Black Punk Time: Blacks in Punk, New Wave and Hardcore 1976-1984 (Part 2)
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CRAIG CALVERT of THE FIX - This Lansing, Michigan based hardcore band released a couple of singles on Touch & Go in 1980 and 1982 ("Vengence" b/w "In This Town" which now sells for a thousand dollars or so, and the less coveted JAN'S ROOMS EP) and toured the US and Canada a few times. The guitarist Craig grew up in a rough Chicago neighborhood, so his parents sent him to white Catholic school to keep him out of trouble. Little did they know his exposure to the white kids would lead to a brief but important punk rock career (the Fix were one of the first Midwest h/c bands). Steve from the Fix recalls, "He never even mentioned race, and dug mostly white rock, from Black Flag to Rush (but) he could play a mean version of "Heatwave." When he answered my ad for a guitarist in March, 1980, he just dropped that he was Black, from almost a marketing perspective. It felt like an afterthought." In Michigan his post-Fix career had him collaborating with Janis/Aretha styled vocalist Jan James in the Blues-a-billy band Flying Tigers. Craig returned to Chicago with Jan and spent the 90s and the new century sporting various degrees of poofy hair on the bar circuit under the names Jewel Fetish, and the Jan James band . Their longtime collaboration has spawned several albums in the US and the Netherlands. Career highlights include European tours, commanding the stage at the Taste of Chicago festival and recording in Memphis with Jim Dickinson. (JA)
Steve Albini adds: The Fix was probably the first hardcore group I ever heard, thanks to Jon Babbin, who was friends with them and later would manage the Effigies. In his hair-metal incarnation in Jewel Fetish, Craig went by the nom-de-hair "Roxy Bombay," a name so perfect in its evocative idiocy that it still gets shouted as a heckle whenever a band oversteps the limits of tackyness. [Updated 3/31/03]
KENNY "MADDOG" CARTER - Chicago punk scenester who became a bouncer at Exit. He was in the mid '80s band Johnny Chainsaw and the Troops of Tomorrow. (RA) [Update: Maddog reportedly passed away a few years ago 9/16/13]
CHAINSAW - This Belgian band released the raw, great "See Saw" 4-song 7"EP way back in 1977 (which included the best punk cover yet of the Velvet Underground's "What Goes On"). The back of the sleeve has pictures of the four members, one of whom was black- I don't know if he sang or what instrument he played though.
GITIIM CHACKAMOI from Nigeria became one of the most in-demand drummers in Dallas in the 80s. She played with everyone from the all-girl mainstream rock band Debutante to the Dallas Symphony to The Howling Dervishes (with Tom Battles, later in Lithium Xmas and T. T ex Edwards' Swingin' Cornflake Killers) and Chuck Rose (formerly with infamous Ft. Worth Punks Cringe and later in Rockabilly legend Johnny Carroll's last band). She also played in the classic Lithium Xmas lineup. Now based in Houston, she still plays in a plethora of bands. It was unusual enough to be black on the punk/New Wave scene in Dallas in the 80s when racial tensions were at an all time high, but to also be female made Gitiim truly unique, thpugh she never played the race or gender cards. She was a person first, and, then, one helluva musician. (JB 12/7/13)
CHARLEY CHARLES - As drummer for Ian Dury and the Blockheads it's hard to call Charles a punk rocker. While the band was definitely part of the movement their music was perky, funky and sometimes borderline disco, making the role of the backbeat very unpunk indeed. Charles was with the band from the late '70s through 1981. He died from cancer in 1990. (JA) [Added 5/17/04]
CHARLU - Played bass in the French punk/Reggae band Nuclear Device (formed '83, several records in the mid 80s). Later was in the French punk band Ludwig Von 88. (raf) [Added 5/17/04]
NENEH CHERRY - Don Cherry's stepdaughter (her real father was an African percussionist) dropped out of school in 1980 at age 14, moved to London, and was briefly in the Slits, the Cherries, the Nails and Rip Rig + Panic. Her rap-singing solo career in the late 80s yielded the hit pop song "Bufallo Stance." [New Entry 11/12/05]
DEREK CONNER of DACHAU COUNTRY CLUB, ANECHOIC CHAMBER ORCHESTRA, THIS YOUNG BOY - Guitar: Derek was a fierce guitar player for DACHAU CLUB, one of the best, albeit unknown, early 80s Michigan Hardcore Punk Bands. Formed in 1980, DC eventually morphed into a reggae group, opening for REM in 1983. While playing in DC, Derek also played in the experimental Eno-esque ANECHOIC CHAMBER ORCHESTRA with other members of DC and assorted Flint punks. He would later join DC drummer Craig Berry and former members of Detroit hardcore band PRIVATE ANGST to form the very new wave THIS YOUNG BOY. Dachau Club's music can be heard with on the Flint Undergound Music archive with a bit of navigation. http://www.takenoprisoners.info/ Click on : Audio>Demos>Dachau Club- Vintage (Aggravation Overdose) [New Entry 2/1/13]
MICHAEL CORNELIUS of JFA - Cornelius was the original bass player for the skatepunk band that was as much or more devoted to skating as it was to playing. He was with them from 1981-84 and again from 1986-88, and one of the reasons that he initially split with the band was skate-centric; he didn't tell them about a secret skate spot so they considered him a traitor. All is forgiven these days and he's friendly with the still active band, though his leisure time is devoted now not to skateboards or bass playing but to the cold and dangerous activities of snowboarding, heli-boarding and mountain biking. He even got married on the slopes. He was later in a wonderful DIY punk trio called the Jr Chemists. They had one release on Subterranean. (JA)
Cornelius responds: I read what you wrote about me in the article. Kinda nice to be remembered. I DO still skateboard! Still riding empty pools; they just happen to be paid for with my tax dollars rather than illegal. Thank goodness for skateparks. I also manage the site www.SkateRock.com - Like a method air into the mosh pit since 1999 baby! (JA)
CULT HEROES - Hiawatha Bailey is the Iggy-esque frontman (short on Iggy stage moves, but stronger than Iggy vocally) for Michigan's Cult Heroes. Formed in '78, the Detroit-style punk band opened for all the bigshots when they came through Ann Arbor, and lived up to their name by recording one of the better Midwest pre-hardcore punk records. Both songs on their 1979 single "Berlin Wall" b/w "The Prince And The Showgirl" are great. The band has miraculously been kept alive by Hiawatha through various incarnations for over 20 years, and has released new material as recently as '96. Apparently part of Hiawatha's shtick is that he makes the somewhat dubious claim of having roadied for the Stooges, but if that still works, more power to him! (JA)
Cheetah Chrome adds: Hiawatha Bailey DID roadie for the Stooges, nothing dubious about it. I have been in the same room with him and both Ashton brothers telling war stories. [Updated 3/31/03]
Morgan Wright adds: Hiawatha Bailey roadied for the Stooges, MC5 and Uprising in the 60s and early 70s and many other Ann Arbor bands. What's so hard to believe about that? He roadied for the MC5 in the 60's and Unprising and other house bands of the White Panthers. Hi was a member of the White Panthers even though he was black, and the fact that some of their members (Hiawatha, the drummer for Uprising, etc.) were black is the reason they changed their name to the Rainbow People's Party in the early 70's before they broke up. Hiawatha was a roadie back then, and never started singing until around 1974 maybe. The reason I know it is because I lived with Hi for about a year in Ann Arbor in 1973, I heard all the stories that he and others told. [Updated 5/17/04]
Steve Hesske adds: Hiawatha is true black and blue old school punk. I had several pleasant hangs w/ him and Scott Morgan in Ann Arbor in the late '80s and early '90s and you couldn't meet a nicer guy. Hi was a Zelig-like figure during the whole brief, incandescent Stooges-MC5-Motor City Burning stuff. He brings the noise. Check out the Powertrane (one of Morgan's many post-Sonics Rendezvous Bands) record "Ann Arbor Revival Meeting" recorded live in the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor in 2002 where "guest star" Hiawatha joins the band and sings four Stooges songs "1969", "No Fun" "I wanna be Your Dog" and "Down on the Street" fronting a band led by Morgan and Deniz Tek (Radio Birdman) and then ask yrself if it gets any better. [Updated 11/12/05]
CULTURE CLUB - Malcolm McClaren's New Wave aesthetics finally reached Beatles success with this band, featuring Black bassist Mikey Craig, who, with Boy George, was also in an early, theoretical incarnation of the pioneering Goth band Sex Gang Children.
