Snakefinger – Live At The Boarding House – 1979 – Past Daily Soundbooth
Snakefinger for the middle of the week. Also known as Philip Charles Lithman, he was originally a British blues guitarist, formerly associated with bands such as Mighty Baby and Chili Willi and The Red Hot Peppers, Lithman relocated to San Francisco around 1976 and landed with The Residents, one of the premier 70s avant-garde bands on the West Coast.
He was associated with The Residents for a few years before going solo. The Snakefinger moniker was given to him by The Residents based on a photograph they saw taken during one of his performances. It stuck and he ran with it. As Snakefinger, he explored surreal imagery and made frequent use of distortion, slide guitar, as well as violin. He was known as a multi-instrumentalist and his work with The Residents transitioned over to his solo work, where he became a label-mate with The Residents at Ralph Records.
This performance, actually a Record release party hosted by Ralph for his debut album, Chewing Hides The Sound also featured songs co-written with The Residents. The performance was recorded at The Boarding House in San Francisco and was broadcast by KALX, the UC Berkeley FM station.
Shortly after this, Snakefinger embarked on a European tour as well as a follow up album, Greener Pastures, released in 1980. However, during the Australian leg of the tour, he suffered the first of what would be several heart attacks. This one leaving him hospitalized for some six months before he was well enough to continue working. In 1982 he formed The Vestal Virgins, his backing band which included Captain Beefheart alumnus Eric Drew Feldman. This resulted in several albums and finally a reunion with The Residents in 1986.
Sadly, Philip Charles “Snakefinger” Lithman died of a massive heart attack while on tour in Austria, promoting his Night Of Desirable Objects album.
As a memory refresher, or an introduction, here is that Boarding House performance, recorded on December 3, 1979.