February 1998

Producer Prince Venet Swoops the Satellite
Nik Venet 1935 - 1998

Lord Buckley Online is greatly saddened to announce the passing of legendary record producer Nik Venet on January 2, 1998 in Los Angeles. Prince Venet, as a 19 year old wanne-be producer, was given the arguably envious task of getting Lord Buckley to the studios of World Pacific Records every night after his gig at the Club Renaissance. Venet had a big hand in getting His Lordship's swingin'riffs onto the tape and into our ears. We extend our sympathies to those that loved Nik and wish him a swingin' time wherever he has landed

A footnote: LBO Curator Michael Monteleone and Hip Semantic Riffer Neal McCabe did a video interview with Nik Venet on August 31, 1997. Look for a transcription of this interview to appear in the Speak The Jive section in the near future.


March 1999
A Venerable Yet Still Swingin' Prince Takes a Cab
Del Close 1934 - 1999

Sadly, LBO reports that Del Close, actor, director, one of the founding fathers of Chicago's Second City comedy review swooped the satellite Thursday night March 4, 1999 at Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

Along with Severn Darden, Prince Close performed with Lord Buckley in a legendary evening of comedy in Chicago called "The Seacoast of Bohemia." This was in 1960, only a month or so before the Great Master himself flagged down transport to the Great Poppy field in the Vauns.

Prince Close appeared in seven movies including "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "The Blob". He is also the progenitor of two of the most beautiful expeditions into the Vinyl Jungle: "How to Speak Hip." and "The Do-It-Yourself Psychoanalysis Kit", the former a linguistic goof on his native tongue and the latter a triple goof on a scene too good for this sphere: Sigmund Freud meets The Prince of Denmark: "To slip or not to slip!"


October 6, 2001
The Great Head Head
Oscar Janiger 1918 - 2001

Lost in the swirling madness of the recent assaults on humanity and architecture in Gotham was the quintuple sad drag news of the death on August 17th of Dr. Oscar Janiger. Dr. Janiger, the Great Oz or the Head Head, as his Lordship titled him, was a long time friend of Lord Buckley's and the man who pioneered the American research of a very new (at that time) drug called LSD. Dr. Janiger piped His Lordship on board the good ship Lovely Soul Detonator and has been quoted as saying, "Well, Buckley plus acid was some form of special configuration, I can tell you right now."

Oz, as his friends called him, had been in rather delicate condition indeed the last few years and recently lost his beloved wife Kathy, but was still full of ideas and had been planning a lively memorial service for Lord Buckley along the same lines as the one he produced for his first cousin Allen Ginsberg. Tap the link below for journalist Doug Cruickshank's interview with Dr. Janiger. And may the Great Oz Head be at peace, for his name still swings lovingly on many earth bound lips.


LBC Interview With Oscar Janiger


Further Than Further
Ken Kesey 1935 - 2001

My beloved Cats and Kitties the Main Day Swingin' Prankster, the Cat In The Hat Who Knew Where It's At, The Stud Who Wrestled Words Into Way-On-Out-There Surrender has swooped the scene. Ken Kesey, masterful author, theatre provocateur, Avatar of True Hipness, Navigator and Keeper of the Keys of the bus that went Further, died November 10, 2001 following surgery for liver cancer. He was 66.

Ken Kesey was a keen fan of Lord Buckley reportedly once saying "Lord Buckley is a secret thing passed under the table."

As an undergraduate at Stanford University, Kesey knew Buckley material well enough to recite pieces by heart. He also produced a wild version of Buckley Nero, calling it "Status Quo Vatus". It included a sports car as the chariot. It was ejected for a school theatre competition based on complaints that Kesey's approach was sacriligious.

His dear friend and fellow prankster Ken Babbs wrote:

"Kesey's belly was hurting and the docs did a scan and found a black spot on his liver. It was cancerous but encapsulated which meant there was no cancer anywhere else. They decided to cut it out and the surgery went okay. He had sixty percent of his liver left to carry the load but in one of those dirty tricks the body can play on you everything else went to hell and this morning at 3:45 AM his heart stopped beating.
A great good friend and great husband and father and grand dad, he will be sorely missed but if there is one thing he would want us to do it would be to carry on his life's work. Namely to treat others with kindness and if anyone does you dirt forgive that person right away. This goes beyond the art, the writing, the performances, even the bus. Right down to the bone."

Kesey and His Lordship sprinkled love on all they encountered. Blessed be the hipsters where ever they wander !


November 12, 2001
Fate Takes It's Cut
George Harrison 1943 - 2001

M’Lords and M’Ladies, we lay a sad riff, in a very minor key, on the music stand in front of Thee. George Harrison, the cat who shinied brightly even in the huge shadow of the monster chart gasser Lennon-McCartney, has swooped the sphere.

Lord Buckley was Harrison’s favorite comic. He based his song “Crackerbox Palace” on a conversation he had with Buckley’s manager George Grief about one of His Lordship’s threadbare, but regal, pads.

Harrison stomped through the ‘60s flipping us upside down more than once with his guitar and voice (and who ever would have dug HRH Ravi Shankar if not for swingin’ George Harrison?) He wailed through the ‘70s, recording a mountain of original songs, bringing the plight of the poor cats and kitties in Bangladesh to the spotlight section of our ignorant wigs and producing the films Time Bandits and Life of Brian. In 1989 he was part of the Traveling Wilbury's, a group which included Bob Dylan, Roy Orbision, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynn. And through the swirl of his life, and the yoke of fame, the shy musician found solice and peace in the great rosy rockin' chair panorama of Krishna. He survived throat cancer in 1998, a wig freak attack in 1999 and looked set to swing into the key of rockin' granddaddy until fate took it's cut at 1:30 PM Pacific time on Thursday, November 29, 2001.


November 26, 2002
Avery Snaps His Last
Ray Avery 1920 - 2002

You've seen his masterful eye on many of Lord Buckley recordings. And you've seen his handywork on countless other jazz albums and in even more publications. Ray Avery, jazz photographer and avid jazz record collector died, suddenly, of a heart attack on Nov. 17, 2002 in Los Angeles.

One night in 1956, Avery took his 35mm camera to a small club in Hollywood called The Music Box and witnessed the improbable scene of a Lord Buckley performance. The evening was resplendent with the Royal Family (Lady Elizabeth, Princess Laurie and Prince Richard) in attendance, Milt Hinton's lively jump band, various and sundry members of the Royal Court and an abstract painter working wildly on scenery even as His Lordship held forth.Avery found his way to the foot of the stage and snapped away like a mad dig daddy. The result was three rolls of the most swingin' and jumpin' silver halide the sphere has ever laid it's peepers on. We can thank Ray for the incomparable profile of Lord Buckley on "His Royal Hipness" and for the elegant cover of "The Bad Rapping of the Marquis De Sade" and even for his kind permission to use some of his images at LBC.

Ray Avery was a kind, generous and enthusiastic human being. He will be missed in many a quarter.




March 4, 2004
Grover Sales On Valentine's Day
Grover Sales 1920 - 2004

My regal cats and kitties, we lay the sad news on Thee that a brilliant witness and affectionado of the Lord has swooped the sphere. Jazz and culture writer, teacher and bebop wig strecher Grover Sales, who once was Lord Buckley's publicist in the San Francisco Bay Area, died on Valentines day in Tiburon, California

Sales was a tireless champion of jazz and jazz related topics. He was on the faculty of The Jazzschool and supplied the Bay Area with a wealth of published articles for 50 plus years. He was known for having strong opinions and for being a delightful contrarian, however he might disagree with that assessement.

Writer Doug Cruickshank laid this on us from Leah Garchik's March 8th column in the S.F. Chronicle:

P.P.S. Cultural historian and critic Grover Sales used to carry a card to leave in restaurants where music was played that he didn't like. "If we ate what we listened to,'' said the card, "we'd all be dead.''


August 1 2004
Der Eggle Swoops
Ed Randolph 1922 - 2004

Prince Markow The Younger has just laid a wig downing headline on LBC: Ed Randolph, 82, dubbed Prince Eaglehead by His Lordship because of his prominent beak, has sadly swooped the sphere. English by birth, international by choice, Randolph's career ranged far and wide. To the Buckleyscenti he is known primarily for having produced the rarest of all Buckley albums: ###Parabolic Revelations of the Late Lord Buckley: A Collection of Six Lessons by the 'Hip Messiah'%%%. He was also a salesman, advance man, magazine model and a Monte Carlo gambling innovator of extraordinary and metalegal inventiveness. In his last charming manifestation, well into his seventies, Der Eggle, could be found smoking the curls just off shore at sunny Waikiki Beach or puckishly plucking "When the Saints Go Marching In" on his ukelele. He was fond of word play and puns and he had a great fluency with Carny Talk, he loved to laugh and was just as likely to make fun of himself as he was to goof on his buddy cats. LBC curator, Michael Monteleone, a personel friend, remembers Prince Eaglehead: "He was a miracle of spirit and delightful company. He would call from Hawaii just to tell me the latest joke he had learned. About two weeks ago, I called him to wish him happy birthday. He was on some pain medication but even through the fog of his meds he was finding things in my words to twist into something that made me laugh." Prince Eaglehead died July 31, 2004 in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is survived by his loving, care taking brother John.


Parabolic Revelations of the Late Lord Buckley


January 29, 2005
Fega Signs Off

You cats and kitties without a little grey in the beard or silver streaks on the roof may not be hip to the name Mort Fega. But sweet voiced Mort, at one time, was one of the two lions of the New York radio jazz scene. He shared pride of place with legendary jazz dj Symphony Sid during the golden age of New York jazz. He spun records and talked a wonderful jazz argot, introducing Miles, Dizzy and John Coltrane to an increasingly hip Gotham populance. He also hosted shows at a variety of venues including the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, Newport Jazz Festival and Carnegie Hall.

Today the story of jazz in New York City cannot be told without the name Mort Fega being mentioned. And today, sadly, we bring you the news that Mort has signed off on his last show. Fega and Lord Buckley became buddy cats when Buckley showed up at Mort's show one night and laid Mort out with The Hipsemantic. There is even a photo of Mort with Lord Buckley in front of the Jazz Gallery shortly before His Lordship's Cabaret Card was lifted.Mort gave the moving eulogy at His Lordship's funeral. Mort died on January 21, 2005 at home in Delray Beach, Florida. At the time he was in recovery from a back operation.

Mort is survived by his wife of sixty years Muriel, four sons and eight grandchildren.


March 10, 2005
The Final Chorus of Lady Dorris
Dorris Henderson 1933 - 2005

Dorris Henderson, the legendary singer with the ebony pipes, has finished her last bridge and chorus. To Buckleyphiles she was known as the voice behind The Voice on the Ivar Concert versions of Black Cross and The Nazz.

Born in Florida and raised in Los Angeles, Dorris first met Lord Buckley at the Topanga Canyon restaurant of Bob and Doe Dewitt. His Lordship knew talent when he said it and soon Lady Dorris found herself in the orchestra pit of the Ivar Theatre for the three nights of Lord Buckley's gig. Dorris said, "He never told me what to sing. 'Kumbaya' [from Black Cross] and 'Rock of Ages' [from The Nazz] just seemed to fit. Lord Buckley had a wonderful trust in people."

Lady Dorris had a great career as a folk singer. She moved to the England in 1965 with only her autoharp and her beautiful voice. Soon she found herself the toast of the folk scene. She teamed with John Renbourne and others performing live and on record. She settled in London and, along with her husband Mac McGann, raised three children. Her last album, "Here I Go Again, was issued in 2003. Lady Dorris died on March 3, 2005.


Click here for a newspaper obituary [not an active link]

Click here for a movie clip of Dorris singing "Kumbaya" [not an active link]


Short Is Life
Bobby Short 1924 - 2005

Bobby Short, singer and pianist, the very definition of tuxedo elegance and velvet sophistication, and a perennial icon of the Big Apple cabaret scene, is dead at age 80.

Born in 1924 in Danvillie, Ohio Short taught himself to play piano while still a young child. By the age of twelve he was headlining in Vaudeville shows as "The Minature King of Swing."

He toured all over the United States and Europe and finally settled into a regular gig at the Cafe Carlyle in New York City in 1968 playing six nights a week for eight months of the year.

It was at the Blue Angel club in NYC sometime in the 1940s that Short was treated to the regal attention of Lord and Lady Buckley.

Here's a quote from Oliver Trager's interview with Bobby for the book Dig Infinity!:

"I will always be thankful for the generosity he showed that night for a young kid up there trying to make it. And he brought up the audience's applause, which was wonderful for me."




King Farouk Cuts Out
Mel Welles 1924 - 2005

Hang low thy wigs, my dear cats and kitties, the Mighty King Farouk has cut out. Movie actor, lip sync expert, psychologist and Lord Buckley collaborator Mel Welles has died.

