The release of DCC #100: The Music of the Spheres (is Chaos) looms on the horizon, so Dieter Zimmerman takes a look at the relationship between DCC RPG and music in a series of blog posts appropriately titled “The Music of DCC (is Chaos).” (Go read the first post now!) Join him as he decides which Goodman Games person has the most embarrassing taste in music, as he interviews some bands associated with DCC RPG, and as he examines songs that specifically reference Appendix N authors and some that are written by Appendix N authors!
The Music of DCC (is Chaos) #2: The Music of Michael Moorcock
Many players of DCC RPG are well-steeped in Appendix N lore and are fully aware of author Michael Moorcock’s influence on fantasy stories and fantasy gaming. The last living Appendix N author, Moorcock created iconic heroes and anti-heroes like Elric of Melniboné, Dorian Hawkmoon, and Jerry Cornelius, and he still publishes new novels every few years. His works popularized many concepts central to old school roleplaying such as the conflict between Law and Chaos, the multiverse, and gaining power from demonic patrons.
Fewer people know that Moorcock lives a parallel life in music that’s been a long and varied as his life as an author. He’s best known for his work with bands like Blue Öyster Cult and Hawkwind, but he’s also recorded projects of his own starting with 1975’s New Worlds Fair with his band The Deep Fix.
Blue Öyster Cult (“Don’t Fear the Reaper”) worked with multiple lyricists outside the band in the ’70s and ’80s. Moorcock penned the words to three BÖC songs during this period. The subject of “Black Blade” should be obvious to anyone familiar with Moorcock’s stories, “Veteran of the Psychic Wars” is possibly a reference to a line from his novel The Dragon in the Sword and was included on the soundtrack to the movie Heavy Metal, and “The Great Sun Jester” honors a friend of his who died from a drug overdose. Moorcock performed live with Blue Öyster Cult exactly one time: at the very first Dragon Con in 1987.
If someone knows British band Hawkwind at all, it’s probably as “that band Lemmy was in before Motörhead.” But Moorcock’s collaboration with Hawkwind produced a plethora of great songs including an entire album about Elric of Melniboné. The words for the song “Black Corridor” come from his novel of the same name. The album Warrior on the Edge of Time is a concept album loosely based on Moorcock’s Eternal Champion, and Moorcock himself wrote the lyrics for “The Wizard Blew His Horn,” “Standing at the Edge,” “Warriors,” and “Kings of Speed.” He did some vocal work on “Warriors” and “The Wizard Blew His Horn” as well. The songs “Psychosonia,” “Coded Languages,” “Lost Chances,” and “Sonic Attack” from the album Sonic Attack also feature Moorcock lyrics.
Though Moorcock only wrote the lyrics to one song on the album (“Sleep of a Thousand Years”), 1985’s The Chronicle of the Black Sword is entirely based on his Elric novels. The album Live Chronicles is a live recording of Chronicle in its entirety and features Moorcock himself on stage! He narrates the story and reads poetry…and he’s definitely a performer as well as a writer!
Robert Calvert of Hawkwind also made a number of solo albums, two of which show off Moorcock playing guitar and banjo: 1975’s Lucky Leif and the Longships and 1981’s Hype.
The band Spirits Burning is a musical collaboration led by Don Falcone featuring members of Blue Öyster Cult, Hawkwind, and other prog-rock groups. Moorcock appears of five tracks of the CD Alien Injection from 2008, and just last year in 2018 he contributed lyrics, vocals, and harmonica to the CD An Alien Heat, largely based on his novel of the same name.
Now that we’ve got the collaborations out of the way, we can discuss the music that Moorcock made on his own. Moorcock’s band The Deep Fix released their first album New Worlds Fair in 1975. The name of the band comes from a collection of short stories by James Colvin (an early pen name Moorcock used), and it was also the name of the fictional band led by Jerry Cornelius in those novels. Moorcock novels referenced in songs by The Deep Fix include Gloriana, The Brothel in Rosenstrasse, the Jerry Cornelius stories, and more.