Dharma Bums (band)

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Dharma Bums
OriginPortland, Oregon, United States
GenresGarage rock (earlier), Alternative rock (later)
Years active1987–1992
LabelsPopLlama, Frontier, Tim/Kerr
Associated actsYoung Fresh Fellows, Pilot
Past membersJim Talstra
John Moen
Jeremy Wilson
Michael Sutton
Eric Lovre
Late 1980s flyer for band performances at the "Vogue" club in Seattle, WA. Dharma Bums is listed as playing on Wed 20, with their frequent opening act Nirvana listed on Sun 24. This flyer is now on display at the "Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses" exhibit in Seattle [1].

The Dharma Bums was a U.S. garage band. The band's members were Jim, John, Jeremy, and Eric. They named themselves after the Jack Kerouac book The Dharma Bums.

They formed in 1987 in Portland, Oregon, by members of two local bands, The Watchmen and Perfect Circle (no connection with the later bands The Watchmen or A Perfect Circle). Their first album, Haywire, was produced by Scott McCaughey (lead singer of the Young Fresh Fellows) and recorded for the PopLlama label in 1989. McCaughey later played their debut to Frontier Records boss Lisa Fancher, who was impressed enough to re-release the album. One of the tracks, "Boots of Leather", proved to be an enduring college radio hit.

In 1990 the more polished album Bliss was released on Frontier Records. Featuring greatly improved songwriting, this release covered subjects from rape and adolescence to suicide, in a mature fashion built on ragged rock textures. The Dharma Bums recorded their third and final album Welcome for the Tim/Kerr label in 1991, and disbanded in 1992. Wilson went on to form the alt-rock band Pilot.

Many in the local Portland scene had expected the Dharma Bums to be a big breakthrough "alternative" act of the Northwest music scene, but Nirvana, a frequent opening act for the Dharma Bums, was to become the symbol of the genre instead. Some biographers, such as Melissa Rossi, author of Courtney Love: Queen of Noise (ISBN 0-671-00038-1), and Poppy Z Brite, author of Courtney Love: The Real Story, write that Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain first met each other at a Dharma Bums concert in Portland—where Nirvana served as the opening act.[1][2] However, Everett True argues in his book Nirvana: The Biography that while Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love did not meet for the first time at a Dharma Bums concert, it is possible that Courtney Love first saw Nirvana perform when they were the opening act for Dharma Bums at a performance at the Portland, Oregon, club Satyricon.[3] In an interview with Fuse TV posted on YouTube on March 11, 2012, Courtney Love herself says, "I met (Kurt) in 1988 at a Dharma Bums show." [4]



  • Haywire (PopLLama Records, 1988)
  • Bliss (Frontier Records, 1990)
  • Welcome (Frontier Records, 1991)


  • Haywire (7", PopLLama Records, 1988)
  • Givin In (7", Frontier Records, 1991)
  • Battle Of The Northwest Super Powers! (7", Frontier Records, 1992, Split 7" with Young Fresh Fellows)

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Rossi, Melissa. Courtney Love: Queen of Noise. Pocket Books. 1996. ISBN 0-671-00038-1 Page 88: "Nirvana -- now known by the latest in a series of band names that included Throat Oyster, Pen Cap Chew and Ted Ed Fred -- had driven down from the college town of Olympia, Washington, where they then lived, to open up for the Dharma Bums, a local band that boasted some of the town's cutest boys."
  2. ^ Brite, Poppy Z. Courtney Love: The Real Story. Touchstone/Simon and Schuster. 1997. Page 98: "Courtney spent two months in Portland trying to get a band together and dating a record-store owner, a beautiful half-Mexican with butternut skin and chocolate eyes who encouraged her interest in new music. One night she went to see the Dharma Bums at Satyricon. The opening act was Nirvana."
  3. ^ True, Everett. Nirvana: The Biography. Page 255 ISBN 0306815540
  4. ^ Fuse. Hole's Courtney Love on Kurt Cobain, Personal Demons, Sobriety - On The Record. Accessed June 8, 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgqt0ofwE3g
  5. ^ Dharma Bums on Discogs.com