This is the nearest that you are ever going to get to a posh weekend colour supplement from the Gonzo Daily team. Each week we shall go through the best bits of the week before, and if there aren't any we shall make some up, or simply make our excuses and leave (you can tell the editor once did contract work at the News of the World can't ya?)
Issue Twelve       February 9th, 2013
Social media stuff that I am really too old to understand, (my stepdaughter spent much of last Christmas trying to explain Twitter to me) but I am assuming that at least some of our readers are younger and hipper than I am.
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So what is this all about?

It is simple; my name is Jon and I am the editor of the Gonzo Multimedia daily online magazine. Now there is a weekly newsletter, once again edited by me and my trusty orange cat from a dilapidated ex-potato shed  in rural Devonshire. 

You subscribed to it by opting in on the website. I hope that you all stay to join in the fun, but if it is not to your liking it is just as easy to unsubscribe again. But what a long, strange trip it is gonna be...
It seems that every week that goes by I write that it has been a stranger week than normal. This is probably a mark of the strangeness factor of my life rather than anything else, because this week has certainly been a weird one.

As anyone who has been following our adventures here, or - indeed elsewhere - will know, this has been a horrible period for us computerwise. If this is the digital age as The Hawklords claimed Hawklords – Digital Age then the little village in which I abide is stuck firmly in a pre-technological era. My house was built mostly in 1805 on the ruins of two cottages which had burned down a few years before, and bits were added on in the 1950s and the 1970s. The more recent the building of the house, the more tumbledown it is, and the oldest bits are in reasonable nick. But the wiring leaves a lot to be desired, and computers don't like it here very much.

On top of that, British Telecom, our ISP seems to be providing a very dodgy service at the moment, and some days I have only had a few minutes online at a time. And on top of THAT, two separate hard drives (one containing all my Gonzo stuff) died on me last Sunday. So life is odd.

I would like to thank two friends of the CFZ,  Steve Jones and Terry Colvin were kind enough  to send me totally unsolicited donations, which together have pretty well paid for the repairs. Thank you - both of you - from the bottom of my heart. 

We have had quite a lot of feedback this week, but first I owe an apology to Bart Lancia, who sent me some stuff last week, including rumours of a new Deep Purple album and some stuff for our Yes version of the Court Circular, and what with all the alarms and excursions surrounding our return home, sick cats and non-functional computers and telephone lines, I completely forgot to include them. And ever since I have hardly been able to get online. I'm terribly sorry mate - I hope that I am forgiven.

We have also heard from 'David' who as well as telling me some very interesting information about Yes and ABWH unofficial recordings, gave me some very interesting thingumyjigs for the Yes Court Circular, strangely enough, stuff that is germane to what Bart sent me.

The older I get, the more these little synchronicities happen, and the more I take them in my stride.

We have also heard from Chuck Flood who is sending us some recent material from It's a Beautiful Day to write about, and Graham (who is having a day off today) will be particularly chuffed with a parcel of Bob Calvert DVDs which arrived on our doorstep this morning.
Remember, if you want more than your weekly fix of this newsletter you can check out the Gonzo Daily, which - as its name implies - does much the same as this newsletter but every day. It also features a daily poem from Thom the World Poet, and the occasional non-Gonzo rock music rambling from yours truly, plus book and gig reviews from our highly trained staff of social malcontents. And its FREE! You cannae say fairer than that!
Each week, some of you seem to recognise me. Yes, I am indeed that weird bloke off the telly who chases mythological animals. I have a day job as Director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, and also the editor of the CFZ Blog Network, and publisher of a plethora of books about mystery animals.
THOSE WE HAVE LOST: Reg Presley (1941-2013)
Unusually for an obituary in these pages, I actually knew Reg We met at a UFO Conference in Truro, about 14 years ago, and he tried to demonstrate his alleged anti-gravity machine to me. The fact that it singularly failed to work didn't phase him at all.

