WHO'S NEXT?: CIA Killings of American and British Rock Musicians,1968-1998
by Alex Constantine
Research assistance: The late Mae Brussell's "Operation CHAOS," an unpublished essay, and film-maker Lew Lee.
Reports of appalling excesses committed by domestic intelligence operatives during the Vietnam era have surfaced repeatedly in the public print since the evacuation of Saigon: the FBI's COINTELPRO outrages, the probable involvement of military intelligence officers in the murder of Martin Luther King, et.al,, assaults on 1960s activism by the CIA's CHAOS division, the distribution of LSD to subvert the anti-war movement, a litany of Watergate "horrors" and various ill-conceived, federally-sanctioned undercover operations. Some of this closet activity has only come to light decades later, including the existence of a CIA-led "Sovereign Committee," an assemblage of prominent reactionaries bent on turning back the civil rights movement in the South of the 1960s by decimating the lives of its leading spokesmen.
Still eclipsed by federal classification are the tactics of the U.S. intelligence sector in the destabilization of the lives of musicians and counter-cultural activists, as revealed in a Senate Intelligence Committee report released on April 26, 1976:
"Show them as scurrilous and depraved. Call attention to their habits and living conditions, explore every possible embarrassment. Send in women and sex, break up marriages. Have members arrested on marijuana charges. Investigate personal conflicts or animosities between them. Send articles to the newspapers showing their depravity. Use narcotics and free sex to entrap. Use misinformation to confuse and disrupt. Get records of their bank accounts. Obtain specimens of handwriting. Provoke target groups into rivalries that MAY RESULT IN DEATH."
Killing was, without question, deemed a sound option by an intelligence sector embroiled in suppressing the popular backlash to military-industrial authority. One covert operation proposed by the President Nixon's Plumbers unit,, a CIA cadré, involved the bombing of 100,000 demonstrators at a rock concert in Mission Bay, San Diego during the 1972 Republican convention (an event subsequently moved to Miami, where the same White House special operations unit planned to provoke a riot to be blamed on the Left, per Harper's magazine for December 1972, until the whistle was blown by FBI informant and Green Beret vet William Lemmer before a Florida grand jury).
The music industry of the Vietnam period was the binding force of a cultural revolution. Music and the politics of the Left were one. "War," Mick Jagger reflected, "stems from power mad politicians and patriots. Some new master plan would end all these mindless men from seats of power." Mick Jagger's audience sang his revulsion, but their enmity toward the warfare state was mutual.
The back channels of the intelligence world swarmed with crooks and killers. This genré belched forth the late Robert Hall, associate of Robert Vesco and Howard Hughes, a private investigator in L.A. summed up by former Harper's editor Jim Hougan: "tough, reasonably brave and decidedly larcenous ... a father, a wiretapper, an informer, a dope peddler and a double agent" (Spooks, William Morrow, 1878).
Hall tailed Sal Mineo one evening in 1975 ... the very night the actor was stabbed to death. (Mineo's had signed on to play Sirhan Sirhan in a film about the murder of Robert F. Kennedy - in it, CIA assassination and post-hypnotic programming were to be prominently featured themes.)
Hall was retained by the managers of seven rock bands to investigate physicians who'd slipped their musicians fraudulent prescriptions, drugs that altered their personalities, sabotaged public appearances, hindered their lives and music.
Hall reported that two doctors and a dentist had prescribed the mind-altering drugs. This information was turned over to the authorities. No action was taken. Hall was gunned down shortly thereafter, on July 22, 1976. The homicide investigation turned up tapes recorded by Robert Hall. Beverly Hills Police Chief Jack Eggars immediately resigned due to his involvement with the drug dealer, as revealed in the tapes. The media, observed the late political researcher Mae Brussell, linked the killing to "Hollywood's most famous celebrities in drug and sex scandals, exposures of television starts and high Washington officials, drug traffic from Los Angeles to the Malibu community, international sports events, the Los Angeles police department (one of their former agents is now retired, and heads the Police Science Department at L.A. Valley College and supplied the fatal weapon used to kill Hall)."
