January 1978 - April 1978
This is part 4 of my reminiscences of the L.A. punk rock scene from 1976-1980.
These are the shows that I went to during the first third of 1978. I decided to split 1978 and 1979 into thirds because I went to so many shows. It also allows me to stretch this out a couple of more weeks.
1978 begins with a gig at the Masque. The Avengers and the Dils made their way down from San Francisco, F-Word continued their climb within the scene and a band called the Liars opened. I wish I could remember them but I don't. The Masque was THE place for L.A. punk and the L.A. punk scenesters. Little did I know that this would be my last show at the Masque for years. Only 4 times and ready to be shut down.
It was a rarity that I missed a Dogs show. I'll have to go back at the end of this and count the number of occurrences. I recently had coffee with the band in North Hollywood so I am pleased that I was able to establish a friendship with the band over time. I even got them a gig here in Phoenix at the now defunct Blue Ox a few years back.
One of the ways to show your enthusiasm for the music was to pogo dance. This was a dance that was adopted from our English counterparts. Basically you just jumped up and down, occasionally bumping into somebody next to you. It was great fun and guys and girls participated equally.
The reason I bring up the pogo dancing is because I remember pogoing for an hour and half straight to the Ramones at the Santa Monica Civic on February 3rd. I remember it contributing to one of the more enjoyable Ramones shows I ever saw. I remember they did 3 encores of 3 songs each. The Quick opened that night. Leonard Phillips' goal in life was to become a member of the Quick before he and Stan Lee started the Dickies. They were a part of the scene prior to the actual punk movement and were a power pop band. The Runaways were every adolescents wet dream (are you listening, Mike?). Of course, Lita Ford went on to heavy metal stardom, Joan Jett went on to the Blackhearts and DJ's for Sirius radio today. Cherie Currie just warns young girls about Kim Fowley. Kim Fowley had a penchant for young girls and started the Runaways as well as Venus and the Razorblades, another female fronted band. Kim is also a DJ for Sirius Radio these days.
February 25th and 26th were truly memorable dates in L.A. punk history. The Masque had been closed by the fire marshalls because there was fire exit. We were just pissed that they would close down our signature locale for L.A. punk (in retrospect I guess a Great White type of occurrence could have happened there but when you're young you never think anything will happen to you). The two shows on these dates were to benefit the Masque and try to bring it up to code. The place was owned by an Englishman named Brendan Mullen.
The two days showcased a veritable who's who in L.A. punk. I can't think of a single act at the time that wasn't represented in the two days. Day 1 featured a band that we had purchased a single by called the Flesh Eaters. Steve always liked them a lot better than me and they were led by Chris Desjardins. Bands I've talked about before like the Controllers, Zeros, Screamers, Germs, Skulls and Bags also played. The Bags figured that the bags they were wearing on their heads the first time I saw them were a bit hard to deal with so the people that we would come to know as Alice Bag (I got a recent email from Alice - Thanks!), Craig Lee who was an early AIDS victim, Patrical Morrison who later married Damned frontman, Dave Vanian, and Terry Dadbag. Ending the night was a joke band that I believe was led by Bruce Barf. They said they were the Bitt Pliers. It was the only time I ever saw them. I remember driving home from that show thinking that I was a member of this scene now and it was a great feeling to belong. I believe that if you asked of the first wave of punks that came through L.A., you would find a similar feeling of not belonging in "normal" society and looking for someplace that you could just be who you were.
Day 2 was the first time I ever saw the bands the Plugz (a latino band led by Tito Larriva), the Alley Cats (led by Randy Stodola and Dianne Chai), the Eyes with Charlotte Caffey of the soon to be Go-Go's, the Deadbeats (another Dangerhouse band with the great song "Kill the Hippies") and the Randoms with Rand McNally that put out a single on Dangerhouse and that was about the last that was heard of from them. Other bands that I had seen previously were Shock, X, the Dickies, Weirdos, Skulls, Black Randy and Arthur J & the Gold Cups. The two days worth of shows were released as a series of 3 CDs called "Live From the Masque". My photo is in there if you have the second volume. I am the person standing in the background behind the intended subject, Cherie the Penguin.
