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D.H. Peligro
D.H. Peligro

Poly Styrene
Poly Styrene

Black Punk Time: Blacks in Punk, New Wave and Hardcore 1976-1984 (Part 3)
By James Porter and Jake Austen

(From Roctober #32, 2002)

With help from John Battles, Damon Locks and Ken Wong

Also contributing: Tony Azu-Popow, Beer Can Fanzine, Don Bolles, Monica BouBou, Chris Butler, Kim Cooper, DMAC, Larry Farber, Margaret "Maggot" Griffis, Andy Hopkins, Anthony Illarde, In The Red Records, Randy Lancelot, Mike Lavella, Joe Losurdo, Steve Manning, Smog Veil Records, Corey Saunders, Scott Soriano, Dan Sutherland, Syl Sylvain, Torcoclown, Janet Van Dammit, WHPK staff, Paul Zone

(NOTE: THE ONLINE VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE WILL BE UPDATED AND CORRECTED PERPETUALLY…SEND IN MORE INFO, RANTS, DIATRIBES AND UPDATES TO blackpunk@roctober.com.)
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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4


LOS OLIVIDADOS - Clay Stevens II was the Black bassist in this early 80s San Jose skatepunk band. They appeared on the Not So Quiet on the Western Front comp in 1982 and had a compilation CD of their recordings on Alternative Tentacles in 2002. Stevens was later in Odd Man Out, The Faction, and (as Steve Ravens) is in the contemporary poppy skatepunk power trio Clay Wheels, who have appeared on numerous skate video soundtracks.

OMB - Pseudonym of Larry Robinson, who did a super rare synth-pop record in 1980 and appeared on Peter Ivers' local LA TV show "New Wave Theatre". Robinson had grown up in Beverly Hills and had been in a teen-pop-soul act called Apollo in about 1977 who did an album on Motown before starting OMB. The album was withdrawn due to copyright issues regarding the lyrics on one song having been taken from a book by Ba'hai Faith prophet Shoghi Effendi; the Ba'hai Faith (of which Robinson is a member) refused to grant Robinson permission to use them. Robinson went on to play guitar in a psychedelic-folk-pop band The Mooseheart Faith Stellar Groove Band with ex-Beverly High classmate Todd Homer, (of the Angry Samoans,) who did several albums in the late 1980s and 1990s (most of which were only released in Germany). Robinson played guitar on the Angry Samoans' "Unhinged" on the "Yesterday Started Tomorrow" album and almost joined the Angry Samoans. Todd Homer wanted Robinson to replace Gregg Turner on guitar in the Samoans, and unfortunately Mike Saunders didn't agree. Robinson has also played guitar with LA avant gardists Crawlspace and most recently guesting on Homer's free jazz band Hollywood Squaretet's "Tet Offensive" album. (Michael Snider) [New Entry 11/12/05]

ONO - Chicago late '70s unit that featured several Black members including P. Michael and Travis, one of the first dreadlocked frontmen in a non-Reggae band.[Read an amazing interview with ONO in Roctober #45.]

ORLANDO X - The hulking X sang in Special Forces,a Bay Area punk band, from 1983-1990. He later was in United Blood and Intrepid AAF. Called the "Godfather of Bay Area Oi/Street Punk." (thanks to Patrick Splat) [Added 5/17/04]

D.H. PELIGRO - The biggest punk group most UNLIKELY to ever get back together has to be the Dead Kennedys. They had an artistically stellar career, with vocalist Jello Biafra's attacking big business, the Republican administration, the political left and other easy but worthy targets with amazing clarity in legit classics like "California Uber Alles," "Let's Lynch The Landlord" and "I Kill Children." However, Biafra must have some bad karma somewhere, because no band has ever spent more time in court over more ridiculous things than the DKs. Obscenity, copyright violations and other charges all seemed to reflect on the absurdity of the society Jello was targeting, but the most recent legal woes are far harder to reconcile for fans. Biafra's former bandmates accused him of underpaying royalties and refusing to release archive material that would generate revenues. The justice system agreed, and in 2000 D.H. Peligro (pending appeal) was cut the largest check a Black man has ever received from punk rock when a judge awarded him and his bandmates $100,000 each. Peligro had initially joined the band in mid 1981 (the drummer for the first year was Bruce "Ted" Slesinger). He played on everything from Too Drunk To Fuck (1981) to Give Me Convenience Or Give Me Death (Alternative Tentacles 1987). His aggressive pounding (he is one of the great punk drummers) helped make the Dead Kennedys the most legitimate bridge between 70s punk and 80s hardcore, and their huge popularity in England introduced many aspects of American hardcore to the Brits (including stagediving). The band sizzled out in 1986, but Peligro's post DKs projects have been frequent. He led the eclectic pop/soul/punk combo Jungle Studs, who released an LP on AT in 1986. In 1988 after Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Hillel Slovak O.D.ed and drummer Jack Irons quits the band to grieve, D.H. briefly replaced him. He's also worked with the Feederz, Nailbomb, Crazy Town and other nuevo punk acts. He currently fronts (or backs, since he's a lead singing drummer) a trio simply called Peligro, who have a very Rock take on the punk thing, and who have released four albums and toured the world (though rarely outside of Cali in America). His website (www.dhpeligro.com) currently features a homepage that begs for a new manager and a full page of instrument sponsorships. Rumors of a DK reunion tour without Jello (with the name Zach De La Rocha of Rage Against The Machine attached) are unconfirmed at press time. However, a record release show (for court ordered reissues and a live album) and "reunion" tour with Brandon Cruz (of Courtship Of Eddie's Father fame and the band Dr. Know) singing lead caused ripples of dissent in the petty, high school clique-like world of punk rock. (JA)

