Led Zeppelin guitarist and leader Jimmy Page has been fired as composer for the soundtrack of the film Lucifer Rising by it's director, Kenneth Anger. Speaking in London on Friday, Anger decried Page for time-wasting and a lack of dedication to the project, and claimed that Page's personal problems had made him impossible to work with. Page has been working on the film for the past three years and has so far delivered some 28 minutes of completed tape. The story of the collaboration -and the ensuing rift- goes back to 1973 when Page first agreed to compose and perform the movie soundtrack. He and Anger first met at Sotheby's, at an auction of boots by the English Occultist/Magician Aleister Crowley. Both Page and Anger are students of Crowley's teachings. Anger is a practicing Magus (a priest/magician) and his films - of which Scorpio Rising is perhaps the best known --- are replete with occult symbolism. Anger himself describes them as "Spells and Invocations".
Page has often expressed interest in the teachings of Crowley. He owns the second largest collection of Crowley's books in the world, and one of his three houses is Crowley's former residence at Boleskine on the shores of Loch Ness. Lucifer Rising, Anger's most ambitious project to date, deals with the "fallen angel" of orthodox Christian Mythology, who in Anger's film is restored to his Gnostic status as "the Bringer of Light"; an implicit part of Crowley's own teachings.
The collaboration has continued intermittently since their first meeting. Anger commuting between London and New York to oversee the publication of his book on film-star scandals, Hollywood Babalon, and Page involved with Led Zeppelin performances and recording. For the past three months Anger has been using the film-editing facilities in the basement of Page's Victorian manse in London, to trim the 17 hours of film he has in the can down to 1 ½ hours. Page had the equipment installed to work on another project, Zeppelin Live at Madison Square Garden film, provisionally titled, The Song Remains the Same, Anger's work at Page's house was terminated by an extraordinary sequence of events beginning Tuesday night when Anger apparently the unwitting victim of domestic fraces was ordered to leave the house by Page's girlfriend, who was staying there at the time. No reason was given for his eviction. He returned to the house Wednesday morning to collect his film material and belongings to find the door locked and bolted. The same afternoon, Anger, unable to reach Page himself, informed his management/record company Swan Song that the film collaboration was off and that Page had been fired from the project. Thursday morning Anger was eventually able to recover some of his belongings and the film from Page's now empty London home. Jimmy Page, in town for a friend's funeral, was unavailable for comment, but a spokesperson from Swan Song claimed to be totally mystified by the news that the guitarist had been fired from the Lucifer project; he even expressed surprised at the information that Anger was even in London.
Friday, morning, a piqued but by no means disconsolate Anger was to be found at Page's home removing the last of his belongings and film artifacts-including the crown of Lucifer, paste studded with rhinestones from a dress once worn by Mae West. "I haven't laid eyes on Jimmy Page since early June," he said. "I've been trying to get in contact with him since then; I've fixed meetings through his office and been stood up half a dozen times. I've left messages on his Kafka-esque answering machine. All I've had is promises that the soundtrack is on it's way, but nothings materialized. I've got a fucking film to finish."
"The way he's been behaving is totally contradictory to the teachings of Aleister Crowley and totally contradictory to the ethos of the film. Lucifer is the angel of light and beauty. But the vibes that come off Jimmy are totally alien to that-and to human contact. It's like a bleak lunar landscape. By comparison, Lucifer is like a field full of beautiful flowers-although there may be a few bumble bees waiting to sting you if you are not careful. I'm beginning to think Jimmy's dried up as a musician. He's got no themes, no inspiration, no melodies to offer. I'm sure he doesn't have another Stairway to Heaven, which is his most Luciferian song. Presence was very much a downer album . In the first place his commitment to Lucifer' seemed to be totally serious, and he was very enthusiastic about the project. On the other hand he's very into enterprise and hard work. But on the other hand he has this problem dragging him down. He's been acting like Jekyll & Hyde, and I have to have someone who's 100%. This film is my life's work."
