Dead Boys

Formed: Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Dead Boys 1977

Band Bio / Lineups / Discography

SONIC REDUCER

I don't need anyone
Don't need no mom and dad
Don't need no pretty face
Don't need no human race
I got some news for you
Don't even need you too

I got my devil machine
Got my electronic dream
Sonic reducer
Ain't no loser
I'm a sonic reducer
Ain't no loser

People out on the streets
They don't know who I am
I watch them from my room
They all just pass me by
But I'm not just anyone
Said I'm not just anyone

I got my devil machine
Got my electronic dream
Sonic reducer
Ain't no loser
I'm a sonic reducer
Ain't no loser

I'll be a pharaoh soon
Rule from some golden tomb
Things will be different then
The sun will rise from here
Then I'll be ten feet tall
And you'll be nothing at all

The punkiest of all the original New York Bowery circuit bands, the Dead Boys’ "fuck art, let’s rock" philosophy was an inspiration for many, many bands throughout the 80’s and 90’s, and a respite from the lofty pretensions of fellow New Yorkers Talking Heads and Television. Considered by many to be a pale imitation of The Stooges, the Dead Boys quickly reduced punk to parody, albeit unconsciously, and made enough interesting and entertaining noises to guarantee immortality.

The Story

They arose from the ashes of Cleveland art-rockers Rocket From The Tombs, a band which in its final incarnation had (for two minutes) Stiv Bators on vocals, Gene O’Connor (later re-dubbed Cheetah Chrome) on guitar and Johnny Blitz on drums. With RTTT’s demise this trio joined forces with Jimmy Zero (guitar) and jeff magnum (bass) to form Glam rockers Frankenstein. This band comprehensively failed to make a favourable impression on anybody (although In 1996 they were honoured with a three-song EP offering demos recorded in 1975).

Dead Boys 1977 - Stiv BatorsDead Boys Live 1977

In July 1976 the newly christened Dead Boys relocated to New York and, thanks to word of mouth from Joey Ramone (who hadn't actually ever seen them), their debut at GBGB's - as part of a festival of unsigned bands - won a rave review in Punk magazine, although at least one on-looker didn't really get it.

Craig Leon: [When] the Dead Boys drove up to the [1976] festival, [they were] a little bit out of of the look of the scene, wearing Nazi uniforms and stuff. They came looking very right-wing. I was not impressed. They did not have that pop sensibility. - as told to Clinton Heylin in From The Velvets To The Voidoids

Armed with a bunch of old RFTT and Pere Ubu songs and galvanised by Stiv's Iggy routine and Cheetah Chrome's blazing guitar, by early 1977 they were a big draw, thanks to their high octane rock songs and wild antics (Stiv getting on-stage blowjobs or slashing his stomach with the mic). When The Damned embarked on their first US tour in early '77, Dead Boys were the support. As a result of witnessing the whirlwind that was The Damned, the Dead Boys sped up their songs and increased their obnoxiousness even further, Soon, they signed with Sire.

Dead Boys - Live at CBGB's 1977Dead Boys - Young Loud And Snotty Poster

Highlighted by one truly magnificent song left over from the Tombs (‘Sonic Reducer’), Young Loud And Snotty was a relentlessly dumb album, filled with hilariously leery vocals and tasteless, misogynistic numbers like ‘Caught With The Meat In Your Mouth’ and ‘I Need Lunch’. In spite (or more precisely, because) of being outrageously stupid, it’s a humdinger, with marvelous Stooges type guitar solos and lots of idiotic lyrics. ‘Sonic Reducer’ is clearly the best track, but ‘Ain’t Nothin’ To Do’, ‘Not Anymore’ and ‘All This And More’ are gutter classics.

Dead Boys "Don't Call it Punk" Young Loud & Snotty AdvertDead Biys / The Damned - Tour November 1977Dead Boys / X - Starwood Los Angeles Sunday November 13th 1979

AIN'T NOTHIN' TO DO

I'm so sick of T.V.
You know, I'm getting bored of the tube
I'm so sick of romance
And I'm gettin' real sick of you

I wanna get on out of here
Find me somethin' to do
Yeah, get on outta here
Just aint nothin' to do

I'm so sick of FM
I don't play my stereo too
Just wanna get out on the street fights
Just aint nothin' to do

There aint nothin' to do
Gonna beat up the next hippie I see
Maybe I'll be beatin' up you
Look out, baby here I comes

Yeah, Punch out

There aint nothin' to do
I'm gonna knock down the next old man I see
Maybe I'll be knockin' down you

There aint nothin' to do
"Hey, Cheetah"
"Yeah Stiv"
"I'm bored, lets go pick up some Hilly Girls or something"
"Alright!"

