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Candid photos of Johnny Thunders, Siouxsie Sioux and The Clash from the mid-1970s

Steve Severin and Siouxsie Sioux, 1976
Steve Severin and Siouxsie Sioux, 1976
Photographer Ray Stevenson, the brother of former Sex Pistols’ road manager and early manager of Siouxsie and the Banshees, Nils Stevenson (RIP), took some pretty remarkable photos of the punk rock movement back in the mid-70s. Many of his snapshots had punk players like Siouxsie Sioux, Johnny Thunders and fashion designer and icon Vivienne Westwood just hanging out being punks together.
Vivienne Westwood, John Lydon and Jordan, 1976
Vivienne Westwood, John Lydon and model/muse Jordan, 1976
Thanks to some convincing from his brother, Stevenson and his camera often found themselves at parties held at the legendary Marquee Club and in Linda Ashby’s hotel room at the St. James Hotel. His images were among a few of the punk time capsules captured by the (then) young photographer showcased at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London just last week. Some of Stevenson’s remarkable photos can be purchased, here. Super snotty and beautifully candid images taken by Stevenson follow.
Johnny Thunders, Nils Stevenson and Lee Black Childers (RIP)
Johnny Thunders, Nils Stevenson and photographer/manager Leee Black Childers (RIP)
Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon of The Clash on an elevator
Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon of The Clash on an elevator
More after the jump…

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Scientists name ‘muscular’ fossil fireworm after Henry Rollins
12:00 pm


Henry Rollins

In the never ending mashup of cool nerds and music enthusiasts, a group of scientists from the University of Bristol in the UK and the Natural History Museum in London have named a newly discovered species of particularly muscular fossil fireworms after D.C. hardcore punk rocker (who has worn many creative hats throughout the decades), Henry Rollins.

During a study of the fossilized remains of the Rollinschaeta myoplena (fossilization is a rare event in nature when it comes to worms) the team was able to determine the species was a close relative of earthworms and leeches as well as a member of the “fireworm” (or “Amphinomidae”) family. All of which (unlike Mr. Rollins), have soft bodies. Comparatively speaking, this worm’s got a six-pack, in worm terms.
Rollinschaeta myoplena
The fossilized remains of Rollinschaeta myoplena

According to Greg Edgecombe of the Natural History Museum, (the co-author of the study) this was the first time that “any fossil has been identified by its muscle anatomy.” Sadly, the Rollinschaeta is extinct so we can’t all run out and start a new hardcore punk rock worm colony in our basements.

No word on what Rollins thinks of all this, but he joins a growing list of musicians who have had animals speciesnamed after them like Lou Reed, whose name is now synonomous with a species of velvet spider known as Loureedia, David Bowie provided the namesake for a rare type of Malaysia spider, Heteropoda davidbowie, and Frank Zappa who had the distinct honor to have a jellyfish named after him, the Phialella zappai

Zappa has an even stranger claim to scientific immortality: a type of bacteria that causes pimples was dubbed Propionibacterium zappae:


Loureedia annulipes, an underground-dwelling genus of velvet spider discovered in Israel

‘Spider from Mars’: Heteropoda davidbowie, discovered in Malaysia in 2009.

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Got $4000 Germs-burning a hole in your pocket? Buy signed (pitiful) royalty checks of Germs members!
08:59 am


Darby Crash
The Germs
Pat Smear

Let’s say you’re an ageing ex-punk who’s made it in the world of high finance. You’re on top of the world, but still something is missing. You’ve got the McMansion and the porsche and the cabin cruiser, but you still wear your FEAR shirt on the weekends up at the lake and there’s always that Germs-burn on your inner wrist which serves as a constant reminder of your rebellious roots. You still feel connected to those glory days, but time has built a wall between you and your lost youth. If only this great wealth could somehow help you reconnect…


Allow me to direct your attention to three pieces of punk rock memorabilia currently for sale on eBay that would be considered absolutely priceless if it weren’t for the fact that they have an actual price: $3,998.00.

