Originally was doing this sketch for another blog post. Decided to let this sketch stand on it’s own. It was intended to get the full ink and watercolor treatment, but the weather was too hot. Instead, I got a little lazy, sticking only with pencil.
The thing is, many ‘traditional’ Goths from the ’80s and early ’90s weren’t fond of Marilyn Manson. I’d give credit towards one thing: it gave ’90s kids an introduction to the Goth subculture. Marilyn Manson wasn’t really considered officially ‘Goth’. The band was more of a hybrid of Hard Rock/Metal and ’90s Alternative. Goth wasn’t still considered mainstream. After Kurt Cobain’s death, Marilyn Manson filled a void for some. His imagine, and interests, influenced by LaVey Satanism, Alister Crowley/Thelema, and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche hit a core with some. Many of his fans ended up going into the Goth subculture anyway.
Not really a fan of Marilyn Manson anymore, but I appreciate what him and the band did back during the ’90s. I ended up seeing Marilyn Manson in concert either four or five times. First time was in 1994, when Manson was the opening act for Nine Inch Nails. That might’ve been at Roseland Ballroom, NYC. Speaking of NIN, I saw a very early incarnation of NIN, when Trent opened for Skinny Puppy, way back in October 1988. Back to Manson, they shared a tour with Monster Magnet, which I also saw. Last time was maybe sometime during the early 2000s, at an Ozzfest show in Camden, NJ, just outside of Philadelphia. By then Marilyn Manson was doing repeat of everything they had done in concert before. To be fair, my interest of Manson was fading anyway.
Occasionally I’ll do a search online to see what Brian Warner, aka, Marilyn Manson is doing with himself. He’s taken up painting, collaborating with film maker David Lynch. In addition, Manson still makes music, acts, and has his own sex toy.
With that, here’s my pencil sketch, done on a really humid night. Cheers.
Later in my teen years, I brought a later pressing of Kings of The Wild Frontier. By then Adam Ant’s star was slightly beginning to fade. Didn’t matter, still loved the album. In fact, I brought the album again, later on CD format. There were other classics too. Who can forget such songs, like Stand And Deliver. There’s countless others, but I went and illustrated Adam from his Prince Charming days.
Before Adam went solo, it should be noted that his band used two drummers, otherwise known as Burundi Beat. Burundi Beat was taken from African musicians. Discovered by French anthropologists, the original Burundi musicians recorded, and had musical careers of their own. Later on, Adam and The Ants, and later Bow Wow Wow used this method, incorporating double drumming. It should be noted that the British New Wave concept of Burundi Beat came from none other than the notorious Malcolm McLaren himself. Speaking of Bow Wow Wow, McLaren ever the opportunist, swiped drummers from the original Ants line-up and threw in a thirteen year old Annabella Lwin to front a new band. That’s okay – Adam hooked up with Marco Pirroni, to form the classic Ants line-up that found world domination.
Two other curious tidbits from Ant history. Pirroni was one of the first ever guitarists for Siouxsie and The Banshees. Meanwhile, before Jon Moss found success with Culture Club, he beat the skins for the Ants, as well as The Damned.
It wasn’t until years later I FINALLY had the chance to see Adam Ant live. After decades Adam Ant put his old pirate gear on, and performed the classics. It was winter of 2017. Unfortunately in my opinion, I was slightly disappointed. It felt like he rushed through the set of old Ant ditties, rushing through songs. Guess he must be tired of performing them, and you could sense he was doing it for the money. Hey; everyone has to eat, right? I had another chance to rectify the situation when I won free tickets to see Adam Ant live yet again. However, Test Dept was playing the same night at Brooklyn Bazaar. I gave my Adam Ant tickets to a friend and headed to Brooklyn for the Test Dept gig. Perhaps third time will be a charm.
Without further ado, here’s my Adam Ant sketch. Done in pen, ink, watercolor, shimmer watercolor, and a tiny bit of digital enhancement. During his Prince Charming period. Btw. The promo video had one of the last appearances by British actress Diana Dors.
Ever had a song you’ve heard your whole life stuck in your head?
