Alt-Generations is a project by C. Weber, writer and composer. The project features interviews with people at the heart of creativity in music, art, film and education across several generations. It also features articles on travel and escape, as well as tips on living and working in a number of different key creative global hubs. These elements feed into a serialised multimedia Biography documenting the author’s unusual life, particularly in unusual childhood, growing up in counterculture around artists like Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones. Later chapters, parts II and III, cover Charley’s colourful experiences working and travelling in various places around the world, mainly as a film editor in the U.S.A. and Turkey. Charley now leads a simpler but happy existence away from major cities in south Devon, from where he writes this project, records music and is saving up for a small sailing boat.
Above are a bunch of skaters from the period in which I grew up. They are from California, where I spent a lot of time in my teenage years.This is our generation: a bunch of ragamuffins. Most of us were far more interested in skateboarding and musicthan in studying.Certainly I was.
The sixties were a hard act to follow in many ways. There was such a major explosion in creativity and cultural reaction to how badly things had gone awry. One theory is that a lot of the context of what created that had to do with the two world wars. However, the overall point Alt-Generations hopes to bring to light is that in fact there are new waves of creativity, new movements and minor revolutions happening around us all the time, whichever generation we’re a part of.
The obvious example which people tend to think of is Punk, which was a reaction to what I call the ‘second season syndrome’, when an amazing cultural movement really just turns to the business of making money or grifting it. Who doesn’t love the Cure and the Clash? I imagine very few people, but they are and always were master-musicians and, to my mind, Australian Punk was slightly more interesting, alternative, experimental and explorative than our Punk movement in the UK. We should make an episode dedicated to that alone, as to me there was a faintly manipulated sense behind the scenes of The Great Rock and Roll Swindle in the UK, which felt like the masterminds were snubbing their noses not only at the establishment, but also at the frenzy and phenomenon of the fans who were eating up that kind of pure, very focused and timely new music and culture.
Although we were a little isolated from Punk at Summerhill, the alternative free-school I went to in Suffolk (founded by A.S. Neill), and we did get into Dr. Feelgood, The Stranglers and Elvis Costello, for my generation, our cultural revolution in fact came mainly from Ibizan dance culture, later in the 90s, the Manchester scene, ecstasy, dance and electronic music.
For the Trainspotting generation, our sixties were in fact the nineties. Work was easy to find where I was living and working as a freelance editor in the U.S.A. When I finally returned, after seven years with a Green-card, aching for European and Asian culture, Britain was booming and creatively on fire with the Blur, Ocean Colour Scene and Richard Ashcroft’s Bitter Sweet Symphony was booming over the radios across London. It was on. Whatever ‘it’ meant. I met one holidaying French couple who were ready to move to the U.K., really just because of the incredible atmosphere in the country, but also seemingly globally, at that time.
Catalina is a gem of an Island situated a forty minute ferry ride off the coast of Long Beach, which is a twenty minute drive just south of Los Angeles. Long Beach harbour, where you catch the ferry to Catalina Island, is also the site where the Queen Mary II rests, one of the grandest and most famous of all the transatlantic ocean cruise liners. There, if you like, you can stay as a hotel guest or grab a meal or a drink at one of the many period ball rooms, bars and restaurants. The coast of California is famous for whale watching and, as I found out much to my surprise, this part of the pacific is teeming with schools of dolphin. It is extremely common, but never the less always an incredible sight, to see these acrobatic creatures leaping in and out of the water with boundless energy, as they cruise alongside the modern, clean and comfortable ferry out.
Stare across the harbour and you won’t fail to notice one of the most elegant art-deco buildings, the largest Swing Ballroom in the United States, which rises up like Camelot from the sea.
The first thing the visitor to Catalina will notice and will not expect to find so close off the coast of one of the world ’s largest cities Los Angeles, is water so crystal clear, teeming with colorful fish, which a visitor notices as soon as you step onto the gangplank to disembark from the ferry boat. The next thing the visitor will probably notice are the curious ‘Captain Nemo’ looking, glass-bottomed marine life viewing submarines, which were actually designed and invented on the island for tourists to observe the abundant marine life beneath the ocean.
