About four months before UK music TV show The Tube went off the air, one of its hosts, the excellent Jools Holland uttered the phrase, “be there or be ungroovy fuckers” while doing a live trailer for the show. It’s also a fairly accurate way to ease into this equally excellent footage of Iggy Pop performing on the show back in 1983.
During its five-year run, The Tube played host to a wide range of musical guests like The Cramps, PiL, and Motörhead. The Jam even played their last live televised gig on The Tube before calling it quits in 1982. This clip from The Tube features a live set from punk king, Iggy Pop performing with what appears to be his Zombie Birdhouse Tour lineup of Larry Mysilewicz (drums), Frank Infante (formerly of Blondie on guitar), Michael Page (bass) and Rob Duprey (former Mumps member also on guitar). The always shirtless Iggy rips through three songs, “Run Like a Villain”, “Eat or be Eaten” (from 1982’s Zombie Birdhouse which was produced by Blondie guitarist Chris Stein), and the sweet throwback “Sixteen” from 1977’s Lust for Life.
According to legend, The Tube was sort of infamous for screwing up the sound for their live acts from time to time, and while the sound isn’t great in this video, the performance is fucking great and true to form, Iggy kicks out the jams like a punk rock version of The Rockettes. I’m also pretty sure Iggy’s eyes were on the verge of shooting lasers at the audience because he looks, let’s just say, enlightened (according to the book Open Up and Bleed, during the soundcheck Iggy fell backwards into the drum kit so there’s that).
Iggy had a really good run in the 80s due much in part to his pal David Bowie who not only gave Iggy a fat paycheck thanks to his cover of “China Girl” (which was originally recorded by Pop on 1977’s The Idiot and co-written by the pair), but who helped convince Iggy to kick his drug habit to the curb. Is there anything The Thin White Duke can’t do? Probably not. But I digress. Here’s Iggy Pop, his crazy abs, and some sweet punk jams, courtesy of 1983.
Walter Schreifels has one of the most enviable resumes in underground rock. While still in his teens in the ‘80s, he became the founder and songwriter for Gorilla Biscuits AND the fifth bassist in Youth of Today. In the ‘90s, he formed the still-extant label Some Records and led the killer post-hardcore unit Quicksand. In the 21st Century, he founded the indie band Rival Schools. The guy seems charmed—he’s been evolving for 30 years, and doing interesting work at every step.
The latest evolution happens to be some pretty sick acid rock, which amused me a bit, given his early associations with straightedge bands. His new band, Dead Heavens, is populated with other lifers who emerged from the hardcore scene of the ‘80s. Drew Thomas was the drummer for Youth of Today, but wasn’t actually in the band at the same time as Schreifels. Guitarist Paul Kostabi’s band Youth Gone Mad was a transplant from the L.A. scene, and he’d later play in White Zombie. Bassist Nathan Aguilar, of indie bands Census and Cults, may seem like the only member without HXC lifer cred, but even he has a connection: Cults’ singer Madeline Follin once sang for Kostabi’s Youth Gone Mad.
We reached out to Schreifels to ask about his journey from the hippie-hating hardcore scene to a psychedelic band. (I fully realize that hardcore musicians embracing hippie tropes go back to at least 1984, with Meat Puppets II and Hüsker Dü‘s cover of “Eight Miles High,” but whatever, it’s still interesting to me.)
I’m a child of the 70’s, we’re the most psychedelic generation ever, have you ever seen our cartoons? The first movie that made an impact on me was Yellow Submarine. The first record I bought was a 45 of “Eight Miles High” by the Byrds. I love many different styles/genres of music but it’s always been the psych music of 65-69 that’s most inspired me and has informed everything I’ve done. Playing lead guitar with a wah wah is new to me but I feel very at home with it because when you boil it down “psych” is about musical experimentation which is something I’ve always found appealing.
Makes sense—apart from the bands he was in as a teen, his work has hardly been doctrinaire thrash-and-chant hardcore, and Dead Heavens’ music—all four songs you can get of it—grooves really organically and satisfyingly. There are shades of the late ‘90s stoner rock moment present here every bit as much actual ‘60s psych—really, the debts they owe seem best paid out to the likes of Blue Cheer, Witchfinder General, and the ‘90s Palm Desert scene. The band’s discography is so far constituted in its entirety by a pair of singles, “History in my Hands”/“36 Chambers,” released in February, and “Adderall Highway”/“Hyacinth,” released last month on Jesse Malin’s Velvet Elk label.
