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Just Let Me Believe, for Frank’s Sake

July 5, 2021

The way it was told to me, Frank Marino believed that, upon its carrier’s untimely demise, Jimi Hendrix’s soul (or spirit, or life-force) had merged with Frank’s to create a new combined being, thereby ensuring that Hendrix’s talent would not be lost to the world. The proof presented for this bit of hard rock lore was Frank’s spoken introduction to the final song on the B-side of the 1978 album ‘Live!‘ by Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush. There, Frank says to the crowd,

For all of you, uh, who dug us before, a long time ago, and for those of you who dig it now, Jimi Hendrix…

after which the band delivers a scorching performance of “Purple Haze” that, save for the vocals, any listener would be forgiven for thinking was a live recording of Hendrix himself.

In my early teens, I took as gospel such things put forth by 20-year-old Rick, my then mentor on all things sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. Rick presented the anecdote not as news of an actual transmogrification but rather as an indicator of Marino’s peculiarity. Knowing that Frank thought himself the keeper of Jimi’s essence only added to my exhilaration at listening to his music. Thankfully, there was no internet or Google at the time to lure me into fact-checking Rick’s tale.  Back then, I was allowed to simply believe.

Fast forward four decades and one global pandemic and I was able to buy a ticket to see Frank Marino on stage for the first time. I was stoked.  Sure, I needed to refresh my connection with Frank’s music some, but that was easily done via the LPs and CDs aplenty in my stacks.  The revisiting brought real joy and, boding well for the show, I enjoyed most of all ‘RealLIVE!’, a disc from the current century (2004).  I found myself really looking forward to witnessing in person Frank’s incredible guitar tone and special way with a funky blues.

While waiting for the big day, I decided to take a quick look at Frank’s official website, an act that inadvertently led to the unravelling of the story told me by Rick all those years ago. One of the five paragraphs under the ‘Band History’ tab – and the longest one at that – was dedicated to quashing falsehoods suggesting Frank had claimed any kind of visitation by, reincarnation as, or magical endowment from Jimi Hendrix.  Apparently, “sensationalists” had embellished the true story of an “overwhelming” LSD trip that put a young Frank in the hospital and would subsequently become “the basis of everything” he would do musically. The implicit message was that I could keep the music, but I would have to cast the tale of FrankenJimi into the recesses where now gather so many prior convictions that cold truth and hard fact have conspired to rob from me.  I could no longer simply believe.

Harsh reality chose to impose itself once again a few days later when I received an email advising that the Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush show scheduled for September 13, 2021, at The Birchmere in Arlington, Virginia, had been cancelled.  The explanation for this bad news was provided in a message “From Frank Marino”:

With sorrow I am forced to announce my immediate retirement from touring, and possibly all things related to continuing my career, due to an unexpected and debilitating medical condition which makes it impossible for me to tour. I want to thank all the people who supported me all of the last half-century.  I know that many were looking forward to seeing us play this fall and I was looking forward to getting out again and doing more shows, but it now appears that in the absence of a miraculous recovery, my Concert DVD (Live at the Agora) will constitute the last show I will ever have played.

Perspective matters.  I lose a good story and a much-anticipated night of rocking out, but it seems that Frank is in the process of losing much more.  He ends his message with the following plea:

I ask any that are believers to include me in their prayers.

It seems I have another reason to miss the days when I was able to simply believe.

From → Church, Music

10 Comments
  1. Wow. Just like, wow. The Hendrix reincarnation ‘Freaky Friday’-style soul exchange claim was the only thing I knew about Frank Marino. To have that debunked is very destabilizing for me.

    I have never heard any Frank, I’m sorry to say. Which studio LP would you recommend as an entry point?

    Poor guy though. I’ll send good vibes.

    • From the studio LPs, I’d probably choose Frank’s second solo album sans Mahogany Rush, 1982’s Juggernaut. Seek out the 8-minute, still-topical “Stories of a Hero” off that album; it’ll serve as a good test to determine whether further exploration is worthwhile.

      That said, Mr. Marino is a beast live. Live! from ’78 is a wall-to-wall rock n’ roll sizzler, while 2004’s instrumental RealLIVE! is more a cosmic concerto for closed eyes.

  2. A post that gathers momentum as it builds, just like a superior guitar solo. The writer in me appreciated the punch at the end very much indeed. The ageing comrade feels for a musician who has been forced to stop, bringing to mind the heart-breaking suicide of Keith Emerson a couple of years back and, just this morning, seeing perhaps the greatest tennis player of all time bow out of Wimbledon in straight sets, love-six in the last.

    But let’s not dwell on the corruption of the flesh, not when we have records and CDs to remind us of the glory of rock and the grandeur of roll.

    Amen.

    • Such nice words from the target audience are most welcome, VC. (smile)

      Having no particular “basis of everything” by which to outwardly define myself and therefore wary of false equivalence, I nonetheless harbor honest fear of a day when some sort of hearing loss might steal the glory and grandeur from me. Poor Frank, and Keith, and Roger, and Serena, and…

      • It’s a one way street and no mistake, Vic. I think the past 1.5 years have made me even more aware of all things Tempus, in particular his obstinate refusal to reverse direction.

  3. Man, that was quite a heavy fall there. Knocked me right off balance. I was feeling somewhat excited about finding something new to listen to via your rediscovery of this chap and the live music experience on the horizon!

    I felt a strange downer that not only has the mystery of the Hendrix tale has evaporated and the gig been cancelled, but (worse) that the guy is facing an uncertain future. That’s just awful.

    Anyhoo, if there is any good news here, it’s that you have introduced me to Frank Marino. Thanks for that.

    • Sorry for the rollercoaster, J. Let’s hope any good vibes emanated should you find something joyful in Frank’s music make their way back to him.

      • I’ve been listening to The Power of Rock and Roll. Some great stuff on there. Next up is Juggernaut, but yeah, hopefully the good vibes are making their way back to him… cause I’m liking this loads.

  4. A very limited knowledge of Frank and the band. but I do remember the Jimi thing. Very good piece. Picked up enough from the take to go on a bit of a listening jag.

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