D.H. Responds: YO WHAT UP THIS IS D.H. PELIGRO TO CLARIFY A FEW FACTS! I DID NOT RECIEVE $100,000 OR DID THE BAND EVEN RECIEVE THAT--- YOU WORD IT AS IF THOUGH TED PLAYED ON "TOO DRUNK TO FUCK" "PLASTIC SURGERY" "FRANKENCHRIST" "IN GOD WE TRUST", AND "BED TIME FOR DEMOVRACY" WHEN IN FACT I PLAYED ON THEM. AS FAR A PELIGRO GOES-- WE DO NOT HAVE FOUR RECORDS WE HAVE ONE RECORD CALLED "PELIGRO"; AN EP "WELCOME TO AMERICA" AND IN MARCH 2003 WE WILL RELEASE "FUTILE RESISTANCE" AND AS FAR AS SPONSORSHIP GOES --BUSINESS IS BUSINESS ---PLEASE DON'T AIR OUR BUSINESS-- AND FURTHER MORE THE SPONSORSHIP IS FOR OUR BASS PLAYER AND DRUMMER--SPEAKING OF DRUMMERS-- I AM ALSO NOT THE DRUMMER IN PELIGRO-- I AM FRONTMAN--GUITARIST AND VOCALIST- JUST SETTIN' THE FACTS STRAIGHT YOUR DOGG MY BLOOD D.H. PELIGRO--- ONE LOVE, PEACE!

Reader Mark Webster adds: I was in a band that supported the Dead Kennedys in 1982 or 1983 in Auckland, New Zealand (Flak). They had just been in Australia, renowned for its 'White Australia' policy and drummer D.H. Peligro - a very, very impressive drummer, by the way - had been arrested in South Australia for 'unlawful assembly'. This was because he was standing on the street talking in a group of four people. Why does it sound racist? D.H. Peligro was the only one arrested!

THE PENETRATORS - Punk band from Upstate NY that also had a Black member named Curtis Seals. They were more along the lines of 60 garage punk, but were doing it in the late '70s and now have a couple reissues on Rave Up. (RL)

E.J. PHILLIPS (DISAPPOINTED PARENTS) - Phillips, a New Orleans native who grew up in the Desire Housing Project, was a Hendrix inspired guitarist when he joined the N.O. hardcore band Disappointed Parents in 1981. He appears on their 1983 EP "Am I Getting Through," called "a minor classic" by Tim Yo at Maximumrocknroll. Shortly after the EP was released Phillips shifted his attention to the more roots music oriented Electric Blues Band and has been a Bourbon Street fixture ever since. In 2009 Disappointed Parents reformed, sans Phillips. (JA, thanks to Felicismo Go)

ROBERT PITTMAN - Born in Chicago (allegedly in Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap), Pittman moved out West and spent the late 70s and early 80s in a series of Bay Area punk and New Wave bands, including the Delusions and the Good Samaritans. Pittman is currently recording as a solo artist. (JA)

PLANETS - Before punk-rock had defined itself, many of the bands on the New York scene seemed like a pop version of the many hard-rock bands extant, blending the guitar crunch of the era's arena-rock faves yet maintaining the AM radio consciousness of the Nuggets compilation. The Planets had been kicking around since '71, but by the time punk sprang full-blown on the world in '76-'77, it was the Planets time. Led by guitarist Binky Phillips, the band's charisma was due in part to Tally Taliaferrow, a former boy soprano with the New York Philharmonic who as a grownup had been going the acoustic folk route. Prodded by Phillips, Taliaferrow landed feet first in the Rock & Roll realm, becoming the lead singer in February '75. When the record labels were buzzing around CBGB's wanting to get a piece of this newfangled thing called punk, the Planets were aggressively courted by Bugs Bunny's boys at Warner Brothers. Unfortunately, this didn't get past the demo stage. Shortly afterward, Taliaferrow was dropped from the band. A rumor (given credence by the creeping conservatism of the time) had it that the record companies figured that a rock band with a Black frontman and bass player just wouldn't play in small-town U.S.A., so Phillips' girlfriend (who was also the band manager) instigated Taliaferrow's departure. True or not, the Planets disbanded anyway, feeling they wouldn't get any farther than they had. Despite a one-off reunion gig at CBGB's in 1983, both Taliaferrow and Phillips continued to be fixtures on the New York scene through the eighties, with the former returning to his folk singer roots (after briefly playing in another mixed-race rock band called the Heat) and Phillips recording for the Caroline label in the mid-80's as a solo act. (JP)

DESMOND SULLIVAN ADDS: hey from nyc - just got forwarded the black punk article from Tally's (Planets/Heat) daughter in Austin Texas (!) wanted to let you guys know there is an active Planets still alive and well and playing fairly often on the club scene here-features Binky Philips (gtr/vox) and Tally Taliaferrow (vox) from the original band , Rich Teeter (drms/vox) from the Dictators and Twisted Sister) NYC scene/club vets Phillip Solomon (vox -yeah we have 2 lead singers -its really cool) Jim Weisbin (bass) and me Desmond Sullivan (gtr/vox) - only doing covers (ny dolls/who/iggy/stones/punk chestnuts/kinks & like that) and rockin heavily - theres a Tally-fronted Heat around too and we're working together where and when...nice someone remembers the old crew - original Planet bassist Anthony Jones (who went on to later-day Humble Pie) died about 5 years ago in California from meningitis but his spirit is still with us -- happy new year ....... [Updated 1/28/08]

