Jobriath

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Morrissey covered Morning Starship live and released on California Son in 2019.

Morrissey provided liner notes for the re-release of Lonely Planet Boy (2004), released on Attack Records (ATKCD010) in 2004.

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Lonely Planet Boy (2004) Morrissey Liner Notes Transcription

Transcription by Tingle - Morrissey-solo (December 4, 2004).

THE WORD EPICINE MEANS having characteristics of both male and female. Jobriath was not that. Jobriath had no characteristics of either sex. There was an unfounded rumour that Jobriath was a man; as a child, his father had used him for experiments, and that his birth had never been recorded [presumably because nobody knew exactly what to write]. Jobriath was that kind of pop artist. The dead-white, greenish cast of the face on this CD cover should tell you as much. This is not Sacha Distel.

Sensing my cue, I bought the first Jobriath album in 1974 at Rare Records in drizzle-fizzled Manchester. Neither for the ears of the elderly nor for those with middle-aged perspectives, Jobriath voiced the excess destitution of New York’ s most tormentedly aware, whose lives were favoured by darkness. Cinematic themes of desperate dramas in paranoid shadows were presented as choppy and carnivalesque melodies.

The hairy beasts who wrote for the music press laughed Jobriath off the face of the planet. He was – at best – merely considered to be “insane”. It was clear that Jobriath was willing to go the gay distance, something that even the intelligentsia didn’t much care for. Elton John knew this in 1973; Jobriath didn’t. Surrounded on all sides by Journey, Styx, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Jobriath was at society’s mercy. Yet it could have worked so well.

Jobriath was armed with what, for lack of a more useful word, we are forced to call talent. Studio footage from 1972 shows Jobriath as a disciplinarian, a classically trained pianist with a most musical voice. Jobriath, apparently, had it all, and meticulously crafted each twist and turn of his Elektra recordings with obsessively complete arrangements, first-rate production, outstanding backing vocals, and a Broadway Baby’s keen ear for gospel melody. Imagine the Eno we knew in 1973 - but one who could sing and actually play well. This was Jobriath. Furthermore, in civilian drag Jobriath was not at all bad looking, ad was at precisely the right age to fool all the teen magazines of America – if such a mundane wish had occurred to him.

With the release of his second album, Creatures of the Street, the distinct atmospherics continued to work well. Jobriath’s imagination was the only thing that kept him alive, with hopes of something other than the drabness that most of us wrap ourselves up in. I was mildly shocked to catch the single “Street Corner Love” being played by Diddy David Hamilton [a small British disc jockey] on Radio 2 one mid-afternoon in 1974.

However, neither America nor England [nor Berlin, for that matter] was quit ready. Ennobled by victimization, Jobriath finally had reason to be when Elektra booted this creature back onto the streets. He was an adventure that Elektra did not wish to continue to survive. While we were all busy looking elsewhere, Jobriath quietly expired, blotted out of all creation, buried without a single line of ceremony in any known music publication throughout the world. Death is the crossing that some artists must trek in order to earn themselves a decent review. Even this, in Jobriath’s case, might backfire. In a recent detailed book on the history of Elektra Records, Jobriath was not even mentioned – not even as the customary tagline. There is, indeed a thin line between auteurism and the loony bin.

Is it really necessary to lose your mind in order to get a hit record? Well, yes, it is. Jobriath saw things as he wished they were; the actual ‘70s landscape was immaterial. Thirty years on, he is no less and insoluble mystery, and the songs remain hugely enjoyable.

Sympathetic glances towards Jobriath in the ‘70s pinned him down as a sort of 27th-rate David Bowie. So it was to David himself that I turned for official comment. Did he remember Jobriath? “Oh, HIM.” Came the royal response, “always pushing into photographs…” and for this demonstration David juts out his chin, and we instantly see the impish Jobriath tagging on and hoping for a look in.

-Morrissey

March 2004

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Born December 14, 1946 in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, USA - died August 3, 1983 in Manhattan, New York City, USA.

Jobriath was an openly gay Glam Rocker, artist and actor. In the late 60s he called himself Jobriath Salisbury and was a member of the Psychedelic Folk Rock band Pidgeon (2). When he started his solo career in the early 70s, he used the name Jobriath Boone. After his retirement from the music industry in the mid 70s he worked as an actor and cabarat singer, calling himself Cole Berlin.

Jobriath died from complications related to AIDS in his rooftop apartment at the Hotel Chelsea in Manhattan.

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Bruce Wayne Campbell (December 14, 1946 – August 3, 1983), known by his stage name Jobriath, was an American rock musician and actor. He was the first openly gay rock musician to be signed to a major record label, and one of the first internationally famous musicians to die of AIDS.

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