I had a gun once. And if you have a gun, you might as well hold up a liquor store. So I went to the liquor store, panty hose over my head, and pointed the gun at the clerk. Turned out he was an old high school friend who recognized me immediately, panty hose notwithstanding. I lowered the gun and said, “Well, shit,” and pulled the panty hose off my head. “Way to go, fucktooth,” he said, “you just performed a cameo for the security cameras. Just go. I’ll fuck them up somehow.” Then he said, “I can give you a bottle and a pack of cigarettes. Like tequila?” I said, “Man, this is ridiculous.” He said, “You’re disappearing ink. I never saw you. Take the tequila. It’s some expensive shit. And I recommend heartily that you find another way of getting paid, because you’re too nice a guy for this business.” By this time there was a customer standing behind me. I didn’t even know he was there. I turned to him and said, “I’m sorry for the hold-up, no pun intended,” and bolted. And heard him say behind me, “It takes all kinds of idiots to make a world.”
None of that is true, but it reminds me of The Gun Club, whose 1981 debut LP blew my mind. “Sex Beat,” “She’s Like Heroin to Me, and “For the Love of Ivy” opened up new possibilities in post-punk; for one The Gun Club was heavy on the blues, and the songs were dark, dark as Robert Johnson dark. No 57-second tantrums directed at that bitch Ronald Reagan for The Gun Club; they played a deviant hybrid of punk, rockabilly, country, and blues, and lyrically were mining an ancient vein of a haunted America, where spirits and ghosts wandered the highways and lightless trains rode the trestles at night, along with one Jack on fire. I listened to that album for six months straight, then I discovered the Minutemen and the Meat Puppets, and The Gun Club just sorta slipped off my radar.
It was my loss, because front man Jeffrey Lee Pierce came on like a man possessed by some curse spirit from South of the Border, like he had voodoo in his blood and sex in his guitar, and it surprised virtually no one when he died at age 37 as a result of alcohol and drug abuse. He founded The Gun Club in the happening Hollywood scene in 1979, with a line-up that included Brian Tristan (aka Kid Congo Powers) on lead guitar, Don Snowden on bass, and Brad Dunning on guitar. Originally called The Creeping Ritual, they changed their name to The Gun Club at the suggestion of Circle Jerk Keith Morris. But the band had a high turnover quotient, and everyone but Pierce was history before The Gun Club recorded its debut, including Powers, who skedaddled to the Cramps and was replaced by Ward Dotson. As for Snowden and Dunning, they were replaced by two former members of the Bags, Rob Ritter and Terry Graham, respectively.