Rethinking John Lennon’s Assassination
The FBI’s War on Rock Stars
By Salvador Astucia
Part V: Rock Stars & the New Left
Chapter 14: More casualties
Summary of deaths
Figure 14-1 presents an analysis of the deaths of 82 rock, blues and country artists who died prematurely. (See listing of casualties in Appendix L.)
Figure 14-1. Cause of Death Analysis (percentages)
Of the 82 casualties listed, only 15 percent died of natural causes (heart attack, cancer, tuberculoses), and the remaining 85 percent died from a variety of unusual and unnatural causes. The two highest causes of death were murder and auto accidents (15 percent each). Right behind those were suicide and aircraft crashes (13 percent each). The median age was 32 years old. An additional 29 percent of unnatural deaths occurred for a variety of reasons: accidental self-inflicted gunshot, accidental alcohol OD, accidental drug OD, anorexia nervosa, shot by police, drowning, alcoholism, heroin addiction, and other bizarre accidents. Table 14-1 gives a breakdown by number of deaths per category and percentage.
The list covers a 73-year time span, from 1929 through 2002; however, most of the deaths occurred after 1954 with the advent of Elvis Presley. Admittedly, the list is by no means comprehensive. Some may say I left out too many names, but the objective was to make a list of stars who died young, questionable circumstances. Being in a rock group doesn’t necessarily make someone a star. Hence, many names are omitted. Conversely, the list also includes several obscure names who were members of extremely popular bands. Examples are Terry Kath: lead guitarist, vocalist, and founding member of Chicago; Alan Wilson and Bob Hite: founding members of the blues/rock group, Canned Heat; Tommy Caldwell: bass guitarist and founding member of the southern rock group, The Marshall Tucker Band; Carl Radle: bass player for Eric Clapton’s renowned group, Derek and the Dominos; Felix Pappalardi: bass player and vocalist for the rock group, Mountain. Pappalardi was also a successful producer, most widely known for producing Cream.
|Table 14-1: Rock Star Deaths|
The list in Appendix L contains three types of people: (a) bona fide "stars," (b) influential managers or promoters, or (c) artists who played important roles behind the scenes, but were not stars per se. The latter category includes names like Danny Gatton, Roy Buchanan, Nancy Nevins, and Arthur Lee. Gatton and Buchanan were renowned "super-guitarists" within the music industry, but never recognized by the general public. Both men lived in the Washington, DC area, and surprisingly, both men’s deaths were ruled suicide, although there is compelling evidence that Buchanan was murdered by police after being arrested for public drunkenness.1 Several people—including Buchanan’s wife, Judy—claim the body had severe head injuries which indicates foul play rather than suicide.2 Nancy Nevins is the only name on the list who did not actually die; however, she was seriously injured in an automobile accident. Nevins is important for three reasons: first, she was the lead vocalist in the band, Sweetwater, the first band to perform at Woodstock. Second, she may have the first victim of FBI’s retaliation against rock stars in the aftermath of Woodstock. About four months after the historic rock concert, Nevins’ car was struck by a drunken driver. The accident left her temporarily in a coma, causing some brain damage, and she lost the use of one of her vocal chords, thereby ending her singing career. Third, Nevins’ accident occurred on December 8, 1969, Jim Morrison’s birthday; the same day John Lennon would be shot and killed eleven years later.
The list also contains names of several blues artists—Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Sony Boy Williamson, Little Walter Jacobs—and two country artists, Hank Williams and Patsy Cline, because both blues and country are important elements of rock ‘n’ roll. Blues artist Robert Johnson is considered a sage to many rock guitarists born years after his death, most notably Eric Clapton. As stated earlier, Hank Williams might have been labeled a rock ‘n’ roll artist, but he died in 1953, a year before the genre was born with the advent of Elvis. And Patsy Cline was a crossover country artist. In fact, she recorded one of Elvis’s early tunes, "Blue Moon of Kentucky."
Clusters of deaths follow other important events
Many of the deaths of rock stars were clustered around other political events or assassinations. For example, three people died in late 1964, early 1965, at the time President Lyndon Johnson began to aggressively escalate US troops in Vietnam. On December 11, 1964, Sam Cooke was shot and killed in Los Angeles, California by a motel manager. A month later, on January 20, 1965, Alan Freed—the disc jock/promoter who coined the name "rock ‘n’ roll—died purportedly from complications with alcoholism. A month after that, on February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was shot to death at a rally of his followers at a Harlem ballroom. Three Black Muslims were convicted of the murder. Cooke was reportedly friends with Muhammad Ali (real name, Cassius Clay) and Malcolm X.3
A string of deaths centered around the Woodstock rock festival, which occurred on August 15, 1969 through August 17th. On July 3, 1969, Brian Jones—rhythm guitarist and founding member of the Rolling Stones died from drowning in Hartfield, Sussex, England. He was 27.4 On July 31, 1969 the mutilated body of Gary Hinman, 32, was found at his residence on Topanga Canyon Rd., Los Angeles. On August 9, 1969, the bodies of Sharon Tate, Abigail Folger, Voytek Frykowki, Jay Sebring, and Steven Parent were found at Tate’s rented home on Cielo Drive, Bel Air, Los Angeles. On August 10, 1969, the mutilated bodies of Leno LaBianca, 44, and his wife Rosemary, 38, were found at their residence in Los Feliz, Los Angeles.5 Charlie Manson and several members of his commune were later convicted for the LA murders.
