Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Gene Clark's 36th Psychic Break

T

he beginning of the LA Rock scene dates without a shadow of a doubt to the Byrds extended run of shows at Ciro's.  As a live act they never sounded better.  Ciro's was a legendary Supper Club on Sunset Strip right down the strip from The Whiskey a GoGo.  Once the hang of mobster Mickey Cohen and home of stars like Peggy Lee it had fallen on hard times and in early 1965 it had decided to try rock.  The Byrds had been signed by Columbia as a potential rival to the Beatles.  But after recording their first single with the session musicians later known as The Wrecking Crew in January the record co. Sat on it.  The poetic folk rock sound was so new Columbia evidently had no idea what to do with it.  


With the band cooling its heels their manager Jim Dickson whose idea it was to record the Dylan song over the vehement objections of one David Crosby, got the band the Ciro's booking.  It made LA music history and created the happening scene of the moment. Later Gene Clark was one of the first newly minted rock stars to live in Laurel Canyon in 1965 when he got a place off Lookout Mountain Road to go with his new Ferarri with the first of his songwriting royalties.

The Battle of the Wilderness, fought May 5–7, 1864, was the first battle of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Virginia Overland Campaign against Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Both armies suffered heavy casualties, a harbinger of a bloody war of attrition by Grant against Lee's army.


Gene Clark's wilderness was of the metaphorical kind.  It was a battle he fought the rest of his life and lost.  It started the day he walked off the plane, when often unintentionally cruel bandmate Jim McGuinn told him, If you can't fly, you can't be a Byrd.  Ironically the Byrds were on their way to NYC from LA with the acetate of their brand new career highlight single Eight Miles High to appear on the Murray The K show.  

The pressures of the last year had certainly been intense, constant touring, interviews, publicity campaigns.  McGuinn cited a beautiful GoGo dancer from the Whiskey and a bad acid trip.  The other members of the band were jealous of his lucrative songwriting talents; insecure David Crosby constantly needled Clark, Hillman and Clarke. Gene Clark was eternally restless and his solo prospects looked promising.  His leaving the NCM had certainly worked out well.  If Brian Wilson could take a break from touring.  Others blamed Exhaustion & undiagnosed, misunderstood manic depression.  No one really wanted him to leave the singing group, though only Hillman and mgr Jim Dickson tried to talk him out of it. Instead Gene Clark escaped LA to go stay with his family in Bonner Springs, Kansas.  He had not been home since leaving to join the New Christy Minstrels.  He was barely 21. 

He had dropped acid with John Lennon, discussed songwriting over weed and speed with Brian Jones and dated Hollywood starlets. He was a Mid West Country boy where word was bond who found out that the star eat star ethos of Hollywood acted very differently.  The Byrd who would not fly angle that dogged him until his death made good fanzine copy but the context is misunderstood. He was white knuckle flyer who'd been forced to fly on a weekly sometimes daily basis for the past three years.  And it had all happened so fast: from August 15, 1963-Feb '66, from Missouri kid to #1 and back in the time and exactly at the age when others his age spent in their frosh & soph years in college.

Back in LA by March, he tore his telephone off the wall, and would not fly again for a year.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sNBCZe836I&sns=em

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