They say the desert never forgets, and if you live here long enough, you start to believe it. Lost things can turn up suddenly after a wind or rainstorm, perhaps weathered and only in pieces, but found all the same. The phenomenon is especially strong in Southern California’s high desert. It’s as if the rock formations remember you when you return. Anyone revisiting Heart Rock in Joshua Tree National Park will feel it recalling your last visit and reminding you exactly who you were with. If you want a more scientific example, Fairy shrimp eggs, dormant for years in the dried-out soil at Barker Dam, started swimming again after Tropical Storm Hilary. Why would it be any different for Cap Rock’s favorite son, Gram Parsons, and the Sci-Fi Movie he starred in that was tragically lost in the sands of time… until now.
Decades after his death, Saturation 70, the Sci-Fi movie filmed partly at Giant Rock during a 1969 UFO convention, is being brought back to life in a book. Containing never before seen photos of Parsons with fellow counterculture influencer, Michelle Phillips (of The Mamas and the Poppas), and Julian Jones, the five-year-old son of Rolling Stone, Brian Jones, Saturation 70 is co-authored by published author, Chris Campion, and the film’s mastermind, American writer direct-actor, Tony Foutz.
Speaking with Campion about the project, my first question was automatic; “How does one stumble onto a story about a mysterious missing film project, and find enough material to write a book about it over half a century later?”
“In 2011, I interviewed Stash Klossowski de Rola for another project I was working on,” Campion answered. “Stash is the son of Polish-French painter Balthus, a former drummer with legendary rock and rol ler Vince Taylor and his Playboys, and the aristocratic playboy prince of the ‘60s counterculture, who was a friend to Beatles, Stones, and everybody in between. He casually mentioned that he first came to LA to appear in a science fiction film called Saturation 70, with Gram Parsons, Michelle Phillips, and Julian Jones, and that the film was co-produced and was to feature special effects by Douglas Trumbull, who had just finished work on Stanley Kubrick’s 2001. I’d never heard of Saturation 70, but it sounded fascinating, so I looked up whatever information I could, which at the time amounted to no more than a few paragraphs in two or three books about Gram Parsons.”
Campion tracked down the film’s director, Tony Foutz, who was living in Ireland. “He told me the remarkable tale of how he had come to make Saturation 70, and all the people he’d been associated with, and encountered, across the worlds of film, music, art, and more and I was hooked. It was clear he had an incredible story to tell. He agreed to participate in an article I wanted to write about Saturation 70, which ran in Mojo magazine. That turned into a 2014 exhibition about the film at the Horse Hospital in London. Since then, Tony and I have continued to collaborate and decided it was past time to put together a book that would serve as a definitive document about this extraordinary lost project and its connection to the high desert.”