And The Rockets Redglare...

All help All
Michael Morra aka Rockets Redglare had a personality that was larger than life itself. His mere presence filled any room he happened to enter. I met Mike many years ago before he was known as Rockets Redglare. We both had the good fortune to find our way to the same drug rehab center tucked away in the woods of Northern Maine. Our friendship formed when we discovered we had a very similar twisted sense of humor. He always called me his "Pig Sister" and he was my "Pig Brother." Somehow we extracted these terms of endearment from William Peter Blatty's, The Exorcist (the movie had yet to be made). Many people at the rehab role-played as cheap form of entertainment. We had to do something to keep our sanity or what was left of it by that time.

When I close my eyes, I can picture Mike strutting across the stage doing his rendition of Mick Jagger. The truly funny thing was that Mike did Mick Jagger better than Mick did himself. While Mike belted out Midnight Rambler, for a few minutes we, his captive audience were transported magically to someplace else...a magical place far from Kinsman Hall. Sometimes that was all we needed to get through another day. Thank you, Mike for those moments of joyful surrender. I was pleased when I find out Mike had gone on to act in several movies and was a stand-up comedian in the Lower East Side of New York City. The thought of that larger than life personality entertaining others seemed like a natural progression to me. Whether it was selling drugs or making people laugh, Mike was a natural at everything he did.

Like many friendships our friendship fell by the wayside. I don't think everyone who enters our lives is meant to go the distance. Knock! Knock! Who's there? And then they enter. They stay awhile sometimes making a lasting impression on our hearts and souls and then they leave us with memories to always cherish. Our lives had simply gone in different directions after we left rehab. For a short while, we stayed in touch and then silence. Pig Brother and Pig Sister were no more. Many years later, I watched a movie made about Mike's life. As the tears streamed down my face, I knew that we, the residents of Kinsman Hall who knew and loved Mike had gotten the best he had to give and all those years he spent after we knew him was a steady, tragic, downward spiral until Mike died from kidney and liver failure caused from a lifetime of drug and alcohol abuse.

Mike was a junkie before he was ever born. His mom was a fifteen-year-old addict who passed her addiction to her son while still in utero. They had to put methadone in his baby formula. Michael's father wasn’t any more of a positive influence than his mother. A career criminal, he was not afraid to conduct “business” (including murder) in front of his young son, and was eventually deported back to Italy after robbing a local post office. Left to support her family and a drug addiction, Mike's mother
turned to prostitution for income. Mike eventually left home when his mother took up with an abusive ex-boxer, who eventually beat her to death. After his mother died, Mike changed his name to Rockets Redglare. He was a true American original and was as bright as his new name...Rockets Redglare.

Many people in and around the New York City's drug culture believed Mike was the person who killed Nancy Spungen (girlfriend of Sid Vicious of the punk rock band, The Sex Pistols)  Mike was one of Sid and Nancy's local drug dealers who had been in the apartment the night Nancy was murdered while Sid was passed out elsewhere in the apartment. Whoever killed Nancy stabbed her once with Sid's knife and left her to bleed to death. The next morning, she was found dead. The roll of cash that was in the apartment the night before mysteriously turned up missing and suddenly Mike was out buying drinks for people, an act he never participated in doing before then. When asked by a close friend where he got the money, he admitted to stabbing Nancy and ripping off Sid.  Whether or not that was the truth, no one will ever know for sure because the truth died with Nancy, Sid and Rockets Redglare.  All else at this point is pure speculation. I'd like to believe my friend is innocent, but I know how drugs twist and deviate a person until they're unrecognizable.  I just hope wherever Mike's spirit is now, it rests in the peace he never knew in life.

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