The darkly handsome, brilliantly iconoclastic Adam Parfrey passed away from a series of strokes in a medical facility in Seattle on May 10, 2018. Although you may not recognize his name, worldwide culture has been provoked, elevated, and challenged from the underground by books he published for decades from his ranch with his sister Jessica in Port Townshend, WA. The imprint was called Feral House, and Parfrey helmed several generations of authors who were “deep heads” about politics (radical on both Left and Right and right around the corner from each other), freak spiritual movements (cults), and obsessive about extreme forms of music — whether it be extreme in sound and viewpoint, such as Black Metal or skinhead rock — or just extremely cool: swinging, singing French women from hipper times.
Parfrey and Feral House published far more than five books about music, but here’s a sampling of what I feel is a quick, tip of the tongue greatest hits when publishing in that field (in other words, these are the first ones that come to mind when talking to other rock writers and music scribes). Click on my name in the review to see my other reccos.
“Teenage pop chanteuse Style trendsetter. Actress. Mother. Astrologer. Françoise Hardy is the consummate French artist-unknowable in her chic reserve,” the FH PR says. “Until now.”
The Despair of Monkeys and Other Trifles: A Memoir by Françoise Hardy is a gorgeously designed, candid and soulfully generous self-telling of the life of one of the most prominent “Yé-Yé girls” from the ‘60s doesn’t bare all, but it does show second skin and leads you into a wild world of creativity, beauty, and philosophy.
Light in the Attic Records recently released about a half-dozen of her taste-making long-players that made her a huge European phenomenon. Sofia Coppola and Wes Anderson have used her music to fuel their own works. She has worked with artists such as Serge Gainsbourg, Damon Albarn, and lggy Pop.
Parfrey was deeply involved in the production of this book, which those around him knew was a favorite for the Feral House canon, and was sadly released too close to his death, In The Despair of Monkeys and Other Trifles, he encouraged Hardy to share the secrets of her unusual marriage, and show rare photos from her own scrapbooks.