Posts Tagged ‘Richard Hell’

Left us on this day (April 23rd) in 1991: American rock’n’roll/punk rock guitarist, singer & songwriter Johnny Thunders (believed to be drug-related causes, age 38), who came to prominence as a founding guitar player of influential, proto-punk band, The New York Dolls (1971-75); born John Anthony Genzale, Jr., he renamed himself after a comic book of the same name; the Dolls released the seminal albums ‘New York Dolls’ (1973) & ‘Too Much Too Soon’ (1974); Johnny left & formed The Heartbreakers in 1975, recording on & off until 1984 (including the essential 1977 album ‘L.A.M.F.’); he also recorded solo, including the 1978 considered classic LP ‘So Alone’, featuring a rock & punk celebrity cast & arguably his greatest composition, “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory”; he also formed Gang of War with MC5’s Wayne Kramer for one album in 1990; his final recording was a version of “Born To Lose”, with German punk rock band Die Toten Hosen less than two days before his passing in New Orleans; in 1999, veteran documentary filmmaker Lech Kowalski released ‘Born To Lose: The Last Rock ‘N’ Roll Movie’; Danny Garcia’s featured documentary, ‘Looking for Johnny’, was released in 2014…

My admiration of Johnny Thunders stems from my huge love of his tenure with the New York Dolls and The Heartbreakers. I’ve just started listening to his solo catalogue again. And I started off with what are identified as his three true studio albums, “So Alone”, “Que Sera Sera”, and “Copy Cats”. Does anyone recommend listening to specific other releases of his that are floating around out there? There are so many titles live albums, compilations, bootlegs, Love to get your recommendations please.

“DTK live at the Speakeasy” often included in some LAMF reissues. “Live at the Village Gate” is good. If you can get your hands on one, “LAMF Heartbreakers definitive edition” box CD set. It includes 4 CD’s (and badges!), LAMF lost ’77 mixes, LAMF the restored Track LP, LAMF demo sessions ’76, ’77, LAMF alternative mixes (21 in total for that disc), deluxe booklet by Nina Antonia including a comprehensive interview with Walter Lure. You should still be able to find one on EBay probably. “Belfast nights” has pretty good sound quality. “The Yonkers demos” often included in some comps. “Madrid memory”, “The Heartbreakers live at Max’s” great sound quality. Walter Lure’s Waldos have a couple CD’s “Rent Party” and the still pretty new “Wacka Lacka Loom Bop A Loom Bam Boo” on Cleopatra Records.

‘Johnny Thunder lives on water, feeds on lightning.
Johnny Thunder don’t need no one, don’t want money.
And all the people of the town, They can’t get through to Johnny, they will never, ever break him down.
Johnny Thunder speaks for no one, goes on fighting.
And sweet Helena in bed prays for Johnny.’
“Johnny Thunder”—R. Davies

In the late summer of 1980, the remains of what was Giant Sandworms went in an exhaustive road trip to find our place in NYC’s post-punk rock whirlpool of unsigned bands. We were unprepared for this mythic belly flop into the catacombs of both the Lower East Side and the herculean task of day-to-day advancement of spinning our wheels just to play CBGB for 16 people, 15 of them being our friends.

New York City was a harsh, smelly, tinderbox of sorts. The Hell’s Angels block on First Avenue and Third Street held an obit on the west side of the street, sprayed on the brick wall in memory of Big Vinny “When in doubt, knock ’em out.” .The building was like any other building in 1981, serving as Alphabet City’s 24/7 narcotics market and shooting galleries. It wasn’t always a pleasant interaction and even Johnny Thunders was just another mark.

Back then, everybody had a story about Johnny Thunders, everybody. Way back in the early ’70s, rock had become listless. With a few exceptions, groups made the same record again and again, then a live album, with audience applause engineered to sound like panzer divisions. But the onset of change would begin in small camps, garages, and basements, by like-minded kids that didn’t fit. New York City had become dangerous, abandoned and for the taking. Beneath the Brill building, Warhol’s Factory, Manny’s Music (“try it, you buy it”), record companies furnished with mahogany and leather and maybe a faint trace of Birdland and, more recently, The Fillmore, offered up stagnation. The industry and its product were stamped in Billboard Magazine, in self-congratulatory pages, while raw, young talent went unfostered. It became near impossible to break into the machinations of this music machine.

