Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Give The Anarchist A Cigarette

"Don’t trust people who tell you that rock is dead." –
Mick Farren (1943-2013)

Mick and I had known each other for years, but became really good friends when Patrick made the brilliant decision to ask him to edit the Bomp book. He was the perfect person for the job and loved the project. As a result of the book Mick and I worked side by side for over a year, culling articles from the zines, picking out photos and fact checking . In addition to that he decided that I needed to write some personal stories about life at Bomp. I initially declined, not really wanting to be in the spotlight , but he insisted. I relented and told him I’d write up something rough and he could edit it, but when I sent him the story he loved it just as I had written it and made me write 7 more! That brought us into a very close relationship, we ended up having a great time together telling the stories about the early days of Bomp, altho I declined to include some of the more scandalous tales. He told me with his eyes twinkling "there’s another book there darling, an even BETTER book!" We didnt get around to that one, altho he would have loved it if I had let him do it .
He always had projects going, one of which was a book of cat stories. Some might find that surprising , but Mick wasn’t all vampires and rock and roll, he loved animals and we would often send each other pictures of our cats or cute things he found on Youtube . He sent me some very good stories from his proposed cat book to see what I thought, and they were amazing and sweet and funny and insightful. Fortunately I printed them out and saved them, as there is no trace of them on my computer. I suppose that book will never be published, at the time he had other books that he was working on and put that one on the back burner. I hope somebody else has the stories as well and will see to it that they are available in some form.

Doctor Mick even saved me from unnecessary surgery! I had gone to the doctor for a regular check up and got the extremely surprising news that my blood test results showed that my kidneys were failing and that they needed to schedule a biopsy, that it could be cancer. Needless to say, I was in a dead panic, absolutely hysterical. I’d never even had a cavity, let alone kidney failure, and seemed to be in radiant health. I called Mick, sobbing, and he listened quietly until I finished my story and said , taking a drag off his cigarette , "Darling, dont be ridiculous, you are entirely ROBUST, merely call this stupid doctor and tell him you demand a second test!"  I swear it never would have crossed my mind to question the doctor, but thanks to Mick, I did just what he said and avoided a very unpleasant month. Mick was right, nothing wrong with me all.

We both had a good laugh later about the great health care system in America.
Mick himself used an Armenian pharmacist as his doctor, unable to afford health care here and relying on the pharmacist to supply him with the drugs he needed to breathe and remain ambulatory. He had emphysema and he had trouble breathing or even getting around. But he never did quit smoking as far as I know. When we would go to pick him up at his apartment we wouldn’t worry about remembering the apartment number, you could just follow the smoke that hit you in the face the minute the elevator opened on his floor. When he would open the apartment door the smoke would practically billow out into the hall, I would worry about the cat and Patrick and I couldnt really stay more than a minute or two without coughing, but Mick was steadfast, he was going to do things his way. I remember we had breakfast one day and he mentioned that the doctor told him his cholesterol was insanely high and that he should change his diet. He was cheerfully munching away on his usual bacon and eggs, (and beer, as I recall ) and seemed surprised when I told him bacon and eggs was perhaps not the most "heart healthy" breakfast . He had never thought twice about what he ate, I dont think he had a vegetable in his whole life and was rather stunned by the news about his breakfast. He remarked that perhaps the best thing to do was never go to the doctor and continued with his breakfast . He shortly thereafter moved to England, unable to afford even the medication from the pharmacist, and our regular lunches were, sadly, no more.

One of the tributes to Mick I just read said that he "died with his boots on", and this is true is more ways that one. One of the things I would scold him about was his insistence on wearing high heeled cowboy boots, perhaps necessary for public appearances, but he could barely walk as it was, and he seemed in constant danger of toppling over. I would beg him to "just wear some fucking tennis shoes for god’s sake!" but he refused to do any such thing , he had to be Mick Farren and Mick Farren doesn’t wear tennis shoes.
The only consolation is indeed that he died doing what he loved, I just wish it had been 30 years from now. He was family to us, we’ll miss him every day. – Suzy Shaw (Bomp Records)

◊◊◊◊◊ Mick Farren Biography ◊◊◊◊◊
Michael Anthony 'Mick' Farren (3 September 1943 - 27 July 2013) was an English journalist, author and singer associated with counterculture and the UK Underground.
Farren was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and after moving to Sussex he attended Worthing High School for Boys which was a state grammar school. In 1963 he moved to London where he studied at Saint Martin's School of Art.

