Victor Lidio Jara Martínez

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez

Victor Jara

September 28, 1932 – September 16, 1973

Victor Jara was born in Lonquén, Chile which is approximately 25 miles away from Santiago, the capital of Chile.  The family struggled to survive from the land. His mother loved folk music and when the family rented a room to a teacher who knew how to play guitar, Victor learned a bit of playing.

Amanda, his mother, took Victor and his siblings to Santiago both to find an education for them and to escape an alcoholic father. In Santiago a local resident took a liking to Victor and his quick ability with songs and taught Victor more guitar.

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez

Seminary and military

Amanda died when he was 15 and seeking to fill the hole in his life and following the advice of a priest, Victor entered the seminary. For two years Victor struggled with the strict rules of his future priesthood, particularly that of celibacy.  He left the seminary in 1952. The army drafted him within two weeks.

Though army life suited him and he did well, he left after the year required and began to seek a life in music.

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez

Many paths

As with many aspiring singers, his path led him to various temporary jobs. In a chorus. As a mime. As an actor. A student in the theater program at the University of Chile in the late 1950s.

He met Joan Turner Bunster, an instructor. They would fall in love and marry in 1965.

In 1957 he met Chilean folksinger Violeta Parra. She encourage singers to write about everyday life using traditional Chilean folk styles. Jara followed that path.

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez

Nueva canción songwriter

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez

Though Jara continued to be involved in actingm writing and performing music became his center. He wrote songs continually.

He released his first album, Canto a lo humano , in 1966.  The songs often stabbed at the status quo. One, “La beata” was about a nun that fell in love with a priest. In a predominantly Catholic country as Chile, such a topic was taboo. Radio stations banned the song. Record shops removed it. His music also became part of a genre known as “nueva canción,” a style that used the traditional style  Violeta Parra had introduced Jara to with a strong populist content.

Jara’s songs spread outside Chile and were known to and performed by American folk artists such as Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, and Phil Ochs.

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez


More than that, though, was Jara’s increasingly connected himself with socialism. He supported the political views of  Salvador Allende. Jara composed “Venceremos” (We Will Triumph), the theme song of Allende’s Unidad Popular (Popular Unity) movement, and he welcomed Allende’s election to the Chilean presidency in 1970.

Allende’s success enabled Jara and his wife to help in a Chilean cultural renaissance. They helped organize events that supported the country’s new socialist government.

The right-wing politicians, with the aid of the American Central Intelligence Agency, planned a revolt.

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez


On September 11, 1973, troops under the command of General Augusto Pinochet overthrew Allende government.  The military took hundreds of Allende sympathizers to the Estadio Chile, a large sports stadium.

Jara was among them.

For four days, soldiers tortured him. Starved him. Broke his hands and told him to sing with his guitar.

He sang “Venceremos” and began writing a new song describing the carnage going on in the stadium, as many of those imprisoned were killed; the words of the new song were smuggled out by a prisoner who survived.

Jara was taken to a deserted area and shot. His murder kept secret. His songs forbidden. Joan Jara escaped On May 9, 1974, Phil Ochs held a benefit. Among those who performed were Pete Seeger, Dave Van Ronk, Dennis Hopper, Arlo Guthrie, Mike Love, Dennis Wilson, Melanie, and Bob Dylan (NYT announcement)

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez


Victor Lidio Jara Martínez

In 2003 the Estadio Chile became the Víctor Jara Stadium.

In 2012 eight retired Chilean army officers were charged with Jara’s murder and on June 27, 2016 a Florida jury found  former Chilean army officer Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuñez liable for the 1973 torture and murder of Jara. The jury awarded  $28m in damages to his widow and daughters in one of the biggest and most significant legal human rights victories against a foreign war criminal in a US courtroom.

And on July 3, 2018, a statement from Chile’s courts authority said that Judge Miguel Vázquez  had sentenced eight retired Chilean military officers to 15 years in prison for the murder of Victor Jara.

Vázquez handed down the sentences after leading a long-running inquiry into Jara’s death.

A ninth suspect was jailed for five years for his role in covering up the killings.

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez

September 26 Music et al

September 26 Music et al

Connie Francis

September 26 – October 9, 1960: “My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own” by Connie Francis #1 Billboard Hot 100

September 26 Music et al

Kingston Trio

September 26 – October 30, 1960: the Kingston Trio’s String Along is their 3rd Billboard #1 album in 1960.

Bob Dylan

September 26 Music et al

September 26, 1961: Dylan started as opening act for the Greenbriar Boys. He stayed two weeks. (see Sept 29)

Oh Pretty Woman

September 26 – October 16, 1964: “Oh Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The title was inspired by Orbison’s wife Claudette interrupting a conversation to announce she was going out; when Orbison asked if she was okay for cash, his co-writer Bill Dees interjected “A pretty woman never needs any money.

AND! Roy Orbison performs “Oh, Pretty Woman” as the finale of the Black & White Night Concert. Backed by Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, James Burton, Glen D. Hardin, Tom Waits, kd lang, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, JD Souther, T Bone Burnett, Steven Soles, and Jennifer Warnes.  Recorded September 30, 1987. [KRXB story]

September 26 Music et al

Brian Epstein

September 26, 1966: Brian Epstein hospitalized in a London clinic. The official given reason was that it was a check-up, although it later transpired that he had overdosed on prescribed drugs. Epstein had been suffering from depression and anxiety for some time, a condition exacerbated by his use of drugs – both prescribed and illegal. His anxiety had heightened following The Beatles decision to stop touring, which left Epstein with less involvement in their careers. Each member was undertaking individual projects in the late summer of 1966 and he had intended to join John Lennon in Spain on the set of How I Won The War.

