Andy Warhol Presents Man on the Moon: The John Phillips Space Musical

tr This Summer, Varese Sarabande will release John Phillips’ Andy Warhol Presents: Man On The Moon, featuring Phillips’ compositions and performances, studio recordings as well as a cassette recording by Andy Warhol of a performance and more.

The off-Broadway musical Man On The Moon was conceived by John Phillips and his third wife, the South African actress, Genevieve Waite, as a potential film or stage production originally entitled Space. John would spend more time trying to realize this project than anything else he worked on in his career; nearly five years all told, beginning in 1969 during the period he was recording his first solo album, John The Wolf King Of LA.

Space was born the day Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon. Like millions of other people, John watched the 1969 moon landing on TV. He was living, at the time, on the Malibu property rented by British film director Michael Sarne, who was under contract at Fox to direct the adaptation of Gore Vidal’s novel, Myra Breckenridge, with Rex Harrison, Raquel Welch and Mae West. Sarne had commissioned John to write songs for the film.

The Apollo 11 moon landing became an obsession. John would watch a recording of the TV transmission made on an early video tape machine over and over. The idea of exploring this new frontier – and particularly Neil Armstrong’s scripted aside as he stepped onto the lunar surface that it was, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” – fired John’s imagination, and he began to piece together ideas for a mythical space opera set to music. “He loved myths,” says Genevieve, who was first introduced to John by Sarne that summer. “He liked Homer – The Illiad and The Odyssey.”

John first began performing a small song cycle he had written about “space exploration” as early as the fall of 1970, as part of the short tour he undertook to promote Wolf King. Over the next two years, he and Genevieve formulated ideas for the story, and created a theatrical treatment (later adapted as a screenplay). Seeking a backer, they pitched it to Michael Butler, producer of the stage musical Hair. He provided seed money to realize a book and a score for Space, and brought a young director called Michael Bennett on board.

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