Charley Weber – Ascap Is a freelance writer, composer, online teacher and new media developer, specialising in creative content, journalism and voiceovers. Weberc65@gmail.com
Back in the era of prohibition, huge cruise liners would take swing dancers from the mainland on 24-hour dance parties to Catalina, where at the time there was a huge perspex tube which spanned the length of the waterfront, through which the revellers would have to walk through to get the kilometre or so distance to the ballroom situated on the other side of the bay. Beneath the ballroom, which is elevated on the second floor, also lies one of the grandest and most historical art deco cinemas in America, which visitors to the island can still catch a movie at.
Apart from a relaxed feel, with a profusion of golf carts buzzing around – not to mention a number of amazing golf courses, the visitor will also notice the immaculately restored classic ‘golden-era’ Americana buses which take tourists on tours into the heartland of the Island, along tight country roads and through big vistas to Catalina Airport, on the other side of the Island, which is actually more like an aerodrome, or an old Casablanca era set.
Owned privately for generations by the Wrigley family – the owners of the chewing gum brand – the family has been instrumental in preserving Catalina’s wild nature and limiting development on the island. Although the council members are now democratically elected, the Mayor of the island is usually one of the Wrigley family.
The island itself is a nature reserve and has a unique history, feel and character, in part because – and this is the next thing you’ll notice there are practically no cars on the island, only golf carts and there are a lot of them, which you can rent by the day or the hour. The island also has a great aviation history, being the place where McDonnell Douglas built the famous flying boats.
When I visited the Island it was to propose a charity event to benefit some of the animals injured or lost in natural disaster. The event was to be a mixture of a fly-in, and round the island golf-cart Gumball rally, and a celebrity golf tournament to benefit animals who had been injured or lost in extreme Hurricanes which have been plaguing North America recently.
The Wrigley’s were fascinated by the proposal, although we never went as far as finding sponsors for the various teams, which would be one person and an animal, say a dog or an Iguana or cat, who would fly in with a celebrity pilot and accompany them through the round the island Gumball golf art rally and amateur celebrity golf stages and events of the competition.
Where to Stay On the island you can find any number of reasonable hotels and pensions along the harbor front which will set you back no more or less than the average mainland motel for a nights stay. However, if you can afford it and really want to experience the real Catalina to the full, you can rent a small villa or apartment in a villa complex for $250 plus dollars a night; which, split between a few friends is also not too expensive.
A notable contingent on the island is a thriving community of artists, who have moved there to escape the rat-race and the frenetic ‘Freeway’ pace and arguably superficial existence in Hollywood.
Among the group of artists and painters I met while visiting the Island was none other than the famous 60’s rhythm and blues band leader, Spencer Davis, who shot to fame when a very young Stevie Windwood took over lead vocals and keyboard duties to round out the Spencer Davis Group sound, on tracks like ‘Give Me Some Living’. Spencer, who seemed happy, fit and healthy, talked freely about how ‘that band’ – meaning Traffic – ‘stole’ his singer and also about Windwood’s genius; how the young Stevie would absorb some new sound, style or instrument which Spencer would introduce to him and then, within a few months, would have transformed it into something new, fresh and personal, but evocative of what he’d been newly exposed to.
Although there are no longer 24 hour cruise, dance parties to the island – as interesting an idea as that might be – once a year the Island does host the Catalina Jazz Trax festival in October, using various outdoor stages as well as the grand ballroom and the harbor as the focal point for the festival, where people come in by ferry and also more stylishly float in and moor private boats in the harbor. Apart from swimming, scuba diving, sailing and hiking, kayaking is also a popular way to explore the water, scenery and cliffs off the near shore.
Catalina is also the place where much of the stylised and classic cult 60’s Tv show, The Fugitive, was filmed and has a long history of movie production and collaboration with Hollywood, from which horses and buffalo were imported to shoot cowboy films.
There are now herds of wild horses and buffalo that roam the eighty plus percent of the island, which is protected as a nature reserve.
Article by Charley Weber __________________________
Alternative Travel Writing. These article are from my own life experience and not intended as podcasts, but supplemental site text articles and pictures. The articles include travel and work advice to and for key creative cities, as well as cultural and historical context to alternative destinations, with particular interest in Island living, remote internet work and alternatives to a mainstream Western lifestyle.
Germany’s Black Forest
Devon/Cornwall the Pirate culture and history
The Princess Islands, off the coast of Istanbul
Catalina, off the coast of Southern California
Ibiza and The Balearic Islands: Formantera, Majorca and Menorca.