On December 8, 1969, Nancy Nevins, Nancy was seriously injured when her car was struck by a drunk driver. As previously stated, Nevins was lead vocalist of Sweetwater, the first band to perform at Woodstock.6 On September 3, 1970, Alan Wilson—founding member of Canned Heat—was found dead in his sleeping bag in Topanga Canyon, California. A shroud of mystery surrounds his death. Wilson apparently died from a drug overdose, but there is a question as to whether it was accidental, suicide, or murder. He was 27. Canned Heat was reportedly the highest paid band to perform at Woodstock.7 On September 18, 1970, guitarist Jimi Hendrix was found dead in London, England from what appeared to be an accidental drug overdose. Years later the physician who treated him said Hendrix actually died from being drowned in red wine. Hendrix was 27. He had performed at Woodstock and played a psychedelic rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. September 19, 1970, Jim Morrison, of the Doors, was convicted in Miami, Florida of indecent exposure and drunkenness.8 On October 4, 1970, blues/rock singer Janis Joplin was found dead from a lethal dose of heroin. She did not overdose per se. She had gotten a bad batch which was too potent, not because she injected too much. Joplin was 27. She too performed at Woodstock.9 On July 3, 1971, Jim Morrison died in Paris; death was ruled a heart attack. He was 27.10 On October 12, 1971, rockabilly legend Gene Vincent died in Newhall, California reportedly from complications related to alcoholism; however, the precise cause of death is uncertain. In 1960, Vincent was seriously injured in an automobile accident, in London, which took the life of Fifties rock star Eddie Cochran. Vincent was 36.11 On October 29, 1971, guitarist Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Georgia.12 Allman was lead guitarist and founding member of the Allman Brothers Band. He also recorded with Eric Clapton in Derek and the Dominos. Prior to forming the Allman Brothers Band, he was session guitarist at Muscle Shoals studio where he recorded with Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett.
Several people died shortly after Elvis Presley’s death on August 16, 1977. Exactly a month later, on September 16, 1977, Marc Bolan was killed in an auto accident. Bolan was a founding member of Tyrannosaurus Rex (also, T Rex). He was 29.13 On October 20, 1977, three members of southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd were killed in a plane crash in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Killed in the accident were lead vocalist, Ronnie Van Zant (28); guitarist, Steve Gaines (28); and wife and backup singer, Cassie Gaines (29).14 On January 23, 1978, Terry Kath—lead guitarist, singer and founding member of Chicago—died in Los Angeles from a gunshot wound in the head. His death was ruled an accidental shooting. Kath was 31.15
Numerous rock stars died several months before and after John Lennon’s murder on December 8, 1980. On April 28, 1980, about seven months before Lennon’s murder, Tommy Caldwell died from injuries sustained in a jeep accident. Calwell was the bassist and founding member of the Marshall Tucker Band. He was 30.16 A month later, on May 30, 1980, Carl Radle reportedly died of a kidney infection induced by years of alcoholism and drug addiction. Radle was the bassist for Derek and the Dominos, George Harrison, Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen; and other bands. He was 38.17 On September 25, 1980, John Bonham died in Windsor, Berkshire, England. Bonham was the drummer for supergroup Led Zeppelin. He reportedly drank a large amount of vodka, went to bed, vomited in his sleep and choked on it. Bonham was 32.18 On April 5, 1981, four months after Lennon’s murder, Bob Hite died of an apparent drug overdose. Hite was the lead vocalist and founding member of Canned Heat. He was 38.19 On May 11, 1981, Bob Marley died in Miami, Florida from cancer—a malignant brain tumor that spread throughout his body. Marley was a Jamaican reggae singer, guitarist, songwriter, political activist and founding member of the Wailers. He was 36.20 On July 16, 1981, Harry Chapin was killed in an automobile accident in Jericho, New York. Chapin was a singer, acoustic guitarist, songwriter, and political activist. He was 38.21
Several rock stars died in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan was pushing the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)—nicknamed "Star Wars"—which contained the largest Defense Department budget ever passed in peacetime. On February 4, 1983, Karen Carpenter died unexpectedly at her parents' home in California from heart failure, reportedly the result of years of suffering with anorexia nervosa. She was lead vocalist and drummer of the The Carpenters, a group comprised mainly of herself and her brother Richard on keyboards and backup vocals. The Carpenters had a string of hits in the late Sixties and Seventies. Karen Carpenter was 32.22 On April 14, 1983, Pete Farndon was "found dead in his bathtub with his body pumped full of heroin and cocaine." Farndon was bassist and founding member of the Pretenders. He was 30. Ten months earlier, another founding member of the Pretenders, guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, died under similar circumstances. On June 16, 1982, Honeyman-Scott was found dead, reportedly from a drug overdose. He allegedly died from "cocaine intolerance which caused heart failure." Honeyman-Scott was 25.23 On April 17, 1983, Felix Pappalardi was shot and killed by longtime girlfriend Gail Collins in his Manhattan apartment. Pappalardi was bassist, singer and founding member Mountain, another group that performed at Woodstock. Pappalardi was also a respected producer who worked with various bands, most notably Cream. Pappalardi was 43.24 On November 19, 1983, Tom Evans reportedly committed suicide by hanging. Evans was a singer, guitarist and founding member of Badfinger, unquestionably Apple Records’ most successful band. Apple was the Beatles’ record company formed in the late Sixties. Evans was 36. His death is particularly odd because another member of Badfinger, Pete Ham, committed suicide by hanging eight years earlier, on April 23, 1975. Ham was a singer, guitarist, and keyboardist for Badfinger. He was 28.25 On December 28, 1983, Dennis Wilson died from drowning while free-diving in the frigid waters of Marina Del Rey Harbor. Wilson was the drummer and founding member of the Beach Boys. He was also close friends with Charlie Manson. According to the official story, Wilson was legally intoxicated when he drowned. He was 39.26 On April 1, 1984, R & B singer Marvin Gaye was shot and killed by his father during a family dispute. In 1971 Gaye released a highly successful album, What's Goin On, which expressed strong anti-Vietnam War sentiment. The album was a critical and commercial sensation in spite of Motown producer Barry Gordy’s opposition to its political content. Gaye was 45.27