"I really don't think he has the zing-the capabilities to do it. If he'd have said he was bored with the project I'd have understood, but he's just strung me along. Now he's no longer on the project, I'm no longer interested in having him." According to Anger, Page was never actually employed to do the soundtrack. "There was never any discussion about money, the whole idea was that it should be an offering of Love. The idea was to go 50/50 on the films profits and that Jimmy should have all the proceeds from any soundtrack album that came out of it. We never put anything down on paper. We had a gentleman's agreement, which to me is more serious than anything written down by lawyers."
Anger had spent the best part of the last 9 years attempting to complete Lucifer Rising, and the Page episode is simply the latest in the catalog of upsets, misfortune and disruptions which have plagued the film's progress. Up until now Anger's main problem had been finding someone to take the part of Lucifer.
The original Lucifer was to be a five year old boy, but he died in an accident before filming had begun. His place was taken by Bobby Beausoleil, a former guitarist with the group Love. Beausoleil was fired from the movie after a prolonged altercation with Anger, and left taking most of the completed film with him. As a symbol of protest Anger inserted a full page R.I.P. notice for himself in the New York Village Voice. Two years later Beausoleil was facing a sentence for life imprisonment for the murder after falling under the sickening spell of the high priest of gore, Charlie Manson. With the little footage remained from the Beausoleil episode shaped another film, Invocation of my Demon Brother, with a synthesizer soundtrack by Mick Jagger. Jagger was evidently taken with Anger's work (indeed Anger claims it was their conversations which inspired Jagger to write Sympathy for the Devil) and agreed to take the part of Lucifer. He backed down before shooting began, however, apparently fearing that the Satanic aura he had once sought to cultivate was becoming to tangible for comfort. He place was taken by brother Chris, but an on-set row with Anger led to Jagger's dismissal. Eventually a Middlesbrough steel worker named Leslie Huggins was recruited for the part, and with Marianne Faithfull and Donald Cammel (author of Performance) also taking principle roles, filming began.
Anger is now working on editing the film to meet a Christmas deadline and looking for a musician to do the soundtrack. "I'm seriously questioning whether to use a musician from the rock world." He says. "It seems like most of todays rock music is savage, deliberate bad taste. It's not optimistic, constructive or even fun anymore. I'm certainly jaded with the rock superstar syndrome. They're like renaissance bandits. Who needs those people??" Asked whether he felt vindictive towards Jimmy Page, he said: "You bet I do. I'm not a Christian, turn the other cheek kind" He allowed a thin smile. "In fact, I'm all ready to throw a Kenneth Anger curse...". Persistent attempts to contact Swan Song for some statement from or on behalf of Jimmy Page were met with a stonewall of silence. Not even a "No Comment".
"He also professes to be "dabbling" with synthesizers, having completed a soundtrack for Kenneth Angers film Lucifer Rising. Anger, a noted American experimental filmmaker who gained notoriety 12 years ago with a bike film called Scorpio Rising, and more recently "Invocation of my Demon Brother", a short, intense, ritualistic film with a jagged, rough, almost naive synthesizer soundtrack by Mick Jagger that had quite a disturbing effect, began Lucifer Rising ten years ago but friend and confidant Bobby Beausoleil (later a friend of Charlie Manson) stole large portions of the footage (what eventually became Invocation). Now he is shooting it again, a feature length film. With the first 20 minutes finished, he asked Page for his services.
"With a synthesizer, every instrument is different from what it's meant to sound like, which is especially interesting when you get a collage of instruments together not sounding the way they should and you think (excited) What's that? That's the effect I wanted to get. So you immediately didn't realize it was five instruments playing together. Because Anger's visuals have a timeless effect. The important thing with "Invocation" was that the visuals and music were like that." He interlocks his hands tightly. "That is how I wanted this music to be, but I wanted to hold up and keep the attention without people actually listening to it."
