Back from the Grave; or Seeing the Ghosts of Elvis, Gram Parsons, and Mark Lindsey in the Guise of Freddy Fortune

Freddy of the Four Gone ConclusionsWe recently uncovered an old email message that pre-dates GLONO by a couple of months. Back in the day, we had it showcased as a feature, but it somehow got lost in the shuffle of redesigns and content management system switches. We’re happy to bring it back. —Jake

Motor City Madness

Freddy and the Four Gone Conclusions

Lili’s 21

Hamtramck, Detroit, MI

Sat., 28 Oct 2000 

It was a great show. And with this understatement, I call to mind those long-undead days of the past. I get a titter from the peanut gallery, a dozen “RE:” e-mails saying, “No, I was at the last Truly Great Show.” Perhaps as great of a show as anything since the mirror-studded suits, fireworks display, and bloodied hand at the last Sleestacks performance at Quadstock? Yes. Name them all, yet this show stands proudly on the podium, perhaps even drinking a bit more champagne in the post-race celebration than you’d think fair. 

I went to Lili’s last night by myself to see Freddy Fortune and the Four Gone Conclusions open for the 3D Invisibles. Expectations were not high. Nor morale. (Nor I.) One of the two times I had gone to see Freddy’s current band, they didn’t show up. To paint the obvious in a shade of flourescent orange, things were a bit sketchy all over Hamtramck. (Flying solo has its merits, but talking to some psychotic guy who keeps spilling his Corona out his perma-grim mouth does not an evening of companionship make.) Flash forward, however, and by the time the country began changing its clocks for daylight savings time, after hooking up with my less than zero pal Burke, I realized that I had just witnessed a little moment of history in the making. This is one that people will be talking about in tones of reverence for many Halloweens to come. 

Imagine Freddy Fortune dressed as a 70’s Elvis impersonator, cape and all. Yes, that’s right, and he looked exactly like the man who sang “Aloha From Hawaii”, even his facial contortions. The other guys in the band (the unknowns: Dunhill, Chub and Buzz) were dressed as “Men on Deck”, i.e. gay sailors. Except for Professor Schmiddy. No, he had to upstage even The King when he trotted out– dressed as Colonel Sanders! So there it was, a bunch of gay sailors, Elvis, and the Colonel. When was the last time you saw a bar band get a standing ovation, a thunderous cheer that shakes the building, before they’ve even started playing? Oh yeah, and these guys are the opening act. (Which is not to say that by playing first they’ve got the premier position. This is Hamtramck, where people show up to start getting their drink on at about midnight, and then hit the myriad after-hours bars at 3 when the cops come around and bang on the shaded windows of the places who like to at least pretend to enforce the MLC.) 

“A thank ya verrrymuch,” slurs Fred, as the band kicks into CC Rider, a la the opening of Elvis On Stage, recorded February 1970. But when he gets to the end of the first “Oh see, what you have done,” and I start screaming the black background singers part at the top of my lungs (“Yeah, yeah, yeah”), the band goes schizo and starts damaging our eardrums with some total Monsters of Rock garage explosion. Screams and shrieks from Freddy persist for the better part of an hour, running through such crowd favorites as their $2 single “(You’re just a) Waste of My Time” b/w “Gotta Give it Time”. Other great songs include something that rips off the bass line from “My Generation” lock stock and Oxen barrel, a Turtles number that Freddy pre-announces proudly (as if he was about to play Rachmaninov), and the mean

and nasty “Ball and Chain”. 

But then something odd happens– after all the flailing about like Jim Morrison, all the guitar grunge Death to Infidels, all of the good Prof’s surfin’ safari licks, and the sustained, faux-inebriated nonchalance of playing songs not practiced enough with a precision that can only be had by playing a few of those other numbers way too many fucking times– the band started to play twang. That’s right, it was almost as if the spirit of the King and that of his also-dead greatest admirer fused together in Munchinger and Co. and said, “Unleash the hound dogs, boys, it’s Cosmic American Music time!” 

After the set, while waiting for The Werewolf and The Mummy (I didn’t see what the other of the three 3D Invisibles was dressed as) to begin their set of monster music, the bartender gives me a shot of Hungarian blackberry brandy. (Lesson here is never tip a bartender in Hamtramck $1 per beer or else he’s either going to kick your ass because he thinks that you’re gay or start giving you things that you don’t necessarily want when you’re driving.) 

“It’s got a nice burn to it,” he says. 

“Indeed, my man, indeed.” 

–Jeff Sabatini

Glorious Noise recently celebrated its eighth anniversary. Be sure to check out Stephen Macaulay and Derek Phillip’s reminiscences on eight years of GLONO: Eight Years After, and It started with emails…, respectively.

2 thoughts on “Back from the Grave; or Seeing the Ghosts of Elvis, Gram Parsons, and Mark Lindsey in the Guise of Freddy Fortune”

  1. so, are these guys gay? there was always a huge gay contingent in the pit for fortune and maltese shows… all that costuming and postruing…adds up, you know.

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