Two listings of casualties are provided in Appendix L: one is sorted by the artists’ last names; the other is sorted chronologically by the date of the artist’s death. Obviously 82 casualties are too many to discuss in one book, but the following artists are discussed in this chapter as case studies:
On July 3, 1969, the body of Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones was found in a swimming pool at his home in Hartfield, Sussex, England. His death was ruled accidental drowning. He was 27. Jones was a blues historian who kept the group focused on their early musical direction and is considered by many to have been the Stones’ original leader. Nearly 25 years after his death, someone confessed to murdering Jones. In April 1994, Frank Thorogood confessed, on his death bed, to murdering Jones. Witnesses have corroborated Thorogood’s story, claiming that Thorogood and two others held Jones underwater in the rock star’s swimming pool until Jones had drowned. Four eye-witnesses, Nick Fitzgerald, Richard Cadbury, Anna Wohlin, and Linda Lawrence kept quiet for years because they were threatened either by Thorogood or his accomplices. In 1999, Wohlin wrote a book, The Murder of Brian Jones, where she describes how Jones was murdered and how Thorogood coerced her into remaining silent.28
According to rock researcher Alex Constantine, Brian Jones and Mick Jagger had openly criticized the war policies of Western governments. Jones reportedly said: "Nothing destroys culture, art or the simple privilege of having time to think quicker than a war." After watching the anti-war rallies at the London Embassy and in Paris, Jagger made the following remarks: "I see a great deal of danger in the air. [The fans] are not screaming over pop music anymore, they’re screaming for much deeper reasons. We are only serving as a means of giving them an outlet. Teenagers of the world over are weary of being pushed around by half-witted politicians who attempt to dominate their way of thinking and set a code for their living. This is a protest against the system. And I see a lot of trouble coming in the dawn…War stems from power-mad politicians and patriots. Some new master plan would end all these mindless men and seats of power and replace them with real people, people of compassion."29 (Constantine does not provide dates, but it is presumed Jones’ and Jagger’s remarks were made between 1967 and 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War.)
On December 8, 1969 (Jim Morrison’s 26th birthday), singer Nancy Nevins was seriously injured when her car was struck by a drunk driver. As previously stated, Nevins was lead vocalist for the rock group Sweetwater, the first band to perform at Woodstock The accident left her in a coma, with a degree of brain damage, but worst of all, she permanently lost the use of one vocal chord, which dramatically changed the sound of her singing voice. She underwent several throat operations, but the accident caused Sweetwater to lose its momentum and eventually the band broke up. At the age of twenty, an accident had destroyed Nevins’ burgeoning singing career.30
Sweetwater was a rising new band in the mid and late Sixties. Formed in 1968, one of their first big performances was opening for Janis Joplin’s band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, at one of the most popular clubs in Los Angeles, the Whiskey a Go-Go, a regular gig for the Doors before they gained national fame in 1967. Sweetwater had a unique sound at the time, incorporating Latin Percussion congas before Carlos Santana. Unlike most rock bands, they didn’t use electric guitars. The original ensemble was seven people: Nancy Nevins on lead vocals; Fred Herrara on bass; Alex Del Zoppo on keyboards; Albert Moore on flute; August Burns on cello; Alan Malarowitz on drums; and Elpidio (Pete) Cobian on Conga drums. Sweetwater was one of the first multicultural bands of the Sixties which gave it a different sound and look.
Sweetwater developed a lot of momentum quickly, and released a debut album with Reprise. They performed with virtually every major rock group of the Sixties, including the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, the Beach Boys, Big Brother & The Holding Co. w/ Janis Joplin, Cream, the Grateful Dead, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, the Allman Brothers Band, the Who, Frank Zappa, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Chicago, Chuck Berry, Spirit, Joe Cocker, War, Joan Baez, Steve Miller, the Chambers Brothers, and many others.
The group performed on major network television shows like Red Skelton, American Bandstand, Playboy After Dark, Hollywood Palace, and so on. Besides Woodstock, they played most of the major national rock venues and pop festivals of the time. Sweetwater’s website reveals that three of the original band members have died prematurely. Flutist Albert Moore died from lung cancer in 1994, but no age was given. Drummer Alan Malarowitz was killed in a car accident one night between L.A. and Las Vegas. The website indicates he was 31 when he died, but no date is provided. Cellist August Burns fell out of a construction elevator while in Germany studying conducting; he contracted pneumonia while in the hospital and died shortly thereafter. Again, no death date or age is provided.
Nevins is still living; she left the music business for many years, married, divorced, went back to college and got several degrees. In 1997 she reunited with two surviving bandmembers, Fred Herrara and Alex Del Zoppo. By then Nancy had learned to sing again. Consequently, they decided to pick up where Sweetwater had left off nearly thirty years earlier. They reformed the band, hired new members, started performing again and have had limited success. Nevins eventually co-wrote a screenplay about the band with Joe Graves, which they sold to VH1. In 1999, the resulting movie, Sweetwater: A True Rock Story, aired on television to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Woodstock. Despite the band’s tragic history, one gets the impression from Sweetwater’s website that Nevins and her present band members are having a blast playing music again.31
|Sweetwater at Woodstock (Nancy Nevins is on far right)|
Love was an interesting West Coast band from the Sixties. Jim Morrison stated, in 1967, in a fact sheet that accompanied his bio for Elektra records, that his favorite vocal groups were "the Beach Boys, the Kinks, and Love."32 Who was this band, Love? And why didn’t they ever go anywhere? From my research, Love appears to be closely linked to the infamous Manson murders. I suspect the surviving members of Love have an understanding of Charlie Manson and his commune which is similar to what I have presented in this book. Figure 14-2 is a picture of Love, taken around 1966, which shows them standing or sitting on a spiral staircase. During that period, Love reportedly lived together in a Gothic mansion once owned by actor Bela Lugosi.