DM is pleased to be premiering the video for the band’s second single. “Adderall Highway.” On making the video, Schreifels offered the following:
We had a blast making this video, was all friends with cameras and we played live which is a relief from the weirdness of lip-synching, the projection was done by BA Maile who’m we’d met just a few weeks before but has since become a quasi 5th member of the band. We’re inspired by early Pink Floyd clips and all those old Beat Club videos that are so amazing, basic effects and live sound. We had played our best live show to date just the week before so it was great timing to capture us playing “Adderall Highway,” think I might even like this version even better than the recorded version, that’s not bad to say, is it?
Adam Ganderson who writes for Chips and Beer Magazine contributed this to Dangerous Minds.
Vom might be the weirdest punk band to ever exist. Made up of guitarist Phil Koehn, bassist Lisa Brenneis and rock writers Gregg Turner from Creem and “Metal” Mike Saunders, who is credited with being the first person to use the term “Heavy Metal” in a record review, the band was fronted by primary rock critic and Blue Oyster Cult lyricist Richard Meltzer.
It didn’t matter that in 1976 Blue Oyster Cult was one of the biggest heavy metal acts on the planet, by that time Meltzer claimed to be done with rock and especially rock writing, which was at that point already sagging with record label PR hacks trying to get their name “out there” in order to reap the socio economic benefits of being a music insider. Basically, what the music journalism game has become today, just on a different pay scale.
Vom (vomit abbreviated) turned out to be the test model for Angry Samoans (minus Meltzer) and was there as punk was taking hold in Los Angeles, when it was a legitimate “thing” but not so much of a thing that it had been scooped up by corporate bozos. These guys were pranksters, not really a surprise in the case of Meltzer who would sometimes mail his garbage to addresses chosen at random from the phone book. They would drape barbed wire in front of the stage, release live crickets at shows, and at least once hit someone in the face with the mic stand. Musically, they kinda stunk. But they were also great. Nothing about this band made complete sense and it wasn’t supposed to. It was concussed. Damaged but not broken. Juvenile. All the things that once made rock ’n’ roll relevant. Vom only lasted a year, but in that time they got about as close as music can get to capturing the sound of what Meltzer once called “children throwing tinker toys at the wall.”
Below are the videos for Vom’s “Punk Mobile”, “I’m In Love With Your Mom”, “Animalistic” and the timeless classic “Electrocute Your Cock” all of which also turn up in Angry Samoans: True Documentary.
Embedded in my brain are memories that radiate light like shards of luminous crystal. Most of this radiance involves sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. The night I spent with Lester Bangs at The Village Gate in 1977 watching a blazing performance by Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers was one of those incandescent nights. Between the music and Lester’s company, it was borderline mythical.
The fact that I remember that night at all is testimony to just how utterly amazing it was. A lot of my past has congealed into the kind of gunk you find inside of an old turntable. But this memory gleams. Drunkenly conversing with Lester was like trying to stand up in a row boat during a hurricane. The force coming off of Thunder’s guitar provided the ballast to keep me from capsizing. The Heartbreakers were stunning.
Thunders was firmly embraced, but not yet strangled, by the arms of Morpheus. His guitar riffs strafed the packed house like low-flying aircraft. With Walter Lure doing the heavy lifting and Jerry Nolan and Billy Rath grinding out the kind of transcendent energy that only loud guitars and big ferocious beats can deliver, the band was epic, not to be fucked with, New York to the extreme. No one could touch them. It was without question one of the great rock shows I’ve ever experienced. And it’s now available from Cleopatra Records on hot pink vinyl.
Binky Philips was one of the sticks of dynamite that detonated New York City’s punk explosion. He was at the Village Gate for all three nights of The Heartbreakers residency. When Binky talks about those days, it pays to listen:
The Who are my favorite band. Always will be. Having seen them on stage from 1967 on, I know they were the best live band I ever saw. That said, only, yes, only The Who can compare to the three gigs Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers performed at the Village Gate on non-trendy Bleecker St in mid-August, 1977.
Okay, I’ve committed that opinion here without having heard the about-to-be-released album recorded at those rightly legendary shows. Here’s hoping I wasn’t on reefer too powerful for my better discernment. I will caveat out front… The Heartbreakers were a very visual band. My band, The Planets, attended all three evenings. We hadn’t seen the guys in many months. Downtown visionary, Leee Black Childers, had just taken control of the band’s destiny a year earlier when he decided to get the hell outta Dodge and hit the far more receptive Brits in London who were currently gaga over the Heartbreakers’ biggest fans, The Sex Pistols.
