Channeling their inner The Carpenters, Yes showcased a new lighter fresher side of life for their latest release “Heaven & Earth” mostly recorded and produced on my home world turf of the San Fernando Valley throughout the early part of 2014 by Roy Thomas Baker, who like Trevor Horn on the previous release of “Fly From Here” had accumulated a bit of unfinished business with Yes with the aborted Paris “Golden Age” sessions. It’s a album I’m personally satisfied with, momentarily knocking me out of my personal grief over the loss of my best friend Harry Perzigian who suddenly passed away late last April at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center Intensive Care Unit located on the UCLA campus after a sudden impromptu surge of alcohol and substance abuse.
For the purposes of any news leaking to outlets such as the LA Times, TMZ, or the LA Weekly about this blog entry, I’m going to cut straight to the point: Harry was a very prominent figure in the city of Brentwood. Twenty years ago, his legal problems with actor Carroll O’Connor garnered just as much media attention as the famous OJ Simpson/Nicole Brown murder debacle was in full swing when Carroll’s son, Hugh, also a co-star on Carroll’s series at the time, In the Heat of the Night, committed suicide by blowing his head off in a violent drugged out haze. Harry was indirectly blamed for Hugh’s death due to the unfortunate circumstance that Hugh had taken the same drugs with Harry. O’Connor turned Harry into his personal scapegoat and therefore hired a private detective to report on Harry’s so-called nefarious activities and then when that detective supposedly gathered enough evidence, O’Connor convinced the LAPD to issue a search warrant to turn his Brentwood condo upside down and they uncovered a couple of bags of cocaine in Harry’s bedroom, along with a scale which led Harry to be sent to the Central Men’s Jail in Los Angeles on a ‘drug furnishing” charge. They couldn’t quite pin a drug dealing charge on Harry, because Hugh was paying Harry for his share of the drugs with personal checks. And what drug dealer in their right mind would take a personal check, let alone a credit card transaction to pay for his drugs? So Harry got sentenced to two years, but only got to serve two months for good behavior. While incarcerated, he ran afoul of the fabled Menendez Brothers, who were awaiting trail for the murder of their parents. They regarded Harry as ‘a little fish.’ (Now Chris Squire wouldn’t take that lying down).
I remember a time while I was working for Sony Pictures Television in Westwood I called Harry from my office joking with him about Carroll O’Connor’s Emmy for his performance of “All of the Family” being displayed in a glass case located in the lobby of the reception area. Should I steal it and bring it home to him?
Then Harry would go off on in a blithering yelling tangent:
“FUCKING SHATTER THAT GLASS AND BREAK THAT GODDAMN STATUE IN HALF. THAT BITTER OLD FUCK, IF ANYONE WHO KILLED HUGH, IT WAS HIS OWN GODDAMN FATHER THAT SPOILED AND MOLLYCODDLED HIS ASS!” He would bitterly retort.
Yeah, Harry Perzigian and Carroll O’Connor. They mixed well together like oil and water.
Harry was a bitter of a sort himself, having tried to unsuccessfully sue O’Connor in court for defamation of character and lost.
And so was Harry’s reputation as a well versatile songwriter was kaput as well. His contract ripped up by Warner Chappell Music and practically overnight, he became a pariah to people and no more celebrity parties that attracted the likes of Bobby Kimball, John Entwhistle, Kevin Dubrow, Linda Hamilton, Dean Cain, Farrah-Fawcett Majors (seen on the cover of People Magazine with Harry with the tagline: Farrah leaves Ryan O’Neal into arms of a drug dealer, How flattering.) and Jeff Fahey were suddenly no more. Aerosmith supposedly ransacked Harry’s file at Warner Chappell Music and stole “Dude Looks Like a Lady” from Harry, based on a song that he and co-writer Curt Cuomo wrote called “Too Many Dudes! (and Not Enough Chicks).”
