Manakin III — the Butch Patrick connection!

Well, kinda. As I mentioned in the previous post, friend Kari had sent this to me among other notes:

…The last time I saw Brent was on TV…on MV3, when he was playing in Eddie and the Monsters. Remember them??!

MV3 is something that Los Angeles folks of a certain age might remember — it later turned into Video One, and was hosted primarily by Richard Blade, Mr. None-More-Eighties-KROQ. To quote this one blog entry about the show:

New Wave alternative to MTV, Richard Blade of the original KROQ brought videos and live performances from local L.Á. new wave bands as well as ones that were in town. Lo-budget yet compelling to this at the time junior high school kid…

Now, while there are a slew of clips from MV3 around — you can catch a huge batch right here, including performances from the Bangles, Berlin, the Three o’Clock and more — the appearance by Eddie and the Monsters isn’t available, it seems. And who were Eddie and the Monsters?

Well, Eddie and the Munsters would have been a trademark violation, I suspect — even with the featured appearance of Butch Patrick, Eddie himself from that sixties TV series.

I first heard about this record via the entertaining if scattershot book Hollywood Hi-Fi by George Gimarc and Pat Reeder, which actually ranked said song as a winner. To quote it:

Patrick returned to acting…until 1983, when a drummer pal (with the wonderful early eighties punk name ‘Wreak Havoc’) put him in touch with Phil Kohn, late of Curved Air. Since MTV was new, they decided to make a music video and see if they could get it on the fledgling channel. The result was “Whatever Happened to Eddie”….Patrick recalls that the video was the first by an unsigned band to get MTV airplay, inspiring the Basement Tapes show.

Said video itself isn’t available either it seems — but in the department of ‘wait, IS this a coincidence or not?’, the actual audio track was just added on YouTube earlier today with a homemade fan video:

While here’s the cover:

Eddie!  Monsters!

So, you can see Eddie there and all, plus three others — and while I could be wrong, that sure looks like Brent in the upper left hand corner.

So there’s all that information to digest…but then there’s more! Further searching turned up this interview with Butch Patrick on the Phantom Photography site, which included, understandably, a question about the single. And as it turns out!:

PP: There is a music video, “What Ever Happened To Eddie?” with you on lead vocals. Was the video a one-time deal or were you trying to launch the band?

Butch: Well actually I’m going to let you in on a little something. I didn’t sing on that one, I lip synced. Just like I did in 1971 when we were trying to do teeny-bop records for Metro Media. In 1983 when MTV came on the air, we wanted to start doing rock videos. Since we really didn’t have a band, we created a band to do a video on which was Eddie And The Monsters. Brent Black who played guitar actually sang. His voice was so similar to my look that a lot of people don’t know that it wasn’t me.

!

(And yes, according to friend Kari, Brent Black is the very same Brent in question.)

So right about now my head is kinda starting to spin. More names to investigate, more questions!

And if Brent is reading this all and chuckling…I approve highly of your sense of humor.

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In continuing search of Manakin

[EDIT: And continuing further! After reading this, there’s part three!]

So yesterday’s post has already prompted a number of responses! Billy Ingram was kind enough to link over from the TVParty.com site, while via blog comments and mail I’ve found out more about not only Manakin but the other acts members belonged to, a little subhistory at work.

I should start this post by saying that all this talk prompted me to dig out a book I have but haven’t read in years, We Got the Neutron Bomb, an oral history of LA punk done in partial response to the New York-specific Please Kill Me. While comprehensive the book is not definitive — the coauthors mention as much in the introduction while I’ve heard from other folks who know many of the principals about their own particular concerns with the text, and perhaps that’s unavoidable. Still, knowing that the chance of a mention in the book of them was unlikely I decided to rescan through it anyway — and indeed, Manakin don’t figure anywhere.

What is interesting, though, is the commonly-stated theme that aside from the punks and a very select few progenitors — Zolar X, Sparks and to an extent the Sparks-worshipping Quick — the LA scene then as such apparently consisted of little more than the hangover of Laurel Canyon rock — the Eagles come for a rubbishing more than once — and maybe Van Halen. In terms of perception, doubtless true, but also limiting. In a spread-out, heavily populated area like LA and its neighbors, all sorts of things were going on on all levels — SOLAR Records were making a name for a number of home-grown funk acts, for instance, while the LA Free Music Society or LAFMS for short had already recorded a slew of odd things and were busy making Pasadena a home for all sorts of outre weirdness, and then there was Los Lobos, chugging along since 1973 and hardly the only band from their neck of the woods, and those are just three examples of many. Los Lobos do eventually feature in the book, certainly, but their approach and traditions were a demonstration that to say some small subset of something was ‘the scene’ is always fraught with peril.

So Manakin not being mentioned at all isn’t a surprise, neither is the fact that they were barely remembered. Bands form, struggle on, go away without leaving a permanent mark of their passing, something increasingly rare these days with groups always on the Net in some way or form, but otherwise this is just the common way of things. ‘Scenes’ are just as often retrospective — perhaps always retrospective — as they are snapshots of the here and now.

So where did Brent and compatriots fit in? Here’s some more detail shared with me — first, memories from a high school friend of his who I know through mutual Sparks fandom, Kari aka Ella:

he was one of my best friends in high school, and the older friend who drove us to the Santa Monica Civic in the early hours so that we could get Sparks tickets in 1975. In HS he was in a band called Second Phlight – they did glam covers (I have pics but they’re in LA!) and he also was a mime at Shakey’s. Honestly, he would perform while my friends Dan and Peter played Stones and Led Zep covers, and I would usually accompany them on the Shakey’s piano. That was my first job (I didn’t get the nightly rate that they did, but a share of the tips and free pizza!)

Now, I can’t tell you much about Manakin – I vaguely remember them but I don’t remember actually seeing them live. And until I read your blog I had completely forgotten they existed! The last time I saw Brent was on TV (we lost touch probably still in the 70s; I only found him here last month, or he found a mutual friend who told me), on MV3, when he was playing in Eddie and the Monsters. Remember them??!

Meanwhile, visiting from Peaceland Music, James Musser, who had commented on the original YouTube clip, kindly added these memories in comments on my first blog post, presented here in slightly edited form:

We only did one show that I remember on the Redondo Beach Pier, early 80s, at the venue that was located under the pier. Our band was called “Praises” at the time, which later changed to “Underwater Traffic”. Brent is on http://www.classmates.com, and that’s how I found the YouTube clip. Brent was a couple years older than us, but I was good friends with another mutual friend, Al Bowman of Los Angeles Music Awards. I believe Al was involved with Manakin at some point. I remember Manakin being a good band, the video seems to show them off rather well!!! I know Brent was involved in Castle Bravo, and Richard Larsen was the Keyboard player (another very good friend of mine), and Richard is currently involved in another rather successful project you could ask him about (e-mail edited for privacy!). He played with Berlin for a while.

I rememeber one time, Brent was selling his entire record collection. I bought it for $50, I believe. Great deal! Awesome albums! Jonesy and Kayak were among some of the more obscure bands, and you can actually buy the CDs of those now, but Kayak is pricey… 😉

Brent always had a tremendous charisma about him and whatever project he was involved in. Definitely an inspiring go-getter. Love the theatrics.

I now have so much respect for people who have actually dedicated their lives to music. How many people do you know in their 40s, 50s, or 60s who are still devoted to making better music in the world?

And indeed, a good question to ask!

More later as I continue to find out more…