Throbbing Gristle

 

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The last of a three post tribute to Genesis P-Orridge, who passed away on March 14th, 2020. P–Orridge had been battling leukemia for two years, so the passing wasn’t a surprise. S/he was 70 years old.

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As stated in previous posts, Genesis P-Orridge was many things. Among them, a poet, an artist in both fine and performance art, archivist, musician, occultist, and all around trangressor. Between 1993 – 2009, Genesis went under a series of body and face modifications with S/he wife Lady Jaye under ‘The Pandrogeny Project.’ The goal was to create a third gender. This is the reason for the S/he pronoun after 1993.

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Genesis’ path towards creative transgression started after leaving art university sometime during the late 60s, Gen joined a London counter culture commune. These communes were popular during those days. After moving back to Hull, he met Christine Carol Newby, better known as Cosey Fan Tutti. Tutti and P-Orridge became a couple, and formed COUM Tranmissions.

COUM Tranmissions wasn’t exactly ‘kid friendly’ entertainment.

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Influenced by the Dada movement, the performance art collective specialized in subversive confrontation. Subject matter included taboos such as prostitution and pornography.

 

In fact, it was the art performance of The Prostitution Show that gathered the attention of  not only the British press, but of Parliament. It was a conservative MP who declared the event, and persons involved to be “wreckers of civilization”.

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The Prostitution Show was also the debut of the seminal band Throbbing Gristle. Formed by P-orridge, Tutti, and Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson, with Chris Carter joining. Throbbing Gristle is considered one of founders of the genre  Industrial Music. 

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(Check out this PDF file.)

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Industrial has since morphed into various other sub-genres. If it wasn’t for Throbbing Gristle, certain bands wouldn’t even exist. One prime example is mainstream rock act *Nine Inch Nails. (Later, Christopherson, who formed the band Coil, got into directing music promo videos. Christopherson later directed videos for Nine Inch Nails)

Throbbing Gristle continued on their subversive mission. Their first gig abroad was performed in front of the Berlin Wall, before the unification. In 1980, the four piece  performed a concert at an English all boys boarding school.

On May 29th, 1981, Throbbing Gristle played their last concert in San Francisco, California, U.S.A. Gen and Sleazy went on to form Psychic TV. Sleazy later broke off from Psychic TV to begin his own band Coil. The other half became Chris and Cosey, later known as Carter Tutti.

They later reformed sometime around 2004, working on and off. During this period, three albums were released: TG Now (2004), Part Two (2007), and The Third Mind Movements (2009)

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Throbbing Gristle after reforming, mid-2000s. 

In 2009 TG embarked on U.S. tour. In New York, they played a series of concerts at a Brooklyn masonic hall, and at Le Poisson Rouge. I was lucky enough to see both TG concerts at the Brooklyn masonic temple. Not just once, but twice. During intermission TG had a meet and greet. Below are autographs in a sketch pad.

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Autographs from Throbbing Gristle. 2009.

Although I should’ve done this already, I still haven’t gotten those signatures framed. The sketchbook is tucked away somewhere in my home.

Below is a very bad cellphone recording of TG during one of those nights.

Throbbing Gristle hit another snag again in October 2010. Genesis P-Orridge announced s/her’s departure, and the rest of TG continued to tour under X-TG. The band broke up for good following the death of Sleazy. Sleazy died in his sleep, November 2010.

There’s way to much about COUM Tranmissions, and Throbbing Gristle to mention here. My suggestion is, if you can, find three books: RE/Search’s Industrial Culture Handbook (Andrea Juno and V.Vale) , the out of print Wreckers of Civilization: The Story of COUM Tranmissions and Throbbing Gristle by Simon Ford, and Cosey Fan Tutti’s 2017’s autobiography Art Sex and Music. (which does NOT paint Genesis P-Orridge in a good light; P-Orridge was described as being abusive and narcissistic.  Just one of various  accusations pointed at Gen.)

Perhaps I should do a blog post about Cosey Fan Tutti , or Chris and Cosey, aka Carter Tutti. In the meantime, here’s a sketch done in tribute to Genesis P-Orridge. Pen and ink, done March 2020.

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Illustration of Throbbing Gristle. Pen and ink. Drawn by Michele Witchipoo. March 2020. 

 

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