Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Burt Kearns & Jeff Abraham on Sha Na Na & The Escaped Baby-Killer Convict

The rock ’n’ roll parody-tribute group Sha Na Na celebrates its fiftieth anniversary next year.

And just in time, our cultural historian pals Burt Kearns and Jeff Abraham have dug up a very bizarre piece of show business & rock ’n’ roll history that the guys in Sha Na Na found themselves pulled into, against their will!

It's the story of an escaped convict who took the identity of late Sha Na Na guitar hero Vinnie Taylor, and began performing in clubs and in shows.  
The story of Sha Na Na and the Baby Killer is one of those stranger-than-fiction stories that will pull you in, for sure.

Oh, and wait unti you read about Na Na Sha.

That's right, Na Na Sha.

Find it here at PleaseKillMe.com,  Jeff and Burt's latest contribution.

And watch this space for big news about their upcoming book!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Burt Kearns & Jeff Abraham tell the flamboyant story of The David Bowie of Turkey

What if Liberace lived his life as an openly-gay man?  What would that have done to his career?  How would that have changed society?  That intriguing question is at the heart of the latest story from our pals Burt Kearns and Jeff Abraham: The David Bowie of Turkey.

The story published on PleaseKillMe.com tells of the life and death of singer, songwriter, movie star, poet and designer Zeki Müren, a flamboyant, openly gay entertainer who was beloved and celebrated in a predominantly Muslim, conservative country.

While his contemporary Liberace is mostly forgotten in America today, Müren has become an LGBT hero in Turkey, and because of his bravery and innovations, compared not to Mr. Candelabra, but to David Bowie.

"He wore platform shoes higher than Elton John’s; 
space-age queen outfits more daring than David Bowie’s, 
heavier femme makeup than flash-in-the-pants Jobriath. 
He once performed 
for top government and military officials 
in high heels, sparkly tights and miniskirt, 
with peacock feathers sprouting from his ass.  
By then, he was known as The Pasha of Turkish Music.'
'Pasha' is the title 
of a high-ranking Turkish military officer. 
It’s also a type of butterfly.

Zeki Müren died on live television.  That’s how Jeff and Burt, authors of a new book on performers who died on stage, found his story.  It was richer than they could imagine.  They got the details of Müren's meeting with Mick Jagger, and even dug up a 1963 memo from the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, in which it was ordered that the red carpet be rolled out and a meeting with Sammy Davis Jr, be arranged for the “Frank Sinatra - Dean Martin of Turkey."

You won’t want to miss this one. Please read it and share!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Rest in peace, Dave Dave, a gentle soul and true artist

Word is spreading around the world that Dave Dave died in Las Vegas on July 15.

Dave Dave was six years old when his father tried to kill him by setting him on fire in 1983.  He survived, and grew to become a sweet and gentle man who turned his suffering into art.

Many of his longtime friends were people in the news media who’d met him while telling his story.  Others were celebrities like Michael Jackson.

Dave’s art has received international acclaim.

See it here, at Dave’s website

There was a memorial service for our friend Dave Dave yesterday in Las Vegas.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Burt Kearns and Jeff Abraham exhume Hollywood's most twisted tale of murder with "The Wife & Death of Spade Cooley"

Our friends Burt Kearns and Jeff Abraham have unleashed another riveting tale of the dark side of showbiz, and this one is more twisted, disturbing and timely than ever!

It’s the story of Spade Cooley, "Hollywood’s King of Western Swing” music in the 1940s and 50s.  And once again, Burt and Jeff don’t focus on the music, but the man himself-- a man who made OJ Simpson look like Mr Rogers.  Soade Cooley not only abused his lovey wife, he stomped her to death. After a sensational trial, he went -- well, we don't want to give up any more spoilers in The Wife & Death of Spade Cooley.  (Just make sure you read it to the end!)

Read it at Legs McNeil’s and Gillian McCain’s website, PleaseKillMe.com.  The site's tagline is “This is what’s cool” -- though one of the hashtags for the Cooley story is “Uncool People.”

You’ll see why!

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Lonesome Death of Danny Rapp: Burt Kearns & Jeff Abraham reveal the sad fate of the teen who led Danny & The Juniors

“I don’t care what people say, 
rock ’n' roll is here to stay!”

That timeless anthem to the power of rock ’n’ roll was proclaimed by a quartet of Philadelphia teenagers known as Danny & The Juniors.

You might remember their first hit, At The Hop. The story of their success in the heyday of Fifties rock ’n’roll, their decline, their incredible comeback, second career -- and their role in a wild American revival of old time show business -- would be a glorious one, if not for the sad end to the life of Danny himself -- Danny Rapp, dead in a mobile home turned motel unit in the dry hot Arizona desert.

