Dynamic Dynamite: Explosive Vocalists Who Changed Music Part V.
Dynamic Dynamite: Explosive Vocalists Who Changed Music Part V.
By Stevil, February 15th, 2017.
After a considerable delay, we've arrived at the final 10 and there will be no honorable mention list, as that list would actually be longer than this entire series. So, pour yourself a drink, dim the lights, and prepare yourself for one last round of vocal intimacy. Tears and blood will be shed, and I'll accept responsibility for that. Any other secretions will be of your own doing, so look no further than a mirror for the face (or hand) of fault.
And with the sentiments of love present, let's look at some of the most lovable names to have graced us...
|Lou Reed at Cafe Bizarre in Greenwich Village in 1965. Photo by Paul Morrissey.|
Lou Reed: We often hear about the root of an illness, a problem, an idea or a movement and plenty of examples for evidence. While everyone has their own wild and ridiculous ideas of the origins of punk rock, you'll find me arguing that Lou was the seed. Before The Velvet Underground, Lou had been subjected to electroconvulsive therapy to repress homosexual thoughts and eventually found himself at Syracuse University and as a platoon leader in ROTC...before putting a gun to his superior's head and getting himself kicked out of the program. And then there's the music. Lou integrated the art scene of the 60's with all the classic sounds, modern sounds, and those that he created--all polished with brilliant lyrics unprecedented or paralleled. As a solo artist, he opened doors that hippies had no idea existed. So, what were the results you ask? He influenced most of the greatest musicians you respect.
Ariane Forster: The late 70's offered a couple of unique, outspoken female vocalists from Duetschland, with Nina Hagen being one of them. Ari Up was the other, and at just 14 years of age, she had started one of the most influential female-fronted acts of the time, The Slits. Loud and raw, the band toured with The Clash and Buzzcocks before their sound went in another direction and Ari ended up with a Rotten husband. But what she did while still a teenager wasn't that of "Typical Girls" and the scene is forever grateful for the way she donned mud and delivered lyrically.
Michael Ness: Southern California produced some of the greatest frontmen the world has known and Mike is most certainly among them. While Social Distortion went through various phases of different sounds, the trying experiences Mike endured over the years led to one of the most honest reflections of mistakes and displays of resilience packed with perfected musicianship and tones I've ever seen or heard with the release of White Light, White Heat, White Trash, which was followed up by another work of genius, Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes. Some friends dismissed these releases as mere attempts to cash-in and cited early releases as the more praise-worthy works. There's little question Mommy's Little Monster was highly influential and a lot of fun. They'll have to forgive me for embracing the newer material, and Mike for his warped sense of passion and professionalism. Some of us were just born to be jerks.
Richard Meyers: Ever wonder where the Sex Pistols got the inspiration for their look? Look no further than Richard Hell. With Television, Neon Boys, Heartbreakers, and the Voidoids, Richard was instrumental in the development and evolution of punk rock from a point of look, sound, and attitude. He later turned to writing, extending his rage of talent to include yet another form of art. Few have left a greater stamp on music, which reminds me that creating a petition to present to the USPS for postage commemorating Richard is still on my to-do list.
Chris Desjardins: Chris D was one of many responsible for impregnating LA with punk rock, and yes, there was more than one father. Best known for his work with The Flesh Eaters, perhaps Chris summed up what he did best himself in an interview with Flipside magazine: "The one thing that we do that mystifies our audience is we don't play in one category. The music that we play is real loud. It's real metallic and Punk with Rockabilly. It could be described as what was 1977 punk. We're not like a slam type or thrasher band.... There's lots of influences. There's a lot of Rock n Roll, Rockabilly and country western influences in it, a lot of music just sounds big, but a lot of melodies." Anybody who thinks punk is/was one-dimensional, I give you exhibit A: Chris D and his Flesh Eaters.
|The Sweet, live. Photographer unknown.|
Brian Connolly: Some of punks' greatest influences stemmed from musicians that had the profile before punk even existed and Brian was one of them. First with Generation X, and later, The Sweet, among others before and in between, he managed to produce a slew of classics that have fueled a music scene ever since. A product of Scotland, Brian made his mark after moving to London to get the ball rollin'. And roll it did, though his vocal range was limited after a severe beating in 1974 that inhibited him from some of the larger opportunities at the time. There's no denying the element of depression in punk and Brian's story is one that is as saddening as it is beautiful and inspiring, unlike some of his costumes.
Michael Burkett: NOFX's Fat Mike is a musician people seem to either love or hate. Consider me one of the exceptions, but few would dare disagree that he's been one of the most influential frontmen since the early 90's. While many have tried to mimic the real thing, there's only one Fat Mike. The clones fall well-short despite their increase in birth rates. I admittedly lost interest after White Trash, Two Heebs, and a Bean, which was brilliant, but the Wreck Chords machine continues to run and the byproducts keep churning.
Andrie Panov: A name unknown in the West, Andrie became a legend in the East, specifically, Russia. He and his band Автоматические удовлетворители (Automatic Satisfiers) were the first punk rockers to establish themselves in the USSR and they did so at a time when it was virtually impossible to release a record. So, they didn't. They couldn't. Yet Andrie captivated crowds at secret shows and spread the spirit of punk rock where it was arguably needed most. It proved to be contagious, though dangerous to display in public, so the band and it's message(s) remained underground til the end. If there were ever an example of DIY, look no further than Andrie and A.S.
Lee Capallero: FEAR captured all that was punk right from the get go and fans and musicians alike took notice of Lee Ving's stage presence. In short, Lee delivered. He also wielded the naïve into a state of shock--and anger--as was the case after performing as the musical guest on SNL. But that had to have been half the fun, and certainly put FEAR on the map, although it arguably took them off it before being propelled forward with belated respect. Many bands in the scene from the late 70's to date have lacked authenticity. FEAR isn't one of them.
Ian Kilmister: Last, but certainly not least, I present to you "Lemmy", better known as "God". One of few musicians who have earned the respect of fans and musicians from multiple genres at Beatle-levels, and deservedly so. Lemmy gave us rock 'n roll with all the toughness, appeal, and brilliance you could ever ask for. From Hawkwind, to the immortal Motörhead, nobody lived or performed faster, harder, or stronger. Period. I would bet few were as intelligent, knowledgeable, or as respectable as Lemmy, either. He offered honesty in the wake of his mistakes in what you might call a fatherly manner. He was enamored by millions and his legend will only grow with time. Looking for a hero that represents all? Look no further than Lemmy. The spirit of Motörhead is alive and well, make no mistake about that. On that note, go put on Bomber, or Iron Fist, and think about how you can be a better human being; take responsibility for whatever it is you need to face. Lemmy will help.
|Lemmy In Action. Photograph by Steve Rapport.|
It would be easy to pay homage to another 50 names, but as it took me months to complete this, I think it's best to call it a done deal and stress one last time that there are many, many other names equally as deserving of the same recognition. Some would be arguably more deserving than some of my choices, but it really doesn't matter, does it?
Punk Rock, and Rock in general, are better because of frontmen and frontwomen like these. That's the ultimate point, and if you disagree, then you definitely missed it. If by chance you happen to be unfamiliar with any of these names, do yourself a favor and change that.