This was the case maybe around two years ago. I was in my local neighborhood, doing some shopping. The store radio was tuned to the local NY oldies station, WCBS.FM. Suddenly a song I’ve been hearing in the background which dates all the way back to my childhood comes on. Afterwards the DJ states the song title and the artist. Finally after all these years, I found out who did this exact song. The singer was Benny Mardones, and the song was titled “Into The Night.”
I go home, hit Google and Spotify. Then I mosey on over to YouTube.
Hmmm…yeah. In the promo video, he stalks a teenage girl after her father clearly says “NO!“, and it’s so obvious that he’s like, way older than his intended. In the post-Jeffery Epstien era of the year 2020, this would not work at all. But apparently some people got together, smoked some really good weed, and thought the plot for this video was a fantastic idea. Thus it was made, and the tune became a huge hit.
If you’re of the the Millennial or Zoomer mindset, you might find this video offensive. You know, being Woke and all that. If it was made today, the Cancel Culture would’ve been all over this on Twitter. But chill out, cause remember – this video was done around 1979 or 1980. A year prior was the film Pretty Baby, staring Brooke Shields. So maybe the poor judgement gets blamed on the drugs. You know, like how they say LSD was the best during the 1960s? You might want to keep that in mind.
I kid, I kid. Since I’m from the Gen X crowd, I don’t get offended. Instead, I become snarky. Watch the video a few more times, and I’m roasting on it as if I was Beavis and Butthead, but without the brain damage. I know unintentional humor when I see it.
Luckily the song was such a big hit, it transcended the video. The video wasn’t even controversial then. Into The Night was not only a hit once, but twice; 1980, and 1989.
What is not too known is the story behind the music. Into The Night sounds like a love song, but it was written about a teen girl going through a rough time. It was the year 1979. Living in Spanish Harlem, the girl’s father left the wife and kids for another woman. Sympathetic, Mardones started helping the family out. One day, as Mardones and his song writing partner Robert Tepper was working, the 16 year old teen comes by to walk Mardones’ dog. Tepper appreciates the teen beauty, but Mardones stepped in saying “leave her along, she’s just 16 years old…” The light bulb switched on above his head, and the rest is history. Years afterwards, the teen muse and Benny kept in touch. Therefore the song was not sexual in the least.
The song propelled Benny Mardones into stardom, but it didn’t last too long. After a few years, Mardones developed a drug addiction. In an attempt to begin his life anew, he moved to Syracuse, NY. From 1985 onward, he became a favorite son in his adopted hometown. In 2017, he played one final concert before settling in California to receive treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. Recently I read that Benny Mardones’ wife was requesting correspondence. Parkinson’s Disease was taking over. His wife said any letters, cards, etc., would mean the world to him. So I thought I should send him something. Alas, I never got around to it – he died a few weeks soon after I read the online article. Found out about his death through a Facebook post.
Hearing about Mardones’ passing broke my heart. Despite me busting on the original promo video, the song itself will always be a classic.
In honor of Benny Mardones, and for the song I’ve been hearing since childhood, I did a quick watercolor sketch. In a few days this sketch will be mailed to his wife. I understand his wife might be taking donations to Parkinson’s Research at USC.
MAILING ADDRESS FOR CARDS/LETTERS:
Benny & Jane Mardones
28039 Scott Rd, D397
Murrieta, CA 92563
Been on a kick lately. Listening to music from the late ’70s and early ’80s. Which means lots of classic New Wave and Punk Rock.
Due to this, it was time for a portrait of Poly Styrene. For those who don’t know, Poly Styrene is best known as the lead vocalist for the seminal British Punk band X-Ray Spex. X-Ray Spex’s album Germ Free Adolescence is considered a Punk classic.
Born to a Scottish-Irish mother and Somali-born father, Poly was born Marianne Joan Elliott-Said in 1957 England. Her mother raised her as a single parent. After trying her hand in Ska and Reggae, Poly was inspired to form a band after catching The Sex Pistols in concert. That band was X-Ray Spex.