Perhaps best known for his cult status role as Gravis Mushnik in the original Roger Corman film "Little Shop of Horrors", Mel had a long and colorful career in Hollywood that included a number of Corman films as well as many others.

Not content to just be in front of the camera he also worked behind the scenes in both television and film. He was an acknowledged expert in the lipsynching of foreign films. In addition, he had a Ph.d in Psychology from Columbia University and consulted in that capacity with Fortune 500 companies.

Mel was proud of his role in creating the hip version of The Gettysburg Address for Lord Buckley. He recalled that he wrote it in seven or eight minutes. His friendship with Lord Buckley was a strong one. On occasion he acted as Buckley's confessor although he never revealed what Buckley confessed.

He also mused on the fact that, "I'm really the only person to ever play Lord Buckley on the screen. He was supposed to play the part of Sir Bop in the film 'Rock All Night'. Charles [Griffith] wrote the part especially for him. But he disappeared two weeks before shooting was to start. And I replaced him. I did what I could with the part but it was really his part."

"Little Shop of Horrors" screenwriter Charles B. Griffith remembers Mel, "He was ten times bigger than life. It’s hard to say anything else because he was quite grand and made "Little Shop" into a cult film. I knew him fifty-three years, he was very kind to me and he bailed me out of a lot of situations. And he was very funny in his own way. He will be very heavily missed. He was my best friend for 30 or 40 years. We started all kinds of businesses, film companies mostly, but none of it panned out. But our friendship survived all the way.”

Mel died in Norfolk, Virginia on Thursday August 19, 2005. He will indeed be heavily missed.


A Very Royal Cat Splits
Richard Clayton 1916 - 2005

The black wreaths are hung and the wail of the funeral dirge in the key D (as in drag) is heard wafting over the whole planet this day, Beloveds. Dick Clayton, His Lordship's long lived and swingin' nephew has moved on ahead to the No. 17 wing-fitting station where he will, no doubt, be treated as regally as he treated everyone on the sphere while he was in residence. He died September 25, 2005, age 88.

On October 11, 1916, ten years after the birth of Lord Buckley, Richard Nevilles Clayton made his debut in Portland, Oregon. He spent many summers in Lord Buckley's home town of Tuolumne, California. He was in the Coast Guard in World War II and was a master at the real estate game.

Dick Clayton told many stories of his Uncle Dick Buckley. He remembers a young and successful Dick Buckley, dressed to the nines, arriving for a family visit in a long, black chauffered car claiming he was making one thousand dollars a week on the Vaudeville circuit. "I think he might have been making that much too but you could never tell with my uncle." said Clayton in a 2004 interview. He also had the "honor" of being one of the stooges in Lord Buckley's "Four Chairs" routine in a show in San Francisco right after the war.

Easy going and quick to smile Dick Clayton is survived by his equally royal wife Cindy, two sons and four grandchildren.


The Sonoma Index-Tribune Obit from October 7, 2005 [not an active link]


Skitch Henderson's Final Flip
Skitch Henderson 1918 - 2005

A sad note is sounding today, beloveds, as we hip you to the final flip of one of televisions legends, Skitch Henderson. Henderson, age 87, died at his family home in New Milford, Connecticut on Monday, November 1, 2005.

Henderson will be long remembered for an illustrious career in music, both conducting and arranging.

He was the conductor of The Tonight Show orchestra in 1955 when Lord Buckley was invited to perform by host Steve Allen. Immediately upon obtaining the stage Buckley shanghaied Henderson, a very young Andy Williams and three audience members for five minutes of pure, unrehearsed physical madness echoing Buckley's old Vaudeville days. Buckley, ever the Svengali, commanded his troops to take off their shoes, strip to tee shirts and rolled up pant legs, and follow him in a circular dash around the stage. This was followed by attempts at hand stands and two person somersaults. At the end of this "act" no one was quite sure exactly what had just taken place. Henderson, ever good natured and professional, returned to the bandstand and took up his baton once again.


Sweet Sir Richard's Ticker Flips
Richard Pryor 1940 - 2005

"And the same thing with Richard [Pryor], you know, it was like preaching. I mean, he would do Mudbone but then he'd do other characters. He did a thing one night that was the closest thing to Buckley I ever saw where he talked about God coming back, looking for his kid. He said,

'I'm here for my boy.'

And they said - he did all the religious leaders of the world going,

'You want to tell him?'

And he go, "What?"

'Tell him. Now, come on tell him. You made a good living off this. Tell him!'

So they finally push the pope out and go,

[in a goofy Pope voice] 'We, ummm, we killed him. But he came back. And then he split.'

And then he did this amazing thing where he became God thinking about destroying the world. And then he went and he said,

'Naw, I'm not coming back. I'm going to give you love. And if you fuck that up you're on your own.'

And the whole place - there wasn't a laugh. He just walked off the stage, but he never did it again. Maybe it was just too heavy or maybe it was one of those things that deserves only to be done that once."

Robin Williams, Interview August 30, 2000


Candy Barr Wraps It Up
Candy Barr 1935 - 2005

by Roger The Marquis D'Mexico

The circle is diminished. Candy Barr, exotic dancer, poet and buddy cat of Lord Buckley departed this earthly sphere on Friday, December 30, 2005 in a Victoria, Texas hospital.

She was born Juanita Dale Slusher on July 6, 1935 in Edna, Texas. At 16 she appeared in the 1951 erotic film Smart Aleck. Rumor has it that she was forced to perform at gunpoint."Nita" survived, reinvented herself as Candy Barr, and went on to become a renown Burlesque performer working the Colony Club in Dallas. Had quite a following among the local swells and befriended Jack Ruby. She shot her estranged second husband in 1956. Luckily she only wounded him. "I was aiming for his groin!" She did hard time, not for the gunplay, but for possession of tea. Some say she was railroaded by an unsympathetic community in mortal fear of this Emily Dickinson reading rebel virtuoso of the artfully manipulated tease. The notorious mobster, Mickey Cohen, got a fist in the teeth when she suspected him of looking at another woman. Here was a righteous force of nature who plied her outlaw trade at the cultural perimeter of the buttoned down

Eisenhower years.

Then Lord Buckley blew into her life and the encounter would leave her transformed and a loyal fan. She fondly remembered her mad, whirlwind two week soiree with His Lordship in Dallas in the Fifties. The experience was a passionate, heartfelt education in the beautiful poetry of life. She held him in great regard as a teacher and mentor. Kindred spirits, on fire with life. "Ride the rhyme, that's what Lord Buckley taught me." Ride on Nita.

Roger The Marquis D'Mexico is the Riffs Section's first field correspondent. He reports primarily from Los Angeles but where he actually will file his stories from is anybody's guess. He is also the producer and coconspirator in the creation of the Lord Buckley documentary film, "Too Hip For The Room." In that capacity, he is moved by the passing of these hip elders, like Candy Barr, who hung with Lord Buckley and lived such adventurous and provocative lives.


Wiki citation


Fayard Flips
Fayard Nicolas 1914 - 2006

Another bell is tolling sadly today, Beloveds, the Rhythm Royal Duke of the High Split Fayard Nicholas, 91, has taken his act on the road for the last time. Nicolas died Tuesday, January 24, 2006 of pneumonia and complications arising from a stroke. The sphere is not nearly as sweet today.

In 1928, at the age of 14, Fayard, and his younger brother Harold age 7, made their Vaudeville debute as The Nicolas Brothers. During a career that lasted through the 1940's they astonished audiences from one side of the Cherryland to the other with their extraordinarily precision and gravity defying tap dance moves. They were the pulse of jazz dance itself. Their movie star looks and their consumate professionalism made the leap to film a conclusion forgone (and I mean gone!) Their signature move was a full split accomplished without using their hands to get to their feet again. This feat, performed on the silver screen, dropped the jaws of more audiences members than anyone could count. The Nicolas Brothers influenced legions of dancers including Fred Astaire, Gregory Hines and Savion Glover.They worked many gigs with His Lordship and the admiration was swingin'ly mutual. They dug Buckley's unpredictable nature and he dug their genius level talent.

Harold Nicolas took a cab in 2000 and no doubt Fayard and he are now working out the new steps for their debut gig for the cat in the rosy rockin' chair.

Many thanks to Oliver Trager for hipping us to this sad but signifigant riff.


Official Nicolas Brothers website


Into the Mystic, Cohiba Style
Al Lewis 1910 - 2006

By Roger Marquis D'Mexico

Another Lord Buckley confidant rises up through the scented blue smoke of a fine Cohiba into the mystic. Al Lewis, actor, restaurateur, political activist and basketball scout, swooped this earthly sphere February 3rd at a glorious 95 years of age.

Lewis played Grandpa on the hit television show The Munsters, tuxedoed, fanged, lascivious and downright fun. He lived the life of a renaissance cat and grooved through the entire glorious spectrum from circus and burlesque to running on the Green Party ticket for Governor of New York. He lost to Governor Pataki, but managed to garner 52,000 votes. He acted in a number of films including "They Shoot Horses Don't They" and "Married To The Mob". Al did it all. He even earned a Ph.D in child psychology from Columbia.I fondly remember running into him at the Hotel Nacional in

Cuba during the Havana Film Festival several years ago. He had a freshly lit Cohiba that seemed about a foot long stuck in his mouth and was festooned with colorful political buttons and pins. The glint in his eye revealed a man fully engaged with an authentic life where politics and art fuse into the Sacred Fool.

He affectionately remembers Lord Buckley in Oliver Trager's definitive biography, Dig Infinity. "He was very inventive, creative, free-form. He came out of the stream-of-consciousness tradition." In Oliver's book he also fondly remembers His Lordship as "...the off-the-wall tilting-at-windmills Lord Buckley." Grandpa Lewis for President!

Editors Note: There is a gentle controversy concerning Al Lewis' actual age. Some sources site 1923 and while others, including our intrepid reporter, say April 30, 1910. LBC sides with it's reporter if for no other reason than it gives sweet Al Lewis another 13 years on the sphere.


A Sadder Day
Lady Elaine Thomasen 1912 - 2006

Has there been a sadder day at LBC, beloveds? I think not. News has reached us of the passing of Our Lord’s only surviving niece Lady Elaine Thomasen, age 94 swingin’ years old.

Lady Elaine, a gentle spirited and bright eyed painter of beautiful watercolors lived on a mountain top in Corralitos, California with blue skies and pine trees for her companions. The love of her life husband Tux had died years before.She was a great friend and fan of Lord Buckley’s her whole life. She made a noble effort to gather and record Buckley family history and anecdotes. Her recollections of her grandmother Annie Laurie Buckley, HRH’s mother, made one feel that they had met her. In July of 1998 LBC curator Michael Monteleone and discographer Walt Stempek made the pilgrimage to Lady Elaine's for a video interview. The then 86 year old Elaine proved to be a lively and valuable witness to the early life of Lord Buckley.

No funeral is planned but down the road a bit Lady Elaine’s friends will convene amongst the green trees and the blue summer skies to remember the beautiful life and times of a true member of the Royal Court, Lady Elaine Thomasen.


The Princess Has Swung
Anita O'Day 1919 - 2006

Drape the stage and all the players in black, Beloveds. Hip every head to the sad drag news that Anita O'Day, whom Lord Buckley dubbed "The Princess of Swing", has swung out of this sweet, swingin' sphere at the age of 87.

A 27 year old Dick Buckley first encountered a 14 year old, school skipping Anita Belle Colton in 1933 when she entered the Leo Seltzer's Chicago Coliseum Walkathon as a dance contestant. Buckley was the premier MC for that event. When the school truant officers arrived to look for under aged Walkathon participants Anita quickly changed her last name to O'Day (pig latin for Dough") and claimed to be 18.

Eventually Anita, with a penchant for singing, found herself vocalizing in some of the local Chicago clubs that featured Dick Buckley as a comic. He introduced her to some of the best and hippest songs in the jazz repetorie and helped school her in the art of stage presence.

She successfully battled decades long addictions to heroin and alcohol and, along with Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, she went on to become one of the three greatest female jazz singers of the 20th Century.

In a 2001 interview for the Lord Buckley documentary film "Too Hip For The Room", Anita talked about how much a gentleman His Lordship was to her, "He always made me feel special. He never kibitzed with me. He always made me feel like, you know, a girl."

Recovering from a recent bout of pneumonia, Anita's ticker finally reached the long rest note in the last bar of her chart and she swooped the scene. Her last album "Indestructable!." was released earlier this year. The album is pure Anita O'Day. Even at 87 the impeccable jazz phrasing and timing was evident. Add to this her indomitable spirit and you can see why we all should be playing the next set in a minor key for Miss Anita Belle Colton O'Day.


Click here for Anita's website [not an active link]

Click here to watch the trailer for a documentary about Anita [not an active link]


The Rebellious Duke of Topanga Canyon
Bob Dewitt 1913 - 2007

Those of you hip to the mad scene that was The Church of the Living Swing will be brought down by the sad news that His Lordship's dear buddy cat and artistic coconspirator Bob DeWitt has laid down his brush and swung it up to the Higher Beat Flip.

