Saturday, June 1, 2013

40 Year Itch : When One Window Opens...

[Purchase Rock Bottom]

One window opens another one closes. No I haven't got the expression right.
                                                                                -Robert Wyatt

On June 1st, 1973 Robert Wyatt, drunk on Southern Comfort, whiskey and tequila, fell out of a fourth story window during a party. He was paralysed from the waist down. As Wyatt recovered in the hospital, his friend and champion John Peel made an appeal to his listeners.

Wyatt learned of his situation from a busy doctor making the rounds:

The doctor comes around ...and he sits on the edge of the bed and he says "Now then, you probably don't know why you're here. You're here because you're a paraplegic.You're paralysed from the waist and you'll never walk again. It'll probably knock 10 years off the end of your life. 20 if you smoke" and he went on to the next bed.

Wyatt would be in the hospital for a year. Pink Floyd performed two benefit concerts to help Wyatt pay his medical bills. When Wyatt got out, he was surprised to learn he could still be a musician.

"I was just relieved that I could do something from a wheelchair. If anything, being a paraplegic helped me with the music because being in hospital left me free to dream, and to really think through the music."

Music that would appear on the 1974 cult classic album Rock Bottom and on his surprising hit single, a cover of "I'm A Believer" (UK#29), which he performed on Top of the Pops. Wyatt had a fruitful decade, performing with Henry Cow, Phil Manzanera, Brian Eno and Elvis Costello. He continues to be an influence to everyone with art rock pretensions to this day.

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