Sunday, June 21, 2009

Da Prince O' Punk: Part Deuce

One Of my biggest regrets in life is not see'n Stiv Bators preform. In the seventies I was a huge "Dead Boys" fan. Anyone that could write a song called "Caught With The Meat In Your Mouth" was my kind'a guy! I thought "He must have had a screwed up sense of humour just like me". I really related to most of the punks back then. Even though I was a young and up and coming guy in the management ranks. Shit that was a waste of time! Anyhoo I related to his music and that of the rest of that east coast punk sound. Iggy Pop once said of Stiv, "Your the second best front man in rock'n roll history, second only to Jim Morison". Stiv would completely understand that. He was the biggest Jim Morison fan ever! Even though he hardly looked like the "Lizard King", he looked more like da lizard!

If you don't know who Stiv Bators is or what I'm talk'n about here, don't feel left out, really nobody knows who Stiv Bators was, or that how he changed and influenced music in the 1970's to present day. Most people also don't know that in the mid-70's, when the "Sex Pistols" had every record label in Britain after them, over here in the Eastern U.S./Canada area Stiv Bators and da "Dead Boys" were weaving a new cloth for music for years to come, kind'a under the radar. They were the real punks, the real "New Wave". Before all the hoopla in the London clubs, "The Ramones, "Iggy Pop"and "The New York Dolls", were influence'n the "Brit Punks". I'm not take'n away the effect of the "British Punk Sound", it's just that the "New York Sound" was here way before the "Pistols" were even thought of by Malcolm McLaren. McLaren stole that "East Coast Style" on a trip to New York in the early 70's. He also tried to manage da "Dolls". They fired him after a few weeks. He did manage "The New York Dolls" transformation of street punks to glam rockers. I still don't think was a good idea. They kind'a floundered after that debacle. I remember see'n da "Dolls" at the "Key To Bala" in the mid-70's think'n I'd see the "first punks" only to be treated to a "Glam Rock" band. They looked like a early copy of Bowie! When McLaren went back to London he was the man behind a "Pistols". McLaren formed "The Sex Pistols" to resemble the "New York style". Most people were never hip to it though.

My jock buds were not into the new street sound coming out'a New York, because of the hard unskilled edge it had and the antiestablishmentarianism ( I knew I'd get that word in a sentence! It took me almost three years, but I got it!) In the mid 70's I started to hang with a different crowd. I was finished with sports and I really despised my old ways. I hated the fact you had to kiss ass, to follow the old guard to get into the higher ranks of sports and I was find'n it the same way in business. Me being one of those guys that never shy'd away from a hard edge. Punk was my late teen outlet. I loved that dirty twang and the lyrics that spit in the face of conformity. Even though I was still a big fan of "Pink Floyd" and "The Rolling Stones". "The Who" and "Iggy"had my ear more than the mainstream bands and when I first heard "The Dead Boys" and "The Skids" I was sold on their freedom of expression and anti-conformity.

Stiv Bators, born Steve Bators, named after his father a lower middle class steel worker, in Youngstown Ohio. He grew up idolizing garage bands of the sixties like "The Nuggets" and "The Doors". I guess when he first heard "The Ramones" it must have blown him away, cause he and a bunch of his friends decided to follow the band around during the bands first tour of Ohio. In fact he was in a car that drove beside the tour bus and before anyone knew it Stiv jumped out'a the side window and leaped on top of the speeding auto. Stiv did what is now called "car surfing" along side of that bus for like 2 miles, at 70 miles per hour. I guess he liked 'em!

