I am very happy, honored and proud to introduce Victor Bockris as a contributing author on Loud Alien Noize. Here is a short account of his life as written by Marco Fioramanti in NIGHT ITALIA n.8 – Negative Girl and updated by Tobe Damit.
THE LIFE OF VICTOR BOCKRIS
Victor Bockris was born in England on July 23 1949 and spent his early years in Brighton on the south coast of England. His parents, a scientist and medical researcher, were members of the brain drain generation in Britain. His childhood was equally divided between England and the U.SA. He spent the first half of the sixties in British boarding schools including Rugby and the second half at the best high school in Philadelphia the boys only Central High and the University of Pennsylvania.
Victor Bockris graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. He dedicated the seventies to investigating the many levels of the unique counterculture. It was the only global movement for peace of a non-military people without a religious or political base that actually changed the world and brought down two powerful American presidents in a row – Johnson (1968) and Nixon (1974). It was a nurturing culture based on the visions of the greatest prophetic artists in the world. William Burroughs had a vision of a Love Generation in the 1950s. Andy Warhol was the prime architect and general of the sixties campaigns. Keith Richards wrote the soundtrack for the sixties and seventies. Muhammad Ali inspired and catalyzed the anti-war movement, etc.
Throughout the seventies Bockris climbed a ladder to the stars. With the backing of the Ralph and Jerry Weiman, who ran a Philadelphia reprint house, the Folcroft Press, Bockris began his career publishing the cutting edge poets of the new decade. In 1971-1972 when poetry was the seedbed for punk rock, Bockris’ underground poetry press, Telegraph Books of Philadelphia and New York, published ten books by the new voices of the seventies. They included in america by V.B.; Seventh Heaven by Patti Smith; Scars by Brigid Polk (star of Chelsea Girls) and some classic works from the chairman of minimalism Aram Saroyan. Today Telegraph is considered one of the seminal poetry publishers of the early seventies.
In late 1972 Bockris formed a partnership with Andrew Wylie and moved to New York. From 1972-1975 he worked under the pen name Bockris-Wylie. In 1973 Bockris-Wylie shifted from writing poetry to doing interviews, “the poetry of human speech.” Bockris-Wylie set out to interview the one hundred most intelligent people in New York. Over the next three years they published interviews in the big American magazines, People, Oui, Penthouse, Viva and Andy Warhol’s Interview with Salvador Dali, John Lennon, Francois Truffaut, John Huston, Lou Reed, Peter Bogdanovich, James Michener, Rick Derringer, Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman and many others. Bockris-Wylie also published a poetry column, The Electric Generation, in Philadelphia’s underground weekly The Drummer and contributed regularly to Jeff Goldberg’s Contact magazine. In 1974 they published Ali Fighter Poet Prophet (Freeway NYC Oct 74), How I Learned to Like Myself (Warner Books, NYC, December 74) and The Alphabet Book Collected Poems, (Boston summer 1974).
Bockris-Wylie separated in 1975 and Victor Bockris went on to have a strong solo career that took him into the fields of the Beat Generation, the Warhol Factory and Punk Rock. Bockris-Wylie had interviewed Muhammad Ali, William Burroughs and Andy Warhol. Bockris developed his relations with them and spent the second half of the seventies writing about and working with Warhol at the Factory and Burroughs at the Bunker.
A February 1977 visit to Australia changed his life. After a nervous breakdown he returned to the New York underground more than ever determined to dive into the punk scene on the Lower East Side. In the fall of 1977 architect and hero of the underground press, Tom Forcade, hired Bockris as a roving editor for High Times, including assignments in London, Berlin and L.A. Between 1977-1979 as contributing editor to Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine and roving editor for Tom Forcade’s High Times magazine Bockris developed writing relationships with Joey Ramone, Debbie Harry, Muhammad, Ali William Burroughs and Andy Warhol. By the late seventies he was working for Warhol at the Factory, for Burroughs at the Bunker and with Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie, as well as the poet Gerard Malanga. He also became involved with the photographer Marcia Resnick and they collaborated on numerous works over thirty years.
In High Times Bockris published Why I Hate My Girlfriend (1978) and Negative Girls (1982), thus becoming a celebrator of the special generation of punk girls who became so active and influential in the late seventies and early eighties. He also wrote with Andy Warhol the first draft of Warhol’s book Exposures and started his first solo book With William Burroughs: A Report from the Bunker. Its publication in 1981 marked another turning in his career. Now instead of working with his heroes he concentrated fully on writing books. After Burroughs he collaborated with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein on Making Tracks. Bockris became the bridge between the Beats, Warhol and the Punks.
In 1972 V.B. had started taking photographs. In 1977 he started to focus on the numerous unexpected couplings he made between Ali and Warhol, Susan Sontag and Richard Hell, Debbie Harry and William Burroughs and Joe Strummer of the Clash. In 1982 Bockris had his first one-man show of photographs at the B2 Gallery in London.
In a career spanning forty years Bockris covered the heroes of The Beat Generation, the Warhol School and the Punk Rock Movement in a series of twelve books, including biographies of Andy Warhol, Keith Richards, Lou Reed and Patti Smith. He wrote portraits of Muhammad Ali, William Burroughs, Blondie and the Velvet Underground and autobiographies of John Cale and Bebe Buel as well as a book that wraps them all up together Beat Punks. Together these books form a mythology for the counterculture (see bibliography).
Bockris first book of photographs Burroughs Reloaded published by Pam Brooks in Paris should be released before February at the latest. Victor is currently writing his memoirs, Punk Writer and it will hopefully be finished before March 2017 if everything goes well.
The band Virgin of the Birds just released an album called Secret Kids that includes a beautiful song titled Victor Bockris which focuses on a certain part of his life.
2.Making Tracks: The Rise of Blondie co-authored with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein (Fred Jordan Books/Dell, N.Y.C. 1982).
3.Uptight: The Velvet Underground Story co-authored with Gerard Malanga (Omnibus Press, London 1983).
Books 1 and 3 were published widely in translation.
In 1983 Victor Bockris shifted from writing portraits, like the above listed trilogy, to biographies. He published:
4. Warhol: The Biography (Hutchinson, London, 1989, Bantam, New York 1989).
5. Keith Richards: The Biography (Hutchinson, London, 1992, Poseidon (S&S) NY 1992)
6. Transformer: The Lou Reed Story, (Hutchinson, London, 1994), (Simon and Schuster New York 1995).
This trilogy of biographies established him internationally as a writer addressing the world. All three books were published in numerous different countries. He followed them with:
7. Muhammad Ali in Fighter’s Heaven, (Hutchinson London 1998)
8. Patti Smith: A Biography, Fourth Estate, London 1998, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1999.
9. What’s Welsh for Zen: The Autobiography of John Cale co-authored by John Cale, (Bloomsbury, London and New York, 1999).
10. Beat Punks, (Omnibus Press London 1998 and Da Capo New York 2000)in