The Yodeling Astrologer
November 23, 2012 3:53 AM   Subscribe

When Jim Holmberg fractured his skull after a motorcycle accident in the 1960s, it left him several things - deafness in the left ear, a belief in cosmic forces that had cured the resulting spinal meningitis, and an astonishing sopranino range in his voice.

This voice subsequently caused his discovery while busking in New York by Bernard Stollman, head of the eclectic ESP-Disk label. A short studio session later and 1969's Color By the Number would be his solitary recording artifact, solo psych-folk coated in reel-to-reel delay and reverb courtesy of experimentation with ESP-Disk engineer Onno Scholtze.

Like so many other psychers of the day he subsequently fell off the musical map, the limited pressing of the LP soon becoming a collector's item. But without trace wasn't quite true; a good 40 years later this cult status reached his awareness.

"I gave my brother one of the albums and asked him if I can borrow it back. He sent it to me and I opened it up and the record was broken. I had no other copies. then I just thought I would google it to be shocked to see I'm all over the internet. "

Subsequently he sent several missives of a spiritual nature to ESP-Disk,, and was interviewed by Vice Magazine on his whereabouts for that whole time, and his reflections on music.
posted by solarion (10 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
That's very wild. I don't understand how a skull fracture could do that to somebody's voice, because the skull seems quite distant from the vocal tract.

But I got kicked in the nuts one time and my voice went up several octaves, so maybe it's possible.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:26 AM on November 23, 2012

Was that his voice? Holy crap. I kept waiting for it to kick in because my brain just refused to believe that could be someone singing.
posted by RokkitNite at 4:28 AM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by donaldekelly at 6:09 AM on November 23, 2012

Thanks, this is fascinating. I think this is his YouTube channel, with a couple of songs uploaded from his album, with, apparently, some of his own personal video from China (and Japan at the end of one?) – ie, not "music video," just some of his personal footage, mostly sightseeing stuff.
posted by taz at 7:57 AM on November 23, 2012

If they mated: Marty Robbins and Diamanda Galas.
posted by O Blitiri at 8:01 AM on November 23, 2012

Indeed, it is a tragedy of history that this guy and Diamanda never collaborated. Imagine them performing live together?
posted by lastobelus at 10:28 AM on November 23, 2012

I took a 45 mph broadside hit on my motorcycle on October 1 in Cabarete, Dominican Republic from a driver who chose anonymity and fled.

All I have thus far is double-vision and dizziness....Conventional doctors said in a year, I "may" recover....if not, surgery can easily tweak the fourth nerve damage and leave me as good as new.

Not on my head, I think.
posted by lometogo at 1:49 PM on November 23, 2012

ESP-Disk was a crazy record label. When the most commercial act on your roster is the Fugs, you know you're pretty far out.
posted by jonp72 at 2:45 PM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just listened to the first 90 seconds or so...are you sure he wasn't afflicted with deafness in both ears? Holy shit that was awful.
posted by edverb at 4:49 PM on November 23, 2012

If they mated: Marty Robbins and Diamanda Galas.

There are shallow rollers, and there are deep rollers.
posted by clarknova at 6:02 PM on November 23, 2012

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