A Dead Singer

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A novella by Michael Moorcock featuring Jimi Hendrix and Shakey Mo Collier.

A veteran rock band roadie, Mo, with an addictive and dependent personality sees the (possibly) resurrected Jimi standing on an Imperial Airways flying boat taxiing toward a landing at Derwentwater. Thereafter, Mo keeps Jimi — the object of his hero worship — in isolation, traveling across the English and Scottish countryside in a black Mercedes camper. Jimi solely communicates with Mo and instructs the driver to keep secret his whereabouts.

The story begins as Mo’s addiction to speed is relapsing; as the story progresses, his drug consumption and paranoid psychosis increase until he returns to Ladbroke Grove to meet up with a drug dealer named Dave and score a large quantity of uppers, the consumption of which contributes to his death by overdose in a basement crash pad in Oxford Gardens.

The morning after Mo’s death, a girl from the Oxford Gardens pad, who admits to herself that she may be hallucinating, sees a black man who strongly resembles Jimi Hendrix enter the apartment, confirm Mo’s death, then drive away from the scene in the Mercedes camper.

Publishing History

Notable geographic and other mentions

  • Hawkwind. Mo makes approving comments about the then-new HW cassette, and “Hawkwind is Ace” graffiti appears on a men’s room wall.
  • Cawthorn. Mo wears a “Cawthorn” tee shirt at the time he picks up Chris.
  • The Deep Fix. Mo has been a driver for The Deep Fix, who gave him a white Dodge convertible after the band stopped going on the road.
  • Light. Another band for which Mo worked as a roadie.
  • The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison and Alice Cooper. As a set, regarded as “evil trippers” and “wankers” by Mo (p. 27).
  • Ace. Jenny is playing music by Ace on the stereo in the Lancaster Road flat she shares with Dave when Mo purchases his pills from Dave.
  • The Mountain Grill. Where Mo goes to meet a drug dealer named Dave after Mo and Jimi return to Ladbroke Grove.
  • Lancaster Road in London, UK. Street where the apartment home of Dave and his girlfriend Jenny is located.
  • Oxford Gardens in London, UK. Where Mo O.D.s and where the resurrected Jimi is first sighted by a character other than Mo.

Thematic notes, quotes, fragments and comments

  • 1. Use of the dead for selfish purposes/own needs.
  • 2. Hero worship.
  • 3. Mo thinks, “Jimi had known what he was doing, even when he died…You had to have faith in him” (p. 12 - Dying for Tomorrow, 1st DAW printing, 1978).
  • 4. Post-collapse of institutional religions, the story illustrates how a secular (anti-establishment) figure may be elevated to the iconic or beatified status of a martyr.
  • 5. Worship = addiction (“Mo, you stay with me wherever I go” (p. 18 - Dying for Tomorrow, 1st DAW printing, 1978)).
  • 6. Mo thinks, “It occurred to him he was wasting his time thinking about nothing but bands, but what else was there to think about?...The mystical thing didn’t mean much to him…most people who told you they wanted to help you were getting off on you in some way…You got into people when you were tripping. Acid had done a lot for him that way. He could suss out the hype-merchants so easily these days. And by that test Jimi couldn’t be a fake” (p. 27 - Dying for Tomorrow, 1st DAW printing, 1978).
  • 7. The red-haired woman be a symbolic reference to Jung’s anima archetype. This image recurs in “Behold the Man”.