"The man's pacing is absolutely superb. It starts so slow and after say four minutes it gets a little faster and the whole thing starts to suck you in. The thing was, I only saw clips, and 20 minutes is a long time, and he put the music onto the visual. I know he didn't do any edits because I saw the piece with different music and things just worked out in synch. Like certain bits match certain actions. It's so well crafted, and this undercurrent of everything working independently."
"It's just so arresting. I had a copy and while I was in the states I hooked it up to a big stereo and frightened the daylights out of everyone." He laughs softly. "I was on the sixth floor and there were complaints from the twelfth. There's a real atmosphere and intensity. It's disturbing because you know something is coming. I can't wait for it to come out." Which brings us to the long overdue Zeppelin film, based around a 1974 Madison Square Garden concert, fantasy and documentary sequences lifting it out of the arena. It is now in the credits stage, and will be released sometime this summer. Although it may be considered a documentary it is more a musical. "It's so time consuming. It's a horrible medium to work in. It's so boring! So slow! Just shooting the fantasy sequence. Can we do it again so we can get a different angle? Can you do it again so we can get a different angle? Can you do it again? I'm not used to that. It's a silly attitude, okay, but nevertheless...the Anger things are completely different. Working with him is a unique experience."
Jimmy met filmmaker and author of Hollywood Babalon, Kenneth Anger at an auction where they discovered they had a mutual fascination for the occult and particular Aleister Crowley's works. Anger approached Jimmy to supply the music for his long term venture, Lucifer Rising. In Jimmy's words, "I felt it quite an honor that he asked me. The version I was involved with was the third version. After being shown the initial rushes I've messed around with the instruments and the only recognizable instrument is the twelve string guitar, though even that doesn't sound like a twelve string. Plus the synthesizers sound like a horn instrument. The danger with synthesizers is that if it just sounds like a synthesizer, you've had it really and then there's drum combined with a pulse sound which sounds like a heartbeat as if there's a presence, plus a sound like ethereal breathing, out of that comes the horn sound. It is a very small part I play and in no way sensational."
"When you've got a collage of say, four sounds together, people will be drawn right in because there will be sounds they haven't heard before. That's basically what I'm into; collages and tissues of sound with emotional intensity and melody and all that." "In the film Lucifer is the light bearer and not Satan as in Christian terms. They had an art show at the Museum of Modern Art where they showed the film and I saw that the music wasn't synched up to the film so when I was in America in 1974 to see Maggie Bell, I brought the music for the film with me and now I know he's got it synched up right. He showed it at Berkeley and apparently the reaction was good."
Jimmy was particularly happy when John Paul Jones complimented him on the soundtrack because Jimmy feels John Paul has got high standards musically. "I was really nervous because the opening sequence is a dawning sequence which brings comparisons to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey to mind. The film was shot in Egypt and I wanted to create a timelessness so by using a synthesizer I tried to change the actual sounds of every instrument so you couldn't say immediately "that's a drum or guitar." I was juggling around the sounds to lose a recognizable identity as such. In 2001: A Space Odyssey there was fantastic music done with voices. I wanted to attempt to do that with Zeppelin in the beginning." The resultant music appears in a 22 minute performance on a bootleg entitled Solo Performances (the other side of the record features all of Robert Plant's solo singles before joining Led Zeppelin. "The performances in impaired by a slight hiss. A hypnotic droning cadence of four notes begins and underlines the first segment of the recording. The few melodies seem tortured and grim, wailing and writhing, sometimes bright for a moment but then fading into dissonance. Near the middle a crashing thunderstorm intertwines itself into the music, followed by eerie, unintelligible harmonic chanting and theraminish noises. An unusual ringing rhythm picks up. More synthesized guitar washes over and ends in a fading, muffled thunderclap. Haunting and disturbing this piece is highly expressive of Page's strain of morbidity," wrote American music critic Juli LeCompte.
