"The film was like a technological tribal throw-down, with an energy buzz off the Richter scale": Gram Parsons once starred in a dystopian science fiction movie about environmental collapse

Gram Parsons playing piano in Saturation 70
(Image credit: Wolf+Salmon)

A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to fund a book about a long-lost dystopian science fiction movie starring country rock superstar Gram Parsons, Mamas & The Papas singer Michelle Phillips, and the five-year-old son of original Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones. 

Saturation 70, which was filmed in 1969 and tells a story of aliens, psychedelia, time travel and environmental collapse, features Parsons as a gas mask-wearing, hazmat suit-sporting alien. He was also filmed playing the piano at the infamous Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles – in a segment that was planned to promote the movie's release – and was scheduled to write the film's soundtrack alongside The Byrds' Roger McGuinn.  

The film, which was directed by Anthony Foutz - perhaps best known for Tales Of Ordinary Madness, a film about a sexually depraved poet, and Never Too Young To Die, about a hermaphrodite gang leader – was never completed after financing fell apart. 

“The whole experience of making the film was like a technological tribal throw-down, with an energy buzz off the Richter scale,” Foutz told The Guardian in 2014. “It took on a life of its own.”

The new book, which is due to be published by Wolf+Salmon, a boutique publishing company from writer Chris Campion, includes a host of unpublished material including hundreds of photos taken at the 1969 Space Convention at Giant Rock, near Joshua Tree – where much of the film was shot – plus a number of production stills including material from Trumbull Film Effects, who would go on to work on Star Wars, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and Blade Runner.

Saturation 70: A Vision Past of the Future Foretold is set to be published in April 2024. The Kickstarter campaign is underway.   

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.