Gary Lachman  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Gary Lachman (born December 24, 1955, Bayonne, New Jersey, United States) is an American writer and musician. Lachman is best known to readers of mysticism and the occult, in the numerous articles and books he has published. He is additionally known by his stage name as Gary Valentine to musical fans as one of the founders, and bassist for the Alternative rock/New Wave band, Blondie.



Musical career

Gary Valentine was one of the founding members of Blondie, having joined the band as bassist in April 1975 when Fred Smith left to join Television (following Richard Hell's departure). He wrote the music and lyrics to the band's first single, "X-Offender", and popularized the band's sixties-retro look. In 1977 he left the group to form his own band and was replaced by Nigel Harrison, just as Blondie were starting to gain recognition. His song "(I'm Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear" was a UK top ten hit in 1978, and was subsequently recorded by Tracey Ullman and Annie Lennox. After Blondie, Gary moved to L.A. and in 1978 released a single, "The First One/Tomorrow Belongs to You" on Beat Records. Shortly after this he formed The Know, with Joel Turrisi and Richard d'Andrea who were the first band to play the infamous Madame Wong's Chinese restaurant-turned-new wave venue. (Valentine's claim to this distinction has been verified by several eye-witnesses.) After a year and a half Joel left the band and was replaced by drummer John McGarvey. In 1980 The Know released a single "I Like Girls/Dreams" on Planet Records and were the only bi-coastal US "power pop" band, developing large followings in New York and Los Angeles. Failing to secure an album deal, he disbanded The Know and in 1981 played guitar with Iggy Pop. In 1996, after moving to London, he was asked to participate in the Blondie re-union, and in November of that year he recorded one of his songs, "Amor Fati," with Blondie, for their 'comeback' album. In 1997 he performed with Blondie at several major festival concerts in the US. Back in London Gary worked with former X-Ray Spex saxophonist Lora Logic. In 1998 he formed Fire Escape with violinist Ruth Jones and performed songs he had written for the Blondie reunion album (they had not been used due to the band ultimately excluding him from the recording process and the reunion tour). They released an EP to little fanfare and went on a permanent hiatus after two years. A compilation of Gary's work in music entitled Tomorrow Belongs to You, was released in 2003 on the UK label Overground Records.

In 2006, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, because of his time with Blondie, although Harry prohibited ex-members from performing with the current line-up at the ceremony.

Literary career

Lachman moved to London in 1996 and became a full-time writer, contributing to The Guardian, Mojo, Times Literary Supplement and other journals. His first book, Turn Off Your Mind: The Mystic Sixties and the Dark Side of the Age of Aquarius, a revisionist history of the 1960s counterculture, appeared in 2001. It was followed in 2002 by New York Rocker: My Life in The Blank Generation, an account of his years on the New York (CBGB) and Los Angeles music scene in the 1970s. In 2003 he produced A Secret History of Consciousness, a study of non-reductive, non-materialist accounts of consciousness, with detailed discussions of Owen Barfield, Julian Jaynes, Jean Gebser, Juri Moskvitin, hypnagogia, and related themes. The Dedalus Book of the Occult: A Dark Muse (2004) charted the influence of the occult on western literature since the Enlightenment. The following years saw several more books, on the related themes of consciousness, the counter culture, and the influence of the occult and esoteric thought on mainstream western culture, including biographies of the Russian philosopher P.D. Ouspensky (2004), the Austrian "spiritual scientist" Rudolf Steiner (2007), the Swedish religious thinker Emanuel Swedenborg (2006), and the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung (2010). Recent works include a study of writers and suicide, The Dedalus Book of Literary Suicides: Dead Letters (2008), with essays on Walter Benjamin, Yukio Mishima, Hermann Hesse, and others, and a history of occultism and politics, Politics and the Occult: The Right, the Left, and the Radically Unseen (2008), which addresses the theme of fascism and the occult through the work of Julius Evola, Rene Schwaller de Lubicz, Mircea Eliade, and others. He is a regular contributor to the Independent on Sunday, Fortean Times, and other journals in the US and UK, lectures frequently and occasionally broadcasts on the BBC. His work has been compared to Colin Wilson, and has been translated into German, Finnish, Czech, Russian, French, Dutch, Spanish, Norwegian, Italian and Portuguese.




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