THE CUSTOMS - This Cincinnati, OH band was one of the few late 70s/early 80s punk bands to directly acknowledge 60s Garage-punk. They released two singles, "Let's Get It On" b/w "Bring My Cadillac Back" (Shake It, 1980) and the much-comped collector's item, "Long Gone" b/w "She'll Always Be Mine" (Shake It, 1980). The record sleeve for the amazing "Long Gone" single shows a Black bassist (Forrest Bivens?), though they did change bassists at some point. (JA) [Updated 11/28/06]
VAGINAL DAVIS – From the mean streets of Watts came one of the Godfathers/Mothers of homocore punk, the statuesque, crossdressing Vaginal Creme Davis whose cred is cemented by her presence in LA punk's early days and her huge body…of zinework (starting in the 70s, and peaking with her most notorious zine, the late 80s to early 90s title Fertile La Toyah Jackson). Her earliest records were as a member of the a cappella punk performance act The Afro Sisters (Geza X and Kim Fowley produced a half dozen or so LPs and singles between the late 70s and the mid 80s, including Indigo, Sassafras & Molasses [Amoeba, 1978] and Shoulder Pads, Maxi Pads [Amoeba, 1983]). She's been in a series of punk-spirited bands since, including PME, Gore Gore Girls, black fag (whose album was released on Dischord) and !Cholita! The Female Menudo (Davis is of Hispanic, as well as African American, heritage). PME (Pedro, Muriel and Esther) is a collaboration with homosexual Christian singer/songwriter Glen Meadmore, whom Davis and RUPAUL CHARLES worked with on Meadmore's solo album in 1987. Though she's remained underground, her work has always attracted attention from the punk/indie/hipster bigwigs in the know, and her recordings have been produced by Steve Albini, Alice Bag, Beck, Kim Gordon and Arthur Kane amongst others. In addition to music and zines, Dr. Davis (she is rumored to be a Ph.D.) has been a queen of all trades, acting in underground films, doing comedy, writing advice columns, DJing, lecturing, dominitrixing and the list could continue for pages. Race is often a theme of Davis's work (she named herself after Black heroine Angela Davis) as the personas she takes in her work have included a gay-bashing gangster rapper and "a Black Muslim for Christ." At this writing Davis is the opening act for comedian Margaret Cho. (JA)
DEATH - All-Black Detroit band who, in 1976, put out the proto-punk "Keep On Knockin'"/"Politicians In My Eyes" 7". The A-side is excellent, driving, very catchy, Detroit-ish guitar stuff and the single fetches like $400-500 when a copy turns up. The B-side is a little slower and wanky but not horrible. The guys in the band put out other records after that single but I've been told it's nothing punk-ish in the least bit. (Tony Azu-Popow)
From the press release to the 2009 Drag City reissue of Death's demo, from which their vinyl was culled; note that the release does not include this info in the liner notes: Brothers David, Bobby and Dannis started making music from their garage in Detroit, Michigan the summer of 1971. In 1973, the kids started getting into highly amplified bands like Alice Cooper, MC5, Black Sabbath and The Stooges.This was something new to guitarist David Hackney who prior, had been playing more groove based funk songs. That year they put together a killer demo under the name DEATH. They got light rotation on radio station W4 usually during "off" periods. Most people heard about them via word of mouth or during their many garage shows that were becoming very popular. The excitment of their live shows inspired them to reach out to famous producer Don Davis (funkadelic). All it took was for him to sit in for one rehearsal and next thing you know they're recording their record "...For The Whole World To See" at United Sound Recording Studio. Their time there was very organic and raw rather with polished up and over produced. DEATH embraced a DIY aesthetic by selling and giving away records on the street and at various garage shows. Clive Davis of Columbia records heard the buzz of three African American brothers making punk music (sound like Bad Brains?? Yeah but this happened before them)! The only trouble was that he wanted to change the band's name. David would have no part of it and it created a lot of tension between the brothers. To take a break from everything, they joined their half brother in New England. What was meant to be only a couple weeks, turned into 20+ years. Bobby and Dannis remain there today and still make music in a popular reggae band. The singles that were recorded at United Sound have been put together "...For The World To See" for the first time since the early 70s. Robert Manis who turned us onto DEATH paid $800 for one of their 45s! Together we're bringing it to the people. Come help us out... (Updated 1/6/09)
DEATH SENTENCE (UK) - Death Sentence were a hardcore band from Leeds w/ two black members, (featured prominently on the cover of the their only single, "Death and Pure Destruction"). The single is absolutely raging and one of my favorite UK82 era 45's. Total aggressive and violent sounding Discharge style hardcore.... (New Entry from RJ 7/11/09)
DEEN AND THE WEENIES - This New Wave band that appears in the movie Mondo New York has a Black bass player.
DEEP 6 - Southern California punk band circa 81 had a black drummer. They have a very collectable single called "Ghost Ride. (Scott S) [New Entry 11/12/05]
DEMOB - This street punk group based out of Gloucester England had a guitarist Terry Elcock and a drummer John Melfah who were both black. Demob released two 7"s and existed from 1978 to 1982. John went onto become a famous boxer in the UK while Terry had formed goth group Kiss The Blade. In recent years Demob reformed with a new drummer and have toured the US, Japan,and Europe, as well as releasing a retrospective CD on Glendale California label Grand Theft Audio (who also reissued Whipping Boy) called "Contractual Obligations" and a CD of new recordings on UK label Amber Records called "If It Aint Punk It Dont Rock". (Brian GTA) [New Entry 11/12/05]
KATON W. DE PENA of HIRAX - Rhode Island native, and massive Hendrix fan, De Pena moved to California as a youngster and in 1984 formed Hirax in Orange County, California, becoming frontman/vocalist for one of the best bands in the first wave of crossover thrash/metal. The band recorded a demo that year, and then released classic albums on Metal Blade. In 1988 De Pena quit and formed the short-lived band Phantasm, and Hirax soon broke up. Hirax reformed in 2000 with the original members, but since it has recorded and toured with only De Pena remaining from the classic lineup. Although many Hirax lyrics vividly describe man's inhumanity and brutal violence, race is not a specific topic, but De Pena is not adverse to bringing it up, naming his label Black Devil Records and once telling an interviewer, "Well, you canÕt tell by my skin colorÉ but IÕm total white trash. I drink Budweiser." (JA) [New Entry 3/12/2013]
THE DISPOSALS - The bassist/singer for this LA punk band (circa 1980) was a Black girl from Inglewood named Janice Jones (sometimes spelled Janus Jones), who later played in the Nip Drivers.
DUMMY CLUB - Dummy Club was a great pychobilly band from Milwaukee, somewhat Cramps influenced, with a powerful singer named Frankie "Stoney" Rivera. They formed in 1982 and their first release was a German EP "Ballad of a Lady Gunslinger" (Zensor, 1985). They toured Europe (the record charted), then broke up, but reformed as the Psycho Bunnies by the late 80s. That band, with "the grand dame of Milwaukee girlpunk" upfront, was active into the 21st century.
