The Dead Boys were an American punk rock band from Cleveland, Ohio. The band was among the first wave of early punk bands, and was known as one of the rowdiest and most violent punk groups of the era. The Dead Boys were initially active from 1976 to 1979, briefly reuniting in 1986, and then later again in 2004 and 2005 without their frontman Stiv Bators.
- 1 History
- 2 Members
- 3 Discography
Formation and 1970s punk rock era
The Dead Boys evolved out of the band [from the Tombs|Rocket from the Tombs] and were originally called Frankenstein. When the band members relocated to New York City in July 1976, they adopted the Dead Boys moniker which came from the RFTT song "Down In Flames". They are sometimes credited with founding the U.S. hardcore punk movement, although this question is open to dispute among hardcore fans.
Moving to New York City at the encouragement of Joey Ramone, the Ramones' lead singer, the Dead Boys quickly gained notoriety for their outrageous live performances. Lewd gestures and profanity were the norm. On more than one occasion, lead singer Stiv Bators slashed his stomach with his mic stand. Such antics reportedly discouraged the development of a mainstream rock following despite the relative breadth of their material beyond pure punk. They frequently played at the rock club CBGB and in 1977 they released their debut album, Young, Loud and Snotty, produced by Genya Ravan. Their song "Sonic Reducer" is often regarded as one of the classics of the punk genre, with AllMusic calling it "one of punk's great anthems."
Sire Records pressured the group to change their look and sound to appeal more to the U.S. mainstream (which had yet to embrace punk on the level seen in the UK) and this contributed to Dead Boys breaking up in 1979. Several 1979 performances were featured in the 1980 film, D.O.A.. A few months after the breakup the band had to reunite to record a live album and thus fulfill their contractual obligations. To exact revenge on the label, Bators purposely sang off mic and the resulting recording was unusable. When the material eventually surfaced on Bomp! Records, Bators had re-recorded the vocals in a studio.
In 1978 Johnny Blitz and a group of his friends got into an altercation on Second Avenue in Manhattan which led to Blitz being stabbed in the chest approximately 17 times. While he was recovering in the hospital a benefit was held for him, at which the Dead Boys performed without him, with John Belushi filling in for him on drums.
Bators' subsequent career
Bators recorded a solo album, Disconnected, on Line Records. Bators later formed Lords of the New Church with Brian James from The Damned and Dave Tregunna from Sham 69. They released several albums on IRS Records, including the keyboard-laden hit single "Open Your Eyes" and a cover of "Like a Virgin".
Chrome's subsequent career
After the Dead Boys dissolved, Cheetah Chrome played around New York City (mostly at Max's Kansas City) doing shows with The Stilettos, as well as his own band Cheetah Chrome and the Casualties. He recorded a single for ORK Records, "Still Wanna Die" / "Take Me Home", recorded with Atlantic Records co-founder Herb Abramson. Shortly thereafter, he played on Ronnie Spector's debut solo album Siren. He appeared on several recordings during the 1980s, and rejoined the Dead Boys for their ill-fated reunions of the late 1980s.
In 2003, after the release of The Day the Earth Met the Rocket from the Tombs, Chrome reformed Rocket From The Tombs with David Thomas, Craig Bell, with Steve Mehlman (Pere Ubu) on drums and Richard Lloyd (Television) replacing the late Peter Laughner. This reincarnation of the group toured in 2003 and 2006.
In summer 2003 they entered the studio to record some of the band's old material for the first time. The recordings were released as Rocket Redux (SmogVeil). In 2005, the members of Rocket From The Tombs flew to Germany to headline one night (The Buzzcocks headlined the other) of the International Punk Kongress in Kassel; then, in 2006, they reconvened in Cleveland, Ohio to write material for a new record. This material became the single "I Sell Soul"/"Romeo and Juliet", released in 2010, and the full-length album Barfly, released in 2011.
In September 2010 Cheetah Chrome: A Dead Boy's Tale From The Front Lines Of Punk Rock was published. At the end of a week-long Rocket From The Tomb tour in December 2011, Chrome announced to the band that he had decided to stop touring extensively after 2012. He currently works for Plowboy Records in Nashville, TN, mainly in production and promotion.
Blitz's subsequent career
After leaving the Dead Boys and New York City in 1980, Johnny Blitz (John Madansky) moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada with his wife "B Girl" Lucasta Ross. He hooked up with singer/guitarist/songwriter "Leo DeLyon" (Leonard Nieberg) and bassist Tommy "Gun" Keating from power punk trio "The Blitz" (no association to Johnny's moniker "Blitz") . Johnny and Leo later formed a band called "Slaughterhouse" with Mark Crosley on Bass playing Toronto's top club and concert venues with a large fan following that guaranteed a packed audience at every gig. Johnny's band "Slaughterhouse" and Cheetah's band "Cheetah Chrome and Skells" headlined on Saturday, August 6, 1983 at New York City's CBGB's.
