Artist of the Month: Deene Kingston

This month Excalibur Books salutes Artist of the Month Deene Kingston as well as Author of the Month Jamie Carter – because Deene has provided the amazing  illustrations for Jamie’s book, “The Jason Zodiac Files: Volume One”. He also contributed artwork to “Tales From Beyond Tomorrow” and “The Futurist Manifesto” Series One. Displayed here is his cover for “The Futurist Manifesto # 3: The Elements of War” (below) and the original illustration (above)!

Links to “Tales From Beyond Tomorrow”.

Links to “The Jason Zodiac Files”. 


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Jason Zodiac # 8: Justified and Ancient

The following is an excerpt from Chapter Eight of “The Jason Zodiac Files”, Jamie Carter’s biography of Jason Zodiac.

Chapter One can be found here.

More information can be found here.

October 1988, and it’s time for my first real rave, my first illegal warehouse party in the middle of nowhere. All in the cause of investigative journalism, you understand.

I pick Mandy up in my car and like she said, she’s brought along a couple of mates, a girl called Julie who’s like a blond version of Mandy and her boyfriend, a stoner called Pete. Pete gives me a sly grin as he gets in the car, and I wonder what Mandy told him about me. He’s got a sharp face with thinning dark hair and designer stubble. His clothes are all in shades of grey and dark green, maybe expensive stuff, but none of your Casuals Man at C & A bullshit.

We drive around the North Circular and the M25, heading for somewhere south of the Leatherhead turn-off. We’re looking for the designated meeting point printed on the party flyer – a strategic strong point when organizing raves. The only other things on the flyer are a psychedelic sunburst, a cell phone number and the name of the party – ‘QUASAR’.

The meeting point turns out to be an Esso service station, and there must have been hundreds of cars and about two thousand clubbers who’ve already turned up, waiting to place the phone call to the number on the flyer at nine o’clock, dancing in the forecourt to the pirate stations on car radios and blasting out whistles and air horns. I recognize the track: Joey Beltram, Energy Flash. The bad news is that PC Plod has also arrived. Over the year the Old Bill’s got more and more rave-savvy, but the cops are keeping a low profile at the moment, black Mariahs and jam sandwiches and lemon curd sandwiches back at the turn-off, keeping an watchful and disapproving eye on the ravers and muttering KKKKKHHH into the walkie-talkies every two minutes.

Off our heads in England’s green, pleasant and highly policed land.

Mandy and Julie get out of the car and dance in miniskirts and fluffy bras, shouting out random song lyrics, throwing around Milky Ways that they’ve pilfered from somewhere.

“I can taste something,” Mandy screams.

“Chocolate?” I call.

“No,” she calls back. “I can taste the electricity.”

Inside my car, Pete produces a bag of Es and we sort out payment. I roll up a spliff and after Pete’s had a toke he says to me, “So … where do you think Acid House started, then?”

“Chicago, wasn’t it? No, hang on … Ibiza. No, Manchester.”

Pete shakes his head and gives me a knowing wink. “No, mate. It started a couple of years ago, in Northampton. It was an experiment. All Jason Zodiac’s idea.”

I laughed, blowing out a cloud of fragrant smoke. “Jason Zodiac? Jason’s a recluse. He’s in the John Lennon stage of his career, but with no sign of a Double Fantasy on the horizon yet.”

“Guess again. The New Acid Test, he calls it. The Eighties Acid Redemption. I seen it, man, I was standing on the Racecourse with a few mates when Jason did it. It’s real. The door of the sun, man. Jason’s gonna open the door of the sun.”

I pull on the spliff and try to make sense of what he’s telling me. “So why didn’t NME hear about this?”

“Because they don’t want you to know about it, man.”

I can’t think of a reply to that.

“I’m writing an article, man. Gonna tell the whole story.” He stares at me, eyes narrowed. “You reckon NME might be interested?”

I shrug. “I’ll do what I can, mate. Put in a word for you.”

He leans over and holds up a clenched fist and I sit there for a few seconds until I realize he expects me to touch fists with him. So I do.

A massive scream goes up from outside. “It’s on!” yells Mandy. “Start the car!”

The convoy hits the country roads, with ravers standing up in their open-top cars shouting Aceeeeeeeeed! and flashing blue lights somewhere behind us. I’m driving, following the BMWs in front, and Mandy’s giving directions and Pete’s stopped being mysterious and started snogging Julie.

About five miles from the Esso station, the convoy pulls off the main road and through an open pair of gates. I drive us through a labyrinth of dark hulks of buildings until we reach the loading bay, converted into the party’s entrance. Five police vans turn up at the same time. We park where everyone else is parking, start walking, and then the security guys by the door yell at us to get inside the warehouse as quick as we can. We don’t need to be told twice.

Light pours out of the windows, turning the warehouse into a fairy cathedral. Beats are pounding, making my sternum vibrate in sympathy.

Here be treasure. X marks the spot.





first broadcast – 13th March 1968.



Ariel shot of the rally cars racing along the cliffside roads of Padstow, south west Cornwall, with the sea raging beneath the steep drop to the rocks. Groovy trumpet and Hammond organ music plays on the soundtrack. MAN-SNAKE is in the lead, followed by TANGERINE and SMITH.

TANGERINE’S Car – Interior.

