by Gary Aker email@example.com
Hes a single electric cord plugged into some primal surge screaming up through a wall latex pink...pumping rhythm red... in echo. Two Louies Magazine, 1982.
I wrote that about Rozz Rezabek-Wright after seeing his Theatre of Sheep at the old Luis LaBamba Club. Little did I know that sixteen years later Id be watching Rozz at Portlands Cobalt Lounge. The original Theatre of Sheep was all there: Rozz, Jimmy Haskett, Jim Wallace and Brian Wassman... all except sweet Leslie the beautiful, anorexic looking redhead who shined from the stage like Rozzs reflection; who wanted to marry Rozz and live happily ever after with her hero who was, poised to the be the rock-n-roll kingpin of the Northwest. Or so said the music press of the day. And then came Courtney. Suddenly, Rozzs life was a living hell.
Back at the Cobalt in 98, Rozz is repeating in mantra from the stage, Ebert loves me... Ebert loves me. Hes referring to Roger Ebert of Siskel and Ebert who reviewed the Nick Broomfield documentary, Kurt and Courtney, on their latest show. Ebert said Courtney was merely a hypocrite and a control freak, not a murderer, after showing clips that gave Rozz about ten seconds of network screen time. Rozz is featured prominently in the film as Courtneys ex-boyfriend. According to Rozz, he was offered $500, but demanded and received $1,000 counted out in hundreds into his hand before he would say a word to Broomfield.
Later, Rozz would take me down into the bomb shelter of his SE Portland bungalow to dig out the Courtney archives and cut loose.
Shes elevated herself to being a former girlfriend and Ive gone along with it, but basically, she just put her hole in my face, Rozz said down in the dusky basement as his wife and son padded around above us making tacos. I was real nice to her in the Nick Broomfield movie because I dont want to sound like sour grapes... like she made it; I didnt. But now, after seeing Courtneys new biography, The Real Story, the gloves are off. Rozz pulled out pages from the authorized Courtney biography (not the unofficial Queen of Noise biography, written by Melissa Rossi with a huge assist from Rozz and his Courtney memorabilia.) He began reading from the manuscript, The Real Story:
In the morning he asked her (Courtney) to make him (Rozz) oatmeal. She took special care to add currants... and whole cream. He took one look at it and threw it across the kitchen at her, You stupid bitch! Dont you know singers dont eat dairy!
Rozz joked that Courtney couldnt make instant oatmeal, that she could burn tea. But hes not amused. In fact, hes hired an attorney in New York. Maybe hell sue.
Courtney pays twenty-five thousand a month of Kurts money to Pat Kingsley to keep her in those little blurbs in In Style magazine... and keep her in this circle... thats one-hundred fifty thousand a year, he said, missing the math by half. I dont see how you can give yourself a name like Courtney Love when you are so full of hate, Rozz said, digging through the boxes in the basement that make-up this huge chapter in his life, closed, but now opened by the Broomfield movie and the new Courtney biography.
The traditional music mouthpieces have black listed Courtneys biography (The Real Story)... Variety called it a hit list, a vendetta. And Rozz has clearly been hit hard by it. Blind sided. Hell hath no fury like a former punk rocker scorned.
Back in 78, before Courtney, Rozz was the lead singer for Negative Trend-- a California hardcore punk band. We were the first punk band to tour the West Coast, Rozz said.
Negative Trend was a very seminal band, Rozz prided. He was only eighteen and standing on the brink of stardom. Malcolm McClaren offered to manage Negative Trend and we said, No rules, no rules. Were anarchists. Told him to fuck off. So he went off and did Bow Wow Wow, Boy George... I wasnt the one who said, Were anarchists. It was the bass player whos very anarchistically dead.
Twenty years later, Rozz just signed a nostalgia record deal with White Noise to re-release Negative Trend on CD. As the only surviving member of the band, Rozz will receive 33% royalties.
Theres a lot of things more important than Courtney, Rozz said. Do you know how monumental it was for me at age eighteen to have Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, Barbara Walters, Britt Ekland, Rod Stewart backstage (for The Sex Pistols/Negative Trend at Winterland) and we got the hook; we couldnt play... The Sex Pistols had hired us to disrupt the show... to start a riot. After 12 days in America, the Sex Pistols had become Kiss-- theyre a caricature of themselves because of the media attention and theres nothing they can do to shock people. So they hired us because they heard we were anarchists: we blew up Safeway executives cars. Which was true. We got involved with a group called Upshot that grew out of the Weathermen...
Bill Grahams security took us outside and beat us up and took our gear. Bill Graham pretends its all a mistake and says you go ahead and play... but we dont have any gear... There were sixty garbage cans full of ice and 6 oz. Olympia Beer and free food and all these celebrities. When wed realized hed fucked us, I knocked over all the cans full of beer... picked up a hot dog and hit Britt Ekland in the face; that made the Rolling Stone.
Today Rozz and family divide their time between his apartment in San Francisco and his bungalow in SE Portland.
