Day of the dead
Bomp Records founder Greg Shaw died Oct. 19 at the age of 55, after suffering kidney and pancreas problems. And it wouldn’t be so sad if Shaw wasn’t such a swell guy, one gifted with a brilliant set of ears and a heart to match.
Shaw was a tastemaker, to be sure, and one wouldn’t have to look much further than the Flamin’ Groovies to see that. Too, the guy was a veritable vanguard for rock journalism. In 1966, his Mojo-Navigator Rock & Roll News influenced the way people ingested music writing, and he pretty much launched the very idea of music fanzines in 1970 with the brilliant and watershed Who Put The Bomp (later the Bomp Magazine), where he published Lester Bangs’ infamously speedy Troggs screed. When he edited Phonograph Record Magazine, he gave Creem’s Richard Riegel his first paid writing assignment and was later the West Coast editor of Creem. Hell, Shaw was instrumental in the writing career of Metro Times contributor Fred Mills. And that’s nothing; shit, we could go on all day about the guy.
But it was his L.A.-based Bomp record label that truly bent American kids’ ears into wonderful shapes, kids who could find nothing else to hang their hopes on in rock ’n’ roll. And he was adored in Detroit.
Shaw once came here in 1976 to cut the Romantics “Tell It To Carrie” EP, a record that launched the suit-bedecked quartet into full-on pop stardom. And through his label and its imprint Total Energy, Shaw oversaw album releases by other Detroiters too, including Nikki and the Corvettes and Wendy Case’s pre-Payback band Ten High, Bootsey X’s Lovemasters, John Sinclair, the Up, Wayne Kramer, Detroit (with Mitch Ryder), plus worthy Iggy Pop’s post-Raw Power stuff, and a smorgasbord of MC5’s unreleased shit. The Motor City is Burning collections sported tracks from the Gories, Queenies, Hentchmen, Destroy All Monsters, SRC, Rationals, Up, Stooges, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, Ramrods, Mutants, Dirtys, Motor Dolls and others.
Also, Shaw is widely credited for coining the term “garage rock.”
Another one down is Ron Koss. Koss was the brilliant guitarist of Detroit prog-psyche band Savage Grace, which released two albums on Reprise in the early ’70s. Before that Koss played in a jazzy bar band called Scarlet Letter, which was signed to Mainstream records. He also did bits of Motown session work, and is credited on early Wilson Pickett records, among others. Though details of his death are sketchy at this point, Ross died of an apparent heart attack on Oct. 16.
We’d be remiss without a mention of John Peel’s death. He died of a heart attack while vacationing in Peru on Oct. 26. Here’s a guy who took under his wing myriad Detroit bands and offered them to the world via his BBC Radio 1 program, a show that has aired since 1967. He was, among other things, a U.K. radio champion and career-launcher to many. The White Stripes, the Sights, the Ghostly International label, Detroit Cobras, Electric Six, and the single-digit street busker Jawbone are but a few who recently benefited from Peel’s love of Motor City ruckus. Peel, it should be said, discovered Jawbone, not by word of mouth, not by some up-to-the-moment White Stripes association, but by actually sifting through the heaps of CDs and vinyl sent in to him. After listening, he phoned the wholly unknown Jawbone at his Ferndale home and booked him for a Peel session. It was that simple. And Jawbone is eternally grateful.
What price platinum records? Word has it that million-selling rap star Obie Trice is having credit probs. Despite a lucrative deal with Shady Records and touring the globe with pals D-12, Trice’s cash flow hasn’t done shit to outweigh his FICO credit score. Observers at a local Best Buy recently spied Trice attempting to purchase a spiffy new television on store credit. Well, guess what? His application for a Best Buy card was dee-nied. Trice then had patron heads swiveling as he stormed out of the store, only to return a half-hour later with — guess who? — his mom. Ma Trice cosigned for kid Trice, and the television is no doubt gracing some modern console in a happy hip-hop home.
Better late than never
Finally, begrudging kudos are due Em’ for his frank slam of George what’s-his-name in his current single and vid, “Mosh.” And to think that we here at Hit Singles thought Em’ — he who, a few years back, single-handedly made domestic violence radio-friendly — was but a right-wing suburban hillbilly. Must be the hair. Silly us.Send comments to [email protected]