Cosmic Trigger 4th – 27th May 2017

May 8, 2017

The Play by Daisy Eris Campbell. Adapted from Robert Anton Wilson’s seminal autobiography Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of The Illuminati. See it at The Cockpit – Gateforth St, Marylebone, London NW8 8EH. BUY TICKETS HERE

“Robert Anton Wilson’s ‘Illuminatus!’ had a profound effect on me and the Cosmic Trigger Play will no doubt do the same for a whole new generation.” Alan Moore, writer/author of V for Vendetta, Watchmen and Jerusalem

Turn On. Tune In. Find The Others

In 1976 maverick playwright and director Ken Campbell staged Robert Anton Wilson’s, Illuminatus! – a nine-hour stage play that helped launch the careers of Jim Broadbent and Bill Nighy. It also led to the backstage conception of a baby girl; Daisy Eris Campbell.

“One of the most original and unclassifiable talents in British theatre of the past half-century” The Guardian obituary for Ken Campbell – 2008

Now Love & Will Productions and The Cockpit are delighted to announce the debut full run of Daisy Campbell’s adaptation of Wilson’s seminal countercultural text; Cosmic Trigger. Part sequel, part revisit, part homage, part new writing; this is the story behind the notorious conspiracy satire, ‘Illuminatus!’, the extraordinary life of the novel’s author, Robert Anton Wilson, and the unstoppable force that was theatre legend Ken Campbell.

Daisy Campbell says; “Reading Cosmic Trigger changed my life and the lives of many others – and the book is dedicated to my Dad. Wilson’s uniquely optimistic and radically agnostic philosophy is incredibly relevant in these crazy times. We are absolutely thrilled to be working with The Cockpit on this production. They are the perfect co-conspirators to help us bring the wit and wisdom of Robert Anton Wilson back to life.”

The original work reinterpreted world history as a giant conspiracy theory and Daisy’s new work gives a backstory to the original production, featuring the lives of Wilson and Campbell, as well as the counterculture figures Timothy Leary, Alan Watts and William Burroughs, whom Robert Anton Wilson befriended.

Set in the late sixties and early seventies, the play recounts the period of Wilson’s life around the conception and writing of Illuminatus. During this time, he befriended heroes of counterculture, took LSD and experimented with the magical rituals of Aleister Crowley with predictably – and unpredictably – mind-blowing results.

With many of the original cast returning and Alan Moore appearing via specially recorded audio and morphed video projections Cosmic Trigger is a celebration of all that has gone before it as well as a vital venture in its own right. This is a highly ambitious production, with projections in the round, phantasmagorical multiple narratives, and a different actor performing as William Burroughs every night, it is designed to evoke the real-life hallucinogenic trip through conspiracy, paranoia and enlightenment that transformed Robert Anton Wilson from ‘Playboy’ editor to much-loved counter-cultural icon.

Dave Wybrow, Artistic Director of the Cockpit and co producer of Cosmic Trigger says; “We are putting together a venue, a tribe and new ways of networking and creating work. It’s about joining low tech to hi tech, low culture to high culture and low budgets to high levels of audience reach and social impact. This first venture looks at counter-cultural legacy. But the vision is an open artistic community for the future.”

Cosmic Trigger previously played for two days in November in Camp & Furnace in Liverpool and five days at Lost Theatre Vauxhall in London in 2014 – this is the play’s first full run.


Broadway World

London City Nights

The Upcoming

The Stage

International Times

The Guardian

The Times

Cosmic Trigger The Times Online Version

Arthur Smith interviews Daisy Campbell on Radio 4 xtra:
Short thing with Arthur Smith (more like a plug)

Cosmic Trigger – 4th – 27th May 2017 at The Cockpit

Cosmic Trigger Press release

Related Materials:

Listen to Iron Man Records Release: Robert Anton Wilson meets Steve “Fly Agaric” Pratt

Listen to Cosmic Trigger I: Final Secret of the Illuminati (Audio Book) Written by Robert Anton Wilson and 
Narrated by Oliver Senton

John Higgs – “Stranger than we can imagine: Making Sense of The Twentieth Century” Book Launch

August 19, 2015

Friday 28th Aug 2015 - An evening with John Higgs and Guests

Friday 28th Aug 2015

An evening with John Higgs and Guests

Heavenly Social presents an evening with John Higgs and Guests

To celebrate the publication of his new book

Stranger Than We Can Imagine:

Making Sense of The Twentieth Century

Friday 28th August



The Social, 5 Little Portland Street, W1W 7JD

Nearest Tube Oxford Circus


If it’s not impossible, it’s not worth doing…..Find the others. Go to The Adelphi.

