|Posted on October 27, 2007 at 4:51 PM|
What a tragic weekend October 20-21 represented for the world of Punk Rock. The loss of any influential Punk musician is always sad, but when that loss is to incurable disease it makes things even worse. These three guys feature heavily in the House Of Scanner record collection and their passing leaves a sizeable hole as they were all still musically active in some way.
R. I. P. Guys - but don't turn it down!
In the early hours of Saturday 20 October 2007, former KILLING JOKE bassist, Paul Raven died in his sleep aged 46. The cause of death was a heart attack and occurred in Geneva, Switzerland where he was working on his latest recording project. He was found by his PRONG band-mate, Ted Parsons.
Raven was born in Wolverhampton, England on 16 January 1961. By 1979 he had recorded an album with local Punk band, NEON HEARTS (re-issued on Overground Records) before joining the glam-orientated band, KITSCH (featuring Tyla who went onto be in Dogs D' Amour).
When original KILLING JOKE bassist, Youth, left the band after its move to Iceland, Raven filled the position in 1982. His vinyl debut was the 'Birds Of A Feather' single. His tenure included the album 'Night Time' which proved to be the band's biggest commercial success and spawned the hit single, 'Love Like Blood'.
Raven was fired from the band in 1987 only to be rehired two years later and remained in the band until its initial demise in 1991. He reappeared in KILLING JOKE in 2003.
Raven's other musical activities saw him performing and recording with a predominantly industrial set of bands including MURDER INC, PIGFACE, GODFLESH and PRONG. He reached a wider audience when he hooked up with the infamous Al Jourgensen of MINISTRY, playing on the albums 'Rio Grande Blood' and 'The Last Sucker'.
At the time of Raven's death he was working with French Industrialists TREPONAM PAL on their collaboration with Ted Parsons and members of YOUNG GODS.
In a statement, KILLING JOKE vocalist Jaz Coleman and guitarist Geordie Walker say, "We are all deeply stricken with grief at the unannounced departure of possibly the funniest man on planet Earth and a brother to us all: Paul Vincent Raven. Unimaginable sadness is felt by all."
On finding Raven, Ted Parsons says, "I found Raven asleep in a chair the next morning. I thought nothing of it, as Raven would sleep like this on the tour bus all the time. Then I looked closer at him, and he looked very gray. I checked his pulse and there was none. I yelled for the other guys in the band. We immediately did some CPR and called for an ambulance. Medics arrived quickly, but after an hour of trying to get his heartbeat back, they could not save him. They said he died in his sleep, probably around 6 a.m. It was then 9:30 a.m."
Parsons added: "Words can't describe how I feel right now. I'm devastated. He will be missed by many."
I never saw Raven play live. I own about eight KILLING JOKE albums, but those that really connect with me are the pre-Raven discs. The pick of the JOKE albums to feature Raven has to be the pounding power of 'Extremities, Dirt And Other Repressed Emotions'.
Just looking back over this piece and Raven's CV, his legacy in the annals of Punk and alternative music as a whole cannot be understated.
At 3am on Sunday 21 October 2007, RUTS guitarist Paul Fox died at his home in Uxbridge, England. He was aged 56 and died of the lung cancer that plagued him for the months prior his death.
Fox, the son of publican parents, was born in Bermondsey, South London on 11 April 1951. When he was a child, his parents moved to Hayes, Middlesex. It was in the early 70s at a hippie commune in Anglesey that Fox found some musical feet - albeit in the prog-rock band Aslan. The commune disbanded in 1975 and Fox returned to London to join a funk band that did the London pub circuit.
Come 1977 with the vitriol of Punk Rock sweeping the capital, Fox teamed up with Malcolm Owen (vocals), John Jennings (bass) and Dave Ruffy (drums) and the band we all know as THE RUTS was formed. Fox played a pivotal songwriting role. With his grounding in other genres of music, Fox created a menacing, often haunting, style that revealed his versatility; he was a lover of reggae and could switch styles with ease. This would lead to some of the greatest moments in the recorded output of THE RUTS.
The song the band, and Fox, is most remembered for is 'Babylon's Burning' a forthright commentary on the discontent in Britain's cities. It reached number seven in the 1979 charts, and the follow-up, 'Something That I Said', also charted high. The first album, 'The Crack', remains a classic and is one of the definitive Punk albums of the era.
Unfortunately, in 1980, the band's vocalist, Malcolm Owen, died of a heroin overdose. It's a drug that Fox himself would also battle in future years. The band continued until 1982, as RUTS DC with Fox sharing vocal duties. The direction though was more dub-reggae than the taut, explosive Punk apparent on 'The Crack'.
