The Dead Boys

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Dead Boys
The Dead Boys.jpg
Background information
Origin Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Genres Punk rock, glam punk
Years active 1976–1979, 1987, 2004–2005
Labels Sire, Bomp!, Revenge, Hell Yeah, Bacchus, Bad Boy, Cold Front, Relativity
Associated acts Rocket From The Tombs, Pere Ubu, The Lords of the New Church
Past members Stiv Bators
Cheetah Chrome
Jimmy Zero
Jeff Magnum
Johnny Blitz

The Dead Boys were an American punk rock band from Cleveland, Ohio. Among the first wave of early punk bands, and known as one of the most rowdy and violent punk groups of the era. The Dead Boys were initially active from 1976 to 1979, briefly reuniting in 1986, and then later again in 2004 and 2005 without their iconic frontman Stiv Bators.

History[edit]

Formation and 1970s punk rock era[edit]

The Dead Boys evolved out of the band Rocket From The Tombs and were originally called Frankenstein. When the band members relocated to New York City in July 1976, they adopted the Dead Boys moniker which came from the RFTT song "Down In Flames".

Moving to New York City at the encouragement of Joey Ramone, the Ramones' lead singer, the Dead Boys quickly gained notoriety for their outrageous live performances. Lewd gestures and profanity were the norm. On more than one occasion, lead singer Stiv Bators slashed his stomach with his mic stand. They frequently played at the rock club CBGB and in 1977 they released their debut album, Young, Loud and Snotty, produced by Genya Ravan. Their song "Sonic Reducer" is often regarded as one of the classics of the punk genre, with AllMusic calling it "one of punk's great anthems."[1]

Sire Records pressured the group to change their look and sound to appeal more to the U.S. mainstream (which had yet to embrace punk on the level seen in the UK) and this contributed to Dead Boys breaking up in 1979.[2] Several 1979 performances were featured in the 1980 film, D.O.A.. A few months after the breakup the band had to reunite to record a live album and thus fulfill their contractual obligations. To exact revenge on the label, Bators purposely sang off mic and the resulting recording was unusable. When the material eventually surfaced on Bomp! Records, Bators had re-recorded the vocals in a studio.

In 1978 Johnny Blitz and a group of his friends got into an altercation on Second Avenue in Manhattan which lead to Blitz being stabbed in the chest approximately 17 times. While he was recovering in the hospital a benefit was held for him, at which the Dead Boys performed without him, with John Belushi filling in for him on drums.

Bators' subsequent career[edit]

Bators recorded a solo album, Disconnected, on Line Records. Bators later formed Lords of the New Church with Brian James from The Damned and Dave Tregunna from Sham 69. They released several albums on IRS Records, including the keyboard-laden hit single "Open Your Eyes" and a cover of "Like A Virgin".

Chrome's subsequent career[edit]

After the Dead Boys break up, Cheetah Chrome played around New York City (mostly at Max's Kansas City) doing shows with the Stilettos, as well as his own band Cheetah Chrome and the Casualties. He recorded a single for ORK Records, "Still Wanna Die/Take Me Home", recorded by Atlantic Records co-founder Herb Abramson. Shortly thereafter, he played on Ronnie Spector's debut solo album Siren. He appeared on several recordings during the 1980s, most notably his own "Cheetah Chrome and the Ghetto Dogs" (Get Hip) and Jeff Dahl's "I Kill Me" (Sympathy For The Record Industry). He also rejoined the Dead Boys for the ill fated reunions of the late 1980s.

In the 1990s, Chrome moved to Nashville, Tennessee and recorded a live album Alive in Detroit (DUI) at Lili's in Hamtramck, Michigan. In the 2002, he played guitar on several track for False Alarm's Fuck ‘Em All We've All Ready(Now) Won!. In 2003, after the release of The Day the Earth Met the Rocket from the Tombs, he reformed Rocket From The Tombs with David Thomas, Craig Bell, with Steve Mehlman (Pere Ubu) on drums and Richard Lloyd (Television) replacing the late Peter Laughner. [1] The reincarnation of the group toured in 2003 and 2006.