July 7, 2015


Adelphi is a Greek word meaning “brothers” (a + delphi, literally “of the same womb”)

Many thoughts pass through your mind when you do enough driving, few of them make any sense. I take a lot of bands to a lot of gigs, it’s what I do for money these days. Sometimes it can be hard not to pull the van over, drag everyone out on the motorway hard shoulder and tell them to “Stop living out of the asshole of your belief system and kick out the jams motherfucker!” In other words, shut up and play the music, or stop blaming everyone else and learn to get on with it. We all need each other in order to survive in this business, even if we don’t like that idea. Write, rehearse, record, perform. Everyone you meet has a piece in the puzzle. It’s your job to work out which piece. It’s not as simple as this one or that one, and I try not to live in the “A,” “not A” world, but if you drive long enough, you have to engage it in some sense. If you are in a band you have to learn the world can be more complex than just “A, Not A” and you have to read the signs too. You can never have enough confusion. Let me explain.

It can start with a simple set of roadsigns that flash past in a moment. Turn left for the Crematorium, turn right for the A30m. I’ll take the A30 for now. If you have ever been to Munich in Germany, there’s a T-junction on the way out of town. The sign at the T-junction reads Dachau to the right, or McDonalds to the left. Which way to the gig?

Using a Sat Nav can help you avoid the endless stream of reassuring roadside bill board images that seek to distract and divert but you still have to read the signs. You may find yourself at the mercy of the cult of yellow signs that seek to subvert your journey with irrational routes to a land that time and space has forgotten. You could end up at Thurrock Services one mad March morning and find yourself driving for 25 hours round the M25 with Gimpo jumping around in the back shouting “Tim! Tim! You’ve missed the turning!” To find your way you will need to read the signs. Timothy Leary said that “Everyone has a piece of the puzzle” and once you’ve turned on, tuned in and dropped out….your next task is to “Find The Others.” What happens next is up to you.

Turning on the TV in 1992, I watched with interest as one of my favourite bands of the previous 5 years, The KLF performed a song called “3am Eternal” backed by Extreme Noise Terror. The show ended with the audience being machine gunned. As the KLF left the music business, I decided to start organising gigs in Birmingham, which is where I was living at the time.

I had no money, no idea and made a start right away. As one things ends, so another must start. If Ken Campbell taught one thing that has resonated with me, he demonstrated the importance of picking up a phone and asking the question. “If it’s not impossible, it’s not worth doing.” I may not have had money or experience, but I did have access to a phone.

1992 was as good a time as any to start a music project if you discount the impact of the end of all music genres in 1994, the arrival of the internet, the cult of amateur, mobile phones and the end of all physical product. But I digress, thats not what I’m planning on discussing here. As Bill and Jimmy of The KLF moved on to other things in their own way, they set a clear benchmark for popular music, they also nailed the coffin lid shut on it too. Get in, go all the way, get out. Don’t over think it, keep it simple and don’t stick around once you have reached the top of your game. But the game’s over. Know when it’s time to leave. Understand what you’re starting. You can learn the rules to break them properly, but be prepared to embrace the contradictions. I have to agree that “It’s what you know, not who you know…..that matters.” To others you can appear mad, but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong.

I sometimes wonder how Hunter S. Thompson knew so much about so many things ahead of so many others. His work is almost a user manual, but that is another story.

Nearly 23 years later, I found myself driving a long wheel base VW Crafter from DYC Touring across London. It was the 1st of May 2015. If you are into your numbers then that is an interesting date. In the back was an amazing singer and songwriter called Eska, and her band. I was taking them to a gig and the traffic was heavy like any day in central London. As I turned to cross a bridge that has the HQ of MI5 on one side, and The Houses of Parliament on the other, Bill Drummond passed me on the inside in his land rover. In a moment I considered the five years of KLF, the Brit award from 1992 being buried somewhere near Stonehenge, the concepts of pop bands only living 5 years with everything provided before being executed by their successors live onstage, the idea that many artists produce their greatest work early in their career then limp on for 25 years desperate to relive their former glories and so on. All of the late night discussions about art, music, politics, belief systems and nonsense seemed to pass through my head in an instant.

