Saturday, November 29, 2008

Zappadan: A Most Immaculately Hip Aristocrat

For Zappadan this year, I'm going to be playing a variation of the Six Degrees of Separation game. I call it the Cosmik Debris of Zapparation. The general idea is to tell the stories of people that are somehow connected with Zappa. Todays contestant is Lord Buckley, A Most Immaculately Hip Aristocrat.

"Lord Buckley left behind a substantial, if generally unknown, legacy. Honey Bruce in her autobiography says, "Lenny did vocal impressions of famous stars, but I believe he learned he could use his voice to create many comedy characters from his experiences with Lord Buckley. With Lenny's talents there was no problem coming up with the voices, but it was the dear Lord Buckley who did it first."

Larry Storch, Jonathan Winters, Whoopi Goldberg, and Robin Williams have acknowledged their debt to him. Henry Miller, Greer Garson, and Charlie Parker were some of his admirers. Frank Sinatra was his friend, until His Lordship supposedly marched sixteen naked people through the lobby of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel where Sinatra was performing.

George Harrison's 1977 hit song "Crackerbox Palace" was indeed named after Buckley's tiny Hollywood dwelling. The Mr. Greif referred to in the song was once Buckley's manager, and "...the Lord is well inside of you..." refers to the earthly, not the heavenly, divinity. Jimmy Buffett has recorded and performed an original Buckley number called "God's Own Drunk."

Bob Dylan fell in love with "Black Cross," the story of a black man who is lynched for his supposed lack of religious beliefs. Written by a Cleveland poet named Joseph Newman, it was one of the few works Buckley recited in its original form. Dylan performed "Black Cross" in concert and two bootleg recordings from 1961 and 1962 do exist. If you look closely at the cover of Dylan's album, Bringing It All Back Home, you will see a copy of Buckley's album, The Best of Lord Buckley (Crestview), on the mantle over the fireplace. And Frank Zappa edited His Lordship's LP, a most immaculately hip aristocrat".

"In California Buckley found the perfect place to continue the free-spirited lifestlye he had pursued back East. It made no difference whether he and his family lived in dilapidated places like the Chicken Coop or the Crackerbox Palace or in a mansion (The Castle) in the Hollywood Hills. The latter, complete with moat, once belonged to the silent movie actress Barbara La Marr. It was owned by an old widow and Buckley used his considerable charm to talk her into renting it to him for a song and a dance.

The Castle had its own throne from which His Lordship would hold court for the likes of Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Tony Curtis. Also welcome were junkies, musicians and virtually anyone else who wanted to join the party. It was at the Topanga Canyon art gallery owned by his friend Bob DeWitt that Lord Buckley started the first jazz church, which he christened "The Church of the Living Swing." Said Lady Buckley, "All the people sat on railroad ties, and it was the first time they had a light show. His Lordship would perform, and there would be music. It only lasted four weeks but it was wonderful."


Coffee Messiah said...

Did you know a few years ago and maybe still, Buckleys son was selling CDs of his stuff on Ebay?

I know, I got some and a note.

This reminds me, there was supposed to be a Biography a few years ago and I've forgotten to look into it.

zencomix said...

Yeah, it's nice to know that some people want to keep the spirit alive.