Robert N. Lee

Things I Didn’t Make Up for 666ties: The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave

“’That Beatles thing was bollocks.’

“She laughed. ‘It didn’t go over at all, did it? Lennon looked injured when he stole out the back, I noticed.'”

–“The Live Lady of Down Town”


The Million Volt Light and Sound RaveSo I set this story I was writing about Delia Derbyshire kicking off rave culture a couple decades early in spring 1967, in London. I knew it was going to be 1967, immediately — the year I was born, the Summer of Love, four years after the Doctor Who theme changed the world sounded like a good time to drop in on my version of Delia Derbyshire’s life. (And a couple of murders happened that spring…but that I won’t spoil, who for-real else gets their lives changed for the happier in the story.) I needed a place for a show to happen, a bunch of acts playing, that’s what the American girls in the flipside of the record story would be going to.

And then I started reading more about Delia Derbyshire and found out she and her partners in Unit Delta Plus had some music in this all-electronic rave in spring 1967. In real life. That was kinda spooky.  (That kind of spooky thing keeps happening, writing these stories: I decide how a story should go, historical event line up with it when I start researching deeper. It just happened on the one I’m writing now, the other day.)

The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave

Even better, the whole thing centered around the Beatles, and this long-lost electronic track they provided, “Carnival of Light.” If you haven’t noticed yet and notice later…yes, there is a theme of ripping on the Beatles — and John Lennon in particular — in the 666ties stories. If you don’t like that, you may want to get off the bus now, because in the next story…anyway. It’s bad. Worse than John Lennon getting turned into a chronic masturbator monkey by Brian Wilson.  (In fact, I would suggest: anybody who is a big fan of Catcher In the Rye and isn’t thirteen-fourteen years old, you should stop reading 666ties immediately.)

None of Derbyshire’s music even got played at the Million Volt Light and Sound Rave, so…I made my version of events that night at the Roundhouse all about her instead. She’s at the top of the bill, or Helen AmeriKKKa is. 

Not very much about my version of that night in the story is like the real thing, I gather. The Beatles weren’t even there. It was really a bunch of hippies and art students standing around all night watching people change tapes and then listening to music nobody could ever dance to.  With light shows. It was LAZER AUTECHRE at the planetarium, circa 1967. There were two days of this.

That didn’t sound like something two sixteen year old girls loose in London and being bad would be very interested in attending, or…not these two sixteen year  old girls, anyway. So I made it something else.

Something I ran across I’d never seen before, looking up stuff for “The Live Lady of Down Town,” was…Beatles fans make fake “Carnivals of Light.” They have forever, and now they still do and they get uploaded as that lost song, and other pieces of music do, and…anyway, a representative sample of what people guess “Carnival of Light” might have been:

And since this is the Internet, there are lots of jokes, too (and bands promoting themselves, but like I’m going to post those):

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