TANGERINE: The Padstow cliffs – our second test.

ARTHUR: Our third test will be that driver up ahead. I fully intend to win this treasure hunt, my dear, and it seems Mr. Korvik is the only driver faster than us.

SMITH’S car – interior. JEREMY has his head out of the side window and is squinting through his glasses.

JEREMY: Beautiful car …

SMITH: Which one?

JEREMY: Mr. Korvik’s car, in the lead. 1963 XKE hard-top Jaguar convertible. Funny thing, though, the hood ornament is the wrong one. It’s from a much newer model … a 1966 S Type Sedan, I think.

SMITH: I’m so glad you told me that.

JEREMY: But why would he put the wrong ornament on his own Jaguar?

SMITH: When we catch up with him, you can ask him.


TANGERINE: What are you doing?

ARTHUR: We’ll cut the curve as close as we can.

TANGERINE: Do you think that’s wise? We’re going too fast! You’ll have to slow down for the curve.

ARTHUR: What, and lose our chance of winning? Never! This is the kind of excitement that makes the boredom of being a multi-millionaire tolerable.

TANGERINE: (with heavy sarcasm) Oh, poor you.

They race around the curve safely with a spray of gravel and a screeching of brakes.

SMITH’S car – int.

JEREMY: Looks like your lady friend is round the bend.

SMITH: I keep telling her that.

TANGERINE’S car is pulling up closer to MAN-SNAKE, so he puts on a burst of speed as he approaches the curve.

SMITH’S car – int.

JEREMY: Jumping jalopies! He has to slow down!

The Jaguar doesn’t turn but crashes straight through the safety railings, and launches itself into the air. The camera follows its plunge down to the rocks below, where it explodes.

They all stop their cars, get out and run to the hole in the railing. They stand looking down at the smoking wreck at the bottom of the cliff.

ARTHUR: Oh, bad luck.

TANGERINE: Is that all you can say? A man’s been killed! We’ll have to call off the race.

SMITH: Somehow, I don’t think that’s in Trask’s plan.

ARTHUR: Absolutely. We have a clear lead now – and I intend to keep it!

ARTHUR turns and strides back to his car. The other three whisper together in a huddled group.

SMITH: Jeremy, do you think it was brake failure?

JEREMY: No. All the cars were checked by experienced mechanics before the race. And anyway, I’ve never seen brakes fail as catastrophically as that.

SMITH: So it’s sabotage … this race is getting serious. Someone is prepared to kill to get their hands on the treasure, and there’s another player in this game besides us and the Church.

JEREMY: What Church?

SMITH: I’ll explain later.

TANGERINE: But what is the treasure? What’s all this about?

SMITH: I think it’s time we found out. Let’s call Jason on the walkie-talkie and see where he’s got to.

TANGERINE: With that dolly bird in his car, I dread to think.

They walk back to their cars. Music fades in.




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Jason Zodiac # 7: They Call It Aciiiiiiiiid

The following is an excerpt from Chapter Seven of “The Jason Zodiac Files”, Jamie Carter’s biography of Jason Zodiac.

Chapter One can be found here.

More information can be found here.

Mandy comes into my life in the summer of 1988 – yes, that’s right, the so-called ‘Second Summer of Love’.

She walks into the back room of the Camden Falcon, just after bunch of no-hopers The Bad Cats had finished. She’s long-hipped and fluid in black top and jeans, green Celtic eyes, Asian cheekbones. We know each other vaguely because she’s been going out with a mate of mine, John. Well, I say mate; nobody liked him. They just pretended to. Me, I’d been through a rough patch too. I’d split up with Jenny and was on the rebound. I’d landed my dream job at the New Musical Express but it felt like it was going nowhere. I spent my time in the subs room cutting, pasting and checking, writing the occasional article or review, and interviewing bands that nobody else wanted to (losers like The Poster Loonies, The Water Addicts, Gay Karl and other twats you’ve never heard of). For the summer I’d been doing Single of the Week, but even that had lost its charm. The initial thrill of seeing a desk piled high with mailers was replaced by the frustration of realizing it will take ages to listen to them all, and most of them will be shit.

The NME I’d worked on that week was a microcosm of 1988: stale and lifeless and ready for a shake-up. A cover feature on Morrissey and his new album, “Suedehead”, and the death of the Smiths; interviews with The Fall, The Triffids and Billy Bragg. Amongst all the old stuff, and the full-page ads for golden turds such as Sting’s new single “An Englishman in New York”, was the only gleam of hope; Single of the Week – “Beat Dis” by Bomb the Bass. I didn’t know it yet, but it’s the shape of things to come.

I watch Mandy as she drinks her lager. I watch the swing of her long hair, the shade of fresh chestnut. The air is hot and smells overwhelmingly of beer and tension. Across the pub, at the entrance, the legend FOSTERS glows in excited red neon, the pub punter faces reflected in the huge mirror, the red grinning faces laughing and shouting so hard the chat merges into one long incomprehensible barrage of pub noise.

The bell rings for time. “What are you doing after this?” I ask her.

“Going to the Edge,” she says.

“Is that some new club?”

“No, it’s the Edge, Jamie, Edge with a capital E,” she says. “Just like Ecstasy.”





first broadcast – 13th March 1968.

running time – 44 mins 53 secs.


