Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mark Tulin 11/21/1948 - Forever

It is with absolute sadness and shock that I make this post. I can count on my hands the number of people I consider true friends. I just lost a finger. 
Kerry Brown

I guess that's the first thing you do; call the cell phone number and wait for an answer. "Mailbox full" is not what you hoped to hear. I just saw you the other day and we planned the future and now life has her way with us as we submit to the thunderous wave and memories of the past. I will forever be looking to my right for that shadow of the bass player, hearing the song he created in all of us. You are still here in me so I can't say goodby. Mark was very special.
James Lowe

From Billy Corgan

A Few Thoughts on the Passing of a True Psychedelic Pioneer

I just found out that Mark Tulin died, which is weird because I just
saw Mark Tulin less than 60 hours ago at a worn out deli in Tarzana.
Kerry, Bjorn, Mark and I sat down for a meal just before we went over
to mix ‘Zen Baby’, which was funny because originally that song was
intended to be a song I had for the Prunes. Mark had asked about a
year ago if I had any good ideas that I wasn’t going to use for SP,
and I said “yeah, I got this kind of bluesy, stones riff you might
like.”, and he loved it so we went into Kerry’s submarine to demo it
out. Mark played his walking bass all over it and we worked the idea
back and forth. Towards the end of the song, I had changed a few
chords up, and was doing a guitar overdubub when I hit a series of
unexpected notes that opened the song up into different territory, and
the look on Mark’s face was priceless. He told me later, “when I heard
you hit those notes against those chords I thought to myself ‘I’m
fucked’, because I knew you were never gonna let me have that song
now!” So yes, it was funny that we sat in this broken  deli only hours
ago, us all old soldiers of rock and roll, having our usual laugh
about the things that we found funny, and strange, and unfair in the

During our many hours together,- recording, rehearsing, sharing meals,
Mike Byrne, the SP drummer, all of 19 years old at the time,
befriended Mark and they became running buddies, or as Mark would have
you know it, he became Mike’s limo driver. Mark even helped Mike with
his laundry, because he was a kind man and knew what Mike felt like to
be so young and far away from home, playing in a band. Of course Mark
gave Mike shit for helping him, but the guilt was part of the charm.
Mike turned Mark onto all sorts of bands, everything from Grizzly Bear
to My Bloody Valentine, and Mark soaked it all up, happy to see that
psychedelic music was alive and well so many generations down the line
from his. I told those two they should have a reality show, such an
odd couple, but it says a lot about Mark that he could treat a young
man 40 years his junior as an equal.

Mark was part of a movement of suburban kids in the mid to late 60s
that changed the world with their dark musical dreaming, and of course
their Anglophile obsessions. From their imaginations sprang so many
technicolor daydreams and all manner of wishing; wishing that we were
often what we are not. Professor Psychedelic was his nickname, and he
wore it proudly. You don’t always get credit for being one of the
first across the line like the Electric Prunes were, but we all made
sure to tell Mark many times that we understood what he had done was
important and hugely influential. He had signed his first record
contract at 17, and needed a judge to let him do it because he was a
minor. By 19 the record company had stolen the band name away and was
putting out an Electric Prunes band that had none of the original
members. Mark’s band was stolen from him, a fact he had never fully
gotten over. It was a deep wound, but he fought to get the name back
and had to go to court to do so. The judge let him sign his life away
in the first place, and it was a lucky  judge who gave him back his
dignity. All those terrible things drove the two friends who had
started the band apart, and after 30 years they came back together to
make music again. As it should be.

He said to me the other day, jokingly, “I am the Electric Prunes”, and
I said laughing back, “well, I’m the Smashing Pumpkins!”, but we said
these things because it had never been easy for both of us, the band
road, the politics, the heartbreak of it all. I know he loved James,
the lead singer of the Prunes, seeing him as someone born for the job,
and I agreed. Some bands just have the ‘it’ factor, and to those in
the know, the Electric Prunes had it in spades before the blueprint
was cast in cliched stone. Check out their album ‘Underground’ to see
what was and also what might have been had they stayed un-fucked with.

Playing music with Mark was always a joy, he was truly a great,
sympathetic musician, a native bass player who knew his instrument and
played with a quiet fire. I loved working with him, and he was very
supportive and complimentary of me as I was coming out of a rough
time. Words can not express how much I enjoyed creating music with
him, and it was a great honor to have him play on some of these recent
SP tracks; ‘astral planes’, ‘widow wake my mind’, and many others,
tons of unreleased stuff. He played a long lost style that was
incredibly responsive to the vocals, and to the song. A lost art.