I followed Bill Drummond’s land rover onto the bridge and considered the idea that a lot of his work is inspired by impulse. I considered the situation I found myself in, and I had a terrible realisation: The date, timing and location of all of this appeared to me to be perfect for some sort of ritual killing, and the abrupt ending of Bill Drummond’s career. I could bulldoze his vehicle over the side of the bridge into the River Thames. I had this mad idea that the energy released by such an act would be absorbed by Eska, strapped in the back, who in turn would go on to fame and fortune with her own music. Eska would live and Bill Drummond and the rest would be forgotten or perhaps consigned to notes given to music industries skills students at a failing place of Academia somewhere.

But as I considered the whole idea in more detail I became horrified I should even think such a thing. Bill Drummond should live. It is not for me to choose someone else’s end. Perhaps Bill’s best work is yet to come, perhaps his best work has indeed been early on in his career, but more important than that, does it really matter to anyone other than me? You have to learn to let it all go. You are the master, you make the grass green in your own world, but that’s it. Stop there. As Robert Anton Wilson will tell you, “Never totally believe anyone else’s belief system, and never totally believe your own.”

I settled for entertaining myself by overtaking his landrover and forcing him to sit behind the van in a state of rage whilst Eska reclined in air conditioned comfort in the back. I took a picture as we sat at the lights. Who could have known what insane thoughts were going through my head. I had to live on from this point. No pushing landrovers off bridges. Stop living out of silly belief systems. Let Bill Drummond live. If he goes on to create his greatest work now, so what…..and if its another 25 years of clinging to the cliff of hope, trying to relive former glories, then you can blame yourself for having such stupid beliefs, sorry. It doesn’t matter. Let it go. We all have a piece of the puzzle. Work it out for yourself. We are all better alive in my short sighted view.

But don’t let everything go. In 2006 I was on tour with a band called Dufus and I found a piece in the puzzle. We went to the Adelphi in Hull. The band spent a pleasant evening at a gig organised by Paul Jackson. After sound check, Paul ordered some food from a local take away and invited the travelling group to take a seat in the back room. If you visit The Adelphi Club in Hull you must also visit the back room. There is a sign on the back wall and it reads: “Hull is Twinned with your darkest thought.” The sign is Bill Drummond’s work, not very pleasant, but still his work. To me, my darkest thought with regards to a place like The Adelphi has always been “Imagine if all music was funded by the state?” Imagine if only those with approved funding applications organised music projects in your home town? Imagine what shit they would pull to manufacture your consent for their project. Imagine what shit they would buy for themselves with the money, whilst making all the artists, creatives and volunteers they’ve recruited jump through endless hoops on their behalf. Understand, The state of music would become the music of the state.

Make no mistake, funding is for funding, not you. People get what they deserve. If you don’t seek interesting music out for yourself then your world will fill with the latest indie shit spreaders pushed by the latest batch of sales and marketing types on the payroll of some funding application. Dufus had a good gig at The Adelphi that night and no funding application was in sight, Paul was delighted and the people who bought tickets and listened to the show left with big grins on their faces. Anyone who goes to The Adelphi, or any place like it to listen to music, knows something you don’t. As Dick Lucas of Subhumans will tell you, “Life isn’t about computers, it’s about talking to people face to face.” There’s a whole world that goes on without computers or mobile phones in places like The Adelphi. But the Adelphi is in trouble and its my own suspicion that you are spending too much time online. What was that? You don’t agree? Try this: First person to check their phone pays for dinner. Paul is struggling to make ends meet, he is worn out from 30 or more years of back breaking work to support new music. The place could use a bar manager and some good bands who have already made a name for themselves to return and shine a light on the venue, its ethos and Paul who has run the place from the start. New music needs a champion and Paul has played that role for long enough. You know what has happened since John Peel passed away. Imagine a world without Paul Jackson to book your band when no one else will give you a stage? The Adelphi needs a champion now, several champions to be exact. So you know what to do. If you are in a good band or want to see some good bands, Go to the Adelphi. Time may be running out but you can reverse the situation by simply turning up. It’s not rocket science.

I’m working with John Sinclair at the moment, he’s a poet from Detroit. When asked on BBC radio what new bands he felt excited about, he replied “None.” When asked to explain why, John reasoned that most new bands these days were more interested in buying a fancy car than any form of social, political or cultural change. Think about that for a moment. Have you ever been to the Adelphi? I wonder what can be said of audiences these days? Anyone else reading this ever been to the Adelphi? John Sinclair was a former manager of MC5. I don’t need to go into the detail but if you know what MC5 are all about and what John Sinclair is all about, there are enough ideas to last any artist a lifetime. Its not about some funded project. Its not about buying fancy goods either. It’s not about the money, it’s about sending a message. You have to make the world you want to live in. You cant just hope for it or believe in it, or apply for funding to create it. You have to make it and you had better start today. MC5 are celebrating 50 years this year. Where have you been all this time? Have you learned nothing?