Bulgaria, Plovdiv and the wine growing regions and escapes
Apart from our own interviews and content with and from film creatives, this is also the page for links to great films and documentaries covering this area. Possibly, at some point, with links to purchase material on site.
Kim Shuck grew up a hippie kid in the late 60s and early 70s. Her mother founded a free Montessori school in SF. She talks about her childhood in a very simple but evocative way, as only true poets can do, as well as her new-found fame and being named in the street and at hotel check-in desks.
She talks about her work, which like her ancestry is very Native American, as well as the rush of speaking on stage in front of tens of thousands of people – at the turn of the millennium party in SF – and the strange come-down of stepping off stage after performing, how lonely or quiet that can make a performer feel.
By instalments, growing out of one family’s experience at the centre of the countercultural movement of the sixties, this autobiographical section features chapters and episodes in flashback to various pivotal, unusual and interesting times and people over a life. It is in three sections: Childhood, Family and Early Adulthood and Mature Adulthood.
This part of Alt-Generations is a web-book in form. It includes text, video, images. My intention has long been to use my original music to underscore certain interesting periods, people and important episodes in my unusual life. Unusual not just in childhood but also living and working in several countries, the U.S.A., the UK and Turkey, mainly working as freelance visual editor.
Without getting too private or personal, sociologically, a number these number of will compare a few key life stages over three generations of fathers and sons; those being myself, my father and my son. Simple comparative life stages include: birth, family, education, work and marriage.
Sound and Music – A multimedia documentary experience
Along with text and written chapters are playable documentary audio extracts, which the visitor or browser can select while browsing the article. It is hoped to add to and reinforce the authenticity of the experience.
The concept is also that the browser can select a background soundtrack to play, while s/he is browsing, which ought to be at a background level, so as not to interrupt the browsers experience of the narrative.
Angel by Jimi Hendrix is one of many reinterpretations of period pieces of music I’ve recorded and set up for the project. The parameters I’d like to set for part I of the Biography part of At-Generations, which is really a documentary – Childhood – is to use mainly rock, country and blues. Although, for my own adulthood generation, in later chapters, I look forward to going much deeper into Alternative, Post Rock, Punk and Electronic music.
Angel by Jimi Hendrix. Reinterpretation, voice and instruments by C.Weber
I was born on November 25th, 1964 in Holland Park Nursing Homes. I was a ‘blue baby’, had mottle all over my skin and barely survived. That much we do know, although no record of the exact time exists as the nursing homes burnt down not long after.
My mother was Susan Anne Coriat Weber and my father was born Thomas Einer Arkner, in Denmark in the late 1930s. After the war, when my grandparents separated, my father and his mother moved back to England, her homeland. He later took his mother’s maiden name, Weber, which became our family name.
He was in and around the hospital at the time of my the birth, although too high to remember the time of day. Also there was an Irish business partner of my father’s. For many years my Tommy couldn’t figure out why he was there. Decades later, when I was working in Turkey and visited my father in the Rugby where he was living at the time, I walked in the living room and he turned white and looked like he’d seen a ghost. ‘What’s the matter?’ I asked him. He said that I’d just reminded him of an old business partner of his, an Irish guy, now a property dealer in Spain, who had been present at my birth, although he could never figure out why. Apart from being a room mate of Tom’s and an ex-boyfriend of mums, that is. Thus, at around the age of forty, my world was turned upside down and I was forced to get my head around the idea that the man whom I’d always presumed to be my biological dad in fact might not be, at all.
The first song on the radio I remember hearing. ‘That’s interesting’, I thought. ‘I like it!’.
First Memories: Tara Browne – the man who inspired Lennon to write ‘A Day in The Life’
My earliest travel memory as a kid was a driving trip to Tara and his family at their country house in Ireland. My father and mother bundled us two boys into the back of the Mini Cooper and drove there, the ferry taking us across the water to the Emerald Isle. Many of my earliest memories are of being tucked in the back of a car, bouncing up and down so our heads would hit the roof of the car while my old man, usually in a rush, took us to drop off a friend at an airport or in this case to see Tara, ‘The Irish Prince’, as he was often referred to in the circle of London poets and freaks.
An heir to the Guinness family and Irish, he was much loved in those circles for being a bit of a rebel but also a man of exotic heritage. Tara later reciprocated when he came to visit us at our London house in his Lotus and seeing my eyes light up took me for quick spin around Chester Square where we lived at the time.
