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Arthur Brown - ‘The God of Hellfire’ Part 1

Interview by Iain McNay

Iain: Hello and welcome to Cherry Red TV and Conscious TV. My guest today is Arthur Brown. Hi, Arthur.

Arthur: Hi, good to be here.

Iain: And the reason that it’s on two channels is that I do interviews about Conscious TV and Cherry Red TV. Arthur is by catalogue assigned to Cherry Red and we have got lots of CDs out, I’ll show you later. But the more I researched Arthur’s life the more I realized he has a strong spiritual side which also fits on Conscious TV. So we are gonna combine the two. And it’s gonna be about his musical career and also about his spiritual adventures. But at the end of the day what we’re doing is finding more out about Arthur and his fascinating life. And I’m gonna start with a quote which I pulled out of a book which is written about you which I really enjoyed by Polly Marshall “The God of Hellfire” and the quote goes as follows, Arthur. And this is a quote obviously from you: “How many times I have come away from a gig, head full of stars, ears full of hissing, throat sore with cinders, body tired, but the heart satisfied with song. When I lived, I lived. In the moment of performing I didn’t know how to receive the applause. That was not what I was there for. It was the moment when I was not there. My voice was singing but I was in bliss.” I thought: “Just a beautiful quote”.

Arthur: Oh, yeah. It is a sort of paradoxical thing, to be on stage, to be performing, to be involved with the audience and yet also just be that feeling of joy and bliss, you know. And the paradox, particularly in our culture, is you get paid for it. (Both laughing). So, wonderful! And it is a very beautiful thing to share with the other musicians and to get to a place where is sometimes the whole audience for a short, maybe even a second, just (makes a clicking sound)

Iain: They are not there either in one way

Arthur: Yeah, they totally go with that energy and - I remember one concert in London and the M.C. said, he was trying to think of something to say to introduce me, and he said: ”Next we got a man who always did exactly what he wanted as far as performing goes”. So we did the set and afterwards I was walking back. I went through the crowd and then I was going around the back to get to the dressing room, and these three kind of street guys came running over and said: “Woahhhh! Great, man. That was great!” And so I said: “Oh, thank you”. And he said: “Yeah, yeah, you know, absolutely brilliant, so of course it’ all very well for you”. I said: “What do you mean?” And he said:”Well, you got talent. So you can be brilliant and you can do what you want, but we can’t.” I said: “What do you mean?” He said: “We are not talented like that”. And I said: “Well, but it’s not like that, you can do it just in your daily life, it’s not like everybody is special because they do bits of music or bits of painting or bits of what we call art” And he went: “Aaah”. And he turns around (with a hoarse voice) :”Hear that, we can do it in our daily life. Wowwww!!!” (Iain laughing) And it was kind of a, you know, really lovely just to feel like there was no boundaries, no kind of specialness about anything. It was just you share that moment and that’s, yeah, if you want to look at it and call it something, it’s kind of a…

Iain: You’re being yourself, isn’t it?. I feel from more of this actually that’s what you’ve always done. But let’s go through things a little bit sequentially. Ahmm. And when you were young you spent time - I think your parents were quite damaged by the war, understandably - you spent time walking in the mountains and you were singing to yourself often in rhyme and you were also in a Welsh choir at one time as well. So you found the way of expressing when you were quite young, didn’t you?

Arthur: Yeah, I did. Because there was a lot of, you know, sadness in the nation at that point, because every family had kind of lost somebody. And so that I find that disturbing and singing was a way it would disappear. And when you were out in the hills and nobody there to object or so you were not doing it right. So yeah, walking amongst the trees and there was an interchange between people and other creatures, you know, trees, animals and everything. So you can’t walk through the trees if you are at all kind of reaching for openness and not be affected by what they are giving you as much as you might be giving out.

Iain: And at that age you felt that connection with nature?

Arthur: Yeah, I had one or two really profound experiences of, for instance, walking through a field. And it wasn’t corn, but it was one of the crops, and when the wind blows through that you see the great waves moving through it and so I was drawn into that. And then suddenly found that I no longer was a person. I was the field. And so I lost my individual separateness. I just became the consciousness spread out to lose just the field and I was the field and all the blades in it, you know. And of course I didn’t know what that was, it was just wonderful, but it went.