Bob was a real estate agent and his wife Doi owned and ran a restaurant in the Topanga Canyon area of Los Angeles when Lord Buckley came into their lives. Dewitt and Buckley immediately took to each other and Bob was quickly dubbed "The Rebellious Duke of Topanga." A 1999 interview with Michael Monteleone reveals the origins of Bob's Royal Court name:

MM Did Lord Buckley give you a Royal Court name? BD I was named - he had 2 Rebellious Dukes and I was the Rebellious Duke of Topanga. But he had another Rebellious Duke that he liked - a younger guy. Younger than me. MM Why did he call you the Rebellious Duke? BD Well because I wasn't structured. I thought it was a good title. I used it a lot. I used to sign my letters "The Rebellious Duke." MM Did you enjoy the Royal Court idea? BD Yes, I did because the people that were involved with that they didn't have any life until Buckley got a hold of them and told them they were something. Like Helen was a big, fat, slobbish woman that couldn't do anything, but she was Helen, Royal Helen. She was a Queen. And Lady Buckley was teaching her to do the ballet. Yeah and those people would respond. He said it was like the Army. He said the Army they gave you a title and make you a sergeant or a captain or whatever and it was the same thing that he was doing with those people. He was giving them a status. He was the king cat and he had his lieutenants and I was one of them, but I was rebellious, but I wasn't really in his court.


Valse Triste
Paula Banks 1920 - 2007

Royal swingers, mystic flippers and finger poppin' cats and kitties, can you hear that distant, muffled dirge in three quarter time? Sadly we report the passing, on March 5, 2007, of Paula Banks. Foster child, young adventurer, call girl, poet and unrepentent dissector of life and love. She swung through her 87 years with the verve and grace of a very hip angel from on High. In her memoir, published online, she writes that, as a teenager in the mid '30s, she once saw a man onstage in Chicago:

"I heard about a night club, "The Planet Mars", which had a good floor show so, dressed in my new orange knit suit and my chestnut brown hair which was naturally curly, I sat at a table alone near the dance floor and sipped my Tom Collins slowly, waiting for the show.
And there he was, Dick Buckley, M.C. So far as I was concerned, he was the whole show. I had never seen anyone like him.
He rolled up his pant legs and held his jacket in front of him with the shoulder pads for imitation tits and did an incredible hula dance. He told risque jokes and made remarks about politics and greed-heads. I could not take my eyes away from him and he had definitely noticed me. After the show, he came over to my table and sat down, bought another Tom Collins and said, "Wait for me." I sat through two more shows and we left together.
His room at the Chelsea Hotel was flooded by music, "Valse Triste" and selections from "The Planets" while he made love to me like I never imagined it could be, my first orgasm.
I saw him once more at another club but I didn't let him see me. I had found out that he was married and I supposed I was just "a one night stand" or lay, whichever. What else could a popular man like him see in me?"

This brief but intense encounter produced a sweet child filled with love named Fred. The birth of Fred Buckley when Paula was 17 was just the opening riff in a life filled with adventure, exploration, love, contemplation and action. Lady Paula remained friends with His Lordship all his life. According to Fred, Lord Buckley would come for a week long visit once a year bearing gifts for the young lad. Fred didn't know Buckley was his father until he was fifteen or sixteen years old. Paula also was considered a family member and was good friends with Lady Elizabeth Buckley and the Princess Laurie and Prince Richard.

On a personal note, I once met Lady Paula in Punta Banda, in Baja California, on my way to an interview with Charles B. Griffith. She was a small woman with a gentle but intense presence. She was gracious in receiving us and talked freely of her time with Lord Buckley. The gleam in her eye was unmistakable. Those eyes spoke of mischief and wisdow, a very dynamic combination.

For a great read of Lady Paula's life please click on the link to the left. Her online memoirs reveal a keen eye and ear and a marvelous sense of humor as she comments on the fifteen ring circus that is life.


Dig Paula's Chronicle [not an active link]

Paula's Send Off [not an active link]


The Mighty Norman Has Flipped Out
Norman Mailer 1923 - 2007

There is no joy in Wordville, Beloveds, the Mighty Norman has flipped out. Norman Mailer, novelist, essayist, film director, political activist and arguably Lord Buckley highest profile heckler ever has vacated the narrative and moved into that literary device commonly known as the Epilogue.

Some have described Mailer as a volcano of the written word. He covered the action on so many subjects: war, race, religion, politics, crime and culture that the wig, muttering incomprehensively, quickly switches to the key of incredulity. His books include "The Naked and The Dead", "The Executioner's Song", "The Prisoner of Sex", and "Marilyn: A Biography." He also helped found The Village Voice. In hip circles he is perhaps best known for his 1957 essay "The White Negro: Superficial Reflections on the Hipster" a meditation in 5/4 discussing the influence of "Negro" culture on the young, urban white male:

"The hipster has absorbed the existentialist synapses of the Negro, and for practical purposes could be considered a white Negro. To be an existentialist, one must be able to feel oneself - one must know one's desires, one's rages, one's anguish, one must be aware of the character of one's frustration and know what would satisfy it."

The essay goes on in an attempt to define the undefinable. When reading this next quote, it is natural to want to conjur an image in motion of His Lordship in full Hip Semantic sermon mode:

The bohemian and the juvenile delinquent came face-to-face with the Negro, and the hipster was a fact in American life. If marijuana was the wedding ring, the child was the language of Hip for its argot gave expression to abstract states of feeling which all could share, at least all who were Hip. And in this wedding of the white and the black it was the Negro who brought the cultural dowry.

It was mentioned above that Mailer heckled Lord Buckley. The story comes from composer and Buckley accompanist David Amram who was with His Lordship the night before Buckley himself swooped the satellite. Buckley, sans Cabaret Card, was performing at one of George Plimpton's famous literary gatherings. Buckley's went along just fine until he somehow earned the hydroxyl compound soaked Norman Mailer's vocal displeasure. Uncharacteristically, but ever so gracefully, Buckley backed down and left the party with David Amram and Doc Humes in tow. The next day Buckley died. Coincidentally, and not without a touch of novelistic irony, Mailer was a member of the Citizen's Emergency Committee that was agitating to get Buckley's Caberet Card reinstated.

Mailer leaves in his considerable wake the vapours of six marriages, nine children, a gross or two of books, essays, and films and enough stories to keep doctoral students happy for three generations to come.


NYT obit


Hy Lit Splits
Hy Lit 1934 - 2007

His formal name in the informal world of the 1950's Philly airwaves was Hyski O'Rooney McVoughtie O'Zoot. His friends and his fans (he didn't seem to have any enemies) called him Hyski. Hy Lit was as handsome as Rock Hudson, as energetic as a freshly cleaved atom, and as mellifluous as the best of the silver tongued devils of the time. He wowed the populance in a long radio career that spanned the 50's through the '90s (and beyondski.) He introduced the Elvis Preseley, The Beach Boys, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones when they made their debuts in Philiadelphia.

He was greatly fond of the twists, turns and hip flips of the English language and put it to good use in his radio shows and the various dance hops he emcee'd. He even compiled his use of hip lanaguage calling it "Hy Lit's Dictionary of Hip Words."

Time Magazine movie reviewer Richard Corliss perhaps sums ups Hy Lit best in this quote:

"Hy Lit, I first heard him on WHAT (a white man on a black station; it happened then) in the winter of 1956-57. So Hy is the insinuating commentary running under my memories of certain prime cuts: Shirley and Lee's "Let the Good Times Roll," Mickey & Sylvia's "Love Is Strange," Fats Domino's "I'm in Love Again," Lee Andrews and the Hearts' "Long Lonely Nights" (co-written, according to the label, by Douglas Henderson). If Jocko was baritone, Hy Lit was a nervous tenor. A would-be-pro baseball player from the University of Miami, he called his listeners "babycakes" and himself "Hyski O'Rooney McVoughtie O'Zoot." (Why oh why is Lit's peripatetic paradiddle patter embedded in my pre-teen muscle memory, especially considering that the rest of my musculature has amnesia?) Hy moved down the dial from WHAT 1340 to WIBG 990, when that station acquired a 50,000-watt transmitter and a new pop-rock sound in 1957."


Hy Lit Dictionary image [not an active link]

Wikipedia entry for Hy Lit


Seven Swingin' Words
George Denis Patrick Carlin 1937 - 2008

Beloveds, the ever loving, every rotating sphere that most of us claim as our main pad can be the most far out, wiggy gift of wonder any cat or kittie could ever hope for. And then again, it can be the biggest downer any cat or kittie ever dug in all their born days. If we are lucky we each get two scoops of the former and only a tiny sample spoon of the latter. Alas, today, we are handed a big scoop of triple drag. George Carlin, like His Lordship, a genius with the English language, has taken his leave of us. He died of heart failure in Los Angeles on June 22, 2008.

Carlin started working in comedy in the late 1950's as part of the duo of Burns and Carlin. In May of 1960 they issued their only album "Burns and Carlin at the Playboy Club Tonight" recorded at Cosmos Alley in Hollywood (a place that Lord Buckley also played.) Soon Carlin was working solo and eventually found his way to network television shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show. Memorable inventions of his were the Al Sleet the Hippy Dippy Weatherman, the ungifted disc jocky, "Wonderful WINO!", and a take off on a well known late night host, Jon Carson. Though his work was funny it did not hint at the transformation to come.

As he gained momentum and fame he honed his humor until it fit him like glove. He disgarded the comedian's obligatory suit and the celebrity impressions and found that his own voice was strong and true. He deftly and hilariously skewered society, spotlighting the folly and fallacies that we are all heir to. Perhaps most famous for his "Filthy Words", sometimes known as the "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television", monologue that ran the US legal gauntlet all the way to the Supreme Court, Carlin continued the censorship fight that had brought down Lenny Bruce. His delivery could be harsh and painfully pointed but underlying all of his criticism was an intelligence and a loving heart and soul. For all the surface crustiness of his performances, he left the world a more humane place.

Carlin was a big fan of Lord Buckley. He even went so far as to name one of his tours after a phrase that he heard Buckley had once uttered: "You Are All Diseased". During an interview with LBC curator Michael Monteleone, Carlin spoke of His Lordship's struggle to bring the Hipsemantic to the populance.

"Well, you have to sing your song. And it's what is most important to you that surfaces, that's my guess. In my own case, I had a fortunate convergence of doing things that I felt deeply about, that I felt were mine, that I owned - thoughts and feelings and attitudes. And having them become acceptable to a wide - you know, it's - to a wide portion of the public. It's like Lily Tomlin said, "It's very embarrassing to be successful in a mediocre society." And, on his part, he had the first part. He had the song he wanted to sing. But, it wasn't a song that was transferable to a larger, broader audience, it was very exclusive and excluded a lot of people. So, he had, therefore, to do that for himself. Because the other, you know, if you say he put aside something that was a little more promising commercially, and went to this, then that was, he was consciously making an artist's choice I guess."

So, LBC says to George Carlin these seven words, "Thanks, George Carlin, it was a gasser!"


The Official George Carlin Website


The Hip Cat In The Hat Snapper Swoops
William Claxton 1927 - 2008

When one hears the name Lord Buckley who among us does not entertain visions of pith helmets dancing through their wig? This, you noble cats and kitties, must surely dig is the work of a very hip and visionary cat named William Claxton. LBC is sad to report this day that William Claxon, Bill to his friends, renown jazz, fashion and celebrity photographer, rewound his last film roll Saturday, October 11, 2008 in Los Angeles a day short of his 81st birthday. The cause of death was complications from congestive heart failure.

The brilliant and iconic image of Lord Buckley on a throne, his television face framed by a British pith helmet and cinnamon bark tie and his mock Svengali eyes staring directly at the viewer is the image most often used in the media to reference His Lordship. On assignment to shoot album photos for “Way Out Humor” on World Pacific Records, Claxton put his talent to work to make a series of photographs that capture so much of the mad magnificence of Lord Richard Buckley. Below you will find a story from an interview with record producer Nik Vent about how the pith helmet shoot came about.

The L.A. based Claxton is known in much wider art and commercial circles as a photographer of great creativity and memorable images. Those of you old enough to remember the 1964 scandal that accompanied Rudi Gernreich’s first topless bathing suit surely can recall the photograph of the beautiful, young model with nothing across her chest except two exceptionally thin bands of cloth crossing at her sternum. The photographer was William Claxton and the model was his wife Peggy Moffit.

In the world of jazz Claxton not only excelled at the fine art of the album cover shooting the likes of Chet Baker, Billie Holiday, Sonny Rollins, Ray Charles, Charley Parker, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington and many more but he captured musicians at high moments, in off moments and at revelatory and definitive instances. He is one of pioneers of photographing west coast jazz musicians, pulling them away from their dim lit clubs into the bright and cheery California sunshine. Calling photography “jazz for the eyes” he created beautiful moments that no only helped define the scene but live on as markers of an era, testimony to a group of artists that put their own very distinctive stamp on the ever evolving art of jazz.