BUBBA DUPREE of VOID – In his processed pompadour Dupree delivered distinct, wild guitar leads for D.C.'s premiere early 80s Metal-Core band, before the concept of Metal-Core really existed. They didn't look punk, and their chaotic, anything-could-happen style of music was far from textbook hardcore, but unlike Chicago's ZOETROPE, whose Metal edge and Rock Star ambitions kept them out of the punk venues, Void was definitely accepted in the D.C. scene. They recorded some great tracks for Dischord, and had one of the great hardcore logos. Dupree currently resides on the West Coast and his reputation as a brilliant guitarist found him touring in Moby's band and playing with Soundgarden. Recently he has been working with "super" group Spys4Darwin, which features members of Queensrÿche, Sponge and Alice In Chains. (JA)
KIP DUVALL of NEON CHRIST – William "Kip" Duvall played guitar and wrote the music for Neon Christ, an Atlanta hardcore band that was active circa '83-'86 and released one record, the Parental Suppression 10 song EP (Social Crisis, 1984). Pushead praised the 7" in Thrasher magazine as "Rapid-fire, pistol-packed bolts of hauling mayhem, expressing a headlong franticness of Georgia thrash -- sheer turbulence of speed and intensity in the tradition of D.R.I., that creates a sonic desolation. Neon Christ bring forth a full steamahead whirlwind of boisterous onslaughts, making this EP a must for all radical thrusters." They recorded some additional material which was released posthumously. Duvall followed up Neon Christ with No Walls, a Hendrix inspired prog-thrash-soul band that released a locally popular CD on Third Eye Records. He also briefly joined the LA band Bl'ast (spelled with an aposthrophe), and it credited with writing one song under the name of "Dr. Twang" on their album "It's In My Blood." In the 90s Duvall became a fixture on the Atlanta club circuit with his well-dressed Funk glamrock band Madfly, who released an album on Joan Jett's Mercury distributed Blackheart Records in 1998. His biggest success, though, came in co-writing the hit single "I Know" (#1 for two weeks in March 1995) for former Arrested Development vocalist Dionne Farris. William's latest project "Comes With The Fall" is a hard rock band. For more information www.comeswiththefall.com. (JA, Noel Ivey, Claudia Jardine)
Jason Stone adds: I was checking out my vinyl last night, and noticed something that needs to be corrected. Kip Duvall is not Dr.Twang. Dr.Twang is listed on song two along with Neider and Dinsmore. Kip Duvall IS given credit on song 3 with Clifford Dinsmore (vox). [Updated 11/12/05]
Edgar Johnson adds: Wiiliam just got done with a world tour singing and sometimes playing guitar for Alice in Chains. They played to a lot of sold-out venues and crowds of up to 80K (Oslo, I believe). The fan reaction to William has been mixed, but most people who've actually seen him live agree that he's been a solid vocalist for the band, even if he can't truly replace Layne Staley. There's a lot of tracks up on You Tube if you'd like to check them out. P.S. I am working with Brandon Mullis and the members of Neon Christ to make a documentary about the band. We staged two reunion shows in January 2006 and filmed both of them. We're making good progress and hope to have the film completed sometime in the next year or so. The working title of the film is From the Ashes: The Neon Christ Story. You can find some live stuff by Neon Christ on the official site: nx.motherbuster.com and on the band's myspace page www.myspace.com/neonchristatlanta. [Updated 1/28/08]
ELECTRODES - This French punk/ska band released a single in 1983 which has appeared on a Killed By Death comp. The Black member (readers, please help us with his name) later became a studio musician and also played with Gogol Premier et Sa Horde. (raf)
FISHBONE - By the time they recorded in 1985 they were clearly riding the tail end of second wave Ska (see 2-TONE), but when this all Black LA combo started in 1979 they must have been so inept that even if they were attempting ska they sounded punk as hell. (JA)
P.T. Sturrock adds: First of all their impetus was in 1978 not 1979 (Angelo Moore did join in 1979) and they were all teenagers! Their primary influences were Funk Rock/Acid Rock (Hendrix, Maggot Brain, etc.) Heavy Soul and later Punk and Reggae. In fact they came about a Ska sound without having actually listened to Ska. (Trumpeteer/Vocalist Walt Kibby hipped them to Ska around late '79 - early '80). Without going into all the gory details it was Fishbone, and to a much lesser extent the Untouchables, who created the heavy rock Ska Funk sound that bands like No Doubt and 311 latched onto and made millions off of. The word inept is the antithesis of Fishbone's ability. (Gee I wonder why the Brothas in Fishbone did not reap the benefits of that so-called third wave? Couldn't have been because they are a Black Rock group huh?) Like them or not their musicianship, creativity and talent are irrefutable. [Updated 5/17/04]
KEITH FLEETWOOD - FREE CHEESE and CRUX ANSATA - Keith was a drummer in FREE CHEESE, a bizarre early 80s Flint Hardcore band that substituted an organ for bass guitar. CRUX ANSATA was a "Progressive Punk" band that also included Phill Hines of DISSONANCE and Brad Morley of GODSPEED. Keith also was a multi-instrumentalist in AVANT GARDEN. His brother Linval played bass in AVANT GARDEN and THINGAMOBOB. FREECHEESE can be heard with a bit of navigation at: http://www.takenoprisoners.info/ Click on Audio>Demos>Free Cheese-demo- 1982/1983http://www.archive.org/details/FreeCheese
KEITH in his own words: I had been in High School bands, a cover band, and I worked two years in a theatrical orchestra, but at the beginning of 1981 Crux Ansata was my first real rock band to write original music. We called it Progressive Punk. Joel and I were into King Crimson and Yes, while Brad and Phil liked Black Flag and The Circle Jerks, so we combined the different styles. Though not pictured, Bill Dillenbeck was heavily involved for a while. Bruce Stedron and Russ Williams also had short stints. In September 1981, I transferred from UM-Flint to that other university in Lansing. Brad and Rose and Blair were also moving to Lansing, and they asked me play in a hardcore punk band. I said okay if I could play drums. I don't know how they found guitarist Mike Thomas, but Free Cheese was born. Brad was more of a pianist that a bass player, so we got the idea he would do the bass lines on keys (not the norm for hardcore, but it worked). Unfortunately I don't have any photos (Anyone have any? Please contact me.) We played and toured all over the Mid-West, to growing fans. I lived in the basement of the home of Gus Varner (guitarist for The Crucifucks), and he and Doc Dart helped us get gigs, and a phone call from Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedy's. We played mostly in Ohio and Kentucky. (We gigged with Faith No More) Gus had an old 4-track reel-to-reel that he let us borrow and we spent some time learning to record. 11 months after we started I transferred back to UofM-Flint, and Michael went off to Europe. Back in Flint, Brad and I got into some money-making band. Montana was a country band, Blackhawk a classic rock band. Later we got into a funk band called Thrust. Bill Dillenbeck came back to join us in Avant Garden, doing obscure covers and originals. Also invloved were my twin brother Lin, girlfriend Dee Wilbur, Debbie Wilcox and Diane Russell. We all played multiple instruments and switched a lot. (Aggravation Overdose) [New Entry 2/1/13]
DWAIN FLOWERS of THE CLITBOYS - This Midwest hardcore band had a Black drummer named Dwain Flowers who was a hell of a finesse drummer. He joined the band shortly after the "We Don't Play The Game" e.p. was recorded, but they put his pic on the cover. The cover was such miserable 10 generation xerox that it's impossible to tell if he's human much less Black. He was a fixture in the Milwaukee scene for many years, but grew up in Cabrini Green (a Chicago housing project) and was sent to Catholic School and met kids into punk that way (sort of the same deal as Craig of the Fix). When I knew him he was 1 of 3 drummers in the tribal Detroit punk band FUCKFACE (sort of heavy MC5/Iggy stuff with major tribal drums, amazing live) which included Eric from Die Kruezen and Paul of the Crusties. They used fuller kits, while he usually only had a couple toms and kick snare and he routinely blew them both off the stage nightly. He is one of my all time fave drummers who relied on an amazing sense of finesse which was always more powerful than the caveman pounding of his band mates. Last I heard he had moved to Atlanta and was in some kind of local outfit of Black punks that were sort of mining the Living Colour/24-7 Spyz/Fishbone thing, to little avail as far as I know. (RL) [Updated 3/31/03, replacing the original CLITBOYS entry.]
C. T. JACKSON ADDS: In addition to having worked with the lovely mr. flowers here in atlanta for a number of years, i have considered him a friend for a few years more. as i have seen him play in more than a couple of failed local bands, i can honestly say that dwain was the only thing keeping them interesting, and has been highly overlooked as a power-fuckin-house drummer. while i certainly would not want to speak for him, i don't think he has much passion left to play, at least in atlanta, which is a shame, as everyone is missing a damn fine drummer, and, for that matter a pretty swell fella to boot. [Updated 6/29/06]
Guy Fiorentini adds: I was in a band with Dwain in the mid 80's called Necromantx, and I was interested to read your entry because he never talked much about his past. One point of note: Dwain was playing the "Jungle" rhythm, which is really a beat developed by producers and copied by drummers, back in 1984.
4-SKINS - Not the popular Oi/skinhead band from the UK, who were no strangers to race riots, but rather an obscure US band of the same name with Black members.
ADAM FRANKLIN - Played in English band Shake Appeal (fromed '83-'84) - a Stooges song title and a Stooges-inspired group. Though they only recorded one single, Adam later went on to lead one of the seminal British bands of the early 90s: Swervedriver. A phenomenally gifted songwriter with true lyrical vision. (Danny Ingram)
FREDDY THE BASTARD - Fred Carter was never in a band for any length of time, but he ran a punk mailorder business/distro, Pogo In Your Face, as Freddy the Bastard. An important figure in the Gainesville, FL scene, his race never proved a obstacle to getting skinhead girls into the sack. (JA)
GIRLTRASH was an all-girl Midwest punk band started in 1983. We had two black members, myself, Libby Hodges (vocals) and my sister Doni (guitar). Julie Kerry (songwriter/keyboardist) and Robin Kerry (songwriter/guitarist), who were also siblings, rounded out the lineup. Julie was serious about writing songs and poetry; I was always trying to get out of our practice, asking, "why can't we just get gigs and not practice?" Julie and Robin did not want to be another punk band that sucked so practice was taken seriously like it was our real job. Eventually their sense of excellence rubbed off on me. Julie and Robin could very easily sit and create five to seven complete, quality songs in a row without stopping for a break or breath; they were both natural writers/poets. Julie was also political; once she stopped me from getting gas at some gas station because she said that station supported South Africa, and at the time South Africa practiced Apartheid and had imprisoned Nelson Mandela. Julie was an advocate for abused children, disabled children, homeless people, and for ending racism. Julie and Robin always pushed me to be more political and more of an advocate for human rights. Because my parents were very political I often stayed away from political stuff, but Julie and Robin wanted me to know I could be an advocate for human rights without making everyone around me miserable the way my parents did. Julie, Robin and I wrote a song together called "Soul Massacre" about the human hardship of Apartheid.
