Saturation 70: the greatest ’60s film that never was.

Today’s Q&A is a little off-piste; rather than directly about Sympathy For The Devil, it trails a fascinating event this weekend, featuring three of the book’s key interviewees: Donovan, Linda Leitch, and Joolz Leitch, Brian Jones’s grandson. Here’s Donovan to explain about the remarkable story of Saturation 70, the subject of an exhibition opening at the Horse Hospital in London this Friday, 5 September.

 

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Donovan: “The Horse Hospital is a venue I didn’t know about. Roger Burton , from the venue, contacted Tony Foutz, having read the MOJO story about this film , the most famous underground move never completed in the ’60s. When I found out more it became clear there were many horse hospitals across London in the days of the Hansom cab, it truly is a historic building, very small but home to many an underground and exciting event. Tony said, we’d love to do the visual aspect, of this extraordinary film which included famous people as it went along,including Gram Parsons – and Linda [Leitch, Brian’s girlfriend over 1963-1965] , who was hanging with Graham.

” Tony Foutz is an Italian Irish American who studied under Bunuel, he’s quite a screen writer and he had this idea for a documentary. He went down to the California desert, to Giant Rock, where there wa a UFO convention and he was gonna do the documentary there. He had got so excited about the project, he thought he’d bring some friends, including Lindia, little Julian [Brian’s son], and Gram was around, so he said “Come down, I’m going to be filming these odd UFO people who gather together in the desert, near the Joshua Tree!

“Gram, Linda, Michelle Philips, they’re all over… Tony spends the day filming all these odd UFO People and saw little Julian cavorting around. And suddenly the documentary would now, in Tony’s head, be a feature film! When the plug was pulled quite a lot of footage was made, Doug Trumbull had been drawn into the possiblity of joining up – Doug was the one that would basically invent the specal effects we know from Star Wars onwards. And little Julian would be the person whol fell from the sky onto Planet Earth!”

Gram Parsons – who, says Linda, had worked out the song Wild Horses over this period – and Roger McGuinn were engaged to write the soundtrack of the movie. Sadly, the only real artefact from the movie that made its way into popular culture at the time, was the costumes that the Burrito Brothers wore on the sleeve of Burrito Deluxe.

Obviously, the movie’s intriguing to all fans of surreal ’60s happenings – but Saturday night is especially exciting for Brian Jones enthusiasts; Linda, Brian’s key girlfriend from the band’s early days, will be there, her and Brian’s son Julian is featured in the exhibition – and Joolz, Brian’s grandson, who was an integral presence in the final chapter of Sympathy For The Devil, will be playing.

Sympathy For The Devil was quite a sad book to write.. as we drew to the end, I was happy to spend time with people like Bobbie Korner, who knew Brian and the Stones well, and was very fond of him; in much the same way, I was very lucky to spend time with Donovan, Linda, and Linda’s mum, a happy, loving family – and with Joolz, who seems charming, and content, and proud of his grandfather’s legacy. Sadly, I’m away that weekend, but I’m trying to work out if I can find a way to get back for Donovan’s Q&A, and Joolz’s performance. I’m sure it will be a great evening; the exhibition continues until 27 September.

The inset photo is of Joolz, with Don – thanks, guys, for the jam session, a healing process which shows Brian Jones’s legacy will survive.

Full details are at the Horse Hospital Website.

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