In 1973, one band The New York Dolls almost got through. They were representing their city with driving blues rock, and hard-luck tales of youth punching back at the disorder of war, technology, urban renewal and the luckless stars of a time where nothing was forbidden. It was unapologetic, dirty, loud, and fast. The cover of their debut album found the quintet in full drag and unwashed long hair with more swagger than the Rolling Stones could muster on their best night.

Todd Rundgren produced it and it sounded as they did—no whiteout on this term paper. David Johansen was a lead singer with the goods. Lead guitarist, Johnny Thunders’ sound was driven, mangy, loud, and original. “Trash,” “Vietnamese Baby,” and “Subway Train” were unforgettable titles. There would’ve been no Sex Pistols without them and that’s just for starters. It was pure from-the-streets commentary on the times.

CREEM magazine awarded the Dolls the No. 1 best new band and No. 1 worst band in their yearly poll in 1973. Love ’em or hate ’em, they made a huge impression. The record peaked at paltry No. 119 on the Billboard album chart , and they toured in the U.S. supporting Mott The Hoople and went back to London for a short tour as well. They could inspire from an audience a chorus of boos, or offer truly compelling performances that left people gasping, saying it was the best rock show of their lives.

The band was schizophrenic and the media found them authentic if nothing else. Bowie had referenced Billy Murcia in song (“Time” from Aladin Sane), the original Dolls drummer who OD’d in a London bathtub in ’72 just before the band signed to Mercury. By ’74 the quintet made Too Much Too Soon with Shangri-Las’ producer Shadow Morton. It held “Babylon,” “Human Being,” and Thunders’ first lead vocal on “Chatterbox.” It was camp but cool, choosing mostly great covers like Philadelphia’s “Gamble and Huff” and Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Don’t Start Me Talking.” Record sales were even worse than the first outing, and the tours were hampered by bassist Arthur ‘Killer’ Kane’s alcoholism and the heroin habits of Thunders’ and drummer Jerry Nolan. Infighting and a lack of new material found them waning, they dropped by Mercury.

In ’75, Thunders and Nolan quit the band. But along with the MC5, The Stooges, and The Dictators, the Dolls were the American precursor to a punk-rock movement that found its place in every city young, reckless, and hungry.

Johnny Thunders forms The Heartbreakers, Thunders might have been without a band or a steady gig for a week before he formed The Heartbreakers, which, for a downtown minute, included Richard Hell. But the group would be ex-Doll Jerry Nolan, guitarist Walter Lure, and Billy Rath on bass. They worked and developed a devil-may-care harder rock sound and, planned or not, they were synonymous with heroin. You wouldn’t find The Heartbreakers pictured with Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No to Drugs” slogan above their heads. What I did see on every other pole and telephone booth after moving to New York City with a post-Heartbreakers pic of Johnny sideways in a hat, syringe sticking out of the brim, pimping his next show, trading street cred for self-parody by 1982.

The Heartbreakers played around New York and then overseas as be part of the historic Sex Pistols’ Anarchy Tour. Four dates in and things imploded. London was not used to a group like this, unafraid to play a guitar solo, yanks dressed big-city junkie cool with enough ego and stage presence to be long remembered. They stayed and recorded the record L.A.M.F. , a very good journal of a rock & roll band with antisocial bravado and American conceit and big dirt-sugar pop hooks. But the record was muddy and poorly mixed and has by now a remixed version or two, but you don’t get them when you need them and Nolan left the band because of it.

They became an apparition of sorts, who would through the years get back together for a payday, but in their time, they were the house band at Max’s Kansas City and took on all contenders. (Their swagger-y ’79 live album, Live at Max’s Kansas City, smokes).

Thunders stayed in London and the next year put out his debut record “So Alone”, one of ’78’s best by anyone. He had Paul Cook and Steve Jones hot to play from The Pistols’ demise and Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott on bass, some Peter Perrett (Only Ones) on guitar, and it opens on a cover of The Chantays’ “Pipeline” and it don’t quit. The ultimate in blood-on-the-page ballads is “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory” and covers Otis Blackwell II’s “Daddy Rolling Stone” with Thunders on the first verse, Lynott emotive second, and Steve Marriott, the white blues-boogie screamer, who turns the final verse into sulfur, striking fire, holding nothing back.