SCENE 7: Wintle Hall        INT – DAY.

            A large group of well-dressed men and women are standing inside a huge drawing room, drinking champagne from fluted glasses, chatting and laughing with each other in very high spirits.

           They are surrounded by a giant indoor racetrack. Plates are whizzing around the room on top of miniature racing cars running along a long plastic Scalextric track shaped like a Moebius loop. The plates are carrying buffet food such as vol-au-vents and tiny triangular sandwiches with the crusts cut off.

           JASON, TANGERINE and SCREAMING LORD SMITH enter the room. JASON wears mirrored ray-ban shades, a purple crushed velvet frock coat with matching bellbottom trousers, a lemon frilled shirt from John Stephen, and high-heeled Chelsea boots from Mr. Freedom (Kensington Church Street).

TANGERINE wears a black and white Mary Quant mini-dress, knee-high side-zippered white vinyl boots from Countdown, a floppy hat and long false eyelashes,

SMITH wears a navy blue suit, pink shirt and paisley cravat, all designed by Pierre Cardin.

  1. CHESS (VOICE-OVER): Jason, can you hear me?

JASON (discreetly touching the earpiece he is wearing behind his ear):

Loud and clear, boss.

  1. CHESS: I’m initiating a scan for any known operatives of the Church With No Name that may be in this room. Stand by.

The three take champagne glasses from a waiter dressed as a Grand Prix mechanic and sip their drinks.

Close-up on a dark-skinned man standing alone, wearing sunglasses.

  1. CHESS: The man you are looking at is Astor Karvik. He’s one of the Church’s top assassins, and he uses the code name of ‘Man-Snake’. The computer says his preferred weapon is darts of highly potent serpent venom.

SMITH: Sounds like he needs a good kick in the cobras.

Close-up on an attractive young lady, holding court with a group of male admirers. She wears a bright red dress that matches her lipstick, and smokes with a long cigarette holder.

  1. CHESS: That’s Valerie Felgate, in charge of Church transportation and smuggling activities. Her code name is ‘Fast Lady’.

JASON: Nice chassis.

TANGERINE: Down, tiger.

Close-up on a large man in glasses, wearing a tweed jacket with elbow patches, and a bow tie. He is scoffing a plate of cheese and pickle sandwiches.

  1. CHESS: That’s Dr. Terence Spooner, otherwise known as Anagram Sam. He’s the Church cryptography expert. We suspect him of breaking several MI5 and MI6 codes and selling the secrets to certain hostile powers.

ANAGRAM SAM (to passing waiter): Cheaper gammon, my good man.

WAITER: Pardon, sir?

ANAGRAM SAM: I said, more champagne, my good man.

WAITER (handing him a glass): Certainly, sir.

JASON: I’d love to know why The Minister thinks this treasure hunt needs the attention of the T-Service.

TANGERINE: I’d love to know what the treasure actually is.

SMITH: Just like a woman.

Sound of banging gong. A waiter takes the stage.

WAITER: Ladies and gentlemen, may I present … your host!



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Jason Zodiac # 6: Unknown Pleasures Closer Still

The following is an excerpt from Chapter Six of “The Jason Zodiac Files”, Jamie Carter’s biography of Jason Zodiac.

Chapter One can be found here.

More information can be found here.

Simon Briggs  had agreed to meet me not in Manchester, but in Macclesfield, in the foothills of the Pennines a few miles away – because the northern musical explosion owed so much to a young man who lived and died in this town. I was here because of something that happened in a small semi-detached house – 77 Burton Street – on 18th May 1980: the tragic death of Ian Curtis, the lead singer and lyricist of Joy Division.

I’d planned to meet Simon at the market square at six. After finally getting a place to park, I found him near one of the market stalls, jacket collar turned up against a slow drizzle of early evening August rain.

He was taller than I remembered. Unless he’d grown and I hadn’t. But he still had the thick locks of brown hair, now swept back and receding slightly from his temples. He still had the tanned skin, sharp features and slight lisp that I remembered.

“I’m buying,” I told him. “What’ll it be? Fish and chips, like you used to have? Black pudding? Mushy peas?”

“I prefer Thai these days,” he drawled. “Let’s go to the Prestbury.”

So we fussed with chopsticks over spicy tom kah kai, and savored lemongrass and coconut milk-flavored curry in the 18th century listed pub that Simon told me was his current love.

“Thanks for coming up to Macclesfield,” he said.

I waved it away. “No, not at all. Thanks for taking the time to see me. How’re things?”

He shrugged. “Oh well, getting by. Can’t rest on my laurels, can I?”

“I didn’t know you had any.”

“And you, Jamie?”

“Not too bad. Except for the whole city of London falling apart, of course.”

“The whole country’s falling apart.”

“The whole country’s been falling apart for as long as I can remember.”

“Remember the poll tax riots? Or the murder of PC Blakelock?”

“What about Toxteth?”

“What about St Pauls?”

We both laughed at the same time.

The waiter came with our food and we got to work on the stuff. Simon ate sparingly; it seemed like talking was more important. “I’ve been thinking about a lot of things, after reading your articles. Thinking about the past. I’d be very interested to hear what R.J. has to say about all this.”

“R.J. Black has disappeared,” I told him. “Nobody’s seen or heard from him for a few weeks.”