He seemed completely unaffected. When we arrived at his house he bundled us kids into a warm bath, along with his baby and then put us in front of the fire, having wrapped us in oversized sweaters. Tara was very normal, very cheerful, young and sadly remembered as the guy who inspired the song ‘A Day In the Life’. Presumably a little worse for wear, he drove through a red light and realising his mistake swerved to take the full brunt of the side-coming vehicle, an act which saved the life of his female companion at the time who was in the passenger seat.
DEATH of A FATHER
In the Summer of 2006 our father, Tommy Weber, passed away from cancer of the Pancreas. My suspicion is that he knew he was not long for this world at least a year or so prior to his passing. I suspect this for a number of reasons. Firstly, the incredibly passionate desire he had for all his sons to be together at his youngest son, Buddy’s, wedding to Angie, in the last year before he passed. Something that Jake and I, living in Malibu and Palm Springs at the time, unaware of the reason behind the urgency of his pleas to be at the wedding for one last reunion, were unable to oblige our younger brother and the old man by doing. Secondly, he was incredibly generous in the last year or so of his life. No sooner coming into a small inheritance from his mother, Pamela’s, estate – of around £100k – than he gave all the proceeds away to us, his three sons.
Us three brothers and my son Beau carried Tommy’s casket into the service, after which the mourners entered and took their seats, we three brothers read or gave a small speech for our father, as the refrains of ‘Kinder Days’ – a song I’d recorded and written recently on the west coast – faded away. Tom had always been my biggest, sometimes only, music fan.
My Brother and I
This picture was taken in 1968.
So who exactly were my family? I will try and describe them for you.
My brother was the more careful one, not as wild by nature as mum, dad or I, although he became much more confident in his teenage years. We definitely had each other’s back while travelling, trying to settle into a new school or if dad was out of it, dealing or using.
He is a year and three-quarters older than me, born on the 12th of March 1963. He was not bad as a sibling, pretty helpful and fair, but a slightly picky and finicky older brother which, psychologically, I gather from research is not uncommon for older siblings.
We’ve always been a similar height and weight, but very different natures and looks – which does pose or proffer up the question: are we of the same father?
Although close while travelling, Jake and I would fight for hours on end over the smallest things, but neither could get the upper hand until finally we’d apologise, sob and make up.
Tommy Weber – Childhood in Denmark
Hald is now a writers retreat in Jutland Denmark. This was our old Danish family house during WW2, which we visited and stayed in with Tom as kids, in about 1972, when it was called the Studen’t Centre of Europe.
My father lived there before he was taken away to England by our grandmother just after the war. He told me that when he was growing up things would move around, like cards or glasses on tables and that the ‘old grey lady of Hald’ would enter his father’s study regularly. So one day grandfather set up a camera in the hope to capture a photograph of some spectre entering his study. He said far far did capture something which appeared to be a ghost and that the picture was in the Museum in Copenhagen.
This is video of inside Hald, the Danish estate where our father, uncle and grandparents lived until the end of WW2. After the war the place was confiscated by the government as punishment against grandfather, a senior general under some suspicion after the war because he’d worked and socialised with the German military brass.
On a big dinner night, our father Tommy – who hated the Germans – crept downstairs, snuck under the dining table and peed on the legs and shoes of each of the German visiting officers. Tommy subsequently received a thrashing, which wasn’t the first time. He was a very gregarious child and always getting into trouble.
Our Danish grandfather was a slightly reactionary, rightwing guy who joined the French foreign legion after an indiscreet liaison with a Finnish aristocrat or princess and while stationed in Africa he is said to have removed his own appendix whilst in the jungle.
Very trippy for me to watch the video, as we stayed at Hald as guests in 1973 when it was called the Student Center Europe. Somehow dad persuaded them to let him rent us a student room for a couple of weeks when we were revisiting his roots with Jimi Hendrix’ Danish ex, I believe it was Kristen.
We lived in Copenhagen for a bit and later went to school in Jutland for about a year where we lived in a rented cottage.
The video shows no ghosts of course. But it seems to reinforce the belief that the house may indeed be haunted.
Tommy, our father, was definitely the extrovert. Unnaturally good looking, he was a risk taker. He was very warm and social. But also liked to race cars and do anything that seemed impossible at a time when anything seemed possible. He was wild, generous and big-hearted, but became overly chemically explorative during the 60s and then heavily addicted in the early seventies: a Viking rebel.