Harry was also at one point acted as a step-father figure to now famous actress/model Minka Kelly, having a tumultuous relationship with her mother that lasted three years in his apartment. Harry used to take Minka to LA Kings hockey games usually with comp tickets that were awarded to him when he wrote a song based on goalie Kelly Ruby;s impeccable goal saving record. It was titled “Rudy’s On Duty Tonight” recorded by the Puck Boys (a band mostly consisting of Harry and his younger brother) and it got tons of local airplay on Power 106 radio.
He also dated a housekeeper who was employed by Jon Voight and helped look after actress Angelina Jolie when she was a kid. Lots of intriguing stories in his short 58-year-old lifespan, and as John Wetton, once a co-collaborator of three songs with Harry and Curt Cuomo would sing on a future Asia song, ‘it’s been an extraordinary life’.
I will get into the ghastly details surrounding Harry’s unfortunate demise as well as the short little pinnacle high I was experiencing earlier this year, but when this terrible incident occurred, my life came crashing down and I still to this day can’t wrap my head around it.
We have to talk about Yes at some point here, I mean that’s the reason why most of you are here for, right? After all it is supposed to be a Yes Log.
We’ve finally come to the latest (and it certainly won’t be the last, not by a long shot) album released by Yes this past July. Wikipedia states these ethereal facts and figures:
Heaven & Earth is the twenty-first studio album from the English progressive rock band Yes, first released on 16 July 2014 on Frontiers Records. It is their first album with singer Jon Davison in the band’s line-up. It was produced by Roy Thomas Baker, who first worked with the band on recording sessions in 1979, and mixed by former member Billy Sherwood.
Upon its release, Heaven & Earth peaked at number 20 in the UK, the band’s highest chart performance since their 1994 album Talk. It also entered the US chart at number 26.
About the name of the album, guitarist Steve Howe stated, “In a way, the parallel of saying ‘Heaven And Earth’ is the same as saying good and bad, yin and yang, up and down, left and right. They’re two extremes, but I think the way Roger and I liked it was that in fact the Earth is a physical place where you can measure stuff and you can do quantum physics. […] But Heaven is an unknown place of no particular destination as far as anybody knows. And yet it doesn’t matter whether you’re totally tied up in a religious belief or whether you’re spiritual in a way. That doesn’t require religious commitment — it just requires awareness to the fact that there’s obviously something out there that we don’t know about. […] it sums up the dualistic quality of the known and the unknown and the more you look at the known the more you see that there’s even more unknown than you knew before.”
From 6 January to 14 March 2014, the band recorded a new album, their first with new lead singer Davison, in the Los Angeles area with producer Roy Thomas Baker. This recording is Yes’ first association with Baker since their aborted recording sessions in Paris in 1979, something bassist Chris Squire described as “a very enjoyable experience” and Baker someone “really good to work with” In January 2014, the band’s Facebook page released images of the band rehearsing in the studio with Baker. On 7 March 2014, Downes tweeted that he had completed keyboards for the album.
On 5 March 2014, former Yes member Billy Sherwood announced in a post on his Facebook page that he would engineer the backing vocal sessions, which started the day after. He also confirmed that at least Squire and Howe would also sing backing vocals in the album. In an April 2014 interview, Davison announced that the recording just finished right in time before they had to leave for a tour (i.e. the U.S. & Canada Spring 2014 tour starting on 19 March 2014), stating “we were just kind of throwing everything in at the last-minute […] We just ran out of time and had to get on the road”. He also announced that there would be 8 tracks, plus a bonus track (an acoustic version of “To Ascend”) in the Japanese release.
The album was in the mixing stages in March 2014 and then again in May 2014
Unlike the previous studio album Fly From Here, which was partially based on older compositions by Downes and producer/former member Trevor Horn, Heaven & Earth is made of new material only. For his first album with Yes, Davison was fully involved into the songwriting process; Squire stated: “he contributed very strongly to [the new album] in terms of writing, both musically and lyrically. […] [He] has brought in an interesting quality of songwriting and lyric writing. He has pretty much written all the lyrics for this album”. Describing Davison’s songwriting skills as “excellent”, Howe positively compared Heaven & Earth to Fly From Here in terms of songwriting process: “Benoit [David] wasn’t a writer, really. That’s why Trevor Horn was involved in writing […] Jon is really excellent.” About writing and recording his first album with Yes, Davison himself commented “I thought it might be [a lot of pressure] but it turned out not to be at all. I got to know them really well and [their] composing styles and patterns and pace.” Davison travelled into various different places in order to meet all the other members separately and compose the songs with them.
