Stiv Bators

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Stiv Bators
Background information
Birth nameSteven John Bator
Born(1949-10-22)October 22, 1949
Youngstown, Ohio, U.S.
DiedJune 4, 1990(1990-06-04) (aged 40)
Paris, France
Occupation(s)Musician, actor
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar, bass
Years active1974–1990
LabelsBomp!, Sire

Steven John Bator (October 22, 1949 – June 4, 1990), known professionally as Stiv Bator and later as Stiv Bators, was an American punk rock vocalist and guitarist from Girard, Ohio. He is best remembered for his bands Dead Boys and The Lords of the New Church.

Early life[edit]

Stiv Bators was born Steven John Bator on October 22, 1949, in Youngstown, Ohio (some sources say Cleveland), to Mr and Mrs. Steven John Bator Sr.[2] He was of Pennsylvania Dutch and Czech-Romani descent; "Stiv" is the Czech equivalent to Steven. He was in Catholic school for 12 years.[3]

Music and film career[edit]

In the course of his career Bators was involved with a variety of bands beyond those for which he was best known, including Hormones, with Dennis Comeau and Andre Siva, Frankenstein, The Wanderers and The Whores of Babylon (with Dee Dee Ramone and Johnny Thunders). He also recorded as a solo artist with Bomp! Records.

As the lead singer and driving force of the Cleveland, Ohio–based Dead Boys, Bators helped pioneer the punk rock sound, look and attitude. The band quickly became a popular staple at CBGB, a music club in New York City's East Village. The Dead Boys were featured in the punk rock films Punking Out (1978), Live at CBGB's (1977) and Crash 'n' Burn (1977).

Following the demise of Dead Boys in 1979, Bators began a tumultuous relationship with Bomp! Records and its president, Greg Shaw. According to Shaw: "[W]hat he craved most was to escape the fetters of his Dead Boy image and win respect as a singer of contemporary pop rock (...) in other words, he wanted to be 'the thinking punk's Eric Carmen.'"[4] To this end, and usually with first-wave punk rock veterans in tow, he recorded several singles, many of which were unreleased, and an LP, Disconnected, which was released in 1980. A retrospective album released in 1994, L.A. L.A. documented Bators' efforts as a pop-punk singer.

In 1980, Bators, located in London, formed The Wanderers with Dave Tregunna, the bass player for the punk group Sham 69, which had recently disbanded. The Wanderers came up with a concept album, called Only Lovers Left Alive (released in May 1981), along with two singles.

Bators and Tregunna formed The Lords of the New Church in 1981, with Brian James of The Damned. The Lords of the New Church became notorious for their live shows. A devotee of Iggy Pop, Bators had developed a fearless reputation in his Dead Boys days and continued such antics with The Lords of the New Church. They recorded two more successful albums.

Later, the punk vocalist gained additional exposure through more mainstream film. In 1981, Bators had a small role as "Bobo" in the satirical John Waters film Polyester. In 1988, Bators made a cameo appearance as "Dick Slammer", lead singer of the fictional band the Blender Children, in the offbeat comedy Tapeheads, starring John Cusack and Tim Robbins.

In summer 1985, Bators contributed backing vocals to "Sun City" by Artists United Against Apartheid and also appeared in its music video, shot in October.[5][6]

The Lords of the New Church broke up in 1989, when Bators injured his back and guitarist Brian James secretly began advertising for a replacement singer.


On June 4, 1990, Bators died in Paris after being hit by a car.[2][7][8] He was on his motorbike when a car bumped into him and knocked him off the vehicle. He did not believe he was seriously injured, and returned to his apartment, where he died in his sleep as the result of a traumatic brain injury at the age of 40.[9] He was survived by his parents.[10]

Dave Tregunna said that Bators, a fan of Jim Morrison, had earlier requested that his ashes be spread over Morrison's Paris grave and his girlfriend complied.[9]

In the director's commentary of the film Polyester, in which Bators had a small role, director/producer John Waters stated that Bators' girlfriend, Caroline Warren, confessed to him that she snorted a portion of Stiv's ashes so that she could be closer to him.[11][12]

In film[edit]

In 2013, an American-made motion picture titled CBGB was released to theaters. Dead Boys were featured as one of the seminal punk bands that got their start at the CBGB club, and were first managed by Hilly Kristal. Bators is portrayed by actor Justin Bartha.