PUBLIC DISTURBANCE - Have a legendary 7" that was highly touted by Tim Yo of MRR and even ended up as the cover of a KBD comp. They were from NJ and did a really odd reverb soaked surf punk thing in a sea of HC dreck, circa 1982. Later had an LP in 84 that wasn't that hot. (RL)

ROB VOMIT ADDS: Darryl Hell was the Bass Player for Public Disturbance... he was the only black guy in the band he later went on to play in Abstinence, Operation Mindwipe etc and now goes by the the name DJ Hell and/or S6K etc. check his myspace and web page below. He's done a lot of interesting stuff music and other with some pretty noteworthy musicians over the years... IMHO the 1984 PD LP was pretty good too, â~@~\Russell's Rampâ~@~] was a great tune. I just noticed the LP was Mutha 003 and came out BEFORE the 7" (Mutha 011) both are from 1983. http://www.myspace.com/dj7734 http://www.s6k.com [Updated 11/28/06]

PURE HELL - Often referred to as the first Black punk rock group, Philly's Pure Hell (Spider, Stinker, Chip Wreck and Lenny Still) played around the U.S. in whatever few venues were available from ‘77-‘79, but really had a "career" when they went to England. Their overseas "discovery" was credited to Curtis Knight, who claims Jimi Hendrix as a discovery and who apparently decided he was the reverse Sam Phillips ("If I could only find a Black boy that played like a cracker…" see also NIKKI BUZZ). Their sole single released was the UK only "These Boots Are Made For Walking" b/w "No Rules" (Golden Sphinx, 1978) and it's a pretty straightforward punk record. However, at the time their live show was described as sounding like everything from the Sex Pistols to Stax to Reggae. Martin of Los Crudos traded the Mentally Ill's "Gacey's Place" single for the Pure Hell 7", so you know it's a collector scum treasure! As huge Black guys with genuinely fucked punk-out hair and makeup, it's surprising these fellows didn't make it bigger, at least as a novelty (their look was enough to get their picture printed in Rock Scene and other mags). However, they still have fabled status in Philly, where Spider has worked on the fringes of the rock scene for years, managing Helena's Tiki Bar in Old City a few years back and more recently booking at New Road Brewhouse in Collegeville (36 W. Third Ave). In 1997 a new Pure Hell recording produced by Lemmy was announced on Philly's Brandon Records, but I don't think it ever saw the light of day, though they did schedule (and play?) at least one reunion show. (JA)

Jinx 1978 adds: I work with Chip Wreck (real name: Preston Morris) in Philly. Sweetest guy you'd ever meet. Just wanted to give you an update on the band. Spider, sadly, passed away April 2003 from pancreatic cancer. Spider's death prompted the band to play a reunion benefit which Chip wasn't asked to play. Since then the band has added two new guitar players and are gigging sporadically around Philly with at least one new (or at least previously unreleased song) posted online at IUMA (artists.iuma.com/IUMA/Bands/PURE_HELL/). They also played a Bad Brains tribute show (ironic since the Brains tribute them for showing them it was ok to be black and play punk rock, right?) Chip is working full time outside the punk scene. But he does still play, he also records and sound engineers at the occasional gig. [Updated 5/17/04]

REAGAN YOUTH - Had a black drummer's named Rick Royale, from 1984 -1985. This was one of the most diverse looking hardcore bands touring at the time. {Updated 11/18/11]

FREDA RENTE - Rente has been a part of the L.A. punk scene since the early 80s as a vocalist, bass player and keyboardist. She was a member of the Zarkons (a latter incarnation of the Alleycats), sung with fIREHOSE, and led the band Vicious Attack. She released a solo album in the early 2000s that featured an army of all-star guests, including Dez Cadena, Kirra Rossler, and Mike Watt.

EUGENE ROBINSON of WHIPPING BOY - Eugene Robinson was the singer for this fairly generic Northern California political hardcore band. A Stanford University student, his college trained coherence and his band's proximity to Maximum Rocknroll radio and magazine headquarters made him a spokesman for the scene. Their record was The Sound of No Hands Clapping LP (Control Free Youth, 1983). The band also had another Black member, Dumone. (JA)

COUNT DANTE ADDS: I used to see Whipping Boy a lot when I was a teenager. They were our local band coming from the Southern suburbs of San Francisco. There was one legendary show at the On Broadway (I think) where the Red Hot Chili Peppers tried to cut Whipping Boy's set short and even cut the power to the stage. Singer Eugene Robinson and their drummer (a big wrestling fan) stayed on the stage playing and singing without electricity for like 20 minutes while Anthony Kiedis went nuts back stage. After that, nobody much liked the Chili Peppers, even when they broke big. I still run into Eugene Robinson sometimes. He is in that band Oxbow now. They're big in Europe. I used to challenge Eugene to cage matches back then. It's funny because we both ended up writing for "Grappling" magazine as freelancers. Oh in another note of trivia, both of my CD's were recorded and produced by Bart Thurber, who was in Whipping Boy during their later hard rock, double guitar incarnation. [Updated 11/28/06]

Steve Albini adds: After the dissolution of Whipping Boy, Eugene was (and is) the vocalist for the outstanding band Oxbow, and his performances bring new levels of both menace and compound absurditv to the stage. He is equally likely to be dressed as a businessman (which he is, to an extent), or buck naked. The last Oxbow show I saw (at the Beyond the Pale festival organized by Neurosis in 2001), he began the set with his ears taped shut with black gaffer tape, carrying a briefcase and wearing a suit. By the end of the show, he was a mass of sweat and tattoos in jockey shorts. I'm sure he has come to regret his choice of a "La Vida Loca" tattoo. Eugene has worked in the computer field (for Adobe) and as a writer and editor for both wrestling/extreme fighting/body building magazines and style-and-fashion magazines. He appeared as a thug in the Bill Cosby film "Leonard Part 6" and occasionally appears in rap videos as a posse member. [Updated 3/31/03]

ROMEO VOID - This early 80s Bay Area band (best known for the dynamic vocals of Native American frontwoman Deborah Iyall) briefly featured studio drummer Aaron Smith, who is African American.