Claxton was also known as a celebrity photographer who won the confidence of his famous subjects by his easy going manner and collaborative style but never ever betrayed that trust by providing a gossip hungry public with disparaging images.

Dan Morgenstern, director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, was quoted as saying that William Claxton “has a niche among the great jazz photographers.”

So, LBC and the whole Buckley community take time to salute Bill Claxton and his swingin’, jumpin’ jazz peepers. Swing in peace.


William Claxton Website

LA Times Obit (PDF) [not an active link]


Studs Swoops
Studs Terkel 1912 - 2008

Chicago heaves it’s big shoulders tonight, beloveds, mourning the ultimate flip of it’s grandest cat. Studs Terkel, author, radio and television host, interviewer with no peer, and dyed deep in the wool champion of all the righteous cats and kitties that walk humbly upon this sweet sphere, swooped the scene at his own sweet crib on October 31, 2008.

Now this was a cat with such a ticker and such a wig as you are never like to see again. He talked to the high and mighty as easily as to the low and left out. He could coax secrets from kings and provided a dignified platform for the wisdom of people who roll up their sleeves everyday of the week without complaint. He spoke truth to power and never forgot that there were people in this world without much recourse to anything.

He never tired of listening, and listening and listening some more. Lord Buckley came on his show in 1958. The meeting of such a listener and such a talker was bound to produce the bounty of what Terkel called the “vox humana.” You can read a transcript of this interview here at

In 2000 documentarians Roger Mexico, Mike Brown and Michael Monteleone visited Studs in his Chicago home for an interview about His Lordship. Excerpts from that interview will be available soon here at LBC.

LBC salutes this most swingin’ of cats for his 96 years on the sphere and his untiring work on behalf of all cats and kitties everywhere.


Studs Terkel Interviews Lord Buckley

NYT Obit


Lady Renaissance Swings On Out
Millie Vernon 1924 - 2009

Millie Vernon, a beautiful singer of jazz and show tunes, mother, wife, and friend of Lord Buckley's swung on out of our hearing range on Monday night, February 16, 2009 at the Actor's Home in Englewood, New Jersey. She first experienced the power of His Lordship's art in Brooklyn in 1939 when she was fourteen years old at The Strand movie and vaudeville house. Of this first experience she said,

"And he did his Amos and Andy thing. I never saw anything like this man in my life. You know, he was in the tails and I flipped! And I went backstage and I just waited at the stage entrance until he came out and I just, you know, I'm a fourteen year old kid. And I said, "Oh, Lord Buckley, I love you. I'm a singer and I'm going to be in show business. And I just - you're the greatest thing I've seen since I don't know what and - I just love you." And [he said] "Well, my dear, welcome to the club, aye."

Eventually Millie, now a club singer, found herself in Hollywood and ran into Lord Buckley again. Buckley's Hollywood scene was a movable dream with a huge cast of intriguing characters, one of which was young drummer Dick Zalud. His Lordship sized the two up, introduced them, dubbed them Lady Renaissance and Prince Owlhead, and they made the legal move. Their son David Zalud, a very swingin' professional trumpet player, has Buckley for his middle name.

Millie and Dick played countless club dates in their fifty plus years together. They traveled the world on cruise ships and played up and down the east coast. They had a ball and had steamer trucks full of momentos, photos and stories. Millie counted amongst her close friends Billie Holiday and, of course, Lord and Lady Buckley. Dick produced a number of Millie's albums and backed her up on drums and was her straight man on countless occaisons. Eventually they settled in New York at an apartment building reserved for performing artists.

Millie had a beautiful voice and stage presence whether she was doing her own material or charming audiences with her uncanny tributes to other famous singers. She had a smile that swept the cold and darkness out of any room she entered. Her laugh made you forget you had any troubles at all. Wherever Lady Renaissance is tonight we should be thankful for the gift that she was to us all.


Lady R & Prince O interview at LBC


Prince Lewis Packs Up
Lewis Foremaster 1932 - 2006

His Lordship's last aide de camp, has packed up the van and taken off to his final gig. Details are very sketchy at the time of this Riffs annoucement. Prince Lewis as Lord Buckley dubbed him, and everyone called him, struggled along life's path with a dicey ticker for many years prior to his passing. This news comes to us with a maddening digital delay of nearly three years as the good Prince left us on December 20, 2006.

A high school football star and budding Hollywood player, Lewis met Lord Buckley in Las Vegas in 1959 and the two just never look backed. In a 2001 interview with Roger Mexico and Michael Monteleone Lewis recalled,

"I was a theatrical agent down in Hollywood. And that's where I heard his album. And I was aware of him. And then I met him at The El Rancho when he was in Vegas. And he, you know, he needed a chauffeur. He had a driver's license but I don't think he had a car. So, I was - I volunteered because I was looking for some action, pretty bored with the scene. My main motive for being with Lord Buckley was belly laughs all day long. We were having a good time. We were having a fun time, you know, it was a gas."

It was Lewis and his bright red VW van that accompanied His Lordship to Cleveland and Chicago and eventually on to New York City in the fall of 1960 on what turned out to the final adventure of Lord Buckley's life. Buckley had declared this "The Cosmic Tour", and we now know that the Good Lord was prophetic as well as profound. But they nonetheless had great success on the gigs they did and Buckley seemed to be at the top of his game. In New York City it was the police department and their soon to be discredited Cabaret Card licensing policy that proved Buckley's undoing. His card was taken away he could not work. Somehow this lead to Buckley falling victim to The Bugbird. Though it proved to be too late, Lewis was the person that called Ed Sullivan when Lord Buckley took sick. Ed Sulivan arranged for an ambulance to take Buckley to Columbus Hospital just a few block away from where Buckley and Lewis were staying at the Gramercy Arms apartments. Lewis was also one of the last people who knew Buckley to see him alive.

After Buckley died, Lewis made his way back to California via Nevada and spent the rest of his life in pursuit of the truth and more belly laughs. He assisted Hollywood movie star Scott Brady. He spent time working the boards doing his own tribute to Lord Buckley. He did a stint as a Yogic guru (doing headstands in front of crowds in Las Vegas casinos.) He got deeply into various Indian philosophical treatsie. His last stand was at the Klondike Hotel on the petticoats of Las Vegas. He was a one of kind hipster, good natured and always ready for one more belly laugh.


Grief For George
George Grief 1923 - 2007

Word has reached LBC of the stage left exit of one of Lord Buckley's favorite managers, George Grief on December 10, 2007 in Palm Desert, California. George Grief was a fascinating stud who knew the high and mighty of show business and the music business but he never lost his wonder and appreciation of art, fine wine and the divinely eccentric personalities that he encountered during his nearly 85 years on the sphere.

It was a young, recently returned WWII war veteran George Grief that encountered Lord Buckley in a hotel room in New York City,

"I was staying, I think, in the Essex House or the Hampshire House and I was sitting in my room, which was a single room, and I had the window open. When he walked in he said hello and he leaped over the bed like he was going right out the window. And landed between the bed and the window-and that was his way of saying hello, which shocked me. He was that kind of guy."

Buckley and Grief took to each other and Grief tried his best to get Lord Buckley gigs in better and better places. But it was a challenge.

Many years after Buckley's death Grief encountered George Harrison in the south of France. According to Grief they sat up all night discussing Lord Buckley as George Harrison was a big fan. The result of that meeting was a hit record for Harrison, "Crackerbox Palace".


Carl Ballantine And The Doctor Of Mirth
Carl Ballantine 1922 - 2009

Carl Ballentine has folded up his velvet trick cloth, collapsed his magic wand and waved a fond farewelll to all his fans this day as he exited the sphere through the wings. Veteran Vaudevillian, stage, film and television actor, magician and unrepentent Cuban cigar smoker Ballantine is probably most recognizable for his role as Lester Gruber on the hit TV show "McHale's Navy".

But he also known, by those in the know, as The Great Ballantine, a unique magican that never could finish a trick. It became his stock and trade when he performed his magic act.

In a June 2000 interview with Roger Mexico and Michael Monteleone he talked of his days as a young perfomer in Chicago in the early 1940's where he encountered a brilliant if unorthodoxed comedian named Dick Buckley.

"I was playing those toilets around Chicago, on the same street with Sir Richard. And those other guys, which I'll never forget: the three snozolas. Three guys doing Durante. Amazing act. Buckley was nervy. Nobody could understand how he got away with the stuff he did."

And he spoke fondly of Buckley's 4 Chairs bit.

"It's audience participation the way it should be. Good audience participation. See, and again the audience knows what he's doing, otherwise he'd get no laughs. As long as they know what he's doing. Gonna get laughs."

And he told an anecdote of a time when his wife, actress Ceil Cabot, was in the hospital in New York City.

"The wife was very fond of Dick too. I think Dick must have liked her also. She came down with an appendectomy in New York. And I met him on the street and we spoke about Ceil. And he said, 'Where is she?' In a hospital up here on 57th Street. Hospital's still there. He said, 'I'm gonna go visit her.' Now I don't know where I was; I might have been over at the Paramount doing six shows a day, at the time-first show's at 9:45. Those were the good days. So he went to visit Ceil and they wouldn't let him in. They said, 'You can't come in here, this is doctors only.' He say, 'I'm a doctor of mirth, where is she? Let me in, I want to visit Ceil.' He got in and they visited and she recovered. And I remember that very well."

Carl Ballantine was a gracious interview subject and one of the last of the gentleman Vaudevillians. Given his love of illusion and his mastery of the Art of the Confoundment of Expectations we at LBC would not be surprised to hear that he had pulled himself out of a hat and returned to make us all laugh one more time.

Thanks to Roger Mexico for letting LBC know of Carl's passing.





D'Lugoff - The Gate of The Gate
Art D'Lugoff [1924 - 2010]

The sad and drug word of the ultimate flip of the grand swinger Art D'Lugoff has reached LBC five weeks after the fact. Best known for his legendary New York nightclub the Village Gate, D'Lugoff was also a strident champion of artists and artistic expression and a unoffical spokesman for the West Village. And among his countless other projects he was involved in kickstarting the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.

It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of D'Luggof to New York's art and cultural scene. So many headline artists worked the Gate: John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Woody Allen, Jimi Hendrix, Thelonious Monk , Nina Simone, Dick Gregory, Pete Seeger. He even had once and future theatre and film princes waiting tables: Dustin Hoffman and Sam Shepard.

He is important to Buckleyphiles for his giving Lord Buckley a place to perform just prior to Buckley's star crossed appearance at the Jazz Gallery. And D'Lugoff also took up the cause of the Cabaret Card in an attempt to get His Lordship's precious bit of cardboard permission reinstated. You know how the neighbors are.

In a November 2000 interview in Seattle with Michael Monteleone, D'Lugoff recalled hiring Buckley for the Village Gate.

"Well, let's see. I had found out from a friend of mine that he was in New York. I knew about his recordings and his reputation as, not being just a comedian but being someone who was doing something unusual. And doing things in so called, what then would be negro - I wouldn't call it dialect but "black talk" "jive" things like that. And that it was very funny. And it was satiric and I heard a few of the things and I said, "Oh, boy, this, this guy sounds interesting. And I was thinking maybe we could book him at the Village Gate, which I had just started at that time.
Well, he was an imposing character. I remember, I think he had, pretty much a flushed red face, if I remember. And I remember he had grey hair. I believe he had a moustache. He looked like somebody very military. Like some officer in the British Army, something like that. He gave that impression. I mean, you know, he had that look, like the authoritative look. And he really commanded the audience. He really took charge once he got on that stage and you just paid attention."

LBC salutes The Gate of The Gate, the late great Art D'Lugoff.


Drawn Nigh
James Mulcro Drew 1929 - 2010

His Grace, the lofty peak flautist Robert Dick has laid the very sad news on LBC that his friend the composer, performer and Lord Buckley accompanist, James Mulcro Drew, a true prince of the Royal Court, has made the move into the next emanation.

Composer, visionary and unrepentant seeker of the sublime and esoteric, Prince James, at one time, in the long, gone far out land of the Gigsville, found himself tickling the ivories behind the Swingin’ Master. He truly dug the lick.

An email exchange between Prince D. and LBC curator Michael Monteleone was a rich and yummy collage of making the impossible possible (and vice versa.) Dig this tiny taste from Drew talking about His Lordship:

“Think of the profound way he would hold in distain anything that had not to do with the Theatre and philosophical thumpings of de drums. So, in our tradition, I reminder you in your most dusty moments, that there is no Elegance outside of the realm of Art and Laughter. Thus, the Ancient speaks for the Never Departed.”