Steve Howe stated “Heaven & Earth has a freshness and different stance from many records we’ve done before. Hopefully, that freshness will be enjoyed.” In another interview, he discussed the fact that there wasn’t any “epics” (very long songs) in Heaven & Earth: “We have some larger pieces and some of them are quite substantial. I think that’s the kind of album it is — it isn’t about eating up the time with one big concept, it’s more about having different flavors and spices in our music that kind of show off each other. If having a track that leans one way is then followed by a track that leans the other way, at least we’re not just doing eight tracks that are all the same.”
Describing Heaven & Earth as “an accessible but still adventurous album”, Squire discussed the length of the songs: “there are three that are on the longer side, 9-, 10-minute sort of long songs. So it’s definitely got the Yes stamp of arrangement on the album, there’s no doubt about that.” He also commented Davison’s work as songwriter: “Jon’s done a pretty good job. He worked with the other four of us on a couple of tracks each, and we’ve come together at the end of the album with some very strong music.” Howe stated that although most the songs were written and composed in collaboration, some of them were written by him or Davison alone.
Davison stated that they had “a bunch of extra material” that they did not have time to finish in time for the album, including “a big prog piece” mainly written by him and Downes, which could ultimately be used for the next album
Heaven & Earth was released in various territories between 16–22 July 2014. It peaked at number 20 on the UK album chart, the band’s highest position since Talk (1994), which peaked at the same spot. It entered the US Billboard 200 chart at number 26, falling to 108 in its second week.
SONGS / TRACKLISTING
- Believe Again (Davison/Howe) Total time: 8:02
- The Game (Davison/Johnson/Squire) Total time: 6:52
- Step Beyond (Davison/Howe) Total time: 5:34
- To Ascend (Davison/White) Total time: 4:44
- In A World of Our Own (Davison/Squire) Total time: 5:20
- Light of the Ages (Davison) Total time: 7:41
- It Was All We Knew (Howe) Total time: 4:13
- Subway Walls (Davison/Downes) Total time: 9:03
I dragged myself to see the band over at the Greek Theater. My first time to that venue in over twenty years when I saw Yes there on their 1994 Talk tour with Joe Zullo and his ex-wife Carol “Horror Show” Hamilton. This time around, I wasn’t in the greatest of moods to see them. I even wanted to ask a girl who used to work with me at the Director’s Guild if she wanted to go but I was just not in the right frame of mind to even bother e-mailing her an invite.
Regardless, it was a great evening under the Hollywood Hills stars with great sound and a better than average performance holding firmly on to the coattails of their craftsmanship.
Hey, by now they’re showing signs of wear and tear. Alan White was certainly not in Bill Bruford’s caliber when he had to showcase a thirty-second solo based on “Five Percent for Nothing” off the Fragile album – he barely hit anything, leaving the rest of the band to pick up his percussive pace.
And jeez, Steve Howe, how could you end a show with “Owner of A Lonely Heart”, let alone even introduce it? I thought you despised that song? Some venues I heard closed with “Starship Trooper” I guess since it was the last night of the tour, they just wanted to hurry it up along a bit, so Geoff could tuck in early and get prepping for the Asia tour.
Jon Davison, he kind of scares me a bit. Does he purposely think he’s Jon Anderson? Notice the similarities between their names? If you hit him up for an autograph, does he sign his name simply Jon? That would kind of disturb me if he did. The whole outstretched arm messiah bit in the middle of the organ passage to Close to The Edge, wasn’t that a tad teetering on overkill? I noted to people on facebook after the show, I appreciated that he put his own spin on the performances of the Fragile and Close to the Edge albums, that he wasn’t out to purposely mimic Jon Anderson’s every single move or nuance, rather he’s a simply a singer who’s studied the material meticulously and knows how to hit the right notes without sounding like a carbon copy to the original recordings. He’s very good at what he does and he’s being paid well enough with the job to carry on the sound of Yes well into the 21st century. Davison also happens to make his home in Laguna Beach, my own personal headquarters for outdoor Tales From Topographic Oceans listening sessions. What’s not to find charismatic about the guy?