Germs’ royalty checks. Click on image for larger version.
These three royalty checks were made out by What? Records owner Chris Ashord to Paul Beahm (Darby Crash), Teresa Ryan (Lorna Doom), and Georg Ruthenberg Jr (Pat Smear) for sales of the first Germs’ single “Forming”, which was released in July, 1977. They are endorsed on the reverse side by the band members.

Endorsements. Click image for larger version.
What’s most remarkable about these artifacts is the fact that the royalty checks are made out for $3.00, $2.57, and $2.56. One is reminded of the Opti-Grab lawsuit scene from The Jerk in which Steve Martin’s character is reduced to writing hundreds of settlement checks for “one dollar and nine cents.” A $2.56 check seems hardly worth writing, but considering the value of that check now, there’s at least one eBay seller that’s satisfied that the payments were made in a timely manner. 

Money can’t buy you authenticity, but these checks do seem to prove the street-cred of early punk bands like The Germs. No one was in it for the money, and here’s the evidence! These items prove that, at least once-upon-a-time, there were some things more important than money—and you can have that proof to hold in your very own hands today for only $3,998.00.

After the jump, the hit What? Records single from whence the Germs got filthy rich. Listen to it and ponder, “What happened to Don Bolles’ check?”

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
The Plasmatics wreck shit on ‘Solid Gold,’ 1981, plus Wendy O. interviewed by a ventriloquist dummy!
09:29 am


Solid Gold

Solid Gold was an acutely ‘80s syndicated pop music variety show that set itself apart from similar offerings with the utterly baffling Solid Gold Dancers. The show was conceived at the tail end of the disco era, and so along with the usual hodgepodge of mimed and live music performances, the show featured disco-inspired dance accompaniments—no matter what kind of music was being featured. It was silly and often wildly inappropriate, but sufficiently distinctive that the phrase “Solid Gold Dancers” still conjures images of vapid glitz even to people who never saw the show.

It’s hard to say whether it’s a relief or a cryin’ goddamn shame that those dancers didn’t accompany the Plasmatics, but either way, the very fact that that appearance even happened is amazing. This was in 1981, the year that multiple arrests for indecency made the band’s singer Wendy O. Williams notorious outside of underground music circles, and Solid Gold was a broad appeal, all-smiles show that usually aired during the family hour. (I myself was an avid watcher at age nine, the age at which Solid Gold turned me on to a little band called Blondie. That and my discovery of DEVO that same year set the stage for a great deal of weirdness to come.) But despite the general family-friendliness of the program, nothing particularly set this performance of the Metal Priestess track “Black Leather Monster” apart from any given Plasmatics show except for a lack of breast exposure. Williams shrieked, danced suggestively, and chainsawed an innocent Les Paul while the band made a spastic punk spectacle of itself. And the segment is followed by a preposterous and wonderful interview—Williams chats (or rather, haltingly reads cue cards) with ventriloquist Waylon Flowers’ famously raunchy dummy Madame.

Billboard Dec 19, 1981, page 8

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the band is here introduced by the show’s co-host at the time, the Bee Gees’ youngest brother Andy Gibb (the other co-host was 5th Dimension singer Marilyn McCoo). This may seem as odd a juxtaposition of punk filth with squeaky-clean pop as their booking on the show itself, but Gibb’s spotless image was a pop pretense. He would soon be fired from the show on the grounds that his apparently monstrous cocaine binges made him a frequent and unpredictable absentee from shooting.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Debbie Harry’s dress, Kim Gordon painting and other NYC punk artifacts in the Mudd Club rummage sale

Though it only existed for five years, from 1978 to 1983, NYC’s Mudd Club served as one of New York—and American—underground culture’s most crucial incubators. Talking Heads and Blondie were fixtures there, and artists that emerged from the scene it galvanized included Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Madonna, the B-52s, Kathy Acker… you get the point. It was the gnarly, buoyantly creative flip-side of Studio 54’s disco-glamour coin, a lightning-in-a-bottle moment that can’t be recreated.

This week, Mudd Club co-founder Steve Mass has contrived a Mudd Club rummage sale to benefit the Bowery Mission, a long surviving homeless shelter/food kitchen that remains in NYC’s onetime Skid Row, now, like basically all of Lower Manhattan, a playground for the privileged. The event will be held on Thursday, November 19th, 2015 at Django at the Roxy Hotel. Admission ain’t cheap. It’s $200 a head to get in, but again, the money goes to a homeless mission. What that gets you is a chance to buy a Vivienne Westwood dress donated by Debbie Harry, an original painting donated by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, and other items donated by Sting, Maripol, Patti Smith, and other members of the Downtown demimonde.

