Friday, February 10, 2006

Lon Chaney Jr Would be 100 Today

But instead - I'll tell you about someone not quite that old. My life-long friend, Gary Stewart. You may know Gary's name from those fantastic Rhino Records box sets. Gary knows more about all kinds of music than anyone I know.

Oh - wait, you want a photo. I have photos of Gary, but not with me (I am still traveling on this Punk Turns 30 tour, you know - with the same 2 weeks worth of clothes I took to Memphis in September 05. Its winter now and I'm heading to Chicago today - I understand it is going to snow.) Well, let me give you a Gary Stewart-related photo, then:

The Last

This is a clipping from the defunct LA Reader (now LA Citybeat) choosing The Last as its Critics Pick gig that week. At the time, Gary was managing the band; I took the photo. Like Greg Shaw, Gary was a guy who helped me get ahead in this career I was inadvertently forging.

When I was promoting special punk rock shows at the Whisky, Gary introduced me to a new girl group, The Bangs, and he suggested a bill - The Bangs, The Last and The Three O'Clock that had people lined up around the club for a 7:30 PM show on a Monday night! It was a raging success and people credit me for this booking, but it was Gary all the way. If you don't know any of these bands, get yourself some Rhino comps immediately.

Of course, The Bangs became the Bangles. Another band called the Bangs threatened to sue the LA Bangs. Annette Zilinskas was the bass player at the time I knew the Bangs, and it was with Annette that I talked to arrange this show. She left the Bangs and joined Blood on the Saddle. The Three O'Clock used to be known as the Salvation Army, but they too were threatened with a law suit, so they changed their name. Lead singer Michale Quercio coined the phrase so often associated with LA bands - "The Paisley Underground."

These three bands may have been the best pop bands in LA at the time. The Last were so versatile and facile in whatever they played that the pop of the Bangs music made sense on a bill with them, but in the same breath, the Last could play the next night with the Minutemen and that too would be a great pairing. I think The Last are one of the most underrated and under appreciated bands from Los Angeles. And that list is a long one. The Salvation Army/Three O'Clock were also remarkable.

Its worth getting your hands on comps and reissues with these bands. If you love Redd Kross, and I know you do - you will love these bands too.








Here's a funny thing about this photo. If it's not mine (I found it at about.com), then whoever took it was standing right next to me when I did. Obviously, its the cover of a magazine or record. This is the thing about the 70s, 80s and punk rock years in general. People were just getting the stuff out there. Sometimes they asked your permission. Mostly, they didn't. Sometimes they paid you for your work; mostly they didn't. Sometimes, they remembered to credit you; but mostly they didn't. That's just the way it was: rushed.

Vicki and Debbi Peterson were in a band called Those Girls before the Bangs/Bangles. I did a photo session with them all over the Century City complex and this shot looks like some art director cropped out some of the girls and left the Peterson sisters in the shot with the bass player. I can't wait to find those slides....they're identical to this shot.

Anyway, by some kind of association, you could also say that Gary Stewart really gave the Bangles a leg up too. What Gary Stewart has done that must be recognized, is that he takes all the crap and criticism you musics snobs dish out regarding his compilations! What a good sport he is, and the world's best party host. Gary's at iTunes now...he's one guy who can put together a play list, let me tell you.

Happy Birthday Gary.

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