(US/ Big Beat Records)
Psychobilly precursor Legendary Stardust Cowboy
(Norman Carl Odam b.1947) has had a cult following since his debut single, Paralyzed, was released in 1968. The Texan’s yelling, screeching, yodeling riots of rockabilly have inspired countless followers and fans (but few imitators) including David Bowie. A true outsider legend, the Stardust Cowboy has forged an unconventional career with his frenzied cowboy gestures and bizarre outer-space aesthetic. Will appear with Klaus Fluoride
of the Dead Kennedys on bass guitar.
Odam grew up in Lubbock, Texas, birthplace of Buddy Holly and host of the annual National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration. As a teenager, Odam was inspired to learn guitar by the music of Chet Atkins. Later, sitting in his backyard pondering his twin passions – cowboys and the cosmos, he came up with the name Stardust Cowboy. Legendary was added later for good measure. The Legendary Stardust Cowboy played countless concerts in his hometown – not always by invitation, but with persistence – on his school steps, at club meetings and at sports events, but the real legend of ‘The Ledge’ began in Fort Worth, several hundred kilometers east.
Odam was on route to NY seeking fame and fortune when he stopped off in Fort Worth where some locals took the Stardust Cowboy under their wing. He was spirited into a local recording studio run by the young T Bone Burnett. Paralyzed
– two and half minutes of yelps and whoops – was recorded and given airplay on the local station, and became an unexpected hit. The studio pressed 500 copies on the Psycho-Suavé label, and the single was sold to Mercury Records for national distribution.
Paralyzed hit the Billboard Top 200, and ‘The Legde’ made an appearance on ‘Laugh In’, the TV show where Tiny Tim (another of Odam’s heros) had gotten his break. . Unfortunately, things didn’t take off as planned when a strike put the kaibosh on live-music performances on TV shows, and Odam’s career began to falter, but Paralyzed
went on to have a rippling impact that is still felt today. After Mercury reps handed him a demo of Paralyzed, David Bowie became a lifelong fan, and Ziggy got a surname. In 1976, the song appeared at number 15 on John Peel’s top 50. It was featured on several Doctor Demento compilations, and it often appears prominently in lists of the worst recordings ever made.
Jim Yanaway (Amazing Records) offered Odam a chance to make a real band-backed recording with Mike Buck, Steve Derr, Don Laady and Jim Colegrove, they produced a series of recordings between 1979 and 1981 that ended up as 1984's Rock-it To Stardom LP, which was subsequently released in the UK by Big Beat Records, label of the Cramps and other allegedly psychobilly acts.
In 1985, the Dutch VPRO radio tried to re-popularise the Ledge, organizing and promoting live appearances in Holland, and in 2002, David Bowie brought ‘The Ledge’ back into the limelight when he covered Odam’s Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship<i/> for his album, Heathen. Odam later recorded a cover of Bowie’s Space Oddity<i/>.
The 'Ledge' currently lives in the bay area in California, and performing occasionally. In May of 2007, he played at the High-Line festival in New York City, curated by David Bowie.
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