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RIP Dennis Hopper, 1936-2010
(This piece originally appeared in Providence Monthly’s July edition, albeit in an altered, shortened form.)
In the long, ever strange history of Hollywood, Dennis Hopper shall stand fast as one of the most vivid flesh-and-blood parameters of an American industry turned inside out and eventually splintered and rendered all too soporific. Born in Dodge City, Kansas he was a pure-bred farm boy whose family eventually moved to San Diego in the late 1940s. He apprenticed at that city’s well-known Old Globe Theatre and became a very young contract player at Warner Brothers, building a budding career until a now apocryphal 1958 showdown with one of the then movie industry’s most macho despots, director Henry Hathaway, wherein the rebellious and cocksure young actor refused to give into Hathaway’s direction and faced him off in a widely viewed and reported public showdown that supposedly went on for some 80 takes, which resulted in a newfound status as a Tinseltown pariah.
You've read about them
in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times.
HERE'S the big beat sound of that
fantastic, phenomenal foursome:
Me, The Mob, and the Music
One Helluva of a Ride with Tommy James and the Shondells
By Tommy James with Martin Fitzpatrick
225 pp, Scribner
Tommy James', Me, the Mob and the Music isn’t quite a tell-all, which may come as a relief to afficianados of 60's pop/rock. Despite the title, you shouldn't expect any sketches of the inner-workings of the Genovese crime family or lurid details about what James may have witnessed or overheard—it’s mostly an occasionally troubling story about Tommy the barely post-pubescent babe in the woods’ dealings with the so-called Godfather of the music business, that Bully of Broadway (or thereabouts) Morris “Moish” Levy.
For almost a decade James was a veritable hit-making machine for Levy’s Roulette Records, really the only winner in the Roulette stable. As the tape unwinds though, James emerges as the hardest working serf on Levy’s manor, locked in a bizarre mentor/tormentor relationship with Moish that drives him to heavy drinking, pill-popping, a penchant for guns and therapy.