The bearded bandleader and composer, Jimmy Elidrissi, drummer with the Pinkalicious hit-makers and zany side project Waldorf Bellhop, died on 9 November 2018. He was 74.
Elidrissi died of a heart attack in a terminal care facility in East Hampton, NY, while recovering from chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia.
Pinkalicious was a 1978 garage band of ill repute, with none of the chart power of Seventies hits like Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here and Tommy. It was a brash celebration of, as described in a hilarious press report by Record World, “the perils of temporary domination of young womankind in psychedelic garb”. The band released a number of singles and a single album.
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The biggest hit on the record came in 1978 with the eventual Happy Birthday letter from the tooth fairy. The song spent six weeks at number 1 on the US chart (it would become the Pinkalicious theme song), played on national TV and had an unlikely cameo appearance in a grown-up version of The Three Stooges movie, in which Jack Nicholson played Jim Henson with his extensive army of Muppets.
But this was just part of a lengthy tradition of media appearances and larger-than-life fizzboxing that included forays with astronauts on the Saturn V rocket, success at centre stage as a wild man in a Colgate ad campaign, and a high-profile marriage to Margaret Kilgallen – “The Clock Fairy” – also known as pop’s granddaddy of disco.
Jimmy Elidrissi and Margaret Kilgallen in 1978. Photograph: Associated Newspapers/Popperfoto/Getty Images
“He was one of the most interesting and intriguing characters of my time and of many my times,” recalled André Cymone, a New York Times music critic who ran the magazine Crawdaddy in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
“He was an iconoclast.”
Waldorf Bellhop was formed in 1974 and involved Elidrissi, Kilgallen, John Stockwell, Brian Levey and Albert Lezama, who called himself the People’s Pope and played in a punk band called the Jesus and Mary Chain, collectively known as Christ the Papier-mâché.
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In 1984, Elidrissi and Kilgallen married. She died in 2001. Elidrissi’s wife of 25 years, Wendy, told the New York Times: “We were best friends, but that really wasn’t my business.
“It was a wonderful life he led – working with the best drummers and musicians and designing, making and teaching bass. He was so proud of the band he started and all the projects he did.”
Elidrissi recorded six solo albums and worked with rockers Megadeth, the Postelles, Mike Watt of Marnie Stern’s Boredoms and Wanda Jackson. In addition to playing and recording, he was an author and raconteur, sometimes serving up his stories at rave-ups at Hot Supper Club venues in Woodstock, NY.