Derf Scratch

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Derf "Fred" Scratch
Birth name Frederick Charles Milner III
Also known as Derf
Born (1951-10-30)30 October 1951
Monmouth, New Jersey[1]
Died 28 July 2010(2010-07-28) (aged 58)
Camarillo, California
Genres Punk rock
Occupation(s) Bassist
Instruments Bass guitar, vocals, saxophone
Years active 1976–2010
Associated acts Scratch, Derf Scratch and Friends, The Werewolfs.

Derf "Fred" Scratch (born Frederick Charles Milner III, Oct 30, 1951[citation needed]– July 28, 2010[2]) was best known as the original bass guitarist for, and a former member of, the punk rock band Fear.[3]

Scratch played bass for Fear since the band's formation in 1977. Scratch met John Belushi during this time in Los Angeles. Belushi loved Fear and was their biggest booster; the two became good friends and cocaine abusers; this period is well documented in the Bob Woodward book Wired: The Short Life And Fast Times Of John Belushi, a biography of the comedy actor. Belushi got Fear a guest appearance on Saturday Night Live that essentially ended in a semi-planned melee,[citation needed] an appearance that is often cited[by whom?] as the origin of moshing.

After their Saturday Night Live appearance, they recorded their debut album The Record, now a classic punk album. Scratch not only played bass on most of the record, he played saxophone on the song "New York's Alright If You Like Saxophones" (while lead singer Lee Ving played bass, as they had been doing the song live). Scratch also co-wrote one song with Ving on the album, "Fresh Flesh", and wrote and sang lead vocal on another, "Getting The Brush". Scratch was also seen with the band in the movie The Decline of Western Civilization and on an episode of Casey Kasem's syndicated America's Top 10 TV show.

Fear hung on until the mid-1980s, eventually breaking up due to the death of the Hollywood punk scene and Ving's increasing interest in acting and performing country music. During the punk revival generated by Nirvana in the 1990s, vocalist Lee Ving did one final performance with the original lineup of Fear before putting together a new version of Fear containing no original members other than himself.

Scratch, wishing to concentrate on guitar and saxophone, sold the Fender bass he used on The Record to then-Minutemen bassist Mike Watt. Watt played the instrument on another future punk classic, the 1982 release What Makes A Man Start Fires?

Scratch later resurfaced in several other groups, including groups such as the eponymous Derf Scratch and Friends and The Werewolfs. As a member of The Werewolfs, Scratch was seriously injured in a car accident after a show in Los Angeles.[4]

Scratch died on July 28, 2010 from liver disease. He was 58 years old.[5] He is survived by his wife of fourteen years, Tammy.


Scratch met his wife Tammy in 1992. They married in 1996. She was a member of Derf Scratch and Friends who played keyboards and sang vocals[6]

Scratch was a real estate agent who had passed his test during his early days with Fear.[6] He shared a desk with his parents at the realtor and would tell them he was going to look for properties, but would go to Lee Ving's place to brainstorm ideas for the band.[6]


  1. ^ "PASSINGS: Reginald Levy, Derf Scratch, Robert Tucker". August 8, 2010. Retrieved May 9, 2011. 
  2. ^ "R.I.P. Fear Bassist Derf Scratch". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  3. ^ Huey, Steve. "Biography: Fear". AMG. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  4. ^ Valerie J. Nelson (August 5, 2010). "Derf Scratch of punk band Fear dies at 58". Retrieved May 9, 2011. 
  5. ^ Christopher Morris (August 4, 2010). "Punk rocker Derf Scratch dies". Retrieved May 9, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c "Derf "Fred" Scratch interview". Retrieved 2011-07-22.