Living fast and dying young is one of rock's great clichés, but no phrase better describes the reasons for the demise of L.A. punkers
. Capable of creating a firestorm of noisy, confrontational music, they were ultimately undone by their perversely charismatic lead singer. He was a madman named Paul Beahm, better known to the world at-large first as
-style out on the mainline at age 22.
Taking musical cues from the Sex Pistols
(and English punk in general), as well as the CBGB's scene, and adding the theatricality of Bowie
, and Lou Reed
was the perfect frontman for the Germs
. Backed by guitarist Pat Smear
(later of Nirvana
and the Foo Fighters
), bassist Lorna Doom
, and drummer Don Bolles
, the Germs
kicked up a hellacious racket that strayed from fast/loud punk into art damage and garage grunge. On-stage, their gigs bordered on performance art, with Crash
in full Iggy
frenzy, diving into the crowd, adorning himself with whatever foodstuffs the audience provided, wearing less-and-less clothing, all done while the band cranked out noisy spasms of simple, but effective, rock noise.
Never capturing this mania on record (how could they?), the Germs
' recording career is based on the sole record made during Crash
's short life. Produced by Germs
fan Joan Jett
was a fine hunk of early L.A. punk rock that was more literate and compelling that what was being offered by lesser local luminaries such as the Zeroes and the Weirdos
's guitar playing is especially volatile, matching the mewling vocals of Crash
note for note. It may not be life-changing music, but the white-hot, adrenal rush is a little bit of heaven.
By the time Crash
filled his veins with heroin in 1980, the Germs
were pretty much over. Crash
's behavior had become increasingly unpredictable, he was spending time in England, and began preforming as a solo act upon returning to L.A. Consequently, the valuable recorded work in this final period is spotty, but much of it shows up on the definitive Germs
release Germs (MIA) The Complete Anthology.