Billy Sherwood does a superlative job at capturing the best supporting vocals of Chris and Steve not heard since 1999’s the Ladder (which was a trait I was particularly fond of on that album,) I wouldn’t be surprised if Billy had snuck in a back up harmony of his own just for the sake of nostalgia. It sounds nice and full and well prepared. What’s particularly different about Geoff’s keyboards this go around, it sounds a lot like some of Asia’s light stringy ballads putting in a guest starring appearance this go around. I think the styles mesh perfectly. Nothing too flashy, nothing too heavy until we get to the final epic track of Subway Walls, where the ‘bolero’ effect in the opening classical synth sequence is applied and before you know it, Downes explodes with a fantastic ode to Rick Wakeman atypical organ solo somewhere along the bridge.. After your ears consume the near nine minute piece it kind of makes you hanging close to the edge in anticipation for the twenty-minute epic piece that they’ve got saved for the next album.
There’s a lot of fun to be had on what I would consider perhaps the most unusual track on a Yes album that Chris collaborates with Davison entitled “In A World of Our Own” – with its’ jazzy feel good tempo that reminds you of a hidden bonus track that wouldn’t sound out-of-place on a Randy Newman album that cautions you to whet your appetite as long you do your cooking at home.
And as far the naysayers go concerning the slow dance light airy tracks of this album, well – isn’t it about time you hailed a taxi for that over inflated ego of yours? Different strokes for different folks I suppose.
My only disappointment with this whole package is they should’ve pushed the clap along thumping “ Step Beyond” as a single. Wished they did this one live instead of “Believe Again” or ‘The Game”. Speaking of “The Game” – it’s the second collaboration co-written by Gerald Johnson, a fellow member of Chris Squire’s other band, The Syn, the first being “The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be” from the previous album ‘Fly From Here”
Most of the fans would debate you into a corner of a subway wall declaring “Fly From Here” to be the better album, but in my view, that album had old ideas discombobulated from thirty plus years of demos. The material on “Heaven & Earth” sounds more fresh, more cohesive, giving each track special care and attention to shine as a breath of life all its own.
And hey, what do you expect from a group of musicians who’s core assemble are approaching their seventies? You got to slow down some time and curb down with the theatrics at some point in your life. They still are capable of writing memorable songs.
So I welcome and fully support the efforts of this new Yes and I eagerly await them to go back in the studio and come emerging with a worthy follow-up.
This year started out so well for me. Harry and I went to Jumbo’s Clown Room together to ring in the new year. Jumbo’s is a Hollywood landmark in the magical realm of pasties and go-go dancers, as it was the first watering hole that Courtney Love was first discovered in. Harry’s girlfriend couldn’t attend as she had her daughter to contend with, but she called us to wish us a Happy new year when all of a sudden a dancer on stage snatched the phone from out of Harry’s hands and rubbed her crotch all over his girlfriend’s picture. Just simply groundbreaking entertainment.
I was working full-time plus all the overtime I could eat at the Screen Actor’s Guild. It was my best paying gig in the longest while whereas I was almost grossing a thousand dollar a week. I could afford to buy holidays gifts for all eight of my nieces and nephews scattered across the country. After the first of this year, I started to save up money to finance a comic book project based on the classic Genesis concept album, “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” and I was about to commence on searching for a new penciler for my Deposit Man series when SAG pulled the rug from under me and let me go off within a period of working for them for a mere six months. I got let go from them on a Saturday morning with no warning from my supervisors who signed my time card assuring me that I would be back the next Monday morning. I’ve since learned that SAG doesn’t hire contractors permanently, but rather from within the company, and my clearance simply expired after six months passed. I didn’t mourn them for long, because another agency sent me to the Director Guild, where I was taught about foreign levies, which is basically just residuals being paid overseas, but that gig only lasted nearly a month, another position swiped from me from an insider who applied for my job and wanted it. Again, I’ve been separated from the only industry that I feel capable of keeping my sanity operational.