The insert of the album says "Page plays all music by himself, most of which was done on an electric guitar being run through an early ARP Synthesizer. An incomplete version of the film was premiered in Los Angeles in September from which this recording comes." In October 1976 an article appeared in the English music papers featuring allegations from Anger that Jimmy had not completed the soundtrack and Jimmy replied that this was untrue and added that he had given Anger everything in plenty of time and had helped him to locate a place for screening and editing the film in London and even offered him his Kensington home for accommodation. Jimmy was replaced in 1976 by Bobby Beausoleil and since then Anger has denounced Jimmy on every possible occasion. Jimmy's final words on the incident were: "All I know is that at the end of the film I promised him - as I had before, the loan of a three-speed projector which makes editing so much easier. I said to him "Well, it's just going to be your time invested". And I told him that he must put the music on after he put the footage together, so I was just waiting for him to contact me, really. He had other music that I'd done instead of the stuff that I'd delivered which he said he wanted to use, nevertheless I still needed to hear from him and I never heard anything."
Lucifer Rising, this moody, quiet piece comes from the Kenneth Anger film of the same title. Jimmy Page was commissioned to write the piece in 1973 and began work later that year after the completion of Led Zeppelin's American tour. Page plays all of the music by himself, most of which was done on an electric guitar being run through an early ARP synthesizer. An incomplete version of the film was premiered in Los Angeles in September 1976, from which this recording comes. It is rumored that the beginning of the Zeppelin track In the Evening is taken from this source.
Even during the tragic random happenings of 1975 and 1977 involving accidents and fatalities it seems wrong to blame them on Jimmy's fascination with Aleister Crowley as he never set out to push his own beliefs on others and in fact explained his interest as a "quest for knowledge" and plumbing one's own mystic depths for certain truths which are beneficial for the whole of humanity. He has little contact with people outside of the world of music or the arts. Whereas Plant seems more accessible Jimmy seems more at ease active on stage and in person reveals little about himself or his lifestyle. Robert told Anne Nightengale in the July 2nd, 1982 daily express, "As to us being involved in black magic-that was bumkum."
Jimmy on Aleister Crowley, "My house used to belong to Aleister Crowley. I knew that when I moved in. Magick's very important if people can go through it. I think Crowley's completely relevant today. We're still searching for the truth. The search goes on. Crowley didn't have a very high opinion of women and I don't think he was wrong. Playing music is a very high sexual act. It's an emotional release and the sexual drive comes in along with all the other impulses. But once you start earning money people start assuming things about you and your whole life is changed. If I wasn't into rock I would be somewhere living in a commune in Wales."
Boleskine House is the name of Crowley's house on the shores of the Loch Ness, Scotland. In an attempt to restore Boleskine to it's condition at the time of Crowley's ritual's, Page engaged Satanist Charles Pace to paint murals. He stays there when he can, often with artistic friends. "I find it crystallizes things for them in a very short time." In a conversation with Michael Watts of Melody Maker in September 1974 Jimmy said, "The house was built on the site of a Kirk dating from around the 10th century that had burned down with all of it's congregation inside. Nobody wanted it, it was in such a state of decay. I hadn't originally intended to buy it, but it was so fascinating.. It's not an unfriendly place when you walk into it. It just seems to have this thing..."
"You see people are not used to total quiet and that's what it is there. All I'm saying is that it's a really interesting house and a perfect place to go when one starts getting wound up by the clock. I bought it to go up and write in. The thing is that I never get up that way. Friends live there now. My interest in the occult started when I was 15. I do not worship the devil but Magick does intrigue me. Magick of all kinds. I read Magick in Theory and Practice when I was about 11 years old but it wasn't for some years that I understood what it was all about." Jimmy told Chris Salewicz in 1977, "After having read this ridiculous book called The Beast where the author hadn't the faintest idea of what Crowley was all about and totally condescending. I took it all from there. It's like there's an incredible body of literature - I mean don't even bother with the sex thing because it's a bore anyway-and it's like there's a diamond to be found at the end and it involves a life's study."