In summer 2003 they entered the studio to record some of the band's old material for the first time. The recordings were released as Rocket Redux (SmogVeil). Chrome did a US West coast tour in April 2004 (backed by Sweet Justice) as well as a 10 date Midwest/East coast tour as guitarist in Texas Terri's band in July. At the end of July he headlined "Festimal" in Cedeira, Spain. In 2005, the members of Rocket From The Tombs flew to Germany to headline one night (The Buzzcocks headlined the other) of the International Punk Kongress in Kassel; then, in 2006, they reconvened in Cleveland, Ohio to write material for a new record.

This material became the single "I Sell Soul/Romeo and Juliet", released in 2010, and the full length album "Barfly", released in 2011. In 2007 Chrome played periodic solo shows, including headlining the Road To Ruins festival in Rome, Italy (backed by Unnatural Axe). In May 2008, on the way home from the "Joey Ramone Birthday Bash", Chrome had a chance meeting at LaGuardia Airport with the members of Joan Jett's band The Blackhearts, including drummer Thommy Price, with whom he had played on Ronnie Spector's "Siren". This led to several NYC area shows with The Blackhearts as his band, including a live performance on WFMU in NJ.

In 2009, after repeated suggestions that he write a book from a friend who worked at Voyageur Press in Minneapolis, MN, Chrome relented and submitted a sample chapter to them in Spring 2009. He signed a book deal with Voyageur, and began writing his autobiography. Also in Fall 2009, Chrome got together with old friend Sylvain Sylvain to record an EP on the suggestion of SmogVeil Records head Frank Mauceri. They recruited Thommy Price and Enzo Pennizotto from The Blackhearts as a rhythm section, naming themselves The Batusis after the dance from the hit 60's TV show "Batman".

They performed two shows at SSW 2010; Price and Penizzotto were unable to do live shows with The Batusis due to their schedule with Jett and were replaced by Chuck Garric of Alice Cooper's band on bass and Lez Warner, formerly of The Cult, on drums. The 4 song "Big Cat Stomp/What You Lack In Brains/Bury You Alive/ Blues Theme" EP was released in May 2010. A UK tour had to be canceled due to a volcanic eruption in Iceland, but they toured the US extensively through December 2010 with Warner on drums and another former Blackheart, Sean Koos, on bass.

In September 2010 "Cheetah Chrome: A Dead Boy's Tale From The Front Lines Of Punk Rock" was published to a very warm reception from the public and 5 Star reviews from critics. Chrome participated in the February/ West Coast and April/ Midwest-East Coast "Cleveland Confidential Book Tour" with fellow Cleveland musicians and authors Mike Hudson of the Pagans and Bob Pfeiffer of Human Switchboard. Stops included the Experience Music Project in Seattle, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Exile on Bowery @ Bowery Electric in NYC and the GRAMMY Museum at L.A Live in Los Angeles. At the end of a week long RFTT tour in December 2011, Chrome announced to the band that he had decided to stop touring extensively after 2012.

This has been misconstrued as his "retirement", which is not the case. While he planned to honor any shows they booked in 2012, they chose to get another guitar player for the upcoming European tour in May 2012. Chrome remains a non-touring member of RFTT and will record and perform with the band in the future. Chrome says he will continue to perform live and even do short tours (7-10 days) periodically right up until he "kicks it". In February 2012 Chrome became Creative Director of A&R/Director of Special Projects for Plowboy Records, an alternative/legacy label being launched by Shannon Pollard, grandson of Country legend Eddy Arnold and music historian /author Don Cusic. This was officially announced on May 15, 2012. Chrome is currently producing a tribute record to Arnold by various artists at RCA Studio B in Nashville as well as preparing a new full length release by The Batusis.

