6-14-12 Mr. X
Anonymity? Desirable! I always used to see on French phonograph records the credit “Photo – “X” – when they either didn’t know (or care) who had taken the photo. In the mid-70’s, Peter Hammill used to write / sing about “Mr. X” (“Mr. X Gets Tense”). Who is this un-nameable one?
The “X” concept showed up again during the advent of “punk rock” – in L.A., anyway – at the end of the 1970’s. I was reading a lot of W.S. Burroughs at that time, too. And let’s not forget the dear old Firesign Theatre: “Rated X: The Unknown – Positively no one admitted!” “X-Rated”? You must be 18 years of age to enter this theatre! Looks like “X” went from meaning ‘anonymous’ to meaning ‘adult’? Mr. X grows up!
I was already hanging out on the Sunset Strip as early as 1972 or so – largely due to the presence of Tower Records. I was regularly going to shows at both The Whisky and The Roxy – some by choice, others because I worked at a record distributor and tickets to shows got offered to me (usually for free!).
I remember well standing in line to buy $7 tickets to the Peter Gabriel show at The Roxy – it was his first solo shows here after he ceased being the lead singer of Genesis. Jordan Shroyer and myself got in line about 7:00am – the Roxy box office wouldn’t open until 11:00am (or was it noon?). The biggest deal remember from the nascent punk rock era was John Cale scheduling shows at The Whisky, some time after the release of “Animal Justice” (1977), yet well before “Sabotage” (1979). Amazingly loud shows that would make you temporarily deaf!
“Is it punk or new wave?” – I remember seeing Blondie at The Whisky and members of The Screamers were in the audience – with torn clothing etc. When I saw Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers at The Whisky (and met Denny Cordell), I think Blondie was in their audience, with distinctly non-L.A. looking clothing – with plenty of ‘attitude’, smoking cigarettes.
A favorite “Mr. X” memory: The parking lot of Tower Records (8801 Sunset Blvd.); the members of Zolar X were there, painted / made-up faces (with antennae) to be silver in color, getting out of a car that had some spurious additional body work to make it resemble a space ship; I believe they were speaking to one another by saying “Bzzzip! Zaap!” etc. It took about 30 years, but I eventually got the CD that Alternative Tentacles issued (“Timeless”). Don Bolles had a clear vinyl LP of “Timeless” by Zolar X, however.
So, “Faculty X”! I wanted to bulldoze through the L.A. new wave scene, and never get blamed. If you were “Mr. X”, they couldn’t find you, anyway!