An interview with Drew had planned for the LB documentary “Too Hip For the Room” but, alas, it never happened.

We leave you with the words of the great cat himself:

“I aspire to incorporate spiritual immensities in my music through masses of sound which intensifies by the process of refraction or blurring, while allowing submerged melodic lines to appear and disappear. It’s like painting with a very large brush. Like those old fresco guys—or like Asian calligraphy on a massive scale—even with one tone. You know ... like a big swipe with a very loaded brush.” James Mulcro Drew.


A Pearl Of An Earl
Eldon Setterholm 1923 - 2011

It is sadly reported to Thee, Beloveds, that a gentle, vigorous and stalwart member of the Royal Court has taken his leave of us. Eldon Setterholm, dubbed the Earl of Eldon by His Lordship for his many efforts on behalf of the Royal Court, has died at the age of 87.

In an interview with LBC curator Michael Monteleone, Setterholm, described his first reluctant encounter in a bar with Lord Buckley. At the time Setterholm, a young Hollywood hipster working at the Technicolor lab, was far more interested in jazz music than hearing The Word.

“I didn't want to listen, you know. So, it wasn't my thing. It wasn't the type of stuff that - I wanted to hear good jazz players, you know. I was single minded about that. So, he wore on me gradually. And then I started hearing the wisdom, the greatness coming out and you have to go along with it, you know.”

The Earl also recalled an event he witnessed on the outskirts of Las Vegas in the Buckley family home known as “The Mattress Farm”. The story is rich in implication.

“Another incident that is fresh in my mind was - he had this old Chrysler sedan - I mean a convertible. And living out there in, in the sand dunes, or rather, as I say, the sagebrush in that two bedroom house, dirt road and everything. He said, "Richard!" Junior. "Get in the car and drive and get the mail." So, then Richard would fire up the Chrysler and he'd, you know, he had to peer under the - he was too little to be driving a great big old car. He was eight or nine years old, you know, just a little kid. But, he still had guts, you know, the kid did. He - there was no fear. And it was country roads and so he'd take off in that big old Chrysler and he'd make the turn. And I recall this one instance where Buckley runs out to the front porch and says, "Give her the gas, Richard!" You'd think a father would say, "Slow down, son." But, no.”

The Earl of Eldon had many adventures on this sphere. He was a good middleweight fighter on the Navy boxing team, a skilled surfer, a life guard and, for a time, Lord Buckley’s road manager. Though somewhat telling of the man, his adventures in the world only tell a bit of his story. The Earl was a philosopher without portfolio. He delved into the mysteries of the human wig with the same verve that took him confidently off the high platform on a beautiful dive into the shiny, clear and refracting waters of his local swimming pool.


Lady Dewitt Splits
Doi Dewitt 1912 - 2011

Just short of the C Note mark, Doreen Mary "Doi" Dewitt has split this globes material and gleefully headed out for another great adventure in the Outthereasphere. At 99 she had a great long run on the planet where she spread joy and set an example of self-sufficiency that many who put up billboards for their own prowess in that department would be wise to emulate.

Lady Dewitt was a member of Lord Buckley's Royal Court having first encountered him in Topanga Canyon at the restaurant that she and her husband Bob Dewit operated. Though not necessarily falling under his charm she did appreciate his talent and spoke of his imaginative language and "the delicious exagerration of what he was talking about." Doi was also witness to the legendary Church of the Living Swing performances that His Lordship performed at their Topanga Canyon restaurant.

In later years Doi and Bob could be found farming and making art at their marvelous ranch farm near Mariposa, California. They grew most of their own organic food and reveled in the time they had here on Terra Swingin' Firma. Doi was still at it until about a year and half before she died.

Though a year older than Bob, Doi outlived him by a handful of years and continued to charm people in her own unassuming way. If you were looking for a poster child for a person who was truly hip and not just acting the part, Lady Doi Dewitt is your base line hip kitty.


Sweet Fred Swoops
Fred Buckley 1937 - 2012

It is hard to write snappy prose when your fingers do not wish to snap. It is harder still to whistle a happy tune when you have two dispirited lips. So, for the time being, let us just say that Fred Buckley, His Lordship's first born son, a sweet, gentle and adventurous chap has taken his leave of this satellite and made his way to that great jazz joint tucked away at the back of the third alley to the left as you enter the Pearly Gates. He will, no doubt, have a ring side seat for the main show. And you just know that all those wild cats and kitties have been waiting for him to make the scene. Now they can all show to blow together solid style. Are you there?

Fred Buckley was the stellar love child of Lord Buckley and a lovely, young and adventurous Chicagoan named Paula Banks. For his whole childhood Fred did not know that Lord Buckley was his bio-pater. His Lordship would come for a visit once a year and bring presents for the young Fred but it was not until Fred was a teenager that he was hipped to his real relationship with The Lord. From that point on there was a strong bond between father and son that lasted until His Lordship's own satellite swing in November of 1960. In fact Fred was an honored onstage guest at the Ivar Theatre during those legendary February 1959 shows. Some even think they can identify Fred's voice on the recordings.

Fred's own life course took him through many changes and metamorphises. He was Marine, an actor studying under Stanford Meisner, car detailer, a poet and producer (along with Richmond Shepard) of a theatrical presentation about Lord Buckley called "Lord Buckley's Finest Hour". And throughout his entire run he remained steadfast in his own vision of the Nobility of the Gentility.

Buckley interpretor John Hostetter wrote an email to LBC with an appreciation of Fred. Here 'tis:

in my evening's peregrinations
I splashed down on lb.c
and sank into the news of fred's passing.
he was the lord's boy for sure.
big and buckley headed.

I remember getting his number from his mom
when del and I visited her in san diego
and then linking up with him for the first time
at the old café bla-bla in studio city.
I was playing in a band and performing
some of the lord's works in between.

the last time I saw him was at genghis cohen
when the echoes were singing one night
and he was there for an earlier riff.
we chatted and laughed
he told me I was looking
like wavy gravy that evening
and he was not wrong…
in fact I may have been acting kind of wavy
from having had a bit too much gravy.

he was a lovely man.
took del and I to visit lady buckley
one summer night where we chatted
and giggled and all did the swing for life
at a very ancient hour of the evening.

it was a pleasure to have strolled in his garden.


Winter Fades
Jonathan Winters [1925 - 2013]

Jonathan Winters, one of the greatest comedic minds to ever bop, skip and jump his way through this sweet swingin’ sphere has called it quits. The world is not so much a sadder place for his absence as it is just plain ol’ not as funny as it used to be. From his Ohio roots to his conquering of the known comedic universe Prince Jon (as His Lordship dubbed him) gifted the world with his extraordinary ability to turn the mundane, the ordinary and overlooked into magical moments of human insight. Nobody is even certain that he ever told a proper joke but once he got going Winters was an unstoppable juggernaut of mirth that could, even conservatively, be declared equal parts genius and lunacy.

We here at LBC can only take comfort in the notion that perhaps Prince Jon and The Lord are once again trading gentle and loving observations about all those little mortals they left behind.

Jonathan Winters was in Las Vegas when he first encountered The Lord. In a 2001 interview with Roger Mexico and Michael Monteleone he recalled how the meeting went:

I met Lord Buckley one time in Vegas. And I'd really - and when I did see him I was most of the time in an audience. So I didn't get that personal touch that I wanted. This time I met Lord Buckley in the flesh and taking some time off and he said to me [imitating Lord Buckley] "Prince Jon, I'm calling you Prince because I'm making you a Prince now, you understand?" [normal voice] And I said, "Yes, I do, Lord Buckley. What's happening?" [Buckley voice] "Well, I see that you are playing in one of these bistros, one of these gin mills. Get the money and run, my friend!" [normal voice] "Well," I said, "What's happening? Where can we go?" I said, "I've hung up on the sauce now. I'm not drinking anymore funny water. Can I meet you someplace? Can we go to have a sandwich or dinner or whatever?" [Buckley voice] "You come to the desert. In one of my little surroundings I have a kind of a paper maché castle out there. With some of the princes and the princes. You must come out. Please do that. Do that - come now as a matter of fact." [normal voice] So we jumped into a truck or a car, I forget what it was. It had four wheels on it and we drove out there. And he had mattresses in a complete circle. [Buckley voice] "Sit down on the mattress. Lord - Prince Jon. Sit down." [normal voice} And I sat down and he held court. Well, outside of a few dignitaries, a pope, Queen Elizabeth, the President, maybe in somebody in Tibet like the Dali Lama, I thought, boy, this is the world of comedy. Hey, this is the high potentate here. This is Lord Buckley. And he was holding court. And God it was just great. And I thought,"Whew, listening this! I don't know who's smoking what or what's going on. I know that I'm straight here and this is a true happening." And it was a great afternoon. I spent at least that afternoon with him and I - People say, well, did you really get to know this man? Well, there are a lot of people that you have to say in life, "Did I really get to know him?" But, sometimes an hour with a man or a woman or a child can be like a lifetime. And it was so awarding to me because I think at a time he had no way of knowing. I was kind of feeling sorry for myself. I was going through a kind of - like we're all going through, different phases, you know, dark periods in our life. And he really lightened it up. And he was the best therapy I can ever remember. That's all I can tell you."


Beautiful Prince Owlhead
Dick Zalud [1927 - 2013]

Drummer, manager, painter, a card carrying, memory laden true member of His Lordship's inner circle of the inner circle of the inner circle has flown the coop. Dick Zalud, whom Lord Buckley named Prince Owlhead (take a wild guess why) died Monday June 24, 2013 in New York City. He had been residing for sometime at the Hebrew Home for the Aged in Riverdale in the Bronx.

As a young musician Dick was introduced to Lord Buckley one night when, well, I'll let Dick tell the story:

Where did I meet him? I met him on Seventy-First Street [in New York City], on the West Side when he had a little apartment with his wife and two children and the baby sitter was a dwarf named Lenny. He had a little dwarf baby sitter, yes sir. Yeah, it was there that I first met him. I was with Larry Storch and a great hoofer Ray Malone. And he [Buckley] enjoyed us so much that he said, "Gentlemen, I've enjoyed your company immensely." He says, "I would like to give you a special treat." He said, "I want you beggars to stand up and face the wall. And when I tell you to turn around you'll turn around and my darling wife Lady Buckley, Lady Elizabeth will do some poses for you."
So, he says, "I would like to share with you my wife's body." [Prince Owlhead laughs] and he made us face the wall. And she laid on the couch and was doing art poses. I mean no sex involved, no sexy things, just art poses. And we were facing the wall and he was at the light switch and he [said], "All right you beggars, turn around." And he'd turn on the light for two seconds and turn it off. And he'd say, "OK, Elizabeth, another pose!" And she would get into another pose. And we'd face the wall and he'd say, "All right you beggars turn around." And he'd turn the light switch on and she'd be in another pose. And that went on for about five or six minutes and that was the end of that and we left."

Dick says that he helped Lord Buckley write "The Boston Tea Party" routine. And valiently attempted to manage His Lordship's career at one point. Needless to say it was a challenge.

His royal swingin' partner in life was the jazz singer Millie Vernon whom His Lordship dubbed Lady Renaissance. In fact it was The Lord himself who introduced the future royal couple in the '50s at one of His grand party pads in Hollywood.

Dick and Millie had a really swingin' run of it. The had a couple of kids (one with the middle name of "Buckley") and toured the world playing music. Millie died several years ago and it just about broke Prince Owlhead's heart. He never had quite the bounce in his step or the roar in his laughter again.

On a personal note I loved Prince Owlhead for his spirit and a sense of humor and his friendship wtih me. He would call sometimes and ask if the UFOs had been spotted over my neck of the woods. I always told him, "of course, and they await your command."

Keep swingin', Prince, wherever your roost is now.


Ain't Nothin' Little About Him, Jack
Jimmy Scott [1925-2014]

In the world of jazz his pipes were a unique form of gold. In the underappreciated and esoteric arena called Phrasing he was a regal presence dug deeply by so very many in jazz. Word of his talents also found its way into the demi-monde of pop music. Madonna once said he was the only singer that could make her cry, dig that. When he finally laid down his last he had as many years on him as a high class club piano has keys. He went out when his ticker said, “That’s all she wrote, daddy–o. Take it down easy.” Jimmy Scott, a beautiful singer and beautiful cat is with us no more. We at LBC are saddened but reminded of the Second Line in a New Orleans jazz funeral which gives people a chance to strut and not fret upon the stage in remembrance of those spirits that made us embrace the sphere with glee and abandon.

Jimmy Scott’s chart was full of starts, stops, and too many bars of rest from beginning to end. His life story is one of talent pitted against luck both good and bad. Born in Cleveland in 1925 he was number three in a string of ten children. Starting his singing career as a teenager he was first billed as Little Jimmy Scott for his small size and high pitched vocal register. His voice never broke but he found an inner strength and forged that voice into a gift that the world would come to regard with marvel.

