Just over a year ago, I got to experience a bucket list moment. Arthur Brown, the man behind the iconic psychedelic rock band The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and author of the 1968 world-wide smash hit "Fire" performed two nights in a row at The Barracuda in Austin, Texas.
The photographs included here are from those two performances. I had no idea at the time it would be the spark that re-ignited the 50th anniversary fire of one of the most notable albums of the psychedelic rock movement.
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, the band's eponymous debut, and only release from the 1960's incarnation of the group, was released in June 1968. The album treads between blue-eyed soul and a trippy story-line. One that follows the protagonist through the fiery experience of the underworld.
Brown was "discovered" by The Who's Pete Townshend. Attracted by the groups theatricality and pop-as-art mindset, Townshend signed them to The Who's imprint Track Records. Track, founded in 1966 by Who managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp was one of the first independent labels in the UK. Lambert would produce the album, and in some ways sow the seeds that would eventually tear the original line-up apart.
At The Crazy World of Arthur Brown's core was vocalist Brown, classically trained multi-instrumentalist Vincent Crane and drummer Drachen Theaker. Theaker famously clashed with Crane and Lambert by smashing the acetate of the albums US pressing against the wall. Theaker would be replaced by Carl Palmer, who would go on to leave with Crane to form Atomic Rooster and later Emerson Lake and Palmer. Following The Crazy World, Brown would go on to front proto-metal hard rockers Kingdom Come.
In Part 1 of our conversation (below) Arthur Brown recounts the ground-breaking theatrics, including his early experiences with the "fire helmet" that would influence future "shock" rockers like Alice Cooper.
Part 2: Arthur talks about the legendary UFO Club in London, Jimi Hendrix's influence on American radio airplay and the blow-up between Kit Lambert and Drachen Theaker.
Part 3: Arthur remembers his father's influence and his effect on the spirituality of the debut album.
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown album will be released as a 50th Anniversary deluxe 3 CD/1 LP boxed set, Friday, October 26th on Cherry Red Records. This release will include the original British mono recordings and previously unreleased BBC Radio sessions.