Figure 14-2: Love on Spiral Staircase (1966)
L-R: Al "Snoopy" Pfisterer, Arthur Lee, Ken Forssi, Bryan Maclean, John Echols
On May 22, 1999, Sean Elder wrote an article about Love for Salon magazine in San Francisco. In the article, Elder described how the mansion’s "destroyed fireplace and spiral staircase appear in most of the Love photo shoots" from the Sixties.33 Could Lugosi’s Gothic mansion be the same place in Topanga Canyon that Charlie Manson called the "Spiral Staircase," the house of drugs, sex and depraved satanic practices?
Before I proceed further, let us examine the group, Love. My research indicates that Love was formed in 1965, founded by Arthur Lee (real name, Arthur Porter Taylor, born March 7, 1945, in Memphis). They played under several names (The LAGs, The American Four, The Grass Roots*) before settling on Love in 1966.34 Love went through some personnel changes early on, but had the following lineup by 1966: Arthur Lee: guitar, vocals; Byran MacLean: guitar, vocals; Ken Forssi: bass; Johnny Echols: lead guitar; Michael Stuart: drums.† This was an integrated lineup. Lee Author and Jerry Echols were light-skinned blacks; Byran MacLean and Ken Forssi were white. Also, Love’s sound unusual, closer to the Byrds and Beatles than James Brown or the Temptations.‡ Such color-blind racial mixing of popular music had not been seen since the Fifties when promoters for independent record labels had targeted teenagers of all races as consumers of the new product, rock ‘n’ roll. Since then, the independent labels were bought up by larger corporate labels and musical segregation followed. There is no question that musical segregation was practiced by major record labels in the Sixties, and the ensuing decades. But was it deliberate or was it a natural evolution. An argument could be made that it was deliberate which is perhaps one dynamic in the fates of both Sweetwater and Love. Both bands integrated their music as well as their personnel.
Love released their first album, Love, in September 1966, followed by Da Capo, in February 1967, but it was Forever Changes—released in February 1968—that caught the attention of many rock critics.35 The following is a description of Forever Changes from a Love biography on the BBC’s website:
Authors Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman made several references—in their Morrison biography, No One Here Gets Out Alive—to the Doors’ admiration for the band, Love, and vice-versa. In fact, it was Love’s leader, Arthur Lee, who encouraged Elektra Records’ founder and president, Jac Holzman, to sign the Doors. (NOTE: Writer Barney Hoskyns asserts that Jerry Hopkins and Doug Lyon co-managed Love in 1966.37 This is quite odd, given that Hopkins mentioned Love in his book about the Doors, but failed to reveal that he managed them.) The following is an excerpt from No One Here Gets Out Alive, by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman, which describes how Arthur Lee helped the Doors get a contract with Elektra Records:
Why didn’t this group, Love, go anywhere? They seemed to have the right connections. They were pals with the Doors, even helped get them a recording contract with Elektra. And Morrison reciprocated by citing Love as one of his favorite vocal groups in his official bio for Elektra. Critics and fans loved them. In 1968, they released a classic album, Forever Changes. Why did they disappear from the Sixties without a trace? Rock journalist and author Barney Hoskyns provided some insight about Love in his book, Arthur Lee: Alone Again Or (2001). According to Hoskyns, Love was associated with Charlie Manson, the aspiring musician, through Manson family member Bobby Beausoleil, the young man convicted of murdering Gary Hinman. Apparently Beausoleil played rhythm guitar for Love in 1965, when they were named The Grass Roots. The following is an excerpt from Hoskyns’ book:
Interesting story. According to Beausoleil, not only did he play several gigs with Love, when they were called The Grass Roots, but the band was renamed him, inspired by Beausoleil’s nickname, Cupid. Although some will deny Beausoleil’s version of events, his story seems quite believable. Vincent Bugliosi corroborated that Beausoleil’s nickname was Cupid in Bugliosi’s renowned book, Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders.40 The BBC’s website corroborates Beausoleil’s claim that he played in Arthur Lee’s band. In fact a BBC page on Love states the following: "An early guitarist with the band was Bobby Beausoleil - later a member of Charles Manson's infamous family."41 Beausoleil’s musical talents were described by Charlie Manson himself to writer Nuel Emmons which were published in the 1986 book, Manson: In His Own Words. The following is an excerpt where Manson described Beausoleil’s talents and his relationship with Manson and other members of the commune:
Manson makes two important points. First, he says he first met Beausoleil at the Spiral Staircase. This further supports my suggestion that Love lived at the Spiral Staircase, a place that was probably a Gothic mansion once owned by actor Bela Lugosi. This is a critical point because if Love lived at the Spiral Staircase during around 1967 and 1968, then they had to have known Charlie Manson. Not just Bobby Beausoleil, but all the members of Love must have known Manson because Manson lived at the Spiral Staircase during that period as well.
Second, Manson doesn’t mention the rock group Love, but he describes Beausoleil as a professional musician. This raises an interesting question. If Beausoleil was as talented as Manson said, why didn’t Arthur Lee jump at the chance to get him in his band? Simple. Lee had already lined up another guitarist, Byran MacLean, who had direct contacts with the Byrds because he had been their roadie. MacLean described Lee’s rationale to Barney Hoskyns, author of Arthur Lee: Alone Again Or. The following is an excerpt:
Hoskyns also described MacLean’s friendship with Byrds’ singer David Crosby. The following is an excerpt from Arthur Lee: Alone Again Or, by Barney Hoskyns:
Back to my discussion about Bobby Beausoleil, there are some who say he is lying about being a member of Love. Nevertheless, his story is believable. Bobby Beausoleil and Byran MacLean were serious contenders for the slot of rhythm guitarist in Arthur Lee’s band, but Lee chose MacLean primarily because of his contacts with the Byrds and the LA music scene they had created in 1965.
If my scenario, from Chapter 11, that Manson family members were used as patsies in the infamous Tate-LaBianca-Hinman murders, this would explain why Love never went anywhere. Love’s leader, Arthur Lee, apparently knew Bobby Beausoleil well, possibly knew Manson too. He probably knew—or had a gut feeling—that they were innocent, a bit rough around the edges perhaps, but certainly not mass murderers. Other band members likely felt the same way. Consequently, the true murderers—J. Edgar Hoover’s goons, that is—needed to silence anyone who might raise questions about their propaganda campaign directed against the Manson family. If members of an up and coming rock group, like Love, knew the truth about Charlie Manson, his commune (aka, The Manson Family), and the Tate-LaBianca-Hinman murders; then they would have to be destroyed and any troublesome members killed if necessary.