In 2019, a biographical documentary was released titled Stiv. Directed and written by Danny Garcia, the film chronicles the life, legacy and demise of Bators.[13]


With Dead Boys[edit]

Studio albums

With the Wanderers[edit]

Studio albums
  • Only Lovers Left Alive – 1981, Polydor

With The Lords of the New Church[edit]

Studio albums


Studio albums[14]
Live albums[15]
  • Live at the Limelight – 1988, Perfect Beat (Germany, as Stiv Bators and His Evil Boys)
Compilation albums[14]
  • The Lord and the New Creatures – 1983, Lolita (France)
  • I Wanna Be a Dead Boy... – 1992, Munster Records / Bomp!
  • L.A. L.A. – 1993, Bomp!
  • Sonic Reducer – 1994, Editions Atlas (France)
  • The Last Race – 1996, Bond Age (France)
  • L.A. Confidential – 2004, Bomp!
  • Do You Believe In Magyk? – 2015, Easy Action (Reissue of The Last Race and Live at the Limelight)
  • "It's Cold Outside" b/w "The Last Year" – 1979, Bomp!
  • "Not That Way Anymore" b/w "Circumstantial Evidence" – 1980, Bomp!
  • "Too Much To Dream" b/w "Make Up Your Mind" (12-inch) – 1980, Bomp!
  • "Story in Your Eyes" b/w "Have Love Will Travel" – 1987, Bomp!
  • "King of the Brats" b/w "Young Don't Cry" – 1995, Try To Understand (France, unofficial 7-inch[17][18] – the B-side is a 1982 track by The Lords of the New Church)[19]
  • "Make Up Your Mind" b/w "Make Up Your Mind" – 2013, Ugly Pop Records (Canada, split 7-inch with David Quinton – the B-side is Quinton's 1981 solo version of the same song)[20][21]
Extended Plays
  • Last Stand 1980 EP – 2013, Ugly Pop Records (Canada, 7-inch, as Stiv Bators' Dead Boys – live recordings of "Son of Sam", "Third Generation Nation" and "All This and More")[14]
Other appearances


  1. ^ a b c d Prato, Greg. "Stiv Bators – Artist Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Stiv Bators, 40, Singer With Dead Boys Band". The New York Times. June 6, 1990. p. D23. Archived from the original on August 23, 2022.
  3. ^ "Punk Rock Profiles". Retrieved June 21, 2021.
  4. ^ Liner notes, L.A. L.A. CD.
  5. ^ "Ramones: Interview With Michael Monroe". February 14, 1997. Archived from the original on August 15, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
  6. ^ "The Making of Sun City". Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  7. ^ "Welcome". Archived from the original on January 2, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2021.
  8. ^ "Hiljaiset Levyt: PUNKNET 77 – Stiv Bators". Archived from the original on March 4, 2012. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Jeremy Simmonds (2008). The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars: Heroin, Handguns, and Ham Sandwiches. Chicago Review Press. p. 259. ISBN 978-1-55652-754-8. Retrieved October 28, 2010.
  10. ^ Davidson, Eric (March 25, 2019). "LOOKING FOR STIV BATORS". Retrieved June 21, 2021.
  11. ^ Legs McNeil; Gillian McCain (2006). Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. Grove/Atlantic, Inc. p. 426. ISBN 978-0-8021-4264-1. Retrieved October 28, 2010.
  12. ^ Steve Birmingham (June 8, 2010). "Interview with John Waters about his new book Role Models". Dog Canyon Magazine. Retrieved October 28, 2010.
  13. ^ John Petkovic, "The Stiv Bators story: Movie about Cleveland rock legend set to premiere," The Plain Dealer, September 19, 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d "Stiv Bators Releases at Discogs". Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  15. ^ "Live at the Limelight at Discogs". Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  16. ^ "Stiv Bators Discography at 45cat". Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  17. ^ "Rate Your Music – Stiv Bators". Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  18. ^ "King of the Brats". Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  19. ^ "The Lords of the New Church – Russian Roulette at Discogs". Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  20. ^ "Stiv Bators & David Quinton – Make Up Your Mind at Discogs". Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  21. ^ "David Quinton at Discogs". Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  22. ^ "Where The Action Is at Discogs". Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  23. ^ "Tapeheads soundtrack at IMDb". Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  24. ^ "A Promise Is a Promise at Discogs". Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  25. ^ "Peace of Mind at Discogs". Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  26. ^ "Michael Monroe Recordings". Retrieved April 12, 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Wolff, Carlo (2006). Cleveland Rock and Roll Memories. Cleveland: Gray & Company, Publishers. ISBN 978-1-886228-99-3
  • Chrome, Cheetah & Legs McNeil (2010). Cheetah Chrome: A Dead Boy's Tale From the Front Lines of Punk Rock. Minneapolis: Quayside Publishing Group, Voyageur Press, Publishers. ISBN 076033773X

External links[edit]