He was held back from much he was due by a contract dispute with a minor recording label. There were even times when he had to find work in hospitals, restaurants and hotels. But eventually he played and recorded with Lionel Hampton’s band in New York, he sang at one of President Bill Clinton’s inaugural gatherings, nominated for a Grammy, and featured in the final episode of "Twin Peaks".

But through all the ups and downs this extraordinary voice, filled with pain and yearning, drenched in pathos and hope, graced the air that we all share and filled it and our hearts with beauty. There ain’t nothin’ little about Jimmy Scott, Jack! When he laid it he laid it.

In October of 2004 Roger Mexico and Michael Monteleone interviewed Jimmy in his home in Euclid, Ohio about his experience with Lord Buckley. Also present was Jimmy's lovely and kind hearted wife Jeanie. Here is a snippet of that conversation. Jimmy is talking about Buckley's 4 Chairs bit.

I remember about that time Amos and Andy was coming on the scene, that’s right. And they’d be on the stage and maybe there was some little gimmick they would pull. He’d [Buckley] would run back and Amos and Andy would do the little bit he wanted them to do in his act and they’d keep right on with the show.

And it didn’t seem like he was making fun of black people at all?

I didn’t feel that way, no. I didn’t get that kind of thing from him.


I felt that he was a uppity uppity kind of guy, you know. But, that didn’t bother you because after all he was utilizing the name “Lord Buckley”. And back then if – again, here is where England comes in to your mind – “Lord? Well, he must have been a Lord from England.” You thought. You know, you didn’t know but, like myself, that’s what I thought about it.

Yeah. Now, when I was talking with Jeanie on the phone she said that you said to her “They don’t make entertainers like that anymore.”

No, they don’t. Definitely. There are none that are on the scene. They don’t make them anymore like him.


Next Stop, The Waygonesphere
Paul Mazursky [1930-2014]

We relate this story to all the hip cats and kitties that have a soft spot for the world of heartfelt films. The last of a very fine movie director's life has made its way through the twisting sprockets, klacking sockets, the looping hockets, the lens and arc lamp, and now lies quietly on the take up reel. 35mm director Paul Mazursky has swooped the sphere at 84 years of age. He died June 30th at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

He was known for some wonderful and highly successful films such as "Harry and Tonto", "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice", and "Next Stop, Greenwich Village" but he also laid some groovy and thought provoking films on the populance such as "An Unmarried Woman" and "Alex In Wonderland". He was known to coax wonderful performances from the talented people in cast: Jill Clayburgh, Art Carney and Robin Williams amongst many.

He was sometimes in the cross hairs of the critics who accused him of sentimentality. His response in the Atlantic magazine was, " movies aren't sentimental, they just have sentiment."

In his early days he even tried standup comedy. It was in this context that he met Lord Buckley. In a 2005 interview with Roger Mexico and Michael Monteleone Mazursky remembered some of his time with The Lord:

I came back to LA - we are now in 1960. And I kind of moved there with a wife and a child. I met this guy Ben Shapiro who owned The Renaissance. And Ben said, "Look, you could work - do your act - because I've seen you you're funny. They will be very sophisticated people at The Renaissance. All they do is drink cappuccinos and talk about art and literature." Hip, you know, at that time the hippie times. And at thirty-five bucks a week, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and all the cappuccinos you want. An offer I couldn't refuse. And I see I'm on the bill with Lord Buckley and Jimmy Witherspoon. Two of my heroes. And I got to know him a little bit. I mean, he was fabulous. He was like one of a kind, unique guy who was like a combination a country preacher - he was exotic, he was strange. He was like no other comedian I'd ever seen, if you wanted to call him a comedian, which I guess I would, you know. I'd seen Jonathan Winters, I'd seen Lenny Bruce, Mike and Elaine. "The Nazz" was something different. And to this day I'm not sure I could tell you what it was except it amused me and I laughed and there was something emotionally warm and touching about it.

Paul Mazursky was a mensch. He was warm and kind and had time to spend with two fledgling filmmakers. One cannot sum up a person's life with the simple algebra contained in a quote but give this one a try anyways. This is Paul Mazursky speaking to People magazine about humor and life:

"I find it impossible to spend much time with someone who doesn't have a real sense of humor. Humor is not just a way of looking at life. It's the way you experience things. Nobody lives life free of pain, but you can get past the pain with humor. It's what separates me from some very nice people who simply don't get the joke."




Up The Ladder
Robin Williams [1951 - 2014]

I find it extremely hard to be glib with this modern day teletype item, my regal cats and kitties. If there is such a thing as a Latter Day Royal Court of Lord Buckley I am sad to report that one of it’s sweetest princes has taken his untimely leave of us. Robin Williams, whose list of talents, accomplishments and artful inventions staggers we Mortals of Mere, is dead. How can that even be possible? That golden boy, that unconquerable spirit, that crazy and noisy run up the ladder is silent forever. I want to know why it is not one of the countless Governor Slugwell’s of this sphere that got snatched out of line early. Why does a cat with so much gleeful wiggage not want to stay with it all the way to Endsville? It is an answer not to be found I fear.

Journalist Doug Cruickshank has posted his thoughts on Facebook.

ROBIN WILLIAMS CATCHES A CAB That likely would have been Lord Buckley's observation on today's heartbreaker. We interviewed Williams a number of years ago for a documentary film that I'm working on about Buckley. We met him at the office of his then-wife's production company at the Presidio here in San Francisco. He was extremely shy, soft-spoken, didn't make eye contact at first, but loosened up and relaxed as we talked. He was a true Buckley lover and the night before had spent a couple of hours listening to Buckley recordings in preparation for the interview. He was very generous with his time, talking with us for nearly two hours, as I recall. At one point, out of nowhere, he did a dialogue between Lord Buckley and William F. Buckley that was a trenchant and true bit of magic.

Here are a few excerpts from our interview. Present were Doug Cruickshank, Roger Mexico and Michael Monteleone also sound recordist Michael Stocker and camera person John Knupe:

"Just the rhythms, the riffs, the fact that it was like, you know, spoken jazz. It was - you know you start off with something like The Nazz, which is basically, you know, a real hip version of, of Jesus. And then you hear something like The Gettysburg Address and you're going - he's doing it word for word but totally in another language. And you kind of pick up on it, it really works it's, you know [does Buckley's voice] 'That all cats are created level in front.' [back to regular voice] It was a great way to think about cats are -everybody's equal, you know. And he puts it out in a way you pick up on it. And it makes you laugh but it hits - it hits home just as well. Just like the same as Marc Antony's address and, you know, To Be or Not To Be. [does Buckley's voice] 'To swing or not to swing - whether to hang - no - that is the hanger. To swing or not to swing that is the hanger.' [regular voice] And you're going, "That's to be or not to be. But somehow works for me!" You know, all of that stuff I was going, 'Wow, this is really fascinating.' "


The Liberator
One Truly Waiin' Cat Takes His Leave of Us Mere Mortals
Ornette Coleman [1930 - 2015]

Ornette Coleman, a saxophonist who rewrote the rules of jazz has laid aside his big, bold instrument and, at age 85, swung way up and out of here. His Reedship blew the ballast on his ticker and swooped out of Gotham on the morning of June 11, 2015.

Reknown for his approach to music as a liberating force, he is generally considered the father of the Free Jazz movement. He tossed out the accepted notions of harmony and rhythm, tonality and structure. He is quoted as saying,"'We don't have to do it that way, we can take an improvisation that tells its own kind of story, that elapses according to the freedom of the song."

And this self taught cat cleaned up in the awards department. Dig the list:

• the Pulitzer Prize
• the Japanese Praemium Imperiale
• two Guggenheims
• a MacArthur grant
• honorary doctorates
• National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master honor.

It was Ornette Coleman and Dizzy Gillespie that lead the large charge at His Lordship's Memorial Service in 1961. Can you imagine the beautiful aggitation of the air in that room that night!

Adios, Sweet Swingin' Ornette!


Whit Less
Whitman McGowan [1950 - 2015]

Beloveds, Regals, and the entire Those of Thee who cherish the Word as prayer in all it's infinitely bifurcated and delicate diamond chisled varigations, I bear sad drag tidings for You this day. Word has come down from writer Doug Cruickshank that only a sunrise ago this venal, crude and sometimes charming dimension we call Life lost it's Whit. Whitman McGowan, Genuinely Unique Poet, Golfer, Gatherer and Declaimer of Obscure Vectors and Tangential Wisdoms, Imposing Blue Faced Wild White Man Rapper, Lord Buckley Aficionado, Husband, Son, and Towering Poker Faced Genius Word Bloke has tipped his english sports cap, grabbed up his clubs and scratch pad and headed out for territories unknown. Slowly felled by an ill tempered wig bug he made the best of it while he could.

Many years ago LBC curator Michael Monteleone did an interview with Whitman about Lord Buckley. Towards the end of the session McGowan related a story he had heard about The Lord:

Something about Lord Buckley that had nothing to do with his verbal skills. A friend of mine came into a bar where I was bartending in the mission here in San Francisco. And, I was just filling in for somebody there. And he told me this story about being in a coffee shop in Elko, Nevada where Lord Buckley was performing that night in the lounge. And one of the perks of his, his gig at this lounge in Elko, Nevada was that he got to eat in the coffee shop. So, he came in and he was already dressed for his show. He had his, his dinner jacket on and his, you know, his cummerbund and, you know, the whole nine yards. And he sat down to eat this roast chicken. And people had noticed him coming in as the dapper gentleman and maybe some of them knew he was performing there that night. But they were all sort of watching him. And he began to meticulously take apart this chicken with a knife and fork in a way that further entranced the other customers. And they watched him as he, as he very carefully cut up the chicken and, and put various mouthfuls in his mouth. Finally, at the end of this non-verbal performance of eating this chicken, where everyone was intermittently watching him, he got up, wiped his mouth, burped, farted, bowed and the whole room erupted in applause. And everybody actually stood on their feet and gave him a standing ovation as he left the room after eating this chicken without saying a word.

Doug Cruickshank wrote an article for the August 1990 IMAGE Magazine about Whitman and he kindly has let us reprint it here.

"Sexy, Scary, Funny: The World According to Whitman McGowan"

Doug Cruickshank

A comedian knows just what he is saying but he doesn’t mean it. A poet might not know what he is saying but he means every word.-- Whitman McGowan

Whitman McGowan is not going to put on his tuxedo and paint his face blue. He just made his way through the tie-dyed crowd and conga drummers to tell me so. “It’s too hot and the makeup takes too long to wash off. Besides, I’ve got a cold or something so I don’t even feel like performing. I feel like a dead seal.”

I’m in Big Sur, sitting next to Lawrence Ferlinghetti on the porch of painter Emil White’s house – now the Henry Miller Memorial Library. As we watch the goings-on, and because I know nothing about poetry, Ferlinghetti and I discuss the Hawaiian real estate market, a subject of interest to him and of which I have some special knowledge. The revelers on the big lawn before us eat and drink, shout poetry into a microphone attached to a scratchy sound system, dance wildly, reminisce, smooch, and play with children and bandanna-wearing dogs. It is such a perfect sampling of fringe culture one wonders if Tom Wolfe had something to do with drawing up the guest list. At center lawn, dancing with wanton abandon, we have the ‘60s throwback delegation. They’re draped in retina-stunning tie-dyed apparel – zap! pow! – their funky, furry bodies well basted with patchouli oil, and with beads, bells and feathers hanging from their hair, ears and noses. Then there’s the urban surf-punk hip-hop contingent, wearing high-top basketball shoes with untied laces, Oakley “Thermonuclear Protection” reflective shades, GOTCHA baggy knee-length fluorescent shorts, and, always, the Beastie Boys-style backward baseball cap. Off to one side is a coven of fey souls adorned with pale face makeup, scarlet lipstick, freshly dyed obsidian hair, and Dr. Marten’s clodhopper shoes, their pallbearer couture defining the Pennsylvania-Dutch-meets-the-Munsters look that has had a death grip on a certain disenchanted sector of youthful poseurs for the last few years. The crowd is rounded out by an ample proportion of graying, old-guard bohemians, split down the middle fashion-wise between the professorial, denim-shirted, chinos-with-desert-boots fraternity on one side and the ethnically decorated “I just got back from trekking in Nepal” tribe on the other.

It looks much like Big Sur gatherings of 25 years ago, I suppose, except there’s more food and everyone is wearing an expensive watch. We’re all gathered for the opening of the Miller Library, which is located a few hundred yards south of the famous Nepenthe restaurant on the coast highway. Miller settled in Big Sur in the 1940s, less than a decade after his brilliant, widely banned “Tropic of Cancer” revolutionized the art of the novel. White, Miller’s longtime pal and fellow Big Sur resident, died last September, specifying in his will that his small house and redwood-covered acreage be kept as a memorial to Miller and his works.