Which brings me back to Ken Campbell. “Don’t believe anything. Nothing which is the product of a human mind is a fitting subject for your belief. But, you can suppose anything. And you should. The act of supposing is mind expanding. Suppose flying saucers, fairies, god if you must. But, don’t believe it!” – Ken Campbell. Thats why artists are important. They give you the chance to suppose.

Sometimes I think that Artists should be left to live or die by the work they create. Creation demands destruction. But I also think that the trick is to create but not be destroyed by it. Paul Jackson and many who have frequented the Adelphi have witnessed many good people fall by the way and too many idiots seem to be telling you that they are in charge. The arts should not be funded but don’t believe that the arts can survive without you. You are in charge here, you are the master, you make the grass green. The arts do need to be supported, but not by the state, not by funding applications, not by any of that. It’s up to the artists, musicians, poets, creators and you. If the Adelphi is to survive then the Adelphi needs you. Through the works you create and the ideas you present and the friends you invite to come with you. Suppose anything. Do as you will. Create. The Adelphi needs artists, musicians, creators and an Audience, not some funding application that demands a box to be ticked or some administrative outcome. If the Adelphi is to live then we all need to “Stop living out of the asshole of our belief system and kick out the jams motherfucker!” These things don’t make themselves. Here’s the website: If it’s not impossible, it’s not worth doing. Find the others. Go to The Adelphi.

If you know any good live bands, pick up a phone:

Manager/Booker/Promoter Paul Jackson

Paul Jackson
The New Adelphi Club
89 De Grey Street, Beverley Road
Hull, East Yorkshire
Kingston Upon Hull
Call +44 (0) 1482 348216

John Sinclair + The Founder Effect – Spiegeltent, Canary Wharf, London 17th Sept

August 24, 2014

John Sinclair at 12 Bar Club, London, Sunday 11th May 2014
John Sinclair and The Founder Effect perform songs from ‘Mohawk’ at Canary Wharf Spiegeltent, London

Download the Spiegeltent Leaflet PDF here

“John Sinclair – renegade poet, scholar and cultural revolutionary… Archetype of the 1960’s art, music and literary synthesis, still kicking with both feet on his trajectory for cultural transformation. Mohawk features ten tracks from his book of verse: always know: a book of monk. Beatnik poems, great odes and personal reflections of the Be-Bop jazz persuasion, all flowering together.”

Doors – 6.00pm
John Sinclair on stage 6.30pm – 7.45pm
Tickets available through SEE Tickets for £10 + Booking Fee

All Press Enquiries Sean Newsham:
All Guest List requests to: Ben Conway

TUBE Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf DLR Canary Wharf or Heron Quays

LONDON BUSES D3, D7, D8, 135, 277

Central London in 23 minutes, 26 times a day. / 0870 781 5049

John Sinclair at The Barbican 31st May 2014

John Sinclair and The Founder Effect at Barbican, London, 31st May 2014.

WHITE PANTHER: The Legacy Legacy of John Sinclair – a short film by CHARLES SHAW featuring JOHN SINCLAIR music by THELONIUS MONK

John Sinclair is best known as the Sixties “marijuana” activist who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for giving two joints to an undercover policewoman. He was eventually freed when John Lennon and Yoko Ono spoke out on his behalf.

Less understood is his role as the founder and chairman of the radical anti-war group, The White Panther Party, an offshoot of the Black Panthers. The Black Panther Party was a militant political organization formed after the brutal murders of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Robert Kennedy.

The Nixon Administration and the FBI launched a secret program called COINTELPRO to disrupt and ultimately destroy the Black Panthers and the Anti-War movement. As part of this program, John Sinclair was set up and imprisoned on marijuana charges. When the government could no longer justify denying him a bond over two joints, they falsely charged him with a Federal conspiracy to blow up a CIA station, in order to make him disappear.

You can find John Sinclair Books, CDs and other interesting stuff in the Iron Man Shop

John Sinclair + The Founder Effect – Spiegeltent, London 17th Sept poster

Ticket Link:

John Sinclair - Mohawk front cover

John Sinclair – “Mohawk” CD  March 2014 by Iron Man Records, Birmingham.

John Sinclair, the renegade poet, scholar and cultural revolutionary released his new album in March 2014. John, has been described as an Archetype of the 1960’s art, music and literary synthesis, and who today, is still kicking with both feet on his trajectory for cultural transformation. His new record features ten tracks from his book of verse: always know: a book of monk. Twenty poems planted firmly in a single-shot session, and carefully trimmed down to ten exhibits for this album. Beatnik poems, great odes and personal reflections of the Be-Bop jazz persuasion, all flowering together.

