Photo Realism Creem used to bill itself as "America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine." The uninitiated would be caught short: "But wait, aren't there lots of rock 'n' roll magazines?" Well, no, not if you take the words "rock 'n' roll " to mean not about rock 'n' roll but made up of it -- like the phrase "rock 'n' roll song." Anyway, we were thinking about this while perusing S.F. photographer Jim Marshall's new book, Not Fade Away. Marshall is the famously hard-living journo who was there where it mattered -- Woodstock, with the Beatles at Candlestick Park, at San Quentin with Johnny Cash. What sets him apart is this: In your standard book of rock photos -- like the diverting new Rolling Stone book Images -- you can see various photographers working through the form, trying this trick or that to illuminate the subject. It's a legitimate approach, but Marshall's different: He doesn't evolve, and he doesn't have tricks. He just has a journalist's sense of the need to convey what he sees as the truth, and he has a poet's gift of making that effort somehow redolent in the shots themselves. The result is a book of photographs with a penetratingly honest, sometimes dizzying force. He's been working for nearly 40 years -- the earliest sample here is a typically kinetic 1960 stage shot of Chubby Checker. Along the way he essentially invented the vocabulary of rock photography -- the images that others have worked off in the years since: Otis Redding, head back, crooning into the mike at Monterey; Mick Jagger singing in a dark studio, hands clasping the headphones; the Allmans laughing in the Fillmore East cover shot; and so many other stars -- Janis Joplin, Alice Cooper, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson -- ruminative in hotel rooms or collapsed sweatily backstage. Perhaps the sharpest of these is a tired Joplin clutching a bottle of Southern Comfort in an ungainly sprawl on a dressing-room couch. In an accompanying story, Marshall recalls, "People said her legs looked too fat; But Janis said, 'Hey, that's a great shot because it's how it is sometimes. Lousy.' But you know, I really don't care if Janis liked the picture or not." That's rock 'n' roll. Marshall will be at a reception and book-signing from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 16, at the Serge Sorokko Gallery, 231 Grant (at Post). Call 421-7770 for details. (B.W.)
Michael Hutchence Did Not Die of Autoerotic Asphyxiation Detectives in Sydney yesterday ruled out auto-erotic sex games as the cause of rock star Michael Hutchence's death but said they were awaiting toxicology tests to determine whether he had taken drugs or alcohol. -- The Guardian.
Who Knows What Lurks in the Heart of Shadow? Valentine's Day is traditionally the day of paper hearts, candy, and lovers; in 1998, it will be a day of phat beats, maniacal scratching, and a collaboration between two of hip hop's finest innovators. On heart day 1998, DJ Shadow will release his second album, Pre-emptive Strike, a collection of rereleased import singles and a sprinkling of new songs; "Camel Bobsled Race," the slated first single, will feature San Francisco DJ Q-Bert. In 1996, the Davis-based DJ Shadow's debut LP, Endtroducing, reinvigorated withering hip hop with one experimental blow. His musical collages -- based entirely on rare samples -- spotlighted a thriving culture of turntablists, or DJs who use record players like traditional instruments, and widened the divide between commercial rap and underground hip hop. DJ Q-Bert, a member of the Invisibl Skratch Piklz DJ collective, dented contemporary hip hop with the scratching wizardry showcased on hip-hop cult fave Dr. Octagonecologyst. It's exactly this razor-sharp scratching that Q-Bert lends to Shadow's Pre-emptive Strike. Q-Bert says the two collaborated on "Camel Bobsled Race," a 30-minute single that weaves new inventive scratches into Shadow's older beats. "I took all the beats from Shadow's past releases and created a medley of instrumentals, throwing down scratches on top. Each of his beats has its own personality, so I developed unique scratches to fit each one." Q-Bert says the partnership stems from a friendship that goes back seven years. "I've been friends with Shadow since 1990. We met 'cause both of us were in the hip-hop DJ circuit and shared similar names at the time. I was in a collective called Shadow of the Prophet, which was changed to Invisibl Skratch Piklz when too many DJs with shadow names were on the scene." Shadow approached Q-Bert about the project last summer when both were hanging out. "Shadow came over one day and presented the idea. When I accepted, he handed me a stack of his old records and I went to it." (R.A.)