Via Bedford and Bowery:

Mass assures us that, rather than being a Sotheby’s-style auction, the rummage sale will be “like we had it in the old days,” with $50 dollar trinkets casually laid out next to more expensive items. “If Marc Jacobs donates a dress from that period and it’s $4,000 or $5,000, it might be next to a pair of shoes of someone who lost them in the Mudd Club in 1980.”

That pastiche, Mass said, was true to the club’s sensibility. “We were merging all these disciplines, which hadn’t been done before in a club,” said Mass, citing the presence of filmmakers like Kathryn Bigelow, writers like Candace Bushnell and Jay McInerney, photographers like Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin (both of whom are hosts), and fashion designers like Anna Sui (another host) and Marc Jacobs, both of whom had early shows there.

The event will be open-bar, and will feature performances by the B-52s Kate Pierson and the Patti Smith Group’s Lenny Kaye, plus DJs and more to be announced.

Here’s some BADASS footage of the Cramps at the Mudd Club in 1981, from the contemporary NYC access cable program “Paul Tschinkel’s Inner-Tube.”

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Punk rock icons get the comic book treatment in ‘Visions of Rock,’ 1981

John Lydon by Brendan McCarthy
John Lydon by Brendan McCarthy
Like many of you, I was once an avid collector of comic books. While it’s still in my nature to pick up an occasionally graphic novel (my last one was The Big Book of Mischief from the great UK illustrator, Krent Able), I was naturally drawn to the illustrations of the punks from the 70s done by several artists who would go on to make great contributions to the world of comic book art in a publication from 1981, Visions of Rock
Visions of Rock by Mal Burns (on the cover Chrissie Hynde, Rod Stewart and Debbie Harry)
Visions of Rock by Mal Burns (on the cover Chrissie Hynde, Rod Stewart and Debbie Harry)
Although including Rod Stewart on the cover is a bit perplexing (as are some of the illustrations in the book itself) loads of incredibly talented illustrators contributed work to Visions of Rock such as Bryan Talbot (who worked on Sandman with Neil Gaiman), Brett Ewins (of Judge Dredd fame who sadly passed away in February of this year), Brendan McCarthy (who most recently worked with George Miller on a little film called Mad Max: Fury Road, perhaps you’ve heard of it) and Hunt Emerson whose work appears in nearly every book in the “Big Book Of” series.

Inside you’ll find comic book-style renditions of your favorite 70s punks like Sid Vicious (equipped with a chainsaw no less), Elvis Costello, Brian Ferry (wait, he’s not a punk rocker…), The Stranglers and others. Here’s a bit of the backstory on the making of Visions of Rock from comic book illustrator, David Hine (who worked with Marvel UK back in the 80s and whose work appears in the book):

This company that put out Visions of Rock, Communication Vectors, was run by a guy called Mal Burns, who also produced the comic Pssst! It was a weird setup, I think the (our) money came from a mysterious French millionaire. We were all paid about $200

The Stranglers by Stuart Briers
The Stranglers by Stuart Briers
I must admit, I’m a huge fan of Brendan McCarthy’s caricature of John Lydon (at the top of the post) looking like a crazed super villain descending upon London, compelled by the powers of both filth and fury. If you dig the images in this post, Visions of Rock can be had from third-party vendors over at Amazon for about $20 bucks, or less.
Sid Vicious by Brendan McCarthy
Sid Vicious by Brendan McCarthy
Elvis Costello by Brent Emerson
Elvis Costello by Hunt Emerson
More comic book versions of punk rock royalty after the jump…

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Fan club memorabilia from Nirvana, The Cramps, Bowie, The Cure, Fugazi, Iggy, T.Rex & more
09:04 am