RUPAUL CHARLES - Years before becoming famous as the crossover disco drag king of the 90s, Rupaul fronted a "New Wave tribal" (think Bow Wow Wow) band called Wee Wee Pole in Atlanta in '83. They toured the East Coast and surrounding South (often in places like Alabama Ru would be the only Black person in the club) and recorded but didn't release anything, though the tracks ended up on RuPauls's underground debut album Sex Freak (Funtown, 1985). (JA)

SADISTIC EXPLOITS - SEE YDI

CATHY SAMPLE - Niece of jazz musician Joe Sample, played drums in a '79-80 era LA punk band called Mad Society, which recorded a single and appeared on compilations. (Michael Snider) [New Entry 11/12/05]

BYRON SCOTT - One of the few black rockers in Austin's early punk scene, Byron Scott was a guitarist for rockabilly band the Trouble Boys who opened for the Clash in 1982 and fronted Bad Mutha Goose in the 80s (Tim Kerr was in the band) as well as playing with Do Dat and Twisteyes. He died of a stroke in 2007 (Thanks to T. Tex Edwards) [New Entry 2/3/09]

SCREAMING URGE - Classic Ohio punk band (started circa '77-'78, still exist in some form) whose punkest stuff was written by Myke, the Black member.

SECRET HATE - Formed in 1980, this Long Beach, CA hardcore band featured African American Guitarist Reggie Rector. They released the 1983 12" "Vegetables Dancing" on the Minutemen's New Alliance Records. In 1985 the band broke up, and Rector played in the band Phantom Opera. Not long after he was murdered in Southern California. In the late 90s, after Sublime covered one of their songs, Secret Hate's record was reissued, the band reunited, and they began recording again.

SHEER SMEGMA (AKA TEDDY AND THE FRAT GIRLS) - SS was the original name for a group of gals in Miami who did a 7" with the famous song "Club Nite". It was later reissued on 12" by Jello at AT under the name "Teddy and the Frat Girls" which is how most people know them and have a proper point of reference. I don't know why there was a name change.

SINCEROS - Ron Francois was the bassist in this late 70s-early 80s New Wave band, but his higher profile gig was backing Lena Lovich on her debut.

SLIT AND THE STITCHES - The Reagan eighties were a conservative, yet goofy, time, full of light pastel colors, upturned polo collars and fluffy synth bands. The music of the era reflected the conservativeness and goofiness, but this was only what you heard on mainstream radio. Indie-label/college radio was full of bands like the Dead Kennedys who had little trouble finding something to be angry about. This is where Chicago's own Stitches come in. No vinyl was released, but a self-released cassette from that period, Deep Wounds, reveals them to be firmly in the punk vein. You wouldn't expect any less from a band who started out, in 1979, as the Nigguzz. "The rap scene is late with that!," cracks Stitches guitarist Brian Washington, speaking from his South Side home in the present day. "It seems like Blacks are going through now with rap what Blacks in hardcore went through back then." Under that name, no club would touch them with a yardstick, so the next year they switched to the Dirty Black Boy Band (which could always be abbreviated to DBBB). Around '82, they settled on Slit & the Stitches, which was eventually shortened to the Stitches. With lead singer Jamie Robinson playing Robert Plant to Washington's Jimmy Page, the original Stitches were an all-Black band. Somewhere down the line a white drummer and bassist entered the picture (which is an interesting twist; usually in multiracial rock bands, the Black members are the ones holding down the rhythm). For whatever reason, Washington noticed that bookings came easier with a mixed-race band. Although he now admits that it may not have been a conspiracy ("It just worked out that way"), he also adds: "I don't think Chicago was ready for an all-Black band, even though people like BAD BRAINS came around." The Stitches essence was best captured in 1985 on Rising Star Showcase, a local cable-access program hosted by one Debbey Thomas. Removed from their usual rock-club element, the band is performing in front of a sterile set design, which makes Robinson's spastic movements (during their song "No Control") look all the more dangerous. The interview segment provokes a laugh when the host cluelessly asks them, "How would you rate your musical style with performers like Kiss?" It should also be noted that bassist Jim Griese just barely escapes the censors by wearing a jacket over his (still visible) "Too Drunk To Fuck" T-shirt. During their later years, the band progressed to a funk-metal sound not unlike Living Colour or Follow For Now before disbanding at the start of the nineties. Robinson is now in L.A., working in the computer industry, while Washington is still in Chicago, involved in security and periodically sitting in with Blues bands. (JP)