The studio is said to have been an all-day and all-night den of vice and electricity, where all involved saw a success in its making and a fortune cookie that read “Your Time is Nigh.” So Alone was helmed by a young (pre-U2) Steve Lillywhite. It earned some good press on both continents, sold better than expected and is a rock ‘n’ roller’s album. Johnny’s vocals were as good as they got and his playing was tough, sincere and even tender. It has aged well. But and he never hit that high again. In fact, all three of the voices heard in “Daddy Rolling Stone,” would be dead within a decade.

After returning to the States, Thunders became more difficult, more undisciplined, and toured to survive and make his bones with mostly sub-par bands, or worse. Thunders and Wayne Kramer were in that storied, short-lived combo Gang War. The few songs I’d heard were reggae influenced, but with no real direction. The band was more like a ghetto timeshare for two very talented men. It was a project that brought no record deal and no new respect for the future rock ‘n’ roll legends. Lots of time-wasting though.

Fighting with his band, fighting with his roadies, and with the audience. Trolling the faces to call down: “hey douchebag, pussy, come suck me off!” as if he was waiting on something or someone to take the weight off, to just be John again, or someone else completely. The shows might have been sloppy the first week, but you end up floating downstream letting a last power chord float when he didn’t know the bridge or when the band did one out of thin air he didn’t know. Thunders would look back, frown, turn up a notch before doing standards like “Can’t Kick,” “Chinese Rocks” or a cover he still found a friend in.

May be an image of 4 people, people standing, people playing musical instruments and guitar

See the source image

“I didn’t care for the sound he got on tape or the performance much either,” said Tom Verlaine, dismissing Brian Eno’s attempt to record the quintessential New York loft act’s first LP. Five tracks were recorded at Good Vibrations studio before Verlaine pulled the plug on a putative Island album and his schoolmate, bassist and musical co-conspirator Richard Hell. “Double Exposure” shows why; Verlaine, second guitarist Richard Lloyd and drummer Billy Ficca are moving towards the chiselled arches of 1977’s Marquee Moon, while Hell plunks agriculturally behind them. Told before the session that none of his songs (“Blank Generation” included) would be recorded, Hell knew the end was nigh when Verlaine told him to stop jumping around on stage. (“He didn’t want people to be distracted,” Hell later recalled.)

In late 1973 the trio formed, calling themselves Television and soon recruiting Richard Lloyd as a second guitarist. They persuaded CBGB’s owner Hilly Kristal to give the band a regular gig at his club which had just opened on the Bowery in New York. Television was the first rock group to perform at the club, which was to become, along with Max’s Kansas City, the center of the burgeoning punk scene. The members of Television reportedly constructed the first stage at CBGB’s, where they quickly established a significant cult following.

“Double Exposure’s” never-to-be-released title track and a live version of the 13th Floor Elevators’ “Fire Engine” show the jazzbo-garage vision that Television abandoned along with Hell; early versions of “Venus” and “Prove It” signpost their future as Quicksilver Messenger Service but with better hair.

This is two demo recording sessions from Television years 1974 & 1975. The bands highly acclaimed debut album ‘Marquee Moon’ was released in 1977 (Elektra Records) and was very successful in Europe however failed to enter the Billboard 200 in the USA. Both sessions were included on the bootleg ‘Double Exposure’ which surfaced in Italy (No Label No. DE-92-SC), and was first released in 1992. The original bootleg included three live tracks from CBGB’s in 1975, that are missing from this version.

The Television 1974 demos were recorded at Good Vibrations Studios in NYC with Richard Hell on bass, and produced by Brian Eno and Richard Williams of Island Records.
The August 1975 demos were recorded with Fred Smith on bass and were part of the session for Terry Ork of Ork Records which produced Television’s first single “Little Johnny Jewel” (Ork, 1975, included on expanded re-issue of Marquee Moon).

It is fascinating listening to the early versions of these songs that eventually appeared on ‘Marquee Moon’. Each session and versions are distinctly different the second having a ‘harder edge’ to them and closer to the final released editions.

Recorded March 1975, New York

Destiny Street Complete

The punk classic finally made available as the artist originally intended • Four complete records under one banner • The release contains new liners for Richard Hell outlining the Destiny Street saga “I’ve finally taken it all the way, and at this late date the album now moves me.

