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GONZO WEEKLY #75: Jon meets Corky Laing

Corky Laing is one of the more entertaining rock stars that I know to talk to. But who is he? Wash your mind out with soap honey chile! Corky Laing is a legend in his own lunchtime. Over to those jolly nice folks at Wikipedia:

Laurence Gordon "Corky" Laing (born January 26, 1948) is a Canadian rock drummer, best known as a longtime member of pioneering American hard rock band Mountain. A native of Montreal, Quebec, Laing was the youngest in a family of five children. His eldest sister Carol was followed by triplet brothers, Jeffrey, Leslie, and Stephen, and then by Corky. According to Corky, his brothers called him "Gorky" because they could not pronounce his given name "Gordon". "Gorky" eventually morphed into Corky, a moniker which has remained with him throughout his career.

Getting his break playing drums for vocal group The Ink Spots in 1961, he later played in a group called Energy, who were produced by Cream collaborator and Laing's future bandmate Felix Pappalardi. Laing left Energy in 1969 to replace drummer N.D. Smart in hard rock outfit and heavy metal forerunner Mountain, who, with Laing at the drum kit, released three albums and the classic song "Mississippi Queen" between 1970 and 1971.

After the band's first breakup the following year, Laing and Mountain bandmate Leslie West went on to form blues-rock power trio West, Bruce and Laing with former Cream bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce. West, Bruce and Laing produced two studio albums and a live release before Mountain reformed in 1974 and released two more albums, Avalanche and the live Twin Peaks, only to break up again shortly after. The band would once again reconvene in 1985 upon the release of Go For Your Life, and Laing has continued with them to this day, most recently working on the band's 2007 Bob Dylan cover album Masters of War.

But where do I come in? I have been working on a new and updated edition of his volume of rock and roll war stories, Stick It! And the other day I had a long telephone conversation with him during which we corrected his proofs, added some pictures and general stuff like that.

In passing he told me about the latest developments in his “Playing God” Project. This is such a singular endeavour that I think that I should quote the original press release:

Mountain meets bioethics! The legendary Corky Laing teams up with two internationally acclaimed philosophers (Prof. Matti Häyry and Dr Tuija Takala) in this joint effort that brings together '70s style music and contemporary moral problems of gene technology. Playing God is a concept album. Playing God is a musical metaphor for today's attempt to attain perfection. Musically the album covers many feels and approaches from soft ballads to riff-driven guitar rock, from meditative instrumentals to operatic melody lines.

 Canadian rock star and two Finnish philosophers write an opera together. It doesn’t get a better news story than that. I have already spoken to him about the concept of the opera before in these pages and on Gonzo Web Radio, but now the project Has entered a new stage—they are playing it live and I was fascinated to hear how it went. Listen to our conversation here.

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