Arthur Pendragon’s 70th Birthday

Jim Morrison’s Doppelganger Behind Phantom’s Divine Comedy and more tales about Detroit’s ’60s and ’70s lost rockers

R D Francis
7 min readMay 15, 2021
Arthur Pendragon, with Pendragon, live on the stage in the early ’80s at Detroit’s Harpos. From the Rick Stahl (ex-Pendragon) archives and used with permission.

Editor’s Note: You’ll find links to a series of ongoing articles regarding the life and career of the Phantom and Detroit’s other lost rockers of the ’60s and ’70s.

The late Phantom, born as Ted Pearson, later, legally changing his name to Arthur Pendragon, would have been 70 years old this year, as he was born on April 23, 1951. He left us on March 28, 1999, on the 25th anniversary of the release of his rock opera, The Divine Comedy, by Walpurgis, which was released as Phantom’s Divine Comedy: Part 1, in 1974.

By July of 1974 the rock ’n’ roll dreams of Ted Pearson, later to be known as Arthur Pendragon, seemed to be over. His long-gestating rock opera, The Divine Comedy — first devised in 1968 and intended as the debut album by Walpurgis (who, until October 1971, was known as Madrigal) — was bastardized by his management and record company into an ersatz Jim Morrison solo album. So, instead of being marketed as a Doors clone, Ted did the next best thing: he joined the Doors. Then, after a month of practice (Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop where there) for the debut of the “new” Doors on July 3, 1974, to celebrate the third anniversary of his reluctant doppelganger’s “disappearance,” Ted was again bastardized — this time as Jim’s “live” ghost. So, Ted did the next best thing: he formed another band.

The Phantom, in the early ’70s. Courtesy of the Pearson/Pendragon Estate and used with permission.

By February of 1976 The Phantom of Detroit published his first batch of songs for his new concern, Pendragon, which born out of his Divine Comedy-era stage name: Arthur Pendragon, which would later become his legal name. The first rosters of Pendragon that existed between 1976 to 1977 — its members lost to the ages — comprised of musicians from Mitch Ryder’s touring solo band, of which Arthur Pendragon was a short-time member.

By 1978 Arthur Pendragon returned to the stages of Detroit with guitarist Chris Marshall, formerly of a prog-rock experiment devised by Jem Targel with Bob Seger associates, known as White Bucks, and Jerry Zubal, formerly with RSO Records’ hard-rockin’ Rockicks. Arthur rounded out his bass lines with a just out of high school Jeffrey Johnson on drums, and a longtime friend, keyboardist Bob Ellis, who played in bands with future Bob Seger and Mitch Ryder associates.

A lesson in ’70s rock marketing.
Phantom’s international coverage: “Cabinet of Curiosities: Ted Pearson” by Vittore Baroni in Italy’s Blow Up (April 2022), Francesco Lenzi’s feature in Italy’s Raropiu (March 2020), and R.D Francis’s piece in the San Francisco-based Ugly Things (November 2022).
A press mention of Phantom’s Divine Comedy in the context of a write up on Bob Seger. Image courtesy of the Detroit rock art gallery, Splatt Gallery/Facebook and used with permission.
May 6, 1974 video screencap courtesy of “The Dutch Guy” You Tube dedicated to the Doors.
Summer 1974 video screencap courtesy of “The Dutch Guy” You Tube dedicated to the Doors.

You can learn more about the careers of Arthur Pendragon and his associates as you enjoy our continuing series of interviews and features with the lost, forgotten rockers of Detroit:


Pendragon flyers from their 1977 to 1983 tenure; all courtesy of the Bob Ellis family archives/used with permission. Others courtesy of the Concert and Splatt
From the same December 1974 Creem issue that featured the Phantom with Ray Manzarek and Iggy Pop. Thus, the reason why many thought the Phantom’s Divine Comedy effort was an Iggy Pop album featuring Ray . . . and Dick Wagner!/Scan by R.D Francis.
December 1991 feature on Arthur Pendragon’s radio home featured in the business section of the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.
Press from Record World: June 1974.
Cashbox: September 1974.
Album Review from Hi-Fi Stereo: December 1974. All above, three press clippings courtesy of magazine archives of World Radio
After the Revolvers and before Walpurgis: Madrigal shows from 1969. Courtesy of Splatt Gallery Art Gallery, Walled Lake Michigan.

Links to Other Phantom Mentions

My film analysis on a Detroit rock n’ Phantom sidebar: The legacy of Jim Morrison and the Doors —by way of Richard Bowen and his band, the Source, featured in Larry Buchanan’s “What If?” tale.

There’s a link within to a review of Bowen’s other soundtrack-film work: A Bullet for Pretty Boy, starring Fabian as the infamous gangster of yore.

And yes, in those days before the Internet, Richard Bowen was believed to be The Phantom.

Well, it took 48 years, but you know you’ve “arrived” when What Culture places The Phantom at #6 on their “10 Forgotten ’70s Rock Bands Worth Discovering.”

Much respect and thanks to U.K writer Chris Wheatley for keeping Arthur’s career alive in 2022. (The link we’ve provided takes you straight to the Phantom’s listing.)

This “Top 10” list has since reposted in 2022 on a couple of click bait sites, so here’s the 2016 original posting in which Louder Sound/Classic Rock Magazine’s Malcolm Dome places Detroit’s Phantom’s Divine Comedy in his “Top Ten Obscurities” list. Pictured is San Francisco’s Highway Robbery. There’s great stuff to hear, so dig ’em up on You Tube. Enjoy!

Copyrighted materials by R.D Francis.

You can download The Ghost of Jim Morrison, the Phantom of Detroit, and the Fates of Rock ’n’ Roll, and its sequel, Tales from a Wizard: The Oral History of Walpurgis from Amazon, Smashwords, and other online eRetailers for all eReader platforms.

You can also enjoy more photos of the Phantom and other Detroit musicians on Facebook.

You’re still rockin’ us, Arthur, my brother. Happy 70.

— R.D Francis



R D Francis

Screenwriter, novelist, broadcaster, film critic, and music journalist. Visit at