Area Resident’s Stylus Counsel | Son Of Dracula

Track 211 | The ’70s were wild. Especially for Harry Nilsson, Ringo Starr & co.

In 1972, Harry Nilsson made a bonkers followup to his masterpiece Nilsson Schmilsson called Son of Schmilsson. It featured him on the cover dressed as Dracula — standing atop a staircase at George Harrison’s Friar Park mansion.

George is on the album, playing slide guitar — of course — but so is Little Feat’s Lowell George. Ringo Starr plays drums under the name Ritchie Snare. Bassist and Beatles pal Klaus Voormann and guitarist Peter Frampton, fresh from quitting Humble Pie, fill out the core of the regular band. Voorman played on Harrison’s first two solo albums and John Lennon‘s Plastic Ono Band. He’s been pals with the band since their Hamburg days and famously illustrated the cover of Revolver (1966) and the booklet in Starr’s 1973 album Ringo. Frampton was introduced to Harrison years earlier and did session work for him, initially, for Doris Troy’s 1970 album on Apple Records (along with Voormann, Starr and Stephen Stills). Troy’s biggest claim to fame was writing the oft-covered R&B classic Just One Look, as well as singing on The Rolling StonesYou Can’t Always Get What You Want and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon.

Anyway, Son Of Schmilsson is a weird, but good album. Nilsson is a frustrating one for fans — so talented and likeable, but so inconsistent. Harry insisted the sessions for Son of Schmilsson be filmed for a movie he intended to be called Somebody Dropped Their Mouse. (Remember, this is 1972). The movie was never made, but some of the studio footage was used for promotional videos.

The inconsistency of both Nilsson and Ringo’s music during this time probably had a lot to do with the fact that they were legendary pisstanks. Together, the pair managed to make an entirely different film in 1974 called Son Of Dracula. The movie was released via Apple Films. It’s awful. Ringo plays Merlin and Nilsson stars as Count Downe (rimshot). The plot involved the count being summoned to take over duties from his father Count Dracula, after the elder vampiric netherworldly leader was assassinated.

Many of the songs used in the movie are from Nilsson Schmilsson and Son of Schmilsson, along with one new song and a soundtrack by Elton John’s early years score guy, Paul Buckmaster. Many of the musicians on studio tracks appear in the film for band sequences, with a few alternates who are miming parts they didn’t perform.

The scene in the film where Count Downe and his band perform At My Front Door (from Son of Schmilsson) has Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham on drums, even though what you’re hearing is Ringo. Another part of the film has Keith Moon miming the drums, even though you’re hearing legendary session drummer Jim Gordon (who murdered his mother nine years later).

I’ve included the clip of At My Front Door because not only should you see Bonham, but you really need to look at the guitars. You might recognize one of them. Frampton (who actually plays on the track) brought along the guitarist from his own band, Rick Wills, to mime rhythm guitar. Frampton had his Les Paul with him for the shoot, but Wills arrived emptyhanded.

Because this was an Apple Film, faithful roadie Mal Evans was on the scene helping out. Frampton knew Mal from his involvement doing sessions with Harrison and Badfinger. He told Mal they needed an extra guitar, so the giant, affable Evans went to the trunk of his car, grabbed a bunch of guitar cases and laid them out for Wills and Frampton to choose from. Every time they opened one, they gasped. These were The Beatles’ guitars. The Hofner bass was there, along with a bunch of Harrison’s Gretsches. They’d just been sitting in Evans’ car.

Wills settled on Lennon’s famous black Rickenbacker 325 — with the Candlestick Park setlist still taped to the back of it. Wills, by the way, went on to be the bass player in Foreigner and on David Gilmour’s first solo album. The two were in Joker’s Wild and Bullit together until Gilmour quit to join Pink Floyd. The ’70s were wild.

Here’s the clip of Bonham, Frampton, Wills, MVP sax player Bobby Keys and Nilsson miming At My Front Door:


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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check him out on Discogs.