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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Black Randy

I don't think anyone has said or written quite enough about Dangerhouse Records co-founder and leader of his own punk/funk/soul combo, the Metro Squad, Mr. Black Randy, who is pictured here with Dickie, Stan Lee. Long before Slash and the other indie labels started putting out the records that would come to be synonymous with Los Angeles, Dangerhouse, which was Randy, Pat "Rand" Garrett, and David Browne (also a member of the Metro Squad) put out 7" singles by X, the Weirdos, and The Avengers.

By 1979, however, once LA Punk seemed to be on an international map, Dangerhouse called it quits. Slash took up the slack, as did other labels. You can get a Dangerhouse compilation if you look hard... I saw one once. I'm no record collecting fanatic, but more than any vinyl out there, I treasure my small handfull of Dangerhouse releases and fought a tug of war with Lance Loud over my copy of X's "Adult Books." I still have it.

I've been thinking alot about why Black Randy isn't a household punk rock name like Darby Crash. Both died early and both made early forays in Los Angeles. Black Randy was hysterically funny and satirical - but perhaps maybe just a little too ahead of his time - like many of my favorite 1970s people. Also - Black Randy and the Metro Squad were not a classic punk band. They played fast and rough to be sure, but they played more like a soul revue. In my next round of darkroom visits, I'm going to be printing up a crazy picture of a live Black Randy/Metro Squad revue, featuring one Belinda Carlisle as a "Blackette."

Until then, let us just remember those true iconoclasts that the masses either don't know or may have forgotten. Scour the compilations for some Dangerhouse music and make sure you listen to Black Randy and the Metro Squad's "Trouble at the Cup." That's a single that Pleasant and I would often play on "repeat" as we got ready to go out on the town. And yeah, we'd run into Black Randy plenty of times - he'd be wearing a daishiki or tunic or something just as un-punk as Pleasant and my Lana Turner cashmere sweaters.

Black Randy's real name was John "Jackie" Morris and he died in 1983/84 of complications from HIV.

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