As has been discussed many times, Christopher Owens, formerly of Girls and now a well-known San Francisco solo artist, had an unusual upbringing. His parents were members of the Jesus cult known as the Children of God, and traveled all over the world for the first years of Owens' life. He later followed his sister to Texas, where he lived largely on the streets -- until he unexpectedly found a mentor and a benefactor. That man was Stanley Marsh 3, a Texas eccentric and artist who created the Cadillac Ranch, and helped Owens hone the creative work that eventually pushed him to move to San Francisco.
Marsh died this afternoon, according to news reports. He was 76. Owens -- who is often chatty online -- sadly and cryptically noted the passing of his father-like figure on Twitter:
The Village Voice looked into Owens' sensational backstory back in 2009, and found that it mostly checked out. Marsh had this to say about the former Girls singer:
Just lost the greatest man I've ever known. I won't be around here for a while. You all take care. X— Christopher Owens (@Chri55yBaby) June 17, 2014
"How many kids are gutter-punk-style, drug-addicted?" the 71-year-old [Marsh] asks in a gruff drawl. "Most aren't any good. They are boring. Chris was a diamond in the rough." Marsh rejects the notion that he performed any Dickensian act of charity: "I don't know about 'father figure' -- I raised hell with him. We're not Boy Scouts." But he did cop to adding stability to Owens's life, and appreciated the teen's artistic fervor: "We have this grand piano, and Chris would come out with those little tape recorders mainly used for dictation and write music to send to his relatives, his nieces and nephews." Because Owens didn't want to practice in front of the group, Marsh and his wife had to sneak into the dining room and listen to him sing and play in the dark. "I don't think Chris has insights that come easily to him," Marsh says. "He works hard for it."Marsh had had a series of strokes in recent years. As the Amarillo Globe-News notes, the artist and multimillionaire was indicted six times on eight counts of sexual performance by a child, four counts of sexual assault of a child, and two counts of indecency with a child in 2012. He was also revered by the local art community. Meanwhile, Owens is set to perform Aug. 9 at Outside Lands. Our condolences to him for today's loss. -- @iPORT