Weeks before I was lucky to score the SAG gig, Mark Zullo departed back to New Jersey to enroll in classes at the Joe Kubert school of art, got another roommate but he turned out to be a lazy asshole who secretly was popping post-natal vitamins in order to become a transgender, so I kicked him out and could afford to pay the entire rent, but now I live with some heavyset girl who pays her rent on time, inhales a lot of pizza, and practically watches Doctor Who all day long when she isn’t working.
Everything else went downhill from there within a matter of weeks.
Since I was never asked to turn in my key when I moved out five years previous for reasons I explained in yesterday’s chapter, I relied on still going to Harry’s apartment for four things:
- When Harry needed to go out-of-town, someone had to make sure Duncan the parrot was looked after and fed.
- Most of my jobs or assignment were usually in his West Los Angeles area of town, so if I had to at a certain area in the wee hours of the morning, I could sleep over at his place to make sure I got there on time, SAG required me to be in on early Saturday morning and the bus system operated on a different schedule coming in from the Valley on weekends.
- I could watch all the free cable including the premium channel until my eyes bled.
- Listen to my all King Crimson, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Yes, and Porcupine Tree albums in dts 5.1 surround stereo because his state of the art stereo system could only play these types of discs.
Harry Perzigian had this strange philosophy when it came to songwriting. Even though he hadn’t published anything in decades, he still did only what he knew to do: take a guitar at any given moment of the day and start writing songs, but he said the only way he could come up with a bunch of material was to get himself disgustingly drunk until he blacked out for extended periods of time usually around the early months of spring every year. When I called to tell him that I probably need not come over that Friday of April 13th this past year because I just received my walking papers from the Director’s Guild, but I’d be over Sunday to watch Game of Thrones with him, was probably around the time that the large economy sized Costco all industrial strength bottles of Canadian Mist Whisky and the methadone tablets were starting to make their encore engagement.
We all, i.e; me, his girlfriend, roommate, and the sister he still had living in Los Angeles been through this song and dance before with him last spring, That last time, he drank himself into a such a belligerent stupor, that he had built himself a nest from torn up blankets and pillows and huddled himself into a corner of his room, because he was unable to physically climb up to his bed. He destroyed his bedroom carpet with an endless array of human stains that it all had to be replaced with hard wood floors. He got put in psychiatric lockdown for a period of ten days at St. Josephs in Santa Monica to detox himself out. Doctors were amazed that he survived with the levels of toxin running through his body. Harry was like ten drunks in one airing the toxic poisons out of their systems. Harry once told the doctor this: “Doc, there are only three things that can survive a nuclear holocaust: and they are cockroaches, rats, and Armenians”
When Harry was released from the hospital in that spring of 2013, he refused to seek counseling or allow himself to be put in a rehab facility, pointing the finger of blame at all of us for allowing paramedics and police to take him out of his own home against his will. ‘THIS IS PART OF THE CREATIVE PROCESS!! ALL ARTISTS DO THIS WHEN THEY START PREPARING TO WRITE NEW MATERIAL!” Coincidentally at that same time last year I was let go from a clerk position at Universal Pictures so I had time enough to stick around and drive him to his doctor appointments – but not driving in that fucking showboat Ford Mustang of his, but rather the Mazda he bought for his girlfriend.
This past spring, it was like an exact replica of what I experienced last year: lose job in entertainment industry, go to Wonder Con in Anaheim the following weekend regardless of whether you can afford it or not, only to come back to find your best friend drunk off his ass and engaged in another big blowout with girlfriend. It was just like a Moody Blues concert set list: predictable, every song aligned in the same order as the last tour you heard them perform live.