He was a genuinely nice bloke, good humoured, and - lest we forget - a bitching songwriter. The world is a poorer place without him.
As I briefly alluded to above, Bart Lancia sent me news of a new Deep Purple album and tour. It so happens that Deep Purple are a band of whom I am rather fond. Many years ago, when I was a mere boy of ten or eleven I lived in Hong Kong which was then a British Crown Colony. My father was a senior officer in HM Overseas Civil Service and we lived in a rather beautiful apartment block on Victoria Peak, the main mountain of Hong Kong Island. Sadly, it was torn down in about 1990, but you can see a picture of it here if you so want.

Don't worry, this is not just a rambling tale of my youth. There is a point to all this, and to understand said point you should probably follow the link to the archive pictures of Peak Mansions.

Hong Kong in the 1960s was largely like Great Britain in the 1930s but with better weather. The liberated 60s may have existed for some people in Hong Kong, but not at Flat 6 Peak Mansions. Deep Purple were what changed all that for me. Every evening just before the 6:00 news there was a five minute cultural slot, where a ballet dancer strutted her stuff, or a string quartet played, or - one one occasion - a folk duo called Simon and Garfunkel sang, and my little brother and I laughed because we thought that 'Garfunkel' sounded rude.

But one night there were five hirsute young men playing a song called Black Night  and no sooner had I heard the opening bars that went "Dum dum de dum dum" than my life changed forever. The next day that immortal riff was still going round and round my head, and together with a friend I climbed up to the flat roof of the building with the big copper green domes, and we sang the tune through, rejoicing in the groovy echo that came back off the hillside behind us until our little throats were hoarse.

So I have always had a soft spot for Deep Purple and so Bart's news item came as a pleasant surprise. Rapture of the Deep (the most recent studio album) was one of the few albums that I bought in 2005, and I am sure that I will buy the forthcoming one as well. One of the things that I have always liked about the band is that they have such a firm identity. Members come, and members go, but they are still unquestionably Deep Purple

I was sad last year to hear of Jon Lord's death, and we paid tribute to him on the Gonzo Daily. We were also pleased to hear that a posthumous album by him is due. Gonzo artiste Rick Wakeman was very moved by Lord's death, and also paid tribute to him.

Still on Gonzo/Deep Purple links, in the past few issues of this newsletter we have been discussing Ian Gillan's pre-Deep Purple band Episode Six, and a chunk of last week's newsletter was devoted to the subject.

But there are more Gonzo/Deep Purple links. Founder member, bass player Nick Simper was later in a band called Warhorse with none other than Rick Wakeman, although he had left by the time that they recorded their first album. I have to admit that I had never heard them, so I checked them out on Spotify and they are pretty good if you like that sort of thing (which on the whole I do).

So, I wondered what Nick Simper did next, and to my great pleasure, I found that he had released two records on ...wait for it, Gonzo. Anyone who has a band called Nasty Habits is OK by me. 

Why didn't I know about Nick's albums? There is such an enormous back catalogue for me to explore that I really am like the eponymous kid in the candy store, and am having great fun seeing what I can unearth.