He stiffened, and looked uncomfortable. “Yes … well, I wouldn’t read too much into that. R. J. was always a moody bastard. Always going walkabout when he didn’t feel like talking to anyone.”

He reached down to his briefcase and pulled something out. A hardback diary, warped with age and wear and tear. “You’re not going to believe this,” he said, “but I’m quite obsessive.”

“I can easily believe that.”

“I don’t think I told you I kept all my notebooks, ever since I started working as a journalist.”

“All of them?” I started laughing, and then stopped. It might have looked like I was making fun of him, but in fact, I was deeply impressed. Someone who kept diaries from over thirty years ago?

“Well, there’s a couple I’ve misplaced, but I’ve got them going back to the late seventies.”

I stopped chewing and looked at him in admiration. “I wish I had,” I said.

“That’s why I called, I guess. Your articles made me go through the notebooks again and I noticed something I’d better tell you.”

“About Jason?”


“And Joy Division?”

He looked up, pad thai noodles dangling from his chopsticks. “I’ve been connecting the dots, you might say.”

“That’s what intrigued me, because as far as I know, Jason knew Tony Wilson …”

“… but he never met Ian Curtis, yeah. Jason’s main link with Manchester was through Acid House in the late eighties. That’s what I thought too. Then I rediscovered the notes I’d written just after Ian’s obituary came out.”

Briggs had put a bookmark in the 1980 diary, and he opened it at the entry he wanted, slipped on a pair of thin reading glasses, and peered at the wrinkled page. Then he laid it open on the table next to the vinegar bottle.

“Jamie, have you ever heard of a drug called Telemazepine?”

I shook my head.

“In the late seventies, drugs for treating epilepsy were pretty strong and had quite a few side-effects. The drug called Telemazepine was commercially available for a couple of years, and then taken off the market. And here’s the peculiar thing; I can’t find anything about it on the Internet. It was released by a German pharmaceutical company called Bartos Klein, and I can’t find anything on them, either.”

“Was Ian taking this for his epilepsy?”

“I don’t think so – well, I can’t find it mentioned anywhere. His wife Debbie never mentioned it in her biography of Ian, Touching from a Distance, and I’ve never seen in any other source. But two days after Ian’s funeral, my editor Andy Anderson in the Sounds London office got a telephone call from Jason Zodiac. He wanted to know if Ian had been taking Telemazepine.”

I put down the chopsticks in the bowl smeared with the remains of the red curry and sat back.

“One week after Ian’s death,” Simon told me, “we had a visitor at our office. It was Jason himself. He said he’d come up to Manchester to see Tony and pay his respects to Ian’s family.”

“He’d never met Ian’s family.”

“He knew enough to realize that something extraordinary was happening.”

That figured. The extraordinary was Jason’s business.


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Jason Zodiac # 5 – White Riot

The following is an excerpt from Chapter Five of “The Jason Zodiac Files”, Jamie Carter’s biography of Jason Zodiac.

Chapter One can be found here.

More information can be found here.

Email received May 14th.


SUBJECT: FAO Mr. Jamie Carter – Appeal for Information (Zodiac)

DATE: —-/5/14


Dear Mr. Carter,

First, let me say what a great job you’re doing with the Jason Zodiac articles for Fugue. I have fond memories of both the Banana Sundial concerts and The T-Service TV series, and I show copies of your magazine to all my friends.

You gave out an email address in the magazine and appealed for information regarding Jason Zodiac and his whereabouts. Well, here I am, because I have a story of the day I met not only Jason but also Joe Strummer of The Clash, and I think you might be interested.

My name is Terence Morgan and I’m over fifty years old now. You wrote in your article on the Sex Pistols that you would never forget the day you heard God Save the Queen. Well, I can tell you there’s one day I will never forget– and that’s the day Joe Strummer died.

I was in Naples at the time, of all places. My wife Julie and I had gone to Italy for our Christmas holiday with the kids, and we’d driven over from the Amalfi coast. In fact, we’d just got into the room, put down our suitcases, and sat down on the bed. We flicked on the TV and the BBC worldwide news, and there it was. Joe Strummer passed away at age fifty after a heart attack. My wife and I jumped to our feet and screamed ‘What?’ – we couldn’t believe it. I still remember the shock of it all.

You see, I knew Joe Strummer. I met him on maybe four or five occasions, enough to be on first name terms – and he and Jason saved my life. Let me explain.

I’ve been a record collector all my life. The first seven-inch single I bought was David Bowie’s Space Oddity, and the first album I bought was T. Rex’s Electric Warrior. I started buying Punk singles in 1977; it took me a while to get into Punk, but when I did, I didn’t mess about. The Clash, The Jam, The Stranglers, The Damned, The Buzzcocks, Rock Against Racism gigs; I saw them all at least three times each. I got to know Julie, my wife, through the records and the gigs. Our first date was a Clash gig at the ICA. Afterwards we went back to my student flat, I put Working for the Clampdown on the turntable and she started singing along and imitating the way Mick Jones swung his guitar about on stage.

That’s when I fell in love with her.

I studied economics at University College, London, and lived in a run-down student house in Hammersmith. In the summer of 1979 I had a part-time job in a corner shop in Pimlico. It was run by Mr. Gill, a huge Sikh with thick NHS glasses and mustache, turban, the full monty. He looked a bit scary and he was dead serious about money but as a boss, I’ve met people far worse.