Of course, another one of Hoover’s objectives was to drive Jim Morrison insane. Poor Morrison was right in the middle of this madness. He was obviously friends with Love’s founder, Arthur Lee. Remember, it was Lee who helped the Doors get a contract with Elektra Records. Morrison and his band mates owed a huge debt to Lee for that. "Jim Morrison used to sit outside my door when I lived in Laurel Canyon," Lee revealed in an interview years later.* "He wanted to hang out with me, but I didn’t wanna hang out with anybody."45 Because of their friendship, it seems highly plausible that Arthur Lee might have confided in Morrison—after learning about the Manson murders—that accused murderer Bobby Beausoleil was once a member of Love. Also, one of the murder victims at Sharon Tate’s house was hairstylest Jay Sebring, the man who Morrison asked to cut his hair like Alexander the Great.46 Who knows, perhaps Arthur Lee and Morrison knew Manson personally. Maybe they were drinking buddies, or perhaps they debated religion and politics at the Satanic house in Topanga Canyon, the place Manson called the "Spiral Staircase," the place where Manson first met Beausoleil, the place where Arthur Lee and Love apparently lived, the gothic mansion once owned by Bela Lugosi. Perhaps Morrison stopped by the Spiral Staircase on his way to the cottage in that area which he bought for his girlfriend, Pamela Courson.47 Or perhaps Morrison was lured to the Spiral Staircase by his Wiccan wife, Patricia Kennely, a woman who acted more like an FBI informant (see Chapter 13) than a devoted wife and lover.† If driving Morrison insane was Hoover’s objective, the old man must have been delighted when a drunk driver rammed into to twenty-year-old Nancy Nevins’ car on Morrison’s 26th birthday, December 8, 1969, causing brain damage and permanently losing the use of one vocal chord, which ultimately destroyed Nevins’ singing career.† The next day, Morrison reportedly told several friends he was having a nervous breakdown.48
Love reached its peak in 1968 with the release of Forever Changes and the critical acclaim it garnered; however, they never became superstars. In-fighting started shortly thereafter and the original members all quit, leaving Arthur Lee on his own.49 He reformed several iterations of Love over the years but never managed to rekindle the spark of the Forever Changes period. For years it was rumored that Byran MacLean had overdosed on heroin, something that is completely on untrue since he was not a hardcore addict.50 MacLean eventually gave up music entirely and became a born-again Christian.51 But on Christmas Day, 1998, MacLean died of a heart attack while dining in an LA restaurant with Kevin Delaney, a writer who was working on a book about Love.52 Ten months earlier, on February 10, 1998, Love’s original bass player, Ken Forssi, had died of brain cancer. He was 55.53 MacLean’s death is a bit suspicious because, according to writer Barney Hoskyns, he was in excellent physical condition in 1996, two years before his death, running five miles a day. The following is Hoskyns’ description of MacLean, from the book, Arthur Lee: Alone Again Or.
On June 10, 1995, Arthur Lee was arrested for various firearms violations, primarily that he fired a gun (a .44 Magnum) at his apartment, plus a large quantity of amunition (500 armor-piercing bullets) was found by police when they responded to the shooting incident. In addition, his girlfriend, Susan Levine, looked like she had been battered when police arrived. Consequently, Lee was suspected of being a terrorist, or a cop-killer. As it turned out, someone else—Doug Thomas—had fired the gun accidentally and admitted this fact during Lee’s trial. In addition, Lee claims he was unaware that the gun and amunition were at his home. He claims they were mailed to him by his new manager. Nevertheless, Lee was convicted and the judge gave him the maximum sentence: twelve years, 85 percent time served without parole. In April 2002, he was released from California's Pleasant Valley State Prison after serving half the sentence, but it is unclear how this was accomplished.55
Byran MacLean made an important statement that many people do not realize. Here it is again: "When I came back to LA [in August 1965] there was a whole scene that The Byrds had created, but without them" because they had hit the big time and were touring in England. If the FBI was in fact waging a war against rock stars, then the Manson murders struck at the heart of the LA music scene created by the Byrds. Bobby Beausoleil’s conviction for murdering Gary Hinman, in the notorious Manson Murders, must have sent shock waves through the entire music community in LA. Beausoleil had almost been made a permanent member of Love, the most popular LA group in the late Sixties. In fact, Love’s leader, Arthur Lee, apparently named the group after Beausoleil’s nickname, Cupid, as a way of making amends for selecting Byran MacLean to be rhythm guitarist.
Janis Joplin was the dominant female vocalist of rock in the Sixties. Born January 19, 1943, she rose to stardom as lead vocalist and for the San Francisco rock band, Big Brother and the Holding Company. Her performances at the Monterey Pop Festival (1967) and Woodstock (1969) impressed and electrified listeners with her uninhibited, passionate blues style. On October 4, 1970, Joplin was found dead in her hotel room in Los Angeles. In 1992, Janis’s sister, Laura Joplin, wrote a biography entitled Love, Janis. According to Laura, Janis’s death was inaccurately ruled "heroin overdose." While no one disputes that Janis was taking heroin at the time, the term overdose indicates she took too much. That is an erroneous assumption. Janis injected a normal amount, but the heroin she used was four to ten times stronger than normal street heroin, 40 to 50 percent pure. It was sold to her by her regular dealer, "George." Several other customers of George’s died the same weekend because they injected heroin from the same toxic batch as Janis.