Im really still treated like royalty down there (SF). Im doing an interview with Exotic Magazine up in Portland, but in San Francisco I get the cover of the A&E. (He shows me the Sept., 97 cover commemorating twenty years since punk-- picture of Rozz at eighteen, flailing around on the Negative Trend floor.) I cant even get on guest lists up here.
Rozz took up residence in San Francisco because he had to-- on the lam from two women vying for his attention. Back in August of 85,
I cant even put up a poster anymore without someone driving by saying, Theatre of Shit. And Im this piece of moldy cherry pie thats not even edible anymore and Ive got these two girls fighting over me... So I moved down to San Francisco and then Courtney and Leslie moved down there... I just wanted to drink myself to death and forget Theatre of Sheep; my thing was I was in love with alcohol. Still am. Lot more consistent. You know how much will make you sick. Where as with girls, you dont think youre sick till youre as nauseous as youve ever been in your life and youre so revolted at your penis you want to cut it off. So they called me up on Valentines Day (after they finally realized he wasnt interested in either one) and Courtney shot Leslie up with heroin and theyre going down on each other and describing it...
These girls who want to make your life a bitter hell, theyre not worth it.
Back at the Cobalt in 98, Rozz said he put Theatre of Sheep together again because, basically, I needed the money. Rozz kept up a relentless banter with the trendy, young cocktail crowd:
Guys would screw a Cocker Spaniel if it had a good looking hair-do and some lingerie on.
Thank you. And remember, its not just a gig, its rent money.
Did you ever walk in on your parents fucking? I did. I called 911. I said, Daddys hurting Mommy. They said, no, thats an expression of love.
Back down in the basement, digging through the Courtney archives, Rozz throws a handful of prescription bottles at me. The labels read: Courtney Menely; Valium 10 mg.; 3-16-83; Fred Meyer Prescriptions. And he says,
How did she seduce me?!
All she did was steal from me, the bitter bile coming up from his gut-- the place where all those bad relationships seem to live on for eternity. She got a rock-n-roll pedigree from me through osmosis. She went back (Portland, S.F.) and fucked all those guys I was in punk bands with, all those guys that are dead now-- Sleepers, Negative Trend.
Somehow the subject shifted to pot. I mentioned Im sensitive to the smoke, cant be around it and that took Rozz back into a bizarre Courtney story.
Shes real afraid of pot smoke because she has flashbacks... She was left at some groupie commune by her father when he was managing the Grateful Dead, and they would give her acid with her cereal like when she was three to five years old...
Shes psychotic. Shes mentally ill. And shes got eleven million of Kurts money to feed the American public what a great lady she is...Shes a hideous monster. Nick Broomfields movie is right on. Ill bet she has a harder time than anyone I know getting laid. Ill bet shes very lonely.
Rozz went on to tell his anecdotes about the real Courtney he knows versus the one that is groomed for twenty-five thousand a month for mass consumption.
I faxed a bunch of lyrics over to her when she was in Hawaii getting a tan and getting in shape for the Barbara Walters interview. .. She fell off the bed while I was talking to her because she was on seconal and gashed about seventeen stitches into her heel.
Courtney is really psychotically good at picking the people that can help her and sucking up to them. She called me and was bragging about how she totally bamboozled Barbara Walters.
She bragged to me once that she was up in Redding, or somewhere, speaking at this thing for D.A.R.E., and she was joking that she snorted some heroin and meth before she spoke.
On the other hand, in Melissa Rossis Queen of Noise, Rossi points out that Courtney is the Queen of the sick joke, the totally bizarre remark designed to throw you for a loop and see just how gullible you are. (Surf to xmag.com; click on X Magazine #6 and click on Hole Lotta Love, the Melissa Rossi interview by Gary Aker)
Fact or fiction, well never know. The truth is, Courtney weaves a tapestry of deceit and Rozz will be a part of that, no matter what, as Courtney becomes larger than life.
It really makes me sad on one level that people put her up on this pedestal and then knock her down... Courtney cant help being Courtney, Rozz showed his soft side beneath the bitterness over Courtneys new biography, The Real Story.
All these people want to see her ultimate fuck-up, and its gonna happen whether its a Francis Farmer kinda thing or a Judy Garland kinda thing. But everyone wants to see her fall, he said.
Everyone's building her up to see her fall from a higher place, I had to interject, actually sharing in his sympathy for the devil.
Everyones just interested in her in a voyeuristic kind of way, Rozz summed up the loneliness of her existence.
And which is worse: to be the celebrity icon manufactured by a publicity agent for twenty-five grand a month, or to be the public and the media who cant take their eyes off her. We love to watch her. Wed love to watch her fall.
Down in the basement, Rozz handed me a postcard Courtney had never mailed to some musician in England. Courtney had signed it with,
Love from your friend, forced upon you till you are so dead.
For Rozz Rezabek-Wright, its always going to be that way. Theres no escaping Courtney till youre dead.
Rozz Rezabek and Theater of Sheep will play Portlands Cobalt Lounge May 7, 14 & 20; and Theatre of Sheep will play La Luna on May 22nd.