Iain: But it was a deep incredible experience to have at a young age

Arthur: Yeah. And indeed some of it was possibly brought about or at least aided by the fact that my father brought home somebody, when I was about twelve or thirteen, and I came home and there was a different bicycle in the front and I thought: “What’s that?” And he said: “Oh (lifting his finger), I brought a man home” and he said: “I know you - and this is quite an amazing thing for a father say to a child at that age - you find it difficult to be in this family. So I brought this man and he’s gonna teach you to empty your mind. And then it won’t be so painful”. And that’s what he did

Iain: Wow.

Arthur: So, whatever difficulties I had with my father, they don’t feature very large.

Iain: And then, when you were eleven, your mother took you to a Billy Graham concert, obviously Billy Graham, the American Evangelist.

Arthur: Yeah.

Iain: Something happened there, didn’t it?

Arthur: It did, I mean, yeah, it was a lot of the kind of painfulness and you look for a unity again like you used to have before you started thinking. So in terms of what I knew and I have been in touch with, apart from later the meditation, the Christian ideas were the ones that I’ve seen for spiritual reality and everything. And so when my mother went to see Billy Graham and took me, there was already a kind: Oh, this might be something along the way that I want to reach for. And of course he was a very charismatic person, whatever one felt about his publicity or anything. And he is a direct person able to influence people. He was quite amazing. So I found myself on my knees (opens his arm wide, laughing and shouting) “Hoooo !”. That was kind of a taste of something to do with unity, you know

Iain: Yeah.

Arthur: Of course, later I looked at it and and I thought: Well, I am not sure about that...(laughing)

Iain: And then you were also writing poetry, when you were young. And you wrote a poem called the Fire Poem.

Arthur: I did.

Iain: Which became later some of the lyrics of the song Fire

Arthur: Yeah. In fact the poem that comes just before Fire on the album, the spoken one with the really heavy riff ??? that’s it. So that was where all the words came And it was because, you know, in those days there was radio, there wasn’t yet TV when I was young. I think when I was about twelve we got the first TV and we were amongst the first in. By that time I was living in Leeds. So one of the entertainments at that point was to have the big fire going in the kitchen, four clothed horses which were two…

Iain: I remember, I remember, we had the same, yeah.

Arthur: They opened that sort of, at the junction, you know, two here, two there, two there, two there and on each of the junction there was a person sitting. And so you just look at the fire. And when you watch flames and the fire gradually getting hotter and hotter and then you get to be able to see, because it all settles and you can see the heart of the fire and it doesn’t move like the rest of the fire, and you find that you’re in something that doesn’t move, and then that’s an analogy for: What doesn’t move in the whole of life? So I found that the fire was a doorway and so when poems came up sometimes fire would be featured in them

Iain: Yeah, and you had a musical influence because your father played the jazz piano.

Arthur: Yes.

Iain: So that obviously helped you in terms of the music side. And then you had some classical training but I think what was quite important was you met Vincent Crane, didn’t you? who became a key board player in your first band

Arthur: Yes, I stayed at the lodging, the Bohemian Lodging of his girlfriend’s mother. And he used to come over to rehearse with his own little band and also with two people who were teaching this young Indian man how to sing their songs. And that was Peter Kerr and Michael Finesilver who were the co-writers of Fire. So that all happened in that little Bohemian, we all met quite by accident. And Vincent, of course, was an amazing keyboard player as well as a conductor.

Iain: He was classically trained, wasn’t he?

Arthur: Yeah, he attended the school of music and he could write, arrange, compose. And his improvising capacity was astonishing.

Iain: And you had a few singles out first and the second single, though I didn’t realise this was called ‘Devil’s Grip.’

Arthur: Yes.

Iain: And that was then later felt to be the influence from the early metal bands like Black Widow and Ozzy Osbourne’s Black Sabbath.

Arthur: Yes.

Iain: And I suppose at that time you didn’t realize that you were already having influence because your influence over the years was extraordinary on many successful artists.

Arthur: Yes.

Iain: I suppose my question is: There is almost a unique creativity coming through you. Was that at all connected with the spiritual experiences you had when you were young, did you think?

