely talented musicians, who also developed giant size drug habits that more or less ruined their careers, some just went faster than others.

Here's Buddy from likely his best known solo album, one of at least 40 or so he's appeared on, it was the title track called Them Changes...

Buddy Miles - Them Changes

Buddy played this classic song at one of his last public performances, as a guest onstage with the New Orleans Social Club, at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Sept. 2006.

Here's a sorta superfluous, but none the less excellent quality 1994 recording produced by Bill Laswell of Buddy revisiting past glory, and his vocals are in great shape. The album released on Ryko was entitled Hell and Back.

Buddy Miles Express - All Along The Watchtower (1994)

I had a friend who worked at a pawn shop in Marin back in the late 80's and many of the 60's rock royalty living nearby were faded but still pretty strung out. They were often found hocking jewelry, instruments & guns for fixes on a regular basis at this spot. I hate to report that Buddy Miles, who'd been in & out of jail on drug charges throughout the late 70's & early 80's, was now a regular habitue, alongside David Crosby, and many others including the lonely gal pal of one Jerry Garcia.

One of Buddy's his biggest post-Hendrix gigs would be as vocalist for the California Raisins.

By the early 2000's Buddy had reportedly put his substance issues behind him, and was attempting to keep up a live concert schedule, despite having a serious back problem, and had been appearing at some shows in a wheel chair.

Here's one of Buddy's last known musical recording releases, an effort done in conjunction with bassist Billy Cox approx 35 years after they worked on the same material with Jimi Hendrix in the band of Gypsies.

Buddy Miles & Billy Cox - Manic Depression (2006)

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