First conceived of in Detroit City, spring 1982, and developed throughout the 1980s with streaks of fresh edits leading right up to the session itself, John navigates some of these texts for the first time in over twenty years, free-styling his energized sincerity and attention to every word, transforming the text on the page into his unique unmistakable spoken word.

The music was written and arranged by Steve Fly who mirrored John’s poems in the music by initially combing the tempo of the original songs recorded by John ‘Dizzy’ Gillespie, Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker and Thelonious Monk.

Steve The Fly is a native of Stourbridge UK, now an Amsterdam resident who plays drums, spins vinyl, writes novels and literary and cultural commentary. He also maintains a flock of websites and works in various other art forms without visible restraint. His other music projects have included New Flesh, Garaj Mahal, Temple Dragon band, of course he is now full time with John Sinclair.

These songs are further utilized by John’s poetic method so that each title and the rhythm of his poetry can piggy-back upon the same song title, and rhythm, of an original composition set in history, for extra rooting. Steve put down drums, turntables, cello-bass, flute, and glockenspiel, shooting to play around the vocal lead lines and diverse expressions from John.

“to take the hair off
the sides of the head

& leave just a strip
along the top,
scalping pretense
for the baldness of statement

building a new music
on the bones of the old

— John Sinclair from the title track “Mohawk”

John Sinclair - Mohawk gatefold inner

The album was recorded diligently by Tim Egmond at Ei Studios, Amsterdam and passed along to Simon Reeves at Framework Studios, Birmingham for mastering.

Tim Egmond is a music producer, engineer and studio whizz, based in Amsterdam, who has worked with scores of international and locally based artists on a wide variety of projects.

Simon Reeves has completed many projects for Iron Man Records already and he has been described as one of Birmingham’s finest independent studio engineers who has worked with bands from Napalm Death to Police Bastard, and a host of other brutal metal and punk bands.

All artwork was cradled and visualized by the post-industrial imagination of CHU; The Black Country, tech savvy, rule-breaking, progressive wordsmith and thinker – an ardent advocate of aerosol painting and its vanguard for over 30 years with global public works and murals, 3D perspective illusions and many group shows, under his Walsall leather belt. CHU’s work has included projects with Banksy and Jamie Hewlett among many others, and he has been described as the ‘Escher of UK street art’ and founder of Graffiti Bastards.

John Sinclair - Mohawk back cover

The album is beautifully packaged in a double gatefold cd wallet with artwork by CHU in full colour and a ten page booklet. Mohawk illustrates the kind of care and attention a John Sinclair record deserves. After all, he kinda helped start this underground art explosion.

The words here poured forth after cannablissed talking-poet John Sinclair stared at the moon when jazz giant Thelonious Monk died in 1982. The luminous lunar loom inspired Sinclair to create a series of poems about early Monk, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie: “Lest we forget these are young men…bursting with the joy of discovery.” Sinclair lifts up the proverbial bandstand (per Monk’s mandate) with tales of the birth of bop at Monroe’s Uptown House and the jazz/Beat connection. Drummer/composer Steve Fly creates a hip-hopped be-bopped bed of rhythmic sound. (And the bonus track at the end has a Beatle on it!) – Michael Simmons

All Press Enquiries Sean Newsham:

CHU talks about his artwork for John Sinclair – Mohawk here:

John Sinclair – Mohawk CD released on Iron Man Records 24th March 2014 Buy It Here

Listen to: The John Sinclair Freedom Rally: John Sinclair Radio Show 526

ARTIST: John Sinclair
TITLE: Mohawk
LABEL: Iron Man Records
FORMAT: CD Double Gatefold Sleeve / Digital
RELEASE DATE: 24th March 2014
Cat No: IMB6022

Buy It Here from Cargo Distribution Direct:

Buy Books and Music by John Sinclair in the Iron Man Shop here:

Visit John Sinclair:

Visit Steve Fly:

Visit Chu:
John Sinclair - Mohawk CD Gatefold back

WHITE PANTHER: The Legacy of John Sinclair

October 11, 2013

WHITE PANTHER: The Legacy of John Sinclair – a short film by CHARLES SHAW featuring JOHN SINCLAIR music by THELONIUS MONK

John Sinclair is best known as the Sixties “marijuana” activist who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for giving two joints to an undercover policewoman. he was eventually freed when John Lennon and Yoko Ono spoke out on his behalf

Less understood is his role as the founder and chairman of the radical anti-war group, The White Panther Party, an offshoot of the Black Panthers. The Black Panther Party was a militant political organization formed after the brutal murders of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Robert Kennedy.

