* Fixed a job title down below.
Mick Farren, the musician, author and former columnist at alt weeklies in Los Angeles, collapsed on stage Saturday night while performing with The Deviants for the Atomic Sunshine Festival at the Borderline Club in London. He died shortly after. From Ultimate Classic Rock:
Farren was the founder and leader of the anarchistic rock and roll band, which formed in 1967. They released three classic LPs from 1967 through 1969, ‘Ptoof!‘, ‘Disposable,’ and ‘3.’ Influenced by the likes of the Mothers Of Invention and the Doors, the Deviants were part of a small but powerful UK underground music scene in the late ’60s that also included the likes of the Pink Fairies and Hawkwind.
Farren was a creation unto himself. Part hippie, part beatnik, part punk, part poet, part rocker, he was a genuine icon amongst the rock and roll underground of the ’60s and ’70s. He was associated with everyone from the Hells Angels to Jerry Rubin. His activism was tempered with realism, and he was never afraid to speak his mind. “We won’t save our civilization, we might save our planet, we might save our species,” Farren told the audience during a legendary appearance on the David Frost Show in 1970. “That’s what we’re concerned with…that’s all.”
His death has spured an affectionate outpouring on social media from those who knew and worked with him here, at the LA Reader and CityBeat. Steve Appleford, the Los Angeles writer who was the founding editor of CityBeat, on Facebook:
When CityBeat was getting started in 2003, one of the very first people I called was Mick Farren. I knew his work from the late, lamented L.A. Reader and I wanted more of the same. That’s also when I really got to know him as an artist and a friend. As a writer, Mick was brilliant, hilarious and infuriating, mingling pop culture and politics with screeds on war, conspiracy and end-of-the-world prognostications. He was a rocker and self-made intellectual, an original UK radical somehow transplanted to the streets of L.A. I bought Mick many drinks along the way and accompanied him on several reportorial journeys, from his skeptical feature on Satanists to an impromptu round of drinks with Gore Vidal. I have many pictures of Mick in action, but this one is by Gary Leonard. That he died onstage seems especially fitting. We were lucky to know him.
Posts Natalie Nichols, a friend of Farren's who was the arts editor at the weeklies:
One of my favorite people in the universe is gone. At least he went out on his feet.
Pandora Young wrote at Fishbowl LA when Farren decided in 2010 to move back to England:
After nearly three decades in the states, prolific author, punk musician, and counterculture journalist Mick Farren is returning to jolly old England. La La land yokels who don’t know their punk rock history may still recall Farren from his stints as a columnist at the now-defunct alternative rags LA Reader and LA CityBeat.
This past Saturday night the 67-year-old Brit celebrated his departure at El Chavo in Silver Lake, signing his many books, reminiscing, and drinking friends half his age under the table. At the end of the evening, as we were saying goodbye, he put his hands on my shoulders and slurred at me, “Pandora, what this town needs is a proper alternative press.
You have the talent and you have the readers. Someone just needs to make it happen.”
“Why not you, Mick?” I asked, wiping the spittle from my cheek.
“It’s nothing to do with me,” he replied, stumbling towards a waiting car. “I’m going home.”
A wake is being planned in Hollywood at the Cat and Fiddle from 3 to 6pm on Saturday. Farren’s autobiography is "Give The Anarchist A Cigarette." From Richard Metzger at Dangerous Minds:
It is with great sadness that I report the death of my friend, Mick Farren, the legendary author, novelist, journalist, leader of The Deviants and prime mover of the counterculture for five decades.
Mick told me that he didn’t want to die in America and who could blame him? You know the old adage, “It’s not the age of the car, it’s the mileage”? Well, there was a helluva lot of mileage on Mick’s body. In earth years he was 69, but if you take into account all of the life lived that was crammed into those decades—and all the pounds of drugs and thousands of gallons of alcohol that have coursed through his liver and bloodstream—he was probably twice that old in real terms. In my entire life, I’ve only ever known one single solitary person who could drink with more two-fisted gusto than Mick. The guy partied with Lemmy, for chrissakes! The last time I saw Mick, right before he left Los Angeles in 2010, he could barely breathe. Walking even a short distance completely winded him.
A few years ago, the matter of Mick’s precarious health came up in conversation with a mutual friend. We both wondered how in the world he could make it through the length of an entire Deviants gig, but the conversation ended with the two of us agreeing that we both hoped he’d die onstage.
Mick Farren died last night in London after collapsing onstage at a Deviants gig at the Borderline.
He died with his boots on. Like a rockstar.
Goodbye Micky, you were truly one of the greats.
The Deviants' 1967 album, Ptooff!:
Photo from Steve Appleford on Facebook