Mark was an expert deep sea diver diver, had a masters in psychology,
and once ran some family business, carpets or something. I told him,
‘boy, you’ve had an interesting life!’. He was incredibly sarcastic,
but not caustic, but so obviously was a softy, especially when it came
to his daughter and ex-wife, who became his best friend after their
divorce. You got the feeling that there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do
for those he loved. We talked a few days ago about recording a song at
Kerry’s for a new Prunes record, a song called ‘Medicine’ that I wrote
just for them. There is a demo, quite cool and fun and sounding like
the Prunes for the 21st century. Hopefully we can finish that, what we
have there. It will be only a small way to show our love for the man.

Mark played with us when Sky Saxon died, at his memorial. Mark had
mixed feelings about Sky as a person, and it made him a bit
uncomfortable; all the love for Sky after he died, like everyone had
an easy memory in death. So we talked about it, and I asked what he
honestly felt, I could tell it was confusing to him. I could tell by
talking that he thought ‘if everyone only knew the Sky I know!’, but I
reminded him that what he was honoring, with us, was the spirit and
love that Sky had brought through his music, and that he (Mark) was
deserving of the same honor. He gave me a snide ‘alright, alright’ and
that was the end of it. He just wanted to play music, and the rest to
him was a bit of a show, but we played well at Sky’s memorial because
we were brothers, and that’s what brothers are supposed to do for our
own. It was a night of wonderful music; The Prunes played was a punky
spite and The Strawberry Alarm Clock evoked a patchouli soaked world
of innocence. I hope we can do the same for Mark, but who will play

I’ve avoided saying so far how incredibly sad this makes me, his
passing, for Mark was still a fairly young man who had lots of plans
and living to do, and I’m guessing that dying would really piss him
off. In fact I know it would!! He died at least doing what he loved to
do, helping others, as a volunteer, being part of a rescue team that
helped distressed divers off Catalina Island. Mark had even helped
dive for corpses in New Orleans, post-Katrina. He had a certain pluck
and courage that makes sense if you knew him. He wasn’t a hugger or a
hippie, he was mostly interested in making the groove click and ‘why’
you picked one note over the other. He was big on the ‘why’ question.
He reminded me many times, just by him being who he naturally was,
that music is a religion for grown up boys like us, better than any
suburban god or rainbow stories on the horizon.

The last thing I said to Mark when we parted the other day, just out
in front of a music store, was that I’d be back in town probably for
my birthday in a few weeks. “You’re invited of course”, I said, “but
you don’t have to come if you don’t want to.” He laughed quite loud,
enjoying my guilt trip on him and the subtle dig at the same time. I
always tried to make time with him when I was in town, no matter what,
because I just wanted him to know that I saw him as someone worthy of
a lot of respect and admiration. Mark made friends with everyone in my
world, because his sweetness was always right there to be found. That
says a lot to me, that he touched everyone I knew in an individual

One final story…Mark played with SP when we played the Tonight Show,
and just before we were on, they dropped a screen door in front of us,
and pumped some white smoke into our box to make the lights look
better. We were on in 60 seconds, and Mark says to me, “you know, when
my people see a door close and the gas gets pumped in, we get a little
nervous.” Thanks Mark…! And 1-2-3, cue music, we were on live…

God Bless you Mark, you will always be a star.

PS. I wrote this last night. I just woke from a dream that Mark was
in. It was a party in somebody’s backyard, and I found myself staring
at him thinking ‘how is it that he is here?’ I watched him, and he
seemed and acted completely normal. Eventually we were alone on a
couch, and I leaned over and said “you know, it’s funny but I’ve been
sad all day because you had died, and yet, here you are! “ Mark nodded
his head, understanding what I was saying. “Mark, is this a dream?
Because it doesn’t feel like a dream.” He again nodded his head,
concerned that I was a bit confused. He smiled and said, hoping to
explain his being there, “Well, it’s just that now we aren’t in such
a hurry.”


TheArtOfPretension said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. The part about the dream made me feel emotional.

Adrian said...

Thank you, paints a great picture of Mark even for those of us who never met him. Great obituary Billy!

Jeff said...

I do not know you, but that was an incredibly moving tribute to Mark. Mark spoke of you often, and had a deep affection for you that he expressed on numerous occasions.

I am a diving friend of his, and have known him for over 20 years. I have wanted to see him play music for at least 15 of those years, but never made the opportunity to do so. I am sorry I did not. Recently, my 13-year old son has started playing the guitar, and he and Mark had made plans to play together at our house. You know how these things go... My son has a soccer game scheduled unexpectedly, Mark's gig runs late, etc... another missed opportunity. It just points out the importance of doing today everything you possibly can, because tomorrow might never come.