Anyway, it turned out The Clash were working just down the road, in Wessex Studios. They were recording the London Calling album. They used to play football in a little park across the square and call in the shop afterwards for beer and crisps and ham rolls. Brilliant, eh? My claim to fame. I’ve got all their autographs on shop receipts and flyers – Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon. And Joe. Poor, wonderful Joe.

Let me get to the point. On the last day of August that year I started work at five, as usual, looking forward to knocking off at ten, getting over to the Black Horse for a couple of pints and back to Colin’s flat for a weekend spliff. About seven o’clock – Mr. Gill was in the back room stocktaking, and the radio was playing I Don’t Like Mondays by the Boomtown Rats – Joe Strummer walked in. This time he wasn’t with the band – he was with Jason Zodiac. I was gobsmacked. I knew from reading the NME that they were mates, but even so, I never expected …


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Jason Zodiac # 4: No Future

The following is an excerpt from Chapter Four of “The Jason Zodiac Files”, Jamie Carter’s biography of Jason Zodiac.

Chapter One can be found here.

More information can be found here.

         If the psychedelic movement of the late Sixties was a revolution of the head, then the Punk movement of the middle Seventies was a revolution of the body. Piercing with safety pins, scarification with razor blades, Sid Vicious mutilating himself on stage: these transgressive and transformative rituals were a direct challenge to the dominant culture of the United Kingdom. This was a self-administered rite of initiation for British youth, in a society that lacked any meaningful transition from child to adult, and lacked any credible role models to guide the youth into a spiritually aware world in which they meant something.

         –   R J Black, “The Mad Parade,” p. 234.

There are still a few people who remember exactly where they were when they heard JFK had been shot. There are many of us who remember exactly what they were doing when they heard Princess Diana had been killed. For me, I can remember with absolute clarity where I was when I first heard the Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen.

I was in a tiny record shop in Sheffield, blowing my student allowance on vinyl like I usually did. The crashing drums and the sawing guitars bawled out of the shop’s loudspeakers, and when Johnny Rotten snarled the first line, I froze, breaking out in a cold sweat.

You know in the movies when soldiers walk across a battlefield and step on a landmine, there’s an audible click? They stop moving, because they know that within the next few seconds, their world is going to explode, rip them apart, and spread their body parts over the surrounding area. That’s how it felt. I couldn’t move, because I knew I was in the presence of something utterly explosive and dangerous. By the time the band had got to their final chorus of “No Future”, the land mine had gone off and I’d been blown apart. I was about to be picked up and put together again with the parts fitting in new, unexpected, ways.

It’s easy to be cynical about Punk now, but nobody at the time had any doubt about the movement’s sincerity. The UK had sunk into mass lethargy and despair, riddled with unemployment, and inflation. Britain was culturally and politically bankrupt.

At a time like that Jason Zodiac was busier than ever.

My name is Jamie Carter, and I work for Fugue magazine. The first three installments of Whatever Happened to Jason Zodiac? had so far got a pretty good reaction from the readership, and – more to the point – a thumbs-up from the editor-in-chief.

So here I was, on an April Wednesday night, London switching between hours of sunshine and rain and blustery wind as if the British Isles suffered from multiple personality syndrome, on my way to a meeting with an old colleague, someone who’d met Jason Zodiac on several occasions back in the day. Back in the heady days of Punk, when for a brief while music was actually subversive again. Robert James Black was the founder of the notorious Queer Street fanzine, writer for the NME during the late Seventies, and author of The Mad Parade, perhaps the best work on the subject of Punk after Jon Savage’s seminal England’s Dreaming.

Not to mention being an occasional drinking buddy of mine.

Of course, with 1977 being the year of the Royal Jubilee, the Empire tried to put on a show of glory and tradition, pomp and circumstance. Bunting and Union flags and pictures of Her Majesty hanging outside Brutalist post-war council houses. To maintain the façade of grandeur, the lie that Britain was still a country worth living in, the Empire had its defenders. The police. The Sun and the Daily Mail. The BBC …


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Jason Zodiac # 3: Dandy in the Underworld

The following is an excerpt from Chapter Three of “The Jason Zodiac Files”, Jamie Carter’s biography of Jason Zodiac.

Chapter One can be found here.

More information can be found here.

If that was how this assignment was going to affect me, maybe I should turn it down, I thought. Get Mimi to put me on something else, like Graham Norton’s checkered past or the Nolan Sisters revival, and finish the Jason series right here and now.

But … no. My blood was up. There were things I wanted to know, but I couldn’t explain why.

In 1972, I was seventeen, just discovering girls, booze, and music. Good music, which in those days I considered to be Led Zep, Black Sabbath and Lynard Skynrd. Swanning about Brentwood with my Afghan cut-off and arguing with Mum and Dad every time Love Thy Neighbour was on the telly.

I bought the T Rex singles but I never called myself a Glam Rocker because it just seemed too poofy. Not for me the likes of The Sweet, or Chicory Tip, or Slade, thank you, because they were all over the radio like chickenpox.

But then there was Bowie. And Jason Zodiac. And Jerome Jerome Smith.