We Repeat, Hutchence Did Not Die of Autoerotic Asphyxiation Initial speculation that Mr. Hutchence could have died as a result of an auto-erotic game that went wrong was dismissed by police who implied they were treating the death as suicide. Later, a police statement said it was too early to reach any conclusions. -- The Ottawa Citizen.
An Item That Doesn't Ridicule a Dead Person When Link 80 and Knowledge frontman Nick Traina died of a heroin overdose in September, those who knew him best were stunned. Son of famous S.F. romance novelist Danielle Steel, Traina had been diagnosed as a manic depressive. Although those who knew him said the 19-year-old musician wasn't a drug addict, Steel said her son dabbled in heroin when antidepressants failed him. When he died, the local media focused on the drugs and his celebrity mother, but to fans and bandmates Traina was more than Steel's son; he was a talent in his own right. In a celebration of Traina's musical contribution to the East Bay punk scene and his lasting influence on friends and family, the Criminals, Bracket, and Limp will perform a memorial show at the Bottom of the Hill on Dec. 12 at 9:30 p.m. Look for an Aztlan Records compilation album early next year featuring the Link 80 song "Stupido." (S.T.)
Wait, Hutchence Probably Did Die of Autoerotic Asphyxiation White, tight dress, short peroxide hair, lascivious smile: That was Paula Yates on The Tube, her first big break into television, where her every groupie image contrasted effectively with Jools Holland's cool, musicianly ease in relating to the artists appearing. Now she is the bereft girlfriend, mother of a fatherless child, gazing into the abyss of rock 'n' roll bereavement. For her lover Michael Hutchence, undeniably died a hedonistic rock star's death, probably in pursuit of auto-erotic thrills via sexual asphyxia. Together, the couple, both 37, had pursued a religion of sexual adventure. -- The Scotsman.
Rave 'n' Roll Rockers and ravers now have a common house of worship. Wednesday, Dec. 10, marks the first time that dance mecca 1015 Folsom will begin acting like a traditional concert hall. Hiatus Productions is starting a new weekly party that will feature both live music and DJ dance. Of course, 1015 Folsom's Saturday night party "Release" has been doing the same thing for years, but the difference is that Hiatus is going to emphasize live music over DJs. "We're going to bring in acts from reggae to rock," says Hiatus' Scott Manning. Funkin' saxman Maceo Parker is already booked for January, several CD releases for national and international bands are slated, and there are plans for all-day reggae shows. (R.A.)
No, Hutchence Did Not Die of Autoerotic Asphyxiation There was no suicide note, and it's thought Hutchence made an appointment to meet a pal just three hours before his body was discovered. But a police source dismissed claims he died accidentally during a bizarre kinky sex game. Pals of Hutchence feared he was killed by "auto-erotic asphyxia" -- strangling himself at the point of climax to heighten the pleasure. One wept: "He was always looking for an extra kick, and he seems to have pushed the barriers too far this time." But the police insider said: "There were no sex games. It was 100 percent suicide." -- The Daily Record.
Perception: Media Czar. Reality: Dork. The New York Observer reports that Rolling Stone Editor and Publisher Jann Wenner is on an office cleanup binge. Sources told the paper that staffers can no longer have old magazines lying around their desks or floors. No stacks of folders or paper, either. The Observer said that Wenner went so far as to tell his managing editor, Sid Holt (since fired), to clean up his desk, even to reduce the number of trays of his in-box. At one point, Holt came back from lunch to find that his CDs had been boxed up and put into storage. Wenner told the paper that the office was messy and that hints hadn't worked: "Personal involvement from the top carried the day," he said. (K.D.E.)
"Am I buggin' ya? Didn't mean to bug ya.": Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Karl D. Esturbense (K.D.E.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), Heather Wisner (H.W.), and Bill Wyman (B.W.). Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to email@example.com, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.