PF Sloan dies at 70; wrote ’60s protest song ‘Eve of Destruction’

18 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Eve of Destruction’ songwriter P.F. Sloan dies.

P.F. “Last summer I saw PF Sloan,” sang Jimmy Webb. “He was summer burned and winter blown / He turned the corner all alone.” Sloan was not Webb’s equal as a songwriter, but you have to be pretty damn good for one of the greatest writers in pop to write a song about you. Sloan, the troubled songwriter behind such classic 1960s tunes as Johnny Rivers’ Secret Agent Man and Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction, has died. Sloan was 19 and living with his parents, he wrote five songs in one night, ending at 4 a.m. with “Eve of Destruction,” a Dylan-esque lament that would soar to the top of the charts in 1965. “Eve of Destruction” was a bleak, angry look at what a bloody mess the world had become.

Howard Wuelfing, a spokesman for Sloan, said the singer-songwriter died on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles after battling pancreatic cancer for several weeks. Born Philip Gary Schlein in New York City, Sloan signed his first record deal when he was 13 and went on to write songs for such artists as the Turtles, the Grass Roots and the 5th Dimension. He also recorded eight albums of his own, the most recent being 2014’s My Beethoven, and published a memoir, What’s Exactly The Matter With Me?, which also came out last year and chronicled his life and music credits. “Phil was a key element on the music that became the sound of the Sunset Strip,” Howlin’ Wuelf Media said in the statement announcing Sloan’s death. “Phil was a true prodigy … The world has lost one of its great talents.”

PF Sloan, who has died at the age of 70 after contracting pancreatic cancer, was the kind of figure the early days of rock music threw up with high frequency, when young minds were being warped by the ferment of change being pumped out across the airwaves. He was hospitalized and claimed he had been given “lobotomy pills.” Whole years disappeared from his memory. “I was ill I guess for a good 20, maybe 25 years,” he told The Times in 2006. “It’s been overcome and there’s hope….

The following year he got his first guitar and was immediately given a lesson in how to play it from Elvis Presley, who happened to be in the music store. Supporters of lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, what in 1971 became the 26th Amendment to the US Constitution, embraced the song’s cry that “You’re old enough to kill, but not for voting.” Sloan was traumatised by his sudden fame and would allege that the song led to his being ostracised from the music industry. Catatonia for a long time.” But there was a flip side: “The only good thing about it was that I missed the whole disco era,” he jokingly told an interviewer earlier this year. Sloan’s reputation was made in the mid-60s, when Lou Adler poached him and his partner Steve Barri for his new publishing company and label, Trousdale Music and Dunhill Records, respectively. The song was controversial; politicians and other musicians debated whether its message, that violence and hypocrisy were a grave threat to civilization, was an accurate depiction of the state of the world, a healthy message to transmit in pop music, or a reasonable representation of the outlook of America’s youth.

It was a long time ago, but the key to it all was the guitar solo I had done on Melcher’s Summer Means Fun single, recorded under the name of Bruce & Terry. They thought Bob Dylan was an idiot and a communist. ” Sloan was also a singer in his own right, recording a pair of albums of Dunhill (1965’s Songs of Our Time, 1966’s Twelve More Times) alongside a handful of other solo LPs spread across the past decades. We listened to it again, and that’s how we arrived at the conclusion that what we needed was that triple reverb.” (Among other claims: he suggested the sitar on Paint It Black ; Elvis sang through his body when he lost his voice before a club show; and he met James Dean – three years after his death.

But even churning out pop hits for big labels with co-writer Steve Barri failed to make him feel like anything but an outsider. “I wanted to be loved. Sloan and Barri co-wrote for singer Johnny Rivers, became the theme to the English spy show “Secret Agent” starring Patrick McGoohan (the program was originally called “Danger Man” in England). Sloan took part in the Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival, the first ever rock music festival that took place in the Bay Area in June 1967, a week before the Monterey Pop Festival.

This was September 1965, and prophecies of apocalypse – “If the button is pushed, there’s no runnin’ away / There’ll be no one to save with the world in a grave” – weren’t necessarily an easy sell, even if the Byrds had opened the door to thoughtful, ambiguous folk rock three months earlier, when Mr Tambourine Man had reached No 1. Sloan,” penned by fellow songwriter Jimmy Webb. 2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don’t see ’em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don’t bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again. It was, at least in part, a cynical group – Adler, too, had noticed that folk rock was quite the thing and wanted a group playing it on the Dunhill label.

The network’s sixth annual event, which singles out the year’s biggest acts in country music, airs live from Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Wednesday, December 2nd, and will feature performances from some of 2015’s most buzzworthy acts. That certainly describes the first CMT Artists of the Year Breakout Award recipient, singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton, who will perform during the telecast. But the songs he wrote for them were terrific, too – Where Were You When I Needed You could have been a standout on any of the first three Byrds albums.

Then, in the late 60s, Sloan pretty much disappeared – aside from a poorly received solo album in 1972, he was silent until the 90s, hence Webb wondering in song what had happened. Last year’s inaugural honor went to Merle Haggard. “You go through your life and your career and you try to do the right things and make the right decisions,” Rogers says of the recognition in a statement. “You don’t always do that, but I have been very lucky. To CMT, the fans, and all who made this incredible award possible, I can’t thank you enough.” The 90-minute special will focus on the five acts who have dominated CMT’s platforms as well as country radio in 2015. Sloan’s autobiography, his mother beat him daily as a child, though there are dubious factual claims elsewhere in the book, including one in which Mr.

The youngster was soon recording as Flip Sloan for Alladin Records and, at 16, landed a job as a staff songwriter at Screen Gems, the production company and music publishing house.

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