Above is a rare shot of Tommy actually racing. I found it on the Marcos website. Marcos was a collaboration between Frank Costin, the Lotus designer, and Gem Marsh. The car was built of wood and went like the clappers. Although not very big inside and difficult to climb into Tommy thought of it as a Spitfire with wheels.
Tom was taken at a very young age, around five years old, from Denmark – his birth country – to England and put into a strict and punishing boarding school called Halibury.
While my brother and I were growing up and attended schools in different countries, when he was sober – a constant battle for him – Tom would tell us about his rebellion against the cruel British culture and the public school, into which he felt he was rudely displaced from what he described as the far warmer and more natural people and culture of his childhood in Denmark. There in this big estate, Hald, now a retreat for writers, he liked to get messy with the animals and work on the farm.
While my brother and I would be dealing with the difficulties of being outsiders at some new school in France, Spain or Denmark, challenges like language, making friends or dealing with bullies, Tom would tell us how he once whipped the headmaster with his own cane and slept with the cleaning ladies.
Tom went from that public school to the air cadets. Flying was the second big love of his life, after the first, which was his home country Denmark.
However, Tom was colour blind and bad luck meant that one day in training when he was carrying a doctor on a routine approach to land in France, his passenger became suspicious when Tom failed to notice a red light flashing in the cockpit. He was busted. And so, according to the old man, naturally he took up the next most dangerous thing, motor racing. Which of course mum hated.
Between that time and when he met my mother – Susan Anne Coriat – in the early sixties, he worked for a while as a clerk at his English grandfather’s import and export trading company at the East India Docks.
But that life and work was too cut-and-dried for Tom, who ever since his removal from Denmark as a kid rebelled against everything and everyone. So his grandfather had to let him go and Tom put away the bowler hat and umbrella and opened a small gambling den from his private flat in the West End, before marrying mum and having us two kids. We grew up in small house in Pimlico.
Mum was the introvert. Attractive and more of a true seeker or hippy. But more on her next time…
Mum was something of the introvert among us; the dreamy one – not unlike me. I was slightly extroverted as a child although I became less so in adulthood.
Mum was poetic, her head in the clouds a bit, a spiritual seeker and I guess a proper hippie of the times, like her circle of friends.Christopher Gibbs describes mum. A famous art-dealer, Chris supposedly turned many of the Stones entourage on to LSD. He lived on Cheyney Walk, like Keith Richards, and frequented The Flying Dragon, the health food cafe mum opened in World’s End, Chelsea in around 1968, after her marriage to my father began to fall apart.
Like all boys, my relationship with mum was extremely close. However, she raised Jake on her own before I came along on November 25th 1964. At that time it was decided she needed help and advertised in a national paper for a nanny. Mo, a nineteen year-old from Aberdeen answered the ad and she and I then also became very close. Mo and Jake didn’t get on, I’d often sleep in Mo’s bedroom at the top of the house, beneath her imposing poster of her teenage hero, George Best, which Mo had plastered to the ceiling above her bed.
There are a bunch of revealing anecdotes about Mum. Once clothed only in flowers, she rode her salt and pepper horse, Jerusalem artichoke, right through the annual fair at Padstow, which gave the locals something to talk about.
In contrast to Dad’s friends, who were motor-racing, property or other kinds of dealers, mum’s friends were an arty crowd: Mark Palmer, the Queen’s godson, who owned a popular modelling agency; Christopher Gibbs, a celebrated, gay Chelsea antiques and art dealer, who supposedly turned Jagger and Keith Richards onto acid one weekend out at Redlands.
Her crowd all hung out at her health food café in the Word’s End, “The Flying Dragon”, and later moved down to Cornwall to live in Gipsy caravans on the Estate of Lord Eliot. The caravans were spread around a broken down old house on the grounds of Elliot Castle, in Cornwall, not far from where I now live. We lived there for a bit with them. They baked good smelling bread and did little more than live simply off the earth and I guess contemplate nature until they got bored and moved on.Frances Travers, mum’s work friend at The Flying Dragon and, like Christopher Gibbs one of the Gipsy travellers living on the grounds with us at Eliot Castle.
Mum then travelled to India with a few of them, including an Irish Lord, who for legal reasons couldn’t be named in Robert Greenfield’s book about our family ‘A Day In The Life’ (in which I participated for interviews, but wasn’t crazy about in it’s final, printed edit).
