There’s clear debate surrounding the roots of punk, although from my point of view it certainly began in England, but we can never be too sure. However, the L.A punk scene is certainly a scene that deserves it’s own recognition, and this is most definitely due to Germs and their lead singer Darby Crash.
Every Germs gig was a hellacious one where things were bound to get super rowdy. Crash was absolutely out of this world with his performances as lead singer, something like a cross-over between Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Crash would dive into the crowd and keep his clothing to some sort of minimum. He would step on stage obviously drugged out of his mind and singing into everything except into the microphone as he would roll on the ground from time to time and provoke the audience into further conflict. It’s safe to say that in order to really get yourself into the spirit of things, you’d have to witness the band performing live. Joan Jett actually got pretty close to bottling this absolute madness into a record called GI, which features legendary punk anthems such as Lexicon Devil, Sex Boy, and Communist Eyes in their utmost prime beauty.
Back in the earlier days of Germs, there were not many hopes for the band’s future. Their first single Formation came back with a note from the pressing plant saying that this record will give you ear cancer. Probably the only musically experienced member in the band was guitarist Pat Smear who would later on go join Nirvana and Foo Fighters. It was not long until heroin practically consumed frontman Darby Crash at the age of 22, and that’s when Germs were practically over. Even though the band later reformed, it wasn’t the same without having Crash around.
Crash was certainly a mysterious character to say the least, and an absolute tragedy due to how short his life was cut. A lot of his lifestyle was fuelled by girls who would drive him to places and get him drugs, although his relationship with them was usually rather platonic. In fact, there’s growing speculation that Crash was a closeted homosexual and feared coming out of the closet due to the hatred that he probably thought he would receive as a result, especially at the moment in time during the 70s. When Crash committed suicide in 1980, John Lennon’s death stole the headlines, but there were rumours that Darby Crash was attempting to write “Here lies Darby Crash” on the wall moments before his death. However, in reality he wrote a note to the bassist of Germs, Bosco, “My life, my leather, my love goes to Bosco”. Although Crash lived a very short life, he and Germs have influenced many other punk bands to this day. There are some split views regarding Darby Crash’s talent, as he was usually drugged out of his mind during performances and at times performing with a piece of paper in his hand (he would forget some of the words to the songs). Despite his highly troubled exterior, I’m pretty sure that deep inside him there was a shy boy who was lost, confused and maybe even feeling out of place. However, the songs that he had written during the time he lived are songs that are pure poetry and honesty.