Jumping ahead... Stiv's formed bands like "Frankenstein"and "Rockets From The Tomb" before settling with the name "The Dead Boys" with most of the original guys from the first incarnations. 'The Dead Boys" recorded their first album, "Young Loud and Snotty" in '76 (this album is highly coveted by record collectors). Soon after they had their first gig in New York. They were to back-up "The Dammed", the first "Brit Punk" band to tour in da U.S. That first gig was at "C.B.G.B's". New York's famous bar, in the deep dark area called the "Bowery". "Not a nice area, that's fer sure"! I know this for a fact, cause I went to this club twice. Once in 1978 and another time in 1980. The first time was a true eye open'n experience. It was 11 o'clock at night we crossed the bridge in a cab. We were stay'n in the airport area. Hey it was cheap! This was the first time most of us ever seen Manhattan. We crossed over da bridge, to Delancey then up to Houston..."Deep in da Bowery", only to be told by our cab driver that this is as far as he goes. "Da place ya want is right down da street". "Em...can't you just take us there"? "Look kid, that's not a wise thing for me ta do". My face must have been white as a ghost,"Oh, OK". "How far then"? He points down da road. I look at about three trash can fires down... I guess we must have wanted to go there fast cause a soon as we got out, we ran! We must have hurdled twenty odd drunks, before we came upon a weird site of "Town Cars", "Limos" and a long line of people outside the tiniest club. That was C.B.G.B.'s! Again I'm talk'n about me! The night of the "Dammed" U.S. debut in 1977 Stiv and da "Boys" blew da "Dammed" off the C.B.G.B. small stage. He torn himself and the place up! The "Dead Boys" are immortalized by the independent super cool film "Crash 'n' Burn" and also two other independent films, "Punking Out" and "Live At C.B.G.B's". If ya want click on my music chart. I have a "Dead Boys" song in there somewhere. "Sonic Reducer"!

After Stiv broke up with The "Dead Boys" He did some solo work. He also took part in two other super groups. The most memorable was with the band "The Whores Of Babylon" with the famous "Johnny Thunders" formerly from the "New York Dolls" and his teenage hero "Dee Dee Ramone". Stiv and Dee Dee.

But Stiv's best work was yet to come...

"The Lords Of The New Church"

Stiv was never satisfied with "the Dead Boys" he longed to be an artist surrounded by the best musicians all playing the best music .

In 1979 Stiv hooked up with another rouge musician, Frank Secich formerly of the band "Blue Ash", together they wrote and played in different apparitions of "The Dead Boys"and "The Wanderers", they also played and collaborated together in Stiv's solo recording career for "Bomp Records". He still didn't have the notoriety he cherished. Even though his performances were legendary, from hanging himself on stage to busting up every club on the east coast, to carving his stomach with the mic stand. At one "Dead Boys' show he was doing his regular performance of taking his microphone cord heaving it over a light pod and hanging himself. He had total control, he was never in any danger. Until this night that is. A bunch of rowdy guys started to pull on Stiv's feet when he was doing his stunt. They pulled him so hard he blacked out. That night Stiv Bators was pronounced dead...only to be revived minutes later by a stubborn Doctor. Bad enough he almost died, his career was also dieing. In late 1979 "Punk Super Groups" were raising out'a the ashes of the dead English and American punk bands. The most prominent was the group "The Professionals" formed out'a the disbanded "Sex Pistols", with Steve Jones and Paul Cook. Unlike the "Pistols" this band was tight and "Professional". Stiv was about to raise out'a those same ashes. Music was fantastic back then... ToO BAd NoBOdy WaS LiSTen'N! The U.S. radio market just wasn't giving "The New Music" any air play what-so-ever. It was truly a underground music scene. It even spawned a whole subculture! The media and radio stations were afraid to promote "The New Music" or it's street lifestyle. Of coarse unless it was a horseshit media fluff story that made light of the Punk lifestyle or made the kids seem all violent. OK that part was true! Stiv was floating from one band to an other, from one country to another. Living in England to New York to Scotland. Obviously at this time the music industry was floundering in mediocrity, Disco was dead, in fact it really never was a money maker for the Major labels! The promise of millions of dollars of sales never really happened on disco records. That, made for clubs, anyone can make a record attitude, almost killed the Major labels. The record industry was saddled with untalented one hit wonders. They needed a shot in the arm, but it would have'ta be cheap! Shhh...We can still hear that meeting at "Capital Records"..."Hmmm...what should we do"?..."Oh ya! Do ya remember that grungy New York sound"? "Maybe we could market it differently"? "Well we can't call it Punk, that's just vile". " Oh I know that'll never sell"! "OK it's a NEW sound, so lets call it, New Wave"! Genius!!! By clean'n up these Punks, the record companies marketed the former street bands like the "Cars" into balless, clone bands.

