Listened to the first hour of a Space Pirate Radio show from over a decade ago and got caught up in the opening collage of sound. Continuing on from the last entry, I am amazed at how the program evolved, especially the conceptual idea that the show was "pirating" the "normal" broadcast that came before it. As a lover of old radio drama and Mad Magazine surrealism of breaking the frame of the comic strip panel, this is what I attempted to do in sound. I owe a debt to Orson Welles and The War of the Worlds, as well as The Goon Show for the desire to play with "the fourth wall." Firesign Theatre too, but I paid back my debt there.
When Space Pirate Radio first started, the Firesign Family disliked the show, primarily the shocking new electronic music and sounds from Europe. This and mixed with my theatric experiments. "Don't be too avant-garde," said Tiny Ossman to then hubby David on their Sunday morning show, Easy Street. "Will I sound like the all night disc jockey?" David asks. "You mean the show, One Man's Garbage?" Tiny replies, stoney snickers in the early Sunday morning microphones. Having been friends with Tiny and David, and as I have written several times before, without them, I wouldn't have approached KTYD with the idea for Space Pirate Radio...well, I thought it was funny. Who in the station's youthful audience would get the pun on old time radio show One Man's Family? But the sting was there.
When David Ossman was being interviewed by the college newspaper at his home, I was present. "We want to start a new show," the male students said. "What should we call it?" David shot a glance at me and replied, "Make sure it has RADIO in the title." Radio Free Oz, of course being the Firesign's initial show, created by the late Peter Bergman. David was critical of Space Pirate Radio. He said to me once, "I hear Firesign rhythms in Space Pirate Radio." Being a Smart Ass and confident in what I was doing, I replied, "I hear Goon Show rhythms in Firesign." Still, the group considered me The Seeker, playing Gas Music from Jupiter.
When the Los Angeles Times did a feature on Space Pirate Radio in the Sunday Calendar Section, David congratulated me and I think the Pat Morita/Ralph Macchio aspect of our friendship ended. *giggles*
But I digress... The opening collage.
The first show of January 27th, 1974 didn't have a produced, theatrical opening as such. It was just the opening chaos of Hawkwind and Earth Calling from Space Ritual, with me saying "For the next six hours, you are going to hear the weirdest music you have ever heard." After the initial show, I used the sound of the station being interupted by radio static and my alien invasion/klaatu like voice. It was Elton John's Honkey Cat that was being pushed off the "normal" broadcast. I loved the radio static and it was fun spinning the AM dial while recording the snippets of real radio shows. The magic show/Senor Wences sport of it was trying to catch the RIGHT snippets and then spin the dial to another random set of words or music, to get a surreal collage of ironies and multiple meanings. I call them Triple Entendres and when possessed, it felt like a wireless ouija board.
Relistening to the show from 2002, I was aware that the radio collage I had been using was created in 1985 after I had left KTYD. It was recorded one afternoon in the KTMS studios of the old Santa Barbara News-Press building. Sitting in the vacant music director's office, I popped a cassette in the aircheck machine, tuned the AM and started spinning the dial. Everything recorded came from that one sitting. No edits. It seemed dreamlike. Talk show dialog, commercials, Spanish language station, music, ethereal voices. It felt like a trip through the airwaves via the Beatles' Revolution Number 9. Combined with the opening musical bed of the week, I was ready to get working!
This is probably a good time to mention all the opening music, heard under the theatrics, greetings and information. Over the years, fans and listeners have asked, "What was the opening theme music?" Well, through the years a lot was covered.
Early '70s shows played a lot of Tangerine Dream. Atem, Zeit, Phaedra and Rubycon. Every early Klaus Schulze album was used. Ash Ra Tempel has lasted through the nearly 30 years, especially Inventions For Electric Guitar. Cosmic Jokers was a long term intro. Schulze's Body Love LPs, Volume One particularly, was a mainstay. David Sylvian and Holger Czukay's Plight and Premonition was long standing. In the mid to late '80s Jonn Serrie was heard as well as Steve Roach. But probably the most eccentric opening theme was Haruomi Hosano's Cochin Moon Japanese LP. This one was a particular favourite, almost unclassifiable. I can still hear the sounds of what seemed to be gargling piranha fish, dancing to Myron Floren. Priceless.
"Listen! Whatever I tell you...Go the other way!" *giggles*