Jason Zodiac had left the BBC when The T-Service series came to an end, but in 1971, he drew up a deal with ITV – and he turned up on the kid’s TV show Magpie, saying he was planning a comeback. He starred in Children of Tomorrow, the 1971 solo Jason Zodiac Christmas special, and in 1972 he went on tour with his new band – the Pale Angels. Unlike his old band The Banana Sundial, he wasn’t the vocalist/guitarist, this time. He was the manager. The undisputed star of The Pale Angels was . . . Jerome Jerome Smith.

How can I describe J. J. Smith? A sequined footnote in history, a treasure lost down the back of the big fake-leather sofa of pop culture?

Even for the standards of the time, he looked weird. In press appearances, he always had the same pale face glittering with painted stars. He had no eyebrows, just finely sketched black lines filled in with red eye shadow. He tottered around with long, skinny legs on platform boots under huge bell-bottoms, a feather boa wrapped around his alabaster neck. Strangest of all, he had deformed hands; he seemed to be missing a few joints in his long, thin fingers, which made people at the time wonder if he’d ever picked up a guitar in his life before.

The copy-fax machine hummed and I stood up to collect the pages. Scanned copies of the Melody Maker for 22nd January 1972.

The typeface was too small, the paper had stained brown with age, but it was still readable. This was the longest press interview J. J. Smith ever gave, at Jason Zodiac’s own studio in Notting Hill, with Jason standing behind him the whole time. The interviewer’s choice of words baffled me until I realized that Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange had come out a couple of years before. The interviewer was speaking in Nadsat – the artificial language invented by Anthony Burgess for the novel.

MM: I was there at the Hammersmith Odeon and I viddied all the little devotchkas horning and lubbilibbing backstage. Horrorshow, Mr. Valentine, horrorshow bolshy. Can you pony why The Pale Angels are such a choodessny band right now?

JJS: Yeah, it’s about cosmic energy, you know, cosmic laws. Your life is mapped out at birth and the universe knows what your life will be, but only when the time’s right, mama. Stop it, mama. Everything’s connected to everything else, each part of your body is connected to an element, a metal, a planet, and . . . (looking behind him and sniggering) part of the Zodiac, man. Glam rock, spaceships dock, boys are girls and girls are boys, man. It’s all one. Opposites attract and opposites get together, man. I wish I knew.

MM: Were you surprised at so many droogs kapetting your debut single?

JJS: Oh, it was a gas. We can’t be comfortable being an underground act, you know, we want everyone to hear our music, oh, we want to do concert tours. Help me out here, mama. There are Chinese poets who spend five years writing one poem and when they’ve finished, the poem is just three lines long. Three lines, and the world explodes, mama. Who gave it to him? Who gave it to him?

MM: So, where do you get all those ideas in your gulliver?

JJS: I don’t know, man, to tell you the truth – the truth is, I’ve always felt like I’m a vehicle for someone else. Something else. Oh, please let me up, please shift me.

MM: I think everyone’s had that bezoomy feeling.

JJS: That settles it, yeah. They feel they’re not just here for themselves, and they turn to the Bible and it’s Jesus or Buddha, you know, heavy. Please help me out – it’s all probabilities, I can see everything, I can see everything happening at the same time and I try to draw them in, I try to draw them in for him.

MM: For who?

JJS: For him. I pick different eras and I go back and I pick out things that happened in the War, in the Empire, and I push them through to 2001 and see what happens. Please, mother, it’s all psychic coordinates.

MM: Are you govoreeting about . . . computers?

JJS: I’m just a rock and roll star, man, I don’t get involved with computers. Look out! It’s like, null and void, I believe in rock and roll and my own theory of probability. The computers, they’ll just come up with different answers, man. (Shouting) Nervous ducks! Nervous ducks! The egg is in the incubator and the eagle, the eagle is going to eat its own wings.

MM: Er . . . interessovat! And what about your plans for the coming tour?

JJS: Did you hear me? I said I don’t really understand what I’m talking about. I’m just assembling points, I’ve got to puzzle through it, and they turn it into music, they turn it into songs, and people who listen to the songs have got to take all they can from it. I’m not feeling well. It’s information, that’s all, it’s information, assemble the data and see if it fits in with the information I have. Please! I need coordinates! I’m finished here, I’m so tired!

I sat back from the computer screen and took a swig of tea.

To paraphrase the reporter, at this point J. J. became visibly distressed, and had trouble breathing. Jason went out and came back with, of all things, a cylinder of oxygen and a mask, and began applying it to J. J.’s face. That was the signal to end it.

So much for the interview. What about the concerts?

After reading half a dozen reviews online – reviews that ranged from ecstatic hyperbole to reactionary outrage – I tried to find something on their one and only TV appearance, the guest appearance of The Pale Angels on the Granada TV music show, The Final Programme, 5pm Saturday February 19th 1972 …


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Jason Zodiac # 2: I Buried Paul

The following is an excerpt from Chapter Two of “The Jason Zodiac Files”, Jamie Carter’s biography of Jason Zodiac.

Chapter One can be found here. 

More information can be found here. 