(Younger Louder And Snottyer is one for collectors and obsessives: a rough mix for the debut, it claims superiority over the Sire release but, due to poor sound quality, is nowhere near as powerful, and the inclusion of a badly-recorded live ‘Search And Destroy’ is no bonus at all, thank you very much.)

Dead Boys - Young Loud And Snotty Japan LPDead Boys - Young Loud And Snotty Japan LP

ABOVE: The Japanese pressing of 'Young Loud And Snotty'

Towards the end of the year the Dead Boys toured England supporting with The Damned, returning to the US in December to demo songs for a second LP.

In the true punk crash and burn fashion, the Dead Boys crashed and burned in fairly spectacular style with We Have Come For Your Children. Just as The Damned had enlisted the survives of an old hippie – Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason - to produce their second LP, the Dead Boys roped in Mountain’s Felix Pappalardi to helm their follow-up. This was not their choice, but rather their record company, and he ripped the bollocks out of their sound with his bass-free mix, allegedly the result of deliberate sabotage after he had fallen out with the band.. The record somehow managed to be even cruder than the debut. Joey & Dee Dee Ramone provided barely audible backing vocals on one track, but songs like ‘(I Don’t Wanna Be No) Catholic Boy’, ‘Flame Thrower Love’ and ‘3rd Generation Nation’ were pure genre creations: cartoonish and idiotic, designed-to-offend and highly entertaining. A faithful version of the Stones’ ‘Tell Me’ was issued as a single, but the clear highlight was an oldie written by Peter Laughner, ‘Ain’t It Fun’, a slowburning negation of everything and everyone which outdoes all the competition for sheer nihilism.

Dead Boys - We Have Come For Your Children "Be Happy - Buy Sire" PosterDead Boys 1978

AIN'T IT FUN

Ain't it fun when you're always on the run
Ain't it fun when your friends despise what you've become
Ain't it fun when you get so high that you, well you just can't come
Ain't it fun when you know that you're gonna die young

It's such fun... such fun

Ain't it fun when you're taking care of number one
Ain't it fun when you feel like you just gotta get a gun
Ain't it fun when you j.j.j. just can't seem to find your tongue
Cause you stuck it to deep into something that really stung
It's such fun

Well somebody come up to me they spit right in my face
But I didn't even feel it, it was such a disgrace
I punched my fist right through the glass
But I didn't even feel it, it all happened so fast

Ain't it fun when you tell her she's just a cunt
Ain't it fun when she splits and leaves you on the bum
Ain't it fun when you've broken up every band that you've ever begun
Ain't it fun when you know that you're gonna die young

Dead Boys - Tell Me Japanese 7"Dead Boys - We Have Come For Your Children Japanese LP

ABOVE: The Japanese pressing of the 'Tell Me' single and the 'We Have Come For Your Children' LP.

As with the first LP, the second album is also available in an alternate form: 3rd Generation Nation is the Cheetah Chrome-approved “pre-mix”, which sounds better than the Sire version, with a punchier bass/drum sound and more clarity on the vocals. Although not really worth acquiring if you already own the second album, it shouldn't be counted out if you want to hear these tunes for the first time.

Dead Boys 1981 - "Like erpes, They Keep Coming Back"3RD GENERATION NATION

There ain't no future and there ain't no past
There's just a graveyard and it's coming fast
Well we want the truth, we're the modern youth
History has warned ya of
And we're down to kill

We're the 3rd Generation Nation

I could make money playing corporate rock
I ain't got nothing, rather live in hock
Well we can't be told, we're out of control
Adults they're afraid of me
Cause we're down to kill

We're the 3rd Generation Nation

Nothing's new or hasn't been said
It's all been done before
Yet you're all laughing, laughing at me
But don'tcha laugh at me
The better world you tried to build
Exploded in your face
Yet you're laughing, laughing at me

We're the 3rd Generation Nation

The band split in true punk fashion in 1979, amid much acrimony and back-stabbing. The rot actually set in early 1978 when Johnny Blitz was involved in a street fight, and was nearly stabbed to death, and amid all the recriminations and bickering, they stopped writing songs. Bators' apparent willingness to listen to record company execs and “go pop” was apparently the final straw.

Recorded in 1979 year but released with overdubbed vocals in 1981, Night Of The Living Dead Boys was a raucous commemoration of their final show, with ‘Detention Home’ making its splenetic debut. Unlike many live albums, this one is well-recorded and actually worth buying.

The original band got back together in 1987 for a brand spanking new studio recording, issued in the shape of a two-song single, All The Way Down. Sadly, this proved to be their swan song, with Bators shuffling off this mortal coil in 1990.

The band reunited in 2004 for a show at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland.