Poly Styrene sitting among other female vocalists from her time, such as Siouxsie Sioux, Deborah Harry, Chrissie Hynde, Pauline Black and Viv Albertine (from The Slits)
Poly Styrene sitting among other female vocalists from her time, such as Siouxsie Sioux, Deborah Harry, Chrissie Hynde, Pauline Black and Viv Albertine (from The Slits)
After performing at a gig in 1978, Poly started getting visions. Her mother, alarmed about Poly’s hallucinations, took her to the hospital. There, the singer was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, and taken out of the public eye. Thirteen years later in 1991, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In 1983, she converted into the Hare Krishna faith.
Around 1980 she embarked on a solo career. Poly Styrene released a few albums over the past few decades. Her last album, Generation Indigo was produced by Martin Glover, best known as Youth from the band Killing Joke. Generation Indigo was released on April 24, 2011, a day before Poly’s passing. The cause of death was metastatic breast cancer.
In 2017, her daughter started a crowd funding online for the documentary Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché. Two years later in 2019, a biography titled Dayglo! was published. The documentary is expected to be finished in 2020, unless Covid19 gets in the way.
Without further ado, here’s a portrait of Poly Styrene, in one of her famous stage outfits. After doing the illustration, I read that Poly later complained about the ensemble. While I could understand why she wasn’t fond of the gear, like many others, I beg to differ. If anything, it would be considered highly couture today. The illustration was done in pen, ink and watercolor. Another little bit of irony. After just finishing the piece, I discovered Poly Styrene’s birthday was only a few days away, on July 3rd.
There was once a crazy looking and sounding decade known as the 1970s. During the first part of those ten years, there was the Glam rock phenomenon. Glam rock, sometimes known as Glitter rock was massive in the U.K. For starters, you had David Bowie, at the height of his Ziggy Stardust period. There was T. Rex, with Marc Bolan. Another influential band was Roxy Music. Around the same time were rocks outfits such as Queen, Mott The Hoople, and early Elton John.
In the U.S., you had acts like shock rocker Alice Cooper, The NY Dolls, Suzi Quatro, KISS, Lou Reed (briefly after breaking with The Velvet Underground), and maybe Iggy and The Stooges, or just Iggy himself. Jobriath was an American music artist that was extremely hyped, but his overt gay sexuality was too much during that time. It’s only within the past ten years that Jobriath is being discussed. This is not to be confused with Glam Metal, which dominated mainstream rock during the ’80’s.
After that, you had your “Bubblegum” pop crew, with acts like Gary Glitter, Wizzard, Alvin Stardust, and a few others. We won’t discuss Gary Glitter cause like, that would be awkward.
Originally called The Sweetshop, the intital lineup formed in 1968. Bassist and vocalist Steve Priest was one of the founding members, along with Brian Connelly and Mick Tucker. It wasn’t until around 1970 when The Sweet met up with songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. Chinn and Chapman for short. After a few attempts, The Sweet struck gold on the British charts with Bubblegum type hits like ‘Little Willy‘, ‘Block Buster‘, and ‘Wig-Bam-Wam‘. In 1973, the song ‘The Ballroom Blitz‘ became an international hit, charting in Canada, Europe, Australia, and the U.S.
The Sweet also had a then-considered outrageous look, which boosted their image. The Sweet’s makeup and wardrobe fit in perfectly with the Glam rock craze of the early ’70s.
The end of 1973, and from 1974 onward, the word ‘the’ was dropped from the band name. They were officially known as simply Sweet.
The year of 1974 was also the year Sweet were tired of the Chinn and Chapman formula. Wanting to go in a more harder rock direction, this was reflected in the next two albums, Sweet Fanny Adams and Desolation Boulevard. The U.S. release of Desolation Boulevard differs from the U.K. version. For example, the U.S. pressing includes the international ditty, ‘Ballroom Blitz.’ Interjecting a personal opinion, Desolation Boulevard is one of my favorite albums.
Their biggest hit was ‘Fox On The Run‘, released in 1975. Following Desolation Boulevard was the albums Give Us a Wink, and the live album Strung up. Strung Up, was released only in Europe. After proving the band was self sufficient in both songwriting and production, Sweet officially broke away from the Chinn-Chapman partnership.
