If Not For Ed

Here is a little Halloween sidetrack. Last year, before the Parlando project, when people asked me what I was doing, I’d tell them I was writing a rock opera.

Daft looks on their faces, particularly if they’d heard me sing. It was pretty much a conversation stopper.

“It’s about Vampira.” I’d follow up with.

Blank looks now.

But it wasn’t my idea. The idea was Dave Moore’s. Well, not the rock opera part—that was mine—but the idea of a series of pieces on Vampira was Dave’s. As I read those pieces they had voices, various emotional states, and a loose tread of events. It just seemed they needed music and I got working on that along with Dave. In the end, we had around 10 complete songs worked up as demos. This is one of them.

Vampira was the creation of Maila Nurmi, who in that character originated the concept of the drolly comic host presenting old horror movies on television in 1954 in Los Angeles; but by the time of this song in the sequence, she has left show business and is recounting one of her last roles, an appearance in 1958’s “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” often judged the worst film of all time. Oddly enough, that conspicuous badness gave the film a robust second life. Plan 9’s auteur, Ed Wood, the Ed sung about in this song, even got his own biopic.

Nurmi’s successful earlier TV work was never archived (save for this small fragment). Since her attempts to find other outlets for her character came to naught, for many people she was only known from her short appearance in this bad movie.

So here is the story of a true original who, alas, is largely remembered for being part of the worst project in her career. To hear the song selection from the Vampira project, click on the gadget below.

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One thought on “If Not For Ed

  1. Lucky for you all, the rock opera was never finished, though Frank did help me recognize the inherent musicality I wasn’t recognizing. In all my research (in my usual half-assed style) I most enjoyed Tim Burton’s film Ed Wood, which replicates several classic Vampira moments, especially the re-creation of the opening sequence for her TV show.

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