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ExYUsingles - Istorijat muzike ex YU
  Barikada - World Of Music - Rock biografije
Arthur Brown

A British war baby - Arthur's birth and first moments were a mercurial foretaste of a life to come - born literally as the German bombs were falling on the quiet English seaside town of Whitby. Arthur's mother was terrified by the sound of the sirens.

Moments after his birth, as the keening whine of the sirens was heard by his exhausted mother, she literally threw herself from the high old hospital bed, clutching her new baby and rolled underneath for protection. Fifteen minutes later the doctor, looking in on his rounds, pulled the frightened mother from the floor - "Don't worry, Mrs. Brown, it was only the army diesel taxis parking in the garages outside". Arthur's mother was distraught, but the doctor cut her short - "Thank God you did believe there was a raid, the fall from the bed has dislodged the placenta which must have been stuck in your womb, if it hadn't been removed you could have been dead by morning - your son has saved your life!"

Within a year the young Mr. B. "had risen from the dead" - in yet another major air raid the entire Wilton (his mother's maiden name) family had taken refuge in the basement of the family hotel high on the cliffs above the town - in a spate of extreme bombardment the whole building was razed to the ground. The local paper carried a headline the next day - "Entire Wilton Family Lost in German Air Raid" - two hours after the paper hit the street Arthur's grandfather dug his way out and walked into town. Was Arthur's infant resurrection a foretaste of things to come?

School and early years were constantly upset by the war and the ensuing insecurity. The only interlude of note being the short poem written by the young Arthur - "Fire Poem" which eventually became the first track on his famous "Fire" album. His father had a string of jobs and the family moved around a lot, eventually settling in Leeds after a spell in Cardiff. The young Arthur was a good student, eventually securing a university place where he elected to study law. Kings College London held fascinations and mysteries for any young man, but for the unusual and unconventional, it was a haven. Arthur was spiritually absolutely at home. Clearly with term grades showing an average of 5% (some 55% short of the required mark) something was causing a distraction - Arthur had discovered The Chelsea Set, Bohemian London and Jazz. The Law was no longer a major influence - and Arthur was OUT. No problem - by the following year he had a place at Reading University to study philosophy and follow his true calling, music.

At Reading Arthur was asked to make a demo "flexi-disc" with a local band, the exotically named "Black Diamonds" - Why not? So he duly appeared at Marquee Studios and was produced by The Yardbirds' Paul Samwell-Smith. Predictably nothing happened with the recording. A few weeks later he was approached by his first real band - a fledgling Mod (well ahead of their time in 1964!) outfit from Fulham called SW5.

Within a few weeks they were "The Arthur Brown Union", resident at the attractively named "Plughole Club" in London's Tottenham Court Road, where they caught the eye of a visiting record company executive from The US division of Polydor Records - Clair Francis. She dragged them into various studios to make an album of Soul and R&B standards. Time passed and Polydor decided not to release the record - setting a pattern with Polydor which exists to this day!

Shortly after a telegram from the "Union" informed Arthur that he was sacked. Despairing of his career, Arthur set about the music companies in London armed only with the now ancient "Black Diamonds" flexi-disc - no takers. Drowning his sorrows in the famous "Kilt" discotheque before returning to college Arthur felt a hand on his arm - "Arthur, how would you like to start a Rock Empire in Paris, old boy?" These words, spoken by Philip Woods, the man who had just recorded the "Moody Blues" No 1 hit and who, co-incidentally had been the engineer on the fabled "Diamonds" flexi-disc - were all that Arthur needed. Ten days later he was on the ferry to France - before that week was out he was the toast of Paris.

1965/1966 - During his first week in Paris Arthur was featured on French National TV and the club where he worked became, overnight, the epicentre of the French music scene. His stage act was the wildest and most excessive ever seen, even in the exotic setting of the Parisian night life. His music, romances and excesses were the stuff of legend and he was the darling of the city. Within a few weeks he was spotted by The Baronesse de Lichy, Roger Vadim, Jane Fonda, President George Pompidou. And he played for the President, provided the music for a cult Vadim film with Jane Fonda - "La Curee" and was feted by all Paris society. This explosion of activity was short-lived - the English Music Scene was alerted and arrived in Paris only to find Arthur gone. His success had upset the local Mafia, whose strip and sex clubs had been eclipsed by the mass of youth flocking to his Montmartre Kingdom, and Arthur had been unceremoniously removed to a rival club in the North of the city. The club's owner was a beautiful and amorous recently-widowed mob wife whose exploits were dark and various. During the next few months Arthur was moved from club to club and from country to country, generally one step ahead of the law, the police and the music business. Eventually when he was finally tracked down, his last gig had been burned to the ground by the band (who were by now unpaid for a year) and the mysterious patroness had been extradited by the Paris Police to answer charges of white slavery and drug running. During the short year since leaving England Arthur had been the single most successful Rock Artist in France, had incited the beginnings of the Paris Student Riot scene, had performed for the students - shoulder to shoulder with the aristocracy - and had become embroiled in very heavy and dangerous high-level international crime and intrigue. His drinking was legendary throughout the city although his drug intake was still under control. Quite an interesting year.