Jack Ginsburgs, Hall's partner, was charged with the murder. Ginsburgs, according to Hougan, was "a pornographer, the proprietor of XXX, Inc. The son of a White Russian émigré, he'd spent his youth inside the decadent Shanghai Bund - that romantic foreign colony which [was] a meld of opium, kinky sex and intrigue." Gene LeBell was also charged. LeBell, another partner in Hall's firm, owned a pharmacy in Hollywood.
Between 1967 and 1976, many of the music industry's most politically active talents died, among them Mama Cass Elliott, folk singers Richard Farina, Phil Ochs and Tim Buckley, Jim and Pamela Morrison, Gram Parsons, Otis Redding, songwriter Jimmy Reed, Clarence White of the Byrds, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead's "Pig Pen," Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jeffrey (Hendrix's manager), Keith Moon, others. Since, the deaths of John Lennon and Bob Marley were succeeded by books exploring the possible involvement of the CIA.
Operation Chaos (forthcoming), will examine evidence of complicity by the intelligence "services" - recruiters of morally-erosive holdouts of fascist regimes and Mafia stinkbugs - in the deaths of over a dozen musicians associated with the "New Left," among them:
Brian Jones: The coroner's report concluded, "death by misadventure" on July 2, 1969. the Rolling Stone complained that police planted marijuana on him, and he compared his handling by the law to the hounding of Lenny Bruce, recalling the tactics detailed in the 1976 Congressional Intelligence Committee report. Two books published in 1994, Paint It Black by Geoffrey Guiliano and Terry Rawlings' Who Killed Christopher Robin?, concluded that Jones had been murdered. England's Independent reported on April 4, 1994, "Murder Claims Raise Doubts Over Rolling Stone's Death." The 27-year-old guitarist may have been "deliberately drowned in the swimming pool of his country mansion by one of his aides, Frank Thorogood." The books cited above are in agreement that before Jones drowned, Thorogood conned the musician out of thousands of pounds. Was Thorogood a contract killer?
Keith Richards: "Some very weird things happened the night Brian died. We had these chauffeurs working for us, and we tried to find out. Some of them had a weird hold over Brian. I got straight into it and wanted to know who was there and couldn't find out. The only cat I could ask was the one I think who got rid of everybody, and did a whole disappearing thing so that when the cops arrived, it was just an accident."
Phil Ochs: Wrote songs condemning war. In 1974 he sang at Madison Square Garden with Bob Dylan, the occasion: "An Evening with Salvadore Allendé." The death of Phil Ochs was determined to be "death by hanging" in April, 1976. Two years before, he'd had a bout of depression and bizarre behavior that left him with a multiple personality, a psychological state much explored by the CIA's mind control community.
Richard Farina: Married Mimi Baez, sister of Joan Baez - to the national security state born. Joan Baez wrote in her autobiography, And a Voice to Sing With (Signet, 1987), that when she was a young girl, "most of the bright young Stanford scientists went off to Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the atomic bomb was being developed. My father recognized the potential destructive power of the unleashed atom even in those early days. So he took a job as a research physicist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York." Cornell was the home base of the CIA's mind control experiments, and Joan Baez is a self-described survivor of ritual child abuse, which employs a form of mind control, trauma-based programming, a technique perfected by the CIA.
"Soon my father was invited to become Head of Operations Research at Cornell. Exactly what the job entailed was classified information, but he was offered a three-week cruise on an aircraft carrier as an introduction to the project and promised a huge salary. As it turned out, he would be overseeing Project Portrex, a vast amphibious exercise which among other things involved testing fighter jets, then a relatively new phenomenon. Millions of dollars would be poured into the project, about which he was to know little and say less." Farina, who had married into a CIA family, was killed in a motorcycle crash. According to the sleeve of his last record, "Goldwater was about to win the California primary and the skies were somewhat uneasy."
Jimi Hendrix: From the Sunday Telegraph, December 12, 1993: "The former girlfriend of Jimi Hendrix, the rock guitarist, spoke for the first time yesterday about how she has succeeded in reopening the investigation into his drug-related death 23 years ago.