Arthur: Yes, indeed. And from the fact that that coupled with my meditation, formless meditation that was taught. Mind that when I wanted to write the first album - the first album you write you write because it’s the things you love and you want to sing about.

Iain: Yes.

Arthur: Well, for me that was what I’d learned how to look at things from a different way. And so I wanted to illustrate that and I thought: Well, if I am gonna look at, for instance, if I take fire and fire is a portal through to the world of the spirit, it’s a shamanic thing, if you like. But how am I gonna talk about that to people? Well, if I put two characters, one the God of Hellfire, one the God of Pure Fire and they both sing the sort of opposite songs, then that would give people more of a touch and then for the album it went on from there. It was kind of a man that was looking at the world finding it to be totally insane. So tries to find the wholeness that he used to know as a child and then goes through and meets the different aspects of it in the form of different characters.

Iain: Yes

Arthur: So then when it came to live, before the single came out we were performing it, but we did not get very many gigs because people thought ‘what was that nonsense that he is singing about.’ ‘And why is there injected bits of classical into it?’ And so then I thought: Oh, if I put costumes on. And I had a conversation with another guy who lived in that Bohemian household, an artist, Mike Reynolds. We would discuss all the pagan things together and the symbols and so then they began to appear all over the costumes and body paint and then that was a way that people could know that, oh well, it’s got a great reason, I like it, I am watching something else.

Iain: Yeah, because it was basically the first concept album, wasn’t it? the Crazy World of Arthur Brown Album? But it’s regarded as pretty much the first concept album.

Arthur: Some people have regarded it as that. It was, yeah, it was a concept album. But Robert Masters, who was our booker, he said that the only historical precedence he could see was in jazz, he sometimes had, what they called, tone poems. So I looked at that and I thought: Yeah, you could describe it that way. Although it was a character going down meeting other characters it wasn’t kind of an opera as such, although we did do… we borrowed things from operas because they had been the ones seriously talking about the spiritual realms. And so there was an echo of that in the structure of the music as well.

Iain: And you were assigned to track records and the album was coproduced by Pete Townshend and Kit Lambert and so that must have been… because Pete Townshend had that strong spiritual side. Kit Lambert was pretty out, I never met Kit Lambert, but he was pretty out there by the side of it. So you had a very interesting mix of people involved.

Arthur: He was out there and his father was a well known classical composer.

Iain: This is Kit Lambert’s father?

Arthur: Yeah. And Kit was a very very widely studied man and he also had a great taste in music and a great taste for what was happening in art, you know. It was through his agency that The Who became so involved in our part. And Kit would say two things like: “Well (imitating Kid’s voice and attitude) - and this before that was great came out - “this thing you got, this what we are doing in this state I am going to tell you something now which you may not believe”. I said: “Now what’s that, Kit?”. And he said: “Very soon there’s gonna be other groups copying this”. And I said: “Ah no, Kit, you know, it’s a kind of one off, look around, that’s not what people are doing”. But sure enough he was right. And the other thing about Kit was, which he influenced Pete and Hendrix with was, he would say to you: “Ok, so now the public have made you popular, public have given you a big hit. Now, because of that, you have a duty to them”. And on the first, you just think: Aaah. What is he talking about? But it did influence the way you perceived it and you were more aware of the fact they were giving a service which helped you to deal with the pressures of fame and stuff like that.

Iain: This Fire became number one all over the world, there is not only America, the UK, a lot of Europe, so that really projected you from being a kind of co-band with few people coming to - everybody knew you and you looked eccentric, you looked different, I guess, everywhere you went people knew you.

Arthur: Yes, yes.

Iain: That’s a huge change isn’t it?

Arthur: It is, it’s quite….

Iain: I mean outside it’s a huge change, yeah.

Arthur: Yeah, yeah. Even internally it’s like: Wow. You know particularly when Fire was a hit. In America a lot of people, because the album was about spiritual things and duality and stuff. I would be in my room, in the hotel room, in those days it was more lax, you know, so I get back and there would be people and they want to know about life and death and the meaning of everything, you know. And of course honestly, pontifically, well, I am not a rockstar, I am a guru now. (Both laughing) And then, I suppose if you are lucky something hits you and you suddenly realize: phew, no, I don’t know, don’t know that. Which it did.