Gerald Moore took an album out of its sleeve and reverently placed it on the turntable. Shabid Parvez, “The Art of the Sitar”. The elegant drone of the Indian instruments rose out of the speakers as he sat down next to his desk, booting up his computer, and I sat down on the offered sofa. It was as soft and comfortable as it looked, and it had the redolent odor of years spent soaking up incense. I took a sip of sherry and put the glass down on the coffee table.

“How did you find me?” Moore asked.

“Matt Mackenzie.”

Moore let out a surprised sound somewhere between a laugh and a cough. “I should have guessed it was him. Did you offer him money?”

“Yes, I did, but he’s not exactly desperate. There’s still a big cult following for The T-Service, and you know the sort of money that can be made in conventions and guest signings. Haven’t you thought of appearing?”

“Leonard Nimoy once memorably said, I am not Spock. So let me paraphrase that and say, I am not Doctor Chess. That’s all in the past, and now I simply sell records.”

“Yes, but years after that Nimoy said he regretted that statement, and the second volume of his autobiography was called I Am Spock. Are you sure you won’t reconsider?”

Moore shook his big, shaggy head. “Don’t butter me up, laddie, it’s not really me you’re after. It’s Jason.”

“Matt said you might know where he is.”

“I do and I don’t.”

He looked at me blankly, and I gave him another smile, my you-don’t really-mean-that smile.

“The thing about Jason,” Moore said, “is that he could be the sweetest, softest, most considerate man you’ve ever met, and the next day he could be a nasty piece of work. It’s no wonder the girls were obsessed with his hair and his clothes; he had this beautiful, narcissistic presence.”

“And that glamour was his magic?”

“No. Beneath the glamour was the real magic.” Moore paused, took a sip of his sherry. “The management always tried to keep us apart, and we found out why during the show’s second season. Jason was getting paid five pounds more than the rest of us.”

“I imagine that didn’t go down well with the rest of the cast,” I said.

“No. Especially not with Archie Baker, because he was one of the old school Billy Cotton light entertainment crowd. So the atmosphere got a bit fraught during rehearsals. Most days, we’d skip the discussions and get straight into arguments.”

Moore took a framed photo from his desk and passed it to me; a black and white picture of six smiling young men, beards, glasses, flowers draped around their necks.

“So in early 1968 John Lennon invited Jason to India to see the Maharishi. They’d been good friends for a while; Jason was impressed by John’s resentment of what he called the ‘pop machine’. And Jason made quite an impression on the Maharishi.”

“I thought it would be the other way around.”

“Not at all. The Maharishi said Jason had an aura about him; he was one of the children of the sun, and he had a special part to play in the future.”

“You didn’t go with them, did you?”

“No. I realized my mistake years afterwards. I went to India in the mid-Eighties,” he said, taking out a pair of wire-rimmed reading glasses and carefully putting them on. “I’d given up my acting career, and I’d had more than enough of Thatcher’s Britain. I took what my friends and family called the Hippy Route, and bought a plane ticket to New Delhi. I traveled the country, taking on manual jobs when the money ran out, and settled in Goa. I was there when the psychedelic trance movement started, and I saw Jason Zodiac perform a DJ set on the beach. A Full Moon party. The entire beach off their heads on mushrooms, acid or Ecstasy. It was . . . an experience impossible to put into words, Mr. Carter, I’m sorry.”

“Acid House kind of revived Jason’s musical career, didn’t it?”

Moore glared at me. “That’s like saying the Beatles concerts were ‘mildly interesting’. It was a transformational event, Mr. Carter. Nothing has been the same since.”

I fidgeted on the sofa, drained my sherry. “Why don’t you call me Jamie? Anyway, Matt said that you had this reunion in Goa, that you spent a few days together with Jason and his girlfriend Zena. That was news to me, because I thought Jason lost touch with his TV colleagues in the early Eighties, when he became almost a recluse. Could you, eh . . .”

Moore was shaking his head again and chuckling at me softly. “You want to be impressed, don’t you? You want to have your pop-culture post-modern scoop for the fanboys. Well, the thing is, Mr. Carter, as a verse in chapter four of the Bhagavad Gita says . . . Truly in this world, there is nothing so purifying as knowledge.”


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Jason Zodiac # 1: Magical Mystery Tour

The following is an excerpt from chapter one of “The Jason Zodiac Files”, Jamie Carter’s biography of Jason Zodiac. More information can be found here. 

I had a weird dream the morning before my interview with Screaming Lord Smith. I dreamed I was standing in a desert, maybe somewhere in North Africa, with great sand dunes towering around me. I don’t often remember my dreams these days, but this one was vivid. The colors of the sand dunes and the sky were glowing reds and purples and browns, and I smelt smoke and exotic fruit on the wind. And the singing … there was a high-pitched, beautiful singing all around me, no words, just voices raised in harmony.

I wasn’t alone. Someone stood in front of me, the figure of a man, his skin dark, his features in shadow. One hand pointed down at the ground and I knew there was something buried there. I fell to my knees, plunging my hands into the desert, sweeping away the sand to dig a hole.

It was slow work, the painfully slow effort of moving within a dream, the sand sliding in to fill the hole I was fighting to make. The sand was coarse, glittering with the sheen of old gold, scorching my hands with the desert heat. I kept digging.

I buried my arms in the ground up to my elbows, my fingertips at last finding something solid, trying to get purchase. My face pressed against the surface, the hot sand threatening to blister my cheek. The voices in my head – was something beneath me singing, or was it the sand itself?