She had also been a rebel and thrown out of various private schools for listening to rock and roll music, turning up her cufflinks and, on at least one occasion, sleeping with another girl. That wouldn’t be the last time either. We suspect she and Anita Pallenberg had had an affair in the rehab clinic in Oxford where they met and became close friends.
When George came to visit our home in Pimlico, I was woken in the middle of the night by a pinch from Mo, our 19 year old nanny from Aberdeen. She was in a state of some panic and told me I had to go downstairs and interrupt the grown ups, who were playing records and smoking their ‘funny cigarettes’ in the front room. As I rubbed my eyes, she frantically related that there was a Beatle in the house, George Harrison, and she needed an excuse to meet him. I was to go down and tell mum I’d had a nightmare, she would follow and whisk me away from the adults – thus saving the day – not before locking eyes with George.
One night towards the end of the break up, another Beatle came round for dinner with his new, very quiet Japanese girlfriend. Mum cooked a big meal but we kids had to go out for some yoghurt as apparently that was all the girlfriend ate. As the night wore on and mum took us off and tucked us up in bed, she made my brother and me promise the strangest thing, which was that we would never take drugs. Honestly, I’m not sure we knew what exactly drugs were at the time, although we duly promised that to her before she closed the door and rejoined the adults.
In the clip below George talks about drugs, heroin in particular. At some point both mum and dad would become addicted, although knowing what I know now, I suspect psychological as well as undiagnosed mental health issues had a lot to do with those addictions.
Living With The Band of Gipsies at Castle Eliot
Port Eliot Castle. Where they have the writing and music festival in the Summer.
This is where we lived for a while – on the grounds, not in the castle. With mum, Mark Palmer and his caravan of gypsies, living off the land. Mark Palmer had a huge model agency in London as well as a band of travelling freaks – when he was not touring music festivals with his best mate. Mark drove a Triumph and his inseperable best mate, who he toured the music festivals with, drove a Norton .
Mark Palmer’s agency From Mark Palmer’s 60s Modelling Agency – publicity
Though I never met him, Jago Eliot sounded like a fascinating guy who died young. He was a street performer and club owner. His father, Perry or Peregrine Eliot, was very much part of the group of freaks which included art dealer Christopher Gibbs and Jagger. The latter briefly hosted the caravan on the grounds of his estate before it moved to Port Eliot. Perry let us all stay in a broken down old house somewhere on the Eliot estate where I can attest we all lived very simply.
The Isle of Wight – Julian Jones, Jake and I on stage with Donovan
Isle of Wight, on stage are Jake, Charley, Julian and Donovan. Julian Leitch (son of Brian Jones) was adopted by Donavan when he partnered with Brian’s ex-wife. At the Ilse of Wight festival my brother and I spent most of our time away from the adults, playing with Julian, who at some point pulled us on stage for his step-dad, Donovan’s, performance of a song he’d written for Julian called ‘How Much Can You pee When You’re Only Three’. One of the best perfomers in the festival, to my mind was John Sebastian from the Loving Spoonful, whom I really liked. Somehow, completely alone and spontaniously I sought him out in his dressing caravan or lodgings after the show where we chatted for a bit and he showed me his guitar case full of hundreds of different variously printed rolling papers from all around the world.
Hendrix was also there and played, but it was just a so so his performance. People said the sound was really bad and that was the reason. Although I was just a kid, I’m not sure if Jimi was becoming depressed on deeper level, for some reason.
Meeting Jimi Hendrix, my first real music hero
The Boy Who Walked With The Gods
Press Clipping from Rocknuts.net, Feb 2016:
Forty-seven years ago today, Hendrix electrified the Royal Albert Hall in London. Just before he thrashed Purple Haze, a young boy ambled onto the stage, whispered a message to Hendrix and toddled off. For 47 years, the identity of the boy in the photo above has remained a mystery.
In a fascinating story, UCR details how the mystery got solved. A hardcore Hendrix fan named Yazid Manou started posting the photo on various Hendrix fan boards. Finally, someone was able to identify him as little Charlie Weber – a boy who grew up in a wonderland full of rock royalty. He was immortalized in Robert Greenfield’s hippie opus, A Day in the Life: One Family, the Beautiful People, and the End of the Sixties.