Lineup (1975-1979)

Stiv Bators (real name Steve Bator) - lead vocal
Cheetah Chrome (real name Gene O'Connor) - lead guitar
Jimmy Zero (real name William Wilden) - rhythm guitar
Jeff Magnum (real name Jeff Halmagy) - bass
Johnny Blitz (real name John Madansky) - drums

Stiv went on to form The Wanderers in 1981 and, later in 1981, The Lords Of The New Church. He also released several solo albums. He died in 1990 when he was run over by a car in Paris.

After leaving the Dead Boys, Blitz moved to Toronto (with his wife, Lucasta Ross, of The 'B' Girls) and formed three bands: Slaughterhouse, then The Tribe, and then Raw Dog.

Chrome, in the 80's played with Ronnie Spector, Nico and Jeff Dahl. He also recorded several solo releases and, in 2003 reformed Rocket From The Tombs with David Thomas and Craig Bell. He later played with The Blackhearts (Joan Jett's backing group) and Sylvain Sylvain. Moreover, he has written an autobiography, Cheetah Chrome: A Dead Boy's Tale From The Front Lines Of Punk Rock.

Jimmy Zero kept a relatively low profile, although he did surface many years later in a band called Lesbian Maker.

DISCOGRAPHY

Singles / Albums

Dead Boys - Sonic Reducer Dead Boys - Young Loud And Snotty Dead Boys - Tell Me Dead Boys - We Have Come For Your Children Dead Boys - All The Way Down (Poison Lady)
Sonic Reducer
(7"/12". 1977)
Young Loud And Snotty (LP, 1977) Tell Me (7", 1978) We Have Come For Your Children
(LP, 1978)
All The Way Down (Poison Lady)
(12", 1987)

Extraneous Releases

Dead Boys / TRhe Heartbreakers - Sonic Reducer / Born To Lose Stiv Bators And The Dead Boys - Stiv Bators And The Dead Boys Dead Boys - Night Of The Living Dead Boys Dead Boys - Dead Boys - The Nights Are So Long Dead Boys - The Return Of The Living Dead Boys
Sonic Reducer / Born To Lose (7", split with The Heartbreakers, promo, 1977) Stiv Bators And The Dead Boys (7", 1980) Night Of The Living Dead Boys
(LP, 1981)
The Nights Are So Long (12", 1987) The Return Of The Living Dead Boys
(LP, 1987)
Dead Boys - Liver Than You'll Ever Be Dead Boys - Search and Destroy - Live CBJB N.Y.C. 1979 Dead Boys - Younger, Louder And Snottyer The Dead Boys - Twistin' On The Devil's Fork: Live At CBGB's 1977 & 1978 Dead Boys - Younger, Louder And Snottier - The Rough Mixes
Liver Than You'll Ever Be (2xLP/CD 1988) Search and Destroy - Live CBJB N.Y.C. 1979 (7", 1988) Younger, Louder And Snottyer
(LP/CD, 1989)
Twistin' On The Devil's Fork: Live At CBGB's 1977 & 1978 (LP/CD, 1997) Younger, Louder & Snottier - The Rough Mixes (LP/CD, 1997)
Dead Boys - All This And More Dead Boys - 3rd Generation Nation Dead Boys - Buried Gems Dead Boys - Live At The Ritz Stiv Bators ' Dead Boys* - Last Stand 1980 EP
All This And More (LP/2xCD, 1998) 3rd Generation Nation
(LP/CD, 1999)
Buried Gems
(7", 2000)
Live At The Ritz (CD) Last Stand 1980 EP
(7", as Stiv Bators' Dead Boys, 2013)

Bootlegs

Sonic Reducer        
Sonic Reducer (CDR)        

Various Artists

New Wave UK LP 1977 (Vertigo): Sonic Reducer / All This And More

Punk Collection Italy LP 1977 (RCA): Sonic Reducer

New Wave - Rock 'N' Roll - Get Behind It Before It Gets Past You. US 2x7" 1977 (Sire): All This And More / Sonic Reducer

The Sire Machine Turns You Up UK LP 1978 (Sire): Ain't It Fun

Experiments In Destiny US 2xLP 1980 (Bomp!): 3rd Generation Nation

The Best Punk Album In The World ... Ever! 2 UK 2xCD 1996 (Circa): Sonic Reducer

1-2-3-4 Punk & New Wave 1976-1979 UK 5xCD 1999 (Universal): Sonic Reducer

No Thanks! The '70s Punk Rebellion US 4xCD 2003 (Rhino): Sonic Reducer

Links

PUNK 77 - A typically great article from one of the best punksites out there

CLEVELAND SCENE - A Dead Boy Lives - Excellent article about Cheetah Chrome

STIV BATORS - Extensive fansite, but not updated for a long time

WIKIPEDIA

 

You can add stuff and make comments/corrections by emailing me at:

jane@punkygibbon.co.uk

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