I found a solid grip on the object, and pulled it upwards, wrenching it free, the sands boiling upwards as it rose. The whiteness of bone. Dark, hollow eyes, sand dripping out of the sockets. Elegantly curved, sharp horns. The skull of a goat. I lifted it up, its face to my face. The bone was smooth, slippery to the touch, and in the cracked shining surface of the forehead I could see my own reflection –

Waking up. The music still in my ears, chiming guitars, ethereal vocals, droning sitar. Of course. The Sky-Vendor’s Crown, one of The Banana Sundial’s biggest hits. The song was coming to an end; it must have kicked off my dream. Why, today of all days, would Kiss FM take a break from their usual R&B and indie shite to play something from 1967? And why The Banana Sundial?

Which echoed the question that had been in my head for the last few days – whatever happened to Jason Zodiac?

My wife Katy helped me fix some ham and toast for breakfast. My son Nick called in on the way to work, like he often does. He’s a good lad, always helps around the house, often comes to watch the football with me, more like a good mate than a son. Not exactly a rock and roller, though. I taught him guitar, and he had his own band for a while, but these days he’s happy to be an electrician. Maybe I’m the only person who’s a little sad about that, but then I’m fifty-six years old, and kind of retro. Everyone jokes about it. It’s why I got this job at Fugue magazine.

I took the M5 Southbound past Bristol, to Junction 23 – and Glastonbury. I was due to meet Matt Mackenzie on top of the Tor at eleven o’clock, and it was best to get an early start as the roads are always shite. Why Glastonbury Tor? Well, Matt always did have a flair for the dramatic. That was his real name. Matt Mackenzie. The man who played Screaming Lord Smith, member of the T-Service.

As the cult TV buffs out there will remember, the BBC drama series The T-Service ran for three seasons between 1967 and 1969. It was a sci-fi horror comedy thriller about a super-team backed by the British Government, a group of eccentric characters saving the world from a different threat each week. It was pitched as the BBC’s answer to the colorful psychedelic spy shows that ITC were putting out, like The Avengers and The Prisoner, and a companion show to Doctor Who. The star of the show was Jason Zodiac, a flamboyant swinger with a command of occult magical arts and a knack for pulling dolly birds. The other regular characters all had their own back stories and super powers too: Screaming Lord Smith, Tangerine, Uncle Jack, Camera Obscura, token American liason the Someday Man, all led by the scientific genius Doctor Chess, and receiving their assignments from a shadowy government contact known only as The Minister.

Great names. They don’t make TV like that any more, eh?

One reason why The T-Service had gained such notoriety is that it had fallen victim to the BBC video-wiping purge in the early 1970s, and only a handful of episodes actually existed. The stories where The Beatles and Mick Jagger had appeared were still around, of course, but classic stories like The Unexpected Question, The Camelot Run, Death by Chocolate and Festival of the Damned were lost forever.

Or so we thought, until Matt Mackenzie contacted Fugue magazine, claiming to have unearthed an 8mm film copy of Festival of the Damned.

I got to the Tor just before eleven, parked the car, and trudged up the hill to the famous artificial mound, with its signature spiral path winding toward the beautiful stone tower on its crown. A cold February wind scythed across the fields, but I’d wrapped up warm in quilted jacket, scarf, sweater and gloves, so it wasn’t too bad.

When I got to the top of the hill Matt was standing by the stone tower waiting for me. I recognized him from his publicity shots; he’d put on weight and lost some hair, but his face was still the craggy, lined, handsome face that had got him the part on the show. Screaming Lord Smith’s super-power was a jacket that emitted psychedelic blasts of colored light that confused, blinded or hypnotized the baddies. Which is pretty funny when you remember that the first T-Service series was filmed in black and white. Today, though, there was nothing psychedelic about him; he wore a long black wool coat that almost stretched down to his feet.

“Good morning, Mr. Smith,” I said. “Or can I call you Screaming Lord?”

He laughed. We shook hands. “Hello, Mr. Carter.”




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Author of the Month: Jamie Carter

About Jamie Carter

Carter started his career in music journalism at the age of twenty-two, with the Pop column for the Sheffield Evening News. In his career, he has written for the New Musical Express, London listings magazine City Limits, style magazine The Face, Mojo, Uncut and Esquire. He is also the author of Cold Snaps, documenting northern England’s music scene.

About Jason Zodiac

On December 31st 1999, a man walked out of his Southend hotel room and was never seen again. This baffling disappearance was the latest (but not the last) chapter in the turbulent life of Jason Zodiac – musician, actor, anarchist, counter-culture guru and all-round mystery. Even his real name was unknown – to the public he was simply Jason Zodiac, friend of John Lennon, Syd Barrett, Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Joe Strummer, Tony Wilson and Thom Yorke. Zodiac was the man behind the Sonic Warriors Cookbook, the Westminster Canine Protests, and the insertion of secret messages into all of his records. Zodiac was the hated enemy of both Margaret Thatcher and Mary Whitehouse, who claimed he was ‘the single cause of the corruption of modern youth’.

Now, expanding on his retroculture columns from Fugue magazine, rock journalist Jamie Carter includes eyewitness interviews, recently released government papers and police reports, to reveal the shocking truth behind the legend!




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