Haphazard Observations of the Everyday

And a little fiction by Miguela Holt y Roybal

Miguela Holt y Roybal

Miguela Holt y Roybal
Location
New Mexico, USA
Birthday
March 10
Title
Monarch of All She Surveys
Company
Good
Bio
Miguela Holt y Roybal is my maiden name en Espanol. I am a retired schoolteacher and aspiring author looking for crumbs of beauty among the ruins. My novel has been a work in progress for longer than I care to admit. It is a postmodern pastiche of magical realism and about a young woman from New Mexico who goes to work in Washington, DC during the 1980s. She has been a longtime witness to the secret rituals of the Penitente culture in her home state and learns about herself and redemption as she sallies forth on her quest for novelty and adventure. I claim fair useage of images found on the internet that illustrate some of my posts. All contents copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.

MY RECENT POSTS

APRIL 15, 2012 2:02AM

A Rock and Roll Fairy Tale

Rate: 19 Flag

jobriath ad poster

(Poster of Jobriath a.d. courtesy of Google Images.)

Elvis, The Beatles, and Jobriath

I consider myself to be sophisticated when it comes to music particularly that of my generation--the 1960s and 1970s.  That I had never heard the lovely and idiosyncratic music of Jobriath, the first openly gay artist signed to a major record label, blows my mind particularly when he was given the most lavish promotional send-off in the history of rock and roll.

How could I have missed him--a unique and shimmering glam-rock act who worked with such greats as Led Zepplin's John Paul Jones and Peter Frampton?  I first heard his music a few months ago when my cousin told me about Jobriath a.d., a new film in which he had invested and that was produced by Kiernan Turner (24 Hours).  Its U. S. premier was last night in Orlando at the Florida Film Festival.

A devoted fag hag, I fell in love with Jobriath, his music, and his sad story--truly a fractured fairy tale.

A Child Prodigy

young jo

(Google Images)

Born Bryce Wayne Campbell in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, he was a child prodigy on the piano.  During the height of the Vietnam War, the young man was drafted into the army but soon went AWOL changing his name to Jobriath Salisbury and he moved to Los Angeles.  There he played the piano for a production of Hair and auditioned unsuccessfully for movie roles.  Before long the MP tracked him down and he spent six months in a military psychiatric hospital after suffering from a nervous breakdown.  That time was not wasted because while he was a patient he wrote the songs that he would perform as Jobriath.

Little Dreamer and His Mother

"Mad, unstructured, and destructive to melody"

After his release, Jobriath sent demos to the various recording companies in Los Angeles.  While producer Clive Davis was listening to a copy, Jerry Brandt who discovered Patti Smith and Barry Manilow was taken by the artist that Davis rejected proclaiming him to be "mad, unstructured, and destructive to melody."

Brandt disagreed and tracked him down.  He found Jobriath living in a squalid apartment working as a prostitute.  The man was astounded by Jobriath's striking physical appearance:  "In walked this beautiful creature dressed in white. I said, Why don't you come out to Malibu and hang out?"  That was the beginning of their ten year tempestuous relationship.

jobriarth-gatefold

(Photo of Jobriath's album courtesty of Google Images.)

The Most Lucrative Recording Contract of its Time

Brandt negotiated a contract for the newly named Jobriath Boone with David Geffen's Elektra Records for $500,000, and at the time it was the highest recording contract ever.

Soon Jobriath's face was everywhere.  There were full page advertisements in major magazines, full length posters of him on 250 New York City buses and a gigantic billboard on Times Square.  He was depicted nude as a broken classical Roman statue.  His double album that was self-titled was released to wildly enthusiastic reviews.  According to Rolling Stone, he had "talent to burn."  "Truly one of the most interesting albums of the year, " proclaimed Cashbox.  Record World called his album "brilliantly incisive" by a "true Renaissance man who will gain a tremendous following."

I'm a Man

 

Rock of Ages
The Fag End of Glam Rock

jo tit

I want everyone who is interested in Jobriath to see the movie and so I will just summarize the end of his sad tale.  Wild impossible dreams, creative differences, jealousy, and charges in the press of copying David Bowie's style plagued the man whose temper was a problem, too.  The fact that he proudly put forth his homosexuality at a time when it was a subject rarely discussed didn't help his popularity either but it firmly established him as the first openly gay rock star.

aka Cole Berlin

After his ten year contract with Elektra was through, Jobriath was all but abandoned by the industry and morphed yet again into another incarnation.  This time he was Cole Berlin, New York City lounge singer.  Jobriath had always admired old movies and music and so his name was a combination of two musical idols, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin.

