Saturday, December 8, 2007

RHAG aka Roy Henry Alexander Gover

There is precious little information available about RHAG on the web. I can't find any pages dedicated to him anywhere. His invisibility is curious, as his art seems tailor-made for the blog age. RHAG is a seventy- (now eighty-?) year old drag queen and multi-media artist who rambles in character over FM radio instrumentals.

I came to find out about RHAG via a session musician visiting my studio. As she played us the bizzare contents of her cassette she filled in the backstory: a friend-of-a-friend-etc who is a pizza delivery guy stole it from a pile of cassettes at some guy's house. When he realized what he had on his hands he was compelled to share. The story is probably a complete fabrication, but I like to imagine your average klepto pizza dude jammin' to this for the first time.

His sole official release LGO (Life Goes On) circumnavigates the copyright problem by using music specially composed by Fab Modine. It's a decent record, but I would love for someone to archive the cassettes online. In hopes of inspiring someone more well-connected, I present to you RHAG's version of "California Dreaming."

I will eventually post the entire cassette when I run it down.


Rosie said...

i have a bunch of related tracks... started out on cassette but have been converted to digital. let me know if you want them. i search roy henry on the internet every year or two, just waiting for more stuff about him to get online.

edusoler said...


Roy Gover was a dear friend, Roy
passed on 5 years ago, he was 74 years young. Roy would have loved
the story of the pizza guy taking
his tape. At one time his music was
played on collage radio back east.
He also produced a CD with a close
fiend, Bill Schwob in a recording

Roy Gover was born in London, England and had lived in the Bay Area since 1958. His work was exhibited at eh California Palace of the Legion of Honor and at San Francisco MOMA where he was given a five-year retrospective in 1971, plus numerous one-man exhibits. His work was widely collected throughout the United States.

To quote Joseph Baird of the North Point Gallery in San Francisco at an exhibit of Gover's work there in 1981,"The art of Roy Gover defies simple classification. It blends elements of Surrealism, of fantasy, and autobiography with roots that lie in the spare draughtmanship and luminescent washes of several European masters. It is an intensely personal art, closely mirroring the emotional highs and lows of everyday life, yet always disciplined by a strict technical finesse that gives his paintings and drawings their taut order"

I can personaly say that... Roy was an intelect, loved having friends over to talk about art politics and
life. His home was full of his art,
and always creating more. He loved
woman,fine cars,smoking and scotch.

Roy would send tapes to me and friends for years. Hold on to that
rare tape, for its one of a kind !


squirrellevel said...

Thanks for the comments. I love seeing Gover friends and fans come out of the woodwork. I've still not been able to track down the complete tape. The track I posted is from a mix tape I made ten years ago.

I have found a potential source for more RHAG tapes, but I welcome anyone willing to share to get in touch with me at casperfandango (at) gmail . com (I'm looking at you, Rosie and Edusoler.) I'm eager to learn more, and I'll gladly post them.

Grape Logic said...

hi everyone, the pizza guy story is a stretch of the truth ... you see I was that pizza guy. I delivered pizza in Berkeley in the early 80s... but I never stole any tapes. I had a dear friend who worked with Roy at some ad agency... he gave her a box full of tapes and she gave some to me. I still have two: March 1983 and 1985. I'm in the process of having them digitized. I will try to make them available when complete.

BTW, Rosie, my email is I'd like to hear what's on your collection.

Habadacus said...

I was turned on to one of his 1987 tapes by a friend in San Francisco, and have been a fan ever since. I have a letter from Mr. Gover he sent in reply to a letter I sent him praising his work. He expounded on the infamous Valentine's Day party in Novato, and mentioned that Stan Fleming had passed of a heart attack. He also sent along a tape that he put little stickers and stuff on. It is one of my most sentimentally valuable artifacts. I'd love to hear more about a definitive digital archive of his audio work, as I'm sure there's things I haven't heard yet, although I tried to dig up as much as I could.

Cookie said...

I posted a Roy Track on my blog.
I've got a bunch of stuff on DAT tapes that I need to get transferred.

robert said...

It's good to see people appreciating Roy's tapes. We were close friends (made many tapes together) and I greatly miss him. Just wanted to say that, contrary to the statement at the top of this page, Roy was not a drag queen. Sometimes he donned a blonde wig for the weird comic effect--as on the cover of his CD--but that's all. I don't know why I feel the need to correct this.
Roy wouldn't care!LOL