BB pal and periodic guestblogger Richard Metzger has an amazing blog post up about the off-Broadway musical Man on the Moon. The play was conceived by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas and his third wife, South African actress, Genevieve Waite, as a potential film or stage production originally entitled "Space."
The stage performance was produced by Andy Warhol. Long-lost video footage of the play is embedded above. More video over at Metzger's blog, too, amazing stuff.
The following text was written by Chris Campion and Jeffrey A. Greenberg from the liner notes of the CD release of Andy Warhol Presents Man on the Moon.
I'll post a snip here, but you have to read the whole thing to hear about the part Philips wrote for Elvis, and all the weird little factoids about Warhol's work, and allegations that George Lucas stole the idea for Star Wars from this offbeat project. Snip:
Space was born the day Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon. Like millions of other people, John watched the 1969 moon landing on TV. He was living, at the time, on the Malibu property rented by British film director Michael Sarne, who was under contract at Fox to direct the adaptation of Gore Vidal's novel, Myra Breckenridge, with Rex Harrison, Raquel Welch and Mae West. Sarne had commissioned John to write songs for the film.
The Apollo 11 moon landing became an obsession. John would watch a recording of the TV transmission made on an early video tape machine over and over. The idea of exploring this new frontier – and particularly Neil Armstrong's scripted aside as he stepped onto the lunar surface that it was, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" – fired John's imagination, and he began to piece together ideas for a mythical space opera set to music. "He loved myths," says Genevieve, who was first introduced to John by Sarne that summer. "He liked Homer – The Iliad and The Odyssey."
(…) Genevieve bemoaned the fate of the show to her friend, Andy Warhol, who offered to find a backer, and did. Warhol also agreed to serve as a producer, and provided a director in the form of Paul Morrissey, who had made a series of avant-garde exploitation films under Warhol's aegis (Flesh, Trash, Heat, Chelsea Girls, etc.). John expressed his bemusement about Warhol's involvement in the song, "Oh Andy My Assistant": "Oh Andy, my assistant/your mind is so consistently blank/that I'm banking on you now/so please so don't try to comprehend/the reason why I have to send/ you up or else, I'm sure that we, shall have a terrible row/It's either you or I must save the race/ So bye-bye Andy and off you're goin' to Space."
LONG LOST FOOTAGE OF MUSICAL PLAY BY JOHN PHILLIPS, PRODUCED BY ANDY WARHOL (1975) (Dangerous Minds, photo courtesy Ken Regan / Camera S)
Music CD: Andy Warhol Presents "Man on the Moon" (Amazon.com)