Back to England in 1966 and Arthur is ensconced in a Bohemian flat in Kensington - Vincent Crane is rehearsing upstairs and the embryonic "Crazy World of Arthur Brown" is born. After advertising for a drummer they meet Drachen Theaker who is returning from being too late for an audition with Jimi Hendrix. Mitch Mitchell gets the Hendrix gig and Drachen joins Arthur.

The band start gigging as "The Crazy World" with Arthur developing his excessive and groundbreaking stage act on the basis of the insane antics of his Paris persona. The act becomes so extreme that gigs are hard to find - but after being seen at the Rock "watering hole" The Speakeasy by Hendrix and Jagger, a cult following develops. Gigs at Joe Boyd's psychedelic lynchpin - The UFO Club - follow and Arthur develops his "Hippy Anthem" "Give Him A Flower". By the start of 1967 "The Crazy World of Arthur Brown" is the underground focus of the psychedelic movement and the frontrunner in the newly developing Progressive Rock movement. Arthur is courted daily by the movers and shakers of the new Rock and Roll movement - Bryan Morrison (manager of The Pink Floyd and the newly psychedelic "Pretty Things"), Robert Stigwood, and Chas Chandler (Jimi Hendrix manager). The Beatles and The Stones are fans, Pete Townshend gives Arthur use of his Soho flat. Everyone wants to sign Arthur as a solo artist, but he won't leave the band.

Early in 1967 the notorious managers of The Who - Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp (brother of actor Terence) who also own Track Records, the home of Jimi Hendrix - sign Arthur to a management, agency and recording deal backed by Dutch giant, Polydor Records. In '67 the first record - "Devil's Grip" is released, but flops after a bizarre vinyl shortage at the Polydor factory. Undeterred, Lambert and Stamp send Arthur on his first US tour and by May Arthur is playing with The Doors, Jefferson Airplane and Frank Zappa. The tour is a huge success and a European tour follows. Upon their return they are ensconced in the cream of London's Independent Studios recording the first album. During this period Lambert is very, very "out of it" and the band contact Cream and Bee Goes impresario, Robert Stigwood for help. Stigwood mounts a manoeuvre to get involved with the band and the recording, but a paranoid Lambert rebuffs the proposed involvement and Arthur is soon back in the bosom of Lambert & Stamp alone. By Christmas, after some orchestration is added (without the band's knowlege) the album is finished - Lambert is exhausted, his two week mixing session unheard of at that time. The project gives all concerned a different perspective - Lambert is quoted in The Times saying "(with Arthur) what we wanted was a hip Elvis Presley - what we got was a Pop Lenny Bruce".

Early in 1968 the band are back in the USA where they have now achieved legendary status with public and their peers alike. One week into the tour the band hear the album for the first time, complete with the orchestration - they freak out! But within weeks the single "Fire" is No. 1 in the UK and the USA and throughout most of Europe. The album is Top Ten all over the world. The tour becomes even more massive and the promise is "champagne all the way" - the reality is a little different, the band get no money for their work and have to this day never received a penny in royalties for the record! Nevertheless, they complete the tour with the cream of 68's US rock supporting them - Janis, Iron Butterfly, Blue Cheer, Zappa, and expatriate Brits, Ten Years After, and Ginger Baker.

By summer the pressure is beginning to take its toll. Drummer Drachen Theaker is getting more and more out of hand and organist Vincent Crane's history of mental problems have re-asserted themselves. Drachen is sacked and Vincent is sectioned. Before Vincent is "sent away", Jimi Hendrix contacts Arthur with a view to forming a new band (it would eventually become "Band of Gypsies") incorporating Arthur on vocals, Vincent on keyboards, Jimi, Mitch Mitchell and an unknown bass player. It doesn't happen as a result of Arthur's commitments and Vincent's failing health - we'll never know what that band could have sounded like... what a loss. Anyway it didn't happen, and ultimately Vincent was too ill to continue at all...