The Nixon Administration and the FBI launched a secret program called COINTELPRO to disrupt and ultimately destroy the Black Panthers and the Anti-War movement. As part of this program, John Sinclair was set up and imprisoned on marijuana charges. When the government could no longer justify denying him a bond over two joints, they falsely charged him with a Federal conspiracy to blow up a CIA station, in order to make him disappear.

You can find John Sinclair Books, CDs and other interesting stuff here:

John Sinclair – Biography (June 2013)

June 26, 2013

Cultural revolutionary, pioneer of marijuana activism, radical leader, political prisoner by the end of the 1960s, a legend of the imagine nation, the last of the Beatnik Warrior Poets, and a founding father of the U.S rock and roll constitution, John Sinclair.

John Sinclair

John Sinclair was born on the 2nd of October 1941, in Flint, Michigan, and grew from being a rock’n’roll fanatic and teenage disc jockey enthusiast to a cultural revolutionary icon, pioneer of marijuana activism, co-founder of the White Panther Party and a political prisoner, all by the end of the explosive 1960’s.

He first tuned into rhythm and blues radio at a young age, getting his hands on records by the likes of Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and Little Richard. This early exposure to high energy African American music would have a life-altering effect on John. He graduated high school and went on to attend Albion College, University of Michigan at Flint, and then went on to Graduate school at Wayne state University, Detroit for an M.A. in American Literature, and ultimately dropped out of state run academia in 1965 to follow the path of the beatnik poet warrior, independent scholar and cultural organizer.

From 1966-67 Sinclair correspondently founded the Detroit Artists’ Workshop with his partner Leni Arndt, poet/film-maker Robin Eichele, trumpeter Charles Moore and twelve other like minded individuals. Consequently the workshop became part of the ‘hippy revolution: Sex, drugs, rock & roll and fucking in the streets”.

Together with other fine works produced in step with the mimeograph revolution, the Artists Workshop published his first book of poems ‘This is our Music’ (1965) Fire Music; a record (1966), The Poem for Warner Stringfellow (1966), and Meditations: a suite for John Coltrane (1967). John served as a local correspondent for Downbeat (1964-65) and Jazz (New York) magazines, and had his articles, reviews and poetry appear in numerous other publication besides those he edited, including; American Poet, Camels Coming, Coda, Connections, El Corno Emplumade, Incense, island, Jazz (Warsaw), The Journal, Kaleidoscope, Kulchur, Latitudes, Magazine, Move, New Lantern, Club Review, Orpheus, Other Scenes, Out of Sight, the Paper (Lansing), Poetmeat, San Francisco Oracle, Seed, Sounds (Germany), and Sounds & Fury.

In July 1965, John read his works at the Berkeley Poetry Conference together with Ed Sanders, Ted Berrigan, and Lenore Kandel.) In 1966, he began to manage the proto-punk/Avant Rock band MC5, simultaneously, in the summer of 1967 the Detroit Riots broke out. This event along with years of police harassment aimed at the Detroit Artists’ Workshop led Sinclair and his friends to take refuge in the college town of Ann Arbor Michigan. MC5’s first album was recorded “live” at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom in 1968 and “exploded onto the scene like a bomb though a courtroom window” and was released along with the declaration that Sinclair, MC5 and a select few others had formed the White Panther party, in opposition to the U.S. government, the war in Vietnam, the war on drugs, the culture wars and to show open support for the Black Panther Party.

The White Panther Party spearheaded the process of a “rock’n’roll revolution” during 1968 to 1969, and the writings of Sinclair for the underground press helped document and analyse the White Panther Parties “Total assault on the culture” and the mutual opposition to the Vietnam war. The WPP remains the only political party ever formed by a rock’n’roll band. They preached the poetry of an immediate revolution–a sonic rainbow revolution–and carried out their radical political and cultural organising and edutainment work alongside their fellow revolutionaries on the East, and West coasts of the U.S.A. The White Panther Party was referred to by the FBI as “potentially the largest and most dangerous of revolutionary organisations in the United States”, shortly before the FBI were caught illegally wire-tapping the white house leading to the Watergate scandal.

