Rocket From The Tombs (or RFTT) is an American rock band originally active from mid-1974 to mid-1975 in Cleveland, Ohio, United States. The band was reconstituted several times with various line-ups starting in 2003.
Heralded as an important protopunk group, they were little known during the band's original lifetime, though various members later achieved renown in Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys. Billy Bob Hargus wrote, however, that "The sound of the Rockets is much more ferocious than Ubu or the Dead Boys.
In 1974, the original line-up included Peter Laughner, Chris Cuda, and Glen "Thunderhand" Hach sharing guitar duties; Charlie Weiner on bass and other implements; and Tom Foolery (née Clements) on drums.
There was some fluctuation of the group's personnel, but what's come to be known as the "classic" lineup included Laughner, David Thomas (then known as "Crocus Behemoth"), Craig Willis Bell (a.k.a. Darwin Layne), Gene O'Connor (a.k.a. Cheetah Chrome), and Johnny Madansky (a.k.a. "Johnny Blitz").
When RFTT disbanded, the personnel split and formed two different musical groups:
O'Connor and Madansky joined with singer Stiv Bators (who made a guest appearance on-stage at the last RFTT show) to form Frankenstein, which later morphed into the Dead Boys, a more straightforward punk rock group.
Laughner and Thomas went on to form the more experimental Pere Ubu with bassist Tim Wright (RFTT's soundman). Laughner died in 1977, of acute pancreatitis brought on by years of drinking and drug use.
Both groups used songs first written or performed by Rocket From The Tombs as parts of their repertoires: the Dead Boys were known for "Ain't It Fun," "What Love Is," "Down in Flames," "Caught With the Meat in Your Mouth" (done by RFTT as "I'm Never Gonna Kill Myself Again") and "Sonic Reducer"; Pere Ubu went on to reinterpret "Final Solution," "Life Stinks" and "30 Seconds Over Tokyo."
Rocket From The Tombs never recorded an album in their initial timespan, but various live recordings and demos circulated occasionally as bootlegs. Most of these were collected on a single CD by Smog Veil records, and titled The Drome, and Bell, joined by Richard Lloyd (guitar), and Steve Mehlman (drums). Some claim that decades earlier, when Lloyd briefly quit the New York-based band Television, Laughner was seriously considered as his replacement. However, on his website richardlloyd.com, Richard Lloyd asserts that Laughner "was never even close to being in Television, unless I was way out of town for a month, and I don't think so.
On June 10, 2003 they played their first live radio concert since the 1970s (when two shows live from the Agora club aired on WMMS) on Brian Turner's program on WFMU.
In 2004, Smog Veil and Morphius released Rocket Redux, consisting of Rocket From The Tombs originals performed in studio by the 2003 lineup. It received mostly positive reviews; one critic declared that Redux "never sounds like a complacent reunion record, and in a way, I suppose it's not really a reunion record in the first place so much as it's a debut album, played with all the hunger and fire of a band eager to make their mark on the world."
In 2006, Thomas announced that the band had again reunited, this time to work on new material. The band toured the US in the summer of 2006 and debuted some new songs, but no further activity occurred until 2009 when the band contributed a song to the Mark Mulcahy tribute album Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy. An album of new material, Barfly was released on September 13, 2011 with a tour scheduled to begin in November 2011. However, Richard Lloyd was replaced in the band prior to the tour's launch, and Cheetah Chrome announced his departure from Rocket From the Tombs on December 30, 2011, leaving David Thomas and Craig Willis Bell as the only remaining original members.
In November 2015, the band released, Black Record.
- Buddy Akita
- Craig Bell
- David Thomas
- Gary Siperco
- Eugene O'Connor
- John Madansky
- Peter Laughner
- Richard Lloyd
- Steve Mehlman
- The Day the Earth Met the Rocket from the Tombs (2002)
- Rocket Redux (2004)
- Barfly (2011)
- Black Record (2015)
- "I Sell Soul" / "Romeo & Juliet" single (6 April 2010)
- When It's Too Late To Die Young (download only) (2011)
- Extermination Night (download only) (2012)
- Strychnine (download only) (2012)
- A Night Of Heavy Music (bootleg cassette) (1975)
- Life Stinks (A full-blown release of A Night Of Heavy Music) (1990)
- Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy (2009)
Clinton Heylin, From the Velvets to the Voidoids: A Pre-Punk History for a Post-Punk World (1993), Penguin Books, ISBN 0-14-017970-4