So now Arthur is stranded in Midtown USA with no band, no money and a pair of "missing" managers; oh, and a worldwide No. 1 album and single. He is penniless and is forced to borrow money from fabled New York Times jazz critic Ralph Gleason and promoter Bill Graham to return home. At this stage the album and single have probably sold in excess of 5 million units in the previous three months. By now his totally uninhibited live appearances and screaming vocal style have begun to influence a generation of early 1970's rock musicians. Arthur is the source of the principal inspiration for the "First Wave" of Heavy Metal rockers - Sabbath, Widow, Purple, etc - all documented as regarding Arthur as their fundamental influence - Oh God Arthur, what have you done now?

Back in England an uneasy truce is made with a penitent Lambert and Stamp. Carl Palmer is drafted in to replace Theaker and shortly Crane is able to return to his duties after a "cure". After a short rehearsal the new line-up is out for US tour No. 3. The tour is arduous - dates everywhere and again alongside the cream of the rock world, the Grateful Dead, Hendrix, Premier Cast of Hair, etc. etc. The gruelling schedule, the erratic behaviour of Lambert and Stamp and the failure of anyone to pay him has irretrievably dented Arthur's confidence. He wants out of the management deal, so the band informally leave their managers and look for new representation. The schedule and their own internal demons conspire to confound them however, and by the autumn both Crane and Palmer have left and returned to the UK to form their own band - "Atomic Rooster". Arthur finishes the US tour alone and returns to the UK to work with the wayward Drachen on a new album in Puddletown deep in Dorset. A tour of France follows with the mercurial Giorgio Gomelsky attempting to manage the band.

The tour is predictably stricken with unwanted notoriety. As a result of Arthur removing all of his clothes in a gesture of solidarity with the Parisian Student Revolt, the French Communist Party (who have unwisely sponsored the tour) lose valuable seats in the French House of Representation. The band retreat in haste to the UK - Gomelsky (an expatriate communist Russian Jew) disappears totally and the "Puddletown" album is shelved as a result of mounting pressure from Lambert and Stamp. The situation is intolerable, so eventually, on one-sided and incredibly onerous terms, the unrepresented Arthur signs a document which releases him from the deal with Lambert and Stamp (unbeknownst to Arthur they continue to get all the money from the "Fire" album and chunks of his publishing income to this day!).

In 1971 Polydor Records in Germany want to sign Arthur to a new deal and thus a new band - "Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come" is born. Three highly challenging and inventive albums are recorded by Kingdom Come - chronologically "Galactic Zoo Dossier", "Kingdom Come", and "Journey". The band tour endlessly with a wild act incorporating electronics, rock, synthesisers and predominantly, theatrics supporting even Duke Ellington on one bizarre night. Their influence gives inspiration to artists as diverse as Alice Cooper and Genesis. They are the first band ever to use the drum machine as a live and recorded instrument, pre-dating dance and sequence music by 15 years. Way ahead of their time, by late 1973, Kingdom Come is dead.

Throughout 1974 - Arthur, always a seeker of the truth, chooses meditation and spiritual enlightenment as a path, guided by The Gurdjieff Way. He moves away from London and music and lives simply in the heart of rural Gloucestershire with others following "the way" alongside neighbour Stevie Winwood and many disillusioned rock stars and celebrities. He weakens only once, encouraged by Laurence Olivier's chauffeur to pop out for a non-spiritual "quick fag" and do the film of "Tommy" with Ken Russel, Eric Clapton, The Who, Tina Turner, Elton John and Oliver Reed.

After his year's spiritual sabbatical, Arthur returns refreshed to London and makes a deal with David Howells of Gull Records (Howells incidentally became the man responsible for the PWL/Kylie Soap Pop explosion of the 1980's - bizarre!). Arthur records a new album for Gull - "Dance - With Arthur Brown". This is a hugely acclaimed record critically, but Gull's resources are less than ample and the record is not a huge success. During the same year however, Arthur records "The Telltale Heart" for The Alan Parsons Project and the record is a multi-million selling epic worldwide. During this period Arthur, as eclectic as ever, works on separate projects with Robert Calvert of Hawkwind ("Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters" album) and tame lunatic Vivian Stanshall (a marriage made in heaven). Although Arthur has no management or agency, Gull have placed the album with Tamla Motown in the USA. The album and single get great radio airplay, requiring Arthur to go to the US and tour, the record enters the National Radio Playlist Chart and just as it looks as though Arthur is to get a bizarre US R&B crossover hit - Gull pull all of their acts off Tamla Motown after a dispute. The album disappears and Arthur goes to Israel to play on the frontline for wounded troops. This leads, via his established spiritual path, to discovering a talent for musical spiritual healing. Alongside his musical career he develops this and continues to this day.