There’s been a long held myth that when the band landed in England, Leee made them the following proposition; switch from hard-to-obtain-in-London heroin and switch to easy-to-score speed and he, Leee, would supply them endless amounts free. Let me emphasis the word myth. But, it must be noted, The Heartbreakers onstage demeanor during their three “Home to renew our visa and make some money, honey” shows at the Village Gate seemed to confirm the vice-switch rumors. All three nights, all four members of the band were overtly grinding their teeth, twitching, blinking rapidly, Jerry hitting his drums harder and sharper than I’d ever heard him, guitars roaring, Billy slamming his Precision… and playing the entire set nice and fast… Ramones tempo, at least.
Me and my fellow Planets loved Johnny, of course. Hell, I’d met him in early 1969 as John Genzale. But, we all felt that Walter Lure was the secret weapon of the band and overshadowed by JT’s toxic-level charisma. We made our point at all three nights by standing directly under Waldo’s mic stand and screaming “Wal-Tuhhh!” at the top of our lungs after every song. Walter was hilariously uncomfortable and John was amused. After the final show, I went home and wrote a song called “N-O Spells No”. It was a pure homage to Walter’s songs in the Heartbreakers oeuvre. I am thrilled and proud to announce that Walter Lure and I have recorded an album, due out in January, under the name The Last Ditches (Lure came up with that) The album features Walter singing and playing lead on “N-O Spells No”… 38 years later. How ‘bout that! God, I cannot wait to hear this Heartbreakers rekkid!
Brooke DeLarco was at the soundboard for The Heartbreaks three night stand at the Gate. She wrote me in an email:
Terry Ork put the shows on. They were part of a series of shows he did in the summer of ‘77. I had been doing sound for The Feelies and had worked on their record and Richard Lloyd’s for Ork Records. Terry asked me to do the sound for those shows, which is how I met the Heartbreakers. It was the first time I had ever heard them. The Heartbreakers had just come back from England after recording LAMF. At the sound check I knew right off they were a force to be reckoned with!
The Village Gate was predominately a jazz venue and had a very good sound system. The prior shows in July had been Patti Smith, Richard Hell, Talking Heads, The Feelies, Blondie and everyone else on the scene except for Television and The Ramones. It was also the first bookings for Mars and Teenage Jesus and the nights Terry first uttered the word’s “No Wave” in relation to those bands.
The buzz in town was fever pitched as always at their shows. All 3 nights were sold out. 3/4 of the way through the first set, they blew the sound system! The amps overloaded and shut down. They played the last song of the set, “One Track Mind” with no vocals. I always wished they had done “Pipeline” but instead they left the stage.
They next night we got the sound straightened out. The band was tight as ever but slightly slowed down from their initial onslaught the first night! (too much junkie business…lol! ). The last night was rip roaring with Sylvain and Robert Gordon on board for guest appearances. Elvis died that weekend!
Johnny was always the sweetest person to me. I never got any attitude from him or the band for being a girl sound mixer! He called me “young lady” and begged “baby please more monitors”! I was known for getting a great drum sound which Jerry recognized and I was more than happy to give him. Billy was a big advocate for me doing their sound and I continued doing their shows at Max’s until the Live album came out. Walter and I remain friends to this day.
During this period they were all business, the best they ever were in my opinion.
Thanks to Brooke there was someone taping one night of the three. L.A.M.F. - Live at the Village Gate 1977 is sourced from a tape recording off the soundboard. The quality is rough but it captures the energy, vibe and delirium of punk in its early days. It also may be the only document of what some—at least those of us who were there—argue is among the greatest live rock shows ever.
In the almost pathologically defiant, rules-free autonomous zone that was the early Cleveland punk scene, John Morton was probably the single most antagonistic figure. In 1972, when the term “punk rock” was only being used in Creem and Who Put the Bomp?, and only to describe ‘60s garage bands, Morton’s band the electric eels—always lowercase, in homage to e e cummings—were making noisy, primitive, highly charged, confrontational rock music, with shows so violent they only managed to book five gigs in their three-year run, but they’d serve as key musical and personal inspiration to the people who’d go on to form the Dead Boys and Pere Ubu.