Nothing lasts forever as the saying goes. Things slowly went from sweet to sour. They had one last international hit with the epic ‘Love Like Oxygen.’ Again, ‘Love Like Oxygen‘ and the album ‘Level Headed‘ showed another change in direction. A more mellower sound emerged. ‘Level Headed‘ would be the last good album Sweet would release.
After 1978, Sweet would fall from grace. Vocalist Brian Connelly left the band. The rest of Sweet carried on, until the 1980 breakup. Since 1984, there’s been various version of Sweet, all led by different members, going in different directions. Brian Connelly died in 1997. Mick Tucker passed away in 2002. With Steve Priest’s death on June 4, 2020, Andy Scott is the last Sweet member alive.
Taking a break from the pandemic and the current U.S. civil unrest, I drew a quick illustration of Sweet. It’s a bit rushed, but it captures Sweet during their Glam Bubblegum era. Done in pen, ink, watercolor, and shimmer watercolor. The shimmer watercolor adds to the Glam rock image.
Been meaning to do a portrait of Little Richard, since hearing about his death. Earlier last month, one of the founders of a musical genre we all know as Rock n’ Roll passed away on May 9, 2020. He was was 87 years old.
Rock and Roll would not exist if it wasn’t for both black and white musicians, both coming from poor backgrounds. It was created by combining country, bluegrass, swing, and blues. Thus creating America’s most famous bi-racial child. We often hear about Elvis. Don’t get me wrong – watching early footage of Elvis before the ’70s, you can see Elvis’ natural charisma shining through. Elvis had that superstar quality. But there were others in the early Rock and Roll game. One of best from that era was Little Richard.
Heavily influenced by Esquerita, Little Richard was one of the first crossover artists with integrated audiences during the segregation era. Despite many venues having segregated entrances – i.e., separate entrances and seating for white attendees, and for black attendees. His songs topped the charts in both the U.S, and the U.K. Later on many of those same songs were covered by white performers. Among his peers were Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers, Gene Vincent , Eddie Cochran and yes, even Elvis Presley himself.
My mother would occasionally tell me what a huge fan my aunt was back in Liverpool, England. Needless to say, my mother NOT being a rock and roll fan, was annoyed by my aunt constantly playing “Lucille.” In my mother’s defense, her tastes were more aligned with Roy Orbison, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. My mother accidentally got caught up in music history, when she was dragged by her friends to see a certain band called The Beatles. That’s another post altogether.
Speaking of which, Little Richard’s influence was felt by such acts like The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones. Little Richard himself had a ’60s comeback after having a turn at evangelism. (Little Richard would also flip flop on sexuality) He would go back and forth from music to religion, then back again. During 1964, Little Richard hired a then unknown musician named Jimi Hendrix to play in Little Richard’s backup band, World Famous Upsetters. Unfortunately, Little Richard and Hendrix clashed a bit, over matters like lateness, wardrobe, Hendrix’s stage antics, and money. It worked out for Hendrix in the end, as he later became one of the most famous guitarists of all time.
Wrapping up this blog post, here’s an illustration I did earlier tonight. Done in pen, ink, watercolor and shimmer watercolor. Although the scan never picks up on the shimmer. Here’s Little Richard during his iconic heyday during the 1950’s.
One of my own heroes, filmmaker John Waters, discusses meeting Little Richard:
Still doing my quarantine portraits. Here’s one of the legendary ’80s band Duran Duran.
While politics sucked, the 1980s had some amazing music. Duran Duran ruled the airwaves during the early to mid-80s. The band is still around today. They continue to release new material, tour, and reach out to fans via Twitter.
Since the quarantine, I’ve been sketching a lot. Here’s one of the German Neue Deutsche Härte band, Rammstein. Done in pen, ink, and watercolor. You can see the glimmer watercolors in person.
