Nine months after the death of George Carlin, biographer Al Sleet has unveiled a startling discovery: when not performing his act, Carlin drummed for the ’70s progressive rock band Gentle Giant. “I was looking through his financial records when I came across some paychecks from Vertigo and Columbia Records,” said Sleet. “It turns out that from 1972 to 1980 he drummed under the name John ‘Pugwash’ Weathers.” During this stint he recorded such classic albums as Octopus, In a Glass House, and The Power and the Glory.
“As his comedy act took off, Carlin has less and less time for the band,” said Sleet, who discovered several lost journals of reflections about the band. “His writing on the subject is in British English, so it took some time to decipher the texts, but he clearly talks about the conflicts between his two careers.” This eventually lead to the band’s downfall. Carlin’s preoccupation with the Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica Foundation case and its relation to his “Seven Dirty Words” skit lead to a watered down Gentle Giant album in 1978. Fans and critics largely concur Giant for a Day foreshadowed the demise of the band.
“In the end, George Carlin was a magnificent entertainer who happened to be a hell of good drummer,” said Sleet. “I never would have guessed the comic so well know for his plain black garb would wear such silly costumes though.”
(Above: George Carlin behind the skins on Gentle Giant’s “Proclamation”)