Author Archives: jonmwessel
Bryan Gregory (Gregory Beckerleg, February 20, 1951 – January 10, 2001) Bryan Gregory was an interesting guy. Standing not much more than 5’6″ in heals and hair Bryan made a splash on stage w/ his poka dot Flying Vee, black and white hair and an ever present cigarette. His career was spotty to say the least, Bryan helped form the first version of punkabilly killers, The Cramps in NYC in 76. He played guitaron their first 2 LPs, Gravest Hits and Songs the Lord Taught Us. Bryan left the band unexpectedly in Cleveland in 1980 (along w/ all the bands gear and only van). In 1980 he formed horror shock band BEAST – that lasted ’til 83 and then – Poof! What happened to Bryan? Rumors of Satanism, heroin overdose, porno stardom. No one knew what happened to Bryan, when in fact no one was looking all that hard. Truth is always much more boring than fiction and Bryan was no exception. Turns out he was running an adult book shop in Sarasota Fla. He was a zombie in George Romeros’ Day of the Dead, drew a bit and designed some jewelry. I prefer the Satanism story. He eventually made up w/ the rest of The Cramps apologizing for stealing all their shit and was living the high life of a Florida Man when he suddenly passed away from multiple system failure at the age of 49 on Jan. 10 – no one saw it coming. Bryan was cool, not a great musician, but he was cool. I loved his look and stage presence and best of all a story that sounded great and evil and mysterious but turned out to be a bit mundane and sad – though sitting in the sand in Fla. designing jewelry and drinking Mai Tais doesn’t sound all that bad.
Bettie Mae Page (April 22, 1923 – December 11, 2008) I’ve posted a ton of photos of Bettie over the years. She is a mixture of sex kitten and girl next door, sultry and fun loving all at the same time. The 1950’s No. 1 pin-up queen. Bettie was a knock-out. If you’re not familiar w/ her stop reading this and look her up right now. Hers is a story of sex, religion, fame and fortune, high highs and low lows. It’s a mystery w/ a happy ending. These aren’t her most famous photos – in fact some I’ve never seen before. Bettie would have been 94 today. Happy Birthday Bettie!
Françoise Madeleine Hardy found immediate success with her first song “Tous les garcons et les filles”. As a leading figure of the Ye-Ye movement (naive pop songs sung mostly by beautiful young women. The named is derived from “yeah-yeah” popularized by The Beatles), Hardy “found herself at the very forefront of the French music scene”, and became “France’s most exportable female singing star”, recording in various languages, appearing in several movies and touring throughout Europe. With her natural beauty and charm, Francoise began modeling as well – becoming a French fashion icon as well as pop star. As the Ye-Ye movement lost steam, Francoise changed her approach, singing ‘grown-up’ songs, working w/ songwriters like Leonard Cohan and Serge Gainsbourg. She would go on to record many more LPs, collaborating w/ Blur in 1994 and Malcolm McClaren as well as Iggy Pop. Her music has been used in a ton of movies – most recently Wes Anderson’s Moonlight Kingdom (The female lead (Suzy) calls The Ye-Ye Girls From Paris (1962) her “favorite record album”, and it is the only album she packs when preparing to run away from home). And DAMN! if she’s not still gorgeous at 70.
Anders Petersen is a Swedish photographer born in 1944 and still active today. From 1967 – 1970 he photographed the regulars (street hustlers, pimps, prostitutes and crazy people) of the Cafe Lehmitz in Hamburg Germany. The resulting book was first published in 1978 by Schirmer/Mosel in Germany. Café Lehmitz has since become regarded as a seminal book in the history of European photography. I found out about it (I’m embarrassed to say) from researching the Tom Waits LP cover of Rain Dogs. I always thought the man in the photo was Tom. Needless to say, he is not. His name is actually Rose, and the photo is called Lily and Rose and is actually the cover of the Cafe Lehmitz book.