Dream girl - Page 2

Decades after her demise, Judee Sill — whether thief, whore, or saint — still steals hearts

She hung out a little with Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles, and she had a lot of strange friends that she had had for a long time in LA."

One of Sill's exes and old pals, musician Tommy Peltier witnessed the disconnect between the worlds Sill ran in and remembers accompanying her to a Warner Bros. Christmas party right after her debut came out. "We went in my beat-up old car to the Beverly Hills Hotel, and that was first time I saw her cringe," recalls Peltier, who first met Sill onstage at a 1968 jam session ("It was love at first song"). "Here she was the new starlet — there were all these Rollses and limos, and then this clunker drives up, and the new starlet comes out! That was the only time I saw her really uncomfortable, but she just went in there and took over the room."

But as difficult or out of her element as Sill could be, she was within her rights to complain about her handling when she went from opening for kindred souls like Crosby, Stills, and Nash to fronting rock bands. "If you listen to the BBC sessions, she talks about lower chakras and people who just want to boogie, and it's true," Roques explains. "The rock crowd just wanted to drink wine and take mescaline and get fucked up and party, and there's Judee singing 'Jesus Was a Cross Maker' and making references to esoteric literature. People who went out for a Friday night didn't want to hear that, just like they didn't want to hear Charles Mingus. Americans just want to partay — that's cool — but that's why she did better in England."

It's no surprise, then, that Sill obsessives like O'Rourke and Roques still feel protective of her, careful about sharing their love for the dark lady of a sunlit Topanga Canyon whose revelations were forged on the grittily glamorous, sadly battered streets of Los Angeles and who, ironically, seems a perfect fit for yet another turn through Hollywood. "She was out there on the edge," Roques says, "and though I don't think she ever talked about women's lib, she was a very ballsy chick and knew what the fuck she wanted and just went and did it. And she evolved into a fantastic person — there's no one like her" — although, apparently, listeners keep looking. "I search for tapes and talk to musicians endlessly," he continues. "And if you go on these sites, you'll see everyone wants to find the next Judee Sill — and none of them can even touch Judee Sill." *

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