Just as I had the feeling on Day 1 that I had become a part of the scene, Day 2 had the potential for ripping that to pieces. Our old friends Sally and Lauren were up to their old antics and I was getting a regular shoe in the back of the legs by Lauren. I finally had enough and went up behind her and gave her a shove. To my horror, she went down like a sack of potatoes as people gathered around her. I just kind of slinked away wondering if anyone had seen it (apparently nobody except Steve had) and wondering if my days as an L.A. punk rock fan had just come to an end. If you are out there, Lauren, I publicly apologize now. I don't condone violence against women in any way. I have two daughters of my own and would want to rip the suckers balls off that would have done that to my daughter.
March 23 at the Whiskey with another new band, VOM. I never particularly cared for them but the Dickies headlined so it was a good night, I'm sure.
Back to Larchmont Hall on March 24 and the first appearance of Fear. Fear had the great Lee Ving on vocals and he would insult the audience and get some really pissed that see through the shtick. Also on the bill were F-Word, the Deadbeats and the Skulls. I'm pretty sure this was the show where we were introduced to Geza X and his rantings about Mean Mister Mommy Man. Bruce Barf had joined the Skulls and he and Geza were up on stage talking while fondling each other. Anything could and did happen during these years.
Leonard Phillips of the Dickies and Charlotte Caffey of the Eyes dated for awhile and the Dickies and Eyes played the Whiskey on March 25.
A week later it was the Weirdos and Bags again along with a power pop band called the Last, featuring frontman Joe Nolte that put a great single on their own label and later re-released by Bomp!
The Bags are now headlining at Lazaros over X and the Dils.
The Pop! was another of the KROQ Cabaret bands that was pushed to the side by the punk movement. They had quite a following and have publicly stated that punk ruined their momentum. I always liked them but their style would have little appeal to the average punk rocker of the day. They headlined over the Dogs and Breakaways (who I don't remember). The Dogs had started to move their sound more towards a punk sound to try to fit in although they never really did in those days. They wrote the punk classic "Slash Your Face" as scathing criticism of the punks. Funny how 25 years will change you from an outsider to having one of the most sought after "punk" classic singles.
The Jam invaded our shores again on April 14 and the Dickies and Eyes opened at the great Starwood. My first ever club shows were at the Starwood and the place I saw the Ramones for the first time.
The Screamers at the Whiskey on April 15th, a year since the dawn of the L.A. punk scene that started at the Orpheum Theater. This may have one of the 3 sold out nights at the Whiskey for the Screamers, who as I have stated were never a favorite. I did however get to see two of my favorite bands at the time, the Zeros and F-Word.
Rounding out the first four months of 1978 was New York's Tuff Darts and Akron, Ohio's Rubber City Rebels. Tuff Darts were OK but nothing special and I liked the Rebels a bit more but they didn't do a whole lot for me at the time either. ( I did see the Rebels a year or two back and it was one of the greatest shows I have seen since the old days). The Rebels were just about to relocate to L.A. Lead man Rod Firestone is related (uncle maybe?) to Andrew Firestone, one of the contestants on the ABC show, the Bachelor.
MAY Ė AUGUST 1978
Things are starting to pick up. More
and more people are discovering the scene. Steve
and I are starting to give people nicknames that we donít know but see often
enough that they are familiar. There
was a song by the English band, the Drones, called Lookalikes.
We gave that nickname to sisters Barbara and Dorothy James who looked and
dressed similarly. We even called
them Big Lookalike and Little Lookalike.
Things are starting to pick up. More and more people are discovering the scene. Steve and I are starting to give people nicknames that we donít know but see often enough that they are familiar. There was a song by the English band, the Drones, called Lookalikes. We gave that nickname to sisters Barbara and Dorothy James who looked and dressed similarly. We even called them Big Lookalike and Little Lookalike.