Sunday Brunch

Coda

Cole Berlin died of AIDS at the age of 37, a forgotten man.  No one who knew him as Cole Berlin would ever guess that the handsome singer of American standards was once the astounding Jobriath.  To me, he was ahead of his time.  Yes, I can see how his act could be seen as similar to Bowie's but there was plenty of room for an openly gay artist like Jobriath in the music world as evidenced by the group Queen.

With the release of his story, Jobriath a.d., I am hopeful that there will be a resurgence in the appreciation of his music and that his time has come and that it is now.

Sources:

Photos courtesy of Google Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

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THANK YOU! What a find! r.
Jon--Thanks for reading and commenting first. Wasn't he marvelous?
Well done, Miguela. I had never heard of Jobriath.
Agreeably a find! Such a tragic story. Am listening now.
Dr. Oldknow--Thanks for taking the time!

Ande--Thanks for stopping by. Didn't you just love Sunday Brunch?
Fascinating. Not certain of the time frames, but I wonder if the influence more likely was reversed, with Bowie being the influencee?
Chicken Maaan--I believe Jobriath and David Bowie were contemporaries. It puzzles me why he was criticized so mercilessly back then. Now no one cares if Lady Gaga is heavily influenced by Madonna, for example. BTW, I think Gaga is more like Jobriath than Madge.
That was a sad fairy tale, Mom.
Never was much for Glam Rock, although I have a abiding respect for Bowie, however his talent stands out in Cole Berlin's Sunday Brunch.
jmac1949--Glam Rock wasn't really my thing either back then and may be the very reason I had never heard of Jobriath. Like you, I definitely prefer the music of Cole Berlin.
I know I was high for a time back in the day, but I've never heard of him, yet I remember the Glimmer Twins and David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars. I have to see this movie. Thank You!
Scanner--I guess I was kind of in a purple haze, too. Hope the movie has a wide release schedule. I haven't seen it because as you know, I don't live in Florida. Thanks for commenting. The Glimmer Twins?
a lovely man. emblazoned with the creative urge to shock
awe and make
people see the spectrum of human sexuality & sense.

I daresay he will be famous someday.

the future holds alot of opportunities for the dead.

resurrection, all that...ha.

dylan: "Behind every beautiful thing there's been some kind of pain"


shelter, someday? from the storm?

"Beauty walks a razor's edge, someday I'll make it mine.
Try imagining a place where it's always safe and warm.."
James--Jobriath/Cole Berlin will always be young and handsome like Elvis and Buddy and Jimi and Janis and Jim and StevieRay. If there is a heaven, we know he is making beautiful music with them.
How did we miss this guy? I love him as Cole Berlin.
Victoria--You got me. I know we were paying attention to the musical scene.
Amazing story! He really was ahead of his time. I had never heard of him, either. His story reminds me of my brother's. So many talented, brilliantly creative young men who flocked to NYC, only to be cut down in that first wave of AIDS deaths. New York really was Ground Zero back then. Thanks for drawing this forth so wonderfully with videos and photos. Rated.
Fascinating story about someone who should not be forgotten.
Deborah--Thanks for stopping by to learn about Jobriath. It really baffles me how so many of us did not know about him. I am sorry to learn about your brother. So many wonderful men (and women and children) have succumbed to this dreaded disease. Thank heaven that more sufferers are living longer and fulfilling lives.

Mary--Thank you for your kind thoughts about this artist.
I don't believe I ever heard of him...thanks for an interesting post!
Sheila--Thanks for taking the time to learn about Jobriath. Did you like him or Cole Berlin better?

Frank--I know that you are a professional musician so I feel better that I didn't know about Jobriath either. How did we miss him?
Hi Miguela. I just noticed this and oddly enough I'd just been reading about him a couple of weeks ago. I'll have to get out the article and maybe add another comment tomorrow. It's a fascinating story though. re Queen, I don't think Mercury was openly gay, though it was widely suspected by those who care to speculate about those things.
Great article, keep up the good work!
Love it when I discover some new (old) music to obsess over like this, thank you. A tragic life, what with being institutionalized and dying young and all - I doubt the movie will find its way here, but a reading is certainly in order. Looking forward to more music reccos.