Shortly after the FBI cottoned onto Sinclair and the WPP, he was sent to prison after giving an undercover police officer, two joints of Marijuana in a set-up linked by many to the secret spy operation called cointelpro. It was his third conviction of similar offences and Sinclair received a distorted maximum penalty of 10 years. Sadly, this conviction resulted in MC5 discharging his services and breaking up the growing strength of the WPP.

Sinclair utilized his time in prison fruitfully to read and write, producing the incendiary books, ‘Guitar Army’: a collection of writings for the underground press, and ‘Music & politics’, co-written by Robert Levin. He continued to support some activities of the White Panther Party from his cell, feeding back with the other throughout its transformation into the Rainbow Peoples Party.

The Free John campaign aided Sinclair’s release after a long 29 month campaign and reached its climax in the “John Sinclair Freedom Rally” that took place at the Chrysler arena in Ann Arbor. The now legendary benefit featured Phil Ochs, Stevie Wonder, Allen Ginsberg, Bobby Seale, Archie Shepp, John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Lennon composed a song especially to help raise awareness of Sinclair’s case called “John Sinclair” which was featured on the ‘Sometime In New York City’ album. Three days after the rally was held, Sinclair was released and had his conviction overturned.

“It ain’t fair, John Sinclair/In the stir for breathing air/Won’t you care for John Sinclair?/In the stir for breathing air/Let him be, set him free/Let him be like you and me/They gave him ten for two/What else can the judges do? Gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta,gotta, gotta, gotta set him free”–John Lennon, John Sinclair.

After being released Sinclair got back into music management and promotions through the Rainbow MultiMedia Corporation, which was to manage Mitch Ryder, Detroit, and several other bands from Ann Arbor, while continuing the role of Chairman of the Rainbow Peoples Party, its direction, political organising work. He helped produce the historic Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz festivals that hosted Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, B.B. King, Otis Rush, J. B. Hutto and the Hawks, Howlin’ Wolf, T-Bone Walker, Magic Sam, Freddie King, Son House, Clifton Chenier, Roosevelt Sykes, Miles Davis, Count Basie, Sun Ra, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Yusef Lateef, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor Ray Charles, Maceo Parker, Etta James, James Brown, Booker T. & the MG’s, Taj Mahal, Dr. John, Bonnie Raitt, Al Green. He also became involved in radio, hosting popular shows on WNRZ and WCBN, and founded The Peoples Ballroom, The Free Concerts in the Park Programme, The Ann Arbor Tribal Council and took on a key role in the success of the local Human Rights Party that resulted in two city council members being elected and the institution of the $5 marijuana possession fine.

In 1975 the Rainbow Peoples Party disbanded, while the resignation of Spiro Agnew and Richard M. Nixon together with the end of the Vietnam War changed the mass movement in America. Sinclair moved back to Detroit and his poetry, Journalism, radio programming and urban cultural activism. He spent 15 years with a loving family and while working as the editor of the Detroit Sun newspaper. He was also the founder and director of the Detroit Jazz Centre, assistant professor of popular music history at Wayne State University, programme host for WDET-FM, director of the City Arts Gallery for the Detroit Council of the Arts, and editor of City Arts Quarterly.

In 1991, after attending the Mardi Gras festival annually for over a decade, Sinclair relocated to New Orleans and became a member of the volunteer staff at WWOZ radio and won the OffBeat magazine’s reader poll, voted the city’s most popular DJ 5 years in a row (from 1999-2003). He formed a band in 1992 called The Blues Scholars, and in 1994 he recorded his first CD and consequently set out on tour as a performance artist backed by Jazz, blues and rock groups. His collaborations include Little Milton, Jimbo Mathus, the New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Ras Moshe, The Kudzu Kings, Afrissippi, The Pinkeye Orchestra, Wayne Kramer,  and The Dutch Rappers Lange Frans & Baas B.

Several of Sinclair’s poetry collections were published along with his major work in verse, ‘Fattening Frogs for Snakes: Delta Sound Suite’. He has released more than 15 CD’s of his work with Music and Verse which include Volumes 1 and 2 Of ‘Fattening Frogs For Snakes: Delta Sound Suite’, ‘Full Circle’ and ‘White Buffalo Prayer’ with Wayne Kramer. During his time in the musical mecca of New Orleans, John wrote hundreds of original essays and articles along with some new edits of his previous poetry.

After some visits to Amsterdam as a guest of the High Times Cannabis Cup in the late 1990’s  John relocated to Amsterdam in 2003. His grass roots radio show is now the flagship of the encyclopedic Radio Free Amsterdam. He began performing throughout Europe as a solo artist, as a duet with Guitarist Mark Ritsema, in Detroit with the Motor City Blues Scholars and around the world with a variety of Collaborators.

