|Richard Lloyd (with Fred Smith)|
That said, the book's juicy as hell. In the late-60s in Los Angeles, Lloyd palled around with the idiosyncratic guitarist and performer Velvert Turner, a protege of Jimi Hendrix's from whom Lloyd claims to have learned tricks on the guitar. For a time in the mid-70s he hung with Anita Pallenberg and Keith Richards, the latter of whom invited Lloyd down to Jamaica with him on a whim. Drug abuse permeates the book, and the extent of Lloyd's drugging is astonishing; that he's alive is a remarkable testament to, as he sees it, his stamina, native curiosity in the expanding limits of body-testing, luck, and prayer. Lloyd's other major preoccupation in the book, sex, is mostly of the mid- and late-70s one-off variety, much of it emotionally engaging for Lloyd, a lot of it degrading and tawdry, and sometimes mean-spirited, for both parties. There's a funny scene involving Keith Moon in a tux. Lloyd gets digs in at his fellow band mates, endeavors to correct one or two errors in others' memoirs of the era and scene, and details the up-and-down recordings sessions of Television's two albums (Marquee Moon and Adventure) all with an innocent, wide-eyed view of the wonder of the world and the strange people doing strange, sometimes weird, sometimes tragic, often funny things on it.
Two of my favorite moments in the book revolve around music, unsurprisingly. One occasion is couched in a very particular moment in time. Television's second album Adventure entered the English charts at #7, but as Lloyd observes, "the timing of our tour for the record was all wrong. While on tour we received a sample of The Cars’ new record. That’s when we knew we were done for in terms of mainstream radio airplay."
We were sitting on the tour bus while listening to it and Tom [Verlaine] threw up his hands and said, “Well that’s it—that’s a commercial Television. Elektra now has a band that is commercial and they are going to forget about us.”Verlaine, however despairing, was on the money about Ric Ocasek's band; they were just on this side of pop in their arty songwriting, a Top 40 instinct that Television seemed to lack. Lloyd: "Too bad, but we broke up later that year anyway."
The other moment is more universal. Lloyd's hanging out with Keith Richards at Richards's house in Connecticut, when Keef asks Lloyd if he'd "like to have a play." Nervously, he says yes. "Two acoustic guitars soon arrived," Lloyd recalls. "This shocked me a little bit because I was used to playing electric guitar and hardly ever played acoustic."
I always say that I play the electricity while the guitar plays me and the three of us dance while the music comes out.
Photo of Richard Lloyd and Fred Smith of Television performing at CBGB's in New York City on March 14, 1980 via Getty Images