Hugh Hopper (ABOVE RIGHT), who died of leukaemia in 2009, started his musical career in 1963 as the bass player with the Daevid Allen Trio alongside drummer Robert Wyatt.  There can be few other free jazz bands of the era with such a stellar line-up. Unlike other legendary ensembles such as The Crucial Three (a Liverpool band from 1977 which featured three musicians who were to go on to enormous success) the Daevid Allen Trio actually played gigs and made recordings.
All three members ended up in Soft Machine, which - together with Pink Floyd - was the ‘house band’ of the burgeoning ‘Underground’ movement which tried so hard to turn British cultural mores upside down for a few years in the latter half of the 1960s.  (Hopper and Wyatt had also been in another legendary Canterbury band called The Wilde Flowers).  Hopper stayed with Soft Machine (for whom he was initially the group’s road manager) until 1973 playing at least one session with Syd Barrett along the way.
During his tenure, the band developed from a psychedelic pop group to an instrumental jazz rock fusion band, all the time driven by the lyrical bass playing of Hugh Hopper.
After leaving the band he worked with many pillars of the jazz rock fusion scene such as: Isotope, Gilgamesh, Stomu Yamashta and Carla Bley.  He also formed some co-operative bands with Elton Dean who had also been in Soft Machine
Previously Dean had been in a band called Bluesology, whose keyboard player Reginald Dwight had concluded that his was not a name that had much commercial potential, so he pinched Dean’s Christian name and as a surname chose part of the name of Bluesology’s lead singer, Long John Baldry. 
HOPPER/DEAN/TIPPETT/GALLIVAN was an experimental jazz outfit formed in 1976 by Hopper and Dean, teaming up with the renowned jazz pianist and composer Keith Tippett, and the remarkable avant garde drummer/synth player  Joe Gallivan. In 1977 the quartet released their album "Cruel but Fair", which Wally Stoup describes as:
“…a wide-ranging programme of bristling, exploratory jazz and innovative electronic music. Gallivan plays synthesiser in addition to his propulsive, pulse-oriented drums, and on several cuts ("Jannakota" and "Rocky Recluse"), the music drifts into beguiling electronic soundscapes. These serve as interludes for the more energetic and fiery pieces featuring Dean's singular sax and Tippett's dense, multi-layered piano. Dean's distinctive alto and the seldom-played saxello both project a plaintive, vocalised sound, equally adaptable to the frenzy of "Seven Drones" or the calm of "Echoes". This ability to shift emotional gears, shared by the group as a whole, results in a collective music that is both spontaneous and cohesive. “
The band also embarked on a tour of Europe. What is less well known is that they did quite a bit more recording that year. The material on this remarkable album is from these sessions and comes from the archives of the late Hugh Hopper. 

The Court Circular tells interested readers about the comings and goings of members of The Royal Family. However, readers of this periodical seem interested in the comings and goings of Yes and of various alumni of this magnificent and long-standing band. Give the people what they want, I say
Chris Squire has, once again, been the most visible member of Yes this week, with another interesting interview about the forthcoming tour and album. He seems to be very much into the next album, and eulogises Jon Davison's songwriting skills.

Even though it happened several weeks ago, the papers are still full of the story that Steve Howe has left Asia to concentrate on Yes and has been replaced by a pretty young lad from the Midlands.
Now, ever since I realised that I had forgotten to use the interesting news story that Bart had sent me (see above) I have been trying to think of an appropriate headline for it. The best I could come up with was:


(...which I still think is less Health and Safety baiting than CRUISE TO THE EDGE)

If anyone can do better, I will buy them a pint at a time and place to be confirmed. Anyway - here it is:

The renowned progressive rock band YES will lead an all-star lineup aboard Cruise To The Edge, departing from Fort Lauderdale, FL on March 25, 2013 for five days and nights, visiting beautiful Caribbean ports including Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Georgetown, Cayman Islands. 
Billed as one of the greatest progressive rock festivals of all time, this cruise is an opportunity for fans to get up-close-and-personal with legendary bands and artists.  Featuring non-stop entertainment, activities and events, this fan fantasy camp also features Steve Hackett’s Genesis Revisted; UK with Eddie Jobson, John Wetton, Alex Machacek & Terry Bozio; Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy, featuring the music of that legendary band; Tangerine Dream featuring Edgar Froese; Saga, Nektar, Zebra, Glass Hammer, IOEarth,  and Trans Siberian Orchestra’s Joel Hoekstra,  Heavy Mellow and more.  Tickets are on sale now at  

Read on...

And 'David' whom I mentioned above, wrote to me asking me to remind folk that Mystery who are in the bill above are actually the band for whom another Yes almnus, Benoit David has been singing since 1999. Golly. It gets complicated doesn't it?