In 1976 Arthur marries and has a son. Whilst living in a Sufi establishment in Scotland he compiles a second album for Gull - "The Lost Ears" a compilation of the "Kingdom Come" and unreleased "Puddletown Express" material. Having established his domestic position, Arthur is recording again in 1977 - a new album "Chisolm In My Bosom" is released. The album is 50% arranged songs and 50% totally live improvisation - not unsurprisingly, it bombs in a big way. Disappointed, Arthur moves into a hut (!) in Bermondsey (all he can afford) and by the summer has moved on again, this time to Burundi in Africa, where he becomes a teacher of music and history.

You can't keep a good man down... In 1978 Arthur returns to Europe to work with pioneering German synthesiser and electronics giant Klaus Schultz. They record three massively successful European albums - "Dune", "Dyemagic" and "Live" - and tour extensively over 40 days throughout the huge arenas of Western Europe. These albums and the tour receive huge critical acclaim and give rise to German hit records. Arthur is now a fully established mainstay of the European electronic music scene - predating the huge British electro-pop explosion of "The Human League" "Depeche Mode" and Gary Numan by years.

With this acclaim secured, Arthur predictably decides upon a full 180° change of direction and returns to the UK to record a new album with his erstwhile colleague, Vincent Crane. The album, "Faster Than The Speed of Light", is the best kept secret of the decade and sinks without trace.

Even Arthur has had enough by now and decides to move to the US with his American wife. The start of the 1980's sees Arthur living in Austin, Texas and taking care of family matters. Not long after establishing home in Austin, contact is made with Peter Gabriel and discussions are afoot for Arthur to record a new album at his Real World studios using his (Gabriel's) band. Eventually Arthur declines - smart move, Arthur, as shortly after Gabriel has his biggest solo hit - "Sledgehammer". As a footnote to this, it is interesting to learn that a few years before, when Arthur had just returned from Africa, he was approached by Peter Gabriel who was showing interest in African and "world" music. Arthur suggests that Gabriel visited Africa and in due course went to Senegal where he connected with Youssou n'Dour and the rest, as they say, is history.

During 1981 Arthur records an album with "Blondie" producer Craig Leon, who was involved in the aborted Gabriel project. The album "Speak No Tech" is reviewed in glowing terms throughout the USA, but is on a tiny record label and, frankly, Arthur's interest is almost academic by this time. The following year Arthur records another album, "Requiem", for small Texas label Republic Records. This album isn't really released, it just escapes and even now, very few people know of its existence. This doesn't worry Arthur who by now is ensconced in his multi-path way of life and is concerned with quality, not quantity. His family and private life are really the focus for Arthur at this time and he is happy in his sphere of influence with friends and associates centred around the enlightened "spiritual capital"of Texas that Austin represents.

During the mid 1980s Arthur forms a lunatic "ragbag" Texas-based "Crazy World of Arthur Brown". He is coincidentally running a successful house painting and decoration company with Jimmy Carl Black, the foul-mouthed but well-meaning "Mothers of Invention" drummer. In a moment off work they record a crazed Texas psycho R&B album together - "Brown, Black and Blue" - as usual the reviews are great and the sales are shit. No problem, let's paint another house...

Late in the 1980's Arthur is back in school to study for his Masters Degree in Counselling. He graduates in 1988 and immediately heads for Mexico for further esoteric education with a desert Shamen, where he learns yet further methods of healing with music.

The start of the following year is blighted by the sad news of the death of his old friend and most productive musical partner, Vincent Crane, who has taken his own life on the 14th February in that year. Vincent's life was blighted by mental illness and personal demons and he is sorely missed by his loving wife Jean. Arthur flies back to the UK and sings at Vincent's funeral. It is a sad affair and one of "The Crazy World" is now gone.

Life goes on in Texas and in 1991 Arthur is admitted into The Church of Universal Life as a fully fledged Minister. This sounds pretty impressive, but when you learn that other "ministers" include Cary Grant and James Mason, I think you'll begin to get the picture. Nevertheless, should you wish it, you can be legally married, christened or buried by our hero. A contemporary headline in the National US magazine "People" reads - "from God of Hellfire to Singing Shrink"...