Sister Laura does not state whether she believes it was murder or an accident, but she seems to lean towards the accident scenario. The following is Laura Joplin’s description of her sister’s death, from the book, Love, Janis:
Was Janis’s death an accident or murder? If it was the latter scenario, then who planted the toxic batch of heroin in George’s stash for distribution to his clients? It’s safe to presume it was not George, himself. Knowingly distributing a lethal batch of heroin would kill off most of his clientele, not a smart move for any business man. But then again, George was a drug dealer. Won’t drug dealers do just about anything for money, even murder? Perhaps. But if George was a hit man who knowingly killed Janis by giving her a lethal dose of heroin, would he be dumb enough to distribute a bad batch to his other clients? Probably not. If it was murder, someone apparently planted the lethal heroin on George, knowing one of his customers was Janis Joplin.
Using deductive reasoning, we have eliminated George as a suspect. But if George, the drug dealer, isn’t a prime suspect, then who is? My analysis points to two possibilities, both boyfriends: Seth Morgan and Michel Raymond (pseudonym). Seth was Janis’s boyfriend at the time of her death; Michel had dated her several years earlier. Seth was a cocaine dealer and was considered an unsavory character by many of Janis’s friends. Recall how, according to Janis’s sister, Laura, Seth had refused to fly to LA to be with Janis on October 3, 1970—the night of her death—because he was "playing strip pool with some waitresses from the Trident Restaurant" in San Francisco. But he arrived in the afternoon the next day, Sunday, October 4th, the day Janis’s body was found. What was his excuse again for not being with Janis on the previous night? Playing strip pool with some waitresses? He sounds like a real prince. Of course playing strip pool with waitresses would make an excellent alibi. There were probably lots of eye witnesses who could potentially testify that Seth was nowhere near Janis’s hotel room when she died. And once Seth’s plane landed in LA the next day, he called yet another person, potentially another witness to support his alibi that he was far away from Janis when she died. After landing in LA, Seth called John Cooke (Janis’s road manager) and asked for a ride to Janis’s motel because he was unable to contact Janis directly and he was apparently too cheap to take a cab to the Landmark Hotel where Janis was staying. (She was dead at this point.)
Between John Cooke and the people who observed Seth playing strip pool with waitresses the night before at the Trident Restaurant in San Francisco, Seth had plenty of eye-witnesses placing him far away from Janis’s hotel room on the night she died (or was murdered). Of course no one needed to be with Janis in order to kill her. As previously stated, the killer probably slipped George, her drug dealer, a lethal batch of heroin, then went about his business. Seth could have slipped George the bad smack, gone to San Francisco, played strip pool with some waitresses in order to establish a clear alibi, then returned the next day, knowing Janis would be dead when he arrived. Joplin biographer Alice Echols painted a dark picture of Seth Morgan in her book, Scars of Sweet Paradise: The Life and Times of Janis Joplin. The following is an excerpt:
As bad as Seth Morgan was, a previous boyfriend—Michel Raymond (a pseudonym), who Janis dated in 1964—may have been worse.. According to Joplin biographer Alice Echols, there was general agreement among Janis’s friends that Michel was "profoundly screwed-up and possibly sociopathic." He told another girlfriend he worked for the FBI. Michel was reportedly an "electronics wizard," a graduate from McGill University in Montreal, worked for the French army during the Algerian conflict, and sold a communication system to revolutionary groups in the Middle East and North Africa.58 Michel Raymond’s profile has all the earmarks of someone in the espionage business, possibly with powerful connections.*
On April 8, 1994,† Kurt Cobain was found dead, in his lakeside home in Seattle, with a shotgun wound to the head. He was 27. The shotgun was apparently fired from inside the mouth. His death was immediately ruled suicide. A note was found, and many quickly concluded that it was a suicide note, but others believe it was a note to his wife telling her he was planning to leave her and get out of the music business.59 Born February 20, 1967 in Aberdeen, Washington, Cobain was founder of the rock group Nirvana, an American alternative band that introduced a new musical style, grunge, a mix of Sixties-style pop with heavy metal hard rock from the Seventies.
Nirvana’s rise to fame was similar to that of Elvis Presley’s. Both started at a grass roots level, attaining their first hits on small independent labels, then signing with major labels. Elvis’s label was initially Sun, which was bought out by RCA. Similarly, Nirvana had their first hit single, "Love Buzz," and an album, "Bleach" (1989), with an independent label from Seattle called Sub Pop, then they signed with Geffen, a major label. In 1991, Nirvana released Nevermind for Geffen which was a huge success and produced a major hit, "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
In the years since Cobain’s death, compelling evidence has emerged indicating that he was murdered. In 1998, writers Ian Halperin and Max Wallace published a book entitled Who Killed Kurt Cobain? The Mysterious Death of an Icon. Halperin and Wallace essentially prove that Cobain was murdered through analysis of crime scene evidence and information in the autopsy report. But proving murder is one thing, solving the crime is quite another. Halperin and Wallace strongly suggest that Cobain’s wife, Courtney Love, masterminded the crime. Although the case against Love seems compelling at first read, a closer analysis reveals several weaknesses in their logic. Before discussing the conclusion that Love sponsored her husband’s execution, let’s review some of basic facts presented by Halperin and Wallace which are devastating to the suicide scenario. First, no legible fingerprints were found on the shotgun, the box of cartridges, or the pen used to write the suicide note. Private Investigator Tom Grant reportedly obtained a copy of the police report. The following is an excerpt of Grant’s findings as described by Ian Halperin and Max Wallace in their book, Who Killed Kurt Cobain? The Mysterious Death of an Icon:
That is fairly conclusive evidence that Cobain was murdered. Again, no legible fingerprints were found on the shotgun, the box of shotgun cartridges, or the pen used to write the alleged suicide note. But there’s more. A second, even more devastating piece of evidence is in the autopsy report. It reveals that Cobain’s "blood contained two to three times the fatal dose of heroin." Therefore, he was probably in a drug-induced coma or already dead when the shotgun was fired in his mouth. In addition, the autopsy report concluded that Cobain had died three days before the body was found. The following is an excerpt from Who Killed Kurt Cobain? The Mysterious Death of an Icon, by Ian Halperin and Max Wallace, which describes the lethal level of heroin in Cobain’s blood:
Let’s review the cited excerpt again for clarity. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the doctor who performed Cobain’s autopsy found enough heroin in the victim’s blood to cause death two or three times over. The doctor also concluded that death was caused by the gunshot wound to the head, not the overdose of narcotics. This means the killer probably gave Cobain a lethal dose of heroin, causing him to pass out, then the killer stuck a shotgun in Cobain’s mouth and pulled the trigger, thereby making it look like suicide. To cover his tracks, the murderer wiped his finger prints from the shotgun and the box of shotgun cartridges. As far as I’m concerned, that is the essence of the Cobain case. He was murdered but the killer tried to make it look like suicide. When forensic evidence revealed a murder had occurred, a massive cover-up ensued. This is an all too familiar pattern. Unfortunately, authors Halperin and Wallace devote the rest of their book to building a case against Cobain’s wife, Courtney Love, as the person who masterminded the murder. Their arguments are not compelling for several reasons.