Part of me would love to go on that cruise. With a cost of only $999 it seems an utter bargain, but I don't have $999, and part of me is still a hairy young streetfighting man who believes that "what else can a poor boy do, but sing in a rock and roll band?" and feels that we should all be manning the barricades rather than going on cruises. Like Lou Reed once said, I have a rock and roll heart!
Years ago before the digital revolution changed everything, I was still doing roughly what I do now; publishing books and magazines about Forteana and Rock Music - two subjects that are more entwined than one would possibly think. As always I was happy to enter into an exchange of publications with other fanzine editors, and I will always remember a rather nifty (but terribly earnest) prog rock fanzine, whose editor apologised for the lateness of that issue by saying that he had tried to get a girlfriend and failed, and then landed a part in his school production of Fiddler on the Roof. 

My excuse for this issue being a few hours late is as well as all the computer and internet problems that we have been having recently, I had to break off work on this issue to talk to Merrell Fankhauser, the man who wrote Wipe Out about his memories of Captain Beefheart, his one meeting with Frank Zappa, his memories of The Beach Boys, his new project revisiting the seminal Jimi Hendrix movie Rainbow Bridge, and a gig that he is doing tonight with Dean Torrence of Jan and Dean.

We also touched on UFOs, the lost continent of Mu, the work of James Churchward, and his own massively impressive solo projects. He is a fascinating man, and the interview will appear in a few days. In the mean time check out some of his Gonzo back catalogue..

These are exciting times for Michael Des Barres Fans. Last week we wrote about the imminent re-issue of a massively obscure live in the studio album by his mid-late 1970s band Detective. There is also an imminent reissue of his first solo album from back in 1980, and there is also a live album from one of last year's barnstorming gigs in the pipeline. There will be more news on them next week.

But now, on top of it all, he has released a fabulous new single. How this man is not either the biggest star in the world, or at the very least the recipient of the Queen's Award for Industry, I really have no idea.
Michael Des Barres at Gonzo UK
Michael Des Barres at Gonzo USA
Sadly I owe Corky Laing an apology. I have a very soft spot for him, but he was one of the unwitting victims of this week's computer atrocities. Earlier in the week I posted this song as my Gonzo Track of the Day. I credited it as being a solo track by Leslie West, when - as Corky jocularly took me to task the next day - it was actually a track by their band Mountain. 

I don't usually make mistakes of that magnitude, but I do assure you I was completely sober at the time. It is just that when you only have a window of about ten minutes at a time to do as much work in as possible, you tend to rush things a bit.

However, it does give me an excuse (as if any excuse were needed) to tell you that as soon as my internet access is back to normal, I have an exclusive track from Corky's new project for you. The song is called College Girls and it sounds like what would happen if The Beach Boys played with Public Enemy. Yup, its THAT good. It is from a complex new opera about Genetic Manipulation being written by a bunch of esteemed academics...

Confused? So am I, but it all makes a glorious sort of insane sense. I am looking forward to telling you more about it anon.

Dark Wear is the second book of Tabitca Cope’s highly acclaimed Dark Ness trilogy.  In this volume Laura and her friends, together with the mysterious Angels of the Talisman, join forces again, this time around Durham and its environs where they find themselves embroiled in the dark forces of witchcraft, Nazis and ancient history.  As with Dark Ness, this story grips you from the beginning and takes you on an adventure that you are – in a strange way – sorry to see end.  But there is still the final volume to come, and I cannot wait to read it.

Check it out

Bloody computers! I seem to have spent most of the last week making excuses involving them, pricing up how to get them repaired, or trying to work out how to carry out my day-to-day existence without them, until I am sick and tired of the subject.

However, after the things that Dave B-P and his lovely assistant Jo-Jo did today, my telephone system seems to be slowly improving. We still have a painfully slow level of internet access, but it is better than nothing, and I hope that things are slowly returning to normal.

I must apologise to all of you who have offered to write for this newsletter (which is rapidly becoming a magazine) and I promise that I am not at all ungrateful for your offers, just that I have hardly been able to go online to write to any of you in the past week, and before that I was taking my mother-in-law back to her Granny flat in Oakham.

But as I said, we are slowly getting back to normal, and there are all sorts of exciting things in the offing, such as the return of the Gonzo podcasts, but with an exciting (and typically Jon Downesesque new twist to them. Just watch this space.

Until next week,

Jon Downes

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