|Birth name||Jan Paul Beahm|
|Also known as||Bobby Pyn, Darby Crash|
September 26, 1958|
Los Angeles, California, US
|Died||December 7, 1980
|Associated acts||The Germs, Darby Crash Band|
Darby Crash (born Jan Paul Beahm) (September 26, 1958 – December 7, 1980) was an American punk musician who, along with long-time friend Pat Smear (born Georg Ruthenberg), co-founded The Germs. He died of an intentional heroin overdose.
Beahm had a troubled childhood; his eldest brother Bobby Lucas died of a heroin overdose at a parking lot in Venice, California in 1969 in his station wagon and he grew up believing that his biological father Harold (Hal) left the family. When in his teens, his elder sister Faith Jr. revealed in an argument that his biological father was really a Swedish sailor named William Björklund. Beahm lived with his mother Faith Reynolds-Baker for much of his life, but their relationship was tumultuous. The accounts given of her in Mullen's Lexicon Devil portray her as having a mental illness, which caused her to behave erratically and be verbally abusive toward her son. Beahm also has an eldest sister, Christine Lucas-Miller. Their now-widowed mother's third husband, Bob Baker, died suddenly of a heart attack at 39 in 1972 (they married in 1964 when a very young Beahm introduced the idea of them marrying after they began dating) and has claimed that Bobby was murdered when a drug dealer sold him a potent form of heroin for ratting him out and she also believes that Beahm died of an accidental overdose. She never married Beahm's father Bill. Not long after Bob's death, Beahm learned that his own father was also deceased.
Though Beahm was charismatic and had intellectual potential, he did not take the IPS program seriously. As students in the IPS program were given the liberty to form their own classes, Beahm and fellow student Georg Ruthenberg created a class for themselves called Fruit Eating in which they would go to a market, eat fruit for an hour, then return to school. Frequent users of LSD, Beahm and Ruthenberg developed a following of other IPS students who would also use the drug. The two were accused of brainwashing the other students and causing them to behave subversively, which led to the dismissal of Beahm and Ruthenberg from the school in 1976.
Not long after their dismissal from IPS, Beahm and Ruthenberg began trying to form a band. Before they settled on the Germs as a band name, they called themselves "Sophistifuck and the Revlon Spam Queens", but had to use a shorter name because they didn't have enough money to put this on a t-shirt.
When the Germs initially began playing, the only member who was proficient with an instrument was Ruthenberg, who went by his stage name Pat Smear. After a short stint under the name Bobby Pyn, Beahm also changed his name to Darby Crash.
The Germs can be seen in the 1981 film The Decline of Western Civilization, directed by Penelope Spheeris. The film features a characteristically hectic and sloppy live show in which Crash, heavily intoxicated and under the influence of several drugs, calls to the audience for beer, stumbles and crawls on the stage and slurs lyrics while members of the audience write on him with permanent markers. During an interview in the film, Crash also discusses taking drugs onstage to avoid feeling injuries from fan violence and "creeps out there with grudges".
Later life and suicide
Shortly after the Germs split, Darby went on to form the short-lived Darby Crash Band. Circle Jerks drummer Lucky Lehrer joined the band on the eve of their first (sold-out) live performance, when during soundcheck, Darby kicked out the drummer they'd rehearsed with and convinced Pat Smear to help out on guitar. The band, described by Smear as "like the Germs, but with worse players", played only a few gigs before splitting up.
Crash committed suicide by intentional heroin overdose on December 7, 1980. According to SPIN magazine, apocryphal lore has Crash attempting to write "Here lies Darby Crash" on the wall as he lay dying, but not finishing. In reality, he wrote a short note to Darby Crash Band bassist David "Bosco" Danford that stated "My life, my leather, my love goes to Bosco."
His death was largely overshadowed by the death of John Lennon, who was killed in New York just one day after Crash's suicide. His girl friend Casey Cola Hopkins was with him that night, at her mother's main house in the little back house on the property. Casey was supposed to have died with him in that house also of a heroin overdose but survived that night.
Since his death, his mother ("Honey, it's provided my family with an extra 10 grand a year ever since.") receives the Germs-Darby Crash album and merchandise royalties, thanks to Darby's deal with Bug Records (a few months prior to his death).
Books and movies
Crash and the Germs are the subject of the 2007 biopic What We Do Is Secret which stars Shane West as Crash, Bijou Phillips as Lorna Doom, Rick Gonzalez as Pat Smear, and Noah Segan as Bolles. What We Do Is Secret, a novel of the same name written by Thorn Kief Hillsbery, was published in 2005.
Lexicon Devil: The Fast Times and Short Life of Darby Crash and the Germs, an oral history of the Germs and biography of Darby Crash written by Brendan Mullen, was published in 2002.
"1978 Crashed Memories of an L.A. Punk Rocker" by Ger-I Lewis about the punk scene, life in Venice, as well as detailed anecdotes about the life and untimely death of Darby Crash. Published in 2009, 120 pp., softback.
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