WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
It's a little known fact that all of the Morlocks in George Pal's 1960 sci-fi film The Time Machine were played by just one person. Pal
used blue screen techniques to multiply a single Morlock image into an entire pack of trolls. At the end of the movie, the role was credited
to "Morris Locke" but the part was actually performed by the notorious Izzie Grizzley. This was necessary, explained Pal, because "Izzie
was the only person I knew with the essential savagery. That plus the fact that we didn't need elaborate costumes." Today, Grizzley is
acknowledged and revered as a visionary cult hero who presaged heavy metal and punk rock music by twenty years. However, the man
himself still remains a mystery.|
Very little is known about Grizzley's childhood. It is speculated that his real name was Isaac Kosburn and that he was born some time around 1937 in the Hell's Kitchen area of New York City. Of his parentage, no records exist. Grizzley may have destroyed these records himself at some point. There can be little doubt that his upbringing was of the rough and tumble variety, how else to account for his later exploits? All that is known for sure is that he first surfaced in 1956 as lead singer for the raucous R & B group "Ike and the Ellunes."
This group garnered a modest local following by being so outrageously shocking by 1950s standards that no one cared about their atrociously bad music. Publicity photos from this time show Izzie's famous albino mane combed back into such an enormously bouffant bow wave hairdo that his face wasn't visible from the tip of his nose up. The Ellunes were signed as opening act for a series of dates with Little Richard. However, a violent altercation occurred backstage at the first show and Richard Penniman refused to perform unless Izzie vacated the auditorium. Several police officers were required to resolve the dispute. The Ellunes quickly disintegrated after this incident and no recordings of the group exist today.
Grizzley disappeared from the New York scene for a few years, possibly traveling to London. It must have been around this time that Izzie's latent lycanthropism began to fully emerge, possibly due to drug use. In 1959, he reappeared in New York with a new band and a new image. Disavowing any connection to the Ellunes, he billed himself as Izzie Grizzley and the Vivvid Underworld. This group was extremely bizarre and barbaric for the Frankie and Annette era. As if they had some window into the future, the band members were decked out in leather and rhinestones, lingerie and tattered rags. Bass player Cassidy Whywistle sported Maori tribal tattoos. Keyboardist Rory St. Johns wore so many chains, he had to wheeled onstage in a handcart. Izzie's stark white hair sprouted from nearly every square inch of his body.
The Underworld's freakish music matched their appearance. Thunderously booming jungle drumbeats from Maurice Dangéreuse clashed with the screeching and droning guitar work of Reed Lewis, overlaid by Izzie's maniacally growling lyrics. Most incom-prehensible of all was Izzie's furiously pointless assaults on the slide guitar which had no discernable metronymic relation to the songs' melodies whatsoever. However, what really brought the group notoriety were their antics, both onstage and off. Rumors of medieval torture devices, setting each other on fire and eating raw animal organs quickly spread. Grizzley was arrested six times in 1960 alone for such crimes as public drunkenness, indecent exposure, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and baying at the moon.
Attempting to cash in on the band's disrepute, producer Andrew "Loogie" Helhol quickly recorded a 45 rpm that was released by Ear Relevant Records. This single featured the Underworld's graphically disturbing "Raw Red Heart" backed by the instrumental "Siren's Call" (used as background music in The Time Machine). Neither song came anywhere close to making the charts. In 1968, a collection of very primitive basement tapes was discovered and cobbled together into an album which was released under the title "Howlin' In The Darkness". Besides the two cuts from the 45, the album included the songs Ace of Blades; Jumping From the 13th Floor; Black Mantra Break Down; Twisted Spine; Manhole Depression; Epistle To Satan; Crazy Whirlwar Rag; Kiss Me You Vicious Rotten Idol; and of course the haunting Escalator to Hades. Today, both the 45 and the album are much sought after collector's items.
By chance, George Pal happened to catch the very first public performance by Vivvid Underworld at the Café Wha. The director immediately recognized that Grizzley's excessive ugliness, extreme hairiness and brute troglodism perfectly suited him for the role of the Morlock. Pal signed Izzie to a movie contract on the spot, little realizing the problems that would arise. On location in Mexico, Grizzley discovered peyote cactus and cave mushrooms. Chaos ensued - locals were outraged by the disappearance of domestic animals; buildings inexplicably burned down; and cast and crew members were savagely assaulted. Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux both filed suit alleging sexual misconduct.
Somehow the film got finished. Grizzley was paid off and Pal never saw him again. Izzie tried to reform the Underworld but his comrades in mayhem had drifted away in a stuporous haze. Grizzley's careers as musician and film star ended as abruptly as they began. In 1966, a woman named Alicia Cooter claimed to have given birth to Izzie's child, a boy which the couple named Gizmo47. Cooter also claimed that about a year after the birth, father and son vanished into Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, never to seen or heard from again. Never- theless, vivid memories of Izzie Grizzley continue to influence the course of rock music to this day.