Whitman McGowan has journeyed to Big Sur by invitation and with the thought that he will perform some of his poetry, in particular one of his most recent pieces, “White Folks Was Wild Once, Too,” for which he usually wears a tuxedo and blue face makeup. McGowan has allowed me to tag along with the unspoken hope that I might learn something about poetry. “It’ll give your article a little more credibility if you know what you’re talking about,” he tells me with diplomatic subtlety.

After McGowan announces he’s not going to read, I look down at a sheaf of papers Ferlinghetti is holding. “Are you going to read today?” I ask.

“No, don’t think so,” he says, “I think I’ll leave it to these new beatniks.” My poetry education expedition is turning out nicely so far: McGowan’s not reading, Ferlinghetti’s not reading, and the sound system, coupled with the new beatniks’ tendency to shriek their verse, renders what poems are being read incomprehensible.

McGowan sniffs, rubs his eyes and nods his huge head toward a circle of nearby redwoods to indicate he’s going to go sit down.

“I’ll talk to you later, Lawrence,” I say as I rise to join McGowan. “Have a nice day.”

I’m standing with the sun behind me. Ferlinghetti looks up, squinting at me with his eyes the color of the waves at Garapata Beach. “See you later,” he says.

It’s appropriate that it is Whitman McGowan who has dragged me away from Ferlinghetti, for some feel that McGowan may be doing as much to breathe life into poetry in Northern California today as Ferlinghetti did 30 odd years ago with his publication of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” his own “A Coney Island of the Mind” and scores of other “beatnik” writings that are now classics. McGowan, however, is neither a publisher nor even exactly a poet. He’s a spoken word performer – a declaimer – whose influences range from Lord Buckley to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins to the Wild Tchoupitoulas. At any given time he may be multi-channeling a blend of Dylan Thomas, Salvador Dalí, Brion Gysin, Yma Sumac, Bertolt Brecht, the Last Poets, and a thousand other exotic, seemingly unrelated personalities who have left their mark on him over the years. He sees costume, sound effects, props and physical movement as an integral part of his writing. He’s also the organizer of the monthly “Word Party” at Farley’s on Potrero Hill, the most likely place to catch his show.

On our way to sit down, we make a stop at the food tent. As we wait to fill our wine glasses we eat great mouthfuls of Doritos and guacamole, and I quiz the linebacker-size poet about his motives. “I write because I want to hear it, not because I want other poets to hear it. I deal primarily in comedic poetry.”

“Don’t you worry about not being taken seriously?”

“No, I don’t care about that. I hope I never am. On the other hand, I don’t think people take whimsy seriously enough. And that includes poets. Of course my stuff wouldn’t work if it didn’t also include tragedy. But the vast majority of poets think that a poem isn’t any good unless it is either a language experiment, a gut-wrenching manifesto or a diatribe against society. The poetry scene suffers from insular self-absorption; poets are afraid of popularization. And society at large tends to see poetry as either a boring academic exercise or as silliness, like nursery rhymes.”

“Then you don’t care about going down in history?”

“Being remembered is always nice, but I don’t really care what happens when I die. I want to have good fun while I’m alive. I’d like to see poetry on MTV. I’d jump at the opportunity to play a Las Vegas lounge or Harrah’s at Lake Tahoe. I want to be a legend in my own time, even if I have to write all the reviews of my books myself, like Walt Whitman did.”

A black man with a gray bird on his shoulder walks by. “What kind of bird is that?” McGowan asks me.

“I don’t know,” I say. “It’s big though.”

“To me birds look too much like lizards, if you look at them closely. They give me the creeps.”

“Hmm,” I respond. The conversation is drifting into zoological obscurity.

“Now take someone like me,” I say. “I dropped out of high school, I don’t have much formal education, I have no background in English literature or poetry, I haven’t even read much of it. I can’t really tell between the good and the bad. I mean what’s the difference between what you’re doing and, say, Rod McKuen’s verse?”

“McKuen’s problem is he’s a sanitized sentimentalist. He’s not controversial, or funny – pithless poems. I suppose he’s a good craftsman but he doesn’t affect me. He’s painfully sincere, a quality I find hard to take for more than a few seconds. To me life is sexy, scary, funny. That’s what interests me. If writing doesn’t have those ingredients, I don’t care about it.”

We walk across the lawn and sit on one of several shaded benches surrounded by enormous redwoods. Sitting with us in the small circle is a film director from L.A. named Jerome and the man with the bird. His name is Richard. The bird is named Captain Hook.

“Is that a parrot or a cockatoo?” I ask.

“It’s a parrot,” Richard replies.

“I’ve never seen a gray parrot,” McGowan says.

“It’s a parrot for sure,” Richard says firmly.

“Why did you name it Captain Hook?”

“I dunno. I always liked Peter Pan when I was a kid. I guess that’s why.”

“What kind of films do you direct?” I ask Jerome.


“Name some,” I say.

“‘Pumping Iron.’”

“Really? The one with Arnold Schwarzenegger?”

“That’s the one,” Jerome says.

The movie talk grabs McGowan’s attention. “I used to work as an extra in Hollywood,” he says.

“What films were you in?” Jerome asks.

McGowan thinks for a moment. “Let’s see, I was in ‘10’ and ‘The Onion Field.’ I had a small speaking part in Joan Rivers’ ‘Rabbit Test,’ but it got cut. That was the highlight of my movie career. Esquire said it was the worst movie in 1978. I was in Sam Fuller’s ‘Big Red One’ and the remake of ‘King Kong.’ I almost bumped right into Jessica Lange. She said ‘Hi’ to me and I fell in love. And I was in ‘Raid on Entebbe.’ I played an Israeli soldier in a scene with Charles Bronson. I also was in Clint Eastwood’s ‘Every Which Way But Loose’ and Chuck Norris’ ‘Good Guys Wear Black.’”

None of us knows what to reply to this litany so we sit and sip our wine and look at the dancing, celebrating crowd. Jerome gets up and heads toward the food tent. Valentine Miller, Henry’s daughter, walks by and nods to Richard.

“How’s it goin’, Val?” he says. She smiles at him and continues walking.

McGowan is big, about 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, with an unkempt pompadour of thick, wiry blond hair covering his head. His eyes are small, ethereal. There’s something reassuring about being next to him, like standing by a Sequoia.

Sometimes, even when fighting a cold, even when he’s already said he wouldn’t, the muse seizes Whitman McGowan and he begins reciting one of his poems. He does so now from within an antihistamine haze, while looking at the twirling, polychrome dancers, with the cacophony of congas, flutes, barking dogs and the over-modulated poetry of the new beatniks serving as accompaniment. At first, because his tone of voice doesn’t change, I think he’s just continuing the conversation.

Yeah, [he growls] white folks was wild once, too
We’d get a wild tattoo and paint our faces blue
If we smelled some game we knew just what to do
And someone always dug where the medicine grew
We had our kind of music and our rituals, too
Yeah, white folks was wild once too.

Richard the parrot man is listening intently. “I know whatcha mean,” he says to McGowan. “It’s sort of like the last remnants of a once-flourishing civilization, ain’t it? This kind of thing’s a cultural anachronism nowadays. It’s too bad, I think. It’s a hell of a lot more interesting than going to a 10K marathon or one of those lame art and wine festivals with all the crappy raku pottery and redwood burl clocks.”

“Yeah,” McGowan says, “but what I’m trying to get at is, though it may come off as whimsical, what I’m trying to get at is, uh … this particular bit of whimsy comes from decades of feeling like I wasn’t a native. I mean, when the Mayans were building their temples, and the Chinese had very advanced observatories, and the Africans had great kingdoms with complex social structures, my people, you know, white people, who were natives once too, were still running around hitting each other with sticks and painting their faces blue. And now we’re supposed to be the point men for civilization. We were the last to be civilized. Just about anybody is more qualified for the job than we are.”

Captain Hook starts talking but I can’t understand him. “What’s he saying?” I ask.

Richard translates for the bird. “He’s saying ‘Let me out.’”

“What’s that mean?”

“That’s what he says when he wants out of his cage or he just wants to move. He’s bored.”

“How can a creature with a brain the size of a grape be bored?” I ask. “You’d think it would take every brain cell he’s got just to keep his heart pumping.”

Richard scowls. “Go on, Whitman,” he says, “do some more of that poem.”

I think McGowan’s in a trance. He also must be psychic, since he immediately looks at me and responds to my observation without my having said anything. “I know,” he says. “It’s the combination of the place, the company and the cold medicine.” He chants:

Forget about the Mau-Mau, forget about the Sioux
We was homesteaders back when the glaciers withdrew
And where our chiefs lay buried, everybody knew
We had a feel for nature, a sense of what was true
Yeah, white folks was wild once too
We put up lots of big rocks framing up the moon
‘N pointing at the sun and the other stars, too
We did a whole damn lot of scary hoodoo
‘N voodoo ‘n mojo ‘n sacrifices, too.
Yeah, white folks was wild once too.

Richard interrupts before McGowan can begin the next stanza. “How’d you get started doin’ this?” he asks him. A lady walks past with a large snake draped over her shoulders.

“What is this?” I say. “A party or a petting zoo?”

McGowan chortles. Captain Hook sees the snake and seems a little nervous, flaps his wings. Richard strokes the bird’s head.

“I started performing in public about 1982. I was getting burned out on the movie business and I’d begun working part-time at a coffee house in Pasadena. The place lost its entertainment license and wasn’t able to continue having live music. So we put poetry on the menu. It said ‘Poetry ... $1.’ I’d always make a point of coming to work with a couple of poems in my pocket. And somebody would say, ‘Hey, what’s this?’ And we’d say, ‘It’s fun, why don’t you try it.’ It became pretty popular. I finally raised the price to $2 per serving. That’s how I started.”

Little needle-teethed fire ants are biting my bare feet. “Damn,” I say, tucking my feet under me. “Quick, let’s hear the rest.” McGowan slips back into his trance, continues his chant:

We took strange powders to improve our view
Before the Wright Brothers, I’m telling you we flew
Getting right with the Goddess was the mission of our crew
We danced around a fire chanting woo-woo-woo
Yeah, white folks was wild once, too.

Captain Hook picks up on the phrase “woo-woo-woo,” and screeches it several times. McGowan pays no attention to the bird.

Wacky doo, wacky doo, wacky doo, wacky doo
We used to like to drink & fight, used to like to ooh!
For all that I know, we still just maybe do
And we were really ready for the world to start anew
Yeah, white folks was wild once, too.

We had baskets to weave and a bone to chew
We got real funky on some homemade brew
We had a helluva time at a bar-be-que
If you saw us today you’d put us in a zoo
Yeah, white folks was wild once too.

McGowan sneezes. “That’s it,” he says.

“Is that the whole thing?” Richard asks.

“Yep,” McGowan answers and then looks at me. “Let’s take off. I’m worn out. And it’s a long drive back.”

“Sure,” I agree, feeling like the trip hasn’t really done much to advance my understanding of poetry.

Richard stands up and extends his hand. He gives me one of those complicated multi-position handshakes that white men like me are never very good at. “Great to meet you two. Keep up the good work, Whitman.”

We stand to leave. Jerome is leaning against the doorway of Emil White’s house, a doorway Henry Miller must have walked through hundreds of times on his way to another evening of wine, talk and food. I wave goodbye to Jerome and he waves back. Ferlinghetti is in the chair on the porch in which he began the afternoon. The new beatniks are still assaulting the forest and the rest of us through their wretched sound system.

Whitman McGowan and I walk up the road to the parking lot at Nepenthe where our car’s parked.

“Let’s go in and have one of those great hot cider and brandy drinks they make here,” McGowan suggests.

A well-tanned young waiter seats us on the patio. Our view is of the coastline as it extends south in an intoxicating tangle of cerulean ocean, oaks, redwoods and steep hillsides tightly wrapped with yellow-gold grass. The visual effect is amplified by the wind’s constant massaging of the foliage. McGowan and I stare. The waiter delivers our drinks.

“I can’t come to this place,” I say, “without thinking about that dopey movie from the ‘60s that they filmed here.”

“Which dopey movie?” McGowan asks.

“Oh God, what was it? You know the one. Richard Burton played a priest or headmaster or something, and Elizabeth Taylor was a bohemian painter. And whatshisname from ‘Raid on Entebbe’ was in the scene they filmed here at Nepenthe.”

“Charles Bronson played a beatnik?”

“Yeah, he played a bongo drum.”

“He played a bongo drum?”

“No, I mean he played a bongo drum in the scene. He didn’t play the part of a bongo drum.”

“I knew what you meant,” McGowan says.

“As I recall, the film’s director relied heavily on the bulky-knit Mexican sweaters and bongos to evoke the pre-hippie Big Sur counterculture. What was that movie called? It’s right on the tip of my tongue.” McGowan has stopped listening to my brandy-induced blathering. He’s gazing straight up at a red-tail hawk as it performs like a champion figure skater high over our heads. He’s also worrying about the present, the future, his career and poetry in Northern California.