My bandmates and our friends (Tiffany Martens, a California transplant punk; Hollee McClain a Missouri punk who also liked country music, rap and punk; Kim Reed, who had a hip/hop and R&B flare; and Kenya Brumfield who liked Rock & Roll). Used to go to a teen/punk club called Animal House in Saint Louis. Julie and Robin had an older sister Kathy who drove us around and was very gracious to us younger brats. Kathy had a funny sense of humor; she teased me about my Mohawk, saying "how can you be so happy when your hair is so nappy." Our friends influenced our music. We had a song "Resurrection of Soul" that had a California punk vibe; our song "Stop and Smell The Roses" had a punk/country vibe; another song "Grandma Tell Me" was very punk and R&B; and we had songs called "Crying Like A Sea" and "Raggedy Ann Dynasty" that had punk edge but were very classic rock Sexy like the Runaways.
Girltrash played parties but before we could get more gigs or get signed Julie Kerry and Robin Kerry were both raped, murdered, and thrown off the Chain Of Rocks Bridge into the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri. Their cousin Jeanine wrote a book titled "A Rip In Heaven" which deals with her feelings of losing two of her favorite cousins. I have never gotten over losing my friends and bandmates. Music is something that we did together that made me feel close to them, and the rape and murder of Julie Kerry and Robin Kerry certainly changed the entire course of my life. Three of the men that killed my friends/bandmates were sentenced to death. The fourth man was an underage criminal; because of his young age he was not sentenced to death, but instead served his time in prison, and I believe got out of prison not too long ago to enjoy the rest of his life. Our music career was cut short by violence. I don't know how far Girltrash would have gone if two of our members were not brutally killed.
All of our songs were written together, and I never written one song by myself until recently. I am working on a song called "Pretty Prison," which describes my time in the Georgia and my reluctant journey to liking Southerners. It's a little country, a little R&B, a little sexy rock and roll, and a lot of Punk. So again my old friends have influenced me in true Girltrash fashion. What is funny is I have been working on Pretty Prison on and off for over two years, while back in the 80s me and a couple of kids (Julie and Robin) could complete five songs in an hour. At the rate I am going I should have new songs completed just in time to get my senior citizen discount card from AARP. Now I have to laugh instead of crying about that. (Vampire Libby Hodges)
JAMES GOSS & THE GEEKS - The Geeks were a bunch of high schoolers from San Quentin, CA who formed in 72 inspired by Zappa, Beefheart & free jazz. In '78 they put out a record called "Its Not About Notes" that reflects their influences. Brad Harmon, the black drummer (one of the Geeks' two drummers) apparently played a lot of other instruments and after the Geeks wound up touring with a lot of reggae bands - like the Mighty Diamonds, Mutabaruka, etc. - during the '80s. Now he is staffer for Congresswoman Barabara Lee, the only congressperson to vote against the US intervention in Afganistan. (The other drummer Radley Hirsh is a sound engineer who put in the sound system at legendary punk venue Gilman and did sound there for years) A couple years after their debut the Geeks did a 7" called "Poland" b/w "the Spark" with their (Black) friend, poet James Goss. It sounds like some cross between Sheer Smegma and Archie Shepp with intelligent political lyrics (non-preachy, dept). The band mixed the 7" in the studio of disco diva Sylvester's collaborator James "Tip" Wirrick. Radley recalls walking around San Francisco with Tip who would point to houses and say "That's 'You Make me Feel Real.' There's 'Living Proof.' That's 'Sell My Soul.'" Tip was pointing out real estate he had bought with money made from Sylvester records and he had named them after the records! Former Geeks went on to Polkacide. Jim Goss is now a prison shrink.
Goss adds: If Roctober does Indians of Punk, please include me in, as I'm a member of the Amonosoquath Cherokee Nation (yes, there are Black Indians & love to represent my nation). [Updated 3/31/03]
ROCKY GEORGE - George was the second guitarist of LA skate punks, Suicidal Tendencies (though the band was around in '83, Rocky didn't join for a couple of years, so technically he shouldn't make this list). Rocky's in the latest incarnation of Fishbone. Funny story, I actually got to hang out some with Angelo Moore and Rocky after a gig in Georgia and I was talking to Rocky about his Suicidal Tendencies days. Angelo looked at Rocky and said, "I thought you were Mexican when you were in Suicidal. Now you're in Fishbone and you look black. Well, anyway, Rocky is black and an important pioneer in the LA punk/metal scene. (Damon Eubanks) [New Entry 11/12/05]
Odd Rocker Orlando Greenhill adds: Here's another reason to keep him on the list. He was in Jeff Hanneman's (Slayer) 1984-1985 hardcore thrash punk band Pap Smear. [Updated 3/4/2013]
ROLAND GIFT - The Fine Young Cannibals' singer was the main punk inspiration behind the band that formed in 1984 and had their biggest success in 1989. Although the band had worldwide commercial success with "She Drives Me Crazy", Gifts punk credentials are well known and respected here in Yorkshire. (Franklin) [New Entry 1/28/08]
HAIRCUT 100 - Formed in 1980, this was the least punk New Wave band, in part because they embraced the concept of wearing a uniform of preppy country club clothes and fluffy sweaters. The English act was anchored by the Memphis-born African American drummer Blair Cunningham. The band became a sensation in 1982 but quickly imploded (leader Nick Heyward went solo). Cunningham became a hot studio drummer and hired gun, working with the Pretenders, Echo and the Bunnymen, Sade, Roxy Music and Paul McCartney, amongst others.
COLBERT HAMILTON - Not exactly punk but well worth mentioning (he did sing back up on a Thunders record), Hamilton came from the UK rockabilly/psychobilly background and released a handful of great records over the years often under Colbert Hamilton and the Hellrazors banner..great singer..he also does an Elvis tribute show as 'Black Elvis'...but do checkout his earlier recordings..they'll flip yer wighat! (Brian Young/Belfast) [New Entry 11/12/05]
CHARLIE HANKINS - Anyone who went to a New York hardcore show between 1982 and 1989 couldn't help but see "Big" Charlie, what was he 6'5"-6'7"? I first saw him and one of his many brothers clear the entire floor at the Ritz in 1984 at a Suicidal Tendencies show. Literally hundreds of people scampered out of the path of these wrestling titans. Any club that wanted to calm unruly crowds employed Charlie as a bouncer. In the mid-1980s he was at nearly every show, working dozens of clubs in the Lower East side, Hoboken and elsewhere. If he wasn't employed as a doorman he used his giant arms to clear the pit like the incredible Hulk would toss soldiers in the comics. He was also good enough to let many of us vault off of his shoulders into the abyss. Charlie was as friendly and even-tempered as a man could be when totally out of control. I never saw him bully anyone, but people suicidally bothered him, especially white power skinheads. This often resulted in the two hit fight as Charlie slapped his assailants and their heads hit the cement at high velocity. Unlike most big guys used to smaller guys running, Charlie learned how to fight from his larger brothers and he would stand toe to toe with troublemakers big enough to make other bouncers hide. Sean Taggart informed me that Charlie died in a tragic auto accident, but I don't have any details. (Wes Harvey) [New Entry 11/28/06]
HARVEY - The San Francisco band released a 4 song 12" ep in 1983 called "A-Live." It is is not punk but punkish glam metal, kinda like Sweet meets Joan Jett with Eddie Van Halen leads. They remind me of the Bus Boys if they were harder and didn't have the new wave schtick. The band is a power trio of three brothers. The leader Doni Harvey plays in Caribbean bands in the Bay Area. Prior to Harvey he played on a number of UK prog records and live as a part of Gong. These guys were probably a great club band. See www.doniharvey.com for more. (SS) [Added 3/31/03]
