Miriam Linna drums during a 2007 recording session.
October 16, 1955 |
Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
|Occupation(s)||Drummer, musician, journalist, writer, record producer|
|Associated acts||The Cramps|
Miriam Linna (b. Oct. 16, 1955, Sudbury, Ontario) has run the Brooklyn-based independent record label Norton Records since 1986 with her husband, the producer and singer-songwriter Billy Miller. Her skill as a drummer earned her a "May I recommend?" nod from Bob Dylan on his XM Theme Time Radio Hour program (episode 37) in January 2007.
Linna is part of the collective of musicians that emerged from the Cleveland, Ohio punk rock scene, including the Dead Boys and Pere Ubu. When the re-formed Rocket from the Tombs performed in Hoboken, New Jersey in 2003, singer David Thomas dedicated the band's signature song "Amphetamine" to her.
Linna as musician
Linna was the second drummer for The Cramps, a brief but curiously lingering association in the minds of many (she appears on none of their legitimate releases and her time in the band only lasted from September 1976 to August 1977). Linna left The Cramps to join the rock and roll band Nervus Rex. After performing with the Zantees, Linna and Miller launched The A-Bones (named for a 1964 tune by The Trashmen). The A-Bones released two 10" EPs (Tempo Tantrum in 1986 and Free Beer for Life! in 1988), followed by four full-length albums between 1991 and 1996. The A-Bones have regrouped in recent years and continue to perform, most recently in Spain with Little Richard, Andre Williams and the Great Gaylord. Linna also played drums on Maureen Tucker's 1994 album Dogs Under Stress. Linna and A-Bones bassist Marcus "The Carcass" Natale guested on a 2007 recording session by the protopunk band Figures of Light, produced by Miller; she also handled the drums on Figures of Light's 2011 album Drop Dead, produced by Mick Collins of The Dirtbombs.
In 2014, as "Miriam," Linna released her first solo album on Norton, Nobody's Baby, produced by Sam Elwitt. The album features Linna singing over distinctly Phil Spector- and Jack Nitzsche-inspired arrangements of a selection of mostly obscure cover songs from the 1960s. Music journalist and blogger Lindsay Hutton wrote, "Everything about "Nobody's Baby" is a total triumph, the sound, the sleeve and mostly the power of the music trapped on either side of the record." Norton released her followup LP, Down Today, in 2015.
Linna's past magazine ventures include Kicks (co-edited with Miller), Smut Peddler and Bad Seed. Her lengthy liner notes for Norton and other labels display an unusual writing style of wild word play and imaginative humor. In 1997, Linna and Miller published (as "Kicks Magazine Photo Album No. 1") The Great Lost Photographs of Eddie Rocco. Rocco contributed to Ebony Song Parade and freelanced for Fort Worth's Sepia magazine, and the book collects many of his previously unpublished 1950s and 1960s images, including shots of Ruth Brown, Esquerita, Roy Orbison and the Treniers.
In 2004, Linna co-edited Sin-A-Rama: Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties (Feral House), also contributing an article, "Ron Haydock aka Vin Saxon," about the twisted career of novelist-musician Ron Haydock. In 2009, her paperback book company, Kicks Books, launched with the publication of Sweets and Other Stories by Andre Williams. Subsequent books have included This Planet Is Doomed (2011), a collection of Sun Ra's poetry; and Pulling a Train and Getting in the Wind (2012), previously uncollected short stories by Harlan Ellison. Linna also co-authored a biography of Texas musician Bobby Fuller, I Fought the Law, published by Kicks in 2015.
Linna owns one of the world's largest private collections of vintage paperbacks, including complete runs of Avon, Beacon, Signet and others. Her collection includes over 500 juvenile delinquent paperbacks, and she featured the covers of some of these in her book Bad Seed: A Postcard Book, published in 1992 by Running Press.
On May 15, 2009, she launched an autobiographical blog, Kicksville 66, documenting everything from Ashtabula angst to the Strand Bookstore, and illustrated with promo flyers, handwritten letters and grainy photos.
Allegation of racism
Lester Bangs's 1979 Village Voice article "The White Noise Supremacists," a consideration of racist attitudes held by some participants in the late-1970s New York punk scene, contains quotes from an article in praise of the Ramones that Linna contributed to a Florida-based fanzine entitled "New Order." Bangs cites Linna's thoughts ("I love the Ramones [because] this is the celebration of everything American – everything teenaged and wonderful and white and urban") and the article's illustration – a photograph of Linna appearing with "a pistol in front of the headquarters of the United White People's Party, under a sign bearing three flags: 'GOD' (cross), 'COUNTRY' (stars and stripes), 'RACE' (swastika)" — as evidence that at least some in the scene around CBGB held overt and unchallenged racist and white-supremacist attitudes. However, Bangs' and Linna's mutual friend James Marshall refutes this accusation:
"It was obvious the photo was a goof, like trying to get close enough to a bear without getting bit by it. In reality, Lester was pissed at Miriam because Kicks mag (which she and Billy edited, still the greatest fanzine of all time) had rejected an article he wrote about No Wave. No way in hell is Miriam any sort of racist and Lester knew it (if you don't believe me ask Andre Williams, Rudy Ray Moore, the Mighty Hannibal, or any of the other black artists she's helped over the years). Lester later confessed to me that he thought it was the worst article he ever wrote and regretted the whole thing, but since the piece not only ran on the cover of the Voice (which everyone read back then), it was reprinted in Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung and Miriam's had to live with this accusation for all these years." 
- A2Z: A-Bones/Zantees Discography
- New York magazine feature on Miriam Linna (2/3/2003)
- Interview with Miriam Linna and Billy Miller
- Kicksville 66
- Norton Records official site
- SXSW 2007: Miriam Linna
- Zantees & A-Bones Trouser Press entry
- Lester Bangs, "The White Noise Supremacists," 1979 (PDF)
- Sam Elwitt official site