Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Other Lucas on the Bava Book

I've long been a fan and admirer of guitarist extraordinaire Gary Lucas. His daunting dexterity first wheedled its way into my consciousness via his appearance on Captain Beefheart's DOC AT THE RADAR STATION, where he had the honor of a solo spotlight on "Flavor Bud Living." Gary went on to join Beefheart's Magic Band for his swan song ICE CREAM FOR CROW, and more recently joined up with some original members (including Drumbo and Rockette Morton) for a reformed Magic Band that cut a couple of sonically state-of-the-art, nostalgic yet forward-leaning discs before hanging it up. I was attentive to all this activity, as well as Gary's own Beefheart tribute band Fast 'n' Bulbous, his dazzling solo work (which has touched on all variety of horror and fantasy references, including an inspired kaleidoscopic cover of Leigh Harline's "The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao"), and his current work in a veritable supergroup with the auspicious name of Gods & Monsters, in which he plays with former members of Talking Heads, Television and The Modern Lovers.

With all this subjective admiration going on, I had no idea that it was mutual... One day last year, while reading his blog, I was gobsmacked to find a reference to myself. I sent a friendly note to his contact address, and he wrote back with a confession that was even more surprising: he told me that we had actually met once before -- at the October 1994 Chiller Theater convention in New Jersey -- as he stood on line to meet Barbara Steele, whose cashbox Donna and I were managing. That same weekend, I remember having the pleasure of meeting and talking a bit with Johnny Ramone, another guitar god, who passed in front of my table for the same reason -- and, truth be told, I might not have recognized him if I hadn't first overheard someone say "Hey look, it's Johnny Ramone!" There are specific places I expect to see these people, like onstage or on a record album cover -- I don't expect to see them as customers lined up at my table.

Happily, Gary's boundless appreciation for Barbara Steele BLACK SUNDAY has led him to become an enthusiastic drum-beater for MARIO BAVA ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK. He's got the book and he writes about it in his most recent blog entry, which you can find here.

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