Floyd and Mallchok were hangin' an' slummin' at Pirate's Cove. Dead Boys were playing every friggin' Friday or was it Saturday nite that July or was it August summer? Pere Ubu held court Sunday evenings.
Stiv threw his mic into the crowd and it landed at someone's feet. He unhooked it and pocketed the SM57. Stiv reeled the mic cable back up to the stage only to find his "favorite" 57 mic ripped off. Pouty boy left the stage. Show over for Stiv, much to his bandmates dismay. After all another mic had been readily made available to the lad, but noooo0... Cheetah strummed a few bars of something and we all drank minus pouty boy. Post Script: Floyd your memory is stellar. We too were at the Dead Boys show when Ig showed up for the finale. It was too hard to pry ourselves away from the bar but we viewed from afar.
Before I describe the Dead Boys, let me wander back to the beginning of seventies punk, for me...
Living in Providence, Rhode Island, where my two best buds were attending Rhode Island School of Design, I was in a musical crisis....
Sated on the overblown pomposity of "art rock" that I had been soaked in for the last decade, I was looking for a way back into rock & roll. Bruce Springsteen had helped; but I wasn't real pleased with the direction he started in with Born To Run.
In the meantime, my fellow art rock friends - and the great majority of the art students at America's most sophisticated college of art, I might add -- had drifted now into the "fusion" jazz that was so popular in the mid-1970s, among the "musical sophisticates" of the time. Man, was that stuff bad. Super-over-indulgent instrumental masturbation by a bunch of preening middle-aged former high school marching band members who were regretting that they had never rocked....
BUT: Something was happening. I remember reading a brief paragraph in the Providence Journal about an incident in England, where some guy named "Johnny Rotten" had "gobbed" at an airport and told a journalist on television that the queen was a "f***ing rotter." Evidently, he had a rock & roll band that was shaking up the scene in London, home of the aging dinosaurs of the British Invasion and their bastard stepchildren.
Well, one fine day I strolled into the local record shop, as usual on the prowl for something new, and there it was: The garishly colored, graphically vomitous, first record by England's "Sex Pistols." $3.98, it was, and an hour later I had a whole new music scene to play with.
One purchase led to another, and soon I had a growing collection of "punk rock" records.
Live rock & roll came alive for me once again. Seeing bands like Elvis Costello & The Attractions, the Ramones, the Clash, the Stranglers, the Damned, Patti Smith, the Talking Heads, the Jam, Devo, Blondie, etc. in small clubs was a joy.
And then, home for Christmas (1977? 1978?), I caught note of a show scheduled for Christmas eve (?) at Cleveland's world-famous (?) Agora nightclub.... A twin bill of Northern Ohio bands: DEVO and the DEAD BOYS.
I can close my eyes and smell the sweaty, smoky, acrid stench of a packed nightclub on a very cold night... Entering, I saw a couple of moronic bouncers ejecting a girl from the club. In tears, heavy mascara running every which way like a prescient Tammy Faye Baker, she proceeded to vomit at the curb in front of the place... Something was up here.
Devo blew the place away. Now HERE was art rock.... Dressed in their classic flowerpot hats and industrial yellow jumpsuits, Mark Mothersbaugh at one point sang from a playpen laid out on the plastic-covered stage. Ah, alternative rock is alive and well in Cleveland, thought this observer...
And then: THE DEAD BOYS. Dark, glowering, focused like a razor, they came out and proceeded to pump through the material on Young, Loud & Snotty. No politics, no socialism, just furious Stooge-like energy and a sound like bombs exploding onstage.
These weren't disaffected New York art intellectuals; no sir. These were Cleveland boys. The only thing they were serious about was wringing every possible watt out of their marshall stacks. And they weren't pretty, either. Jimmy Zero looked just like the kind of guy who every mother was terrified that her daugher would come home with. Cigarette dangling dangerously from the corner of his mouth. Half in, half out of the dark. Cheetah equally menacing. Johnny "Blitz" Madansky literally thug-like.... Soon to meet the blade of a knife in his adopted hometown of New York City... I picked up some fills that night that I would carry into the tail end of the Backdoor Men's brief history...
And Bators. As in command of that small stage as Mick Jagger had ever been of any stage, anywhere. At the end of the last encore, he pulled his trick. Looping the microphone up over a beam in the low Agora ceiling, he then wrapped its cord around his neck and proceeded to hoist all (maybe) 120 pounds of himself into the air. Yes, he was hanging. FOR REAL???? We can never know, though his roadie seemed to panic and rushed to cut the cord and bring him down.
Maybe NOT real... He had enough presence of mind to conclude the act by dropping his drawers and thrusting his skinny a** to the audience, balls dangling, and a schlong that was SURPRISINGLY BIG waving between his bony knees.
This was punk, Cleveland style. Brutal, humorous, unpretentious, apolitical.
This was John Belushi's favorite band.
Of course, both Belushi and Bators are together somewhere now, I suppose. Most assuredly in a place that's very, very hot. Kind of like the Agora on that winter night, almost a quarter of a century ago.