Black Francis & Frank Black

4 Feb

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Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV was born in 1965 and lived in Boston and Los Angeles as a child. He had a religious background and was influenced by the music of Larry Norman after he saw him at a summer camp that he attended as a youth. His parents played 1960’s rock and 1970’s Jesus music as he began to play the guitar at around the age of 11. After attending college he began to play with other people and in 1984 his college roommate was guitarist Joseph Alberto Santiago who he later formed the Pixies with. To complete the band they added a rhythm section comprised of bassist Kim Deal and drummer Dave Lovering. Thompson changed his name to Black Francis as the front man for the Pixies.

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The band drew critical acclaim as an alternative rock band and began a new genre for bands like Nirvana and Radiohead. Their fans range from David Bowie and Bono to P. J. Harvey and Thom Yorke. Thompson was the primary song writer and singer and the songs used surrealistic Biblical imagery in much of the music. They released 5 albums during their primary heyday and β€œSurfer Rosa” was considered their peak in 1988. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3r-xMt9JmM&list=PLZqsyBiYZFQ3IvEJS2LrYkQMxIJWJemDN . A documentary chronicling their career with interviews and music clips tell the story very well at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjAhm82v1es

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After the Pixies broke up Thompson changed his name to Frank Black and formed Frank Black & the Catholics.” The band was comprised of Scott Boutier on drums, Rich Gilbert on guitar, David McCaffrey on bass and Dave Philips on guitar & keyboards. Thompson in the form of Frank Black fronted the band as the lead singer and guitarist.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OW5FolPhmRA Utube 1998 release β€œFrank Black & the Catholics.”

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I saw them play in Portland, Oregon at the Crystal Ballroom in 2001. I covered it for the Wittenburg Door as part of a story I was working on about the relationship that Biblical imagery has to pop music. I photographed it as well and included some of the images. .At the same show David Lovering, the drummer for the Pixies performed a magic act prior to Frank Black and the band taking the stage where he created smoke with a drum and barbequed a pickle between 2 forks using an electric cord.

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Then in 2004 I photographed a reunion performance from a Pixies tour in Eugene, Oregon. It was after I became friends with Larry Norman who informed me of his friendship with Charles Thompson and how he influenced his music. I found out that Thompson even recorded and performs a cover of Norman’s song β€œ666.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqTxI5wTAwQ . One day when Larry was over my house in 2002 he was in my office sitting in my swivel chair with his feet up on the desk and he pointed to a box that said β€œFrank Black and the Catholics.”

β€œCan I see that box?” He asked.

When I brought it down and gave it to him he asked for my loupe and I turned on the translucent viewing screen for him to view the slides and negatives on. I had some black & white enlargements that I printed up in the dark room and even a contact sheet, along with some 4×6 color prints that I had the custom lab do. I gave Larry the prints that he liked and he told me about how Thompson’s mother was a Jesus freak like we were. Larry went to the same show that I did in Eugene in 2004 and I sent him scans of some of the best shots that I took at the show, which I included in this blog entry.

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