Stiv Bators had a different idea. Not that he wasn't approached by major labels, cause he was. He decided to sign with small label that was instrumental in launching "The Police" into the the American market, I.R.S. By signing with a English based company he could have the distributing of "A&M" and the freedom to make the music he wanted to make. American record executives never could and still don't understand how to manage real talent. In England they seem to understand that the best way is to leave the talent alone! Unlike the other musicians that were signing with larger labels, Stiv was still into the performance and the music . He decided to approach a friend he met on the road, Brain James of the now defunct band "The Damned". Together they took in Terry Chimes the former drummer of the "Clash", and Tony James of the English power punk band "Generation X" . Tony's lead singer was about to sell-out for millions of bucks. He was to become the biggest selling artist of the eighties, except for Michael Jackson of coarse. His name is Billy Idol. Stiv decided to call themselves "The Lords Of The New Church" after a record he worked on and never released, "The Lord Of The New Creatures". This was a great idea a real Super Power Punk Group! The problem was James and Chimes had their ideas and Stiv had his, so... with Brain in tow they reformed "The Lords" with new band mates Dave Trechnna of "Sham 69" and Nick Turner of the "Barracudas". This band was tight, way tight! With the additions of Nick, Dave, and Brian, Stiv had something he never had before quality musicians with great vocals. Anyone of these guys could be lead vocalists. In 1981 they recorded their first album, "The Lords Of The New Church". In early 1982 I remember seeing the album at "Records On Wheels" days after it's release. I had no idea this was Stiv's new band. It was a black album with a skull head dagger on the front. On the back no mention of the bands names, just the song titles and the words..."Truth is the sword of us all" . I wish I could tell ya I bought it sight unseen, but I didn't, I put it back on the shelf. A friend of mine who was in the Punk band "The Low Lifes", turned me on to it about a month later.

Listening to this album was a eye opening experience. It wasn't about teen angst or doing drugs or fuck'n...It was political. About a closed society, about the hypocrisy of the Catholic church, about the brainwashing in the media, films and music! In fact the music on this album was a pure high energy/ power/ punk blend with dance rhythms. "a new Gothic sound". There were definitely Satanists overtones. Not like the phony way "Black Sabbath" did it in the 70's. The band used quotes from Aleister Crowley. They looked and sounded like real Satanists! Looking back I now know they weren't, but back then it was a great gimmick! Their look was dark. big puffy black hair, black leather mixed with black spandex. They borrowed "their look" from a little known Finnish band called "Hanoi Rocks", the worlds first and best "Hair band"! Michael Monroe, the lead singer of "Hanoi Rocks", was heavily influenced from the "Dead Boys" so it was a symbiotic relationship. In fact Monroe formed a tribute band to Stiv in the 90's Demolition 23!

Watch a few vids. I think you'll love them!

"Russian Roulette"

Promoting war through films and media.

"Open Your Eyes"

This song is relatable even today.

"The Lords" made great music until 1989. Until...Stiv injured his back and couldn't preform for awhile. His good buddy Brian James wrote in "Variety" magazine that the "The Lords Of The New Church were auditioning for a new singer". Who knows if it was a prank? He sez it was. Stiv loved jokes, giving and receiving. I don't think he thought that this one was very funny? On their next gig...on the last song of the night.... he fired each and every one of his band mates... one at a time... ending with Brian! I think Stiv's joke was funnier!!! That was the end Of "The Lords". Stiv and his new model girlfriend Caroline Warren, took up residence in Paris France, where Stiv wrote music and took it easy for almost two years. He would do the odd show or movie role. For example he was in the movie "Tape Heads" with John Cusack and Tim Robins. A cult classic!

In 1990 Stiv wanted to reform the "Lords Of The New Church". He was fresh with new music and excitement. He called all his former mates, all were good to go and so was a new record deal. The next day after their new deal...


Caroline loved Stiv and she did the right thing when he died. She very quietly spread Stiv's ashes on the grave of his childhood hero's grave, Jim Morrison.

dead boy

The Lords Live: "New Church"
To paraphrase Michael Monroe: '...Jim Morrison was our great grandfather, Iggy Pop our grandfather and Stiv Bators our Father...' Stolen From "The Lords Of The New Church " Web Site.

2 Don't Just Sit There Say Sumthin !:

Gyrobo said...

Technically, no American can be an antidisestablishmentarian because there's never been an official state religion.

I like to step on dreams.

wallycrawler said...

K noted.