First, they completely rule out the possibility of governmental involvement. In fact, they openly acknowledge their disdain for "conspiracy theories." The book is peppered with insulting remarks which belittle anyone who believes in conspiracy theories. Second, they express open admiration for the FBI and the Justice Department. They described how Private Investigator Tom Grant claimed he could never prove it was murder by himself, but "says his goal now is to have the case taken to the FBI, whose jurisdiction would apply if a conspiracy was involved."62 Apparently no one but the FBI is allowed to discuss conspiracy theories. Third, they do a poor job of explaining how Courtney Love hired Private Investigator Tom Grant, then Grant accused her of sponsoring the murder. Why would someone hire a private investigator to investigate a crime that he/she had committed? The authors fail to answer that question in a manner that makes much sense. Until they can produce a better argument against Love, we should accept the basic facts their book reveals: Kurt Cobain was murdered and a massive cover-up is in place. The suicide scenario is still pushed by propagandists, but it is no longer a topic of serious debate.
|1||Phil Carson, Roy Buchanan: American Axe, p 252|
|2||ibid, p 255-257|
|3||SOURCES: (1) Encyclopedia Britannica: Malcolm X; (2) Sam Cooke: bio, http://www.history-of-rock.com/cooke.htm; (3) Cooke’s death, http://members.tripod.com/clarkkauffman/id32.htm; (4) Sam Cooke, bio, http://www.samcooke.com/body_biography.html|
|4||Encyclopedia Britannica: Rolling Stones, the|
|5||Nuel Emmons & Charlie Manson, Manson: In His Own Words, pp. 3-4|
|6||SOURCES: (1) Bio from Sweetwater’s website. http://www.sweetwaterband.com/bio.html; Aida Pavletich, "Nancy Nevins. (2) Article about Nevins/Sweetwater: http://www.girlmusician.com/feature/nevinsaug99.html; (3) Article about Nevins/Sweetwater: http://www.bright.net/~jimsauto/Sweetwater7.html|
|7||Canned Heat biography on Ruf Records website. (http://www.rufrecords.de/bios/canned.html)|
|8||Jerry Hopkins & Danny Sugerman, No One Here Gets Out Alive, p 313 (Note: It is presumed that Morrison was convicted the day AFTER Hendrix died because Hopkins & Sugerman wrote the following sentence: "Before court that morning, Jim read in a Miami newspaper that Jimi Hendrix had died in London. Again he wondered aloud, ‘Does anyone believe in omens?’" Hendrix died on September 18, 1970. Therefore the newspapers would have reported it on the following day, September 19, 1970.|
|9||SOURCES: (1) Encyclopedia Britannica: Joplin, Janis; (2) Laura Joplin, Love, Janis, pp. 309-311|
|10||Encyclopedia Britannica: The Doors|
|11||Encyclopedia Britannica: Vincent, Gene|
|12||Encyclopedia Britannica: Allman Brothers Band, the|
|13||Article about Marc Bolan: http://members.cox.net/dregenold/marc/dusk2.html|
|14||SOURCES: (1) Encyclopedia Britannica: Lynyrd Skynyrd; (2) http://www.andibradley.com/whatya/oct20.htm|
|15||Encyclopedia Britannica: Chicago|
|16||SOURCES: (1) Marshall Tucker Band’s website, http://www.marshalltucker.com; (2) Calwell’s age: http://www.av1611.org/rockdead.html|
|17||SOURCES: (1) Encyclopædia Britannica: Clapton, Eric; (2) Clapton bio on Internet: http://www.sixtiesrock.com/eric-clapton/biography.html; (3) Multiple Usenet postings about Carl Radle and cause of death; (4) Age of Carl Radle at death is given on "Rock Dead" webpage: http://www.av1611.org/rockdead.html; (4) Internet article states that Carl Radle died from alcoholism: http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/eric-clapton.html; (5) Writer Michael Schumacher claims Radle’s death was caused by problems related to alcoholism and drugs. (Cite: Michael Schumacher, Crossroads: Eric Clapton (1998), pp. 225-26. Radle's cause of death is describe: "[Radle] died of a kidney infection induced by alcoholism and drug addiction…"|
|18||Encyclopedia Britannica: Led Zepplin|
|19||Fito de la Parra, Living the Blues: Canned Heat’s Story of Music, Drugs, Death, Sex and Survival, pp. 278-279|
|20||SOURCES: (1) Encyclopedia Britannica: Marley, Bob; (2) Alex Constantine, The Covert War Against Rock, p 140|
|21||SOURCES: (1) Encyclopedia Britannica: Chapin, Harry; (2) Harry Chapin website, http://www.harrychapin.com/misc/howdied.shtml|
|22||Michazil Yockel, "Hynde Sight," article in the Washington, DC City Paper, Feb. 3, 1984. http://www.pretenders.org/aryockel.htm; alternate source: http://www.av1611.org/rockdead.html|
|24||SOURCES: (1) Mountain: bio, http://www.lightyear.com/mountain/bio.htm; (2) Felix Pappalardi website: http://www.pappalardi.com/Shot.html|
|25||SOURCES: The deaths of Pete Ham and Tom Evans are mentioned in three sources: (1) Kristofer Engelhardt, The Beatles Undercover, p 36. (2) Also see: http://www.av1611.org/rockdead.html; and (3) http://www.classicwebs.com/badfingr.htm|
