Riff Raff

INXS Frontman Michael Hutchence Did Not Die of Autoerotic Asphyxiation But police sources insisted that the singer with the Australian band INXS had killed himself and was not the victim of an auto-erotic sex game that went wrong. His naked body was found hanging from a leather belt in his suite. -- The London Times.

Photo Realism Creem used to bill itself as "America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine." The uninitiated would be caught short: "But wait, aren't there lots of rock 'n' roll magazines?" Well, no, not if you take the words "rock 'n' roll " to mean not about rock 'n' roll but made up of it -- like the phrase "rock 'n' roll song." Anyway, we were thinking about this while perusing S.F. photographer Jim Marshall's new book, Not Fade Away. Marshall is the famously hard-living journo who was there where it mattered -- Woodstock, with the Beatles at Candlestick Park, at San Quentin with Johnny Cash. What sets him apart is this: In your standard book of rock photos -- like the diverting new Rolling Stone book Images -- you can see various photographers working through the form, trying this trick or that to illuminate the subject. It's a legitimate approach, but Marshall's different: He doesn't evolve, and he doesn't have tricks. He just has a journalist's sense of the need to convey what he sees as the truth, and he has a poet's gift of making that effort somehow redolent in the shots themselves. The result is a book of photographs with a penetratingly honest, sometimes dizzying force. He's been working for nearly 40 years -- the earliest sample here is a typically kinetic 1960 stage shot of Chubby Checker. Along the way he essentially invented the vocabulary of rock photography -- the images that others have worked off in the years since: Otis Redding, head back, crooning into the mike at Monterey; Mick Jagger singing in a dark studio, hands clasping the headphones; the Allmans laughing in the Fillmore East cover shot; and so many other stars -- Janis Joplin, Alice Cooper, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson -- ruminative in hotel rooms or collapsed sweatily backstage. Perhaps the sharpest of these is a tired Joplin clutching a bottle of Southern Comfort in an ungainly sprawl on a dressing-room couch. In an accompanying story, Marshall recalls, "People said her legs looked too fat; But Janis said, 'Hey, that's a great shot because it's how it is sometimes. Lousy.' But you know, I really don't care if Janis liked the picture or not." That's rock 'n' roll. Marshall will be at a reception and book-signing from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 16, at the Serge Sorokko Gallery, 231 Grant (at Post). Call 421-7770 for details. (B.W.)

Michael Hutchence Did Not Die of Autoerotic Asphyxiation Detectives in Sydney yesterday ruled out auto-erotic sex games as the cause of rock star Michael Hutchence's death but said they were awaiting toxicology tests to determine whether he had taken drugs or alcohol. -- The Guardian.

Who Knows What Lurks in the Heart of Shadow? Valentine's Day is traditionally the day of paper hearts, candy, and lovers; in 1998, it will be a day of phat beats, maniacal scratching, and a collaboration between two of hip hop's finest innovators. On heart day 1998, DJ Shadow will release his second album, Pre-emptive Strike, a collection of rereleased import singles and a sprinkling of new songs; "Camel Bobsled Race," the slated first single, will feature San Francisco DJ Q-Bert. In 1996, the Davis-based DJ Shadow's debut LP, Endtroducing, reinvigorated withering hip hop with one experimental blow. His musical collages -- based entirely on rare samples -- spotlighted a thriving culture of turntablists, or DJs who use record players like traditional instruments, and widened the divide between commercial rap and underground hip hop. DJ Q-Bert, a member of the Invisibl Skratch Piklz DJ collective, dented contemporary hip hop with the scratching wizardry showcased on hip-hop cult fave Dr. Octagonecologyst. It's exactly this razor-sharp scratching that Q-Bert lends to Shadow's Pre-emptive Strike. Q-Bert says the two collaborated on "Camel Bobsled Race," a 30-minute single that weaves new inventive scratches into Shadow's older beats. "I took all the beats from Shadow's past releases and created a medley of instrumentals, throwing down scratches on top. Each of his beats has its own personality, so I developed unique scratches to fit each one." Q-Bert says the partnership stems from a friendship that goes back seven years. "I've been friends with Shadow since 1990. We met 'cause both of us were in the hip-hop DJ circuit and shared similar names at the time. I was in a collective called Shadow of the Prophet, which was changed to Invisibl Skratch Piklz when too many DJs with shadow names were on the scene." Shadow approached Q-Bert about the project last summer when both were hanging out. "Shadow came over one day and presented the idea. When I accepted, he handed me a stack of his old records and I went to it." (R.A.)

We Repeat, Hutchence Did Not Die of Autoerotic Asphyxiation Initial speculation that Mr. Hutchence could have died as a result of an auto-erotic game that went wrong was dismissed by police who implied they were treating the death as suicide. Later, a police statement said it was too early to reach any conclusions. -- The Ottawa Citizen.

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