Our pals Burt Kearns and Jeff Abraham tell that story, as none has done before, on the Please Kill Me website (no pun intended).

"This is what’s cool” is the tagline of the pop culture and literary website that sprung from the classic punk oral history book by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain -- and this article is very cool, another outtake from the upcoming book by Jeff and Burt.

You can read it by clicking here.

"So what was the breaking point? The twentieth anniversary of singing the same two songs? Looking through the windshield at another endless highway and seeing only more of the same Holiday Inns, afternoons waking up hungover next to the same middle-aged female fans? Near the end of the decade, maybe it was Danny & The Juniors’ latest and strangest trip: another package tour, traveling by bus with another collection of acts. Only this time it wasn’t rock & roll.

"It was vaudeville..."

So check out The Lonesome Death of Danny Rapp!   I don't care what people say, this story is a great one! (even though people are agreeing it’s quite a read!)

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Late Great Johnny Ace: Jeff Abraham and Burt Kearns dig up the facts behind a rock ’n’ roll legend

"Johnny Ace died at 25, allegedly during a game of Russian Roulette. The legend of his death not only obscures his talent but is built upon a misreading of what really happened backstage that Christmas night in 1954."

So reads the teaser for the item posted on Legs McNeil’s vital literary pop culture website, PleaseKillMe.com (based on his and Gillian McCain’s classic book), leading into a story that gets to the facts behind the death of Johnny Ace, the R&B dynamo out of Memphis.  Ace’s backstage exit was the first legendary “rock ’n' roll suicide,” and Jeff & Burt may be the first to cut through the mythology:

"As legend has it, Johnny Ace went out in a most romantic way on Christmas Day 1954 — romantic like the love scene between Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken in The Deer Hunter. Johnny Ace died at 25, playing Russian Roulette, the game in which you load a bullet into one chamber of a revolver, spin the cylinder, then pull the trigger while pointing the gun at your head. It’s said to be quite a rush if you only hear click.'

"There’s one small catch to the legend of the late great Johnny Ace...”

Find out the catch.  Read the story here.  Then share it!  

There’s also a great hidden news item at the end of the story: Burt and Jeff have written a book about performers who died onstage, set to be published in 2019.

And stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The story behind the John Lennon & Chris Montez brawl of 1963! Burt Kearns delivers another exclusive on PleaseKillMe.com

Our man Burt Kearns has gotten to the bottom of a fifty-five year-old rock ’n’ roll urban legend with an eyewitness account of the brawl between John Lennon and  Chris Montez in March 1963.

That story is Burt's latest exclusive on the literary rock website PleaseKillMe.com.  The story focuses on an incident tduring a British concert tour on which Chris and Tommy Roe headlined with the Beatles as their opening act! It includes testimony from Chris and Tommy, and a cameo from Andrew Loog Oldham, who was a publicist on the tour and went on to produce The Rolling Stones.

The story is culled from Burt's long-in-the-works documentary project, El Viaje Musical de Ezekiel Montanez: the Chris Montez Stoy, and includes exclusive video!

Click here to read it  (and learn the secret to the opening of The Beatles’ I Saw Her Standing There!)

And click here to buy the 20th anniversary edition of Please Kill Me, the definitive oral history of punk by Legs McNeil and Gilliam McCain, and the inspiration for the website.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Bob O’Brien, 1942-2018, a legendary television newsman and one heckuva great friend!

Bob O’Brien died this week. For decades, he was a top street reporter for WNEW-TV’s Ten O’Clock News in New York City.  A legendary, crazy, serious, fun, all-business, wild, family man and good friend to all of us.

We miss him but his spirit will live on.

Here's the obituary that ran in his new hometown in Virginia Beach.  Colorful as it is, it only begins to paint the full picture of this force of nature who influenced so many of us (after he retired from television news, he moved to Oregon and was elected town councilman!).  Thanks for the memory, OB.

Robert Eugene O’Brien Jr., 75, award-winning journalist

Robert Eugene O'Brien Jr.
Robert Eugene O’Brien Jr.

Robert Eugene O’Brien Jr., 75, went to be with the Lord Tuesday, April 24, 2018.

Robert was born Aug. 22, 1942, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the late Robert and Clare O’Brien. He graduated from Xavier University to go on to a full career in broadcast journalism in New York City. It was at Xavier that he met the love of his life, Veronica, whom he lovingly called “Ronnie Rose.”