PAT SMEAR – The unique looks of L.A. punk guitar hero Pat Smear (born George Ruthenberg) that perfectly match his personality can partially be credited to his diverse ethnic heritage (a German immigrant father and an African-American/Navajo mother). However, the glint in his eyes can be credited to punk rock, which became his surrogate parents in his teenage years. Smear's troubled youth found direction when he met Darby Crash at an alternative high school for problem kids (a school that a large portion of the L.A. punk scene attended). They became the nucleus of The Germs, LA's first punk gods. Smear's nasty fuzzed out guitar as much as Crash's self-destructive frontman powers, helped guide punk into becoming hardcore, and their LP (GI) (Slash, 1979) is an intense, manic masterpiece. After Crash's death Smear spent short stints in a number of bands, from the most obscure to the zillion sellers. He's been in Nina Hagen's band, 45 Grave, Tater Totz, and the acoustic duo Death Folk. In 1993, after releasing two interesting solo albums, Pat RuthenSmear (SST 1987) and So You Fell In Love With a Musician (SST Records, 1992), he joined Nirvana and appears on their MTV Unplugged In New York LP (Geffen, 1994). Touring with Nirvana, Smear (a fan of 70s stadium rock) got to live some Rock & Roll dreams and meet some heroes, but it didn't all turn out golden: A drunken Eddie Van Halen, in an attempt to sit in with the band, made disparaging racial remarks about Smear, referring to him as "the dark one" and (innacurately) as Hispanic. After suffering the death of his band leader for a second time, Smear joined Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl (see SKEETER THOMPSON) in Foo Fighters, and appears on their The Colour And The Shape album (Geffen 1997). He's since left the band. In addition to the rock, Smear's done some acting in movies and videos and has appeared on MTV, turning his exaggerated gay shtick (he's not particularly gay in real life) into gold by appearing as a signifier of fruity authenticity on MTV's fashion programs and the DENNIS RODMAN show. (JA)

FRED SMITH - African American member of the Dischord band Beefeater. The band was most active around 1984, but perhaps existed in some form in '83. The leather-clad, guitar hero from DC subsequently in Madhouse and Strange Boutique. Fred was fondly known around DC as Freak - a former government contract-worker, he also worked at the 9:30 club when he wasn't playing guitar. Other claims to fame (or infamy) include allegedly being related to the Art Ensemble of Chicago's Lester Bowie (he told me they were cousins) - appearing on the Jerry Springer show as a porn star - and legally changing his name to The Freak. Fred's roots were in metal - he was a huge KISS fan, but Beefeater were funk- punk inspired...Madhouse and Strange Boutique were post punk gothic bands. (Danny Ingram)

SORRY - Boston area artcore band with a Black lead vocalist, John Easley, released Imaginary Friend [Taang, 1984] and The Way It Is [Taang, 1986]. I think some members, not the vocalist, became Volcano Suns. Jon Easley, who would later go on to play in Crown Heights with bassist Jason Asnes/Asnis from Nice Strong Arm (Austin, TX). Crown Heights were on American for a nanosecond before getting dropped. Jon died of an overdose in 1998 after a long struggle with heroin addiction. It's also noteworthy that he briefly sang for the awesome guitar noise band Dust Devils.Ê[New Entry 1/28/08, updated by David U 7/11/09]

STD - Knoxville, TN band with a black member. STD released an ep called "Another Dead Asshole" in 1984. (Adam Wilson) [New Entry 11/12/05]

STEVE STEADHAM - Early 80s skate-god (he integrated vert skating years before guys like Peanut Brown came around) Steadham had a band, Shredded Steele and appeared on one of the Skate Rock comps. He ruled the skate scene with his cool dreads and fashion disasters (skin tight Mad Rats shorts, checkered Vans hi-tops, big tube socks, sleeveless vert shirts, etc). A notable hardcore show he played was immortalized in an article where the mid-80s hardcore band Life Sentence explained how they got the skateboard scene to embrace them (from Roctober #9, 1994): "… initiated by Steadham and our guitar player's love of spliff…we had Steadham come up on stage and play drums with us for a "Blues" jam as our first song. Needless to say the kids loved it." (JA, TA)

STEREO FREEZE of THE T.V. BABIES - Bassist, guitarist and vocalist Freeze was in this multi-racial act (white Jewish guy and girl plus Black man) who released the versatile New Wave "High Contrasty" EP on Rockin' Horse Records in 1980. Any info on the band would be appreciated. (JA) [Added 3/31/03]

STRANGE CIRCUITS - Pre-Wax Trax era electronic New Wave band from Chicago. [New Entry 1/28/08]

RODNEY BAKERR ADDS: My name is Rodney Bakerr the founder and leader of the group Strange Circuits you mention in your Roctober article on Black Punk if you would like to know more about me since Strange Circuits go to: www.rodneybakerr.com You will find out that i became a pioneer in the Chicago House Music Movement.go to the visuals section and you will see many of the classic Chicago house artists with me . I also have been added to the "Uncommon Sound" list as one of the " Left Handed Guitar Players Who Changed Music" go to: www.uncommon-sound.com when you get there scroll to the bottom of the right hand side to: left handed guitarist site then click on left handed guitarist in the menu. scroll to Rodney bakerr it would be nice if you could add my name to the line in your article about Strange Circuits thanks, r.bakerr p.s. Some cool facts about Strange Circuits: original group member Stephen George left the group to form Ministry with Al Jourgensen and Legendary Chicago Artist Ed Paschke did the cover artwork for the pre Wax Trax single Release. The single "Industrial Living " is now part of many Flexi Pop and New Wave Complex compilations now floating around the U.S and Europe. the Flexi Pop compilation that features Strange Circuits is called "New Wave Complex vol.8" go to: www.discogs.com/release/847660 go to: www.hoersturz.com/newwavecomplex.html Just one more thing Strange Circuits was the first New Wave Synth Pop group to feature the Chapman stick and Roland Guitar Synth both played by me. Flexi Pop Broke and Exposed many Great electro new wave acts such as Soft Cell ,Yello magic Orchestra and Visage.you can learn more by Googling: Flexi Pop and or New Wave Complex. Also go to go to: www.waxtrax-not-subpop.com/wax_trax.html These guys have updated the waxtrax records discography to include the tracks that WaxTrax did before they became an imprint. as you can see my Group " Strange Circuits" was the First Group they Released after "Brian Eno" who was not a Group.So! the first Electronic group that set the trend for the label before" Ministry, Front 242, kmfdm,coil etc.etc. was.....Strange Circuits. in my humble opinion HA! HA! Stevo George was an original member of Strange Circuits he left the Group to form Ministry with Al Jourgensen they became an electronic dance duo for the first two recordings. [New Entry 1/28/08]