In between the eels and his artier noise-punk band X__X (we’ve told you about them before), Morton joined with guitar deconstructionist Andrew Klimeyk, future Bush Tetras Cynthia Sley and Laura Kennedy (RIP 2011), future Psychotronic publisher Michael Weldon, and a few others to form an ultimate in anti-rock bands, Johnny and the Dicks. The group was succinctly described by Jon Savage in Punk: An Aesthetic: “No instruments, no rehearsals, no music, no noise.”
This, it turned out, was meant quite literally. Johnny and the Dicks were a “band” that made no actual music, preferring performance art stunts like Mortons “Tool Jazz,” a “song” wherein he sawed 2x4s in half lengthwise while the rest of the members sat at a table eating cake. Other performances saw the band simply posing with instruments, or miming songs by other Cleveland bands.
The band released an “album,” but true to their conception, the sleeve did not contain a record.
I loved being an artist, but it didn’t fulfill the exhilaration of performance, so I decided I would form a band that didn’t play music, but did “art!” Visual art songs like making polyester resin sculpture, posing for photos (one of the dicks was a professional photographer) and lip-syncing to the tape of a song I performed with The Styrenes. We did release a self-titled album that didn’t contain a record, each one unique with a smattering of polyester resin on it. Michele, (Wife # 1) was a Dick, along with my friend and Mirrors drummer, Michael Weldon, future Bush Tetras, Laura Kennedy and Cynthia Sley, Andrew Klimek and his sister, Karen K. Karen Karen, and photographer/artist Charles Gilchrist. Oh yeah, and a guy named Paul Paternoster. In retrospect, these people following me into the void was pretty amazing.
Art Terrorism was a purposeful quantification or updating of the Dadaist agit-prop nihilist/annihilation twisty band thing. When conceptual art was just beginning, there were two strata, in both divisions, the “Object” was deemed un-important simply the by-product of the more golden idea. (down with the Mona Lisa! It’s just some very old canvas with some fucking paint on it. Fuckin’ lumpen objet d’art worshippers!), The path I chose (also known as “The wrong path”) was based on the Dada/absurdist sensibility that the object is not important and neither is the idea, The successful branch Conceptualists were the effete [pseudo] intellectuals making cherished “golden and geniused” and oh so collectable ideas. Conceptual artists, reading Wittgenstein (which they had no fathom of) and drawing fucking numbers on the wall AND FUCKING SELLING the fucking photographs of the fucking numbers (photographs, which, by the way ARE objects.)
Johnny and the Dicks lashed out only very briefly in 1978 before Morton and Klimeyk split off to form X__X, and Kennedy and Sley moved on to the Bush Tetras (BTW, if you don’t know them, start with “Too Many Creeps,” it’s a no-wave/dancepunk classic), but one of their three performances was extremely well documented.
In 1978, SPACES was an insidery, guerrilla alt-art space, located on an empty floor in the building above a McDonalds in Cleveland’s theater district, at the time a rather bleak place apart from the actual theaters. (SPACES grew as an entity, and still exists today as an upstanding, grant-funded citizen of the arts scene.) One of Johnny and the Dicks’ performances took place there, but with a wrinkle—the band was in a different room from the audience, who took in the show via closed-circuit television.
As it happens, that feed was recorded by SPACES founder James Rosenberger, and with some audience shots and other footage of the set, it found its way to YouTube earlier this year. After viewing it, Morton told DM in an email exchange, “We performed it around the corner from the audience. They could hear the live action, but had to watch it on a monitor. I got to say, I was impressed by the video. It was a lot more complex and angry and chaotic then I remembered.”
Here there be nudity and bad words, so please proceed with discretion.
Many thanks to Paul Weaver for bringing this to our attention.
In 1985, a possibly (probably?—it was the ‘80s) high David Lee Roth misunderstood a question, blowing two and a half minutes of his network TV airtime on a rambling story about a cult LA punk singer. The Nielsen families may have had no idea what he was talking about, but for fans of the seminal LA synth-punk band, the Screamers, it was an unexpected treat.
David Lee Roth appeared on Late Night With David Letterman on January 2, 1985, promoting his then upcoming solo EP, Crazy From the Heat.
During the course of the segment, Letterman asks Roth standard scripted questions which are typically revealed to the guests by show staff during a pre-interview. Early in the conversation, Roth expounds on directing videos, his system and code for identifying the most fuckable groupies (“red right, red t-shirt, out of sight, six feet back”), and the future of Van Halen (at this point he believed he’d be going back into the studio to record a follow-up to 1984.)
