Julian Cope PhotoBORN: October 21, 1957, Deri, Mid Glamorgan, Wales

Midway through the recording of the Teardrop Explodes' third album, leader Julian Cope decided to go solo and dissolved the band. Cope's reputation as a rock eccentric was already well established, and following his solo debut, World Shut Your Mouth, many believed he was downright deranged. The music strongly echoed the garage rock of Roky Erickson and the psychedelia of Syd Barrett, two of rock's most notorious LSD addicts, while Cope himself intentionally slashed his stomach with a broken microphone and gave interviews advocating the use of hallucinogens during his supporting tour. Cope strengthened his image of mental imbalance on the cover of his second album, Fried, by picturing himself cowering naked under a giant tortoise shell.

In 1986, Cope scored a surprise U.K. Top 20 hit with a re-recorded version of "World Shut Your Mouth," and Island attempted to introduce the singer to U.S. audiences with the Julian Cope EP. Cope followed his success with Saint Julian in 1987, his first album since recovering from his earlier mental difficulties. However, he was forced to cancel a supporting tour for the follow-up LP My Nation Underground due to illness. While Cope took a break from the public eye, he released Skellington, a follow-up to Fried rejected by Mercury, and Droolian, a series of demos and experiments, in 1989 and 1990, respectively, through his fan club. He served notice of his return in 1990 by showing up at an anti-poll tax demonstration in London dressed as an alien named Mr. Sqwubbsy, and the following year, he scored a U.K. hit with "Beautiful Love" and released the critically acclaimed double album Peggy Suicide.

Peggy Suicide set a tone for much of Cope's subsequent work; it was an ambitious concept album addressing political, environmental, and spiritual issues in Cope's own idiosyncratic, sometimes confusing way. Jehovahkill and Autogeddon, the latter of which examined social evils through the metaphor of an automobile, followed but were less successful artistically and attracted less critical attention. ~ Steve Huey, All Music Guide

Photography By: Donna Ranieri