Robert Bush noon, July 27
RIYL: Darius and the Magnets
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Influences: Darius and the Magnets
Darius Degher was a postmodern eclectic long before it was cool, fronting the psychedelic 1980s San Diego band Darius and the Magnets (“With those cool haircuts!”), who released an EP and then a single on Big Time Records of Australia.
The Magnets frequently showcased the sitar, a sound forever reminiscent of the sixties, thanks to George Harrison bringing the Indian stringed instrument, taught to him by master player Ravi Shankar, into the music of the Beatles.
After leaving San Diego, Degher played and recorded with Warren Zevon (Sentimental Hygiene, Bad Karma, etc), before embarking on a solo career and releasing several CDs, beginning with Cardboard Confessional (Gold Castle/Capitol Records). Several of his CDs still feature the sitar
“I do still feel pretty good about those sitar parts,” says Degher, who once played the instrument on a Warren Zevon song. “It’s funny, I almost sold it when we first moved to Europe, but Ravi Shankar’s sitar tech talked me out of it, when I was trying to sell it to him. That’s one of three encounters that I’ve had with the great Ravi Shankar, without ever meeting him. It was also his son Shuba, now deceased, who taught me how to play, in a UCLA ethnomusicology class. And his daughter went to my old high school, San Dieguito High.”
The video for the Cardboard Confessional song “White Boy Raving” was aired on MTV’s 120 Minutes show, making Billboard Magazine’s Top Twenty Video List. His second solo CD, Garage Sale of the Soul, was released on F-Hole Records in 1997.
In 1998, Degher moved to Sweden and taught college creative writing, as well as taking up a new sideline as a poet. His Swedish band Burning Bridges released one CD and performed at numerous festivals and clubs around the country from 2000 to 2005.
In 2012, having returned to Leucadia, Degher released his first full-length in around eight years, the Coyote Cantos, recorded at Little Parthenon Studio in Leucadia and Sweet Sixteen Studio in Malmö, Sweden.
One track features his old sitar. “The sitar hasn't gotten that much attention in ages, it was ages before that. Mostly, my records are about my balladeer thing. It's funny, though, [former KGB DJ] Jim McInnes just uncovered a tape recorded at My Rich Uncle's in 1982, as part of the Homegrown CD that year. Evidently, at KPRI they had to bake it for 24 hours to make it playable, like some ancient archaeological artefact. He's sending it to me in the coming days. That will definitely have sitar on it.”
His daughter Cleopatra Degher was 20 when she released her own debut EP in summer 2012.