Parthenon Huxley

Parthenon Huxley

Parthenon Huxley is an American rock songwriter, singer, guitarist and record producer.

Parthenon Huxley was born in Baton Rouge, Lousisiana. His family moved to New Jersey when he was four years old. At the age of eight he was mesmerized by the music of the British Invasion and after he saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan the seed was planted for Huxley to lead a life of music.

At age ten his family moved from New Jersey to Greece. Onboard the Italian liner Cristoforo Columbo (no longer in service) Huxley began writing his first songs. During his blissful but obscure eight years of upbringing in Athens in the late 60s and early 70s, Huxley and his American schoolmates formed bands and kept up with the coolest music, but in a world apart. Pre-internet life overseas equated to a separate reality from the everyday hubbub of the U.S.

Huxley graduated from the American Academy (High School) in Athens, and matriculated to UNC Chapel Hill, where he earned a Journalism degree.

Huxley's recording career began with the 1980 release of "The Blazers: How To Rock," an album produced by NC legend Don Dixon (R.E.M., Smithereens) for local label Moonlight Records. The Blazers were essentially a bar band led by a jittery Rolling Stones-loving frontman named Shakin' Sherman Tate. Huxley took the band in a new Brit Pop direction when he and his roommate/mentor/bassist Lee Gildersleeve joined the band. Huxley, then still going by his birth name of Rick Miller, penned six songs for the album: Rock and Roll Must Be Right, I Can Love You, Country Girl, Top of My World, Don't Worry Bout It Now and Air Gets Colder. "How To Rock" was a local hit in the Chapel Hill-Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina and Huxley's songs drew comparisons to work by The Beatles, Tom Petty and Dwight Twilley.

Dixon's interest in his writing and the Blazers' ability to make okay money on the Southeast bar circuit were enough for Huxley to veer toward music as opposed to journalism. Huxley accommodated his band's schedule by taking low-maintenance jobs. They included part-time disc jockey/ad writer at a country music station; clerk at a copy center; dishwasher at a Polish restaurant and rock reviewer for local weekly The Spectator Magazine. It added up to a pleasant life of genteel poverty with great friends in a cool town.

But the urge to create his own sound kept Huxley restless.

Huxley left The Blazers to form The Dads with longtime friend from high school Matt Barrett. Huxley and Barrett teamed with bassist/singer Zoe Lagergren formerly of The Obvious Question and Scott Swartzwelder, a neuro scientist drummer. Lagergren was probably the most talented member of the band but Huxley and Barrett asserted themselves as chief writers, or, to use insider band language, "song pigs." The Dads briefly blazed a memorable trail across the Southeastern club scene, highlighted by shows with The Bad Brains and NYC's The Dots. Their material was fast, furious and melodic, influenced by The Move and Free. Legendary music rag the New York Rocker gave the Dads a thumbs up.

The Dads never recorded a proper album, but they performed material from another Moonlight Records release called Matt Barrett "The Ruse." The Ruse was a four-song EP of Barrett material recorded by Huxley and Barrett in 1979 with Dixon, pre-dating Huxley's Blazers sessions. Huxley and Barrett played guitars, Dixon played bass and none other than Mitch Easter played drums. Mitch also supplied a large Marshall amp and a Gibson Melody Maker guitar for Huxley, who used them to great effect on Barrett's tunes "Restless" and "My Baby's M-M-Makin' Me Dance." Only after Moonlight expressed interest in the material a year or two later did Huxley and Barrett record two additional songs, both by Barrett: "Six Pack" and "How Could I Have Known."

Huxley left the democratic confines of The Dads to take a stab at running a band as a benign dictator with full control of the sound and songs. He recruited drummer Chip Shelby and bassist Andy Church to help him achieve his vision and called the new trio Rick Rock, a nod to a joke from high school. Huxley wanted Rick Rock to explode on the Chapel Hill scene with full force--in both the Blazers and Dads he'd performed new songs live before an audience with verses missing or unfinished solo sections, and found it wanting. Rick Rock rehearsed at Chapel Hill's Lloyd Street Studios for nine months before appearing in public. During that time Huxley, Shelby and Church became a tight, formidable unit and Huxley's songwriting blossomed. During the nine-month rehearsal period, Rick Rock recorded a single at TGS Studios outside of Chapel Hill, the same studio where the Blazers had recorded. But this time, Huxley took the role of producer. The result was "Buddha, Buddha" b/w "Sputnik." The sessions cost $400 total. A few years later the Greensboro Record called "Buddha, Buddha" one of the Ten Best Records Ever Made in NC. (James Brown's Papa's Got A Brand New Bag was #1).

An opportunity then presented itself to the band. A new label, Dolphin Records, with backing from record store chain The Record Bar, was interested in putting out a compilation of NC bands. When Mondo Montage came out a few months later, Rick Rock was the only band with two songs on the album: Buddha and Sputnik. Rolling Stone quickly picked up on the album and writer Parke Puterbaugh gave Huxley his first memorable national quote: "You could land a marlin with these hooks!"

With the Rolling Stone review in hand and heavy local airplay for "Buddha, Buddha" creating interest, Rick Rock debuted as headliner at The Pier in Raleigh featuring bands from the Mondo Montage album. Huxley's vision of a band exploding on the scene had come true. Rick Rock shared bills with the Romantics, Berlin and notably R.E.M. (When Rick Rock opened for R.E.M. the Raleigh crowd deafeningly chanted the band's name at the end of their set. Rick Rock obliged the crowd with an encore. R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck angrily confronted Rick Rock's manager, Anistatia Renard, saying 'Warm up bands don't do encores!' Anistatia responsed: "This one does!") More gigs followed and packed shows at the Cat's Cradle, the Pier and on the UNC campus are still fondly remembered by those who were there back in the day.

Huxley felt gratified by the buzz around Rick Rock. Unfortunately, Huxley hadn't yet learned how to keep a band together. Within a year Huxley, Shelby and Church were marooned in Nebraska with a broken down tour van and frightening repair charges on Shelby's credit card. Eventually Shelby and Church returned to NC while Huxley and his girlfriend/manager licked their wounds for five months in Chicago, figuring out a way to regroup.

Recording collaborations: The Goosebumps, XTC, Stevie Salas Colorcode, Dave Wakeling, Animal Logic, Eels, Mark Oliver Everett, Foreigner, Sass Jordan, Brother Cane, Gus, Kyle Vincent, Splendid , Sara Hickman, Chet Delcampo and Jeffrey Foskett IV, more.

Discography

Year Release Artist
1988 Sunny Nights Parthenon Huxley
1995 Deluxe P. Hux
1996 Every Minute Parthenon Huxley

2001 Purgatory Falls P.Hux
2001 Live In Your Living Room P.Hux
2002 In Your Parlour P.Hux
2005 Homemade Spaceship P.Hux
2006 Mile High Fan P.Hux
2007 Kiss The Monster P.Hux

External links

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