Iain: And you are on the same label as the Heartbreakers, Jimmy Hendrix, The Who were involved obviously, Thunderclap Newman. All these amazing people. And Hendrix actually talked at one point about you singing in his band, didn’t he?

Arthur: Yes, yes, We did some evenings down Steve Ford’s Club in New York. And Jimmy liked to play bass and giving the option, he wouldn’t sing. So there were times when I found myself on stage with Jimmy playing bass. John Lee Hooker and Frank Zappa playing guitar and John Lee Hooker was a big hero of mine, you know, just, wow I am standing next to this man who taught me so much and I am singing with him. Wonderful. And of course with Hendrix the energy was just phenomenal. Particularly when it was a free jam. You know that was where he absolutely excelled. At free jams he could go because he was really a person who would love flowering. In social things, in everything else. Haha, and so the energy would just come out and he wouldn’t do songs. Wouldn’t do songs at all. That were already written. And he just - rrraaa (opens his arms) and so it worked. So he called me over to his hotel and said: “I am now wanting to move on and what I would like to do is I want to get together a project where we have large scale projections spiritually, we have tapes of Wagner playing in the background and then we are upfront with this theatrical type presentation”. So it was a huge thing he was thinking of and he was already writing some pieces of the instrumental parts of it. Which was quite an interesting thing how he did it, because when I went in the floor was littered with music script pages with maybe three or four notes on and he gets so far, he’d just throw it away and he’d start a new, completely new sheet. And when I look at it, I was introduced to Townshend and to Kit Lambert by a fellow called John Fenton who was an amazing man behind the scene, he was the first publicist for the Beatles. And he introduced me to them saying: “You got to look at this because it is performance art. Now that was a very early time to be talking about performance art and the thing was that Kit and Chris were both wanting to make films, they were film makers, and so when they saw my act: khkhkhkh (makes a shooting gesture) they said: “Right, we can do this”. So I got my first tour in America through playing down UFO and through Bill Graham being there and he took me over and toured me the film ??? and things. And while I was on tour for the second time with Bill Graham I got a telegram from Pete Townshend and he said: “We are considering the single, now the album is finished”. And we are tossing up between Give Him a Flower - which was a song where I took the piss out of the whole hippie scene and they loved to sing it, the hippies, too - and Fire, and he said: “We are greatly leaning towards thinking that the darker image is one that we can just go to town with”. And that was how I got chosen.

Iain: Yeah.

Arthur: We were quite happy being a comedy band as well, but

Iain: But how did the whole make up thing come together because that influenced Kiss and Alice Cooper and so many other people. It hadn’t been done before.

Arthur: Well, it was an accumulation of things. My professional career started in Paris in 1965 and it was the beginning of, you know, the English RnB invasion and of the tones from America of some of the underground Flower Power and things and floral jackets and things like that. And one night when I was performing it was a very successful thing and we had queues quarter of a mile round the outside of the building. So suddenly after being in England doing support gigs at the Marquee being whisked over to Paris by the guy who produced ‘Go Now’ who needed to avoid a tax situation here, so we liked to start a rock residency in Paris, and he said: “Yeah? Well, you got six days” (both laughing). So we went over and put a band together. And one evening in that club which was called the Palladium a young mother walked in with her child who was about seven and he looked at me and he said: “You know, you should black out your teeth”. I’ve never seen a child being exposed to theater or something or with a macabre imagination. And I said: “What?” And he said: “Yeah, you should black out your teeth”. Ah, well. So the next night, well all right, and we got some make up sticks and I blacked out my teeth and we got the guy to shine the light bright enough and that was ??? stopped something and (showing his open mouth and his teeth) there was not teeth in there. And so the audience loved it and so I thought: “Aaah, make up - right”. And then couple of weeks later I was staying in a hotel in Montmartre and the ladies of the night used to stay there as well. So they had wild parties. And one morning I woke up and opened my door there was a crown with candles. So I took that down that night with the black teeth - so that was the prototype of fire helmet.

Iain: Yeah. Which you became known for of course.

Arthur: Exactly

Iain: Fire. And you caught fire a few times as well, didn’t you?

Arthur: Well, yeah. And there are still these scorch marks and some of the clubs.

Iain: Wouldn’t be allowed now.

