The Twentieth Anniversary Closing of Doc’s Sports Cards, Part II (Darryl Rhoades)

The Twentieth Anniversary Closing of Doc’s Sports Cards, Part II (Darryl Rhoades)

The Doctor Is Outta Here: Darryl Rhoades

20147-30-_DSC5142-Dox2-Darryl-Rhoades-LeanYearsSo I have this collection of signed baseballs and my favorites are signed by people who did not play the game but love it. Some people ask presidents to sign balls, some people ask movie stars, me, I ask musicians who should be in the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame that love baseball to sign one on the sweet spot– of which I have only two– and one of 'em is signed: “Darryl Rhoades '94” and inscribed “The Lean Years 1950-1994”.

Darryl was living in Atlanta in 1975 when he formed a 12-piece musical comedy troup called the Hahavishnu Orchestra (a bastardization of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, which reigned the pop charts of the day) which was often compared to Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, except that Darryl was stand-up funnier than Frank while Frank was more apt musically. Darryl's “Burgers From Heaven,” a send-up of high school sock hops, became a local hit in 1979. No sooner than he began to achieve a certain degree of notoriety, Darryl disappeared from 1981 until 1985, during which time it was rumored he had made a deal with the devil to become the King of Comedy. When next he emerged, it was to assemble a reincarnation of the Orchestra under the name Men from Glad, derived from a tv commercial for sandwich bags and plastic wrap.

Once in a great while Darryl will assemble a group of friends including Rick Richards from the Georgia Satellites, record producer Brendan O'Brien, and music historian Rex Patton– aka The Electrifyin' Sissies– and hold court onstage somewhere. Most notably, Darryl appeared as a drummer in a band that backed Jeff Bridges' character in the movie “Crazy Heart,” for which Bridges won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Darryl won nothing, but the experience put him in the same room with Robert Duvall and T Bone Burnett, and his place in cinematic history is preserved for all time.

Every once in a while Darryl would drop in at Doc's Sports Cards in Atlanta with his pals David Michaelson or Bruce Hampton and we'd tell jokes and sort through baseball cards. Darryl had just released the album, “The Lean Years 1950-1994” on the day that he signed an official National League ball for me and I told him that his performance at the Great Southeast Music Hall in January 1978 was one of the five most memorable gigs I had ever seen– and still is today:

Darryl Rhoades opened for the Sex Pistols at their American debut. Nobody else wanted the spot and none who were in attendance had any idea what Darryl was gonna do when he and Rex Patton hit the stage. The first show was packed with media from all over the world who were anxious to get back to their respective readers with reports on How the Pistols Were Received by the Yanks, which is what the hip British referred to Americans, even if there hadn't been any Yanks in Atlanta since Sherman burned the place to the ground a hundred and fourteen years ago. And before Johnny Rotten had a chance to make his first impression on an American audience, Darryl Rhoades completely stole Johnny's thunder by bounding onstage in a t-shirt emblazoned with a handwritten plea: “Kill Me”, and a giant safety pin (typically worn by punks in their lapel or through the ear lobe) through his head, then proceeded to launch an all-out satirical assault against that which was an all-out satirical assault of pop music. In the process, Darryl's performance was more outrageous than Rotten's– who was tame by comparison and half as impressive– and his band was better than the Pistols, too, a fact that many reviews did not fail to mention.

Darryl Rhoades, photographed by Murray Silver, opening for the Sex Pistols

Darryl Rhoades, opening for the Sex Pistols, photographed by Murray Silver.

The media came to the show prepared to be assaulted by the Pistols, having heard tales of previous shows wherein the audience was peppered with beer bottles from the stage and spit upon (the white badge of honor for punk fans), and came away surprised that the only performer that spit on them was Darryl Rhoades. It was a stunt that had worked before with great result: at an early performance of the Hahavishnu Orchestra, Darryl had chewed up and spit out a hamburger bun at “Simply Irresistible” Robert Palmer while performing “Burgers from Heaven,” and chanteuse Phoebe Snow was later quoted in the media saying Darryl's performance was the most disgusting show she'd ever seen. Thereafter, Martin Mull, Iggy Pop, members of Kiss, and a long list of other satirists lined up to do guest shots with Darryl Rhoades.

Darryl Rhoades has been touring practically non.stop since 1989, and is performing somewhere near you sometime soon. Treat yourself to an evening with Darryl, the Weapon of Mass Deception, and the only performer ever to upstage Johnny Rotten.

Pictured here: The Doctor holding the Darryl Rhoades signed baseball in question, alongside one of my very favorite photographs taken the night Darryl blew the Pistols off the stage (also signed in the left margin).

For more stories about the good ol' days of Rock 'n' Roll– and others like it– please avail yourself of a copy of "When Elvis Meets the Dalai Lama".

More baseball and Savannah stories in "Behind the Moss Curtain and Other Great Savannah Stories" and in my book page.

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