"What I can relate to is Crowley's system of self-liberation in which repression is the greatest work of sin. It's like being in a job when you want to be doing something else. That's the area where the True Will should come forward. And when you've discovered your True Will you should just forge ahead like a steam train. If you put all of your energies into it there's no doubt you'll succeed because that's your True Will. It may take a little time to work out what that is but once you discover it, it's all there." "You know when you realize what it is that your supposed to be here for. I mean everyone's got a talent for something, not necessarily artistic but whatever you care to say and it's just a process of self liberation. I mean I find his writings to be 20th century as a lot of others weren't. I enjoy my researches. I find him a highly enigmatic character but it doesn't want to get blown out of proportion because that would be silly."
The run off matrix of the early pressings of Led Zeppelin's third album bore a hand written inscription by Jimmy of the Crowley philosophy: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." "Although I don't agree with everything he said he was a visionary. I don't particularly want to go into it because it's a personal thing and isn't in relation to anything I do as a musician. Apart from that I've employed his system in my day to day life."
Jimmy opened a bookshop venture for Occult books called "Equinox" at 4, Holland Street, Kensington, London. The shop was never designed to make money but just to tick over so it could publish books. "There was not one bookshop in London with a good collection of occult books and I was so pissed off not being able to get the books I wanted." The first two books from the publishing company side of the business were The Book of Goetia translated by Aleister Crowley and Astrology, A Cosmic Science by Isabel Hickey. At Equinox, it was possible to buy several books signed by Crowley and at one time the shop housed a first edition set of Crowley's ten volume work The Equinox priced around £350. By 1979 the shop lease expired and Jimmy admitted, "It's obviously wasn't going to run the way it should without some drastic business changes and I didn't really want to agree to all of that. I basically wanted the shop to be a nucleus, that's all."
Page, infact, almost brightens to the thought of putting his side of the Anger epic into print. "I must say that I've lost a hell of a lot of respect for him. I mean, the level of pure bitchiness he was working on...at one point he started writing silly letters to everyone he thought I knew so that they would naturally bring it up in conversation when they saw me." "The whole thing about "Anger's Curse", they were just these silly letters. God it was all so pathetic. I mean, I've got to get my side across because now it's just gone to far. Hell, you know that I did the film's music and you know when I did it so you must have thought it odd when Anger came out against me like that, right?? (Page in fact, rented a rough cut of Lucifer Rising and showed it at an informal gathering, yours truly included, complete with it's soundtrack in early 1975.) "Well he's implying that he'd received nothing from me, which is totally untrue. I gave him everything in plenty of time, OK."
What Page also claims is that he had helped Anger personally locate a sceening/editing room in London and that Peter Grant was also interested in maybe investing something into the completion of the film and offered him accommodation in London's chic Gloucester Place Mews. "So OK, I'm a mug! Cos one day this whole thing just blew up. And that's all I knew about it. This bitchiness was just an extension of Anger's Hollywood Babalon." Anger had apparently been angling for a further backer for the film, Page claims, "Now whether he felt that he had to get me off his back I don't know. I mean I didn't start hassling, I just wanted to see the bloke finish the bloody film. I mean it's whole history is so absurd that it was unfinished because he was such a perfectionist and that he always ended up going over his budgets. All I can say is that Anger's time was all that was needed to finish that film. Nothing else." Anger had also made allegations that his belongings had been held-impounded by Page and his cohorts. "What a snide bastard. His stuff was just all over the place and I just got some roadies to get it all together for him. Christ, he even turned that one against me." "I mean, I had a lot of respect for him. As an occultist he was defiantly in the vanguard. I just don't know what he's playing at. I'm totally bemused and really disgusted. It's truly pathetic. I mean, he is totally powerless. The only damage he can do is with his tongue."
This Month in