In the U.S., Rammstein is known for one song, Du Hast. Personally, I’m sick of Du Hast, and the other single Engel, from the album Sehnsucht. Instead I prefer songs from Mutter. Rammstein’s latest, debuted on May 2019. It has been ten years since the band released an album. The band was supposed to begin their first ever U.S. stadium tour, starting late summer/early fall 2020. It’s hard to say what’s going to happen thanks to Covid-19. The band posted a statement regarding future info on their website.
Rammstein’s lead singer, Till Lindemann, was recently hospitalized. Originally it was reported it was Coronavirus. Later the press confirmed the opposite; Lindermann tested negative.
Trying to get my mind off this Covid-19 pandemic. So today I drew Post-Punk legend Gary Numan.
Like everyone else, my introduction to Numan came through his classic album The Pleasure Principle. It’s an album I still play to this day. Mixing dystoptian influences with new wave sounds, Numan had an international hit with the song Cars. Numan is far from being a one note act. He’s also an accomplished aviator. Besides electronic new wave, he’s dipped into experimenting with jazz, funk and rock.
One footnote was his 1997 single/E.P. release titled Magic. Comic book artist Joseph Michael Lisnser designed the cover. Lisnser is known for the comic book series Cry For Dawn.
Numan first fortay into the public spotlight was with the band Tubeway Army. After he went solo, the rest is history. Numan is still going strong today, releasing albums and touring. I finally had a chance to see him live in December 2017. Numan and his band performed most of the songs from the album The Pleasure Principle.
The last of a three post tribute to Genesis P-Orridge, who passed away on March 14th, 2020. P–Orridge had been battling leukemia for two years, so the passing wasn’t a surprise. S/he was 70 years old.
As stated in previous posts, Genesis P-Orridge was many things. Among them, a poet, an artist in both fine and performance art, archivist, musician, occultist, and all around trangressor. Between 1993 – 2009, Genesis went under a series of body and face modifications with S/he wife Lady Jaye under ‘The Pandrogeny Project.’ The goal was to create a third gender. This is the reason for the S/he pronoun after 1993.
Genesis’ path towards creative transgression started after leaving art university sometime during the late 60s, Gen joined a London counter culture commune. These communes were popular during those days. After moving back to Hull, he met Christine Carol Newby, better known as Cosey Fan Tutti. Tutti and P-Orridge became a couple, and formed COUM Tranmissions.
Influenced by the Dada movement, the performance art collective specialized in subversive confrontation. Subject matter included taboos such as prostitution and pornography.
In fact, it was the art performance of ‘The Prostitution Show‘ that gathered the attention of not only the British press, but of Parliament. It was a conservative MP who declared the event, and persons involved to be “wreckers of civilization”.
Industrial has since morphed into various other sub-genres. If it wasn’t for Throbbing Gristle, certain bands wouldn’t even exist. One prime example is mainstream rock act *Nine Inch Nails. (Later, Christopherson, who formed the band Coil, got into directing music promo videos. Christopherson later directed videos for Nine Inch Nails)
Throbbing Gristle continued on their subversive mission. Their first gig abroad was performed in front of the Berlin Wall, before the unification. In 1980, the four piece performed a concert at an English all boys boarding school.
On May 29th, 1981, Throbbing Gristle played their last concert in San Francisco, California, U.S.A. Gen and Sleazy went on to form Psychic TV. Sleazy later broke off from Psychic TV to begin his own band Coil. The other half became Chris and Cosey, later known as Carter Tutti.
In 2009 TG embarked on U.S. tour. In New York, they played a series of concerts at a Brooklyn masonic hall, and at Le Poisson Rouge. I was lucky enough to see both TG concerts at the Brooklyn masonic temple. Not just once, but twice. During intermission TG had a meet and greet. Below are autographs in a sketch pad.
Although I should’ve done this already, I still haven’t gotten those signatures framed. The sketchbook is tucked away somewhere in my home.
Below is a very bad cellphone recording of TG during one of those nights.
Throbbing Gristle hit another snag again in October 2010. Genesis P-Orridge announced s/her’s departure, and the rest of TG continued to tour under X-TG. The band broke up for good following the death of Sleazy. Sleazy died in his sleep, November 2010.