Houston News & Search
Published 2:39 pm, Thursday, June 1, 2017
This week music fans are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles‘ iconic “Sgt. Pepper‘s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” and for good reason. The album marked a shift in recording technology and was also a giant leap for a pop quartet that was evolving at a lightning pace.
One of the coolest things about the album, besides songs that are now pop standards of the highest order, was the cover. It was a delicately created collage of pop culture in 1967, with the Beatles standing next to their old mop top selves. Faces from the past mingled with the Beatles’ own contemporaries.
These days Terry Southern isn’t a household name, but his influence is still felt in movies and literature.
Born in Alvarado in Johnson County in 1924, Southern’s family moved to the Dallas area where he graduated from Sunset High School. He attended Southern Methodist University before his country came calling in 1943.
After the war he spent time at the University of Chicago and Northwestern and earned a philosophy degree. He moved to Paris for four years after college and became a counterculture heavyweight.
To use the parlance of our times, he was one of the cool kids.
“The important thing in writing,” Southern said in 1964, “is the capacity to astonish. Not shock — shock is a worn-out word — but astonish. The world has no grounds whatever for complacency. The Titanic couldn’t sink, but it did. Where you find smugness, you find something worth blasting. I want to blast it.”
He would write a number of books like “The Magic Christian,” “Candy” and “Blue Movie” which pushed along the Swingin’ Sixties and were beloved by the in crowd.
Southern, with others, also wrote the screenplays for “Casino Royale,” “Barbarella,” the film version of “The Magic Christian” and most notably “Easy Rider,” along with stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. They would earn an Oscar nomination for their work on the biker hippie epic.
Later Southern was a staff writer for “Saturday Night Live” in 1981 and 1982, during the show’s somewhat lean years.
Southern died of respiratory failure in 1995 at the age 71 in Manhattan.
Houston News & Search