Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pete's Pantheon: Rockin' Bertie Russell

Most people know of Lord Bertrand Russell, mathematician, social philosopher, Nobel Laureate, and conscientious objector to World War One. But few remember Bertrand Russell, Rock Pioneer. In fact, he led the first electric band composed entirely of Cambridge University academics. The band, Lord Bertie and the Don Patrol, was in fact the first known power trio. With Ludwig "Magister Ludie" Wittgenstein on bass and Karl Popper on the skins, the band had a foundation that few had seen the like of, and fewer could tolerate. Lord Russell sang and played a mean telecaster. (It's now in the British Museum.) Their visionary first album "Principia Rock and Rolla" actually made it to the British Charts on the strength of their hot single "Epistemology of Love". Unfortunately their second album "Illogically Positive About You" was shelved unfinished after Popper and Wittgenstein quarreled. Popper accused Wittgenstein of being unable to keep a beat, to which Wittgenstein bitterly retorted "How am I supposed to keep time, when it is really an illusion created by our inability to experience all of reality at once?" At this Popper hit him with a drumstick, leading to the infamous attack on Popper by Wittgenstein using a fire poker from the faculty lounge in the Philosophy department. Needless to say, bootlegs of the never-released second album have surfaced and been very influential. Eric Clapton praised Russell's playing for its "Warm singing tone, not at all academic." and Keith Moon is said to have dropped Popper's name often, saying "If he could make it as a drummer, obviously anyone could." The breakup of the band left Russell even more uncertain of the long-term survival of humanity. His journal of the time contains pages filled with angst in which he wonders "If philosophers can't co-exist as a band, what hope is there for the masses?" He got his answer shortly after when the Beatles, in an unprovoked act of aggression, invaded America.


  1. You taking new meds? Amazing. Passing this on to some philosophy professors. Thanks.

  2. New meds? No, just getting up to speed on sketchbook Pro. I think :)