POLY STYRENE of X-RAY SPEX - This seminal English punk outfit has proven to be one of the great one-album (Germ Free Adolescents, Virgin 1978) bands, and lead singer Poly Styrene (Marion Elliot) wrote the lyrics, provided their main point of view, and brought it all home with screeching genius. Though seemingly lighthearted and absurd, her songs have genuine insight about the woes of corporate consumer culture and alienation. Her talent wasn't the only thing that made her rise above the pack; as a half-Black, not skinny teenager with braces on her teeth, Styrene stood out as a one-of-a-kind figure in the often homogenous punk scene. When the "Rock Against Racism" movement started in England in the late 70's, Poly & co. were right at the forefront. Since that movement was predominantly white bands, Styrene provided a needed racial balance. As she told Trouser Press magazine in 1978, "You've got to remember that with 'Rock Against Racism' and magazines like that who have interviewed me, most of the people who support it are white, and they can't get through to Black people, so they try to get me to do it for them." I'd love to say that the articulate Styrene went on to a substantial career that outlasted her band, but apart from a jazzy, atypical solo set (and a stint as a Hare Krishna), she hasn't been heard from much, though a semi-obscure X-Ray Spex reunion LP from 1995 was far better than you'd expect. (JP)

TALKING HEADS - Featured several Black performers in their touring and recording band, including BUSTA "CHERRY" JONES, NONA HENDRYX and BERNIE WORRELL. Talking Head Jerry Harrison also recorded with Jones and acclaimed African American backup singer Dolette McDonald (Talking Heads, Gang of Four, Laurie Anderson, many others) as the Escalators, and in 1984 made a post modern anti-Reagan record as a duo with Bootsy Collins called Bonzo Goes To Washington

SNUKY TATE - Tate was a San Francisco punk scene dude, but "Snuky Tate" also served as the band name on his amazing "Who Cares" EP [Blackmouth, 1979] which features the brutal, much bootlegged "Stage Speech." The band on the single backing Tate was pretty much the same lineup as The Mutants. Tate later made more dance oriented stuff, and Reggae.

RICHARD BURKE ADDS:Real name;Lionel Tyrone jackson White,from Wilmington,Delaware.He used to knock 2 coffee mugs together softly,while singing"lay my body down,lord",most effectively. (1/2/14)

SKEETER THOMPSON of SCREAM – Thompson was the great bass player for one of the longest lasting D.C. punk bands. A full energy, Rock embracing band, Scream was one of the few acts that still presided over genuinely fun shows even after Emo took the piss and vinegar out of D.C. punk in the mid 80s. Though the band became a little too RAWK in the later stages, when Dave Grohl (future Nirvana) joined the band, Thompson always delivered, and when he wasn't on the wrong end of the drugs he could be the best. One of his more memorable moments was his turning some tables by singing Minor Threat's "Guilty Of Being White" at a show. Even in Scream's late 90s reunion tour (capitalizing on Grohl's newfound superstar status) he was on the top of his game. Sadly, recurring cocaine problems have left him M.I.A too often over the course of what should have been a more active career. He currently lives in Little Rock. (JA)

MARK ENNIS ADDS: In 1995, Skeeter was in 2 bands - his main band was called "Soylent Green" and his other band was called "Orangohead." Soylent Green also had Harley from Scream and they used to practice in the basement of an office building in Falls Church, VA. I also had a band at that time called "Potters Field" that practiced in the same basement area and we got to know Skeeter because we were the only other band that even remotely sounded punk (the other bands practicing were either top 40 or hair metal) plus Skeeter sort of knew our bass player at the time (Emory Olexa from the Slickee Boys). Soylent Green played a couple of shows around the DC area and had a minor following. Potters Field moved out of the basement practice area and I never did run into Skeeter again. Skeeter was a cool guy and we had a good time hanging out with them the brief time we got to know them.

Steve Albini adds: During a studio session in London, Scream was staying at the flat of Peter "Pinko" Fowler, who worked at Southern Studios and was a friend to many. As a lark, Skeeter one night began rudely propositioning neighborhood girls from the window, telling the ladies to come 'round and ask for "Pinko" for fucking. A day or so after Scream left, a committee of neighborhood men did come 'round and ask for "Pinko," telling a bewildered Mr. Fowler that he had better stop asking their sisters and daughters to fuck him if he wanted to keep the use of his legs. This episode is played-out as a homage of stage banter in the Big Black live video "Pig Pile," which was being filmed by Pinko Fowler. [Updated 3/31/03]

TODOS TUS MUERTOS - Though better known for their later reggae-inspired incarnation, this radical Argentinean band formed in the early 80s as a punk band, with Angolan descendant Fidel Nadal on vocals. They did some nice political punk and hardcore, naming themselves in allusion to the many thousands of people killed by the military dictatorship of the 70s. They slowly turned onto reggae-ska across the years. In 2000 Nadal finally went solo into complete Rastafarianism, changing his name to Fidel Shaleka. (Federico Martini) [New Entry, 11/28/06]

