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The story of the Aphrodite's Child album: 666. Meeting Salvador Dali

Meeting SALVADOR DALI as told by Costas Ferris

I first met Dali in 1971, in Paris, during a painting exhibition of Olivier Mosset, a French painter who was my friend. He surprised me looking and behaving EXACTLY as I had imagined him! Both Dali and Mosset, were connected with theSalvador Dali Underground scene around Andy Warhol. It was this same period where I also met Viva (she was one of the main "muses" of Andy Warhol), and Nico (from Velvet Underground) who married the French director Philipe Garrel soon after. A crazy era, with crazy people, who dreamed to build a crazy world. This first contact with Dali, was nice, but nothing exceptional. So I said to the public-relation man of "666" to contact him, and invite him to the presentation of the record.

The day came, and many people gathered at the Europa Sonor studio where we were feasting the… 1st year of the non-release of the record by the Philips Company. Greek director Michael Cacoyannis was there, Irene Papas too, Vangelis father, Demis and the rest of the band, and many other friends. Just before… blowing the candle of the so-called negative anniversary, Dali arrived, surrounded by his bodyguards and friends. He became immediately the king of the event. So he asked to sit on his "throne", and first of all, hear the whole music!!! Almost 80 minutes!!! In silence!!!

His reaction was more than enthusiastic. He said that the music was "a music of stone" ("C’ est oune mouzique de pierre" he said with his peculiar French accent) and reminded him of the church of Sagrada Famiglia of Gaudi in Barcelona. As about the lyrics, he said, they expressed perfectly the yippie movement, and reminded him Durer (the painter of the Apocalypse). He then said that we must introduce this work to the public, by a big international event, a great "happening", suitable for the greatness of "666". He said, finally, that if he was a musician and a lyrics writer, this could be one of his great works.

Vangelis & Salvador Dali (& Amanda Lear)
Vangelis and Salvador Dali

Being mainly a film director, and of course an admirer of Dali, I was extremely flattered. But my happiness was unspeakable, when he asked me to meet him everyday and discuss the project of the Barcelona happening. So the meetings started, at his George V suite, Vangelis was there too of course, but we both were as discreet as possible, under the impressive figure of the great painter. He didn’t like the monologues, so he little by little convinced us to add our ideas, or even, to contradict them. His wife, Gala, was appearing in the salon from time to time, just to say to him something about their schedule, and then retiring to her bedroom. She was very snob. Exactly the opposite of his generous and grand talking and chatting.

One day, I asked him (my childhood in poverty was the reason) how we can find all that money for the event. He laughed, and took a small canvas, a pen and some ink, and did in front of us a painting in 40 seconds! He added some glue, and he applied two leaves that remained from his salad! He said: "Now, this painting has of course some value". Then, he signed the painting with a huge black "Dali". And said: "Now, I’m sending this painting to an American collector, for $ 200,000. See, young man? 20 years in poverty, have no capital. 40 seconds of Dali’s time is a fortune! So, when you think, think big!" {Two years later, I was amazed to hear this same quotation –when you think think big- by the American lawyer Marty Machad).

I was involved in politics at this time, so I didn’t lose the occasion to discuss about the Spanish civil war. He didn’t say anything against the Spanish left-wing revolutionaries. But he said that the Communist party was a mafia, and he hated mafias. He did not hate Pablo Picasso. On the contrary, he admired him profoundly. But he was sad because Picasso hated him. "General Franco, he said, wants to be friend with me, just because of the competition, because Pablo refuses to give the Guernica to Barcelona. But I’m not a friend of Franco. I’m a friend of the future king, Juan Carlos".

Vangelis & Salvador Dali & Amanda Lear

Vangelis and Salvador Dali with Amanda Lear

We later heard that every Saturday or so, he was gathering sexual orgies in his suite, with boys and girls, and the participation of Gala. He was mainly a Voyeur, they said. But he never invited us to such a party, because he knew that we were a little old fashioned… He came, although, to Vangelis house at Neuilly, at the New Years Eve party (1971-1972) where we put on the record a lot of Greek dance music. He was simple, human and tender, just as in our private meetings. But every time he detected a photographer trying to take a photo of him, he suddenly was taking those extravagant poses and expressions we all know. This was the only image of him he wanted to come out. At one moment, he got crazy and happy, enjoying a Greek belly-dance given for him by my then 2-years old daughter, Danae (Catherine) Ferris. He behaved like a child too, clapping and dancing with her. [By the way, Danae is now an extraordinary classical percussion player, participating in big Symphony Orchestras. She doesn’t remember very well this event.]

So the time went by, until we made THE BIG MISTAKE. A friend of us, a foolish Greek intellectual, came from Rome to pay us a visit. He went crazy when he learned that we were meeting Salvador Dali. He asked us to introduce him to the painter. So we asked him the permission, he said "why not?" and the meeting was arranged at the George V hotel. Our friend behaved gently at the beginning, but just before leaving he said: "Mes hommages a Mme Eluard"!!! (Parenthesis: The story of Dali stealing Gala, who was the wife of his best friend Paul Eluard, and provoking by that the Big Break of the Surrealist Group, is a very well known historical event.) So, suddenly, we heard Dali shouting very angry to our (idiot) friend: "IL N’ Y A PAS DE MADAME ELUARD, MONSIEUR! IL N’Y A QUE MADAME DALI! MADAME SALVADOR DALI! ACCEPTEZ UN DUEL, MAINTENANT, OU ALLEZ-VOUS EN-TOUT DE SUITE ! AU DIABLE ! 

That was it! He never wanted to see us again!

The Barcelona happening by Salvador Dali

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Special thanks to: Costas Ferris and Sufian.

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