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What happens when you mix what is - arguably - the world's most interesting record company, with an anarchist manic-depressive rock music historian polymath, and a method of dissemination which means that a daily rock-music magazine can be almost instantaneous?

Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

IN SEARCH OF ‘SYSTEM 6’

In last week’s edition of Gonzo Weekly  I posted a query about a band that I remembered being called System 6.  It is beginning to seem that they never actually existed!

Now, I don’t know if it is because I am getting older, because I live in a small rural community with ancient water pipes, or the fact that because of my declining health my doctor has put me on an ever-increasing cocktail of medication (I’m not joking), but my memory really is failing.  There might be quite a novel new parlour game in which you (the readership) attempt to decipher what I (the journalist with an addled memory) half remember about bits of rock and roll minutiae that I learned about during my mis-spent use.

I am indebted to two Gonzo Weekly readers.  Pete Collins who wrote:

In an effort to clear things up,Ian Gillan and Roger Glover were in a band called Episode 6 prior to joining Deep Purple in 69.

and Allan Heron who wrote:

Gillan and Glover were in Episode Six before joining Purple which is what you were thinking of

They are both right.  Episode 6 was an interesting and innovative pop rock band with twinges of psychedelia that – amongst others – featured a young Ian Gillan and Roger Glover later to join Deep Purple mark 2.  Like so many prophets they were without honour in their own land but were – apparently – quite big in Beirut, back in the days when the now troubled and war-torn city was known as the playground of the eastern Mediterranean.  I visited it several times in the mid-‘60s when I was a small boy, and it was, indeed, a beautiful and cosmopolitan city.  But I digress.

Various members of Pink Floyd were also in an early band called Sigma 6, of which very little seems to be known.  However, I am beginning to think that my mythical band System 6 never actually existed, and that my nascent Floyd and Purple  bands had got combined somehow within my adult synapses.

Thank you everyone who helped.

But the story isn’t over yet!

As anyone who has read my inky-fingered scribblings here and elsewhere will probably be aware I am very much a fan of Eric Burdon, particularly his work with The New Animals and War.  On Friday the lovely Anne-Marie from Gonzo sent me copies of two Eric Burdon DVDs that are currently on the Gonzo catalogue.  Last night I sat down with my mother-in-law, and my friend and colleague Richard Freeman, the well-known author and explorer, and we watched the two DVDs. 

Even folk who, like me, are devotees of the concept of acausal synchronicity will be surprised at this!  One of the DVDs, containing material from Eric’s appearances at the Beat Beat Beat (a German TV show in I believe 1967) also features two songs by Episode 6; Morning Dew which was the aforementioned hit in the Lebanon and I Hear Trumpets Blow.

The most peculiar thing about this is the appearance of a young and almost offensively good looking Ian Gillan, flower-powered up to the nines.  I don’t know if anyone apart from me remembers the 1981 series Quatermass written by the late Nigel Kneale and starring Sir John Mills. One of the sets of protagonists in the TV series (and subsequent much less impressive movie) are a group of what a few years later would have been described as new age travellers calling themselves ‘the planet people’ who wander across an apocalyptic British landscape, chanting and brandishing pendulums. One of the leaders of this band of fictional hippies looked the spitting image of Ian Gillan fronting Episode 6 12 or 13 years previously.

He also looks like one of the more wholesome members of the Manson family in the 1978 made for TV show Helter Skelter and – possibly – most like the drug-addled young singer who sings Springtime for Hitler in the original version of The Producers.  In short, he looks like every TV and film director’s conception of the good-looking young flower power subversive ready to lead a generation of gullible young people into a life of debauchery. 

I am sure Ian Gillan was not, is not and never has been anything like that, but it is tempting to wonder whether the aforementioned TV and film producers had seen his appearance on Beat, Beat, Beat and based their entire conception of a generation of alternative anti-heroes upon him.

Probably not, but my mind follows these tangents on occasion. 

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