Blitz's subsequent career[edit]

After leaving the Dead Boys and New York City in 1980, Johnny Blitz (John Madansky) moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada with his wife "B Girl" Lucasta Ross. He hooked up with singer/guitarist/song writer "Leo DeLyon" (Leonard Nieberg) and bassist Tommy "Gun" Keating from power punk trio "The Blitz" (no association to Johnny's moniker "Blitz") . Johnny and Leo later formed a band called "Slaughterhouse" with Mark Crosley on Bass playing Toronto's top club and concert venues with a large fan following that guaranteed a packed audience at every gig. Johnny's band "Slaughterhouse" and Cheetah's band "Cheetah Chrome and Skells" headlined on Saturday, August 6, 1983 at New York City's CBGB's.

"Dead Boy" bassist Jeff Magnum came to see his old bandmates and at the end of the night, he, Cheetah and Blitz encored the show with some "Dead Boys" songs that brought the house down. After Johnny and Lucasta split, he married Lynn Hansen and fathered 3 boys: Luke, Jake and Cole. Johnny recently achieved "grandfather" status with the arrival of "Hannah," care of his eldest son Luke and his wife. Johnny and Leo went on to form "The Tribe" with keyboard player Pauline Groen and bassist Tommy "Gun" Keating recording originals that were a little more mainstream. After taking a few years break to focus on family, Johnny, Leo, and Tommy regrouped back to their "power punk" 3 piece hard core roots to form "Raw Dog".

Over their twenty five years together as band mates, co-wrote and arranged all original material together. They recorded a number of unreleased songs at Comfort Sound,and Metalworks Studios; "In From the Cold", "I like Girls", "Television Religion", "Call of the Wild", "Anxiety" and "Kill 'Em All" and many more. Johnny returned to Cleveland for the "Dead Boys" reunion gig in 2004 at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland including a "question and answer" session at the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame". And a benefit concert at NYC's CBGB's in 2005. Johnny and Leo went their separate ways in 2007 Johnny still actively plays, writes and arranges with his band "The Highschool Hookers" and currently lives with his girlfriend in Toronto, Canada. Updated: 2011-01-23

Reformation, death of Bators[edit]

The Dead Boys reformed for several gigs in the 1980s. They re-released their first album as Younger, Louder and Snottier in 1989, mastered from a cassette tape of rough mixes, attributed to a young Bob Clearmountain, a studio assistant at the time.

In 1990, Bators died in France due to injuries sustained after having been hit by a taxi.[3] In September 2004, the remaining members of the band re-formed for a one-off gig in Cleveland. In 2005, they played a benefit show for CBGB and another reunion show on Halloween.

CBGB movie[edit]

In 2013, an American made motion picture titled CBGB was released to theaters. Bators is portrayed by actor, Justin Bartha best known for his roles in The Hangover trilogy and the National Treasure films, while Rupert Grint, best known for his work in the Harry Potter film series as Ron Weasley, is playing Cheetah Chrome.

Members[edit]

Discography[edit]

The Dead Boys only have two official full length studio releases, however many labels have released rough material and outtakes in the years following their initial 1979 breakup.

Studio albums[edit]

Later releases[edit]

Singles[edit]

7" singles[edit]

  • "Sonic Reducer" (1977, Sire)
  • "Tell Me" (1978, Sire)
  • "Search and Destroy" (1977, Revenge) (Import/France)
  • "Buried Gems" (2000, Cold Front Records)
  • "Paul Sherry goes Back – The Paul Sherry Sessions" (2007)

12" singles[edit]

  • "All The Way Down/Nights Are So Long" (1987, Relativity Records 8165) (never released on CD)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Prato, Greg; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas, Dead Boys: Biography, Allmusic, retrieved 2007-10-12 
  2. ^ McNeil, Legs; McCain, Gillian (1997), Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, New York, London: Penguin Books, pp. 335–336, ISBN 0-14-026690-9 
  3. ^ "Remembering Stiv Bators". The Worleygig. 2009-10-22. Retrieved 2014-04-17. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]