Things get interesting when Letterman asks about a “club” Roth belongs to. Letterman is prompting Roth to open up about “the Jungle Studs,” a group of adventurers Roth hung around with in the 80’s, making extreme sport-style expeditions to places like Nepal and the Amazon. Diamond Dave epically misses the prompt and instead launches into a story about an after-hours LA bar and an artist named “Ta-mata.”
Roth is probably referencing Zero One Gallery, an after-hours bar and art-space on Melrose, which was considered by glitterati of the day to be LA’s lowbrow answer to Warhol’s Factory.
Despite remaining unsigned and never recording a proper album, the Screamers were one of the top-drawing LA club acts between 1977 and 1981. Unfortunately breaking up just before the dawn of MTV, the band was determined to record their first album as a video-only release. Sadly they dissolved before seeing that project through to fruition.
Tomata du Plenty’s post-Screamers art career began in 1983 with a one-man exhibition of watercolor portraits at the Zero One Gallery, and apparently—as evidenced in this interview—David Lee Roth was a massive fan.
Sadly, Tomata died of cancer in 2000 at the age of 52.
It’s fascinating to watch David Lee Roth blow (cocaine pun intended) over two and a half minutes of his network television screentime on a rambling anecdote about the Screamers frontman hanging art in a bar, and if you’re a fan of the Screamers (which you should be), then it’s an interesting bit of punk art history related to their brilliant lead singer.
Here’s an excerpt of Roth’s interview on Letterman:
And here’s “Ta-mata” before he was one of David Lee Roth’s favorite artists, performing live with the Screamers:
When a chubby Marlon Brando roared into town on a motorbike in The Wild One he popularized the black leather jacket as a fashionable symbol of rebellion. Leather jackets may have been worn by bikers for protection, but they were quickly adopted by rock musicians (from Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, The Beatles to Elvis) as an endorsement of their outsider status.
While fashions changed in the 1960s to soft denim and psychedelic colors, the black leather jacket never lost its iconic status as edgy, radical and subversive. The black leather jacket of the revolutionary students in Paris in 1968, became the fashionable uniform of the chaotic Baader-Meinhof, before returning to its spiritual home in the form of the matching outfits of proto-punk rockers The Ramones.
Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy made the black leather jacket de rigueur for punks, and soon became the latest fashion sold by a canny Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren in their London boutique SEX.
Teenagers across the UK bought cheap black leather or faux leather jackets and decorated them with the names of their favorite bands, political slogans, or mini manifestoes written in White Out, paint, or nail polish. There was a naif art to such DIY accessorizing, a uniqueness that encapsulated the essence of punk (its ability to offend) and the character of the jacket’s owner.
This small selection of photographs captures some of the early DIY punk leather jackets from the mid-1970s to the later more fashion conscious dress code of the 1980s and 1990s. Nowadays a punk leather jacket with studs and badges will set you back $200 on eBay.
Last year, DM told you about a marvelous children’s book called What Every Child Needs To Know About Punk Rock. In that post I mused a bit at how odd it was, given that punk has been identifiably a thing for roughly 40 years, that there weren’t more books explaining that musical/cultural/fashion phenomenon to kids—there are, after all, members of early punk bands who now have grandchildren, and there’ve long been punkbandonesies for the offspring (sorry) of the conspicuously hip.
Well, it looks like something IS stirring in those waters after all, because now there’s the wonderful What Is Punk? published by Akashic, the imprint owned by former Soulside/GVSB bassist Johnny Temple. Akashic became widely known among normals a few years back for the amazing kid lit parody Go the Fuck to Sleep, and have been in the pages of DM before for their publication of The Jesus Lizard Book and David Yow’s Copycat. While What Every Child Needs To Know About Punk Rock was co-written by a child development specialist and focused on DIY culture and rebellion against capitalist norms, “What is Punk?” is a different beast altogether, a whimsical primer on that movement’s early history written in verse by Eric Morse, a writer and publicist who in the oughts founded Trampoline House magazine.
Once upon a time,
there was a deafening roar,
that awakened the people,
like never before.
With their eyes open wide
they shouted in fear,
“What new sound is this?”
and covered their ears.
Green Room is to cinema what hardcore is to rock and roll: brutal, blunt and exhilarating. With its explosive mix of anarchic punks, neo-Nazi skinheads, pitbulls, machetes and shotguns, director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin) has made a gory thriller that has the impact of a jack boot kick to the face. Artfully constructed and highly entertaining, Green Room was one of the most exciting features screened at this year’s Fantastic Fest. It’s got A-list actors, including a sinister turn by Patrick Stewart, and enough Hollywood sheen that it may be that rare “cult” flick that forces its way into your local cineplex, where it will be about as welcome as a Skrewdriver cover band at a Bar Mitzvah.