"Kathy Etchingham has spent the past three years - almost as long as she was Hendrix's live-in lover - investigating the circumstances surrounding the star's death. A 34-page dossier she sent to Sir Nicholas Lyell, the attorney-general, has prompted Scotland Yard to reopen the case and may lead to a new inquest. In it she pointed to alleged inconsistencies in statements given by Monika Dannemann, a German blonde who was Hendrix's girlfriend at the time of his death.... The police will examine whether there was any delay in calling an ambulance for Hendrix....
"Etchingham, 46, now married and a mother of two, said: At the time of his death I didn't doubt what I was told. But then I began reading the biographies and seeing interviews and I could see gaping holes."
Mama Cass Elliott: Count in her entourage at the time of her death one Bill Mentzer, since convicted for the murder of fledgling Hollywood producer Roy Radin. Mentzer was convicted with an accomplice, Alex Marti, former leader of an Argentine death squad, to life in prison. Cass had recently finished two weeks at the London Palladium. The coroner's report was not conclusive. She "probably choked to death," but there was "a possibility of heart attack."
Bob Marley: After the last performance of Bob Marley and the Wailers in America, at Madison Square Garden, Marley took seriously ill. Three years before, in London, the singer had injured a toe in a football match. The toe was found to be cancerous, and Marley was treated in Miami, Florida with no success. By 1980, the growth had infected his entire body. He struggled with the disease for eight months at the clinic of Dr. Joseph Issels in Bavaria. Dr. Issels' brand of alternative medicine was non-toxic. For a brief time Bob's condition appeared to stabilize. Eventually, however, the battle proved too much. He died in a Miami hospital on Monday May 11, 1981. Excerpt of an interview with Lew Lee, a documentary filmmaker (the Oscar-winning Panama Deception and All Power to the People, an examination of the FBI's COINTELPRO excesses), conducted on October 30, 1997.
LEE: People came by his house. There were always people going in and out. Someone gave Bob a pair of boots. He put his foot in and said "Ow!" A friend got in there - you know how Jamaicans are. He said,"let's get in here" - in the boot, and he pulled a piece of copper wire out. It was embedded in the boot.
A.C.: Do you believe it was radioactive?
LEE: I didn't think so at the time, but I've always had my suspicions because Marley later broke his toe playing soccer, and when the bone wouldn't mend, the doctors found that the toe had cancer. The cancer metastasized throughout his body, and he [Marley] believed he could fight this thing. He wanted to do anything but to turn to Western medicine. This may have been a mistake, maybe not. So they appointed for Bob - Chris Blackwell, I guess, and a couple of other people - they found this doctor is Switzerland, Dr. Issels, who said that he could cure Bob. And they cut Bob's dreadlocks off. And he was getting all of this crazy, crazy medical treatment in Switzerland. I know this because Ray Von Evans, who played in Marley's grounp, we were very close friends. As Bob was receiveing these medical treatments, Ray would come by every two or three months - 1979-80 - and told me, "Yeah, mon,They're killing Bob. They are KILLING Bob." I said, "What do you mean 'they are killing Bob?'" "No, no, mon," he said. "Dis Dr. Issels, he's a Nazi!" We found out later that Dr. Issels WAS a Nazi doctor. And he had worked with Dr. [Joseph] Mengele.
Mengele survived the war and enjoyed the protection and employment of the CIA. On five occasions his death has been reported. Attempts to bring the facts to light have been subverted by employees of the Agency. John Lennon: British barrister Fenton Bresler has long maintained that the Beatle's murder was the result of CIA mind control programming. In Who Killed John Lennon? (1989), Bresler observed: "What really got the FBI and CIA so geared up about Lennon was [his plan] for a 'revolutionary road show,' starring Lennon and Yoko. This combination of rock music and radical politics was to barnstorm its way across America." Did a programmed killer abort the said barnstorm? The FBI has long resisted all efforts by Jon Weiner, a professor at the university of California, Irvine, to lay hands on Lennon's file, which remains top secret. Why?
The mystery of Lennon's death - and unresolved circumstances in a score of others (the theft and burning of Byrd guitarist Clarence White's corpse by a Manson Family member, for one) - could well be dispelled by access to sealed files. The National Security Act of 1947, the CIA charter, does not grant national security thugs a license to kill.
Kirby The Konspiracy Boy Says, "I NEED 2 KONFORM!!!"