So when I arrived back from Wonder Con that Sunday (I think it might have been Easter day) in time to watch Game of Thrones, I just happened to have left Harry’s spare key at my house, but I found a way into his building and knocked on his door. He opens the door and he’s walking around in his typical just a t-shirt and nothing else, with his giant horse Johnson dangling in display, and stumbles back into his room and slams the door behind him.
“Hey, Game of Thrones is about to come on, aren’t you going to watch it-“ then I peeked inside his room and he was fast asleep on his bed, already snoring.
Watched all my shows he had stored on demand, went home, didn’t think much of anything about it. The next evening he calls me on the cellphone asking me “Were you over my house last night?”
“Yeah, I watched my shows and left. You were really out of it.”
“Dude, never again, never again.”
“I was drinking again. The girlfriend and I got in a fight, and I started drinking again. But I feel like shit now and I don’t want another drop, so I dumped the rest down the sink.”
“Well, good to admit your mistakes. Call me if you need me, otherwise I’ll see you next Sunday. They still haven’t revealed who killed Joffery by the way.”
But Sunday wasn’t soon enough. On Wednesday afternoon, my apartment management was installing some new doors in my apartment, when I got a series of phone messages from Harry originating from his unlisted number. One message said: “CARY – YOU GOT TO COME OVER, IT’S BAD, IT’S REALLY BAD MAN!” and then click.
Around mid-afternoon, the door professionals finished installing the doors and I’m trying to reach Harry on his cell but it goes straight to voice mail and since I got a new cellphone, all my old contacts had vanished including Harry’s unlisted number. I can’t call him and I’m assuming that he must have broken his phone and is back to using the land line.
As I arrived to the Brentwood pad, I could see it’s a mess everywhere, bird seed spilled all over the place, food discarded, vitamin supplements spilled all over on the kitchen counter, and there’s Duncan, the parrot who can’t shut up once I walk in the door. Harry is laying down on his bed face flat and asks me “Cary, where the fuck have you been? Did you get me any more?”
“Get you more of what?”
News to me, I’m afraid. “Sorry, but all the liquor stores in Sherman Oaks were fresh out of Canadian Mist. I didn’t have time to check before boarding the bus, but here, have some Burger King instead.” Which was where I stopped on the way down.
Harry wanted me to stay, said he was too ill to feed the bird, and he had cut himself near his eyelid by falling into a closet door mirror, so I had to put on my Florence Nightingale spit polish best and patch him up. He said that Duncan needed attending to and after I bandaged him up, he started to whip out a checkbook and starts writing a check out.
“What the fuck is this all about?” I said looking at the check.
He tells me he wants me to have it, in case he dies. Only cash it if or when he dies because he didn’t want the government getting hold of his banking account.
But I don’t believe a word he’s saying. I tell him that’s preposterous, ‘you’re not going to die, you’re an Armenian, remember? Armenians can’t be killed. Besides I’m going to owe you money because you agreed to help me fund that Genesis comic book.’ That’s right, Harry was going to help me with half of the legal fees to pay for the lawyer representing me to Genesis’ management to secure permission to write The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway as a comic book mini-series.
So I took a magnet and stuck the check on his refrigerator. His current roommate got a chuckle out of it, because the check turned out to be uncashable. More on that later.
Harry’s roommate suggested that I spend the night, since he had to get up real early that next morning. I was thrust into a sleepless night to nursemaid a near 60-year-old man. I kept yelling at Harry to get back into bed, because he kept insisting on walking in the kitchen, but only to fall flat on his face. Remember when I mentioned yesterday while I was his roommate, I kept waking up to the sounds of mysterious thuds in the middle of the night? Well, it turns out that sound was actually Harry dropping like a sack of potatoes and hitting the floor as he blacked out. It actually turns out that this wasn’t my first rodeo with him and the booze. He’s been like this since I’ve known him. Then I drag him off to bed, and then not more than ten minutes after I think he’d be sleeping it off, he’d be belting my name from out of his bedroom “CARRRRRYYYY”
“What the fuck is it this time” I stormed in yelling
“I need hot water. Hot water for my feet.”