The Cramps
The Plasmatics
fan clubs

David Bowie fan club mailer
David Bowie fan club application
As a former fan club member of more old-school fan clubs than I care to mention (you know, the ones you used to have to MAIL away for), I thought many of you would dig revisiting the days when for a few dollars you could become a member of your favorite band’s fan club.
Slayer “Slaytanic Wehrmacht” fan club application
The Cramps fan club mailer
The Cramps fan club application
Back in the day, most fan clubs would charge fifteen bucks or less for membership and you would get a bunch of cool swag from buttons and patches, to letters, exclusive magazines or “signed” photos of your idols. Some of you may even remember that members of The Plasmatics fan club (known as The Plasmatics Secret Service, pictured below) got their very own card with their name on it.
The Plasmatics Secret Service fan club membership card
The Plasmatics “Secret Service” fan club card
While I sadly missed out on that one (which included a list of “posers get lost” responsibilities on the back of the card which I still take very seriously anyway), I still have a small box full of my KISS Army gear as well as other fan club memorabilia that I’ll never part with. So without further delay, check out some of the sweet vintage fan club applications, mailers, letters and cards from the last few decades from The Cramps, Slayer, LA punks the Screamers and many more. They almost make me want to write to the old addresses just to see if anything comes back.
Screamers fan club application
Screamers fan club application
Hanoi Rocks fan club letter
Hanoi Rocks fan club letter
T-Rex fan club application
T.Rex fan club application
Many more after the jump…

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I’m with the Band(s): Intimate photographs of punk legends at CBGBs

Whether it’s the Left Bank, or Bloomsbury, or Sun Records in Memphis, the Cavern Club in Liverpool, or London’s King’s Road, there is always one location that becomes the focus for a new generation of artists, writers and musicians. In New York during the 1970s, this creative hub could be found in a venue called CBGBs where different bands came to play every night spearheading the punk and new wave movement and bringing about a small revolution which changed everything in its wake.

Amongst the musicians, writers and artists who played and hung out at Hilly Kristal’s club at 315 Bowery were conceptual artists Bettie Ringma and Marc H. Miller. Bettie had come from from Holland to the US, where she met Miller—a writer and photographer whose passion was for telling “stories with pictures, with ephemera and with a few carefully chosen words.” Together they started collaborating on various multi-media and conceptual artworks.

In late 1976, Marc and Bettie were drawn to the irresistible pull of creative energy buzzing out of CBGB’s. Most nights they went down to the venue and started documenting the bands and artists who appeared there:

Our first photograph of Bettie with the movers and shakers at CBGB was taken during our very first visit to the club in late 1976. Standing alone by the bar was one of Bettie’s favorite performers, the poet-rocker Patti Smith. At home at CBGB and a wee bit tipsy, Patti was more than happy to oblige our request for a picture with Bettie. Soon we were CBGB regulars, checking out the different bands and slowly adding to our collection of pictures.

Marc and Bettie’s original idea of creating “Paparazzi Self-Portraits” at this Bowery bar developed into the portfolio Bettie Visits CBGB—a documentary record of all the bands, musicians, artists and writers who hung out at the venue, with photographs becoming:

...a reflection of the new aesthetic emerging at CBGB, a contradictory mix of high and low culture energized by fun and humor, the lure of fame and fortune, and a cynical appreciation of the power of a good hype.

More of Marc and Bettie’s work from this punk era can be seen here.

Patti Smith was hanging around at the bar, but no one was taking pictures of her because she was super-shy. She posed with me and then just went away: some musicians are like that, they’re not into socialising. They’re just artists.


Debbie Harry is a really great singer. She had a very different style from what was emerging there at that time. She was not shy, but she was very aloof: you can see that in the picture, hiding half her face behind her hair. It wasn’t something she needed, because she was very pretty, she was the frontwoman. But it gave her safety.


I just love the Ramones. When their music starts I can’t sit still, I just have to start hopping and dancing, and I’m 71 now. We saw them live about 10 times: we would go out of our way to see them perform.