Mark was an incredibly giving and caring individual in the diving community as well, as I am sure you can imagine. My most emotional memories are sitting with him on the couch in our crew apartment, at 0'dark hundred, after spending hours trying to save the life of a young woman, a young mother. He had a way of easing the pain of failure, and the pain of loss, a way of seeing the world in a more forgiving and warm light, even in the worst of times. I am crying as I sit here writing this. Who will help ease the pain of *his* passing??

We will all of us miss him, no matter how we knew him.

Andrew said...

Wonderful to read your tributes. :(

Revolution-Evolution said...

My condolences. And lots of love.

gohssob said...

Beautiful tribute...

"Well, it’s just that now we aren’t in such a hurry.”

it sparks such abyssal bewonderment...

daniel said...

thats me with the ponytail standing in front of billy corgan in the tristessa video.

daniel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laurie Powers said...

Thank you, Billy, for this beautiful tribute to Mark. I knew him through scuba diving and will always remember him is brilliant, kind, patient and funny as hell. This post helped me cry for the first time since I learned of his death this morning.

Linda said...

Thank you for helping us all see Mark through your eyes- your words are so incredibly beautiful. It takes me back about 2 years ago when first hearing about Sky, and reminds me again how short our time here is. How we never know what tomorrow may bring- good or bad. Billy and Kerry, I hope you know how many lives you've touched through your music. Through all you've done, you have become a part of us all; as I'm sure your friends became part of who you are, and you a part of them. Just wanted to tell you that today. <3

I'd only met Mark briefly, and my heart goes out to those of you who truly knew him. I hope that all the wonderful memories of your friend bring you some comfort.

Karl said...

Mark was one-of-a-kind; the older gone-through-the-60's brother I never had.
His energy, generosity, and spirit were unmatched.
He was a dear friend to me and his passing leaves a deep hole in my heart, as it will in all who knew him.
As Mark taught in his Critical Stress lectures here at the Chamber, people will respond to tragedy and grieve in different ways.
One of the ways to deal with his death is to talk and remember him in all the facets of his life.
The one story of his that has been with me since yesterday is one he would often tell of a full arrest case he was working at the hyperbaric chamber on Catalina. After performing CPR on the patient for a while the doctor asked that the compressions be stopped.
Everybody looked at the monitor and saw a slight signal and was ecstatic, until the doctor turned to one of the Crew and said, "Get your god-damn (more than likely Mark's embellishment) hand off his chest." When the hand was taken off, the signal disappeared. The electricity of rescuer was being transferred through the patient and being picked up on the monitor. The patient did not make it, but to Mark it was an epiphany about giving CPR. To him the act became one of unselfish giving of one's own energy to another, and succeed or fail you had put something of yourself into another.
Yesterday the medics who responded immediately were friends of his that he had just been talking to, and they gave greatly of their own energy to revive him, but it did not work. If he had a chance he was given it by his friend who did not want to give up, but there are times when doing everything that can be done is not enough.
He will be greatly missed, but the energy he passed on to those who met, knew, and loved him will live on.

wgarces said...

Thank you Billy for all your kind words, and sharing special moments with Mark.
I am am so sad right now there are no words to describe what I feel.
Through it all I am very glad that I got to know Mark as well as I did, and be a part of the music that was so much a part of him.
Working with him as a member of the Electric Prunes is, and will always be a special time in my life.
I will miss him.

Mark London said...

Thanks Billy. You didn't have too much to dream last night. Like most pro's, you had just enough to do the trick.

Saul Duque Lopez said...

I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't know about Electric Prunes nor Mark Tulin until Billy and Mark Tulin started working together a few years ago, that's when I decided to do some proper listening and really enjoyed it.

Mark Tulin was a great bass player and his kindness was laudable too.

Great words from everyone in the obituary. May Mark rest in peace.

buffdiver said...

Your time has come to join those who have gone before. We started on crew together and worked side by side on many a case. I've enjoyed spending many hours in the crew quarters listening your yarns and antics of your past. And even though you have gone, I know you will be there, waiting to get into the discussion. I am already looking forward to seeing you again.

buffdiver said...

Your time has come to join those who have gone before. We started on crew together and worked side by side on many a case. I've enjoyed spending many hours in the crew quarters listening your yarns and antics of your past. And even though you have gone, I know you will be there, waiting to get into the discussion. I am already looking forward to seeing you again.

Christine said...

What a beautiful and touching tribute - May your mind never fail you in the ability to draw on your memories with your friend Mark.

Eloise said...

This was a really lovely read about a truly brilliant man.

My name is Eloise, and I come from Bristol, England. My Dad, Simon, is the man who reissued their early works back in the late 90's/early 2000's, and it's because of him that I was lucky enough to meet Mark and the rest of the Prunes.
I haven't seen or spoken to Mark since I was 13 years old probably.