"Dead Boy" bassist Jeff Magnum came to see his old bandmates and at the end of the night, he, Cheetah and Blitz encored the show with some "Dead Boys" songs that brought the house down. After Johnny and Lucasta split, he married Lynn Hansen and fathered 3 boys: Luke, Jake and Cole. Johnny recently achieved "grandfather" status with the arrival of "Hannah," care of his eldest son Luke and his wife. Johnny and Leo went on to form "The Tribe" with keyboard player Pauline Groen and bassist Tommy "Gun" Keating recording originals that were a little more mainstream. After taking a few years break to focus on family, Johnny, Leo, and Tommy regrouped back to their "power punk" 3 piece hard core roots to form "Raw Dog".
Over their twenty five years together as band mates, they co-wrote and arranged all original material together. They recorded a number of unreleased songs at Comfort Sound,and Metalworks Studios; "In From the Cold", "I like Girls", "Television Religion", "Call of the Wild", "Anxiety" and "Kill 'Em All" and many more. Johnny returned to Cleveland for the "Dead Boys" reunion gig in 2004 at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland including a "question and answer" session at the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" and a benefit concert at NYC's CBGB's in 2005. Johnny and Leo went their separate ways in 2007. Johnny still actively plays, writes and arranges with his band "The Highschool Hookers" and currently lives with his girlfriend in Toronto, Canada.
Reformation, death of Bators
The Dead Boys reformed for several gigs in the 1980s. They re-released their first album as Younger, Louder and Snottier in 1989, mastered from a cassette tape of rough mixes, attributed to a young Bob Clearmountain, a studio assistant at the time.
In June 1990, Bators died in France due to injuries sustained after having been hit by a taxi. In September 2004, the remaining members of the band re-formed for a one-off gig in Cleveland. In 2005, they played a benefit show for CBGB and another reunion show on Halloween.
On April 25, 2017, Cheetah Chrome and Johnny Blitz played St Catherine Ontario Canada as a tribute to the 40th Anniversary of Young, Loud and Snotty. The band played the record in its entirety.
In 2013, an American made motion picture titled CBGB was released to theaters. Bators is portrayed by actor Justin Bartha, best known for his roles in The Hangover films and the National Treasure films, while Rupert Grint, best known for his work in the Harry Potter film series as Ron Weasley, plays Cheetah Chrome.
- Stiv Bators - Vocals
- Cheetah Chrome - Lead Guitar
- Jimmy Zero - Rhythm guitar
- Jeff Magnum - Bass
- Johnny Blitz - Drums
- George Cabaniss - Guitar (died July 17, 2020)
The Dead Boys only have two official full-length studio releases, however many labels have released rough material and outtakes in the years following their initial 1979 breakup.
- Young Loud and Snotty (1977, Sire Records)
- We Have Come for Your Children (1978, Sire)
Alternate mix albums
- Younger, Louder and Snottier (1997, Bomp!)
- Original rough mixes of Young, Loud and Snotty
- 3rd Generation Nation (1999, Bad Boy Production)
- Premix of We Have Come for Your Children
- Night of the Living Dead Boys (1981, Bomp! Records)
- The Return of the Living Dead Boys (1987, Revenge Records) (Import/France)
- Recorded July 22, 1977 at CBGB
- Liver Than You'll Ever Be (1988, Various Labels) (Import/Various)
- Recorded December 26, 1987 at the Ritz, NYC
- Twistin' on the Devil's Fork: Live At CBGB's (1998, Hell Yeah Records / Bacchus Records)
- Recorded October 2, 1977 and August 31, 1978 at CBGB
- All This and More (1998, Bomp!)
- Recorded in 1977, November 1 in San Francisco and August 7, 22 and April 7 at CBGB
- "Sonic Reducer" (1977, Sire)
- "Tell Me" (1978, Sire)
- "Search and Destroy" (1979, live, Revenge) (Import/France)
- "Buried Gems" (2000, Cold Front Records)
- "All The Way Down/Nights Are So Long" (1987, Relativity Records 8165) (never released on CD)
- Return Of The Living Dead Boys! Halloween Night 1986 (2008, MVD Visual)
- Live At CBGB's 1977 (2009, MVD Visual)