It’s about The Armageddon Rag, instead, which is the first book by him I ever read.
So this book centers around the reunion of a legendary 60s rock band called the Nazgul, who split up when their lead singer was assassinated at the conclusion of a concert. The new lead singer is, with the help of some plastic surgery, a dead ringer (sorry, not sorry) for the original, but isn’t anywhere near as good a singer. Except when they’re playing the original songs for the group and then it’s as if he’s possessed by the spirit of Patrick Henry (Hobbit) Hobbes.
Martin goes into some detail about the capabilities of all the members in the group as well as fairly extensive descriptions of their hits. I think I would have really loved the group he describes, and I’ve always wondered if he had either an entire group in mind when he created the Nazgul, or individual musicians he modeled the Nazgul members on.
While I don’t expect to ever ask him these questions, I thought it might be fun to ask those here who might have read The Armageddon Rag if you’ve ever come up with a line up.
I’m thinking that vocally, Freddy Mercury would have been a good match for the lead singer, although the Nazgul’s lead singer was albino and had no song writing chops. Possibly Pete Townsend for Peter Faxon, who wrote all the music for the Nazgul; I think lyrically and musically they’d match, although Townsend played lead guitar and Faxon played bass. I’ve never come up with candidates for Maggio (lead guitar, some lead vocals) and Gopher John (drums), because I just don’t know enough about the various skills and masteries of 60s musicians.
You’re talking about it as a band, I’m more of a cast it as a movie kind of guy. Given when the book was written I saw them thusly. Hobbins-Mickey Rourke, Maggio-Eric Roberts, Sandy Blair-Jeff Bridges, Faxon-William Hurt. And the young girl with whom Blair gets involved-Rae Dawn Chong. (Obviously, none of these would work now.)
The last time I talked to George was just after A Game of Thrones came out. He was tickled that I wanted to talk about Armageddon Rag instead of his latest. Can’t recall the specifics of the conversation, other than me liking the book a lot and swearing the Nazgûl were a real band.
That’s the one GRRM novel I have read. Part of it takes place on the same block in Cleveland Heights where I used to live. Funny, I was halfway around the world in Kuala Lumpur when I read it.
Hobbins reminded me of Janis Joplin. Maggio made me think of a degenerate David Crosby but with guitar chops like Joe Walsh. The description of Gopher’s drumming reminded me of John Bonham but looking something like like Fat Freddy of the Freak Brothers. Faxon something like a cross between Jack Casady and John Deacon with the chops of Entwistle crossed with Jones and Greg Lake.
But Froggy I could not imagine as anything but an imitation Al Franken. My astonishment was boundless when I discovered that the TV Froggy was real. I’d assumed such a character could only have existed in Martin’s fevered imagination.
That novel was a love letter from the '80s to the '60s.
I’ve always pictured Faxon as being a Ray Manzarek clone. Ray always seemed to have that distanced, cool competence and centered personality that was directly in opposition to the excesses of his more celebrated band mate that I think would fit just right in the Faxon character.
Tuf Voyaging, sure, which is a terrific sf satire, or his excellent vampire novel Fevre Dream. I was disappointed in Armageddon Rag, I have to admit. I didn’t envision any particular musicians (or actors) in those roles, and never went back to the book.
How can you go wrong with a book about cats, genetic engineering, mushroom wine and absolute power? Martin said a few years back that he hopes to write more Tuf stories someday, but, as with ASOIF, I’m not holding my breath. He also posted on his blog that he thinks the actor who plays Varys the eunuch spymaster on Game of Thrones would make a good Tuf, and I agree.
That would be perfect casting–man, let it be so! That disappointing swing at Nightflyers did nothing for me but an adaptation of Tuf Voyaging, made to the standards of GoT, would get me hyperventilating.