Fox continued playing as the years went on, first in DIRTY STRANGERS - a Rolling Stones-style combo that released a couple of albums on which both Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood guested. In 1983 there was the short-lived CHOIR MILITIA, rock band SCREAMING LOBSTERS in 1987 and indie outfit, FLUFFY KITTENS between 1991 and 1994.
There were a couple of low-profile singles (Chelsea Punk Rock Allstars in 1997 and with Ska artist Lauren Aitken in 2000) that followed, but Fox basically entered musical retirement at this stage and earned an income as a carpenter in Ruislip, Middlesex.
Last year Fox formed a new band, FOXY'S RUTS that featured his eldest son, Lawrence, on drums. His last recorded work was released earlier this year with dub-reggae band, the DUBCATS.
Fox's final live performance was at a RUTS reunion in London with Henry Rollins taking over vocal duties. This was a benefit show for Fox following his diagnosis of the cancer that would ultimately kill him.
Fox is survived by his ex-wife Sharon and two sons, Lawrence and William.
I missed seeing THE RUTS - I was only 11 in 1980. I do recall the first time I heard the band though. It was in the 'Times Square' movie. I was about 13 I guess and 'Babylon's Burning' just appeared - and wiped me out. It was only a matter of saving pocket money until I went and bought 'The Crack'. It's still an album I adore and coupled with 'Staring At The Rude Boys' forms mandatory listening.
On Sunday 21 October 2007 Lance Hahn of the band J CHURCH died after a long illness brought on by complications from kidney disease. He was 40. Hahn had been comatose since Friday 12 October following a collapse during dialysis. Hahn's girlfriend, Liberty Lidz, says, "as far as the doctors can tell, this collapse was due to a sudden, drastic drop in blood pressure, which in turn was probably caused by a recurrence of the infection he had had in September combined with the stress of dialysis. He received immediate CPR from medical professionals at the dialysis center, but as it took 15 or 20 minutes to resuscitate him, he suffered neurological damage from lack of oxygen to the brain, leaving him in a coma from which he never returned."
Hahn was born in Hawaii in 1967. In 1984 he formed the respected CRINGER after a spell in a skatecore band called SCARRED FOR LIFE. CRINGER was one of the first and certainly the most recognised Punk Rock band to be based in Hawaii. The band lasted until the end of 1991 having toured extensively and releasing many records, notably the 'Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo' album.
When Hahn relocated to San Francisco he put together the prolific J CHURCH. The band released a mass of singles, EPS and albums since its inception in 1992. "A lot of people write trying to keep track of all the records we put out," Hahn said in 1995. "I can't even remember."
Besides J CHURCH and CRINGER, Hahn also played guitar for Beck in 1994, owned and operated the Honey Bear record label, was a long-time contributor to the Asian pop culture magazine Giant Robot and Maximumrocknroll, and published the zine Some Hope and Some Despair.
Hahn and Lidz moved to Austin in 2000 where Hahn continued with J CHURCH. Many in the city who were unfamiliar with Hahn's music knew him as a friendly, knowledgeable manager at the Vulcan Video store, where he had worked for the past six years.
His final project was a nearly completed book called Let The Tribe Increase about the history of anarchist Punk bands, portions of which have been excerpted in Maximumrocknroll.
The spectre of failing health dogged Lance in his last months. Like so many musicians and artists in Austin, he had no health insurance. A benefit compilation entitled 'Let's Do It For Lance!' was released to help defray the cost of his medical bills. Vulcan Video also set up a pay-pal account to collect donations towards his medical expenses.
Lance's final blog entry, on 7 October was as close to a good-bye as we will get. "Even with the drugs I feel like I've got needles in my stomach. I'm about to run out of Vicodin and I'm pretty nervous about it. I know I've said it before but I don't mind dying or getting hurt. It's the pain I can't handle."
Sobering stuff indeed. I saw J CHURCH many times - I met Lance a few times too and an always-affable guy he was. Oddly, my residing memory of the band was at a below-par gig in Cambridge. Lance had the flu so badly that he could barely speak, let alone sing! To make matters worse, the PA was terrible. Still, he and the band soldiered on with a lot of Hahn humour in tow. It was always incredibly apparent at J CHURCH shows just how many releases the band had out there; I'd always return loaded with CDs and vinyl of yet more J CHURCH nuggets.
Given Lance's involvement in Punk, it's beyond question whether the man will be missed. He represented everything Punk should be - intelligent, vocal, original and sincere.
I do not want to be a leader, I do not want to be lead
I just want to go to bed
At times it cuts right to the bone
An ugly fear of dying alone
'Two Friends' - CRINGER (1989)