|Born||Damião Ferreira da Cruz
September 27, 1935
Santo Amaro de Ipitanga, Bahia, Brazil
(present-day Lauro de Freitas)
|Died||December 10, 2016
Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
|Resting place||Saint John the Baptist Cemetery, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|Occupation||Singer-songwriter, lyricist, multi-instrumentalist, record producer|
|Genres||Acid rock, experimental rock, noise rock, freak folk, MPB, proto-punk, reggae, psychedelic rock, lo-fi, outsider music|
|Instruments||Vocals, classical guitar, electric guitar, bongo, marimba, shakers, drum kit, harmonica|
|Labels||Gravadora Planeta Lamma, Discos Destruição|
|Associated acts||Luiz Melodia, Rogério Skylab, Zumbi do Mato, Lulu Santos, Walter Franco, Supersimetria, Professor Antena|
Damião Ferreira da Cruz (September 27, 1935[Note 1] – December 10, 2016), better known by his stage name Damião Experiença,[Note 2] was a Brazilian singer-songwriter, lyricist, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and compulsive hoarder. Considered to be a major name of the Brazilian countercultural scene and one of the country's most famous outsider musicians, he was praised by figures such as Tony Bellotto, George Israel and Rogério Skylab, and also constantly compared to schizophrenic outsider artist Arthur Bispo do Rosário and musicians Frank Zappa, Moondog and Jandek. His albums, usually sold by him in the streets or even handed out for free when he felt like it, became much-sought collector's items, and his reclusive, eccentric and unpretentious personality has attained him a passionate cult following.
Damião Ferreira da Cruz was supposedly born on September 27, 1935 in Santo Amaro de Ipitanga (more precisely in the bairro of Portão), a former district of Salvador, Bahia, now the city of Lauro de Freitas. He experienced an unhappy childhood and was constantly mistreated by his parents, which led him to run away from home to Rio de Janeiro when he was only 10 years old. As a youth he served as a radar operator for the Brazilian Navy; while in the Navy he allegedly fell on his head off a ship's crow's nest, which could have provoked his erratic mental state. It is also said (in his autobiography which comes as a bonus booklet on some of his albums) that once he was condemned to solitary confinement for many years due to desertion. After his precocious retirement from the Navy in 1963 (probably because of his accident), he went on to live with a prostitute in a stilt house, became a pimp and was able to produce his records thanks to money obtained via procuring. Damião's first known recording was a guest appearance on Luiz Melodia's 1973 debut Pérola Negra – he provided backing vocals for the track "Forró de Janeiro" –, and subsequently came to adopt the stage name "Experiença" (a corruption of the Portuguese-language word for "experience", "experiência") as an homage to his favorite band and major influence, The Jimi Hendrix Experience. In 1974 he self-released his first album, Planeta Lamma, and many others followed throughout the 1970s to the early 1990s.
Well known for his unsociable personality, he always avoided interviews and attention from the media, even refusing to give autographs or sign any documents. (Rogério Skylab, one of Damião's most enthusiastic fans, has dedicated his 2002 album Skylab III to him; in 2012 he tried to interview Damião for his talk show Matador de Passarinho, but he vehemently declined the invitation.) In 1994 he was invited for a guest appearance on the debut album by experimental rock band Professor Antena, to which he agreed; however, he refused to sign the record label's contract, and never received any money or credit on the album for his part. Soon after he entered a long hiatus period, in which he only appeared throughout sporadic shows (one of them famously alongside Lulu Santos) and did not release any further albums, and at a certain point of the early 2000s was even presumed dead.
He resurfaced in 2007, releasing two albums: Sarafina 1937 and Amorzinho 1914, the names of his mother and father, respectively. In 2009 he toured around São Paulo in a series of shows, alongside avant-garde bands Zumbi do Mato and Supersimetria, and musicians Walter Franco and Rogério Skylab. After these performances he entered yet another hiatus period, alleging that he could no longer perform because of his advanced age and declining health, and that he was running short of money to put up with more albums as often as before. His final known release was the 2013 compilation Cemitério Nazista II; it was his only album not to come out through his usual label, Gravadora Planeta Lamma, founded by himself.
Damião never got married and had no children, and until the final days of his life lived alone in a run-down and rubbish-filled apartment (since he never threw anything away) next to the Cantagalo–Pavão–Pavãozinho favela complex, receiving a monthly disability pension from the Navy. He was regularly seen wandering the streets of Ipanema and the General Osório Square, mistaken by a beggar by passersby unaware of his musical career. He died on December 10, 2016, aged 81, and was buried two days later at the Saint John the Baptist Cemetery. Only two people (a fan of his who happened to be around and a neighbor) attended his funeral.
Damião's musical style is impossible to categorize accurately, since he experiments with numerous genres, more prominently freak folk, psychedelic rock, reggae and experimental rock. His songs have no logical sense at first sight, and mostly of them are sung in a dialect created by him, the "Planet Lamma dialect" (spoken in his eponymous "home planet"), with improvised lyrics.
His discography is vast, with numbers oscilating between 24 to over 38 albums according to different sources, all of them in vinyl format (Damião has stated that he never planned to re-release his catalogue in CD) and recorded at a small studio inside his apartment. Among his lyrical themes are support for authoritarian and dictatorial régimes (particularly Nazism and communism), the apartheid and the Rastafari movement, opposition to abortion, feminism, wage labor and any forms of organized religion, drugs, sex, homosexuality, semiotics and planets created by him, while alluding to personalities such as João Cândido, Isabel Perón, Bob Marley, Pieter Willem Botha, Adolf Hitler, Fidel Castro, Manuel du Bocage and Getúlio Vargas. His albums' covers are collages made with newspaper and magazine scraps and photographs of himself, in a style similar to the albums by Nigerian musician Fela Kuti.
