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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Live / Dead Entertainment

group11A, originally uploaded by Cool Auntie.

Last night, Dead Boy, Jimmy Zero looked at the photos from our March 10 reunion for the first time. When he arrived at the Beachland Tavern to join me for my birthday celebration and to hear a blistering set by my favorite current band, The Reigning Sound, we repaired to the Beachland kitchen, lit with too bright fluorescents and reviewed the photographic evidence of our graying hair and our happy reunion. Over our shoulders, Beachland co-owner, Cindy Barber asked, "are these the real Dead Boys?"

And in unison, as if we rehearsed this, Jimmy and I broke into reciting one of the best rock n roll movies ever made, "This is Spinal Tap."

"Welcome to the Dead Boys, Mach II. This is Frank Secich, he wrote this."

And that my friends, is how it really was. One by one, the original Dead Boys quit or were fired. Jeff Magnum left, I think because he didn't like life on the road. Cheetah Chrome and Stiv always had a volatile relationship, so I don't know if Cheetah huffed or was fired. In the end, does it matter? Johnny Blitz was pretty much the same story. He had already endured a lot for the team. He was attacked by three thugs wielding Bowie knives outside CBGB one evening and required thousands of stitches and some hospital time before he could get back behind the drum kit.

And one by one, as each original Dead Boy left the ranks, a new one joined. First came the aforementioned Frank Secich. And its not just a Spinal Tap joke or reference. When we say "he wrote this," he did. Frank was always Stiv's creative foil, ever since they were teenagers. To this day, Frank remains a stellar musician, songwriter, producer and arranger. Replacing Blitz was a spitfire kid from Toronto's Mods, young David Quinton. This teenager was a drummer in the style of Keith Moon, and he was just out of high school. Taking Cheetah's place was a hot shot lead guitar player from Akron's Hammer Damage, George Cabaniss. Only Jimmy Zero and Stiv remained from the original line up.

But this line up was The Dead Boys. They backed Stiv as The Dead Boys and they played Dead Boys songs. Pretty damn well, too.

Finally, Jimmy Zero exited. Stiv couldn't pull off the Dead Boys now. He embarked on a solo career, and with Frank's help, morphed the music so that the pop edge got a bit more play. The culmination of a long term stay in LA was the album "Disconnected." Jimmy Zero joined in for those festivities. Greg Shaw embraced the project and put it out on his Bomp! label.

And the rest is history.

When Greg passed away in October 2004, the only thing we could think to do in tribute was to record a disk of his favorite music. And so, The Mojo Navigators were born. On March 10, vocals were laid down in a Youngstown, OH studio.

Here are George Cabaniss, Jimmy Zero, David Quinton, who has reverted to his real name - Steinberg, and Frank Secich. Older, grey but happy and still here, carrying the torch that Stiv lit some 30 years ago.

We miss Stiv and Greg and so many others. You don't know what a pleasure and a privilege it is to look into these men's eyes. It proves we survived all that the Dead Boys threw our way. We dodged bullets (literally, Stiv and I did in Baltimore during the making of John Waters' "Polyester") and met just about everything else head-on.

That's your Live / Dead Entertainment for today.

Thanks to everyone for the on-going birthday wishes! When you lived a bohemian punk lifestyle - and spent time on the road, like I did, trying to "tour manage" bands like this, you are actually really happy to be as old as I am! A lot of people haven't made it this far.

PS -"Live / Dead Entertainment" is actually the title of a song on Troy Gregory's brilliant 2004 album, "Laura," and you should check out his noise on the website he's designed for his band, The Witches, one of Detroit's finest musical ambassadors.

1 comment:

Danny said...

I really like reading all this stuff especially when you talk about new bands doing the punk thang. I got that album Laura you wrote about. Its killer!