Home » Richard O’Brien Rocky Horror‘s Guitar Visionary

Richard O’Brien Rocky Horror‘s Guitar Visionary

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We at Guitardoor write and expose all things guitar. Today we look at the songwriter’s use of the guitar in a somewhat unconventional thought. It allows me to talk about my two loves Music and Film. One Gentleman took those same loves and turned the world on its ear. That man is Richard “Riff Raff” O’Brien. 

I stumbled upon something this morning that made me smile, The original tapes that ultimately sold the idea of what became “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. We know the guitar’s place as the songwriter’s tool, but I had never thought about the outside-the-box outcome of the multi-talented Richard O’Brien’s creative journey as a guitarist. As an actor, writer, and musician O’Brien has always done the work and done it well.  In this case, the guitar became the seed by 1973 that would a short time later bring about a Cultural shift as vibrant now as ever.

I was never a fan of musicals, not one for the theater, and many other entertainment forms. That became a theology I was to rethink after going to a midnight showing in South Columbus of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” in the late 1980s. I quickly made a few more trips to the scene also happening in Dayton. I’ve been a Rocky fan since and also have an equal love for the second effort “Shock Treatment”. You may not like or understand the Mammoth cult following, but if you take into account simply the songwriting skills Richard is known (or in most cases unknown) for, if you just listen his Genius is fully evident.

Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show // 1973 demo tape (FULL)

Richard O’Brien sings SUPERHEROES

Soundtracks were not my thing until I purchased  Both the Rocky Horror and A Clockwork Orange soundtracks and played those in a heavy rotation my last year of high school. It allowed me to truly absorb the musical side of things outside the visual element. I regarded it as truly inspired musical work that stood on its own.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (full album)

While I was still in the Senior year of high school I had the experience of the Trashing of a movie theater. One particular night our group went rogue and brought not only the rice for the wedding scene but a bag of Lima Beans. I’m not sure how we chose Lima Beans but we were stoned so that’s that. We had a group of people come into the film who truly had no idea what they were there for. They were not technically “Virgins” as we lovingly term it. They legitimately thought this was a night out for a movie. They took the second row of seating and when shenanigans ensued they were barking disdain at the chaos. The Lima Beans were now employed and it appears those little suckers hurt when aimed at the back of your head. Exit row two.

Ironically I took a job at a local theater and overheard a conversation by our Manager. He wanted to start a run of the film on Midnight shows every Saturday.

I weighed in asking “do you know what you are opening the door to in doing that?” I made sure he was well informed. The end result was astounding, as he also allowed alcohol to be brought in. Sunday Morning I went into work and was given the duty to clean the theater, the lobby, and the bathrooms as my hungover boss sat silently in his office. Two hours later I finished the nightmare cleanup and paid him a visit. He said, “Never Again”. I made him promise to stick to it. 

Rocky Horror Picture Show Behind The Music

In 1981 Richard did it again with the equally brilliant film “Shock Treatment”. While not an outright sequel, the film does feature several characters from the previous film, most portrayed by different actors, as well as several Rocky Horror actors in new roles. The film stars Jessica Harper as Janet and Cliff De Young in a dual role as Brad and the film’s main antagonist Farley Flavors, with O’Brien and Patricia Quinn playing sibling character actors.

O’Brien‘s thoughts were it was a lesser film, but the soundtrack and songs were better.

The Video Drone segment below perfectly explains the film’s uncanny predictions of the world that eventually came to be. Reality Television and its spawn of celebrities.

Shock Treatment Original Trailer (Jim Sharman, 1981)

Shock Treatment – Bitchin’ In The Kitchen

Richard O’Brien is a simply Brilliant composer, and to think a fellow with his guitar changed lives in so many different ways is a fact that a large part of the general public doesn’t know much if anything about.

An Acoustic guitar was picked up, songs were written, a play was created and ultimately a film offer with a one million dollar budget came to fruition Followed by another set of music and another Cult classic film. It is the epitome of “Don’t dream it, Be it”. 

Shock Treatment (1981) – Video Drone

Be the “Riff Raff” or the Good Doctor,  he was an essential character in both films.

It was the “Riff” that kicked it all off. The road less traveled leads to amazing places. A Wealth of musical talent and dark humor will carry you a long way. 

LIVE Video Richard O’Brien sings Time Warp

Rocky Horror Show Live From London’s West End 2015

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Jimmy Flemming