|26||SOURCES: (1) Kristofer Engelhardt, The Beatles Undercover, p 51; (2) Dennis Wilson, http://users.utu.fi/~lausto/dennis/dennis.html; (3) Encyclopedia Britannica: Beach Boys, the|
|27||Encyclopedia Britannica: Gaye, Marvin|
|28||Alex Constantine, The Covert War Against Rock, pp. 47-49|
|29||ibid, pp. 44-45|
|30||Nancy Nevins’ age (20) at the time of her accident on Dec. 8, 1969, was provided from a Sweetwater biography on http://www.artistdirect.com. This generally matches Sweetwater’s website which indicates Nevins was about 17 when she first met the some of the band members around 1968. The specific link is: http://www.artistdirect.com/music/artist/bio/0,,499312,00.html?artist=Sweetwater|
|31||SOURCES: (1) Bio from Sweetwater’s website. http://www.sweetwaterband.com; (2) Aida Pavletich, "Nancy Nevins," http://www.girlmusician.com/feature/nevinsaug99.html; (2) http://www.bright.net/~jimsauto/Sweetwater7.html. (3) Besides the cited websites, the author saw the VH1 movie, Sweetwater, which aired in 1999. The screenplay was co-written by Nancy Nevins and Joe Graves.|
|32||Jerry Hopkins & Danny Sugerman, No One Here Gets Out Alive, p 107|
|33||Sean Elder, "Love's labors lost", May 22, 1999, Salon; http://www.salon.com/people/feature/1999/05/22/arthurlee/index1.html|
|34||Barney Hoskyns, Arthur Lee: Alone Again Or, p 11|
|35||ibid, p 143|
|36||Description of Love’s album, Forever Changes, on BBC’s website. http://www.bbc.co.uk/cgi-perl/music/muze/index.pl?site=music&action=biography&artist_id=18265|
|37||Barney Hoskyns, Arthur Lee: Alone Again Or, p 26|
|38||Jerry Hopkins & Danny Sugerman, No One Here Gets Out Alive, p 91|
|39||Barney Hoskyns, Arthur Lee: Alone Again Or, pp. 22-24|
|40||Vincent Bugliosi & Curt Gentry, Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders. Reference caption by photo of Robert "Bobby" Beausoleil, in 64-page photo-collection midway through book. The caption reads: "Robert ‘Bobby’ Beausoleil," aka Cupid, age 22—murderer." (Pages are not numbered in the photo section.)|
|41||BBC's website corroborates that Arthur Lee was Bobby Beausoleil’s "musical companion." The following statement appeared on BBC's website under a bulleted description of Love entitled "Love in one Minute": "An early guitarist with the band was Bobby Beausoleil - later a member of Charles Manson's infamous family." Here is the link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/profiles/love.shtml|
|42||Nuel Emmons & Charlie Manson, Manson: In His Own Words, pp 134-135|
|43||Barney Hoskyns, Arthur Lee: Alone Again Or, p 24|
|44||ibid, pp. 19-21|
|45||ibid, p 64|
|46||Jerry Hopkins & Danny Sugerman, No One Here Gets Out Alive, pp. 143-144|
|47||ibid, p 271|
|48||ibid, p 277|
|49||Barney Hoskyns, Arthur Lee: Alone Again Or, p 87|
|51||ibid, p 88|
|52||David Fricke, Rolling Stone, Byran MacLean’s obituary, issue 806, Feb. 18, 1999. http://home1.inet.tele.dk/tks/love/maclean.htm. The obituary, written by David Fricke, was not found on Rolling Stone’s website, but the transcription is believed to be authentic because MacLean’s birth and death dates, and cause of death, were independently corroborated, via email, by someone named "Ed" who is associated with a fan website for Love: http://love.torkenskott.dk. Byran MacLean’s death is corroborated by Barney Hoskyns in his book, Arthur Lee: Alone Again Or. Reference pp. 131-132.|
|53||London Times obituary for Byran MacLean stated that Ken Forssi died of cancer "last January," which would be January 1998. Someone named "Ed," who is associated with a fan website for Love, http://love.torkenskott.dk, stated—via email to author—that Forssi died on Feb. 10, 1998. Both Ed and the London Times obituary agree that the cause of death was cancer, but Ed specified it was brain cancer, a point that was corroborated by Sean Elder in an article, dated May 22, 1999, he wrote for Salon.com. Elder’s article was titled "Love’s Labor Lost."|
|54||Barney Hoskyns, Arthur Lee: Alone Again Or, pp. 6-7|
|55||ibid, pp. 126-131. Arthur Lee’s release in April 2002 was mentioned by the following source: Paul Lester, article in the Guardian, May 21, 2002, "Hard Times."|
|56||Laura Joplin, Love, Janis, pp. 309-311|
|57||Alice Echols, Scars of Sweet Paradise: The Life and Times of Janis Joplin, pp 291-292|
|58||ibid, pp. 87-88|
|59||SOURCES: (1) Encyclopedia Britannica: Nirvana. (2) Suicide note is described in the following source: Ian Halperin & Max Wallace, Who Killed Kurt Cobain? The Mysterious Death of an Icon, pp. 111-112|
|60||Ian Halperin & Max Wallace, Who Killed Kurt Cobain? The Mysterious Death of an Icon, pp. 120-121|
|61||ibid, pp. 112-113|
|62||ibid, p 128|