He is best remembered in his illustrious journalistic career for interviewing numerous presidents and heads of state, as well as celebrated individuals from Groucho Marx to Gerry Adams. He covered the hunger strikes in Northern Ireland; the inaugural flight of the Concord; the passing of Princess Diana; and as a true Irishman, the annual New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade. His formidable career is memorialized by three Emmy awards.

Left to cherish his memory are his loving wife of 51 years, Veronica R. O’Brien; daughter, Samantha; son, Sean, and his wife, Katie; brother, Chris Ischay, and his wife, Linda Wolfson; and a wealth of nieces, nephews and friends he called family.

A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m., Monday, April 30, at St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church, 5345 Virginia Beach Blvd, Virginia Beach, immediately followed by a wake at Buoy 44 restaurant, 4536 Ocean View Ave., Virginia Beach.

In lieu of flowers, the family appreciates donations made to Alzheimer’s Association: Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia at tmcfunding.com. At the end of the 30-day campaign, the family will present Alzheimer’s Association, Southeastern Virginia Chapter, with a check of all proceeds raised in the name of Robert Eugene O’Brien Jr.

Share online condolences with the family at altmeyerfh.com.

From TabloidBaby.com 2006

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Chris Montez & Brian Wilson’s 50-year reunion: A clip from Burt Kearns’ Montez documentary is his latest exclusive on PleaseKillMe.com

A piece of rock ’n' roll history has been revealed this week, as music legends Brian Wilson and Chris Montez talk about their days at Hawthorne High in their first meeting in fifty years!

The story and video come from Burt Kearns, who's been better known for his documentary and television work the past two decades, but who recently has been exhibiting his writing chops on PleaseKillMe.com, his old pal Legs McNeil’s literary and pop culture website (in March, Burt and Jeff Abraham cooked up a much-lauded piece on sixties comedy album star and sexual revolutionary Rusty Warren).

The reunion took place during the filming of El Viaje Musicial de Ezekiel Montanez: The Chris Montez Story, the documentary that has shown up in a “preview form” at film festivals around the country.  The story on PleaseKillMe.com tells the story of the still-in-progress film work, what led to the reunion -- and even includes a cameo from Gary Busey.

Most impressive however, is the reunion film clip.

You can click here to see it on the Please Kill Me site.

(By the way,  'Please Kill Me’ is the name of the punk oral history written by Legs and Gillian McCain, which was recently released in a 20th anniversary edition and has been recognized and awarded as a modern literary classic.

Brian Wilson (second from left) onstage at Hawthorne High
Chris Montez returns to Hawthorne High with a film crew

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Burt Kearns & Jeff Abraham interviewed ‘Knockers Up Gal’ Rusty Warren for Legs McNeil’s PleaseKillMe.com

Burt Kearns and Jeff Abraham interviewed legendary musician, comedian, and leader of the sexual revolution Rusty Warren a few weeks ago in southern California.  Today, their time with the famed ‘Knockers Up Gal’ of the Fifties and Sixties has been turned into a long article posted on PleaseKillMe.com, the rock, pop culture and literary website based on Please Kill Me, the definitive punk rock history book penned by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain.

Burt, as you know, wrote Tabloid Baby.  Jeff is Hollywood’s leading comedy historian.  The pair collaborated on a book we can’t tell you about just yet.  Their piece on Rusty unearths many anecdotes about her life and career, and brings to the forefront for the first time the sisterhood alliance among the top female comedians of the era.

Here’s a sample, as Rusty Warren looks back at the heyday of Las Vegas:

   “In Vegas, you’d always have three comics, myself and two other people,” Rusty recalled. “We’d trade off. The men were all dressed to go onstage, except they’d pull their pants down and the gals came over and gave them blowjobs. And then: ‘Now, ladies and gentlemen… dadadadada…’ Up… Zip! Pull up, out and get out to go on. My room was right next to theirs.”
   Whether working the lounges or the big rooms, the male performers went their own way, she said, kissing up to the mobsters running the casinos or hoping to pal around with big stars like Milton Berle or that prick Jerry Lewis. The women supported each other.
   “Joan Rivers was always nice to me, even when she was working the main room,” recalls Rusty. “Phyllis Diller gave me her house when she was gone. I was there three times a year and she let me use it. Totie Fields, she was younger. Her house was nearby, she’d come round. She made it big, but she came to me as a friend because I was one who didn’t go on (in the main room) where she goes. She’d ask, ‘What should I do with so and so?’ She was very nice. It was a nice combination of friends. 
   “Las Vegas was different then. I don’t go to Vegas today.”

Read the entire article by clicking here.

(Burt and Legs go back forty years.  In the late Eighties, Legs was Burt’s editor at Spin magazine.)