Looking at his feet, oh yeah, they’ve kind of swelled up like two balloons. How the fuck did that happen?
So I retrieved a big bucket, filled it to the top with hot tap water from the bathroom and placed it beneath his feet. “Dude, you soak them. I’m touching your feet.” Back to the couch I headed.
Then not more than twenty minutes later, a big crash is heard.
Now what is it?
Why, it’s none other than Harry sitting up on his bedroom floor, looking all bewildered with a new 32 inch plasma television set resting on his head and an acoustic guitar in his hand, only he’s got the electric cord of the tv wrapped around the guitar’s neck and if I didn’t remove it carefully, that guitar was going to snap in half. Then if he sobers up, then he’s going to be mad.
And so it went on for most of the night. Think I got around two solid hours of sleep on the living room couch from 5 to 7 that morning until his roommate scurried out the door to work and woke me up. Then Harry emerges later that morning, and he says my first task of the day is to go over to the nearest CVS and to get him another bottle of whisky.
“Are you fucking nuts? I’m not doing that. You’re getting cut off as in right now.”
Then we start yelling about how it’s not fair that I’m not helping a friend. “I just wrote you a $20,000 check, didn’t I?” he states.
“If you don’t get me a bottle, I’m going to cancel that check.”
Good. Go ahead, because if you look at the check, one can barely see my name spelt correctly and in the upper right hand corner, he scribbles a large 20,000 across where the date is supposed to go.
I got back home that day and powered my phone down for the evening.
Friday at 10 AM, there’s a message from his roommate pleading me to get back down to Brentwood to check up on Harry, AND THIS TIME YOU BETTER BRING GLOVES!!
Okay, that can’t be good.
Around the hour between two and three that afternoon, I arrived at Harry’s condo after having made a pit stop at the CVS store on San Vicente Blvd to pick up disposable gloves, I found Harry in his bed shivering and convulsing. He was too far gone. He kept mumbling incoherently the word “fuck’ over and over and he thought I was his roommate returning by the way he kept repeating his name.
“It’s me, dude, Cary. Listen, you selfish prick: the next words I want to hear coming out of your mouth is ‘you better call me an ambulance. Call me an ambulance Cary. Otherwise I was never here and I’ll just leave you to fucking die. I’m not going through another day of this shit.’
After another ten minutes of coaxing, he muttered out those words…
“call…. me …a….ambulance’.
Good enough. I was on the phone to 911 and surprisingly was still on the phone with the 911 dispatcher even as the paramedics arrive. Jeez, you never got this kind of speedy response if you were in Sherman Oaks, I tell you but this is Brentwood after all.
So they hauled him away and I was talking to his roommate at the time and he reminded me that I should tell the paramedics that they know him over at St. Joseph’s, but the paramedics threw me a curveball: ‘no, we’re taking him to UCLA Trauma Center.’ What the hell for?
For reasons I would learn hours later.
Once they left, I started applying the gloves, because there was blood everywhere on the phone. I had no idea what Harry had done to himself between the time I left him that late Thursday morning until now, but his roommate had told me he was staggering around in the kitchen when he had left for work this morning and had to help him back to the bedroom. I started the process of picking up bloody towels and bed sheets and throwing them out in the garbage…
….just as the police were arriving.
Uh oh, This doesn’t look good.
Well, why didn’t they arrive with the paramedics? Like they did last spring?
So I underwent a near two-hour interrogation with the police. They were very cross with me. They grilled me with a series of questions: Why were you removing bloody objects from the room? (well, no one told me that this was a crime scene) Did you beat him up? Why do you have the key if you’re not living here anymore? How is it that his mirror is all smashed up?
That was only the cream of the crop. The ultimate question was “How the hell is there eight giant size bottles of whisky tucked under the bed?” One still remained partly half filled. Well, that figures, Harry was like a squirrel hiding his nuts away in hibernation. Even though he’s yelling at you to go buy him more booze, chances are if you refuse, he’s got a back up plan put in place just in case, bury it under the bed.