Eighteen of the 24 shows
that I went to in this 4 month stretch were at the Whiskey so it obviously has
become established as the punk locale of choice for most of the
Bands listed here that I have no recollection of are the Consumers, Permanent Wave, Continental Miniatures, Brothel Creepers, Blow Up, Richie Glover Combo, Kids, Duplicators and L.A. Shakers.
The Hollywood Squares were a band that put out one single and as far as I know only did this one show. They had a song called Hillside Strangler. When they played that song they threw out a piece of rope. I still have it. The Boyfriends were a power pop combo that were alright but nothing special.
Black Randyís alter ego Mexican Randy took the stage on May 28th and he pretended to be Mexican instead of black. That was Randyís shtick although he was a white guy. I believe he died of drugs or AIDS, I canít remember which.
Although I did not attend
the show at the Starwood, it is part of
One of the pre-punk bands that Steve and I enjoyed a lot was Quiet Riot. Randy Rhoades that went on to play with Ozzy Osbourne was an absolutely amazing guitarist, maybe the best Iíve ever seen for technical proficiency (Iíd take Johnny Ramone any day but you know what I mean). Randy was killed when the plane he was in crashed into the house that Ozzy was in when it crashed. I guess by this time punk must have been in my veins because they didnít sound anywhere near as good as I remembered from before. I think that was probably the last non-punk show I went to during this period.
We head back to Larchmont Hall for the third time June 9th. We had never heard of the opening band, Middle Class, before. Holy shit! The first hardcore band? Many think so. Super speeded up music with lead singer Jeff sounding like an auctioneer as fast as he was spewing out those lyrics. Middle Class were the three Atta boys (sorry, I couldnít resist), Jeff, Mike and Bruce along with Mike Patton. We hung out with Mike Patton on many occasions and these were some of the band members that we had the most contact with as friends.
One of the pre-punk bands
that we liked a lot was the New York Dolls.
You could certainly make the argument that they were punk because the
sound was there. They were about 5
years ahead of the curve though. Their
lead singer, David Johansen, had a solo career started about this time.
We went hoping to hear some of the New York Dolls old stuff.
As ďPersonality CrisisĒ came on we went into a pogoing frenzy which
was not well received by the non-punk majority.
Ex-Blondie member, Gary Valentine, opened the show.
He was either booted or left band over artistic differences.
I hope he was able to afford those artistic differences, because Blondie
obviously became huge and
June 26th was
a very memorable show. It was at a
roller skating rink in
In the beginning of July
we saw the Suicide Commandos from
The rest of July we saw
bands that I have mentioned before. July
3rd was the 4th of 4 nights in a row so we were certainly
getting out to shows often even though we had a 25 mile drive from
On August 4th
we got to see the great Dictators from
Four more consecutive shows at the Whiskey with the local bands that defined
the scene at the time.
Four more consecutive shows at the Whiskey with the local bands that defined the scene at the time.
finds us at Club Azteca which I think was in
August ends with two very good local bands making their first appearance on these lists, the Scientists and Rhino 39, as well as one very famous band. Rhino 39 put out an excellent single on Dangerhouse called Prolixin Stomp. Their lead singer whose name eludes me right now was killed in a car accident in the early 80ís. Also, on this bill was the first time I had seen the Go-Goís. Their early shows were not very musically competent but they had the Charlotte Caffey from the Eyes on guitar, Jane Drano and Belinda with Margot on bass. Margot made the mistake of getting sick about the time the Go-Goís actually struck it big so that was one expensive illness.
SEPTEMBER Ė DECEMBER 1978
The last third of 1978 is significant for two events: the emergence of the best damned live band ever (more on that later) and the opening of the Other Masque, Brendan Mullenís new location after the demise of the original Masque.
Only eleven shows in this four month period, which could be considered a bit of a drought for me.