DONI HARVEY ADDS: Thanks for the shout out. Nice to be remembered. First of all I want to say that the three family brothers in HARVEY are, Regi Harvey (drums/vocals), Doni Harvey (guitar/vocals) and Chris Harvey (bass/vocals). HARVEY released an LP on our independent label Yevrah Moons Records in 1986 called "Survivor Population 3", which delved deeper into the heavy metal sound you mentioned in your article. HARVEY opened for many punk, hard rock, and metal bands, with the high point being our opening up for Living Color in San Francisco in 1989. Our influences range from Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Bad Brains and also from other local San Francisco Bay Area black punk bands such as Jane Doe, the A T's, and Mingo Lewis's band The Tong. The black punk bands were a serious force in our area during the late 70's and early 80's. Since HARVEY I have played guitar for Clarence Clemons and the Red Bank Rocker recorded a on a couple hip hop CD's and I am currently promoting my solo blues career and have two solo CD's out, see my website at www.doniharvey.com . I still play bass and sing for the Caribbean Allstars, a reggae/calypso band based in San Francisco. [Updated 5/17/04]
REGI HARVEY ADDS: First of all I thought I should also say thanks for the shout out about our band, HARVEY. Secondly a little correction is in order for the sake of those sibling thangs. Brother Doni wasn't actually the leader of the band although he did make sure we were tight. One leader of a trio with three brothers? I don't think so! Truthfully speaking, we all had jobs to do. Chris was harmony and band police so we didn't kill each other at those times it was needed (not a lot) but it was a balancing act. Doni was rehearsal man and scrutinizer, and I, Regi (the eldest) did almost all of the booking and shmoozing for the band, in particular those shows Doni mentioned. I also finance a good portion of "HARVEY A-LIVE and all of "Survivor Pop3 .I'm currently managing a blues club in San Francisco: see- SkipsTavern.com .I also have three cd's 2 for my blues band Regi Harvey's Thunder Blue and 1 for my metallic blues band Regi Harvey's Eample. We gave them a good run for the money back in the day and am looking forward reuniting with my brothers for more "HARVEY" magic. Thanks again for the mention - Regi Harvey (contact: RegiHarvey@SkipsTavern.com) [Updated 11/12/05]
LAMONT WESTON HARVEY - If a history of Blacks in punk includes Lefty, whose only contribution to the "scene" was to be at the center of disturbing stories of black lesbian self-loathing, sex crimes, thuggery and stupidity, then you really need to include the anti-Lefty, another black "skinhead," Lamont Weston Harvey. He was not a musician per se, although he did backing vocals on my band Life's Blood's "Defiance" record, and did the illustration for the cover of God sending white power skinheads to hell. He attended School of Visual Arts back in the 80s, with Sean Taggart (artist of Underdog, Crumbsuckers covers and innumerable flyers) and his student film "Raw Chunks" features the young Butthole Surfers. Lamont did some amazing flyers as well, which can be found on ebay. Lamont is now an artist and journalist for the Baltimore Sun, has done artwork for Public Enemy and will have underground comics coming out shortly - one series about Blacks in WWII (from oral histories and research he did himself), and a very punk rock "adult" comic which both of us worked on (it will come out under pseudonyms, because we have normal jobs to protect). Lamont was one of the original black skinheads, and he's true to his roots: he's a semi-pro soccer player and coach. Oh, and he's also famous for kicking Raybeez's (Warzone) ass after Ray attacked a Puerto Rican family while under the influence of hard drugs, during the strange period in our history sometimes referred to as the "brick fights." His website: www.garrisonpublishing.com (Jason O'Toole)
THE HASKELS - Milwaukee's greatest punk band, The Haskells, after numerous configurations, settled on a 2/3 Black lineup, with dynamic frontman Presley as the lone Caucasian, joined by Bobby and Vodie. This is the lineup on the classic "Taking The City By Storm" EP [Milwaukee Hits, 1980].
THE HEAT - This NYC band released a rock and roll/power pop/New Wave single on Hot Stuff Records in 1979. It is a TRI-racial band. Dwyatt Dayan (vocals) and Tally Taliaferrow (guitar) are both Black, Geoff Li (bass) is of Chinese descent and Jeff Formosa is Italian. Tally T was a member of the legendary NYC pre-punk band The Planets. Jeff Formosa was later in the Dots. [Added 5/17/04]
NONA HENDRYX - Made rock adjacent recordings (a very straightforward, radio-ready self-titled album for Epic in 1977, and her stellar work, including the bulk of the songwriting, with the often heavy, glammy, genre-defying R&B act Labelle), and was hanging out and performing with New York New Wave musicians in the late 70s and early 80s. She sings backup on the TALKING HEADS Remain In Light LP and toured with them at the time, and she sang with Material. When she returned to making her own records, Hendryx wholly switched over to dance music. However she did recruit JEAN BEAUVOIR to do some of the writing during this period. (JP)
DERECK HIGGINS Omaha-based musician (son of jazz musician Red Higgins) was in punk cover bands in the 70s, and in the early 80s was in New Wave band Norman and the Rockwells, who released a record, and in 1982 formed Digital Sex. Was in mid-80s hardcore band RAF. [New Entry 7/11/09]
LIBBY HODGES - I have been a punk since the Summer of 1982, learning about bands such as Dead Kennedys, Plasmatics, and the all Black punk band Pure Hell. That helped me out a lot with my parents because they kept saying Black kids do not listen to this music or dress like that. They and I did not know at that the punk distinctive dress (leather, jackets, shaved heads, combat boots) was borrowed from Black/Caribbean dock rockers better known as the rude boys of England back in the 1960s, a/k/a the teddy boys or original skinheads. My dad who was an American who played Reggae/Calypso music in St. Louis, MO down on Gas Light Square also borrowed the rude boys dress code. Later on he became a Black Muslim but kept the rude boy dress code. Even today in his seventies he still wears the combat boots, cuffed jeans and a t-shirt. When I adopted the dress for myself my friends always commented, "your dad dresses like a punk but acts like a nerd." In reality we were dressing like him and were too young and uneducated about history and the world to see the connection. I was a band in St. Louis called Girl Trash. The members were Jill Rossman, lead guitar, Lisa Anzalone-bass, Donalda Hodges-guitar/vocals, Libby Hodges-lead vocals and back up vocals, drummer unknown (I do not remember her name, only that she left St. Louis to play with another band in Chicago), Julie Kerry- keyboards/lyrics, Robin Kerry-lyrics, guest vocals. We played from 1987 to 1989. Julie Kerry and Robin Kerry were both raped and killed.. After Julie and Robin were killed I completely gave up music myself and turned instead to writing vampire novels. I really enjoyed playing in this band and it would be great to find the rest of the living members. (Libby Hodges, email@example.com) [New Entry 11/28/06]
HOMO PICNIC - Early 80s Philadelphia band. Their stickers said "Rich Black Kidz playing heavy metal." They were originally from the Dutch Antilles.(Tony Slug/Amsterdam) [New Entry 11/12/05]
THE HOT SPIT DANCERS - Black singer Vince Voodoo fronted this great Stockton CA hardcore band in 83-84. Released one demo. Other members were in the Authories (Soundtrack for Trouble 7", KBD #1). Big Nor Cal fave. (SS)
IDENTITY CRISIS - They were from Chicago, circa 1980. They were sort of a Post Punk/New Wave Punk band, but their song "Born to be a Bozo" (from the 1980 s/t EP on Cirkle) was a kind of punk joke ditty and hasbeen comped. Mainly they are known as the first appearance by a high school aged Kim Thayill of Soundgarden and John Pavitt, the brother of Sup Pop founder Bruce Pavitt. Had a Black drummer, Joe Zake.
THE INFLUENCE - A late 70s all Black punk act.