THE TONG - This New Wave trio was lead by fusion drummer Mingo Lewis, who also had a wild solo album and worked with Al Di Meola, Santana, and The Tubes. Released an LP, "Dangerous Games," in 1981. The trio was somewhat Police-influenced. Mingo would often use poly-rhythms by playing drums over a drum machine. He did the lead vocals. The songs were interesting tricked out tunes with the guitarist {white} skanking, and the bass players{black} funk-popping. Since Mingo is bi-racial the band's look was futuristic. He'd set up with the cymbals high and polished so they'd look like flying saucers. The kit was always big and looked new (he had a lot of kits). "I don't Like Telephones" and "Time Will Tell" were my favorite songs. (Regi Harvey) [Updated Entry 11/12/05]

CHUCK TREECE of McRAD - An important pro skater already when he started McRad, Treece quickly became a legend of Philly skatepunk. Formed in 1983 the band can be heard on their own album, Absence of Sanity, and as background music on a number of crucial skate videos (including Ban This and Public Domain). McRad is still active, but in the interim between the 80s and the 21st century Treece found his musical talents sought out for session and pick up gigs, working with everyone from Billy Joel (he played bass on the River of Life remix) to BAD BRAINS (Treece joined the touring Bad Brains on bass in '89 after an unsuccessful tryout as lead vocalist). Recently Absence of Sanity has been re-released, McRad has played gigs, Treece has done solo recording, a McRad board has been manufactured and Treece has played drums in Suburban Hoodz. For more info go to http://www.subhoodz.com/mcrad/. (JA)

VELVERT TURNER Hendrix protege and sometimes Arthur Lee guitarist moved to New York in the late 70s, and was known to hang out on the punk scene. He never found a way to reinvent himself for that crowd, though he'd been friends with Richard Lloyd from Television and Rocket From The Tombs in his teens and Chris Robison, a member of the early 70s Velvert Turner Band (who were all white other than Turner) became a New York Doll. Turner died in 2000. (JB) [12/7/13]

UGLY AMERICANS - Had a really great song on a comp called Buffalo Bill in the early '80s but their 12" (circa '86-'87) wasn't as good. They were from the same scene that spawned COC in the Carolinas I think and one of the members was in COC for a while. They had a Black drummer, Jon Mclain. After playing in No Rock Stars in Charlotte, he moved to Raleigh and played with Stillborn Christians then Ugly Americans, became a cross country truck driver, and played drums for Picasso Trigger ('90s).On a trip to California, Jon appeared on "The Price Is Right" and won a refrigerator and a new car. Word has it, he is now a teacher/professor - whereabouts unknown. [Replaces original entry, added 5/17/04]

URBAN TURBULENCE - Urban Turbulence was an Oshkosh band of short tenure circa '83/'84, featuring a head dude known only as Ford Fairlane (this was long before the Andrew Dice Clay movie, yet after the advent of the automobile). The band was, essentially, an unintentional joke. We had them play on one of the all ages hardcore shows of the day, above a decrepit bowling alley, with the usual seven or ten other bands, crappy PA, no ventilation, etc., etc., symptomatic of the time, and these jokers show up (recalling, of course, this is in the ultra-proletarian period of HC's otherwise profane[d] existence) with eyeliner, and cartridge belts, and lame Melrose Ave. knockoff type shirts with zippers, and fancy rented gear (for the usual, what, fifty kids who may have paid two bucks each over the course of the evening, of which maybe half were inside)...and, needless to say, in those days, with six or eight bands being the norm, set changes were kept to an absolute minimum, with no soundchecks, bands generally sharing as much gear as possible, etc...but, of course, Ford wants a soundcheck, these guys are adjusting their rented rockstar gear this way and that, they're like the first band, there's maybe two dozen kids there, they're taking forever, we're trying to get them to start, blah blah blah...so, Jim ("Jim Mature") Runge, lead vocalist of No Response, decides to press the issue a bit by turning to the assembled youngsters and announcing "COME ON, KIDS, LET'S WATCH THESE GUYS! THEY'RE REALLY GREAT!", followed by his sitting Indian-style about three feet in front of Ford. The kids follow suit. Soon everyone is sitting Indian style on the floor, like a kindergarten class, looking up at these dorks in eyeliner in mock reverance. Getting the message, Ford gets the troops to finally launch into their first number, "No Room For You" by DEMOB. Somewhere during the sort of proto-martial buildup to the song proper, the bass player apparently commits some manner of playing error. Ford stops, in mid-strum, and screams "MAN, LEARN YO' PARTS!" at the bass player, already frazzled from the crowd's mocking vibe. Bass player chucks his bass to the ground, and storms off the stage. Crowd hoots in delight. Band begins song anew, as a bassless four-piece. I decide now would be a good time to rub a little salt in the wound, so i get up and start playing "Duck Duck Goose" with the crowd. Needless to say, this further anguishes the talent. Somewhere in the whole melee, the rhythm guitarist commits another error, in the same introduction to the same song. Ford stops the band again to bitch out rhythm guitarist. Same result. Guitar player unplugs his guitar, and storms out of the hall. Needless to say, at this point in time, we were all literally rolling around the floor in laughter, but the band managed to somehow gamely limp thru the rest of the set (consisting primarily of covers from the "Punk And Disorderly" compilation on Posh Boy -- i guess it was the one record they owned) as a three-piece, and broke up shortly thereafter. To this day, however, Ford remains the only Hamite to ever have been in a band in the Northeastern Wisconsin punk scene, that I can think of. Oh well. (Rev. Norb)