“‘The Sandpiper’! ‘The Sandpiper,’ that was it!”

McGowan’s head is still tipped back, watching the hawk. “I hope I didn’t give you the wrong idea back there when we were talking with Richard,” he says. “I mean, I guess if I really wanted to play Vegas, I’d be doing something about it. What I am doing is performing in coffeehouses and bars. I like to read in crowded, noisy bars and see if I can get everybody to stop throwing darts, and shooting pool, and drinking, and listen to me create a scene and have a laugh over modern life. Like I said before, I think the world right now is a sexy, scary place.” He lets out an explosive sneeze, startling the people at the table next to ours.

“And you’ve appointed yourself the job of finding what’s funny about it?” I ask.

“Well,” McGowan replies, clearing his throat, “I suppose you could say that’s part of my job.”


Peninsula Shaker
Gregory Toliver 1953 - 2016

There are, on this sphere, beings of tremendous grace, heart, talent and hipness who somehow are subradar to the greater percentage of the populance. They are, as Ken Kesey once said of Lord Buckley, a secret thing passed under the table. To the hipnoscenti they are pure gold and to the rest of the teeming motleys they are, for all intents and purposes, invisible. Their feats and impact go largely unknown and unacknowledged. They can also sometimes be extremely challenging to the rest of us. This day LBC is sad to announce that one of these impossible angels has swooped the satellite and is, as they say, real gone. Gregory Toliver age 63 is reported flipped out with no forwarding address.

The Goodly Prince T came to the attention of LBC in the year of 2K when a casual encounter on a suburban Los Angeles coffee shop patio quickly evolved into a recital of Lord Buckley's "Scrooge". This lead to a series of encounters and interviews with Michael Monteleone and Roger Mexico for their forthcoming documentary film about The Lord. Gregory's ability to speak at length, off the cuff and with tremendous power about nearly any aspect of Lord Buckley: artistic, social, political, spiritual, animal, vegetable and mineral had, as The Swingin' One might say, the power to shake the peninsula.

Roger Mexico shares his impressions:

A gentleman and a scholar. Holding forth on Lord Buckley, there was this sense that he fully got what this force of nature was all about uplifting and beholding the subject at hand in such a delightfully inspired manner. The twinkle in his eye as he spun the tale. He clearly loved Lord Buckley and was able to weave such a refined and audaciously informed story transforming scholarship into pure magic. He brought His Lordship into the room in a fiercely beautiful way. Teaching. On fire with delight.
Some thoughts. I remember his entrance spilling out of an old pick up truck along with bottles, books and an illuminated manuscript or two. He may have greeted us with a line from a favorite Buckley routine spoken with a flourish befitting the occasion. A bop philosopher well journeyed beyond the footnotes and thinking fast on his feet. Connecting all the dots. Making sparks fly. A bagman for His Lordship.

At this juncture the facts sheet at LBC is sketchy on Gregory Toliver's history. It is known he hailed from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He was brighter than about any ten people and he had a way with words that might have made Willie the Shake rethink his style. He was a writer of magnificent short stories that provided glimpses of humanity that made you forget you were reading something on a page. A strong rumor tippy toes through in the land that says he once read Humanities and Music at Oxford. Gregory himself would neither confirm or deny it. He would say something like, "That's right, when I lived in England." He was also a computer network specialist and a father.

Gregory's later years on the sphere were not easy for him. He struggled to put bread on the table and sometimes a roof over his head. He knew what it was to have NOTHING!!! The Bugbird for him came in the guise of vascular issues and finally prevailed at 3AM on January 12th, at Pomona Valley Hospital in Pomona, California. A funeral took place on January 16, 2016 at a church in Pomona.

We will leave you with a few quotes from the interviews. LBC prays Gregory Toliver is goofin' crazy and serene in the Great Whatever.

So that what went on all through those years, the upshot, if you will, of it was that, that the ideas of black folks, when they expressed them in their own way, in the way they talk to one another, couldn't' be taken seriously because the mode of expression was "niggerish", "too colored". I grew up hearing things like that in my household from my parents, "Oh, don't talk that way." We grew up in a time, and you saw a great rebellion against this, thank god, in the '60s, my generation. But, my parents generation, you wanted when you talked to talk as much like white person as you could. You wanted your grammar to be the grammar the people on the other side of town used. And it was assumed that in, in what today is, I guess, by some people, who think they are being very chic chic, called Ebonics. It was assumed then that there - nothing valuable could be said in that tone and in that way. Now it's interesting, if you make a comparison of that kind of image. Look, for instance, at how no one thought there was anything wrong with the broken grammar of a Robert Burns. Robert Burns invests the Scottish brogue, which, after all, is not traditional English, with poetry because he is a poet. And what - and the substance of what he says, and the music that he puts into it, invests it with cultural significance and, OK? The street talk that I heard as a boy, and that my parents sort of urged me that I wanted to be a member of an educated class that doesn't talk like that, you know, OK? Comes back to me out of the mouth of Lord Buckley and it's art, it's poetry, it's music, it's a substantive commentary on what's going on around him that actually makes sense. And it is authentically black. He sounds like a black person, he talks like a black person, he knows the linguistic codes and the rhythms of that street talk he's talking as intimately as I do or anybody else around me does as the time. And he's investing it with significance. Here's a white man who is announcing to the world that black folks really have something to say. And they really think something and what they think is, in fact, often quite correct and full of insight. So, he was, yeah he was a revelation. Because, while I always knew that the people around me had something to say, and it was significant. It never occurred to me that there were white people who knew that. And honored it and he did.


Gregory Toliver Interview at LBC


Joe Alaskey [1952 - 2016]

There are cats and kitties on this sphere that seem anointed with a particularly vivid talent and charm. They might be slinging pigment at canvas, or slicing subatomic rip-a-dees into even tinier zap-a-doos, or leading the populance to some better grazing grounds and wig set. Whatever their special riff these little gods pull it off with such panache and to such a degree that the rest of us can't help but cry, “Where do we surrender?”. And when one of these secular bodishattvas finally surrender themselves to the Great Mystery we are all brought up a wee bit short.

Well, brave warriors, another one from Column A has packed it in. Voice Maestro Joe Alaskey, a Brigade General of the Larynx commanding 10,000 voices, a cat with some much Pipeage he was peerless, has taken his leave of us. He checked out on February 3rd, 2016 in Green Lake, New York, his home state.

Alaskey was, arguably, the heir apparent to the First Pope of Cartoon Voices Mel Blanc. His Hollywood career was peppered with with an astonishing variety of voices in the service of gigs from television to movies to live events.

He did nightclub work as an impressionist and the range of his voice and his fantastic ear for the timbres, nuances and peculiarities of any given impression was jaw dropping. He could squeal like the proverbial pig and then handily shake the building's foundation with the dark and spooky growl of a subwoofer. He provided his audiences with his take on a dazzling parade of famous people raging from Jackie Gleason to Woody Allen to William Shatner (and just about everyone in between.) And then he would take the whole gag one step beyond into the realm of the metacomical by doing impressions of one celebrity trapped in another celebrity's brain. His take on Woody Allen doing Star Trek's Captain Kirk is only topped by Alaskey doing a 180 by having William Shatner do Woody' Allen's lines from the end of 'Annie Hall". This flavor of genius has to be seen and heard to be believed.

He was also a scholar of Hollywood personalities which he put to good use in his self written stage play “1958: a Retrospeculation.”. In this performance he played three different personalties: Orson Welles eating lunch at a Parisian restaurant, Vincent Price lecturing on “the Fly” and Lord Buckley performing for some hipsters in a living room. Each of these turns was a polished gem with pitch perfect voices and dialog.

In a 2006 interview with Roger Mexico and Michael Monteleone Alaskey shared his thoughts on The Lord. Here are a few excerpts: with Joe alternating between his own voice and that of Lord Buckley:


Well, aside from the, the look of the man, that [Buckley voice] comically challenging stare. And that beatific smile. There's that beautiful voice, that, that smoky, silky, silly, jazzy, completely captivating and convincing voice [regular voice] of his with all the musical highs and lows and all the sound effects. The, the, oh, the [makes swoosh sound] and the [makes train whistle] and the little trumpet trills [makes vrrpptt sounds]. All these just punctuate that beautiful adopted language of his, his beloved adopted language. And his absolute mastery of it. And the piece I picked to start with, was "The Gasser." Because this is about a guy going through changes. And just to become Lord Buckley - I'm doing my homework, right? I'm sitting and reading about this guy and how he had to get off the bottle and how he started the Royal Court with Lady Elizabeth. And I started realizing that this cat went through some heavy changes just to become Lord Buckley and start talking about - well, the message was love, right? Through the retelling of all his wonderful stories from history and the bible and so forth and literature. He really went through changes and when you try to get inside the guy like I do, you find yourself maybe getting some of these very positive, very welcome changes, very powerful changes in your life. So, I picked "The Gasser", it's also my favorite story. It's, I think, one of his best rounded stories, beginning, middle and end style. And, well, so the first thing I had to nail was the voice. But, like I said, I almost got that through osmosis. Just listening to him over the years. I wasn't even consciously aware that I was getting to the position where I could imitate him vocally. Alright, so, but that's more or less the easy part is just doing the surface. Now it's getting a little harder because I'm going to be doing him onstage. But, there's so little footage. There's so little of it we can see. I had to glean a lot from listening to the laughs he got and the way he used his voice. How far away the microphone was, all these little element told me a lot. And sometimes, you know, he's almost indecipherable. Not only in what he says but how he's saying it. How does he get this laugh? There's a moment in the Ivar Theater version of "The Nazz", which I'm sure you are familiar with - and it's this moment where the apostles are in the boat and the storm is raging Buckley tells us, "Here come The Nazz." Right? And it gets this tremendous laugh with this element of surprise in the laugh. So, we don't know what it is but whatever is was, you had to be there in the moment, it both got a hilarious laugh. Just regular laughter laugh but also there was some very evocative that moved this audience to surprise when he did it. How do you guess what he did there, when he announced "Here come The Nazz"? I guess the harder part then is just deducing the moves.


Joe Alaskey's "1958: A Retrospeculation"

Joe Alaskey on Wiki

"1958: A Retrospeculation" on YouTube


Johnny, We Hardily Knew Thee
John Hostetter [1946 - 2016]

John Hostetter may not be a cat you are all that familiar with by name. But if you watched "Murphy Brown" or "Murder, She Wrote" or "Kermit's Swamp Years" or Star Trek "Insurrection" or 8 septillion other flicks you have most likely dug his licks. For he was a groovy, gone, most swingin' actor trying to keep his wig cool in the gnasher filled world of Hollywood. He was also a singer/composer, a visual artist, a loving husband and a top hub cap Buckley interpreter. And John Hostetter was also a personal friend of mine. He was my buddy cat and he leveled with me. "was" is a hard word for me to write this very minute. For I must hip thee, beloveds, that Prince John, a stud of the Double First Order has made his final curtain call and taken his leave of us protoplasm bound mortals to find his righteous place in the ever expanding Cosmos way on out there.

John came upon The Lord early and started his ongoing homage while in college and subsequently with a traveling troupe of thespians. It was one real crazy day in Las Vegas, that John, standing tall on a bale of hay, reciting from the Buckley canon, encountered not only Lewis Foremaster, Buckley's last aid de camp, but only hours later, incredibly, found himself performing for local Vegas resident, Her Ladyship Laurie Buckley. It was a wig shaking confluence for sure. And it began a long relationship with the Buckley family.

In later years, John moved with his wife Del to her home stomping grounds in the area around Daytona Beach, Florida. They settled in New Smyrna Beach and John set to work fixing up the house, signing, playing and writing for a a great rock band called "The Pirates", creating beautiful artwork and generally digging the cool, laconic, and easy going nature of a small beach town.

While still in Los Angeles I was able to film John performing Lord Buckley's acid trip. He utilized a word for word transcript provided by Dr. Oscar Janiger, the pioneering LSD researcher from UCLA. Later in Florida, documentarian Roger Mexico and I were able visit John and Del and film John doing some wild Buckley bits in his groovy second story hideaway. The glee in his eyes and voice, the deep understanding, the physicality (for John was in the same height and physique range as Lord Buckley) and deftness of his projection placed him deep in the Inner Circle at the heart of Channeling The Lord.

John and I spent many an hour on the phone exchanging bits and pieces we had learned about the Great Master. He would entertain me with his scholar level memory of Buckley routines. His was a love born of the appreciation for the talent and spirit and old fashion Moxie that erupted from Lord Buckley. I am sure if there is such a place as heaven and if there is a Chez Buckley nightclub that The Lord Himself has made room at the head table for my friend Prince John Hostetter.


John Hostetter on YouTube

John Hostetter’s Artwork

John Hostetter art at LBC