JAYNE DOE - Bay Area band headed by vocalist Flynn Flam. Good 4 man band. Good looking, big strong guys. Sort of an agitated Bus Boys. Flynn would rant and rave in tails and sunglasses. Drummer Joe Barbosa aka "Billy Freedom" was the hard hitting driver. He moved to Japan after they broke up . There was Kenny Jackson guitar, Dan Hart Bass, and later Eric McCann on bass. First time I met Flynn was classic : a girl on each arm, and dressed like a 1930's gangster- I'm in my road warrior drag. We spoke as if we were OG's and we ran our own territories. His was Berk.and mine SF. One of the women with him started to walk away, but he just turned gently touched her arm and asked where she was going. She stopped and fell back in line on his arm no questions asked. Our bands did quite a few gigs together. lots of respect. (Regi Harvey - see HARVEY) [New Entry 11/12/05]
ALAN JONES of END RESULT- Chicago's End Result was a multi racial experimental No Wave band born out of the early 80s hardcore scene. They managed to limp all the way to the end of the 80s with a rotating cast (at one point they advertised they were seeking a "singer with a hatred of music") built around guitarist Jones. Perhaps their greatest legacy is that they paved the way for No Wave/artfuck bands presenting themselves to an all-ages, hardcore/punk audience, something that defined the Chicago underground of the 90s (Milk of Burgundy, Skingraft, etc.). Their odd songs (a straightforward tune about amputation wasn't atypical) were released on Articles Of Faith's Wasteland label, and on several important Midwestern hardcore/punk comps, resulting in fans of boundary-pushing gravitating towards them, including Steve Albini and Sonic Youth. No child of privilege, Jones lived in a mission for a while, and turned lemons into an odd tasting lemonade by briefly making the mission's basement a site for punk shows. (JA)
Steve Albini adds: End Result was truly a band apart. Ahead of its time and unique in more ways than I can count. Alan tuned his guitar like a cello, which gave his already-free mind a new voice to play with. End Result had no drummer to keep the beat, because (in Alan's immortal words) "we think our audience can count." Alan speaks with a delightful soft tone, and has such an easy smile that it seems unlikely that he would be responsible for such explosively jarring music. During the brief time I ran Ruthless Records, I was able to release an album by End Result, and that might be my proudest achievement from that period. [Updated 3/31/03]
BARRY JONES of THE IDOLS – In the late 70s the New York Dolls-esque Idols began their longstanding sporadic tenure on the NY punk scene. Cred heavy Ex-Dolls Jerry Nolan and Arthur Kane were joined by the unknown Jones, who no doubt was valued by them for his Johnny Thunders guitar style. The Idols recorded on their own (a 45 on Ork in 1979), but their main claim to fame was their status as the back up band to doomed legends. When Sid Vicious did his famous short stint at Max's Kansas City, Jones was on guitar (they accurately had a Black actor play him in the film Sid and Nancy). And on numerous occasions the Idols served as Johnny Thunders backup band in NY and on tour, including an '86 show that has been released on CD and video. Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, Jones' copping of Thunders style endeared the damaged guitar god to his follower. Rather than shunning him, Thunders took Barry under his wing and taught Jones the secret Ninja tricks of the Johnny Thunders Guitar Style. His role as the official Thunders protégé brings him to the forefront of the Junkie Business cult every now and then, as he backed Johnny up without the Idols often, and in the 90s he appeared on a few international Thunders tribute albums. The Idols kept a low profile, gigging every now and then (when a rent check was due?) but Jones has never fully faded from sight; as long as the Dean Martin of Heroin still has worldwide devotees, there will always be some demand for the Black Johnny Thunders. (JA)
Downladed1 adds: Barry Jones played in London Cowboys and also managed legendary Vortex club in London for a period of time. [Updated 1/28/08]
BUSTA "CHERRY" JONES – Though it would be absurd to call bassist Michael "Busta" Jones, a punk or New Waver, his credentials are undeniable. The journeyman was a significant contributor to Eno's Here Come The Warm Jets, he was a legit recording/touring member of the Talking Heads in their expanded funky stage around 1980, he had his own punk/funk band, The Escalators, he was briefly a member of Gang Of Four, and he wrote a song for the Ramones ("Chasing The Night," on Too Tough to Die). Always exploring the dynamics between Black and white music and musicians, the Memphis native's early band was a Black rock act with Willie Mitchell's son called, appropriately, Black Rock. Jones then got his first taste of punk's anarchy, if not its musical form, in the late '60s-early '70s unit Moloch. That post-hippie, ultra-wild, theatrical Blues-Rock band played with the Stooges and MC5 and matched them in chaos (Jones isn't on the Moloch LP, however). After Moloch he went the more trad route, becoming Albert King's guitarist. In 1973 he went to England where he became a member of the Sharks with Chris Spedding (and was in Spedding's subsequent solo act) and played on the debut solo album by art rock/New Wave pioneer Brian Eno (Here Come The Warm Jets, Island 1973). In 1975 he returned to his roots, playing in the all Black, near-Metal Memphis based power trio, White Lightnin' with Donald and Woody Kinsey, later of Kinsey Report. Wrapped in an elaborate cover by the same artist who painted the Bitches Brew sleeve, it's surprising their interesting self-titled album (Island, 1975) didn't find an audience. It was around 1980, with his reputation gleaming, that things exploded for him. He became an integral member of the expanded TALKING HEADS (the funkier big band on the Remain In Light album [Sire, 1980] and tour featured Funkadelic's BERNIE WORRELL on keys, Labelle's NONA HENDRYX on vocals and Busta sharing doubled-up bass duties with Tina Weymouth). He also appears on the David Byrne/Eno My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (Sire, 1980) and Robert Fripp's Under Heavy Manners / God Save The Queen (EG-Polydor, 1980) and began releasing funky solo records around this time. On the more rock tip, his punkest band, The Escalators, a collaboration with Talking Head Jerry Harrison, recorded and released their obscure self titled album (Unison, 1980). He had a cup of coffee with Gang Of Four in '81 when they were between bassists. In 1984 he collaborated with Joey Ramone on Too Tough to Die (Sire, 1984) and did additional recording, some unreleased, with Joey. Over the subsequent years the list of musicians he worked with is expansive and bizarrely diverse (it includes Dan-I, Stevie Wonder, Bill Laswell, and the Modern Folk Quartet). One of his later projects was the Agitators, a Memphis unit featuring many ex-Moloch members. Jones died in 1995. (JA)
IVAN JULIAN - Julian began his Rock 'n' Roll career as a teenager in the Foundations ("Build Me Up Buttercup"). A more musically mature Julian (he'd just spent the better part of a year touring around Eastern Europe in a band called Parnni Valyek) emerged in the NY punk scene as a strongly contributing member of Richard Hell & the Voidoids. In tandem with Robert Quine, their twin-guitar attack reflected the influence of the New York avant-garde scene, as well as Julian's exposure to global music. Listen to the jazzy tempo of "Blank Generation" for their fucked-up take on punk-rock, with Julian playing no small role. His writing and producing skills were sought out and he's worked with the Clash (on Sandinista) , Shriekback and Matthew Sweet. Recently he's devoted his time to scoring TV, films and advertisements with his Gatlian Music company, founded with fellow downtown scenester Christine Gatti. His love of film scoring can be traced to his work on the excellent Sandra Bernhard film, Without You I'm Nothing. In 2001 Wayne Kramer's CD project Beyond Cyberpunk featured a new Voidoids track with Julian playing. (JP, JA)
LES JULY - The still-active New York bassist played in numerous bands including Radio City, Elixer, The Shakes and The Splinters. He played live all over NY.(Tracks, Zenons,CBGB's, Great Gildersleeves, etc.), and in the studio he played with Jimmy Destri (from Blondie) in a group called Girl Talk. July was the first African American to be featured in Mike Varney's Spotlight Column in Guitar Player Magazine '83. His Myspace page(www.myspace.com/lesjuly) tells of his latest music projects and his work as a Music for Healing therapist. [New Entry 1/28/08]
JUVENILE JUSTICE - Ron Charles played bass for the early '80s SF teenage hardcore band that appeared on the MRR comp Not So Quiet On The Western Front doing an excellent anti-cop song. Ron wore a sleeveless Motorhead shirt and backward baseball cap in the band photo, which would have been heinous in '89 but ruled in '82.
KRASH ON POLAND - This Amsterdam band was doing more of a hectic guitar/punk thing, musically. They weren't around for too long, ca. 1978, and morphed into equally shortlived ska outfit, the DIXO WANKERS, when ska became hip. (Tony Slug/Amsterdam) [New Entry 11/12/05]
KREMLIN CORPS - This Philly band released a generic thrash EP "Moscow's Revenge" in 1984. One of the players - I think the guitarist - is Black. (SS) [Added 3/31/03]
LEFTY - When D.C. produced Iron Cross, who many hail as the first American skinhead band, trouble was bound to follow. With D.C.'s Black majority population, Nazi-inspired skinhead racism wasn't going to be business a usual, and one of the ways this manifested itself was surprising. Amazingly, the leader of the early 80s D.C. Skins was not an Aryan, but Kendall Hall, a hulking Black woman, better known as Lefty. Adorned with swastikas, Lefty and her violent followers disrupted shows, stole Doc Martins off kids' feet, brawled with bikers, stomped Jews, gay bashed and most shockingly, supported Reagan. Iron Cross, denouncing their skinhead past, had an anti-Lefty song, "Wolf Pack," on their Hated and Proud ep. (JA)
Danny Ingram adds: Your entry on "Lefty" is a tad inaccurate. She was, quite honestly, a laughing stock among people in the DC music scene. A very minor menace to the punks in DC - more of a nuisance or an embarrassment. That she was notorious for organizing attacks in DC's gay communities is without question...but at concerts she was invariably outnumbered and she only ever started incidents when she had a numerical advantage. I spoke with her recently - she works for UPS now - and she has actually tried to down-play her involvement with violence - claiming that she was much like Marlon Brandon in Apocalypse Now - a figure head that presided over minions run amok (though she didn't phrase it quite so eloquently). I once confronted her on M street when I saw one of her "crew" wearing an Nazi armband - I told her and the 3 or 4 young Aryan youth that constituted her posse, that I was Jewish. I was, in fact, wearing a star of david teeshirt at the time. I asked her if she had anything to say about it - and she said nope. No problems with her.