URBAN WASTE - New York early 80s hardcore band (who later became Major Conflict) had a black drummer & bassist. [New Entry 11/12/05]

GEORGE WALKER of THE CHEIFS – One of the early LA punk bands, the Cheifs are cited as inspirations by everyone who was from or around the L.A. scene. Even though they pre-dated hardcore (and despite their aggressiveness, were too melodic hooks to be considered h/c) they were a favorite of bands like Black Flag and Bad Religion. Walker was the Cheifs' guitarist, and a Black guy with a blue mohawk, an odd sight anywhere, was especially outstanding in the L.A. clubs. Their 45 ep Blues (Playgems, 1980) sells for $40 to $100 these days, thanks to namechecks over the years from everyone from Darby Crash (who worked with the band on recordings) and Henry Rollins (who tried to reissue stuff on his Infinite Zero label). They have been included on Killed By Death comps and a CD of their collective works was released. (JA)[Updated 4/15/13, Danny Gromfin informed us that "Cheifs" was intentionally misspeleed]

WHITE FLAG - Beginning with their "S Is for Space" LP [Gasatanka, 1982] White Flag began their assault on the L.A. metropolitan area punk scene, with absurd, Stadium Metal inspired, prank-punk guaranteed to peeve hardcore purists. Their Black member, bassist Jello B. Afro, and the rest of the band celebrated their 20th anniversary with a 15th Anniversary commemoration.

WICKED WITCH - This leather-clad Black rocker put out the early-80s DC punk single "Fancy Dancer" b/w "Y Wood U Call It Rock." Though the music is ostensibly funky, the weirdly wailing rock guitar (which may be Y U Wood call it that) makes the lo-fi songs bizarre in a way that is certainly punk/New Wave adjacent, with some nods to Bizarro World Prince.

CHRIS "CW" WILSON of FANG - CW played bass (or "base" as the band spelled it on Not So Quiet On The Western Front) for the Bay Area hardcore band. One time when staying at Big Blue, the punkhouse where Articles of Faith lived in Chicago, Wilson got a taste of Chicago hospitality when he went out to nearby 1000 Liquors to get to booze for the band. The Men in Blue stopped him and took him for a ride. When the cops asked what he was doing in the neighborhood he explained he was with a touring band from San Francisco. "So you're a nigger and a fag." They dropped him off in the ghetto and Articles of Faith had to come pick him up. (JA)

TERRELL WINN of THE JIM CARROLL BAND - In '78 when writer Jim Carroll was inspired by Patti Smith to put his poetry to punk music he corralled the Bay Area band Amsterdam to become the Jim Carroll Band. Winn played with Carroll on the great Catholic Boy LP (Atco, 1980), which features the band's signature track, "People Who Died." When the band moved to NYC Winn stayed behind, and doesn't appear on subsequent albums. However, 1993's World Without Gravity: The Best of the Jim Carroll Band features previously unreleased tracks with Winn. Winn has been teaching high school English in New Hampshire, but took his guitar out of the closet in 2001 to join Carrol at two readings in Massachusetts, playing the Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane" and the Jim Carrol Band's "I Want the Angel." (JA)

TRACY WORMWORTH of THE WAITRESSES –The New York via Akron band The Waitresses was one of the odder New Wave acts, most notably because most of the lyrics are about being a jaded woman, even though they were all written by male guitarist Chris Butler. The bass playing of Wormsworth provided the foundation that made "I Know What Boys Like" a minor international hit, made "Christmas Wrapping" a holiday perennial, and made their debut LP Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful (Ze, 1982) a genuinely grooving record. After the band broke up Butler became an idiosyncratic musical prankster but Tracy actually became an active, mainstream, in demand gigger. She's toured with the B52s, Sting and Wayne Shorter. However she became best known (by a very specific demographic) as the cornerstone of Rosie O'Donnell's band on the Rosie O'Donell talk show, appearing daily in front of millions of housewives from 1996-2002. (JA)

YDI - Philly punk band had two Black members. Their lead singer Jackal (who was briefly in the band Legion of Decency) wrote lyrics about race ("Prejudiced eyes look upon me/judge me by sight/Take away my rights"). Drummer Howard (who was also in Sadistic Exploits) was also Black. Their "Place in the Sun" EP [Blood Bubble, 1983] was pretty brutal, and their tracks pop up on Killed By Death comps. Band name pronounced "Why Die." [Expanded entry 1/5/06]

AngieFrom Tower adds:Sadistic Exploits' next drummer-or maybe the next after thatÊ(and I think the last, but don't quote me...) was Mike Mosley, who was/is also a man of color...and one helluva drummer. I think he's still kicking around in the Philly music scene. (added 2/20/09) Ê

TONI YOUNG – Young's great bass playing was a fixture in the early D.C. hardcore scene. In 1981 and 1982 she was in Peer Pressure (see DAVID BYERS) and Red C., the latter group having four tracks on the legendary comp Flex Your Head (Dischord, 1982), despite breaking up before its release. Her next project was the more interesting Dove, but after leaving that band in 1984 she dropped out of the scene completely. Sadly, two years later she died of pneumonia. She came from a modest background and had no health insurance, so poor medical treatment hastened her death. As one of the only women in the early D.C. hardcore scene (a scene in theory political and radical but in practice extremely macho) her legacy of holding her own amongst the muscleheads is still recognized today. (JA)

0DFX (Zero-Defex) - A hardcore band from Cleveland called that had a Black bassist at one point and released a few songs on compilations, including a song on the "PEACE" comp. in '84.


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