“War Between Fats and Thins” Harvey Matusow’s Jews Harp Band (1969)
“I’m a French lover of lp covers and I like very much your website. I want to contribute original psychÃƒ ©dÃƒ ©lic LP cover. PsychÃƒ ©dÃƒ ©lic music is my great passion of my life. I propose this very strange cover of a psychÃƒ ©dÃƒ ©lic group : HARVEY MATUSOW’S BAND – Friendly yours,” Henri DEFFONTAINE
Thanks Henri, I have this cover but never knew anything about it. Check out this incredible story (and MP3’s from the album) courtesy of WFMU:
“A psychedelic Jews Harp record! As unusual as this LP is, it pales in comparison to Marshall “Harvey” Matusow’s life, which intersected every major artery of post-war America. Born in the Bronx in 1926, Matusow was a Jewish street hustler who was picking pockets by age ten, and went on to work throughout his life as a Spy, DJ, Thief, Broadway Agent, Gambler, Stand Up Comic, Actor, Author, Musician, Professional Red Baiter, Filmmaker, Impresario, TV Clown and Social Activist. He was married twelve times, and palled around with Billie Holiday, Norman Mailer, Jason Robards, Steve McQueen, Emile de Antonio, Yoko Ono, Art Carney and Genovese mob boss Frank Costello. Ladybird Johnson invited him to the White House, and he invented the myth that smoking banana peels would get you high (as an ill conceived plot to extract geopolitical revenge on the United Fruit Company, aka Chiquita Banana).
In his later days he replaced LSD with LDS, converting to Mormonism and rechristening himself as Job Matusow. In his final years, he worked as a tireless advocate for the homeless, runaway teenagers and prostitutes while he made ends meet by establishing a successful children’s theater / TV show starring himself as Cockyboo the Clown He tried his whole life to live down his reputation as the most hated man in America for his work with Joseph McCarthy and the House Unamerican Affairs Committee (HUAC), fleeing to self-imposed exile in England in the Sixties, where he immersed himself in the worlds of avant garde art, music and film. While in Britain, he produced the largest festival of avant garde music ever, the ICES 72 concert. He invited his pal Yoko Ono and her husband to London for the gallery show where Yoko met John, making him partially responsible for breaking up The Beatles. (He was fully responsible for breaking up The Weavers, accusing Pete Seeger and other band members of being communists.) And of course, while in the UK, he took lots of acid and recorded his Jews Harp record.
Matusow enlisted in the US Army in 1943 in order to secure a high school diploma he never otherwise would’ve received. Back in New York after the war, he worked various jobs (including as an agent for Dean Martin) while he drifted towards Greenwich Village hootenannies, the folk music revival and the American Communist Party. He set a party record (and won a trip to Puerto Rico) for selling subscriptions to their newspaper, The Daily Worker. But by 1950, he either sensed an opportunity for money and fame, or (according to him) needed to protect his own ass, so he contacted the FBI and began his four year long career as a paid informer for anyone in need of an anti-Communist accuser with bona fide red street cred.
He approached this endeavor with the same gusto he had shown months earlier selling subscriptions to The Daily Worker, and ultimately destroyed the lives of hundreds of innocent Americans, communists and non-communists alike. In 1952 he went to work for Senator Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn who put him on their payroll and encouraged his tendency to create lists of communists out of thin air. Among Matusow’s targets during this period of time were The New York Times and The Girl Scouts. He even went so far as to seduce and marry (twice!) McCarthy’s wealthiest backer, Arvilla Peterson Bentley, moving into her Washington DC mansion (now the German Embassy). Matusow, a high school dropout, had been running a floating craps game a few years earlier, and now he was the darling of the national anti-communist community and living in a mansion with butlers and servants at his beck and call.
In 1954, either because he felt remorse over the destruction he caused, or because he sensed another quick buck, he came clean on his years of lying and perjury with his book False Witness. In it, he truthfully accused Cohn and McCarthy of keeping him on the payroll as a paid witness and a professional liar. For once, Matusow was telling the truth, but Roy Cohn didn’t see it that way. Cohn accused him of lying in the book, and in the ensuing trial, Matusow was convicted of perjury and sentenced to five years in prison. As a professional liar, Matusow had been the toast of the town, but for finally telling the truth, he was imprisoned. It was then that he was dubbed “The Most Hated Man in America” by The National Enquirer, The Baltimore Sun and other papers. Billie Holiday threw him a going-to-jail party, and once in the slammer, he had the cell next to Wilhelm Reich, who died with Matusow just a few feet away.
Released from prison in 1960, Matusow dived into the worlds of art and publishing, but found himself unable to live down his years of redbaiting, an invitation to the White House from Ladybird Johnson notwithstanding (she enjoyed his “Art Collector’s Almanac” He helped found the underground newspaper “The East Village Other” met Timothy Leary, tripped a lot, helped runaway hippies in New York, did lots of standup comedy, pulled off phone pranks with Andy Warhol, and helped organize Norman Mailer’s mayoral run, even getting Christine Keeler to auction off her bra for the cause. Yet there were always people around who detested him for his 1950’s resume, and at a 1966 fundraiser (where he apologized to Pete Seeger for having him blacklisted), he was so vilified by the crowd that he decided to quit the US for England. Once in the UK, he married experimetal musician Anna Lockwood and recovered within London’s vibrant counterculture.
Matusow returned to the US in 1973 and spent the last 30 years of his life living on communes, helping the homeless, pursuing Mormonism and making ends meet by bumming money from old friends and working with his Magic Mouse Theater Troupe and TV show. He died in 2002 as he was working on his autobiography, Stringless Yo Yo.”