Notes & Queries: Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache: How Music Came Out!
Rodney Dangerfield – Stanley The Manly Transvestite (Early 1960s)
Nice article David. Love the Dangerfield track!
It's probably included in Aston's book but I'd like to reference also the fabulous Joe Meek of Telstar fame who was gay,as was Brian Epstein, in a society in which homophobia was rife. As some will know, Meek rejected the Beatles - "they're rubbish!" ...but that's another story. He also produced the Honeycomb's "Have I The Right"
So much was omitted – even given the length of the piece and Martin’s generosity in sharing his knowledge. Joe Meek is a personal favourite of mine. The Honeycombs’ ‘Have I the Right’ is one of the great songs and the full stompy beat is exactly that – Meek had the band out on the miced-up stairs and loading dock of his recording studio jumping on his command.The depth and texture of the beat owes everything to this. Meek is a much under-estimated man. And ‘Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache’ is one of those books that you just wonder how come we never had it before…
The Joe Meek Story is a wonderful, sometimes sad, documentary. It seems to be on YouTube in parts:
The scene where his brothers talk about there being "indoors and outdoors boys" and him being "an indoors boy" is precious.
Speaking of Olivia Records, is there much in the book about the struggle between trans women and trans-exclusive radical feminists, as in the attempt to drive Sandy Stone out of that label?
David Herkt, in reply to
There is a lot about Olivia Records which I found extraordinarily interesting. A women’s collective founds a record label in 1973 to make and market women’s music, and makes its decisions on an ideological basis… There was a lot about its marketing, the numbers of singles and albums sold, and the artists (and rejections – Yoko Ono? Melissa Etheridge?) and content. That said, I don’t think you’d say that it went into the Sandy Stone incident in great detail. And I didn’t know (my ignorance) that the collective eventually morphed into the successful Olivia Lesbian Cruises and Holidays company which still flourishes…
Fantastic article - looks like the book is a must-buy for me.
Who knew that Lisa Ben actually released a single!
As for the Olivia Records genre - since I really think it is a genre of its own - it's something I personally struggled with when coming out (with one or two exceptions like Alix Dobkin). I liked disco, I liked post-punk/new wave, etc, while women a few years older than me were listening to Cris Williamson et al wailing on about "sisters" every second word.
I think many of us in the 80s went for what we'd call queer artists now - David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Joan Armatrading, Bronski Beat, Marc Almond, Tracy Chapman and so on. Michelle Shocked, before she became a "born again" Christian and started making bizarre remarks. As for Joan Armatrading, pretty much every lesbo in creation had at least one of her albums, and Melissa Etheridge's a few years later.
Then there were the dyke version of the gay music icon - instead of Kylie, we had strong/feminist female performers like Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Eurhythmics and Janet Jackson. There was the "cute guy" genre, typified by Terence Trent D'Arby and bands like A-ha (guys that sang good songs, and er, looked like they could be queer women, in a way).
Russell Brown, in reply to
I always liked the way that Two Nice Girls, a self-described "dyke rock" group from Texas, were able to incorporate a certain disco classic into their thing:
I interviewed them in London way back in the 80s. They were really cool, and not just 'cos I'm a sucker for any version of 'I Feel Love'.
Welcome back David! I feel as though we need to fire up the welcome wagon it's been so long!
John Grant, I'm afraid to say, I know only and purely for "That's the good news" which is one of the funniest songs I've heard for a long time. But the more I hear, the more I think "that guy is weird". Weird, BTW, I use in the positive sense (as contrasted with normal which is a euphemism for boring).
I was lucky enough to grow up in the Bronski Beat then Tracey Chapman era (speaking of weird apparently Smalltown Boy was used in a Christmas ad), and hit university just in time for Two Nice Girls to visit.
I bought How Music Came Out and have been reading it this afternoon. Given the personal tone of the book I feel like I have the extra bonus of Martin having been a friend both before and after he came out, and that it was music that brought us together in the first place. How nice.
Pete Burns - R.I.P.
not to be mistaken with Pete Murphy - The GothFather.
Just read a book on Bauhaus by David J (Haskins) called Who Killed Mr Moonlight from specialist music publishers Jawbone Press - an interesting read, still not sure on Murphy's orientation - but a fine insight into how bands can be dangerous chemistry sets (and I never like people who boast about stealing library books!) - could have done with a better proofreader - but I am assured that the second edition has rectified the most egregious errors.
Martin Aston, in reply to
Joe Meek's story is in the book, as well as info about the songwriters for (and managers of) of The Honeycombs, Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, Knowing this, it's obvious what "Have I The Right" is about.. They also wrote "Eyes" for The Honeycombs' (also produced by Meek), a far less well known, but even better, single, with lyrics that describe a bar scene, cruising, loneliness.. but still coded. The pair went on to write for (parallel to Dave Dee, Dozy Beaky, Mick and Tich) The Herd, including the B-side "Something Strange" about a married man on holiday who strays... and the lyrics are much more blatant. They got even bolder on "Do You LIke Boys" for a barely known glam band Starbuck, and only released in Holland, which tells a stroy in itself. Sadly Howard and Blaikley declined to be interviewed for the book: they felt it would 'typecast' them in the TV/film industry in which they currently work.. *sigh*. I guess the aura of growing up in such a closeted era still pervades their lives.It Iwould have been a brilliant interview too. Here's a link to "Eyes"
Martin Aston, in reply to
Hi Daphe, actually, there is, I'm sorry to say, no discussion of Sandy Stone in the book, which I regret now. The thing is, theree are such great stories that went much deeper than I could reflect in my book, given I cover a hundred years, across multiple genres too, and with Sandy working as an engineer and not a musician, I took the decision not detail his experience, But it would have further illustrated the politics of seperatism of the time.. which IS discussed in the material on the Women's Music genre, specifically in interviews with Alix Dobkin, and June Millington. The subject resurfaces in the Noughties, when artists such as MTF rapper Katastrophe and MTF rocker Lucas Silveira (of The Cliks) both told me found their audiences dwindled after they transitioned because their lesbian fans felt 'abandoned'. Still, I wish I'd at least referred to Sandy Stone as another illustration of the heightened struggle at that time.
I have the book on order from the library and am looking forward to reading it.
Just because I was thinking about her this week, is there much about Wendy Carlos? She's fab. Imagine recording Bach one note at a time on a monophonic keyboard on tape!
mark taslov, in reply to
trans-exclusive radical feminists
Trans-*Exclusionary* Radical Feminist
I'm not a big fan, but he's inspirational to many.
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