Their reunion is an experience I will never forget. I got to see the Prunes live 4 times within the 2 years in which they worked closely with my Dad. It was a style of music I had never heard before, and it was amazing to be a part of something so special [I believe I actually make a little cameo on the Rewired DVD, if I remember correctly!]

I have only the best memories of Mark, he was so cool and laid back, with all the intelligence and kindness in the world, and he never treated me any differently just because I was a kid. I loved the way he dressed and presented himself, he was just a really, really interesting person to look at. And those are always my favourite kind of people.

I am so, so sad to hear of his death. I know both my parents feel the same way. I can only wish I could have seen him one more time, now as an adult, to fully appreciate who he was. Such a brilliant human being. I feel truly blessed to have known him.

jon said...

This is a brilliant tribute to Mark. Well Done and thank you for helping us honor a great musician and man.
Jon P.

Steve said...

I thank you and all of "Spirit in the Sky" for the wonderful tribute you played at Marks memorial service. It was a very uplifting event and I saw a side of my cousin that I have never known.
I only wish now that I had been closer to the family over the past years. I would always say "I will see him soon" but "soon" never came until now and "soon" is to late.
Thank you again for your kind and loving words and your beautiful music.

Fera said...

This is such sad news. I never got to meet Mark, but from what I gather he was full of love. I believe we all survive in the hearts and minds of the people who love us, and even though Mark isn't with us anymore, he'll never truly be gone as long as is remembered.

Rest in peace, Mark. The world was lucky to have you for the short time that it did and wouldn't be the same had you not come into it.

drlani said...

Mark gave much more than he ever took.
We will never stop missing him.

Douglas said...
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Nell said...

So sad, a great loss. Met the Prunes in Madrid. Had a wonderful night. Will never forget. Helen and Bammer from Buxton UK.

Nell said...

So sad. Met the Prunes in Madrid and had a wonderful party. Will never forget.

jepox said...

R.I.P Mark...\m/\m/ tnx for the muzziikk...

jepox said...

we'll miss you mark...but the show must goes onn..tnk you for your musikkzzz...rock on \m/\m/

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Don said...

It is with tears in my eyes that I hear of Mark Tulin's passing. I so admired his work with the Prunes, they were such a great band, so ahead of their tyme....thank you, Billy for your tribute, I only wish that the current generation could understand the music and innovation that Mark and the Prunes gave to us....may you rest in peace, Mark Tulin...Don , Montreal, Quebec

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Don said...

As a follow-up on my last post- back in, I believe 1968, the Electric Prunes made an appearance here in Montreal, at a place that I believe was called "Admiral Alfie's Lighthouse Café" It was on Clark Street , near St- Laurent, here in Montreal. I was a mere 16 years old, but I so admired the Prunes, listening late at night on a local "underground" music show from 11pm to midnight!. Anyhow, I guess the group was in the twilight of their career, as I remember there being no more than 20 people in the place - honestly, there were only 3 of us standing on the dancefloor in front of the band while another 15-20 were sitting at tables chatting. Remember that here in French Quebec, 90% of the French population had no clue about the underground music scene, that at the time included much of the San Francisco sound. As a testimony to that fact, Janis only came here 1 time, Jimi Hendrix 1 time, the Airplane 2 times, the Dead 1 time...Hot Tuna 0 times..get the message? They couldn't draw here.
So, what I am saying is that as a result of the local music dynamics, I was treated to a "private" session with the Electric Prunes, a moment that i shared with so few, but a moment that I will always remember! Again, thank you Mark Tulin, I have listened to, and each time appreciating, your music time and time again.
The title of your 2nd lp, "Underground" in one word describes your music back then, and in today's world, your music can again be given the moniker "Underground", because that term still applies to those that listen to the Prunes today. Most of the world liked "Had to much to dream last night" but they never "got it", (i.e. the significance of the sound that you produced on those first 2 lp's - it was ground breaking) otherwise you would (and deserve to be) in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. May you rest in peace , Don, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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Belkowski Gaylord said...

I am a diving friend, him, and he knew has more than 20 years. I'd like to see him play music at least 15 years, but never got a chance to do so. I'm sorry, I didn't. Recently, I am 13 years old son has started to play the guitar, he and mark play together the plan in our house. Do you know these things go to... My son has a football match arrangement unexpectedly, mark's concert run late, and so on... Another chance to miss. It is pointed out that the importance of today, all you can do everything, because tomorrow may never come.
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Leroy Pfeister said...

Thank you, Billy, for this beautiful tribute to Mark. I knew him through scuba diving and will always remember him is brilliant, kind, patient and funny as hell. This post helped me cry for the first time since I learned of his death this morning. cheap nike jerseys