On This Date in 1981: The Penelope Spheeris-directed Punk Rock Documentary, The Decline Of Western Civilization debuted in Southern California. Capturing the ferocity of the thriving and wildly influential LA and Orange County Punk music scene, Decline featured live performances from Black Flag, The Circle Jerks, Fear, Alice Bag Band, X, Catholic Discipline and The Germs, whose now long-deceased lead singer, Darby Crash graces the central spot of the promo poster. Many of the film’s live performance scenes were shot at The Fleetwood, a cavernous live music venue near the pier in Redondo Beach, which I believe was formerly home to a Bowling Alley or Skate Rink.
On This Date in 1980: Darby Crash (born Jan Paul Beahm), lead singer of The Germs, died of an intentional heroin overdose at the age of 22. For anyone curious about Darby, The Germs, and the LA Punk Rock scene of the late 70s/early 80s, I highly recommend the bio pic, What We Do is Secret. Despite a lot of criticism from people who were there; to be honest, I was there also, and I think the film got a lot of things right. Favorite Germs Song: “Richie Dagger’s Crime.” RIP Darby.
On This Date, February 2nd, in 1979: Sex Pistols’ bassist Sid Vicious (Born Simon John Ritchie) died of a heroin overdose in New York City. He was 21 years old. Sid did not live a long life, and that is a shame. But he was such a mess when he died, it is difficult to speculate on the type of person he might have become had he never met/murdered Nancy Spungen, and eventually gotten his act together. Some people just aren’t built to last (see also Darby Crash and Kurt Cobain), so maybe it’s a moot point to even entertain such thoughts as what he might be like in his fifties, if he were alive today. I recently watched the Sex Pistols mockumentary, The Great Rock & Roll Swindle (thank you Netflix for making this possible) and really enjoyed it. The Swindle, not unlike Sid, is a huge mess, but is nevertheless wild nostalgic fun – especially for its inclusion of the videos for “Silly Thing,” sung by Pistols’ drummer Paul Cook and “Lonely Boy,” performed by guitarist Steve Jones. Those songs are awesome. You can also see Sid’s iconic rendition of “My Way,” as well as Eddie Cochran’s hits “C’Mon Everybody” and “Something Else.” Worth adding to the queue, for sure. Rest in Peace, Sid.