Life is getting a little complex by now, Arthur's marriage is rocky and mainstream "ordinary" life is taking its toll on the pleasantly "unconventional" Arthur. This year has another shock for Arthur - his remaining partner in "The Crazy World", Drachen Theaker, dies suddenly of a brain tumour. Dracken was always a little shaky health-wise (having been born with two sets of ears) but his death is sad and leaves Arthur alone as the only remaining member of the band. And then there was one. Eventually 1992 is redeemed by a Christmas album of Austin artists with Willy Nelson - another well-kept secret but a lighter end to the year.

In 1993 Arthur takes a big step and decides to tour the UK with his US band - his first UK visit for many years. The tour is a huge success, but his long-standing marriage breaks up upon his return. More focussed, Arthur returns in 1994 to really attack the European market. Things are going well until during the high point of the act he hits the high scream in "Fire" and passes out. He has suffered a massive brain haemmorage and is lucky to be alive; he has to take 6 months convalescense in a UK hospital. Given the fate of his two original partners in "The Crazy World" perhaps this should have been the end for Arthur, but somehow he is restored to (pretty much) full health and returns to Texas in 1995 to "settle his affairs". Nevertheless, it proves a cathartic experience.

In June of the same year, Arthur is asked to perform at the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg in Russia before some 300,000 people. The Festival is televised live to more than 10 million people throughout all of the Russias. Arthur's performance, entirely unaccompanied, is the spiritual and artistic high point of the show leading to impassioned reviews from the Russian press. Other performers, Joe Cocker, Terence Trent D'Arby and Sheryl Crow are hardly mentioned. There is something kindred to the passionate and imprisoned Russian spirit which is clearly visible in Arthur's music and presentation. He returns home a hero in Russia, where his name is still the stuff of legends. Later that same year he undertakes a "low-key" UK tour in order to test his health and stamina in a full touring environment. He is seen by well-known manager Ian Grant (Big Country/The Stranglers/The Cult) who persuades him to return to the UK full time.

Arthur returns in 1996 to re-launch his career and to see justice done in respect of his years of missing royalties from the "Fire" recordings and album. Although things don't work out with Ian, Arthur issues a massive lawsuit against Polydor Records for the unpaid millions and losses and damages. The case continues to this day. It is reported in the Financial Times, Punch and The News of the World. After his false start (including a bizarre re-recording of "Fire" with "The Stranglers", produced by Alan Parsons, which was never released) he is rehearsing and prepares a new act to return to the major spotlight in 1998.

On Sunday September 6th 1998 at Abbey Road Studios, Arthur takes the role of Narrator in the first ever world-wide Live Internet Global Broadcast of the milestone psychedelic album "S.F. Sorrow" by "The Pretty Things". Performing alongside "The Pretty Things" and Dave Gilmour of "The Pink Floyd", Arthur's contribution as the Narrator is astonishing and re-establishes him overnight within the UK industry.

Now, it looks as though we may finally see Arthur Brown fulfill the immense potential that he has been displaying since that first explosion of bravado, sexuality and charisma that captivated Paris more than thirty years ago. Ladies and gentlemen, you are lucky to be witness to the Second Coming of the First Child of The Revolution.

Crazy World Of Arthur Brown - Fire

I am the god of hell fire, and I bring you
Fire, I'll take you to burn
Fire, I'll take you to learn
I'll see you burn

You fought hard and you saved and earned
But all of it's going to burn
And your mind, your tiny mind
You know you've really been so blind
Now 's your time, burn your mind
You're falling far too far behind
Oh no, oh no, oh no, you're gonna burn

Fire, to destroy all you've done
Fire, to end all you've become
I'll feel you burn

You've been living like a little girl
In the middle of your little world
And your mind, your tiny mind
You know you've really been so blind
Now 's your time, burn your mind
You're falling far too far behind
Fire, I'll take you to burn
Fire, I'll take you to learn
You're gonna burn, you're gonna burn
You're gonna burn, burn, burn, burn, burn, burn, burn, burn, burn, burn, burn

Fire, I'll take you to burn
Fire, I'll take you to learn
Fire, I'll take you to bed

Davor Matosevic - videos
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Rock Otocec 2010
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Web portal Pljuga
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Andjelko Jurkas (HR) - Bez rocka trajanja (Knjiga + CD)
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Gary Talley (USA) - Guitar Playing for Songwriters
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