He usually plays different instruments and sings at the same time. In his earlier releases, Damião used exclusively guitars with different numbers of strings (e.g., his debut Planeta Lamma was played with an one-string guitar), harmonicas, shakers and occasionally marimbas, mixing Portuguese with his own dialect in his lyrics. This style is proeminent in his 1974 debut, Planeta Lamma, continuing in its follow-ups 69 (also from 1974) and Damião Experiença no Planeta Lavoura (1978). His later releases from the 1980s/early 1990s were more elaborate, counting with the presence of a full band; in the vocals, he abandons his characteristic dialect to sing in a broken Portuguese with heavily sexual and political lyrics, often mixing incompatible ideologies. These characteristics are more predominant in the albums Planeta Guerrilha and Ezabelitaperonsim.
A short documentary film about Damião, entitled Daminhão Experiença: O Filme and directed by Ricardo Movits and Jimi Figueiredo, premiered online on December 15, 2016; five days after his death. It is one of the very few interviews to which Damião agreed to partake in. The film was originally shot in 2007, and a trailer was uploaded to the duo's YouTube channel the following year. Figueiredo and Movits stated that they plan to rework the film's footage into a full-length at some point in the future.
- 1974: Planeta Lamma
- 1974: 69
- 1978: Damião Experiença no Planeta Lavoura
- 1992: Comando Planeta Lamma
- 1992: Guerrilheiro do Planeta Lamma
- 1992: Boca Fechada Não Entra Mosquito, Só Felicidade
- 2007: Amorzinho 1914
- 2007: Sarafina 1937
- 2013: Cemitério Nazista II (compilation album)
Albums with unknown release date
- Damião Experiença no Planeta Roça
- Damião Experiença Chupando Cana Verde no Planeta Lamma / Damião Experiença Cheirando Alho no Planeta Lamma
- Damião Experiença no Planeta Mendigo
- Planeta Quentão
- Planeta Cachaça
- Planeta Cabelo
- Daimião Experiença Quinteto Planeta Lamma or Alta Fidelidade
- Planeta Galinha / Bocagi
- Planeta Guerrilha
- Planeta Guerra 1914
- A Morte é a Dor, a Dor é a Morte, Eu Amo a Morte
- Cemitério Nazismo
- Praça Vermelha
- M19 Bomba Atômica
- Fim do Mundo
As a session member
- Luiz Melodia
- 1973: Pérola Negra (backing vocals in "Forró de Janeiro")
- Professor Antena
- 1994: Professor Antena (additional vocals; uncredited)
- Planeta Lamma (self-published; date unknown)
- Many sources state that Damião's birth date was September 27, 1935, but this has never been confirmed or denied by him.
- Alternate spellings of his name, as they appear on his albums, include Dam[m]inhão Experiênça/Esperiênça, Damião Experiência, or Daimeão/Daimião Experyênça, among other combinations.
- "Damião Experiença: Cemitério Nazista II". Discos Destruição (in Portuguese). July 26, 2013. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
- Damião Experiença - Planeta Lamma (1974) (in Portuguese)
- André Miranda (November 19, 2015). "Da lenda ao ostracismo, a história de Daminhão Experiença". O Globo (in Portuguese). Retrieved December 9, 2016.
- Planeta Lamma – Marco Bravo (in Portuguese)
- Die or D.I.Y.?: Damião Experiença – "Planeta Lamma"
- "A suposta morte de Daminhão Experiença". Tribuna de Minas (in Portuguese). December 21, 2016. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
- Carlos Messina (April 4, 2014). "DAMIÃO, A EXPERIENÇA". SerHurbano (in Portuguese). Retrieved December 9, 2016.
- Leon Carelli (December 13, 2016). "'Só os mendigos salvam o planeta'" (in Portuguese). Retrieved January 14, 2017.
- Livro - Damião Experiença (in Portuguese)
- Millos Kaiser (June 16, 2009). "LOUCA EXPERIÊNCIA". Trip (in Portuguese). Retrieved December 19, 2016.
- Mauro Ferreira. "Damião Experiência sai de cena aos 81 anos e deixa discografia cultuada". G1 (in Portuguese). Retrieved December 20, 2016.
- "Galeria - 13 "heróis" desconhecidos do rock nacional - 13 - Damião Experiença". Rolling Stone (in Portuguese). Retrieved December 19, 2016.
- Marco Antônio Barbosa (2002). "Rogério Skylab em 'Skylab III'" (in Portuguese). Retrieved April 11, 2017.
- DAMIÃO EXPERIENÇA: A ENTREVISTA QUE NÃO HOUVE - Godard City (in Portuguese)
- Silvia D (November 20, 2000). "Daminhão Experiênça está vivo". Cliquemusic (in Portuguese). Retrieved December 19, 2016.
- Roberta Salomone (May 16, 2014). "ENCONTRO COM DAMINHÃO EXPERIENÇA" (in Portuguese). Retrieved December 21, 2016.
- "Morre Daminhão Experiença, ícone cult e 'maldito' da música brasileira". Jornal do Commercio (in Portuguese). December 13, 2016. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
- Enterrado o corpo do artista Damião Experiença – TV Brasil
- "Morre Daminhão Experiença, figura folclórica da música brasileira". O Globo (in Portuguese). December 13, 2016. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
- Alex Antunes (December 13, 2016). "Daminhão Experiença, flerte fractal (1935-2016)". Yahoo! Notícias (in Portuguese). Retrieved December 19, 2016.
- Daminhão Experiença Filme Completo
- Daminhão Experiença, o filme (in Portuguese)
- Daminhão Experiença trailer filme