More of Marc and Bettie’s work after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The dress GG Allin wore at his brother’s wedding is up for auction
09:14 am


GG Allin

GG Allin in a dress for his brother Merle's wedding in May of 1989
GG Allin in a dress as the Best Man/Maid of Honor at his brother Merle Allin’s wedding in May of 1989

Never one to be upstaged by anyone, GG Allin wore a dress to his brother Merle’s wedding held at the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts (a place I once found myself locked in, don’t ask) on May 8th, 1989. If you’re aware of who GG Allin was, none of this should strike you as strange. What is noteworthy is that said dress is currently up for auction
The dress GG Allin wore to his brother Merle's wedding in May, 1989
Close up of GG Allin's Best Man/Maid of Honor dress, 1989
GG’s dress

GG was both the best man and maid of honor at Merle’s wedding and in addition to sporting the purple and gold dress (under a black leather jacket of course), Allin also shaved off half of his beard and wore red lipstick and makeup. According to Merle, the dress was also worn by guitarist Chris Brokaw during the only live show (which you can see here) of GG Allin & The AIDs Brigade that threw down at legendary Boston club the The Middle East Cafe in Cambridge on August 27th, 1989.

If you are interested in becoming the new owner of this bizarre piece of scummy punk history, which Executive VP at RR Auction Robert Livingston referred to as an “unusually touching piece of history from the notorious punk rocker,” the opening bid is $200. Here’s the item description:

GG Allin’s personally-owned and -worn purple and gold dress. Approximately 40.5″ in length, the dress is sewn with an elaborate tinsel floral-pattern, and features four button loops on the left shoulder and a zipper running down the left waist. In fine condition, with a few trivial stains to collar area of liner and one of the shoulder buttons missing

Well, that’s got to be the first time anything touched by GG Allin ended up with trivial stains. If you’re concerned about the items legitimacy, as I’m sure any discriminating GG Allin fan would be, there are several photos of GG bringing the scumfuck glamour to the cemetery wedding that should quell any lingering doubts about the item’s authenticity. The auction which started yesterday, is being held by the Music and Entertainment Icons Auction (for RR Auction) and will run through November 19th. For a change, the photos of GG at the wedding that follow are pretty much safe for work. Life is weird that way sometimes.
GG Allin in a dress holding a bouquet of roses at his brother Merle's wedding, 1989
GG Allin (holding the bouquet of roses on the left)
GG Allin in a dress and makeup at his brother Merle's wedding, 1989
Letter of authenticity for GG's dress from Merle Allin
GG Allin and what remains of the dress he wore to his brother Merle's wedding in 1989
GG Allin and what remained of the dress after the wedding in 1989

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‘You Really Got Me’: Oingo Boingo’s spiky Kinks cover
10:31 am


Oingo Boingo

In a lot of ways, Oingo Boingo epitomized the stereotypical New Wave sound for Southern California, favoring the jagged rhythms and stilted, hiccuping vocals that typified that music for most casuals. Singer Danny Elfman’s bright red hair, eye makeup, and demented grin served as a perfect visual for the sound, and their zany name sealed their image. But Oingo Boingo’s horn-heavy large band approach to that sound reflected their origins as a performance-arty lounge act, and a deeply weird one, at that—witness their 1976 Gong Show appearance if you need convincing.

And if they were going to be New Wave standard bearers, it more or less behooved them to join in that wonderful tradition—arguably kicked off by DEVO’s cover of ‘Satisfaction,’ though one could make a case for the Sex Pistols’ version of “Stepping Stone” as the Ur-example—of crafting a spiky remake of a beloved song from the classic rock canon. So as the Slits did “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” Flying Lizards indelibly warped “Money,” and Magazine made a twisted, menacing version of Sly Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin),” Oingo Boingo’s debut album Only A Lad sported a cover of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.” As George Gimar’s eternally useful Punk Diary: The Ultimate Trainspotter’s Guide to Underground Rock, 1970-1982 notes:

There’s also a frenetic version of the Kinks’ song “You Really Got Me.” Danny Elfamn’s vocals sound very influenced by XTC’s Andy Partridge. They both have the same impassioned, at times hiccoughpy sound. Oingo Boingo are set apart by their big brass section and grandiose arrangements.

Here’s the album version, followed by some great audience-cam footage of a live performance from 1985. The live version’s sound isn’t the best, but it adequately captures an organic take on the song that makes the LP version feel a bit contrived and overwrought, in hindsight.


Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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