However, as a result of the hospitalization, he was forced to cancel his visit to Spain. Although Epstein is known to have made later suicide attempts, it is believed that this overdose was accidental. (see Oct 3)

September 26 Music et al

Abbey Road

September 26, 1969: UK release of Abbey Road album. Though recorded after material for the Let It Be lp had already been recorded, it is released before Let It Be.

  • Label: Parlophone (UK), Capitol (US)
  • Recorded: 22 February – 20 August 1969, EMI, Olympic and Trident Studios, London. [Rolling Stone review] (see Oct 1)
September 26 Music et al

Walls and Bridges

September 26, 1974, The Beatles post break-up: US release of Walls and Bridges, the fifth album by John Lennon (released on 4 October in the UK)  Written, recorded and released during his 18-month separation from Yoko Ono (June 1973–January 1975), the album captures Lennon in the midst of his “Lost Weekend”. Walls and Bridges was an American Billboard number 1 album. [1974 Rolling Stone review] (see Nov 28)

September 26 Music et al

Mick Jagger Performance 1970

Mick Jagger Performance 1970

Warner Bros Records released the soundtrack album to the movie Performance on 19 September 1970. The album featured Mick Jagger, Ry Cooder, Randy Newman, The Last Poets, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Merry Clayton.

“Turner’s Murder” by Merry Clayton Singers.

I was 20 and thought I knew it all. At least all I needed to know. Ok, most of it.

Mick Jagger Performance 1970

So Sharp

I was learning that there were many more cool things than the half dozen or so things that I already knew were cool: important things like knowing how to tie a Windsor knot or to whistle using my two pointer fingers to curl the front of my tongue. Knowing several nicknames for marijuana (albeit, never actually using it).

When I saw Mick Jagger on the cover of the Performance soundtrack, I was confused. It was Mick, wasn’t it? Why is he dressed like a woman. He was dressed like a woman, wasn’t he?

Apparently there was one more thing to know was cool, yet not actually doing that thing.

Mick Jagger Performance 1970

Mick in the movies

Mick Jagger Performance

Performance was Mick Jagger’s first movie role. It was done in 1967 and by then those fab four friends of his had already done two movies: Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965).

Performance was neither of those things. Jagger was not going to play a musician chased by hundreds of fans for 87 minutes or a musician chased by dozens of villains for 92 minutes.

Jagger played a former rock star turned landlord, sort of.

Actor James Fox plays a gangster on the run and eventually hides out at the house of a Turner (Mick Jagger). There are already sexual shenanigans going on at Turner’s. Fox joins Turner and the three woman already there. Ménage de cinq.

Mick Jagger Performance 1970

Warner Brothers blinks

Mick Jagger Performance

Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg directed the film in 1967, but Warner Brothers, the studio, decided it could not release it. Reportedly, the wife of one Warner Brothers executive vomited while watching it.

Warner Brothers did finally release a version of the film in 1970. A highly edited version.

Over the years, various revised editions have been released. The last one, and most true to the original, was not released until 2007.

At its 1970 release, Roger Ebert said: “Performance” is a bizarre, disconnected attempt to link the inhabitants of two kinds of London underworlds: pop stars and gangsters. It isn’t altogether successful, largely because it tries too hard and doesn’t pace itself to let its effects sink in. But it does have a kind of frantic energy“

Other reviews thought it unworthy of the word film.

Mick Jagger Performance 1970

Cult classic

Mick Jagger Performance

Gradually, though, it found itself viewed far more favorably. From WikipediaIn 1995 Performance appeared at number 30 in a Time Out magazine “all-time greats” poll of critics and directors

In the September–October 2009 issue of Film Comment, Mick Jagger’s Turner was voted the best performance by a musician in a film.

In his 15-hour documentary The Story of Film: An Odyssey, Mark Cousins says: “Performance was not only the greatest seventies film about identity, if any movie in the whole Story of Film should be compulsory viewing for film makers, maybe this is it.

Mick Jagger Performance 1970

Performance soundtrack

I was more into music than cinema and decided to buy the soundtrack. Powerfully odd is how I would have described it then and now as well.

I again saw the name Jack Nitzsche: the name I often saw on the back of albums, but had no idea who he actually was, Other album names were familiar, too: Randy Newman; Merry Clayton, Ry Cooder, Buffy Sainte-Marie, the Last Poets, and Mick Jagger, of course.

For me, I’ve learned several times that a soundtrack usually needs the movie. I learned why background music is just that.

Here are the tracks:

Side One:

  1. “Gone Dead Train” – Randy Newman
  2. “Performance”  (Merry Clayton)
  3. “Get Away”  (Ry Cooder)
  4. “Powis Square (Ry Cooder)
  5. “Rolls Royce and Acid”  (Jack Nitzsche)
  6. “Dyed, Dead, Red”  (Buffy Sainte-Marie)
  7. “Harry Flowers”  (Jack Nitzsche, Randy Newman)
 Side two:

  1. “Memo from Turner”  (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards)
  2. “Hashishin” (Buffy Sainte-Marie, Ry Cooder)
  3. “Wake Up, Niggers” (The Last Poets)
  4. “Poor White Hound Dog” (Merry Clayton)
  5. “Natural Magic” (Jack Nitzsche)
  6. “Turner’s Murder” (Merry Clayton Singers)
Mick Jagger Performance 1970