When I was a kid in the late 1960s, I briefly washed dishes and carried equipment for a light show called Garden of Delights, which was based in Sausalito, California. So it was a dream come true to interview Bill Ham, the artist behind the first light shows in 1966 at San Francisco's fabled Avalon Ballroom. Over the course of three mornings and afternoons, I spoke with Bill about how he got into light shows, the techniques that evolved from his early experiments with Elias Romero, the reactions of musicians to his work, and his years in Europe at the beginning of the 1970s, which included a stay at a French chateau with the Grateful Dead. Highlights from those conversations, clocking in at 9,000 or so words, have now been published at Collectors Weekly.
Here's a snip:
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Collectors Weekly: Can you describe the techniques you were using at that time?
Ham: It started with the overhead projectors, which had been designed for lectures and presentations, so that lecturers could show their audiences diagrams, text, and other information as they spoke. Overhead projectors were used mostly in educational settings, for corporate meetings, that sort of thing. We repurposed them.
The main medium of the overhead projector had been the transparency. The light source below the projector’s flat surface, which is actually a Fresnel lens, would beam the image or words on the transparency onto a mirror above, which, in turn, aimed that image through a focusing lens and onto a screen or wall.
The University of Wollongong has kindly scanned every gorgeous issue of OZ, a psychedelic magazine from the UK, which ran from 1967 to 1973.
OZ was founded by Martin Ritchie Sharp (1942 – 2013).
[Sharp] was an Australian artist, underground cartoonist, songwriter and film-maker.
Sharp made contributions to Australian and international culture from the early 1960s, and was called Australia's foremost pop artist. His psychedelic posters of Bob Dylan, Donovan and others, rank as classics of the genre, and his covers, cartoons and illustrations were a central feature of OZ magazine, both in Australia and in London. Martin co-wrote one of Cream's best known songs, "Tales of Brave Ulysses," created the cover art for Cream's Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire albums, and in the 1970s became a champion of singer Tiny Tim, and of Sydney's embattled Luna Park. [Wikipedia]
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OZ magazine was published in London between 1967 and 1973 under the general editorship of Richard Neville and later also Jim Anderson and Felix Dennis. Martin Sharp was initially responsible for art and graphic design. Copies of OZ can be viewed and downloaded for research purposes from this site. OZ magazine is reproduced by permission of Richard Neville.
Please be advised: This collection has been made available due to its historical and research importance. It contains explicit language and images that reflect attitudes of the era in which the material was originally published, and that some viewers may find confronting. [University of Wollongong]
Publisher Taschen will release Psychedelic Sex (NSFW) later in March, written by Eric Godtland and Paul Krassner. Photos are lifted from posters, comics, and men's magazines between 1967 and 1972, and together form a fascinating cultural capsule proving: a) Austin Powers was real and b) any potentially liberating cultural trend is eventually subsumed by the same old shit.
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From country singer Sturgill Simpson's a bizarrely psychedelic video for the ballad "Turtles All The Way Down," seemingly about a strange innerspace where "reptile aliens made of light cut you open and pull out all your pain." Read the rest
Leif Podhajsky: Ascension, Mixed Media, 2011
Above and below, some of the fantastic work you'll find on Leif Podhajsky's website. His work "explores themes of connectedness, the relevance of nature and the psychedelic or altered experience," and pursues "a symbiosis between digital techniques and organic outcomes."
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Dirt Road To Psychedelia is a documentary about the underground culture and music scene in Austin, Texas during the 1960s. Above is the trailer.
"With a folk-singing Janis Joplin, the 13th Floor Elevators, peyote, LSD and the first psychedelic music venue in Texas, Austin was a fertile ground for the emerging counterculture of the 1960s," says director Scott Conn.
If you're lucky enough to be in Waxahachie, Texas this Sunday (3/23), check it out live at the wunderkammer that is the Webb Gallery as part of their "Big Hair & Sparkly Pants" Texas-themed group art show. You can also buy the DVD on Amazon. Read the rest
I've been enjoying Derek's "Post-Psychedelic Freakout 45s" posts on Bedazzled. This time, he presents MP3s of three 45s from the late '60s-early '70s, including "Make Me Stay A Bit Longer," by The Status Quo (who released the great "Pictures Of Matchstick Men" in 1967, which was covered to good effect in 1989 by Camper van Beethoven).
Derek's Weekly 45's: Post-Psychedelic Freakout 45's, Part 2 Read the rest
is a 7" picture disk by Sculpture
that reveals a wild psychedelic animation when played. It is five pounds sterling and ships out within 7 days; you can listen to the song and its B-side, Slot Hum
, while you order the disk at Sculpture's Bandcamp page
. Read the rest
San Francisco drone-dub-desert rock experimentalists Barn Owl entranced the audience at our recent Boing Boing: Ingenuity theatrical experience. In a similar vein as that performance is the new solo recording by Evan Caminiti, one-half of Barn Owl, under the name Painted Cave. Just out this week from Shelter Press, the album, titled Surveillance, is seven gorgeous modular synth tracks of what Evan aptly describes as "dystopian psychedelia… beamed in like a scene from Videodrome." Sold! Painted Cave: "Surveillance" Read the rest
NJ’s finest Beatles imitators, The Knickerbockers do their “Lies” hit
Richard Metzger of Dangerous Minds has done a great service for fans of garage rock psychedelia. He says:
The other day I was listening to Lenny Kaye’s immortal Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968 box set and it occurred to me that there must be YouTube clips of many of the groups represented there, even ones you might not expect. Sure enough, this was the case. Not everything on the Nuggets box can be found there, but what is available is a great treat.
Here’s the original album, or at least what I could find of it. I highly recommend toking up and hooking up your computer to your HDTV for these and rocking out. Big fun.
Videos of songs that appeared on Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968 Read the rest
Digging this film Kickstarter, and by the looks of the amount they've raised so far, others do too: “Griffin,” a feature-length documentary exploring "the art, life and eccentric spark of one of the world’s least known and most influential 20th Century surrealists," Rick Griffin. "Over the time-warped span of the 1960's, [the] one-time teen cartoonist created defining icons for three pillars of west coast counterculture: surfing, psychedelic rock and underground comix." Check it out. Related, this amazing comic retelling of Griffin's life by Simon Rouse (PDF Link). Dig this previous BB post on the artist's legacy. (Kickstarter, thanks DC!)
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