Arthur: No. Not at all, not in small - in the largest places we still get away with it.

Iain: You do, yeah. And then Carl Palmer joined the band as drummer. And he went on to great things obviously later.

Arthur: Well, we had a history with drummers up to then because Drachen Theaker was our drummer. He came in from another band called Wind A Cave Frog which was popular in and around Manchester and he went wild. So we had to get rid of him

Iain: It was too wild even for you.

Arthur: Oh, yeah. As far as the performance went he was quite happy to destroy the whole performance and after a while Vincent was the one who said: “Either him or me”. And that was in the middle of an American tour, very awkward, and he wouldn’t back down. So I needed all the chords, so I had to let go of the drummer. Who was becoming impossible. He went on to play with Arthur Lee and Graham Bond and people like that. When it came to the album Drachen was on most of it, but Lambert, when he was trying to get it placed in America, the Americans did not like Drachen’s drumming style in certain aspects. So he got in, Lambert got in, Jon Hiseman who of course…

Iain: Colosseum

Arthur: Colosseum and had been one of England’s top jazz drummers. And also John Marshall who was after the initial Soft Machine, in the second Soft Machine, he was the drummer, the more jazzy type.

Iain: Yes, yeah.

Arthur: He’d been fine with Alexis Korner and was one of the top jazz drummers. And so Lambert had them do versions. Now, on the Fire Album John Marshall played Spell on You, he played Child of My Kingdom and he also did a version of ‘Fire.’ Jon Hiseman did a version of ‘Fire.’ Now, Lambert is dead and nobody knows who it was (Iain laughing) because he took the Korner mix, so we don’t know which one he put in. I think it’s Drachen but they both were given Drachen’s drumming, the other two, as the template. So, nobody knows who did it, which is wonderful. Ah, and then…

Iain: Carl Palmer.

Arthur: Carl Palmer.

Iain: Because he then after time left with Vincent Crane, to form Atomic Rooster.

Arthur: Yes.

Iain: Did you feel that was a blow for you when that happened?

Arthur: I was in another world all together. I just turned down, which is why they left, two thirds of a million dollars from Clive Davis.

Iain: Was that CBS?

Arthur: Yeah. And we played in one tune. He said: “Sounds too much like Tom Jones”. So we didn’t know the one. And he said: “That’s it. I can get a Number One with that”. And then I had these great (opening his arms) - there was the Gorme Hotel, on about the 40th floor was Clive and on about the 12th floor was Kit and Chris who came over. And they had by that time, we later realized, started to go down their own drug routes. And it was falling apart, and then in a way that left us for instance in the middle of America with not a cent. And so I decided and the rest of the band by the time to move on. But when they came they said: “Look, when you want to move on management wise, we can understand that, but as a record company we are the ones that put you up there”. And you know, we don’t think this this fair and I kind of looked at it and looked at it and I thought: “Actually, I think that’s right”. And now days that’s considered a bad business.

Iain: Well, there is a quote that I pulled out again in the book which is a quote from you, which is back here somewhere. It’s like as you said: “We didn’t want to become mainstream. We wanted to do what we wanted to do”. And you were doing what you wanted to do.

Arthur: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Iain: I need to move on a bit. Otherwise we end up with 15 parts of the interview. (Arthur laughing). At this time you were also playing in stadiums, at this point when you were twenty thousand people in stadiums, it really was a quantum shift. And then you formed a band Kingdom Come. It’s three albums, all of which were kind of entirely different. I listened to all three, they are very different. And the one I like the most actually is the Galactic Zoo Dossier. And let’s talk briefly about the concept behind that (holding up a CD). I thought that was a fascinating concept.