NY Gwen adds: I was searching the internet for a book that was written in the early 80's. The couple who were writing it took lots of pix of us in NYC, the skins the punks and all the other kids at CB's who were regulars at the Hardcore matinee's. then i stumbled across your web site. The funny thing is not but 6 days ago i was talking to someone and we started talking about Lefty. I am a NY Jew and that never seemed to bother Lefty in anyway shape or form. I dont know how she acted in DC, But in NY she was certainly on her best behaviour. O.K., so a black "Nazi" Skin is an obsurd concept. But back in those days we were all a bit mixed up. The subject of "Fag bashing", "Nigger bashing" and various other clever "Skin head" past times was close to tabu when we would hang out. One thing for sure was that Lefty took a liking to me and me to her. She was feared by alot of people but as far as being only a "Nazi" that was only a part of Lefty. Lefty, if you are reading this, Hello from NY Gwen (that's me). Hope your doing well. Remember the days?! [Updated 11/12/05]
DON LETTS - The London punk scenester was a DJ who helped bring Reggae rhythms to punk, was the Slits' manager, from '85-'89 was a member of Big Audio Dynamite (Mick Jones' Post Clash project, which also featured former BASEMENT 5 bassist Leo Williams), and is punk's official filmmaker (having made The Punk Rock Movie and The Clash documentary "Westway to the World." [New Entry 11/12/05]
LOST CAUSE - They put out 2 albums and the bassist was probably one of the few Black skinheads at the time when there was such a dominance of the racist skinhead SHOCK boys... K.C. was a class act. (Ted D.)
LULU ZULU AND THE WHITE GUYS - This Amsterdam band is hard to classify, proto punk maybe in the sense that there was no point of reference yet to describe their musical style. They were around from 1976 to 1987 at the latest playing dub oriented reggae with loud guitars and free-form expression noise. They all hung out in this squat house called DDT, so I think their line-ups were changing on a weekly basis. There really was no opportunity for such bands to perform elsewhere back then. (Tony Slug/Amsterdam) [New Entry 11/12/05]
JOHN MACIAS The frontman for the LA punk band Circle Onethat played, toured and recorded from 1980-1985, reforming briefly in 1989 and 1991. Macias was a charismatic and intimidating presence on the scene and a leader with the P.U.N.X. collective that promoted shows and ran a punk house called the Wig Factory in Hollywood, and with a Christian punk group/gang called The Family. He suffered from mental illness and died in 1991 after being shot by police after reportedly throwing an unarmed security guard off the Santa Monica pier while screaming about God. Macias was Afro-Puerto Rican. [New Entry 3/11/13]
MAD SOCIETY - Early LA punk band famous mostly for how young they were, their singer being a few years shy of teenhood. The guitarist, Cathy, was Black.
CARLA MADDOG of THE CONTROLERS – Drummer (skate boarder and U.S. Postal worker) Carla Maddog (Carla Du Plantier) joined the LA based Controllers in early 1978, less than a year after the band's inception. Though they already had a single out, it wasn't until Carla joined that the band began to get real attention, thanks to her skills, magnetism and powers of promotion. Their EP (Suburban Suicide, Siamese 1978) and tracks on the legendary 1979 L.A. punk comp Tooth and Nail, as well as a Bomp magazine interview (that Carla made happen) helped build a large, hungry audience for the band by the time they self-destructed in 1979. Though Karla didn't sing it, one of their best songs, "Do The Uganda," featured the lyrics, "I wanna be Black and look like Idi Amin." After the Controllers, Karla played in Sexsick, with Kira Roesller (Black Flag), then traveled to England in a futile attempt to fill the empty drummer's chair in Siouxsie and the Banshees. She squatted, bartended, stole cars, started a band (Precious Few), went to jail, and got sent back to America, but she returned as soon as possible, and spent the rest of the 80s in England. Malcolm McLaren took a shine to Maddog and helped name and promote her new band, Jimmy The Hoover. A stint opening for Bow Wow Wow led to a recording a contract, and their single "Tantalise" (Innervison, 1984) reached #18 on the British charts, and the band appeared on Top Of The Pops twice (the Cure and Mary Jane Girls were on the same shows as JTH). After their second single flopped, the band was dropped and struggled for the next few years with windows of opportunity closing around them. In 1989 Carla returned to the States. In the early 90s she joined ex-Controller Kid Spike and Billy Bones of their punk contemporaries The Skulls (The Controllers were the first punk band to play the Masque club, and the Bones became the house band) to form the hybrid Skull Control. They played old Controllers and Skulls songs, and eventually built up a new body of tunes and a following, but other then a small indie CD (Radio Danger, Iloki) they weren't able to generate any label interest, and the band ended in 1997. In the late 90s she's also drummed with Legal Weapon, Leaving Trains (with whom she did her first US tour), and El Rey. A complete Controllers discography CD was released in the late 90s. Karla apparently is battling MS these days and some of the old time punks are organizing benefits for her. Maddog trivia: It was mostly her kit that Don Bolles borrowed and played on the Germs lp. (JA)
Jack Grisham of T.S.O.L. adds: I got the chance to see Karla front the 'Blackhearts' before Joan Jett. I dont know if it was a one-off, but it was at the Masque.
MAJOR CONFLICT - New York hardcore band that released a 7"EP back in 1983. See also: URBAN WASTE. who predated Major Conflict. One member was black, A posthumous Major Conflict CD came out called "Sounds Like 1983": On a related note, Dino Montiel- author of "A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints" which was made into a movie, was in Major Conflict. [New Entry 1/28/08]
SAM McAFEE of IMPACT UNIT - Though this Boston hardcore band never released anything during their tenure, the demos they recorded in '82 (My Friend-The Pit featuring the timeless love tune "I'd Eat Your Shit") were released in '89 in Germany. They were then issued in the States after Impact Unit lead singer Dicky Barrett gained fame as a Mighty Mighty Bosstone. McAffee kept active in the Boston scene throughout the 80s and 90s playing bass in Feeding Frenzy, Chloe and Six Server and playing drums in Sea Biscuit. (JA)
SAM MCAFEE ADDS: Howdy!, Just a slight correction: I played bass in public anyway for impact unit & six sever, i played guitar for feeding frenzy & chloe,and I fronted chloe. but it is nice to know somebody remembers or cares? - sam. [Updated 11/12/05]
CHLOE footage: http://www.youtube.com/user/65epiphone [Updated 1/2/09]
MEN WITH NO IQ's - Early 80s band released the single "Dreamin/Can't Resist It" 7" on the Mississippi (!?!) label Young Blood Records. It is described in a catalogue by uber-punk collector Chuck Warner (who, most recently, has been running the great Hyped To Death reissue label). as "Bad Brain-ish A side and Detroit-ish guitar on B side". (Tony Azu-Popow)
Sean adds: I was digging around the web to try and find anything about these guys...then I stumbled across your site. I grew up in Jackson, MS and saw these guys regularly in '84-'86. They were brutal live. They were a 3 piece w/the drummer singing most of the songs. They did a few "new wave of british heavy metal" covers in their sets as well (most notably a great cover of Iron Maiden's "Powerslave". They had a decent local following. A guy named Sylvester Harris was the guitar player...he was also the oldest (17 at the time - the other two were in their early teens). His dad did yard work for a living and would drive the band to gigs with a trailer containing not only the band's gear but all kinds of lawnmowers. The last time I saw Sylvester was in '90 or so...have no clue whatever came of him. [Updated 11/28/06]
MR. BUTCH: (from Wikipedia) Harold Madison, Jr., a/k/a "The King of Kenmore Square" a/k/a "The Mayor of Allston" was a homeless man living on the streets of Boston. Over the course of three decades, he gained significant celebrity among Boston's college students and within its rock scene. In the mid- to late-70s Mr. Butch was often seen on the streets near the Berklee College of Music playing guitar. During the 1980s, Mr. Butch's fame among the local music scene grew, and he was given gigs at The Underground in Allston and The Rat in Kenmore Square. Besides solo gigs, he would also sometimes perform with his band of rotating musicians and derelicts, "Mr. Butch and the Holy Men". It was around this time that he began to be featured in The Noise, a local music fanzine. Mr. Butch is mentioned in the liner notes to hardcore compilation "Bands Theat Could Be God." Mr. Butch's likeness appears in a mural on the side of a building located on the corner of Cambridge Street and Harvard Avenue in Allston. Mr. Butch was traveling inbound on Brighton Avenue on his scooter around 8 a.m. on July 12, 2007, at a speed close to 50 miles per hour when he struck a light pole and died. He was 56. [New Entry 1/28/08]
TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD Mockingbird booked bands for New Wave Theater starting in 1979 and had her hand in promoting, acting and music as well. In 2012 she opened the Punk Rock Museum in Hollwood. (Odd Rocker Orlando Greenhill) [New Entry 3/11/13]
TERRY MORGAN - After studying Systematic Musicology and African American Studies in college, Morgan turned that know how into promoting, producing and releasing punk rock in the Pacific Northwest. Modern Records released some amazing punk records starting around 1979 (including the single by the legendary Vancouver punk band Dishrags) and Modern Productions (eventually Modern Enterprises) had a hand in lots of bigshot New Wave acts. Morgan stayed in music as talent buyer for the Bumbershoot Festival, manager for The Posies, The Young Fresh Fellows and others, and tour manager for King Sunny Ade. Recently he's been doing production on Cirque Du Soleil. A musician himself, Morgan was not a punk but rather a member of Seattle's respected Inner City Jazz Quartet. (JA)
NEON LEON- Neon Leon was a NYC punk scenester in the early days, and if you see Max's Kansas City flyers from the heyday you'll often see him gigging a night or two before or after some legendary band. He also shows up in Rock Scene magazine, as most NYCenesters eventually did, thanks to the photos taken by Paul Zone (of the Fast) and Jayne County's advice columns. As far as I know he didn't record, but he can be seen playing with Johnny Thunders on a volume of the Japanese video series Under Underground. Zone recalled, "His act sucked, you can ask anyone (anyone who would remember). But he was a great guy. We really liked him. He was a coke dealer with a blonde white stripper girlfriend. He goes way back on the scene, before punk, like 1974." Syl Sylvain (NY Dolls) recalled, plausibly, that he had a girlfriend (the stripper?) who he taught to play bass for his own band, and (less plausibly) that he'd been a porn star in Sweden as of ten years ago. He may be confusing the fact that Leon appears as a guitarist with the Stilettos (the band Debby Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie emerged from) in the 1978 porno movie Punk Rock (a/k/a Teenage Runaways). However, the band only plays in a club, Leon has no "action" scenes. (JA, JP) [Read an interview with Neon Leon in Roctober #40.]