Once he was identified, Manou reached out to Weber to show him the photo. Weber had never seen the shot:
“To open up an email and see piece of your past looking at you like that was just extraordinary,” he said. “I’ve never seen the picture before, but I remember very clearly being backstage before the photo happened. My father introduced me to Hendrix. Of course they were all doing ridiculous amounts of chemicals when we met. But Hendrix put me up on his shoulders. He was just a lovely guy; a beautiful guy with lovely energy.”
… He remembers the moment he walked out on stage, too. “If you look at the shot, it’s like a fantasy image; like something from Alice in Wonderland, he continued. “Back then, in that era, a child wandering out was not all that odd, I suppose. Nobody tried to stop me. A year later, I did a similar thing at the Isle of Wight concert when Donovan led me and Julian Jones, Brian Jones’ son that Donovan was raising, out onstage. But nothing was like going out to see Jimi.” As to what he told Hendrix once he got out there, he’s not completely sure.
“What do you say when you see a musical hero? I suppose I would have said, ‘I really love your music,’ or something in that vein. Or, ‘Could you play ‘Foxey Lady?’’ If you watch the clip you can see, in the midst of all that was going on, he managed to be very human. He was very engaged and patient. Looking at me like, hey, this kid here, he’s as important as anyone else. Hendrix’s values were 100 percent. You see the warmth and his normalcy.”
The concert appearance was just one of dozens of crazy stories from Weber’s youth. The son of a race car driver and filmmaker, Weber got toted around the world – often an arm’s length away from the most famous musicians in the world at the absolute heights of their powers.
He was even there when Mick Jagger married Bianca Perez-Mora Macias in 1971. In a now-infamous story, Weber had coke taped to his body, so he could smuggle drugs in as a wedding gift.
It was a different time, a different place. And one that we’ll probably never see again. “We were walking with gods,” Weber says.
You can watch Weber sneaking onstage with Hendrix below (scroll to minute 10:07):
Exile on Main Street – Nelcote. Page Boys to the Jaggers
I was closer to Keith as a kid and never felt particularly close to Mick. Although, like Keith, Mick is definitely something of a genius. As an adult I admire his writing ability and also I rate creativity above all else – except if the person is abusive in some way to people, family or loved ones.
Creativity is kind of the altar at which I worship, my religion, so to speak. However, being a bit of a music, car and tech fanatic – as an adult as well as as a kid – around the time we were page boys at his and Bianca’s wedding, Mick let me into his world and showed me what at the time seemed to be space age technology: the inside of the front of his Rolls Royce convertible – not a car that particularly impressed me. But it played singles – you just slipped them in and the music came out. Really as a kid I had never seen anything like it. It seemed like magic!
ERIC AND THE DOMINOS – Exile
Eric Clapton now apparently runs and operates a rehab clinic. Although a separate enterprise, so does Polly Parsons, the daughter of Gram.
When the Stones were setting up to record ’Exile’ at Nellcote Eric Clapton stayed there for a couple of weeks around the time of Mick and Bianca’s wedding when my brother, Marlon and I served as page boys.
However, Eric stayed in his room for most of the time, in a bad way, asking for drugs. A state he’d seemingly been in for at least a couple of years, since he’d recorded and played Layla, his magnum opus, for Pattie Boyd. Most people know the story but less her reaction: on hearing the song Pattie was speechless, she apparently just left the room without saying a word. This, Eric says, was the start of his heroin habit.
Back to Nellcote and the virtuoso guitarist being locked away in his room experiencing withdrawal: the old man, Tommy, and Keith exchanged words. Keith being of the opinion that it was Eric’s problem and to let him deal with it.
Never in need of much of an excuse to procure drugs, meet a great musician or help a person in need for that matter, Tom went to Marseille and scored, presumably through the contacts of Gross Jacques, the hired helper for the head cook Gerard Mosiniak.
Eric was thus saved from cold turkey or, depending on your view, pushed further down the road in his heroin addiction. Unfortunately it didn’t cause Eric to magically appear from his room and start socialising with everyone or jamming with Keith, which was the secret wish of a lot of people in the villa.
Spain, Switzerland, Joanna Harcourt Smith. Meeting Tim Leary
School in Denmark and meeting Grandpa – Hald Hovegard
Return to London, St Ann’s Villas and a Godsend, Summerhill School
Our uncle Alan and Aunt Jenny – Mum’s sister – rescue the hippie orphans for a year or so, as Tom gets into old ways and we kids live as guest in a castle in Hertfordshire.