Sinclair was honoured as the International recipient of the prestigious Targa Matteo Salvatore in Foggia, Italy. He made an appearance at the Festival Internazionale della Letteratura Resistente in Tuscany and has been featured at major events in festivals all over the world, examples being Rome, Milano, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Paris, Seville and Santiago, Chile.

In 2006 at the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, Sinclair was honoured with a prize winning strain being named after him; it was also in the same year that Sinclair published ‘Va Tutto Bene’ another collection of poems through Stampa Alternativa in both American and Italian. March 2006 saw Sinclair join The Black Crowes on stage twice to read his poems “Monk In Orbit” and “Fat Boy” during the instrumental breaks of “Nonfiction” and “How Much For Your Wings.”

On May 1st 2007, and the 35th anniversary of his book ‘Guitar Army’ he celebrated through a re-release of the book, along with 40 previously unreleased period photos, an introduction by Michael Simmons and a bonus CD with rare musical recordings, including cuts by MC5.

In 2008 Sinclair became the editor-in-Chief of Headpress, an apolitical anthology series from the London based Independent publishing house of the same name.

‘It’s all good’ a compilation to Sinclair’s music journalism and poetry was release on the 9th of April 2009 and resulted in him performing at Filthy Macnasty’s Whiskey Café in Islington on the 15th of April 2009. Later that year on August 14 2009, Sinclair also played at the Bonded Warehouse Stourbridge as part of a Poetry and Spoken Word event put on by Iron Man Records. Also in 2009, Sinclair released ‘Detroit Life’ an album of poetry with the Motor City Blues Scholars on No Cover Productions based in Michigan.

In 2010 Sinclair teamed up with the Dirty Strangers to release a “politically charged anthem” ‘Lock and Key’ backing the Green Party, it was release on the 26th of April in time for the UK general election. It was released on the renowned and recently reactivated 60’s label, Track Records, that is also known for releasing records for The Who and Jimi Hendrix. On November 9th Sinclair, along with Planet D Nonet from Detroit released ‘Viper Madness’ through No Cover Productions.

Sinclair released “Let’s go get ‘em” on Big Chief Productions and “Honouring The Local Gods” on Straw2gold pictures in 2011. He also released Songs Of Praise: Homage To John Coltrane. On December of 10th the same year the White Panther Party reunited in Ann Arbour that featured a live performance by John, and surprise special guest set with Wayne Kramer.

Beatnik youth was released in 2012 on Track Records and featured contributions from Howard Marks, Keith Levine, Bobby Gillespie, Brian James, Angie Brown, Zodiac, Jesse Wood, Mark Stewart, Alan Clayton, Steve Fly and bass on all tracks by Youth. He then embarked on the “Breathin Air” tour with Howard Marks in the UK and Ireland. Upon arriving in London, Sinclair was searched and arrested after his medical marijuana papers were not recognised by the authorities, after paying a £50 fine John used the arrest papers, with a little help from Howard and a large projector, as the backdrop for the first show of the tour at E4’s Udderbelly.

January 2013 saw Sinclair sign to Iron Man Records to release a new album of poetry taken from his huge work: Always Know: A book of Monk, with music by Steve Fly. In New Orleans John spent time conducting further research into the beatnik roots of New Orleans and performing with many local characters such as Tom Worrel, Lionel Batiste. He was invited to perform his poetry at the opening of the Tuba Fats square, named after the late great Tuba Fats.

You can find work by John Sinclair in the Iron Man Shop here:

Documentary: John Sinclair in New Orleans during Mardi Gras

February 12, 2013

“I always was involved into music. As a fan, composer, journalist, performer, photographer and now film maker….I was lucky to work with Blondie, David Bowie, Chris Wilson, Chris Blackwell and of course John Sinclair, (author, performer, beat-poet, DJ, founder of the White Panther Party, “Spirit” of the early MC5, ex-radical hippie saved from 10 years of prison by John Lennon….)

John has been a major contributor to the Culture of New Orleans and one of its most enlighted experts….particularly found of the “Black culture” of New Orleans, so rich in extraordinary talents…John guided me through the back streets of New Orleans, so to encounter the Mardi Gras Indians….” Gilles Riberolles

Click the link to play the Documentary We love Big Chief from Gilles Riberolles on Vimeo.

Coming from Paris I joined John Sinclair in New Orleans during the Mardi Gras time….John drove me through Black New Orleans up to the Mardi Gras Indians…

You can find more John Sinclair in the Iron Man shop here: