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The Motor City Burning

March 21, 2018

In 1967, the Motor City was burning. The biggest riot in American history erupted in Detroit.# Calling out... #The riot wasn't the only revolution going on. The '60s saw Detroit create wave after wave of music,that would capture the sound of a nation in upheaval.# ..For dancing... #In the early '60s, an aspirational record label would transcend Detroit's inner city,to take black music to a national audience.Once Motown became a major, major player,the music industry, well, that also put Detroit more on the map.People in the town were just so proud.If they'd go to California or New York, they'd say, "Where you from?""I'm from Motown." They wouldn't say Detroit, they'd say Motown.And in the late '60s, a bunch of surburban kidswould descend into the inner city, to create revolutionary rockthat expressed the rage of young, white America.We wanted to rewrite society.We wanted to build it from the ground up.Just tear everything down and start over.On the one hand we were serious political revolutionaries who wanted to overthrow the government,on the other hand we were on acid!Kick out the jams, motherfucker. They were, like, the ones we all got branded by.Detroit, in the '60s, was a city on fire.In the recording industry, there is a hot town.And when one good thing happens,then, whoosh!They will swoop in from the coasts.In the '60s, Detroit had its moment.# ..So messed up# I want you here... #Detroit, Michigan.A Midwestern blue collar city.Known as the Motor City since the '20s,Detroit is the hard-working home of the American car industry.# Well, my mother loved me... #In the economically-prosperous '50s, four out of five cars in the worldwere made in the USA.Detroit became the city where they built the American Dream.# She had to stay out all night long... #This was the manufacturing centre of America and, thus, the world.And if you wanted it built, we built it in Detroit.# ..in the town, people# I was walking down Hazel Street... #Detroit, as a city, was a great city.Er, it was a booming city.You had a lot of people who migrated.# I 'cided I'd drop in there that night# When I got there... #There were lots of factories there that had attractedmany black families from the south.# They was really havin' a ball... #Fuelled by migrant job seekers,the city's population swelled to a record two million.One of whom would become Detroit's first musical star.ANNOUNCER: From Mississippi, it's that famous boom-boom boy,John Lee Hooker.Chicago was the home from home for southern blues men,but John Lee Hooker bypassed the Windy City, in favour of its less glamourous neighbour.# Boom boom boom boom# I'm gonna shoot you right down# Right offa your feet# Take yer home with me# Put yer in my house# Boom boom boom boom... #Hooker came to Detroit in 1948 looking for a joband found one at the Ford Motor Company.# When you're talkin' to me# That baby talk... #He passed through Detroit like so many working folk,working their way up Highway 61, the famous highway Dylan memorialised,which was basically the artery from the south up to the Midwestand I think Hooker represents this kind of migratory spirit.# Wa-a-a-a-a-a, babe... #The southern disposessed, looking for a new life.# Yes, ma'am... #John Lee did for the blues, what nobody else was doing at the time.He brought it out and with his style of music,it was not traditional blues that he was playing,it was different and it made everybody listen.It just turned the blues scene around, in the city of Detroit.Blues is such a three-chord thing.His only had one!HE LAUGHSIt was like the drone. It was all rhythm.You know, start the thump going.John Lee Hooker's primitive style would become a benchmark for Detroit rock 'n' rollers.But the next factory worker to put his stamp on musicwould transform American pop.Berry Gordy Jr worked briefly for the same car manufacturer as John Lee Hooker.He took inspiration from his time on the line to set up a record labelwith its sights on young America.# The best things in life are free# But you can give them to the birds and bees# I need mo-o-o-ney# I need mo-o-o-ney That's what I want... #The idea for an assembly line, starting with a frameand ending up a brand-new shining car, was just fascinating to me.# That's what I want# That's what I want. #So, when I started my operation, that's what I wanted.A kid to come in off the street one door, an unknown person, and out another door a star.# Whoa-yeahIs there a letter In your bag for me?# Please, please, Mr Po-o-ostmanCos it's been a mighty long time# Whoa-yeahSince I've heard From this boyfriend of mine# There must be some word today... #Working out of his inner city home, Gordy named Motown after Detroit.Like a production line, Motown sought to create pop recordsthat had a uniform sound.# ..A letter for me# I was standing here waiting Mr Postman... #There was something about the first three or four recordsthat came out of Motown.You didn't tie 'em together right away, but after a while -Please, Mr Postman, My Guy.Shop around and you realise, "Oh, there's something about these records."You could tell, "Oh, these records are from the same place."Gordy built Motown by exercising complete artistic control.The acts had no say, as The Supremes,a girl group from Detroit's Brewster project, would find out.When Where Did Our Love Go? was brought to us.....we said, "That doesn't seem like it's gonna be a hit,"and we need a hit."Give a little better feeling on those guitar fingers.Also, the piano could add a little more...We got them to do it. Although they were shattered - they hated it.This didn't sound like a hit. You know, it was just hand clapping."Baby, Baby..." It was so simple.# ...Baby don't leave me# Oh, please don't leave me# All by myself... #Diana's attitude...you know, pissed off attitude about...She was definitely letting you know she didn't like this song!# Ooh, deep inside me... #But it was just what the song needed.# ..hurts so bad# You came into my heart now... #That was the first, Where Did Our Love Go?13 number one songs that we alone, we wrote them.Consecutive, one after the other. Bam, bam, bam...# Nowhere to run to, baby... #In-house song writers, Holland, Dozier, Holland were the engine that drove Motown.They could even turn company secretary Martha Reevesinto a pop star at Ford, where Berry Gordy had worked.He took us to the Ford Motor Company.And no-one knew we were coming. The workers were saying,"Get those women out, we're working!"But the cars were being made and I don't think anyone else will ever have that privilege.# ..I go# Your face I see# Every step I take# You take... #These guys were actually welding the fenders onand putting the screws in the different placesand we were getting on and off of this car and we watched it go from start to finishsinging Nowhere To Run.We got spray-painted! We almost got tripped by cords, wires and things.# ..I know you're no good for me... #It was a Mustang. And it was a wonderful experience.#...Be, no# Each night as I sleep... #I think that for Detroiters,Motown was like the car industry, you know.It became a brand that people loved.And once Motown became a major, major player in the music industry,that also put Detroit more on the map.People in the town were just so proud, you know,about having this place here in town."Yeah, I'm from Motown." You know.They go to California or New York they say, "Where're you from?"They'd say, "I'm from Motown." They wouldn't say Detroit, they'd say Motown.# I got sunshine# On a cloudy day... #By 1965, Motown had become as its motto boasted,the sound of young America.Detroit dominated the mainstream US charts.# I guess you... #But Gordy's manufactured pop was not the sound of young, black Detroit.# ..feel this way# My girlMy girlMy girl... #The campaign for civil rights had started in earnest in Americaand Detroit had seen the largest march in history in 1963,when Martin Luther King led the great march to freedom.# I've got a sweeter song# Than the birds in the trees... #Black people were beginning to demand more,but conditions in Detroit's inner city hardly met their expectations.# ...You say# What# What can# What can make# What can make me# What can make me feel# What can make me feel this# What can make me feel this way?# My girlMy girlMy girl... #Overcrowding, unemployment and an aggressive all-white police forcehad combined to create a ghetto, that left some inhabitants seething.REPORTER: Do you hate white people?Do I hate 'em? Yeah, I hate 'em.Do you hate white people?Tried to kill one of 'em.You did try?I say, I would. You would try and kill one? That's right.Would you fight white people, would you try and kill white people?Mm-hmm. All day long.All of us was caught up in the Motown sound.I mean, all of us was in love with The Temptations and The Supremesand The Marvelettes and Smokey Robinson and all that.We all loved that.They didn't necessarily voice songs that gave the movement strength,but we liked them.We did receive a lot of criticism say, being homogenised.You know, being too white, or too this, or whatever.But our, and I remember my brother, who was in Vietnam at the timewas saying, "Mary, why don't you wear an afro?"You know. "Because that's just not our style."# ..Baby love# Oh, baby love... #Motown's style was to aim for the burgeoning teenage market,the demographic of youth, white or black.Berry Gordy had created the world's first cross-over label.# Baby love# My baby love# Why must we separate, my love... #Berry gets a bad rap, I think, for being too slickand having his artists too slick.But people forget the social times, this was a revolutionary thing to doand this was his way of bringing the audience togetherand appealing to a diverse audience,which really brought blacks and whites together.If you have... If I sit down with a black woman from Detroit of my age,we have the same musical tasteand that doesn't happen in a lot of generations.When I was in high school, black music was your national anthem.It was local music. Motown and Detroit was...The singles came out and you went downtown to the Motown Revueand saw these artists.# ..but I love yer... #Those were local anthems and for us it was important in a sense that,at least for white surburban kids in this pasty surburban life,This was exoticism. It was...sex.# You really got a hold on me... #Come on!# You really got a hold# Ba-by!# I... #Our music was love music.We knew that music soothed the soul.We were giving our people what they wanted from us.# But I need you... #They stuck with us. The music has lastedand it's part of history as being a love movement, as opposed to an uprising,or a protest.# ..got a hold on me# You really got# Oh, yes yer have# A hold on me# You really got a hold... #We're not politicians and we weren't there to try and solvethe world's problems with a song.You know, because, at best, we were trying to bring people togetherwith our music, Motown. It was the end of race music, you know.# Hold me# Hold me ple-e-e-ase... #Hagh!Well, I never thought of it in terms of black or white or audiences,I felt that the emotions of people are the same all over,and quality is quality, you know.Whilst Motown was putting inner city Detroit on the world map,a group of white, working-class surburban kids,known as The Motor City Five, also hoped to take the world by storm.We came out of the surburbs. We all came from families that were working-class people,like, my father started at Ford's in the 1940s.Our vision was to create a music that hadn't been done before.# ..Me want to hide... #And Chuck Berry, probably, was the main influence on the MC5.# I stood up on the stand# With my eyes shut tight# Didn't want to see anybody# Feelin' happy# Havin' a good time, now hey# Doin' all right, doin' all right# Doin' all right, Doin' all ri-ght... #England, of course, was the focal point.The British first wave had revolutionised popular culture.The Americans were struggling to keep up.The big American acts, all of a sudden, seemed hopelessly square.# Run salt into the dancing crowd# They'll like screaming out loud# I saw you standin' there# I saw you alone# Saw you alone, hey-hey... #And then New York, as always, had its, um, power.And Los Angeles, of course, is the other centre, the other poleof the American recording industry.But no-one ever considered Detroit as part of that equation.They were down river boys.They were guys who lived in the disused parts of Detroit.The industrial parts.And, really, when you grew up in Detroit in those areas,you had one of two ways to go. College wasn't the option.It was usually, were you gonna work the line, in a tool and dye shopand how many fingers were you gonna lose by the end of your career?The MC5 were managed by John Sinclair,a middle-class bohemian whose artist commune was based in the heart of the inner city.I wanted to come here to be around the jazz playersand the beatniks and the dope fiends and the people who were not normal!The young white people that came here, came here on purpose.They came here to find urban adventure, you know.EERIE MUSICWhite people had not shared in the largesse of America at this timeyet it was right there, beyond their reach. They wanted that.Whereas, we were the children of people who had gotten the pay-off,and found that, "So what?" You know, it wasn't what we were looking for.We weren't looking for a life of total safety and ease,we wanted some danger.He had great weed.Just fantastic.And he had a great record collection.# ..In school about freedom# And when you try to be free They never let ya... #Basically, we just wanted to hang out, you know, and be cool like him.Sinclair was kind of like an agent provocateur.He was just a guy who knew how to grab headlines.He was a big, bearded presence and physically he was like a guru.# And when we say the pledge of allegiance... #Sinclair took MC5 from blue collar suburbs to the heart of the city,getting them a residency at Detroit's psychedelic Gran De ballroom.# The air's so thick# It's like drowning in molasses# I'm sick and tired of... #The music scene in Detroit was born at the Grand De ballroom.That was like our petri dish.We put the bacteria in and watched it multiply!We would come to the Gran De, take acid and freak out with the MC5.It was very far out.These kids would come from the suburban context, where they had seen The Beatles on televisionand they thought that was great.They would come here and this was a place that was a different world.Maybe they'd get laid!Oh, you would walk in,you would park and it was a very dangerous neighbourhood,so, if you made it through the doors intact, it was an accomplishment.It was like an adult playground, perhaps.# Yes, yes, yes, yes... #People would be dancing and then at the back there'd be a platformdoing a light show.Lots of people of all sorts,all ages, different costumes, different kinds of dress.It was freedom.It had a tremendous amount of atmosphere. It was the perfect venue.It was not on the street level, it was upstairs.And here was this fantastic roomwith these archways and a promenade around and a stage at one endand it was, kind of, big and cavernous and mysterious.It had... It was just full of atmosphere.And we knew that the place had been used in previous decadesas a ballroom for swing dancingand jitterbugging, it was so... It had all that charisma about it.And here we were in the mid-'60s,bringing something completely new to it.It was our palace.And I'm having the warmest memories of spectacular sex acts,performed in various parts of this building.HE LAUGHSVery warm memories!BLUES VOCALWhilst the inner city was a playful adventure for the white kids,conditions for the black population were becoming intolerable.Trouble was on its way.I mean, we had a police crew called the big four,four big white guys who rode round in a big four-door sedan,used to jump outta the car all the time, threatening black people standing on the corner.# ..fire bomb bustin' All around me... #And they'd jump out and say, "Go home."We'd say, "We at home. You go home!"POLICE SIREN WAILSIn our mind, it was inevitable that there would be a riot by black people in Detroitbecause the conditions were so bad.Because when Detroit was gonna blow, it was gonna blow!On 23rd July, 1967, Detroit erupted into riots.It was the hatred of the police department that sparked that.I mean, the fact that they decided to raidan after-hours joint and arrest everybody...I mean, an after-hours joint was part of our life here in this city.# ..Takin' my wife and my family# And little Johnny... #This is the street that the police brought their cruisers atand parked out here to arrest all those people.And that's where the first bricks were thrown, right here,and begin to spread down 12th Street that waythen Lenwood, Dexter, you know, involved the whole city before it was over.# ..The Motor City's burnin'# Ain't a thing that I can do... #The rioting lasted five days, during which 43 people were killed.33 of whom were black.Everybody sort of thought we were gonna have a riotbecause there had been racial issues that had mounted upand killings and aggravations by some police.# They're dancin' in the street... #This place was terrorised and there had to be a change.# .. An invitation Across the nation... #And it wasn't only the city that would be changed for ever.Detroit's music would be profoundly affected by the riots.Motown was dragged into this reality when one of Martha Reeves' old hitsbecame the unofficial anthem of the rioters.# ..And DC now# Dancin' in the street# Can't forget the Motor City# Dancin' in the...The riots happened and Marvin Gaye,who has been known to write revolutionary songs,this is prior to What's Going On,thought if he sang a song about dancing in the street, they would stop fighting in the street.It was to quench the riots, not incite them.# ..Oh# It doesn't matter what you wear# Just as long as you are there... #The civil rights movement had escalated, the riots had arrived.Detroit had changed. It was no longer this idyllic little city.We could no longer sing about the birds and the bees,because that was not really what was on our minds.I... The music had to change and it did.# Oh-oh-oh-oh# Ah-h-h# You think that I don't feel love# But what I feel for you is real love# In other's eyes I see reflected# A hurt, scorned Rejected love child!# Never meant to be# Love child# Born in poverty# Love child# Never meant to be# A love child... #The Motown artist who later became acclaimed for his social consciencewould be Marvin Gaye, whose 1971 masterpiece, What's Going On?was a record that Berry Gordy tried to bury.# Mother, mother# There's too many of you cryin'... #After the riots the factories closed down.They closed down work, so no-one had any work.So now you have poverty.Now people are grasping for jobs, for money, for this, for that.Drugs come into the picture.So much was destroyed.# ..Mother, mother# We don't need to escalate# War's not the answer# For only love can conquer hateAlthough the Motown sound had finally begun to diversify,the label had outgrown the crumbling city of Detroit.Berry Gordy had become interested in making films with Diana Rossand Hollywood beckoned.In the wake of the riots, Motown would ship out west,leaving a gaping hole in the city.Motown went to LA.I was sad as hell cos I wanted the dream of Detroit to stay around,but when they got Lady Sings The Blues...Berry's eyes were set on the bigger picture.And he didn't realise, at the same time, he still had all of us,we could've kept Motown going with the new version.And the white music scene would also be affected by the unrest.The MC5 lived within the riot zone and were caught up in the chaos.# Dealin' in debt!# And stealin' In the name of the Lord... #I was exhilarated. I wanted to overthrow the systemand I thought, "Man, they're taking it to the max!"They're going up against them!"You know. "We're going up..." I mean, I felt I was part of this.NEWSREEL: Law and order have broken downin Detroit, Michigan.Pillage, looting, murder and arsonhave nothing to do with civil rights.# ..All he left us was alone... #We lived right in the middle of the ghetto.Our sympathies were with the rioters, completely.Against the police - we hated the police.Hated the police!The Detroit police were becoming like the Gestapo.Seriously.They were coming, looking for it.# You know the Motor City's burnin', baby# There ain't a thing... #Early one morning the police broke the door inand arrested us all and they found a bow and arrow in the house.They said we were snipers shooting the police with bows and arrows!So, "OK, take 'em all in."I walk out on the street and there's a US Army tank on my streetpointing its big gun at my door!This is on my street, in my city!In the face of relentless police oppression, the MC5 decided to form their own revolutionary group.They called themselves the White Panther party.The White Panther party was kind of a universal way of saying,you know, "Hey, let's take this shit over."I admired the Black Panther party.To me they were heroes.These guys were from the neighbourhood...and we all did.They had a 10-point programme,so we decided we'd have a three-point programme.Point two is, total assault on the culture by any means necessary.Including rock 'n' roll, dope and fucking in the streets.You know, rock 'n' roll, dope and fucking in the streets.You can't approach the White Panther party without a sense of humour.On the one hand we were serious political revolutionaries who wanted to overthrow the government,on the other hand, we were on acid.My take in the MC5 was that we could express this frustrationwith the slow pace of change, with the contradictions,with the injustices that we felt.And we could do it through our band.Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!# Yeah! I, I, I, I,# I'm gonna!# Ah, kick 'em out!# Yeah!# Well I feel pretty good# And I guess that I could# Get crazy now, baby# Cos we all got in tune# And when the dressin' room# Got hazy now, baby# I know how you want it, child# Hot, sweet and tight# The girls can't stand it# When you're doin' it right# Let me up on the stand!# And let me kick out the jam... #I mean, we wanted to rewrite society.We wanted to build it from the ground up.You know, tear everything down and start over. Do it right this time.# Yes I'm starting to sweat# You know my shirt's all wet# What a feelin... #And motherfucker, of course, was not only a paean to the language of black Americans,in which motherfucker is a key word.Saying motherfucker was like dropping a 20lb bomb of shit in the middle of a church service.# And let me kick out the jams... #The MC5's Kick Out The Jams was actually a hit on local radio.And at the time, you could burn herbs ceremonially,on a lone road on the highway somewhere.I remember a particular night when Kick Out The Jams came on the radioand we beat the hell out of the dashboard.And truly this was, you know, the id of the nation.It was the screaming, angry, libidinous howl from...It was Allen Ginsberg's howl to a beat.I was part of an entire generation of people my age,who believed the country was going in the wrong direction.And then, to experience polarising events,to go through the rebellion of 1967 in Detroitand hear the city of Detroit at war for a week,to deal with the contradictions in the Vietnam War.Our government is saying we have to go thereand fight people that have nothing to do with us,that have no impact on our lives, whatsoever.If they're coming through the Windsor Tunnel, we're there!But they weren't coming through the Windsor Tunnel.The anger and frustration of young, white Detroit was part of a nationwide uprising,a second front fought on home soil, in which American youthwent up against the authorities in cities across the land.POLICE SIREN WAILSThe police were just the front lines, but the school principals,the congressmen, the city council, all authorities...The last thing they wanted was to turn on you.They wanted you to turn off and go along with the programme.We were under constant pressure from the Detroit Police Departmentand later the state police and then federal government got involved.The FBI -we entered into their sphere.The Detroit authorities decided it was time to take actionand take out the man they saw as the Pied Piper of the city's youth.I believe they used the marijuana laws to silence him.But if you give two joints to this little hippy chick,who turned out to be an undercover agent, that gets you 20 to life.That's what he was facing.Sinclair was sentenced to 10 years in jail.It was for two joints of marijuana.Hardly a crime.Certainly not something you need to keep someone segregated from the public for.They took John away in handcuffsand we were like lost sheep. We didn't ever expect that to happen.We thought he'd get sentenced, get appeal bond and we'd get him out.That didn't happen. they were so dead-set in locking him upthat, all of a sudden, we lost our leader.He couldn't continue managing the bandand it was right at the time, right at the point, when the MC5 needed to make the stepfrom being a local band to being, you know, on a major label,be on tour and make calculated, smart decisionsand there wasn't anybody there to make the decisions.Whilst their leader languished in jail,The MC5's progression was put on hold.But the influence of their revolutionary, acid-drenched rockhad already reached some unlikely places in Detroit.They used to call themselves the White Niggers.They were really gone!Kick out the jams, motherfucker.They were like the ones we all got branded by,but they were really the bad boys.George Clinton had originally come to Detroit with the Parliaments to audition for Motown.Our notion of black music, until George Clinton, was Motown.Motown was our local music,until, one of our school dances, this guy showed up with his bandand came to lip-sync I Wanna Testify in the upper gym of our high schooland we looked at him cross-eyed,like this was the world's first black hippy, as far as we knew.# ..Down so dog-gone low# Had to look up at my feet... #George is a genius. He takes from everything.And they were just part of this wildness.They were not your run-of-the-mill negroes.They had another destination.And then they saw the MC5 and then they started taking acid.# Sure been delicious to me... #Berry Gordy had turned the Parliaments down, so Clinton opted for a radical change of direction.Yeah, the Temptations on acid. By the time Testify came outBeatles and The Rolling Stones, the English invasion had started.So, we realised we were a little bit late for Motown itselfand so we said, "It's time for us to change."Combining rock and soul to create groundbreaking funk,Parliament Funkadelic occupied a strange middle ground in Detroit's racial mix.George Clinton is like the other side, in some ways, of the MC5 coin,in that he took Detroit and spun it.The Funkadelic wouldn't have been that without the flamboyance of white rock.FUNK MUSICWe were too black for white folks and too white for black folks.But the audience that we did have stuck with us, period.And every year there would be more and more of the colleges.They'd always got a new set of kids every year.Those were the people he mowed over -stoned white kids. Black kids were listening to something elseas the mothership took off around the country.What black musicians were doingwas just incredibly important to my group, The Stooges.It was the only music that sounded better than the damn English music!Which was so very good,but blacks still sounded better.It's still, they... They trumped it.George Clinton wasn't the only act in Detroit to benefit from the MC5.The five had a little brother band.Another bunch of white kids from Detroit's metropolitan fringes.As London has Oxford.....Detroit has Ann Arbor.The area functioned economically as an educational centre,which fed the transport and war industries centred in Detroit.# No funk# My babe# No funk... #Hell of an easy place to get a band going.There was loose money floating around the university.There were church groups that were only too eagerto get the sinful activities under their roof, where they could watch!And The Stooges played a lot of our early gigs at a Unitarian church.# ..Out# For another day... #The Stooges opened for the MC5 at the Gran De ballroom,but instead of revolutionary rock 'n' roll,they were an avant garde outfit with a wild stage act.We loved the MC5,but there was no way we could be like the MC5.We had to do something original, something of our own.That was a big part of Iggy's job.And he did a really good job at it.We were as high energy, dedicated and drivingand tough, but different.Some people really liked it and some people really didn't.Then some people began to approach the stage, wanting to be our fans,wanting to get near us and some other peoplewanted to stand up and say, "Fuck you!"This is wrong!" You know."You can't do..." It was really like, "You're ruining everything!"We're on the verge of a new age here!"We're taking over! We don't need you!"# ..It's 1969, OK?# War across the USA# It's another year for me and you# Another year with nothin' to do# It's another year for me and you# Another year With nothin' to do... #It was just mayhem.It was pretty much just having one riff and just going off on itand letting it go where it goes.# Now last year I was 21# I didn't have a lot of fun... #If there was a large crowd of people in the roomand they weren't sure how to let things happen to them,then I had to give them a little help!# Oh-my and-a boo-hoo... #Or we would have had a non-event, which would have led to a non-career.Yeah.# ..I don't care... #The Stooges would develop a totally new primitive sound,inspired by Detroit.When I was in elementary school, we had a field trip to the Rouge Industrial Complex.There was a machine that would just drop a piece of sheet metal...Whow!I wanted to make music. I thought it should sound like that.And I loved it. It was so impressive. It was power.# So messed up# I want ya here... #That one piano note, driving and driving.And the sleigh bells putting those dins...Putting that big din of sound over simple music.It did have kind of an assembly line, robotic kind of feel to it.# ..And I lay right down In my favourite place... #Detroit people are good people, they're smart, but they're tough.And the music they wanted was tough and hard and dry.# ..I wanna be your dog# And now I wanna be your dog... #It was an answer to all the florid excesses of popand back to an elemental, primitive feeling, "I wanna be your dog."To speak of Detroit, Motown was the apotheosis of the extended chord,but Detroit rock 'n' roll came along and said,"To hell with all this finery. Let's go back to the basics."And I think Iggy was... That was as raw as it ever got.The Stooges' primitivism harked back to Detroit godfather, John Lee Hooker.But instead of inner city blues, their music oozed adolescent, suburban boredom.# Outta my mind on# Saturday night# 1970# Rollin' in sight# Radio burnin'# Up above# Beautiful baby# Feed my love all night# Till I blow# Away... #Yeah, Iggy was right.When you look at what the concerns of youth are,you have something that's really incredibly perceptive.It's almost like poetry, you know, these little phrasesthat capture the state of youth.The somewhat monotony, the sense of closed doors.The sense of rootlessness and boredom.There was no way it would fit into FM radio or anything playing then.There was a different definition of what music isand of what rock 'n' roll is. The Stooges were that,as the Ramones were that five or six years later.The Stooges are totally the starting pointfor what would become punk.VOICEOVER: That's peanut butter.Ahead of their time, The Stooges would not find due recognition until later.Instead, it took an outsider to export the Detroit sound worldwide.Consistently, for 50 years, there's been a phenomenonin which, in the recording industry there is a hot town.And when one good thing happens that lights up a town,then, whoosh! They will swoop in from the coasts.In the '60s, Detroit had its moment.All sorts of people, you know, were gonna get signedand I think that's why Alice Cooper went there and became a Detroit band.Having been on the fringes of LA's rock scene in the late '60s,Alice Cooper met with little success before moving back to Michigan.# ..Like the rain# I'll be back home again... #In Los Angeles or New York, if you're going to a Ramones concert,if you're gonna go to an Alice concert or a Kiss concert back then,you'd come home from work, go home, put on your black turn-up Levis,put on your leather jacket, mess up your hair, smear some make-up onand go to the show.In Detroit they would just come from work, cos that's what they wore.# I'm 18 and I don't know what I want# 18, I just don't know what I want# 18, I gotta get away# I've gotta get... #They gigged with The Stooges, three months later they were neighbours!You know, and all of a sudden it was, "Under my wheels",and "18", and they.....they killed us.He was smearing peanut butter over himself and jump in the audience,he was a show unto himself. Musically, they weren't theatrical.The band just kind of stood there and played, Iggy did all the work.Whereas Alice Cooper, every single song was a theatrical bit.# Livin' in the middle of town# I'm 18!# I get confused every day# 18 and I just don't know... #They took our themes.....articulated them well enough.....threw all the crazy shit out.Did very, very good song craft.And good vocals. Good, strong, nasty rock vocalsand they did the units.# School's out for summer... #Alice Cooper took the Detroit sound and turned it into a lucrative pantomime,leaving the uncompromising Stooges and MC5 in limbo.# ..School's been blown to pieces... #I think everyone went home to their respective mothers, basically.That's what I did first.We were all broke.I was strung out.I decamped homeuntil I was...stabilised enough to go out and seek further employment.And what happens isit's a crushing defeat.It's a blow to your ego.One day you were the golden child,and you're not any more, and it's painful.And what I did was found the painkilling propertiesof Jack Daniels and heroin.It's a sad tale, that all the Detroit bands kind of ended badly.But then...You know, it's not surprising in terms of Detroit.There is a sense that Detroit... will get you.But there would be a happy ending for one person from Detroit's rock scene.John Sinclair was two years into his sentence when fellow revolutionaries John and Yoko Lennongot wind of his plight and came to Michigan.Here's a song I wrote for John Sinclair. One, two, one, two, three, four...# It ain't fair, John Sinclair# In the stir for breathing air# Won't you care for John Sinclair?# In the stir for breathing air# Let him be, set him free# Let him be like you and me# They gave him ten for two# What else can Judge Columba do?# Got to, got to, got to, got to, got to# Got to, got to, got to, got to, got to... #On the following Monday, John was free.There was a person in the Corrections Department of Michiganwho made the decision to let John out three days after John Lennon came.I mean, the coincidence...It was just amazing.# What else can Judge Columba do...? ## Got to, got to, got to, got to# Got to, got to, got to, got to, got to, got to set him free... #I've been out of trouble for 35 years, since I got out of prison,because I don't do that any more.I don't give a fuck what they do!I'm gonna sit here and have my joint, I don't care what they think.I'm just gonna stay out of their way.# ..Free! #As the new decade arrived, Detroit started to resemble a ghost town.Motown finally completed its move to LA in '72,where a few of its more visionary artists pioneered a tougher new funk sound,with a real grip on what the black inner city was becoming.# A boy is born In hard time Mississippi# Surrounded by four walls That ain't so pretty# His parents give him Love and affection# To keep him strong Moving in the right direction# Living just enough# Just enough for the city# Ha!# His father works some days For fourteen hours# And you can bet He barely makes a dollar# His mother goes To scrub the floors for many# And you'd best believe She hardly gets a penny# Living just enough Just enough for the city... #What you had in Detroit was happening already before the riots.You had a city that was going black at its coreand white people that didn't like that and were moving outto surround the city.Detroit continued to decline,through the first Arab oil embargo,and that's when Chrysler, GM and Ford got caught producing carsthat did nine miles to the gallon,and the Japanese said, "We can make a car that gets 40 miles to the gallon!"And so that was the beginning of the end in Detroit.Life both rose and fell with the fortunes of the American auto companies,and at that time, they left Detroit like an empty peanut shell.They drained the life blood out of it, and the money disappearedand the manufacturers disappeared to where the taxes were more favourable.But whilst the city's industry has been decimated,its music has survived. Today,even some of those who may have overindulged in the '60s are still going strong.The Stooges are playing now... They're more vitaland more fabulous than ever. Their audiences are bigger than ever.People who weren't born then love them more than ever.Finally it's gotten through. And if we look around now,the Beatles are not the major influence.It's more likely that the Stooges and the Ramones are.As simple as the Stooges' music is, in a sense, probably nowit's far more popular than it was in 1969 or '70.it's far more popular than it was in 1969 or '70.You know, even today,with the kind of nouveau garage-ic sounds that come out of there -the Demolition Doll Rods, the White Stripes...# I'm gonna fight 'em all... #These are bands that really bring it down to an elemental level.# They're gonna rip it off... #You've got a good riff, you've got a phrase to stick over it,you whack the snare and there you are.# ..I can't forget# Back and forth through my mind# Behind a cigarette# And the message coming from my eyes# Says leave it alone... #And along with the White Stripes,Eminem resides at the top of Detroit's musical pile.The world's biggest hip-hop star, Slim Shady, is another suburban white kidupholding Detroit's musical traditionfor blending black and white.# You'd better lose yourself In the music, the moment# You own it You better never let it go# You only get one shot Do not miss your chance to blow# This opportunity comes Once in a lifetime... #His songs bring to life the social problems of modern Detroit. Within its eight-mile road boundarythe population has now halved to under a million, over 80% of whom are blackand a third of whom live below the breadline.# This world is mine for the taking# Make me king# As we move toward A new world order# A normal life is boring# But superstardom's close to post mortem# It only grows harder Only grows hotter... #You think of Detroit in the modern periodas a huge, vast African-American ghetto.Take New Orleans after the flood -Detroit has been through all this and they didn't even have a natural disaster!It just got washed over by America, you know?We stand here today...Me and Chuck was just talking earlier.Chrysler just signed a new contract two weeks ago, and today on the newsthey announced they're laying off 12,000 people permanently.Half of those 12,000 people are directly here in the city of Detroit,which is gonna make things that much more devastating than it is now.Everything has just been dismantled.You ride down the streets here, it looks like Lebanon or something.# No more games I'm a change what you call rage# Tear this...roof off like two dogs caged# I was playing in the beginning The mood all changed# I been chewed up and spit out And booed off stage# But I kept rhyming And stepwritin' the next cypher# Best believe Somebody's paying the pied piper# All the pain inside Amplified by the fact# That I can't get by with my 9 to 5# And I can't provide the right type of life for my family... #

Front 242 // Belpop

March 21, 2018

There is a lot of noise in music, but there is alsoenough music in noise to make it acceptable.Attending a show of Front 242 was really something.Summer 2008Front 242 is performing in Audenaarde.The band members gather at thekeyboard player's house, Patrick Codenys.Brussels, early 80sWhile rock and guitars dominate radio channelsand clubs around Flandersin Brussels some young bandsbegin to experiment with electronica.They use synthesizers and beatboxesinstead of guitars and drums.One of these bands is Front 242.Front was formed in 1981 in Aarschotby Dirk Bergen and Daniel Bressanutti.The band would soon be part of theBrussels electro scene.I was also involved with the scene in Brusselsand at some point I thought:"I'm going to begin to work with synthesizers"because I couldn't see myself as a guitar player,but with the high prices of equipmentand being a small "Mr Nobody"I eventually found my way by working ata music instruments shop.It was "Hills Music", a shop that still exists today.This music shop in Brusselswas an important meeting placefor the two new members of Front 242Patrick Codenys and Jean-Luc De Meyer.At that time, he worked in a music instruments shopright around the corner, at "Hills Music"we were already regular customers of his shop.And at some point, he asked us:"You buy electronic instruments?""What kind of stuff do you make?"And we described him our way of producingand he said: "I do more or less the same thing"and that's how we started to work together.Daniel was a graphic and interior designerJean-Luc has studied historyeveryone had differents interestswell...different personalities actuallyBut everyone had an interest for the same music.I have always loved Joy Divisionfor their dramatic content...even on record, you can feel thatsomething really strong is going on.I have been strongly touched by this band...I think it is a great group...with great personalities...and then I said to myself: "That's the way to go!"At that time, since I enjoyed electronic devicesI was involved with "Musique concrète"and other projects.All the avant-garde "noise"as many people would call it at that time..Stockhausen, all these thingsI've always been passionate about them.The experimental music of Stockhausenthe dark new-wave of Joy Divisionand the electro-pop of Fad Gadgetwere all a sources of inspiration for Front.In 1981 the band released their first single"Principles"The track on the B-side, "Body to body", was a hit.The following year, the single "U.Men" was releasedThanks to these releasesFront 242 got a large and faithful fan base."U. MEN" was produced by Daniel, in his studio.In general, in our way of doing thingsvery often it is Daniel who begins with a base.So one base, that is merely a bass linewith some electronic drums.Then Jean-Luc tries to put some voices on top of thatI then try to bring some parasite layers.Next, all of us get together in the studioand we try to build the structure of the track-In 2008, Front 242 welcomed two new membersand so there were now a band of six peopleThe drummer, Tim Kroker, comes from Germanyand Sylvain Guigon, in charge of the video effectsis from France.Before each show, the electronic machinesare picked up in a secured warehouse.We got the feeling that, in terms of live actwe had reached a dead endand we wanted to try to go further in somethingand we liked to go to see Richard with his noise conceptthat fitted well within the "DNA" of Front.He hadn't astonishing music, but he hadloads of energy.And we thought: "That's something that is reallymissing, we should have this kind of energy".So we asked him if he would be interested in performingon stage, with Jean-Luc.And there was, directly, an instant energysome kind of electricity, going on between these two.In 1983, Richard Jonckeer becamethe fifth member of the bandand was identified under the codename "Richard 23".For me it was really perfectbecause I had bought the band's first singleand I felt very close to this kind of music.We used to read books written byWilliam Burroughs, the American writer.He was quite focused on numerologyand he paid a lot of attention to the number 23because 23 is the association of the 2 and the 3and added together it's 5and there was "23" everywhere...and so we started to call each other...well, you had Patrice 23, Gérard 23, Richard 23...It was a bit of a joke, but also a way to differentiateourselves from the others, when we said "23"So when I had to register an artist namefor copyrights purposesI naturally chose "Richard 23".Everyone calls me this way.Soon after that, Dirk Bergen left the band.Front 242 was now composed of 4 members.The band's name remained unchanged.I wanted to make something more serious with Frontsomething that had some impact.And the word "Front" in the 80shad still a strong impact(nowadays, much less)Because "Front" could be translated in many langagesand the "Two-Four-Two"well that's something universal, numbers...The name, Front 242, had in the beginningno real meaning.It was a strong name. Of course it means something:it means to stand at the fronttrying to stand before the others, to break some limitslike an army that goes to battle.Regarding 242, the numbers just sound good.Moreover, it translates in all languages.it keeps a strong impact and has the same meaning.Their music too needed to have an impactto overcome the commercial beats of the momentlike for example the beats ofMarc Moulin's electro band Telex.Yes, bands like Telex, they were goodat doing their thing, very good in factbut for me, I didn't see there...well, it's not that I mean to be overly criticalbut as far as I'm concerned, I couldn't see there anysource of inspiration for us, nor any future for us.At that time, no one was able to work with a synthesizerexcept maybe Klaus Schulze and Kraftwerkeveryone wanted to give it a try.Techniques and technologies, you learnby using them, step by step, little by little.And for me, it is the combination of all those elementsthat allowed Front to become "Front 242".At that time, you had the first synthesizers.It was quite primitive.You had to follow the machine. Today you justhave to push a button and you create a track.Then, you really had to havethe skills in order to make it work.Computers had almost no memoryyou had a very limited set of instruments.They started to experiment with themand the results became fantasticand then it was also amplified on stage.When I play the keyboardI just cannot play "beautiful" notes.I always tend to play dark notesI don't know whyI hate myself sometimes, but that's the way it isI start to play something, and it ends up beingsomething sad, or underground, or darkit's my nature.There is a lot of noise in music, but there is alsoenough music in noise to make it acceptable.There never was any message in Front 242 really.What we've always tried to do was taking some snapshots.Since I contribute very little to the final productionwhat the others do, at least in the first two albumsthey used some tracks and then they"chopped" some sentences.Sometimes we thought: "ok, this word doesn't soundthat good", so we'd simply put it away, discard it.So when I'd hear the final result, I said:"this doesn't mean anything anymore."And they would say: "No, it doesn't mean anythingbut it sounds much better."I would then listen to it again, and had to admit:that's true, it sounds better, so ok, let's keep it this way.Everybody worked for the end result.that was the most important thing for us: the aestheticthe aesthetic of Front 242 tracks.We had some ideas, we wanted to createsomething different with electronic music.With electronic music we could get to somethingthat was impossible to reach with other types of music.To break the anglo-american rock'n roll clichésWith rock, there are some "rules"a song is always 2 minutes 30You have an intro, a break, a crashjust before the refrain.With electronic music, the machinesbeing so rigid, you cannot do thatso you must find another concept, another wayof performing live with the machinesbut also with the image you deliver on stage.First, our concept was to tell very very little about uswe wanted to keep the mysterybecause if you tell the people everythingthey don't want to know anymore.So we said as little as possible about ourselvesat least during the first 3 or 5 years.It was not about the individuals in the bandbut rather what the band did, the concept of the band.That's why we wore dark glasses. So peoplewouldn't know who was who in the band.Also one important thing:they were not musicians, they had no musical training.We never rehearsed.We actually worked on the tracks byexchanging tapes between usand to get ready for the concerts, we did the sameFirst there was one tape with the base of the trackevery one got a copy of this tapeand everyone knew exactly what he had to do.We worked at home.I think that we gave around 800 concertsbut I think that we rehearsed maybe ten times.A lot of hard work took place Daniel's studiothe B Plain in Aarschot.In 1982, one year after the release ofthe first single "Principles"Front released the debut LP: "Geography".2,5 meters by 2,5 meters, that was our first studiowhere "Geography" was produced.There were sometimes 3 or 4 people inside.It was really... well you couldcall it closet I guess.But it actually worked.We use an instrument, a computerthat serves as a "master" for all the others instrumentswhich are "slaves"..."Geography" was a self made recordtotally self-produced.We went to the best press companywe made our own sleavesand we went to the stores with our recordsand leave to the owner maybe20 records, or sometimes maybe 50but the album had the track "Human"which had became a genuine hit, with thealternative radio channels in Brussels.And so the sales were going rather well.What we need now is a good record labelto push the sales abroada serious record label that works with a serious bandthat's what we are doing right now.So the future of Front, depends on me.We had the opportunity to make a clip for RoodVonkfor the Flemish television (VRT).but we had not a lot of moneyand also, the music was very simplebecause we only had a four-track recorderso it had to be simpleand so the video clip was also very simple.At that time I did the recording to make this clip forVRT (Vlaamse Radio Televisie - Flemish Radio and TV)and it was not that easy, with their image,with the fact that they couldn't be identifiedWell, to translate this universe in picturewas not easy, it was quite an artistic challenge.The video clip was directed byMarcel Vanthilt and his his team.We were big fans of Arbeid Adeltand Marcel Vanthilt was fan of Front 242.He came over with his teamat that time, we were young beginnerswe had no clue about whatwe should do, and how to do it.Eventually, we recorded this clip inDaniel's sleeping room.At that time we had sold about 800 records.Meanwhile, more than 300 000 copies were sold.However, it hasn't been easy at all.Front 242's infamous performancesalways attracted many fansbut the belgian music press was less enthusiastic.I remember very well the wall of soundin the dark, with loads of flashing lightsit was quite an experience.I did not very often get scared during a concertspecially in my own countrybut with Front, it was scaryThe music was loudI had a strange feeling, as ifsomething was going to happenor that they would be arrested by the policeor that maybe someone would just throw themout of the concert venue, with all their gear.Sometimes we'd get into a fight with Richard, on stageI don't know why...we decided to do it.One day I knocked him down, it was not intentionalI had not realized that he was standing behind meI knocked him in the face with my elbowhe lied on the floor for 2 minutes.Then I went on to kick him with my feetsaying: "get up now, it's over, get up!"These were things that could happen.Yeah, sometimes Jean-Luc andRichard would get into a fight on stagebut that's also part of the show in a wayIt's true, sometimes I wanted to pick up a fightand it could detonate anytime.and if the blast occured during the showit was better, because then it served a purpose.Rather than before or after the show.You'd better not ask Richard what hewanted to drink between two tracksbecause you might as well get punched.Front 242's first audiencecame to our shows because we were extremeThey came for the concerts, and for the rest.We even used smoke grenades from the armywhich produced such a thick smokethat we could hardly breatheand on top of that, whatever was neededto have a stronger impact.The intention was always: "We're gonna kill them".We went to concerts in that state of mindand that was a shock, a commando raidhalf an hour, then we'd leave.No "one more", no "encore", nothing!Sure, when you are 14 years old, or 13, such a showyou know, it's quite impressive.Richard 23, with his megaphone and his commando outfit.You had all of the army clothesfrom American army shopsthey were rather cheap and our fans could buy themto go to the concerts, as a sort of uniformand that also became a symbol of the band.It really wasn't my thing.You must also consider the fact that in these days youhad the C.C.C. bomb attacks happening.Acting on stage wearing combat clothes...I didn't fancy that, really not.There was the cold war going on betweenthe Soviet union and the United States.There was a lot of tension in the aira sense of emergency between the two blocks.A lot of movies were inspired from that conflict"Apocalypse Now" for example.It was of course a conjunction of all those concepts.The press called us neonazisbecause our music had strong rythmsand on stage we dressed with army outfits.That's totally untrue.Our political ideas are rather the complete opposite.A rather disturbing idea was the possibilityof physical aggressionfor political ideas that were not ours.We just just couldn't accept that.In the beginning we didn't pay muchattention to that distorted image.We thought: "Well, it's just one journalistwho got it all wrong, who cares?"It was a mistake to consider Front 242an extremist band.Following that newspaper article, I'd go to a nearbyshop, where I'd been a regular customer for ten yearsthe owner always welcomed me with a smilethe shop owner had read this flemish newspaperand told me:"I am deeply disappointed and sad, knowingthat you belong to the far-right movement."In the music world, playing withtaboos was forbiddenwhereas in the film industry any topiccan be considered acceptable.The left-wing, the right-wing, Adolfanything you can think of...Try to do that in the music industryand you are doomed.It's like shooting a bullet at your own footas the saying goes.From what I remember, there was an aggressiveatmosphere between the pressspecially Humo, and Front 242.It had something to do with theso-called ideology of Front 242.Always the same criticism:guerilla music, terrorists beats...I remember that in Humo magazineeverything that had guitars in it was considered cool,On the contrary, anything that hadsynthesizers was demonic.I can now realize how strong it wasto decide to go against the mainstream.At that time, in Studio Brussels, we did not thinkthat Front 242 was a very good band.We had the same issue with Queen for example.I am not saying that it wasn't music of coursebut it didn't quite fit our mentality as a radio station.We never included them in the playlists.It's a shame actually, and I should apologise for that.The radio played things likePrince, Bruce Springsteenand then Front 242, who didn't fit into a day-time radioprogram, like in the early days of Radio Brussels.I remember that Luc Janssens once did aFront 242 megamix, one full hour withFront 242 tracks only.This had never happened before.Front 242 was never played on radios, exceptmaybe on Radio Panic, on their night programand the Belgian music scene, the "real" musicianstook a laugh out of Front.They didn't consider it to be real musicfor them it was just a joke.At last, from Belgium, is something to challenge that.Ladies and gentlemen, Front 242.In 1984, the second album "No Comment" wasreleased, followed by a european tour.Front came out with a new name for their music:Electronic Body MusicWithout any doubt, 1984 was another high pointwith that letter, or message, from Waxtrax.Waxtrax was an American label whichkept an eye on other european bands.These people were also into avant-gardeFor us, it was "a dream come true".Imagine, you are involved in music, in Belgiumyou got strong criticisms coming from all sidesand then people from an american label come and say:"We want to release your record in the United States".And a few months later, they want you tocome over to give some concerts.So we were heading to the United Stateswe packed our things up, and of course thiswas not a conventional backline.There were keyboards, a tape-recordersome camouflage nets.We arrive at the Brussels airport, Zaventemand proceed to the check-in.A few moments later there was a bill...we had to pay for the extra-weight.Now I can't remember how manythousands of Belgian francs it was.Sixty-thousand belgian francswas really a lot of money for us.One hour before the departurewe decided to cancel the American tour.But then people from Waxtrax helpedand also the management of a club in Montrealnamed "La Foufoune Électrique", a punk venueThese two, the Waxtrax label and the club in Montrealjoined their forces to keep the American tourthey put some money on the tablebecause we simply hadonly enough to pay for the plane tickets.Thanks to them, the American tour wasrescheduled and we could pay the over-weight costs.And so we eventually headed for the States.We are one of the first electronic bandsthat played in the United States.An electronic band, doing a live showwas something really new for the people there.In America everything was formattedstrongly pre-definedsuddenly comes a band with a tape recorder3 guys on stageno bass, no guitars, no drumkit..."what is this?"Front were quite famous in the States.For example, in the 90s, while K's Choiceanother belgian bandplayed in Los Angeles for 20 people,The same day Front playeda sold out gig for 7000 people.They arrived in a limoI was there just staring at all of this.I was backstage with Marylin Mansonand he said: "Belgium, great manI've listened to belgian music all my life".He listened to bands like La MuerteSplit Second, Front 242. And other bands too.The type the average belgian was not even aware of.In 1984 we gave about ten concerts, and six of themwere the opening act for Ministry.When he heard our music, Al Jourgensen, the frontmanof Ministry, decided to completely modify his music.He said: "Your music is definateley more excitingI'm going to use electronic machines too".But he had a strong guitar culture, so he keptthem and then used both guitars and machineswhereas we sticked to machines only, no guitars.In the beginning, the public was mainly composed ofgay men, and also people from the black communitybecause our show was considered a dance actThe memorable concert in Chicagoour first show in the United StatesI still remember that evening, as if it was yesterday.It was so intense.Can you imagine this story: you are 21 years oldYou are now part of a band. A band whose firstsingle was so fantastic that you had purchased itThen Jean-Luc tells me: "I want you tojoin us for some backing vocals"and a few months later, our recordis released in the Statesand the record label invites us to givesome concerts over thereand this sequence of events unfoldswithin one year and a half.Then you go: "Wow!"I sincerely believe that since then, wenever lost that energy during our showsThe New York seminar was somesort of festival with all new currentsand Front 242 was on the billJohnny Rotten was in the audienceand he saw our concert.After the show, he came on stage,He picked up a brush,you know, one of these cheap fluo brushes,He told me: "I don't have any flowersbut here, this brush, is for youbecause I think your show was amazing"."No Shuffle", I still remember exactly how it came outI was at the shop ("Hills Music")doing a demo, for a synthesizer.I typed this sequence, to demonstratethe capabilities of the machine.It stayed in my mind directly.You know, I'm not a musician.We were working on a concept with Luc Van Ackerbecause Luc always used to playmassive guitar sounds with us,So I showed him: Look what I've donewhile working at the shop this afternoonhe said: "oh, that sounds good!"I went to their studio in AarschotI brought all my stuff, my guitars, all my effect pedalsThey took four samples of what I played.Luc van Acker, always open to new experimentsacted a few times wtih Front 242 on stage.We wanted not only a guitar, but also aperformer, always.In the beginning it was Luc Van Acker,On stage, Luc becomes a beast, he's a strong actIt was fantastic.We were at the "Ancienne Belgique"backstage, just before the show,We were bracing ourselves, getting mentally prepared"We're gonna kill them all".Their intention was always to smashthe public in the face.I just took it literallySo when the show began, I jumped in the crowdDaniel was staring at me, as if saying:"Luc, what are you doing?"And behind me the three young guys of Front 242kept dancing, like some sort of majorettes.So of course this motto "We're gonna kill everyone"was not meant to be taken literally.He took the concept, the typical energy of Front,and he translated it in its own way, and he eventuallyfound himself in the crowd, with his guitar.Luc Van Acker, yeah, he's my friendTen days ago I played with him in LeipzigWe both were there to perform.He played with his band The Revolting CocksIn the underground music scene from the 80s,he was the only person I really admiredbecause he's got balls.Now he's 50 years oldbut when he is on stage, he is still a real animal.In the mid-80s, the underground got coloured in blackHeavy Metal and New Wave being themost popular genres.Festivals like Torhout-Werchterattracted large audiences.In 1985, Front 242 played at the firstedition of the festival Pukkelpop.In the mid-80s, Pukkelpop was only starting.You also had the Seaside Festival, at the belgian coast.There you could see the public, all dressed in black.If someone had a white T-Shirt he really wouldn't fit in.It was black, black, black...It was our public, of Front 242 and also Neon Judgementwe shared the same audiences actually.This was the spirit of those timesthe 80s were depressing for the youthI still remember very precisely that.At the Pukkelpop festival concerta stupid incident happenedThere were some gates, with young people behind themSome of these young people started to tease thesecurity guys, nothing serious, just some mockeries.One security guy became irritated andclimbed on top of the gatehe then tried to hit the kids with some kind oftool that he carried on his belt.It soon turned into a confrontationbetween the public and the security guards.Richard, of course, didn't really appreciate thatnot at all.He started to shout at the security guyswaving his drum stick at them.We interrupted the show, and I asked the man:"What are you doing? Stop the beating!"But they just carried on, so naturally I shoutedto the kids: "Don't let hem beat you, resist!"What happened then is that the people ripped the gateoff and proceeded towards the stage.Nothing more serious happened, no one invadedthe backstage for example, the story stopped there.Some journalists from Humo witnessed the sceneand they thought our behaviour was unacceptable.They said that our goal was to stir up a riotand that we were a bunch of stupid people.From that moment on, our public image deteriorated.They started to call us fascistsArguing that we wore SS-symbolswhich is totally untrue: it read "242", not "SS"After the success in the United Statesthe british label "ZTT Records" made a proposalto release the next Front 242 record.Successful bands belonged to that labelamong others, Frankie Goes To Hollywood.Front declined the offer, and signed insteadwith the belgian label Play It Again Sam.In 1987, the band embarked on aeuropean tour with Depeche Mode.People said that Front played in Europeas part of the Depeche Mode tour.But what really happened is that Depeche Modeasked Front 242 to join them for their european tour.That was also a form of respect fromDepeche Mode towards Front 242.We did a european tour with Depeche Modeand next we were also supposed to doan american tour.But we declined the american tour proposalbecause we wanted to release ouralbum "Front by Front".In 1988, the album "Font by Front"received international praisea success largelydue to the catchy single "Headhunter".The story behind Headhunter is an accident:the wrong floppy-disk got loaded in the machinewith a sequenceand suddenly everything came togetherwith a distinct sonorityand we immediately thought:"Wow, that's something cool!"So this accident in the studio became our starting point.The inspiration for "Headhunter" comesfrom what was my job at that time.I worked for an insurance companyand I was in charge of recruitmentyou really had these phases:1. You lock the target2. You bait the line3. You slowly spread the net4. You catch the manThat is exactly what I used to do in orderto recruit new employees.Daniel knew Anton Corbijnthrough his photographic work.First with Joy Division, later with Depeche Modewe all thought that he had a nice sensibilityand an interesting way of putting images together.When I heard the music of Front 242you know, it was not the music I was used toand I was a bit anxious about the idea of a collaborationbecause it was not the kind musicI used to put images to.I was wondering if their music and my pictureswould eventually merge together.I went to Brussels to meet them.I don't think he knew our band very well.But I told him about our musicexplained we were about to release a new albumbut we didn't know anyone from the world of videoclipsand we wanted to collaborate with someone.And he was on the top of our listbecause he was one of the best at that time.There is that famous anecdoteDuring the filming, one of the guys came to meand said: You know it's called"Headhunter" and not "Egghunter".The story is:Talking with them on the phone I had misundertoodthe song title: "Egg Hunter" instead of "Head Hunter".like the choreography of "Bring on the Dancing Horses"by Echo and the Bunnymen.It was simple a choice.We'll never know the truth actuallyDid Anton really misunderstand the song titleor has he decided to make a joke about this title?We will never know.He will never clarify this, and should he one daysay something, it may not be the truth.Twenty years after the clip was madeI found a mashup.It's a way of combining two existing tracks.In this mash-up Gwen Stefani and Front 242were mixed together."Headhunter" is for me one of the bestclips of Anton Corbijnand I would even say one of the bestvideoclip of all times.In 1888, the band makes the cover of the british musicpaper, Melody Maker, dressed in Front battle dresses.Bridget Fonda watches the clip of Front 242"Rythm of Time" in the film "Single White Female".And when Citroen Paris launched its new XM carthey used the music of Front 242Water.Before the show, always water.After the show, who knows...In 1991, Front released an overlyagressive album "Tyranny For You".This time, the videoclip director, Anton Corbijntook the band with him and headed to Spain."Tyranny For You" is an albumthat goes one step further than "Front by Front"in terms of sonic agressiveness.Soon after that the first Gulf Waragainst Saddam Hussein broke out.Some tracks from this album and alsosome of the previous oneswere played over and over on thebattleships deployed to the Persian Gulf.There was a selection of rather nervous tracksthat got played there, in order to keepthe troops morale on an agressive mode.During our following tour, in 1993many military came to our showsjoining our already existing public.There they explained us that during the warthere was a selection of 40 tracks,played continously, over and over.Music from The Clash, The Ramones, Ministryand also two tracks from Front 242.We got invited to play at Lollapaloozawe were the only european bandand the only electronic act.It's a kind of Woodstock festival, on tourit promoted around 40 concerts across theUnited States.Every single show attracted between50 000 and 100 000 people every day.For us it was just a catastrophe actuallyDuring that tour we got so bored thatwe almost commited suicide.A sort of musical suicide, so to speakAnd yes, we did it sometimes to showto our label that we didn't care at all.Is was indeed important to be therebut at the same time it was really a whole industry:money, press, promos.Always on the road.For me, it was a true rock'n roll circus.That was too much.That was everything I had always hated.This is about the integrity of Front members,their obstination, their stubbornessLooking back now, I think we can say thatthey could could have become super stars in Americaand then they produced these two records,"Up Evil" and "Off"these were the wrong records if you wantedto make a breaktrough in the United Statesand from the United States to the rest of the world.No one understood these two records.In a way, these were also suicide records.Suicide against the american labels, against PiasAt that moment, we said to ourselves: "There'ssomething wrong, it doesn't work anymore".And we decided to stop our collaboration.We all began to work on own personal projects.It actually lasted 4 years .But in 1997, we came back for a series of shows.The initial idea was to do 10 concerts.But we received so many requests thatthe series of shows went on and onand it never stopped.And so at some point, we asked ourselves"Should we make a new record or not?"This new album was called "Pulse"and was released in 2003.Front members were involved in 9 different projects.Amongst others are a collaboration with Ozark Henryand a series of remixes for Underworld, The Prodigyand The Orb.The band continues to perform all over the worldfrom Russia to the United States.They are now joined on stage by a berliner drummer.Our work together usually goes like this:A new idea comes out, from Daniel and Patrick.They give me a tape, or any suggestionsthey say for example:"We would like these kind of drums, here and there".Do you think it can work?Then we work together on the drum layer.So the ideas are there, I get a playback tapeand then I try to add some drums on top of that.My role in the band is to create visualswith my friend Etienne Auger.We do this with a computer.With the music, the lyrics, the slogans.We then play these on stage.I've always hated to be on stageWe have done it before, in the beginning of Front.I was bored to death.For me that was terrible.You don't know what you're doing.So I decided to go where Front has always been at itsbest: in the audience.Therefore I can act according to the public's reactionswatching what's going on.For example, I can simply boost the bass drumso that the people start to move.Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don't, it depends.I also play and improvise during the whole concertsince I always have a keyboard.I can make some noises, I can go over the topsometimes even louder that the band itself.I want to be in control, I need to know how it soundsfor the people in the audience.Front 242 always had strong principles.And sometimes it was almost asabotage of their own success.During their career, they said "No" to a lot of things.It was always very important for themto remain independent.If you see what festivals have become nowadaysthey are like some sort of supermarket full of bands.To name just a few: Werchter, Pukkelpop...It's not about a music event anymore.For us, it was against our ethics.For example, we discovered that these people werefinancial contributors to the George W. Bush campaign.So music and politics, ok, why not, whatever...But music and Bush campaign politicsno, they don't fit together.So for ethical reasonswe have always refused to play at Werchter festival.And for Pukkelpop, which is part of Live Nation toowe also refused.For me, it's still very importantto be able to look at myself in the mirror.Also, I don't need to become immensely richIf I can earn enough money to have a comfortable lifethat's ok with me.For the Rock Festival Werchterone day Clear Channel comes to us and they say:"Come to play for us, we'll pay you four timesas much as you've ever received".And after that, here is the deal:"You work exclusively for us".Patrick just answered them:"Thank you, we're not interested."Well, you have to consider thatwe are not independent anymorewe are now part of Live Nation, that's true.We are a multinational company.And that's still the case today.They had an offer to play at I Love Technothey had a proposal to go back to Pukkelpopthey always said no.Honestly, I think thatwe've never been so good in terms of live performance.We are good in our musicthe quality of the sound is quite highour visuals are now better than ever.We keep trying to improve our music and our shows.I think that we should release some new stuffas a challenge.As far as I'm concerned, I don't havethe ambition to release a new record anymore.We still have the same concept, the same desire.The music is still strongand the live acts always have to be powerful.Maybe that's why we give less performances now.It's better to have a smaller number of showsand keep them as strong as ever.Instead of doing a lot of concerts, and lose the intensity.When I spin records somewhereI always play Front 242 classics"Funkadafi" for example.It still sounds modern, still sounds really good.People are still reacting and dancing to it.It's true that in Belgium Front 242earned little recognition for what they've done.They simply pushed the borders, they were in searchof something and so they went beyond the limits.They've been a great influence to many artistsmaybe without realizing it themselves.Billboard, the american music magazineconsidered them one of the mostimportant music makers ever.Rolling Stone magazine reckons that they werepioneers of the dance craze in the United States.They prepared the path for the advent ofelectronic dance music.They influenced everybody actually.They were a sort of gatewaybetween electronica and rock.Above all, their live performances were extraordinary.To attend a Front 242 show, that was something.I love rock'n roll, but I'm not a rock'n roll person.I am belgian, I live under that crap weather.I belong to both flemish and french culture.For me, the fact that with this music, electronicaI've been able to start something from scratchand to get very personal,it's just the most important thingthat i've done in my life.All the work that we've done, during these 25 yearswe did it first for our personal satisfaction of coursebut we basically wanted to break the rules.And we accomplished our goal.

Hélio Gracie Documentary

March 21, 2018

I fought to prove that my art was good.To prove that the jiu-jitsu I practiced was superior to other fighting systems.In the 30's Brazilian sports had only one hero: the fighter called Hélio Gracie.A sick and frail boy who had never taken a class. Suddenly starts to teach... suddenly projects himself and becomes the best fighter in the world. He developed a jiu-jitsu that could be practiced by people like him,weak, skinny, and debilitated.The other fighters didn't even know how they lost.He had a very heavy hand my friend. He was a modern day samurai warrior.To prove the superiority of his technique,Helio transformed his sons and nephews into an army of fighters.No other family has developed so manychampions, practicing the same art over so many years.If I'm a Gracie, I am ready to represent my family name.If I'm a Gracie, I don't believe that another martial art can defeat me.Helio Gracie was a determined and controversial man.We the Gracies, if we are not hated, we are definitely disliked by millions and millions ofpeople. Invincibility itself is enough to make a person unlikeable.He came here with a mission and accomplished the mission in a very honorable wayand for this he was protected as well.Blood, sweat, and tears.That was my father's life. There is no other story.Hélio Gracie was the first hero of Brazilian sports.In Brazil there has never been and there will never bea more famous person than I was during my time.Along with his brother Carlos,he challenged all the fighters and customs of his time.Both Carlos and Hélio were never modest individuals in recognizing their own value.In fact, they were greatly aware of their own value.And this confidence had a reason: jiu-jitsu.He was so sure that his art was better than the others that he would say..."Bring it on, 300 kilos? Bring it on! I will get him."Placing ads in the papers since the 30's.He was ready to die for jiu-jitsu. He had so much conviction in his art that everything had to be proven on the spot.He was a phenom. A phenom who utilized a system that no one knew at the time.The story of the Brazilian samurai began in the north of Brazil.Hélio Gracie was born on October 1, 1913 in Belém do Pará. The origin of the Gracie name is Scottish.Hélio's father, Gastão, was an entrepreneur.Among the businesses he developed, he created a circus, the American Circus.It was in the circus that the Gracie family metthe mysterious Japanese fighter Count Koma.At that time no one knew jiu-jitsu in Brazil.Count Koma was the person who brought this Japanese art to Brazil.Since my father was the oldest of the brothers and very mischievous andundisciplined, my grandfather decided to take him to learn jiu-jitsuwhen he was 14... 15 years old.In 1922, the Gracie family would move to Rio de Janeiro.It was the beginning of a family crisis.It seems that my grandma had noticed that grandpa was fooling around once in a while. Apparently he had a girlfriend and caught him misbehaving with a loveror something, and decided to leave my grandfather.Uncle Hélio was the one who suffered the most with the disorganization of the family nucleus.The break up sunk the family into a financial crisis.Hélio was temporally forced to live rent-free at Botafogo's rowing clubwhere he quickly expressed a part of his personality.He tells a story of a guy at the time nicknamed Fifi.The guy would go workout, and for whatever reason he did not like him.He would hide about five meters away from the guy and watch himdo his weight workout and would keep saying Fifi ...Fifi...Fifi.The guy then changed his workout time.He used to come at 8 AM. Then I asked: " Where is Fifi?"He comes earlier now. At what time? 6 AM.Next day the guy was there all relaxed I showed up and said,Hey Fifi!! The guy left the club.During his childhood Hélio faced an illness that no doctor could explain.He couldn't do any thing... very skinny. He said that he was subject to fainting spells.No one knew why he had that type of weakness.Due to this... I think... emotional instability.Because at the time he was examinedand no physical problem was found.The life of this skinny boy would only begin to change in 1925,when his brother Carlos established the first Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy.Uncle Hélio and Uncle George went to live with him.From that point on, he practically became the father of the two younger brothers.Jiu-jitsu was a novelty in Brazil. In order to get students,Carlos adopted a bold strategy.He would promote fights and challenge matches, and would advertise in the newspaper,if you would like to have your arm broken or your ribs cracked look for Carlos Gracie.How could he prove this? In a real fight.Challenging the biggest capoeira fighters and boxers,the Gracie brothers quickly became celebrities in Rio de Janeiro.But Hélio would always stay out.Hélio could not teach because he was very skinny and sick.He would not teach... But he would watch.Since he was there watching class everyday, he ended up learning and memorizing everything.One day, he tells this notorious story,Carlos arrived late and could not teach the class.Dad offered to teach the class."My brothers are not here. If you would like I can teach you the class."When Carlos arrived, the student said, "from now on I want to take classes from Hélio Gracie."And that is when Hélio started to get into jiu-jitsu.He believed in his older brother's idea, who he idolizedalmost as a father, that jiu-jitsu was a way of life, a religion.Defending their art became their objective.At fifteen years of age Hélio would dedicate all his time to jiu-jitsu,and began to develop his own style based on the principles of leverage.He developed a jiu-jitsu that could be practicedby people like him: skinny, weak, and debilitated.He really had much more impetus than a man of such a thin frame could have.He was a man who did not demonstrate any signs of weaknesseven though he knew that he was a weak man.But Hélio would have to fight a lot to establish his place in the clan.The family already had a main fighter, George, known as the "Redhead Cat."Reddish blond hair, you know, blue eyes, handsome guy. He was a great fighter,but he liked to celebrate and party.He ended up rebelling and not wanting to submit to my father's rules and orientation 100%It was Hélio's chance. And so he transformed jiu-jitsu into a new style...Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.Then he developed a jiu-jitsu which is much more detailedand much more favorable for the weak to defeat the strong.The Gracie marketing was always the skinny defeating the strong.I never went into a fight to win.Don't loose… If you don't lose, It's just a matter of how you are going to turn it around and win.Stand up fighting is very pretty in the movies. It's artistic.But a real fight is decided on the ground.Takedown and finish on the ground; on the neck, which is the only organwhich can be squeezed and cause the opponent to pass out.And Hélio was determined to challenge the greatest of his time.Uncle Hélio against Fred Ebert had media coverageof international movie celebrity status.The American freestyle wrestling champion, Fred Ebert, was 30 kilosheavier than the18 year old teenager.Go fight with a guy five kilos heavier than you. It's very complicated.The papers predicted a massacre but the fight was interrupted by the police.I asked my father who won the fight? He said, "I went home, he went to the hospital."The new style surprised everyone, but the fighter Manuel Rufino dos Santosaccused the Gracies of fixing their fights.A fight that could smell like a fix… for them it was heresy.And then they were very aggressive.Rufino came walking, two brothers held the gateso that no one could get in or out of the club and the other two stayed on the sidewalkso no one would break up the fight. Dad told him: "Rufino I heard you were sayingthat our fights are fixed? I'm going to show you how they are fixed.I beat him up. Pow!After that Hélio developed a love / hate relationship with the media. It's normal. If a soccer team beats everyone, everybody cheers that another teamwill beat that team.In a few months, Hélio would become the star of the Gracie family.In the early 30's Hélio and his brotherswere the talk of Rio de Janeiro. In spite of the critics against violence, the public would go wild with jiu-jitsu demonstrations.Fighting events started to standout.For the people at that time, who did not have a lot of entertainment, it was very attractive.Thanks to his innovative technique, Hélio had become the star of the Gracie Clan.Shunted aside, George decided to break away from his brothers.My family at this early stage already started to displaytheir differences publicly.Then, at the peak of their success in 1934, Hélio and his brotherswould be convicted of battery against Manuel Rufino dos Santos.They were sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison and began to serve their sentence.When President Getúlio found out that the Gracie Brothers were in jail,he began to be pressured by the public to release them.He then signed a presidential pardon releasing all of them from prison.And so there were comic books with Hélio Gracie,huge articles in the top Brazilian magazines: Manchete, Cruzeiro, in all of them.It was time for Hélio Gracie to test Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu against a Japanese Master.The chosen opponent was Taro Miyake. Whenever a Japanese fighter would come to Brazil,there would be a mobilization of the entire jiu-jitsu community,because it would be an opportunity to display and evaluate their knowledge of jiu-jitsu.He was famous all over the world. They would tie a rope around his neck.Two men pulling, one from each end, and he would resistGrandmaster Hélio Gracie got him in a chokehold. He did not tap. Went to sleep.The victory over Miyake spurred Hélio to challengeincreasingly more impressive opponents.They were constantly searching for someone who could stop this man.With these challenges: Miyake, Massagoichi, Yano...A lot of people would come and fight him, like Ono.These fights were taking place and Hélio Gracie's prestige continued to increase.Looking back, I realize that those guys were traumatized by my presence.Because the fights that I had... sometimes I can not understandhow I beat men of that size.He fought without hate, you understand.He did not believe he was superior to anyone, but that his technique was unsurpassable.He always told me before a fight, "son, don't hit your opponents."And I would say, "but wait daddy, don't hit my opponents?"When you try to punch someone, you also expose yourself to being punched."But now it's my turn, let me hit someone dad. Let me beat someone up."He told me, "Son, you are big and strong. "To him I was big. "If you land on top of your opponents, there is no need to hit and break the guy's face.”With his victories, soon women were pursuing him.I never had relations with a woman who did not want to have children.He would look at a woman and say, "what child would come out of this woman?"A man's life is directed towards fighting. A woman's is to procreate.To carry a child for 9 months… nurture and Breast-feed the child.He believed this to be such an important thing for the human race, for human beingsthat he believed this to be women's main mission.When I started to compete I remember he came to meand told me, "you are too pretty to be fighting."Women were made exclusively to be a wife, mother, and take care of children.Every woman who doesn't do exactly this is not right.But at that time women were not even allowed to vote.So there is this mentality of the men of that era.Women did not have rights. But things evolved and in the Gracie family it was no different.In 1937, Hélio meets Margarida the mother he would choose for his children.Mom was very friendly, very refined, and very classy.Margarida was only 18 years old and was already divorced with two children.Her father was a powerful businessman.And when dad got close to her, my grandfathernaturally thought "this is another gold digger coming around." Eventually mom decided that she was marrying dad anyway and said"this is the deal, I will marry Hélio and that's it."It was the beginning of a new phase in the life of Hélio Gracie.But his most important fights were yet to come.Hélio had become a husband, a teacher, and a famous fighter.But his biggest dream was to become a father.He wanted to have his little team also - since uncle Carlos had his kids.He always wanted to have kids. The idea of family - he was very connected to these kinds of things. He always liked children a lot.Carlos Gracie, who recently had been widowed would make Hélio an unusual proposition. Uncle Carlos had a lot of children and married another woman who did not treat the children very well.The partnership between him and uncle Hélio was so close thatwhen my dad married for the second time, he gave his first seven children (the children from his first marriage plus 2 others he had)to uncle Hélio to raise.And dad who loved children and was dying to have kids said: "Of course!"He adopted Carlos' seven children and they came to live with him.One day dad and mom had no children, the next day they instantly had seven.And they were not babies.In 1947, the brothers Carlos and Hélioopened a new academy that would make history.They began to teach and it became a Brazilian Kodokan.And one of the greatest jiu-jitsu teams of that era was formed.What Hélio Gracie did with the Gracie Academy wasa samurai school.The self-defense method he created attracted people from all walks of life;the poor, the rich, and very important people; successful businessmen, politicians, and heads of state.You drive around the streets of Rio and see the street names you realize,"Wow", dad taught those guys. So many important people who have streets named after them were Hélio Gracie's students.Hélio gave great emphasis to self-defense.And, in addition to jiu-jitsu's technical efficiency, there was a philosophy about life.They would encourage the youth not to smoke or drink alcohol.I never tried a beer or any alcoholic beverage in my life,because of what I learned from him, because of his example and my father's.They created a religion. Jiu-jitsu became a true religion, a life doctrine, a philosophy,a really impressive thing. The only way to understand it is to be around them. It's no wonder they have such a legion of followers.With the academy going strong, Hélio began to challengethe greatest Brazilian and international fighters.Hélio Gracie challenged a group of Japanese that was in Brazilat the time. They were part of Kimura's team.Upon challenging Masahiko Kimura, the world jiu-jitsu champion,Hélio received a disappointment.Kimura didn't accept the challenge, arguing that he was the world championand Hélio Gracie was nobody.Kimura weighted almost twice as much as Hélio Gracie, thereforeit was no big deal for a heavyweight world champion to defeat a much lighter fighter. Kimura said, "if you want to fight someone, fight Kato, who is the second in the world. He is only 20 kilos heavier than you and, like me, will easily beat you."But before the fight with Kato,Hélio Gracie would break a rib during practice.The doctors didn't want to let him fight. They were afraid it could puncture his lung,which is very dangerous. They fought anyway in Maracanã, their first fight - September 1951. It was a draw.Afterward he told Carlos, "I think if I fight him again, with a healthy rib, I can beat him."Rematch in São Paulo.Hélio beat up the guy. He beat him with the kimono. A choke with the kimono which is... you need to have a lot of skill!Hélio Gracie got him in a choke from the guard, turned to the referee and said: "he is sleeping"The referee replied: "He did not tap, keep going!" So Hélio said, "Do you want me to kill this man?"Hélio let go. The guy turned on his side and passed out and that was it.Consequently, Kimura came up to the ring and at that moment he acceptedHélio Gracie's challenge.Kimura declared to the newspapers that if he did not defeat Hélio Gracie in three minuteshe would consider Hélio Gracie the winner of the fight.It was a historical fight. The first time a Brazilian ever foughtagainst a world champion.Hélio Gracie withstood Kimura, a man of 98 kilos who was smothering him.Many times he ran out of air.Dad said that he felt he was inside a blender. He couldn't think about anything.Half way through the second round it was more of the same, and so he said:"There is no way to beat this guy."Things got to a point where eventually, in the third minute of the second round, Kimura applied an arm-lock on my dad. It became known as the Kimura lock in his honor.His arm was so twisted that he could see his own hand over here.Hélio did not tap, so Carlos interrupted the fightto prevent Hélio's arm from being broken.After lasting 13 minutes against Kimura, Hélio's first defeat in fact had a taste of victory.After he got back to Japan, Kimura said that he never expected to find such an advanced jiu-jitsu in Brazil.To lose to Kimura was the pinnacle of his technical developmentin terms of recognizing his work in the development of jiu-jitsu.For Hélio there was only one challenge left; to create his own army to conquer the world. A legend in the ring, Hélio still had a challenge to come;to have his own children.He kept trying for 12 years, but couldn't have any children.Then he started to get frustrated.His wife, Margarida, could not imagine that she could not have children.My grandma, Carmelita, was a very authoritarian woman. It seems that my momhad had her tubes tied in order to prevent her from having more children in the future.So my mother didn't know she could not have children.She was 18, playing with dolls here and there. She had no idea what was happening. Unsettled, Hélio would ask for his brother's advice. Carlos suggested an uncommon solution.Mom, who had always been in love with my dad, agreed to the ideathat my father could have children with someone else. You understand;the children would not come from her, but they would be accepted as her own sons.Margarida, was a very intelligent and sensitive woman and could understand all that,despite her natural frustrations.In 1952, Hélio's first child would finally be born;Rorion Gracie. In the following years Relson and Rickson would come.The choice of names given to the children would follow a logic developed by Carlos.Uncle Carlos' idea was to give names that did not exist. With a completely new name the childwould not have the influence of the people who came before them with that same name.It clears a path...everyone with his or her own name. I don't know how well that worked,because there are all kinds of Gracies.The fact that everyone had their own path does not mean that they are all enlightened.The new Gracies would leave the nursery predestined to become jiu-jitsu fighters. They come out rolling. They are born rolling on the mat.The kimono is a toy. The academy is your playground.On their first birthday, the cake was a little ringwith some dolls dressed in kimonos.Even today, anyone who is born a Gracie will always be a fighter.To continue the tradition, you need to get in the ring at least once.Later you can do whatever you want.I already had that talk with my boys. I have a 13, an 11, and an 8 year oldand my daughter asks: "what about me daddy?" "You too!"Since we were very little, something that was done to me, and I do to my kids,is we play with the hands; to give them a notion of defense or movement.I started to train when I began to walk. I say this playing around.I started to train as soon as I learned how to walk.My father was always... "You're training with him. Let me see who is better."Always making us fight each other. Always confrontation. Always testing."Get out of here, you are nothing!"No other family has developed over the years so many champions practicing the same art.This is due to Hélio Gracie.My father was always a general.And the general is only a good general when he has good soldiers.Ultimately, he was creating leaders. This is something the Gracie family has a lot of.There are many chiefs, and few Indians.To house the family that only kept growing; the brothers, Hélio and Carlos, bought ahouse in Teresópolis, which would become a retreat for the Gracies in the following decades.I've never seen such a wonderful house.It was almost like maintaining a hotel. It was structured like a hotel.The refrigerators were always full. The pantry was always full. It was like shopping for an army. When people would drive past the house in Teresópolis,they would see all the kimonos neatly hanging outside, looking like straitjackets.You would look at the grassy area at the center of the house, and on the canvasin the grassy area, there were people training. It looked like a mental asylum...crazy people... 35 children grappling with each other.They actually formed a tribe. It was a community... the Gracie community.To feed the tribe, Carlos created a special diet.Carlos created a dietary regimen which was spectacular.If all Brazilians would follow it we would be supermen.This diet was based on food combining. To avoid fermentation. Avoid acidity.So that it does not weaken the system, or allow degenerative and infectious diseases.Based on these concepts. I believed in my brother.I'm 89 years old. I can't remember the last time I got sick... I don't Remember, I don't know.If I, Rorion, today, have to choose between jiu-jitsu and the diet. I would choose the diet.The result was that everyone grew in a very healthy manner. Dad credits his healthfor enabling him to fight 3 hours and 45 minutes with Waldemar Santana,which is the longest fight in history, because his health allowed him to do it.Even a lion cannot fight for 3 hours and 45 minutes.This historic fight would be his last official fight.Waldemar grew up drinking jiu-jitsu juice at the Gracie Academy.Hélio gave him all the knowledge. He was a Gracie.Being influenced by Hélio's enemies, he decided to challenge Hélio,and Hélio with his warrior spirit he always had...On March 24, 1955, Waldemar Santana fought against Hélio Gracie.At the vibrant age of 25... 90 kilos of muscle. Trained in fighting, since he never lifted weights.A leopard! A leopard!Hélio was 42 years of age. Out of shape. He was able to fight for3 hours and 43 Minutes nonstop, no rounds... something unimaginable.Nobody understood how I could have fought in those conditions, with that (weight) difference,against that guy and how I fought for so long.For him it counted as a victory, because he fought with heart. He fought for honor.It was not a pre-arranged fight. There was no money involved. It was for honor.and he felt satisfied.In spite of Hélio's defeat, the next day, 125 new students enrolled at the Gracie Academy.Beyond victory, he wanted jiu-jitsu... the family, to keep winning.So, it was much more than his victories. So much so that after he lost to Waldemarhe was fine with it. He tells Carlson, "Now lets continue," and kept preparing his children.Months later Carlson Gracie would defeat Waldemar Santana avenging the family.Hélio began to dedicate himself fulltime to teaching jiu-jitsu.As long as I can remember, I would sit down and watch my father teach.Astonished at how my father presented a technique.Although he fought, first and foremost, he considered himself a jiu-jitsu professor.The majority of people who searched for jiu-jitsu or who are looking for jiu-jitsu now,are people with problems; problems of insecurity. The person who was humiliatedin the streets. A boy who was humiliated in school. Therefore, a jiu-jitsu instructor must act as a psychologist; in this aspect Hélio was ingenious.Reinforce their ego. Call him a champion. Hélio was an expert at this and so was Carlos. Students asked, "Did you study psychology?" I would say no. I learned from Hélio Gracie.A guy is a nobody and now he feels like a man. He is a coward and becomes brave.Can you put a price on this? I want to see the student become better than me.The teaching methodology my dad developed to help the student is unparalleled.It's what we do to this day with great pride. We exist to preservethis memory and this teaching methodology.But with 3 children, Hélio would still dream about a large family.They would come from a relationship with Vera, one of his employees.I was coming back from the academy and he asked me: "Son, would you like to have more brothers?" I said: "Sure, I would like to have more brothers"How many more? If I could I would have 20 more brothers. He looked at me and said, "You don't have 20 more brothers, but you have 4 more."Even though Margarida found out about the existence of another family,Margarida stayed married to Hélio.My dad would sleep at my house every night. He was an artist.You understand. He did not sleep away on weekends. He slept at home every night.Since I was the youngest of the first generation, I witnessed my mother crying around the house many times.But that's the thing. The situation already existed. It wouldn't change. My dad was resolutein his commitment to continue to support his new children, which I agreed with 100%.He had to support them. My mom was not going to stay by herself. So she agreed and accepted the situation.Margarida was convinced that the children should be the focus.It wasn't about the woman. It was about the children... respecting the children.She actually had a relationship with Vera. They would go out and do things together.They got close to each other. But deep in her heart, I don't know if she ever liked this.I have the impression that she did not like the situation.I grew up calling Rorion's mother (Margarida), "mom" as well.My mother was "mom". Margarida was "mommy".Margarida would introduce us as her kids as well.Hélio would live long enough to see his children transform Gracie Jiu-Jitsuinto an international success.In the late 70's, Hélio's firstborn, Rorion Gracie, would move to the United States.Dad never told me not to go. He always supported my idea.He always encouraged me in everything I did.Flipping burgers, working construction, cleaning toilets.He had a rough time. He even had to beg for money in the streets.When I arrived here, he was already teaching in his garage.At this point, jiu-jitsu would begin to take over the world.He would place challenges in the newspaper, "if you like to get beat up come to my garage." I would tell my students, there's a karate guy coming to fight me tomorrow night. The guy would show up at the garage, and the fight was on.The Los Angeles garage would quickly attract famous students.While Rorion and Royce were conquering the United States.Rickson, trained by Hélio, would become one of the best fighters in the world.I felt that everything to him was jiu-jitsu.If I got straight Fs on my report card, he'd be indifferent. He wouldn't be upset.But if I won a fight, it was the right time to get whatever I wanted from the old man.After my fights he never became euphoric...he was never surprised that I won."You won? There is no reason to celebrate." Oh my god I can't believe I won!"You don't believe you won? Why did you train then? To lose?"In 1991, Margarida would die of cancer. It was the end of amarriage and a partnership of 52 years.After Margarida passed away, my father called all of usand asked for our permission to marry our mom.I remember saying, "of course dad, let me think for a minute.Sure, go ahead, get married."The following year, Rorion had an idea that would popularize his father's jiu-jitsu.Let's create an event, the UFC, where we place representativesof all martial arts in a cage and only one will come out.It had to be round, so nobody would get stuck in a corner.There were a lot of reasons why we made it that way. At first we thought of making something with alligators surrounding it...an electric fence. We had all kinds of ideas. It's Hollywood, you know?!And then you had karate, muay thai, boxing...The guys had no idea what to expect. "Everything goes? Punches, kicks, head-butts?"I said "everything goes." Then at the end I was able to gather a groupof 7 fighters. The most qualified that I found at the time.And I put Royce to compete in it too.In my family you have to fight in order to gain this opportunity.Everyone wants to be good. Everyone is good.To face this challenge, Hélio came to the United States to train his son Royce.I would go to lift weights, and he would come along. If I went swimming, he wouldcome along too. He would sit down and watch me swim. It was almost like he was living life through me, through fighting.It was a success because Royce was a skinny guy, and people would look at him and feel sorry for him. "Poor thing! What is he going to do in there?"And Royce defeated them all, proving that jiu-jitsu isthe most efficient martial art for hand-to-hand combat.This made Hélio feel extremely happy and proud, because his dream was realized:to bring jiu-jitsu to the world.He was right about what he was trying to prove: his art was better.But in October of 1994, Hélio would receive news of the death of his older brother, Carlos.The relationship between dad and Uncle Carlos was unbelievable. You don't see that any more.Carlos was a charismatic person and had a lot of influence over my father.He practically guided my father's foot steps.He always said, "Carlos was a father to me."Soon after, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu arrived on the other side of the world.Rickson would become an icon in Japan.This made Hélio very proud, because Rickson fought, in his first fight in Japan, withone of Kimura's direct students, Nishi, and he won.The pride he felt while I was warming up... the expectation he had that I was goingto do a good job... I knew he had my back and that this would increase my powers.And I always did well because of this.As he approached 90 years old, Hélio kept himself active byfollowing his sons around the world.Up to 90 years old, every day he would put on a kimono and teach a class.He never stopped. He kept his mind active until he passed away in his mid 90s.He would stay here at the academy folding towels.I'm going to make watermelon juice. "Let me do it!"...and was the first to run to the kitchen.He was always here helping, working, and playing with the students.We had to be careful with the translation. Sometimes, there was a strong guy and he..."Get the strongest guy in here and tell him to hold me tight."So sometimes we had to translate a little... "Dad asked for you to hold him.""Did you tell him to hold me with a lot of strength?" "I told him dad."How do you defend a head-butt. Tell him to hit me. If you close your eyes you might think you are fighting a teenager, but when you open themyou see a 90 year old man. Fragile, skinny... with a heavy hand, my friend.This would keep him alive.Hélio Gracie lived until his last days with a samurai's discipline.But in January, 2009, at 95 years of age, he could not fight off pneumonia.He would always tell me, "my son, I'm already going to another world and you guys arestaying here" and we would tell him, "Come on Master! You're still going to live a lot more!"He always taught us to face the passing to the next life as something naturaland not to be sad.For me when he died he simply changed his address. It is as if he told me, "Rorion,I went to China and I'm living in China now. We see each other when we can.But we are not going to see each other again." It's the same thing.Hélio Gracie simply moved from a physical form, tired and happy, to aspiritual form, eternal and happy. You have to be ready.Give me just one minute.Determination, perseverance, justice, balance, courage;every human virtue you can imagine he left for all of us.To sacrifice in order to accomplish things. That was the biggest lesson he taught me.He was a modern day samurai warrior. He had that mentality, always ready to dieto defend his principles, to defend his ideals.If you believe in what you do, be willing to die for it. This became a part of us.Today, jiu-jitsu is the foundation of hand-to-hand combat of the U.S. militaryand is practiced in thousands of academies throughout the world.Helio Gracie, without a doubt, realized his biggest dream, to share his knowledge.Jiu-jitsu with its philosophy is a profession for thousands of people.It's a great source of pride for every Brazilian to learn about the art and thehistory of Helio Gracie and Carlos... to know what this family did.It's very cool to have a family where all your heroes are your relatives.And that's it. We need to continue his work, because we can never do too much for him.He was such an exceptional and special man...I would fight to prove that my art was good.To prove that the jiu-jitsu I practiced was superior to other fighting arts.This was proven and therefore I'm happy that my life's mission was accomplished.