Thursday, July 17, 2008
In the early part of August 1969 we woke to the Murders of Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, and a number of others. At the time it was not known who committed the act, but it none the less ran through Hollywood and surrounding area like ice water on a cold day.
This slaughter was followed, a short time later, by another equally morbid multiple homicide of innocents. There was a mind set, in late 1969, that pervaded every part of the town we lived in, as a result of this tragedy. In fact all of Southern California, and for that matter most of the world, was equally shocked by the grisly front page news. There was a totally negative view of Hollywood and L.A. in general.
You couldn't escape the sense of dread, it was everywhere. It hung in the air for a long and persistent period of time. In my mind it summed up the way I felt about life itself: That at any moment, you could just fold up and die. I am not trying to be morbid, or unnecessarily grim, I am telling you exactly how it was at the time following both killings.
As stated earlier, I was already on my own downhill slide into a personal hell. So this occurrence, as you might imagine, just added to my degenerating outlook. I knew by then that everything in my life was caving in, and that Nancy and I couldn't afford to live in the apartment on Horn Ave. any longer.
I wasn't getting paid and Nancy wasn't working. Up until then she didn't have to, but all of a sudden we were forced to scramble, and that's what we did. We had about a month or so left in the apartment, but after that we didn't know. Fact was, we were piss poor at dealing with reality on a day to day basis. Our choice for coping with this mess was to get extremely loaded, and act as if everything was gonna be fine, which it wasn't.
So that was how we dealt with the sinking ship. We moved the deck chairs to the upper deck and ordered cocktails. Unfortunately, the process of refusing to take responsibility for my own life, and that of those around me who were affected by my choices, led to an overwhelming sense of defeat deep within me that was lethal in the long run.
I just couldn't find what I'd always used in the past. The attitude of "Fuck it! I'll just make another record and get on with it." This time was different. I just didn't care. I couldn't get it going, because the nagging sense of "What's the use" had for the first time in my life taken refuge in my thinking.
It was the most debilitating sense of hopelessness I had ever encountered, and was magnified by current events, and the abuse of drugs and alcohol. The only relief at the time was more drugs and more alcohol to blot out reality, which of course made it worse.
I have no recollection whatsoever of Diane Linkletter being a big drug user. To the contrary. She was around all of us when we were fucked up, but she was not fucked up. I am not saying she never got loaded, but what I am saying is that she was not excessive.
We respected her for that, because she kept her shit together. That's how I remember her, as dignified and together, within a framework of utter distraction perpetrated by the rest of us. Nancy was not chaotic either, but indulged more than Diane.
I knew Diane was prone to becoming depressed and forlorn over problems with her father, but I never thought it was something to get overly concerned about. Right before Nancy and I left the apartment on Horn Ave., for good, I spoke with Diane privately for the last time.
She had just inherited a quarter of a million dollars for her 21st birthday and told me it didn't mean shit to her, and that she really didn't want to take it, because it just made her feel more controlled by her father, Art. I told her, "Fuck it! Take the money Diane, and then go do what you wanna do." She agreed that that made sense, and I believed she was OK when I left her. I had no idea how wrong I was going to be.
Nancy and I moved into an apartment on Sweetzer Ave. in West Hollywood. I agreed to be the gardener for an a apartment building, managed by a guy named Joe Steck and his wife Judy, who had once been a dancer at the Whiskey. Joe wrote the screenplay for Waterhole #3, a movie with James Coburn. I don't remember how I met Joe, or why I agreed to be the gardener, but Nancy and I needed a place to go, and that's where we ended up in late 1969.
The Stecks said we could give their telephone number to a few people so they could contact us. I still remember the day I got the call from Timmy Rooney. "Hey Tim," I said, "How's it goin?" "Not so good," he answered, "I guess you didn't hear." "Hear what?" I asked. "Diane," he said, "Diane what?" I asked. "Diane, she committed suicide." There was dead silence on the phone. I couldn't make my brain incorporate what I'd just heard.