Arthur: Well, it came on the back of going over to America singing Vietnam vets riddled with bullets on the screen which you wouldn’t see in England. Just really disturbing things, you know, both the Kennedys assassinated, Martin Luther King, it was a very time of change, it was a time when Ronald Reagan wanted to put the hippies all of them into a concentration camp and there was the Kent State riots. So that, and the fact that this thing, the hippie movement and the hippie music which did produce some absolutely wonderful things but was also in a lot of cases financed by the mafia, so right there you’ve got a strange situation (Iain laughing) and to see like many people sort of taken away with money. Just: “Ohhh, now we can do this and that”. And the other: “There is thousands and thousand of Pounds, ahhh”. You know, that kind of…, I suppose, is inevitable, But all of that I wanted to show, you know, somewhat the hippie ideals, but also what happens when money all scoop politics, war comes into that picture as well. How do you go to a new place when that’s happening? And of course, some of that is, you hope to do it through technology, so there’s one track there called the ‘Multiracial Transplant Man with the fifty nation brain I’m thought proof, unpolitical and my nerves just won’t feel pain. They’ve set my pleasure pattern to a constant state of bliss, my waste products evaporate, so I don’t need to shit or piss’. (Iain laughing) And it goes on and so, you know, it was trying to encapsulate all of that in one album.

Iain: It talks about humanity living in a zoo being controlled by commercial military’s forces.

Arthur: That’s pretty accurate.

Iain: Wow, it’s very accurate actually. And in the second album was loosely based on the theme of water in the thing of water.

Arthur: Yeah.

Iain: What were you thinking there?

Arthur: Well, we were kind of experimenting, we were living together, we were doing all kind of things together and so there was a feeling of flowing. And also, you know, I was conscious of we had the Fire albums we would have a Water Album. And the ability of something like walk water to break down things which seem a lot more powerful and stronger than it and so the kind of spiritual energy being one that might temporarily seen quashed. As it did seem to have happened. Suddenly everything was commercial again, you know, lot of the hippies have been put in jail or mysteriously died and things, and without being a conspiracy theorist it was a stated policy of the governments to make sure that doesn’t get too big, you know. So that force of being able to ride that (making wave movements with his hands) and come out the other side, suddenly you had people who had just been doing free-formed spiritual stuff. There were courses from the spiritual traditions of the world. You had the Ireka from Chile, you had the Gurdjieff movement from Georgia Armenia, you had, movement after movement, mostly anyway, giving courses that lasted for 3 months to a year, and that’s where a lot of the hippies disappeared. And in a lot of cases at the end of the courses the incalcation was right now go out and earn money and see how you do with that now. And so that was kind of a….

Iain: Did you see people that who were buying the albums were aware of all the intricacies that you had in there in terms of… because in a way what you’ve just described is there’s a lot of depth in it.

Arthur: Well, I think if you take an image like the God of Hellfire, for a lot of people it was naughty art, could be fun theater. He’s a bit mad, a nutter But not gonna look at any meaning.

Iain: But you were obviously putting a lot of … or effort is probably the wrong word because it was your passion… but you were expressing a great depth lyrically and those lyrics through music as well. And I just want to know how you were picking up on that. Once I read what Galactic Zoo Dossier was about (showing a CD) it made it much more interesting for me.

Arthur: Yeah, well it was coupled with the fact that we didn’t do fire in the act. And so we were collecting a new audience. Some of the people came. But we were creating a new audience. We were right down at the bottom again, there were new underground. That was different, it wasn’t a hippie underground. And so those people did know what it was about. And we didn’t become a huge commercial success. We were influential but not a big…

Iain: Yeah, in a way it was quite brave of you because you had this success with Fire, Number 1, you were playing the twenty thousand people, and then you, as you say, you didn’t even play Fire on stages kind of, you were almost reinventing yourself again.

Arthur: Yeah, there was a little band in between, the Puddletown Express.

Iain: That’s right, yes.

Arthur: Which featured Drachen Theaker, the drummer that was kicked out came back. And he was then drumming with Gabrielle Roth who invented all the 5Rythms stuff. And in that one, that was where I said: “Oh, it’s thrown out, the costumes, I am bored with, with that, and let’s throw out songs. And, so, we improvised all the music and ??? I performed naked, so…

Iain: (laughing)

Arthur: So the people would come home from the ones who had been hidden watching the fire with the costumes and go like: “Ohhh, what is this?” So that, like you say, it was what I wanted to do.

Iain: Because the third Kingdom Come out with Journey that was the hardest for me to listen to because it was his ??? structure, it’s just one what we call a song in there, the rest of that is - well, it was the early years of drum machines, wasn’t it? You hadn’t really done that before and again it was you at the beginning of something.