Green Room‘s plot is crazily clever: Ain’t Rights, a young punk band from the Washington D.C. area who proudly channel their Dischord Records’ influences, land a last minute gig during a tour of the Pacific Northwest (somewhere near Portland). Booked into a rural music venue that turns out to be a gathering place for white supremacist headbangers, Ain’t Rights find themselves confronting the mosh pit from Hell. Far from the security of the suburbs where Hot Topics sell Doc Martens to fifth generation punks, Ain’t Rights are hurled into a dark reality where Ed Gein has traded in his plaid cap for a pair of red bootlaces and suspenders. Performing Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” before a mob of Hitler-worshiping fuckwads is a heroically dumb move for our band of young anarchists, but it’s just the beginning in an ever-escalating nightmare involving murder, thrash metal, heroin and a violent gang of skinheads led by the epically skin-headed Patrick Stewart.
While the movie avoids getting too deep into the sociopolitical aspects of its story, the similarities between the Aryan Youth Movement and Patrick Stewart look-a-like Tom Metzger can’t be an accident. I’m rather certain director Saulnier’s choice of location, Portland, wasn’t arbitrary. The hipster capitol was at one time a headquarters for the Ku Klux Klan and until recently the home of Volksfront , a particularly nasty group of numbskull Nazis. The Green Room doesn’t shove any of this down the viewer’s throat, it doesn’t preach. It makes its points by bringing us into its world without having to describe it.
Whether or not you give a shit about its cultural resonance, Green Room succeeds in its mission to pin your ass to the theater seat. It combines the tightly crafted action chops of John Carpenter’s Assault On Precinct 13 with some of the psychotic mayhem of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hill’s Have Eyes. But instead of mutant cave dwellers and Leatherface, we’ve got goose-stepping skins with boxcutters and shotguns: The Rocking Dead.
For those viewers who know more than a little bit about punk culture, Green Room works so well, despite its off-the-wallness, because it feels authentic. It gets the details right. Jeremy Saulnier knows the punk scene and the vibe of his subjects because he was one of them, as evidenced by a savvy soundtrack that perfectly weds music to action. Napalm Death, Bad Brains, Misfits, Minor Threat and Slayer create the background roar to a movie that is disturbing, funny and supremely badass. I only wish that Saulnier had thrown The Damned’s “Smash It Up” into the mix.
Of the many random things I remember about my youth, one of them was the excitement of visiting the merch table at a live show. Honestly, I’ve never really grown out of that pursuit, and seldom leave a gig empty-handed.
Like a lot of 70s and 80s kids, I was a HUGE fan of covering my trashy Levis or Baracuta jacket with badges, pins and patches. So I nearly lost my mind when I happened upon the vintage 70s DEVO “Flicker” pin (sometimes called a ” flasher” pin), above.
Nixon campaign flicker/flasher pin, late 1960s
Flicker pins were big during the 60s - for instance, politicians running for office used flicker pins (see our pal, Tricky Dick above) to display not only an image of themselves, but also their message. Because when you tilt the pin, the image changes. So naturally, curiosity got the better of me and off I went in search of pins and badges from 40 years ago. Because, why not? And my search unearthed some pretty cool and fairly rare old-school swag.
Elvis Costello mirror badge, late 70s, early 80s
Iggy Pop New Values mirror badge style tour pin, 1979
In addition to the flicker pins, mirror badges were sort of like the crowning jewel when it came to pins (much like the enamel “clubman” style pins you probably remember ogling at Tower Records, or Spencer’s Gifts at the mall that put a giant hole in your clothes). Mirror badges were usually large and actually had a piece of glass placed on top of the image which made them rather heavy.
Vintage mirror badges are really hard to come by these days and believe it or not, sell for a good bit of cash. As do any vintage flicker pins or promotional buttons/badges/pins that were sold at live shows. Would you pay $54 bucks for a vintage 70s promotional flicker pin that was sold at a performance Alice Cooper did in Las Vegas at the Aladdin Hotel when he recorded his 1977 live album The Alice Cooper Show?
Alice Cooper 1977 promotional flicker/flasher pin
I know I’m not alone when I say, yes. Yes, I probably would. In case that seventeen-year-old kid inside you just said yes, too, pretty much everything in this post is out there somewhere for sale. Tons of images follow. I also included some vintage enamel clubman pins because I couldn’t help myself.