Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mother Love Bone Meets Ian Astbury & The Cult: Love Blossoms in the Land of Thru Fade Away

It wasn't love at first listen for Andy. He teased me endlessly about my love for Ian and The Cult. There were other bands I liked that he did not; he walked me to The Cure concert but would not go with me to the show. He waited outside and wrote in his lyric book by the fountain outside the Seattle Center and waited for me like my dad, saying when he met me after the show "Did you have fun?"  .. and then we walked home to our apartment in Queen Anne. I remember saying,"If The Cult ever comes to Seattle, you're going with me."  He just smiled.

Chris and Andrew backstage at The Cult 

Then, Electric came out. I remember playing it for Chris Cornell, too, who Andy and I had lived with. Andy and I had just gotten our own place, and Chris came over one night to pick me up for our weekly late-night park adventure, and I remember telling him, "They're coming to The Paramount, you know." I don't remember his response to the concert news, but he listened intently to the album, and said something like "Really? Andy doesn't like them?"

 I remember the day vividly because I had brought home this small, round stage I found in the alley behind where I worked at Fantasy Unlimited. It was just big enough for one person and it had wheels -- it was probably an old stripper's stage thrown out by our neighboring business, Deja Vu. Anyhow, Chris stood on it and did a little Ian impersonation -- a rare moment with Chris actually being spontaneously funny -- not that he was making fun of Ian. I think he and Andy had simply had not listened to very much of The Cult... Electric was the album that would change that. 

Okay, I can't stand it anymore -- we need a music break.... TOTAL Half Ass Monkey Boy song, by the way. 

I think Seattle desperately needed the influence of bands like this and Guns N' Roses. I mean, you Sub Poppers can roll your eyes all you want, you know you love it! You all secretly listened to Appetite for Destruction over and over until it was all scratched up just like Chris did with my copy, and secretly wish you had the swagger of a man like Ian! 

"Swag Master" Ian Astbury

Clearly, Ian ended up having a huge influence on Andrew, and eventually the Mother Love Bone record deal landed them backstage with the band. I remember Ian's girlfriend spending two hours brushing out his hair while we sat and watched. A tambourine was soon purchased for Andy. 

The next time they came to Seattle, touring for Sonic Temple, Andy had just been to rehab and Ian had quit drinking, too. For the longest time, I had this photo of Andy sitting on the tour bus holding a book Ian had given him called "Witness to the Fire." It's about how and why creative people are more addictive.

 Ian was really glad he was sober. It seemed like they found comfort in each other, and they sat and talked alone for a long time. Ian's girlfriend at the time talked to me about Ian's drinking and pretty much cried in my arms. When she offered me a beer and I said "I don't drink and this one here is on Love Bone probation," she laughed and got so happy, it was obvious that it was hard for both of them feeling like they had to keep up the "party like a rock star" facade and impress guests. Years later in Toronto when I ran into her, she told me more about how Ian's father's death sent him into another drinking binge. I guess there's more to it all than being "creative."  

Sigh... music break! Hey -- it's my website, so when I say play the song, you play the damn song! 

I know,  * sniffle sniffle * 

Within a few months of that night, Andrew was gone. One of my favorite stories to tell people is about the flowers I received from Ian. He wanted to come to the funeral but his father had just died. He sent me a huge bed of orange orchids and a really great letter that was pretty much the saddest poem ever written. I still have it and I still have the white silk shirt Andy was wearing in the photo below. Don't ask me how I've hung on to it all these years. It was not for the nostalgia of it being in the photograph. For some reason, it's just always been with me. 

The last time I saw Ian was in L.A. when I was hanging out with Alice while they recorded. It's also one of my favorite Layne memories. Jerry, me and Layne were supposed to meet Ian at his hotel. We thought he was at the Hilton and while Layne and Jerry checked for "Neil Young's" room number (the name Ian always checked in under), I got on the phone, at -- get this -- a "public phone booth." ha ha damn I'm old, anyhow I helped these girls talk to this band on the phone in Spanish. They were there looking for a Latin band band they had met that day that was staying there, so we joked about that for a minute, I translated their booty call, and then I left. Well, halfway down Sunset to The Mondrian where Ian actually was, I realized I left my address book/wallet on the phone booth -- it had almost $2000 in it -- and since Alice had no money yet, they were almost more frantic than me. That was our food money!

 I have never seen Layne more serious and looking hysterical being so. It was like watching him in a car chase movie scene. He was driving like a bat out of hell down Sunset, with Jerry yelling various obscenities. It was hilarious. Anyhow, standing outside The Hilton were the girls that I had helped with their Spanish, waiting for me with my address book that had a huge Louder Than Love sticker on it. This is what good karma is made of, folks! 

Then there was the epic night that Ian was in town and took the Love Bone guys out while me and Demri took the rest of the band to the Vogue. I will never forget the look on their faces and the way they were laughing with joy watching Demri and the rest of the Thursday night Vogue crowd dance. Demri was doing the hippy dance in her denim overalls to Love Removal Machine. it went something like this...

Hippy Dance "Extraordinaire" Demri Parrott

Many years later, I was driving alone in the desert in New Mexico and this song came on the radio, the radio that normally never worked in my Plymouth Valiant. I recognized it as The Cult, but had not heard the song before, and yes, I had to pull over for a minute and howl... the coyotes were not amused. If you have not heard it, and love Ian Astbury and Andrew, then you will love this song. I'm always surprised at how many people have not heard it since it mentions Andy, River Phoenix, as well as Kurt Cobain.

Again... sniffle sniffle *

Now, over 23 years later, Ian and The Cult are still one of my favorite bands. I think Andy would be surprised at what a lasting career they have had, with the '80s being the years of one hit wonder glam rock bands. I think he would also think it was pretty funny that, after all these years, here I am -- still in Seattle, still following my favorite half ass monkey boys around.... Maybe this time I'll wear the white silk shirt.... forever dancing on and on.... 

Dedicated to those that still struggle with addiction and to those we've lost along the way.
Siempre Contigo, Stargazer


* Join me and many of our old friends at Showbox- SODO this evening for what's sure to be an epic night with The Cult