Harry’s roommate was on the phone with the police and they cleared up most of the matters concerning my presence at the apartment, so I was left to finish cleaning up and making sure the bird was taken care of. I could tell on the cops’ faces that they wanted out of there because of Duncan’s constant squawking was driving them crazy.
Later that night, I got a call from a nurse stationed at the trauma center of UCLA. She asked me what in the hell happened to this man and what was his name? I told her Harry’s name and the situation as best I could, They informed me that Harry went into cardiac arrest and it took a good two and a half hours to resuscitate him and he was in critical condition. So I had to start calling members of his family and close friends. I got his iphone working, and I couldn’t find the number of his sister who lived locally (and no wonder, it was listed under the word PIG), so I found his niece who lives close to me in Sherman Oaks, and then I contacted his brother in Las Vegas to make sure he let their mother know. Then after I got a hold of his girlfriend, we both went to UCLA over the weekend to keep a vigil over Harry until the family could arrive.
All I could think of at this point was: what a way to start off your weekend.
When everyone arrived and gathered together, we were informed by the trauma staff that Harry’s prognosis was not good. There was so much damage to his liver that not even a souped up brand spanking new dialysis machine couldn’t keep him stable. Even if Harry would wake up from his coma, he’d be mostly brain-dead and then he’d point the finger of blame to me for trying to save his life, therefore condemning him to a life of living hell. I was curious to know why he legs blew up to the size of balloons, and I was told it was because his liver and pancreas were so full of poison, that every time he got up to walk or use the ballroom, it was like an injection of a lethal venom shooting into his legs.
So on Tuesday April 29th, 2014 the family came to the fateful decision to pull Harry Perzigian off of life support. I didn’t stick around the hospital to see the plug get pulled out. I’ve already swayed to this number. Next came the hardest thing: going through Harry’s contact list and calling all the ex-live-in girlfriends and even before I was so despondent and distraught over the whole ordeal that I even reached out to a voice I hadn’t heard in thirty years.
Out of desperation, I called Linda Freeman, the old high school girlfriend, I figure if I’m talking to people of Harry’s past, why should I be shut out and not reach into my own? Linda Freeman now lives like seven miles from me in Burbank nearly on the same street I currently reside on that stretches all the way back to Sherman Oaks. We’re only separated by two Westfield shopping malls and she resides here because her daughter Danika Yarosh is a now budding young child actor, having achieved supporting and guest starring roles on Law & Order:SVU, In Plain Sight, some shows for Nickelodeon, and can be currently seen on the American version of the British television hit Shameless starring William Macy.
She advised me that I should take that check down to the bank and see if I could open an account with it and perhaps donate some of the money to Harry’s grandchildren and daughter who live in Australia and take what you need to finance the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway project. So that’s what I did, took Linda’s advice and it turns out due to how the check was written out, it was no good to cash. So I called the family and told them about what I was attempting to do and they got mighty pissed off at me, particularly the brother out in Las Vegas, but Harry’s other sister from San Jose gave me the money from her personal account to pay off the lawyer I needed to negotiate with Genesis’ manager Tony Smith. I stumbled by Linda’s phone number and address merely by coincidence in the SAG database, which was how I accidentally came across Phil Collins’ film agent.
So now, my role in terms of Harry’s estate is that I shall remain as the curator of all of Harry’s demos, hoping to one day have friends and members of family treasure these precious musical gifts he has left the world. To my utter amazement, I came across three songs co-written by John Wetton and Curt Cuomo entitled “I Can’t Tell You”, “Back in Your Loving Arms” and “Power, Sex, & Money”. The latter was re-tweaked by John Wetton and Geoff Downes to be included on their Icon 3 album released in 2009. Harry nor I were aware that John brought that song back out of the mothballs. I gave looking for it in the record store bins a long while ago, even though I own the first two records in the Icon series. I’m sure if Harry was aware of its’ existence, I’d think he’d be a different man today.
Tomorrow: a run down of all Yes box sets and live collections.