Farren was the singer with the proto-punk band The Deviants between 1967 and 1969, releasing three albums. During 1970 he released the solo album Mona – The Carnivorous Circus which also featured Steve Peregrin Took, John Gustafson and Paul Buckmaster, before ending his music business to concentrate on writing.

During the mid-1970s, he briefly revived his musical career, releasing the single Play With Fire featuring Marky (soon-to-be Ramone) Bell, Jon Tiven, and Doug Snyder, the EP Screwed Up, album Vampires Stole My Lunch Money and single "Broken Statue". The album featured fellow NME journalist Chrissie Hynde and Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson.

He sporadically did musical work after that, collaborating with Wayne Kramer on Who Shot You Dutch? and Death Tongue, Jack Lancaster on The Deathray Tapes and Andy Colquhoun on The Deviants albums Eating Jello With a Heated Fork and Dr. Crow.

Aside from his own work, he provided lyrics for various musician friends over the years. He collaborated with Lemmy, co-writing "Lost Johnny" for Hawkwind, and "Keep Us on the Road" and "Damage Case" for Motörhead. With Larry Wallis, he co-wrote "When's the Fun Begin?" for the Pink Fairies and several tracks on Wallis' solo album Death in the Guitafternoon. He provided lyrics for the Wayne Kramer single "Get Some" during the mid-1970s, and continued to work with and for him during the 1990s.

During the early 1970s he contributed to the UK Underground press such as the International Times, also establishing Nasty Tales which he successfully defended from an obscenity charge. He later wrote for the mainstream New Musical Express, for which he wrote the article The Titanic Sails At Dawn, an analysis of what he considered the malaise afflicting then-contemporary rock music and which described the conditions that subsequently resulted in punk.

He wrote 23 novels, including the Victor Renquist novels and the DNA Cowboys sequence. His 1989 novel The Armageddon Crazy dealt with a post-2000 United States dominated by fundamentalists who subvert the Constitution. He began writing fantasy literature in the 70s.

Farren wrote 11 works of non-fiction, a number of biographical (including four on Elvis Presley), autobiographical and culture books (such as The Black Leather Jacket) and much poetry.
From 2003 to 2008, he was a columnist for the weekly newspaper Los Angeles CityBeat
In his 3 May 2010 Doc40 blog, Farren announced that he was writing another Victor Renquist novel, with the working title of Renquist V.

In 2013 he worked with digital imprint Ink Monkey Books on audio inserts (with Andy Colquhoun of The Deviants) for reissues of The Text of Festivals and the DNA Cowboys sequence.

1967 – The Deviants – Ptooff! (Impressario/Decca Records)
1968 – The Deviants – Disposable (Stable Records)
1969 – The Deviants – The Deviants 3 (Transatlantic Records)
1970 – Mick Farren – Mona – The Carnivorous Circus (Transatlantic Records)
1978 – Mick Farren – Vampires Stole My Lunch Money (Logo Records)
1984 – The Deviants – Human Garbage – live (Psycho Records)
1987 – Wayne Kramer & Mick Farren – Who Shot You Dutch?
1991 – Wayne Kramer – Death Tongue (Progressive Records)
1993 – Tijuana Bible – Gringo Madness
1995 – Mick Farren and Jack Lancaster – The Deathray Tapes (Alive Records)
1996 – Deviants IXVI – Eating Jello With a Heated Fork (Alive Records)
1999 – The Deviants – Barbarian Princes – Live In Japan
2002 – The Deviants – Dr. Crow (Track Records)
2004 – Mick Farren and The Deviants – Taste The Blue – live (Captain Trip Records, Japan)
2005 – Mick Farren – To The Masterlock – live (Captain Trip Records, Japan)


billy said...

as someone who read articles written by mick farren for around 40 years that was a really good read-but i'd personally recommend wearing cowboy boots over tennis shoes any day of the week-they give better support to the arches!

Anonymous said...

A true original. R.I.P.

Rochacrimson said...

R.I.P. Mick

Stephen said...

The Autobiography at the top of the post is really good, very worth reading. His novel "The Tale of Willy's Rats" is good as well.

I was very pleased to learn of his fondness for cats.

Thanks, Chris.