Arthur: Yeah,. Actually, it was born of necessity as well as interest. In that the then drummer - we had, I think, four weeks maybe five weeks to go to a series of concerts and he called up and said: “I am up in the north of England with the van and one of the bands wife’s and not coming back”. So we just: “Ahhh, not another.” We’d had a series of drummers. So we just: “That was it. Well I play the drum machine”.

Iain: (laughing) So on the spiritual side the next thing I picked up on was: Shivapuri Baba, who had a thing called the decision exercise. And he died at an age of 137, did you actually meet him?

Arthur: No.

Iain: The teaching that you got from him.

Arthur: From J.G.Bennett who put the Gurdjieff school together.

Iain: Yeah, so you had already known J.G.Bennett at that time.

Arthur: Let me see.

Iain: It doesn’t really matter the detail.

Arthur: No I…, yes, by the time Jeremy came I had met Bennett.

Iain: Yeah, so just talk us through that because J.G.Bennett I never met, he is dead now, but for me he is quite legendary in a way because he was the man that was instrumental with helping with the Gurdjieff teachings to keep the Gurdjieff teachings alive.

Arthur: And also brought the Subud Movement to England and was there at the first Glastonbury. He slept over night in his little tent (smiling) and as was Richard Field

 Arthur: As was, I mean the role there, at that first Glastonbury it was a spiritual nexus.

Iain: Ok. So what drew you to Bennett and the Gurdjieff teachings?

Arthur: Well, actually, it’s very strange, when I was at Redding University we used to do the weege board and things like that but I got to meet a guy there who was there someone else called Potter. He had red hair. And he lived up in Dicker Hike which was round the Sussex area. And I went to meet him. And he showed me one thing that they did which was called a stop exercise where you might be getting up and you go STOP (showing the exercise lifting up a bit from his chair)

Iain: And then you freeze.

Arthur: Yeah. And then you have to be aware of, while your body can’t move, what’s going through your mind at that moment? And so I thought: “Oh, that’s interesting”. But I didn’t really get in touch with any - I got Gurdjieff’s big book but it made no sense to me.

Iain: This is the Beeblebub or what was it.. That’s a long haul, a difficult haul that one.

Arthur: Actually he created a language in there, so you had to learn that language. But I just read about five pages and then when Kingdom Come got to the Journey section I was, when we were about half way through that year, we did a concert in Switzerland, in Geneva. And so I was sitting on a rock by the lake there and I was just thinking: “I tried everything I can with the band to make it the breakthrough that I need to do internally and I can’t do it”. So I thought: “Maybe I’ll go to India and find somebody over there, that seems to be the good place”. So I am sitting there thinking like this and I decided already I will break up the band and see what I can come up with next. And I am in the middle of that when the young guy Jeremy Thomas who later did Q Records and Fly Records

Iain: I met Thomas

Arthur: You did? Ok.

Iain: I say used to I’d only been in touch with him a few years, yeah.

Arthur: Well, he had his finger in many little parts. So he came around saying: “What are you doing?”. I said: “Well I’m going to break up the band”. He said: “Oh, why is that?” And I said: “You know, I need to make this…”. And he: “Oh, you could do it with the band. Surely.”. “Oh no, I’ve tried and tried”. “So what are you going to do?”. And I said: “Well, I think I better go to India”. And he said: “Before you go to India you should go to this place in Gloucestershire”. And he said: “I’ll introduce you to this guy”, somebody Harrison it was, who was a photographer, who went there regularly. And so he said: “You get in touch with him”. So I got in touch with him and he said: “Oh, you must go down there when they meditate down there they are three foot off the ground”. And I thought: “Oh yeah”. But nevertheless…

Iain: This must be TM.

Arthur: No, it wasn’t TM, it was the Gurdjieff’s...

Iain: Ok,

Arthur: Which….and so I went down there expecting - I knew he was an older man, because he brought some ??? then, a turbaned fellow….So I got there and he in tweed jacket, dirty old trousers on. But he was able to explain to me certain dreams I’d had and made sense out of a lot of things that had been kind of troubling me and then declared that if I came he would set me on the path to absolute liberation. Oh uhhh !!! Fantastic, !!!I’ll do that. So I went down to see him, dressed as John the Baptist. I had all my robes and stuff on and yeah, then, he was quite remarkable.

End of Part 1        


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