The Magic Tramps had various line-ups over the years, however Sesu Coleman (drums) & Lary Chaplan (violin) were two of the main architects of the group who, thru the years, carried on the group name, tradition and direction.
The Magic Tramps formed in Hollywood, CA as an experimental, instrumental, underground, theatrical rock band called Messiah. We became the house band for a club on Sunset Blvd. called, Temple Of The Rainbow (circa 1968-71). When not performing original material there, we played various blues bars in the Valley under the name Magic Tramps.
The original line-up of Messiah was:
Sesu Coleman on Drums
Lary Chaplan on Violin
Young Blood (Xavier) on Guitar
All material was improvised without lyrics except for some chants. Young Blood knew Eric Emerson from filming Lonesome Cowboys in LA for Andy Warhol and thought he would be a perfect fit for our music and theatrical stage show. I, Sesu, was the Indian Warrior; Lary was the classical, dark-ages maestro; and Young Blood was the cosmic neon space man. Upon contacting Eric, he came to Hollywood from NYC - a Heat, Chelsea Girls, Lonesome Cowboy, Warhol Superstar, live & in person. He was a natural showman.
The band was now complete with "Cowboys and Indians" and "Dark-Ages Space men." We now had a vocalist and direction as we turned our music into song & story formats, maintaining our originality as we continued to create a unique sound.
After an earthquake in early 1971, Eric suggested we travel to New York City. He knew Andy Warhol would embrace us and he spoke highly of a nightclub/restaurant that had an upstairs music hall that hadn't been used for quite a while since the Velvet Underground played there, called Max's Kansas City.
The owner of Max's, Mickey Ruskin, was a good guy & would allow us to showcase there - off we went, LA to NYC. History was in the making.
Upon arrival Mickey said we could showcase and gave us the key to the upstairs room. Max's was the first gig we played in NYC. The entire Factory & Warhol entourage was there. I recall Paul Morrissey, Andy Warhol's film assistant, told us, "Rock & Roll will never fly in NYC, cabaret is the way!" - so we created two shows; one R&R, one cabaret. Our first few gigs were played under the name Messiah (except for a few gigs under the name Star Theater). We later returned as the house band at Max's after a fairly immediate fire upstairs in which we lost some equipment. We went on to work with Jackie Curtis on Vain Victory, an off-broadway play. We played in exchange for food and drink. I was a vegetarian and didn't drink, so I ate much salad in the giant wood bowls and had chick pea fights with the band for fun.
Our unique look evolved easily into “Glam Rock” - colorful & theatrical. I was periodically wearing “white face” make-up at that time (Pre-Kiss).
Keep in mind, that there was not an established R&R scene in NYC at this time. This was the era of Pre-Kiss, Blondie, Talking Heads, Ramones, New York Dolls, etc...
Keep Reading ...