Surfing, Pinball, and Weed: Perry Farrell on His Teen Years in Miami
Photo by Eliot Lee Hazel
When Jane's Addiction brings its rock party to the Fillmore Miami Beach tonight, it will be a homecoming show for the band's frontman, Perry Farrell.
"I moved to Miami Beach when I was about fourteen, shortly after my bar mitzvah," the icon tells Crossfade. In between becoming a man in the eyes of God and The Man in the eyes of music fans, Perry Farrell was a teenager in Miami, chasing waves, girls, and a good buzz.
Perry Farrell shares memories of his teen years in Miami with Crossfade.
On breaking both hands in a fight fight, just after moving to town:
"I moved to Miami Beach after visiting Miami Beach during winters with my parents. I went to North Miami Beach High School. And going into the school, I didn't have any friends. But I made friends pretty quick. Mostly kids playing basketball.
"I went to the gyms around town. And at one of them, I broke the knuckles on both of my hands fighting to protect my new friend, Michael. There was this big guy giving Michael a hard time and Michael knew I was from New York, so he knew I was tough. I fought the guy. And the next day, I went to school with two casts on my hands.
"That was right after I moved so I spent my first six months in Miami that way."
North Miami Beach Senior High School
courtesy of wikimedia commons
Meeting Canadian girls at the Fontainebleau:
"On the basketball team, I met a guy Rob, who is still one of my best friends. He taught me how to surf at the Waikiki Hotel. My friend Kenny's dad was the pool manager, so we went there. That was on Collins where all the old hotels were not the new ones on South Beach but the original ones.
"The big one was the Fontainebleau. In those days, that was the Cadillac of hotels. That was where the prettiest and richest people would stay. So we'd go play pinball and try to meet Canadian girls who came down in the winter.
"When I got cooler, I got to sit on the wall at the high school. I'm sure there are still kids on the wall, smoking dope and cutting class and making plans for the parties and bands coming to town."
courtesy of cardcow.com
Perry Farrell, Professional Wrestler:
"We would go to pro wrestling. This was when it was Jake the Snake and Dusty Rhodes. Dusty, he was our favorite. He was this big, blond cowboy. He'd go in there wearing a little speedo and a pair of cowboy boots and bleached hair. This was when they'd bleed, the wrestlers. Maybe they hid razor blades and cut their foreheads but they were always bleeding from the head.
"We would go with 50 kids. They'd have Shriners protecting the doors and we'd bust through the doors, and splinter off into the seats so the one old Shriner at the door couldn't stop us or chase us.
"And we'd jump into the ring to show people how it was fake. We'd body slam each other and everything. There'd be 25, 50 of us in there."
Getting stoned and watching midnight movies in Ft. Lauderdale:
"Miami was different then. South Beach was where old grannies sat out waiting for their time of death. It was good for their bones.
"At 14th Street, there was good surf occasionally. But otherwise, we'd go to the Waikiki and wait for the winter swells.
"My friend Jimmy had a surf van and we'd go to Ft Lauderdale where they had a lot of midnight flicks and get stoned in the van. Jimmy had good weed.
"Jimi Hendrix had the Isle of Wight movie, like three movies that he did and we saw every one of them, saw them ten times, you know?"
Surfing behind boats in Pickwick Estates:
"My boys are coming with me. They're seven and nine, and have never been to Miami. So I'm bringing them and I'm going to show them where I grew up.
"I'll take them to Haulover. I didn't know it had a nude beach now. But my boys are actually getting into girls. They have nude pictures of girls on their iPads. They won't show me but I've already seen it.
"I lived in Skylake, where I had a catamaran in my backyard. I'll show them that. We'd cruise Skylake or go to Pickwick Estates. My friend Rob had a little boat. Jimmy and I would get driven behind the boat while on surfboards, cutting through the canals in Pickwick Estates. That was a good time."
Not Perry Farrell.
courtesy of wakeboardingschool.com
Disco and DIY skate parks:
"There was a mall with a pinball arcade. T Rex was big and Queen and Elton John, you know. We spent a lot of time at each other's houses listening to music. In those days, Macintosh was the good soundsystem. If you had one, that's where everyone would be.
"When Disco hit, it was the Scarface era. I remember getting a second-hand leisure suit from my friend's dad's clothing store. We would go to clubs. This one had a picture of a guy with a beard and he would wink at you.
"Skate parks were just being built. We were a part of that whole thing. We would steal wood from the houses being built from around town and bring them to the slope in Jimmy's backyard. We got caught stealing, though."
Could this be the winking bearded man Perry remembers?
courtesy of discomusic.com
"On the drive into Haulover, there was an underpass and we'd bomb the underpass on out skateboards and skid out just before hitting the bottom. We would do 360s and multiple 360s and handstands on skateboards. That was at the start of it, of skateboarding. We'd get skate and surf magazines and dream of going to California. That's what drew me to California.
"The waves weren't that big in Miami, but we had big ideas. Maybe our self-perception was bigger than the waves. So I went out to be a surfer. But as we all know, I became a musician instead.
"I went out with a surfboard, art supplies and an ounce of weed."
Mike King was a legendary skater who also hung around the Haulover underpass.
courtesy of skateboardermag.com
The darkness in the new Jane's album, The Great Escape Artist, and final advice from Perry:
"Jane's has a lot of happiness but under the happiness there has always been darkness. If you want to be on the inside of darkness, you'll find there's happiness in there just like there's happiness in this record.
"Sometimes you have a bit of a hangnail. You pick it and it hurts but it feels good. That's what this record sounds like to me.
"It feels good to be in that darkness and to embrace it. Embrace the darkness!"
Perry Farrell: "Embrace the darkness!"
courtesy of USA Today
Jane's Addiction with The Duke Spirit. Friday, May 18. Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. and tickets cost $45.50 and $65.50 plus fees via livenation.com. Visit fillmoremb.com.
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