The first of the new
bands to appear during this time was the Brainiacs that put out an excellent EP.
Iím pretty sure they were a local band, but this is the only time I saw
them. The Plugz and Avengers
headlined with their usual great shows. The
great thing about the
September 22nd finds me at the Whiskey for the Heartbreakers. I find it a bit disturbing that I can't remember having seen the Heartbreakers. Did I see Johnny Thunders and just forgot I did? I asked Steve and his recollection was vaguely that we had seen them although he remembers very well having seen them approximately 2 years after this date.
The Go-Goís come into play here more and more as they establish themselves as a regular act before hitting the big time. Walking in the Sand is the one song that really sticks out in my mind from that time period. They were much rawer then than they became on their sweet sounding debut album.
finds us at Baceís Hall which became a regular spot for shows throughout the
Ď78/í79 time period. This first
show was a truly memorable one. The
Visitors opened but I donít recall anything about them.
Fear played their usual contentious set.
Next up was the Mutants from
October 27th finds us at the Rock Corporation for the Weirdos, Rubber City Rebels and the Girls. What I remember most about the Girls was not their music which wasnít that great, but the fact that the drummer was familiar from a bunch of B-movies where she removed her top in each and every one of them. These were the teenage sex flicks that were popular at the time. Flicks like The Van and the Pom Pom Girls and such. Of course being young guys like we were, watching these movies were part of what we liked to do.
November saw old favorites The Avengers, Go-Goís and Weirdos as well as the first first sighting of the Flyboys. The Flyboys were really saccharine power pop but this was a genre that I really enjoyed and I liked the band a lot.
at Park View Hall introduces
Five days later the
ďOtherĒ Masque opens and we have one more place to call our own.
The Other Masque was a pretty large place and could probably fit several
hundred people. The Red Army have
the distinction of officially opening the new place and are followed by the
Flyboys, Eyes (Iím sure
Christmas Day at the Other Masque finds us with the Suburban Lawns and the great Sue Tissue on vocals. Their Gidget Goes to Hell single is a classic. Snuky Tate is back it and I guess I got the correct spelling somewhere because itís right in my listings. The Controllers are next and Mad Dog Carla should be firmly ensconced as the drummer by this time. Larry Fisher is up next and I remember nothing about him. Nicky Beat and Friends are the headliners although I have forgotten who his ďfriendsĒ were.
The last of the 58 shows that I went to in 1978 is at the Whiskey and feature the best band of all time, the Ramones. I saw the Ramones so many times and I donít think Iíd ever be able to come up with more than a ballpark figure for the number of times I actually did see them but what I can say is that every time was great experience. There is a big hole in the soul whenever I think that 3 of the 4 original members are dead now. Without these 4 guys, I would not be writing this now and the world would be a much bleaker place. Take it Dee Dee. 1-2-3-4!!!!!
1979 will see me going to 80 shows so I am breaking 1979 into fourths. January through March 1979 coming next week.
I'm going to start this week off by publishing an email I got from Dan Wasko, drummer of the Red Army (and later with Rock Bottom and the Spys and the Cartwrights). Reprinted by permission of Dan course - although I'm printing verbatim even though he did ask me to edit it first. I just thought the thoughts would come out a lot more powerful as written.
"#1. You mentioned that
on Oct. 6, '78 at Bace's Hall you didn't remember The Visitors. I too was at
that show and well remember them, although not all of the members. I recall that
the drummer was " Dave Drive" who later was drummer for the Gears. On
bass was Kira Roessler. I remember her because my brother ended up banging her
steadily for a few weeks. I don't remember the name of the guitar player, but he
was a tall, thin guy with a sort of mullett haircut and played a clear acrylic
Ampeg Dan Armstrong guitar like Greg Ginn of Black Flag. Lastly, the vocalist
was this weird dude named "Spazz Attack" who would do all of these
crazy flips and stuff on stage. As I recall they were pretty decedent, but then,
this was my very first L.A. punk rock show, so I was easily impressed.