Darby Crash

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Darby Crash
Darby Crash.jpg
Background information
Birth name Jan Paul Beahm
Also known as Bobby Pyn, Darby Crash
Born (1958-09-26)September 26, 1958
Los Angeles, California, US
Died December 7, 1980(1980-12-07) (aged 22)
Hollywood, California, US[1]
Genres Punk rock
Occupations Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals
Associated acts The Germs
Darby Crash Band

Darby Crash (born Jan Paul Beahm) (September 26, 1958 – December 7, 1980)[2][3] was an American[4] punk musician who, along with long-time friend Pat Smear (born Georg Ruthenberg), co-founded the Germs. He committed suicide by way of an intentional[5] heroin overdose.[6]

Early life[edit]

Born in Baldwin Hills Hospital, Los Angeles County at 11 PM, 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.[7] Beahm also has an eldest sister, Christine Lucas-Smith. 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.

Beahm attended IPS (Innovative Program School or "interplanetary school" as Beahm called it), a school within University High School in Los Angeles. The IPS program combined elements of est large group awareness training and Scientology.[8]

Though Beahm was charismatic and had intellectual potential, he did not take the IPS program seriously.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11]

The Germs[edit]

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.[12]

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.[13] After a short stint under the name Bobby Pyn, Beahm also changed his name to Darby Crash in 1978.

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.[14] 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". The Germs were a well known band for their violent show which ended up with the venue to banned them. Even though they were banned from the venue they still played under another name (G.I.) "Germs incognito”.

Later life and suicide[edit]

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.

On December 3, 1980, an over-sold Starwood hosted a final live show of the reunited band, including drummer [15] Don Bolles.

Crash committed suicide by intentional heroin overdose on December 7, 1980 in a house in Hollywood, California.[16] 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."[17]

His death was largely overshadowed by the death of John Lennon, who was killed in New York just one day after Crash's suicide.[18] His friend Casey Cola Hopkins was with him that night, at her mother Jacqueline Garrett's mid-Wilshire district section of Hollywood main house in the little back coach house on the property. Casey was supposed to have died with him in that house also of a heroin overdose but survived that night.[19] Darby is interred at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, USA, Plot: Section R (Resurrection) T9 115.

Since his death, his mother receives the Germs-Darby Crash album and merchandise royalties, thanks to Darby's deal with Bug Records a few months prior to his death.[20][21]

Books and movies[edit]

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., paperback.


  1. ^ "Darby Crash". Findadeath.com. 
  2. ^ State of California. California Birth Index, 1905-1995. Sacramento, CA, USA: State of California Department of Health Services, Center for Health Statistics.
  3. ^ State of California. California Death Index, 1940-1997. Sacramento, CA, USA: State of California Department of Health Services, Center for Health Statistics.
  4. ^ Duralde, Alonso; Anne Stockwell (2002-07-09). "Biographies - Wild reads: waves, winds, and a good book you can take while you bake—isn't that what summer's all about?". The Advocate. 
  5. ^ Mullen, Brendan (2002). Lexicon Devil: The Fast Times and Short Life of Darby Crash and the Germs. Feral House. p. 257. 
  6. ^ Alternative rock By Dave Thompson. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 391
  7. ^ Mullen. Lexicon Devil. pp. 40–41. 
  8. ^ Mullen, Brendan (2000-12-27). "Annihilation Man; How Darby Crash lost control. Of the Germs. Of Circle One. Everything". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  9. ^ Mullen. Lexicon Devil. p. 19. 
  10. ^ Mullen. Lexicon Devil. p. 18. 
  11. ^ Mullen. Lexicon Devil. p. 23. 
  12. ^ Alternative rock By Dave Thompson p. 391
  13. ^ Mullen. Lexicon Devil. p. 46. 
  14. ^ Janet Maslin (1981). "The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 August 2013. 
  15. ^ Mullen, Lexicon Devil
  16. ^ The tombstone tourist: musicians By Scott Stanton p. 306
  17. ^ SPIN Magazine, May 2001. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  18. ^ Mullen. Lexicon Devil. p. 265. 
  19. ^ Mullen, Lexicon Devil. p. 255.
  20. ^ Wide-Eyed Boy: The Darby Crash story (revised edition), Lori Weiner, 2008 http://culturanta.wordpress.com
  21. ^ Mullen, Lexicon Devil . p.168

External links[edit]