Leon adds: Well I don't know you guys and it's apparent you don't know
or have any of your facts staight.I'm the original Neon Leon, Max's
blah, blah, blah. Paul & Micki Zone, I remember doing gigs with them from
Prospect Park in Brooklyn to Max's. Since I "sucked" so band that's why
the Rolling Stones brought my group to the UK in '76 where we spent the
better part of a year recording, playing, etc. Spider my drummer
(PureHell,this is before them) he was more in to the druggy side...Smack
and that shit, wasn't a dealer either, not a porn star either. Dated a lot
of them in the 70's Sharon Mitchell,Ming Toy,etc. Dating them doesn't
make you a porn star. Next what a load of crap about never
recording. Remember Dr.Pepper concerts in Central Park. Who do you think
that was on all those comercial ads for K-Rock fm. The song was called
"R&R is Alive" on Big Deal Records, me and Honi O'Rourke own label
sponsored by James Karnback(Ladies & Gentlemen the Rolling
Stone,film) Jeff Stein (award winning video producer and film maker, The
Who(The Kids are Allright) Billy Idol, Bruce Springsteen. Plus you
forget to mention all the work I've been doing in Europe for Warner
Bros.and Music for nations. S/t LP Neon Leon "Artificial
Stimulation"(Tandan/Warner) The list goes on. Are you interested in more
info...truth as opposed to fiction. I'm very alive and well half my
year I spend in Hawaii with my wonderful girlfriend, and the remainder
of the year I play music on the continent from Sweden to Italy. Life is
good. So c'mon feed me some questions I love to hear from old associates
and friend or anyone who just wants to "shoot the shit." Just finished
the new Neon Leon cd..."New York City/Babylon,Produced by Tommy
Newton (Victiory,Helloween,UFO,Guano Apes etc.). Contact....E-mail
Supasoca1@hotmail.com........ Rock n Roll is still Alive, NeonLeon
PS..Greetings to Sandro the Swede [Updated 5/17/04]
SANDRO JOHNSTON adds: My name is Sandro, i'm from Stockholm, the capitol of Sweden. I'm a model rock singer photographer, writer song writer video maker D.J., movie back ground artist. I met Neon Leon, back home in Stockholm, in 1987 and party with him a few times at the rock club Ritz, in Stockholm, andat Scrap Bar, in New York. I saw a couple of his shows in Stockholm, like 15 years ago. I remember this female vocalist singer Lisa who looks like Donna Summer, she was cool. I know hi lives in Denmark, because I met him in Stockholm, at the street in 1999. (Sandrojohnston@hotmail.com).
LINDA NYBO ANDERSEN ADDS:Leon is really fit and he is doing great over here (Europe). At the moment he is entertaining at a great ski resort for millionaires in Austria. In 2001 the Rolling Stones send out a CD with Neon Leon feat. Mick Jagger doing "Heart of Stone" ("The Rolling Stones Bootleg - Ex Stone" Alan G. Parker and his film crew came to Copenhagen to shoot the lacking part of the film "Who killed Nancy" which is going on the big screen in February 2009. The film producer Alan G. Parker wrote this on his My Space website on August 7th 2008 when he finally found Neon Leon: Good news today, so the phone rings in the office, we are deep in the edit and busy doing favours to get archive footage, Sid is now getting his own voice in our movie... It's the phone though, just now it's all that matters, it's only Neon Leon! The missing piece of our hotel Chelsea jigsaw puzzle... And the man who next week in Europe we will now interview... By the time I hit home Barry Jones is on this here myspace thing, looks like the Gods above finally love me! And later on this one on Parker's My Space Website: After spending the best part of 20 years or more just thinking that I might never meet Neon Leon, the week before last all that changed. Following various leads, in the first instance on the web, and later via this thing we call myspace suddenly we are talking on the phone, suddenly it's on...(a)fter packing up we head for the lower side of the street, we find a bar order beer and food, while Ben calls Leon. 30 minutes later (as Nick leaves to pick up a camera from the hotel) we spot a figure in the square, even through glass we need no introduction, it's Neon Leon, and Lynda (his assistant). After lots of handshakes and initial conversation we head off to a pub/club (I swear I never saw so many rooms in one building in my life!) were we are given the full VIP tour by manager Louise, and in this case it's before all of the place has actually opened!! As the evening goes on amid much chat, a lot of giggles and a pretty deep conversation between Leon and I, all good stuff though, we talk about soul-mates, about having the right people around, I explain one of my tattoos and we both realise we understand each other enough to go for thatÊwell known male bonding act, the big hug...(l)ater in the afternoon we interview Leon in the very place he took us to the night before! He is very forthcoming with events in The Chelsea Hotel, some 30 years ago this year they may well have been, looking at Leon you'd never believe he was old enough to have been there! But pictures (largely by my good friend Eileen Polk) and the man himself prove otherwise. I don't think much of what he said will hit the cutting room floor, like the man said; "It's all good". Later on he put this comment up on Leon's Website. What can I say, we came, we saw, we bonded like brothers! It was brilliant and I am so glad your in our movie... Later mate..." [UPDATED 1/2/09]
THE NIGGERS - Seemingly three bands in three different cities (New York/Boston/Detroit) used this ungenteel name. The most prominent band appears to have been the Detroit Niggers, who had a story printed in Creem magazine in 1978 (as part of a larger piece on the Detroit punk scene) and a brief news blurb in Bomp. Both articles had pictures of the band with processed Chuck Berry hairdos and flaunted bare chests. Their songs included "Crazy White Bitch," "Dirty Dogs" and the anthem, "Niggers," and of the band name, members Reno and J.C. Richards explained, "Should we call ourselves The Honkies?" One New York punk legend of our acquaintance suggests that the N.Y. Niggers were "friends" with the late Nancy Spungen, Sid Vicious' doomed girlfriend. They self-released a ridiculously obscure single, "Just Like Dresden" b/w "Headliner" in 1978 as the "N.Y. Niggers." Though there's no picture sleeve, the rough punk sound of the record is Detroit influenced enough to possibly suggest it was the same band transplanted out East. (JP)
NIP DRIVERS - Janus/Janice Jones was the original bassist/singer in this Southern California punk band that was on a Mystic comp in 1983 and released the collectible "Destroy Whitey" ep in 1984. [New Entry, 11/28/06]
NITECAPS - Multi-racial punk R&B band on the NY hipster scene ca. '82.
NO EMPATHY - Chicago-area band (1983-1987) had an African-American guitarist named Craig White. After he left No Empathy, he played with the art/hardcore band Repulse Kava who released one 7" e.p. and 7" single on Peter Margasak's Buttrag Records and a posthumous LP on Ajax. He later went on to be in Seam.
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