I can feel it rather than just feel frustration about it. the emotions in it are largely fear and desperation and longing, but that’s life, and can even have some kind of majesty.” Richard Hell Destiny Street was the follow-up album to one of the greatest punk albums of all time, 1977’s Blank Generation. the album was originally recorded in 1981 and released in 1982, but not to Richard Hell’s satisfaction. As he says in his new liner notes to destiny street remixed, “the final mix was a morass of trebly multi-guitar sludge.” now, for the 40th anniversary of its creation, the album is at last presented the way Richard Hell originally intended, “the sound of a little combo playing real gone rock and roll.” Richard Hell co-founded his first band, the Neon Boys, with Tom Verlaine in 1973. that band became Television. when Hell left Television in 1975, he formed, with Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan, both formerly of the New York Dolls, the Heartbreakers. after another year, Richard Hell departed the Heartbreakers and created Richard Hell and the Voidoids, which group, along with other CBGB’s bands of the era, such as the Ramones and Patti Smith, formed the template for punk, the effects of which are still being felt.

Apart from Hell on vocals and bass, the original Voidoids comprised Robert Quine (guitar), Ivan Julian (guitar), and Marc Bell (eventually “Marky Ramone”). the Destiny Street era band retained Quine, but otherwise the backing lineup became Naux (Juan Maciel) on guitar and Fred Maher on drums. Richard had wished forever that he could remix the original Destiny Street, but was told by the record company that the original 24-track masters had been lost. in the early 2000s, Hell discovered a cassette from 1981 that contained just the album’s rhythm tracks (drums, bass and two rhythm guitars) and he realized he could add new guitar solos and vocals to that to obtain a cleaner, improved version of the songs.


By 1976, Richard Hell was already the lynchpin stabbed through the tattered rags of punk before the genre barely had a name. He’d already served in seminal groups The Neon Boys, The Heartbreakers, and Television. He’d popularized the spiked hair and torn clothing aesthetic that would be soon copied by The Sex Pistols (and a million more). And that year he formed Richard Hell And The Voidoids, which wasted no time in releasing its debut (under just Hell’s name), the Another World EP, on foundational punk label Ork Records. Hell had been performing its standout track, “Blank Generation,” in his other groups for at least a year, and it shows: Although the 1976 version is slower than the one that would break wide on The Voidoids’ self-titled, Sire rercords debut the next year, there’s nothing hesitant about Hell’s performance—a sneering, yelping, nihilist cry in which Hell expounds on the existential freedom of being born into an indifferent world. “Blank Generation” became an underground hit and instant rallying cry for an entire movement, lending its title to a 1976 documentary on New York’s burgeoning punk scene (not to be confused with the rambling, faux-Godardian romance starring Hell released in 1980), and laying the blueprint for countless punk acts and proud misfits to follow.

Blank Generation, the iconic and influential 1977 debut album from Richard Hell & the Voidoids, upgrade for its 40th anniversary, albeit a limited-edition one for the 9,000 or so people that have heard of it.

The 2-LP (4,500 copies) and 2-CD (5,250 copies) deluxe edition, released November. 24th as part of the Record Store Day Black Friday promotion, includes the original album remastered, along with a second CD/LP of alternate studio versions, out-of-print single tracks and live recordings from a pair of shows at CBGB in ’76 and ’77.

I Belong to The] Blank Generation · Richard Hell Ork Records: New York, New York ℗ 2015 Numero Group Released on: 2015-10-30

No photo description available.

Richard Hell and the Voidoids “Blank Generation” (1977) anthemic track, Led by former Television bassist Richard Hell (Lester), the Voidoids were an interesting take on punk rock. Sounding like a more aggressive version of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, they played high energy songs with exuberant vocals by Hell. Not a good singer or bassist by conventional standards, he was still able to communicate emotion, albeit through a nihilistic viewpoint. The songs have interesting arrangements, and don’t sound like other punk bands. The band consisting of Richard Hell – Bass, vocals, Ivan Julian – Rhythm guitar, Robert Quine – Lead guitar, Marc Bell – Drums.

Richard Hell is all over this story, passing through Television and the Heartbreakers before arriving at the Voidoids. He mastered the art of thrift store finery, pairing numb, nihilistic cool with spiked hair and safety-pin piercings. “Blank Generation,” caught here at CBGB in 1978 features a future Ramone Marky (still Marc Bell) behind the drums.

A short clip from the movie Blank Generation made in (1980), featuring Richard Hell and the Voidoids playing the theme song Blank Generation at the legendary punk club CBGB. Directed by Ulli Lommel, produced by Andy Warhol.  The band were formed in New York City in 1976 and fronted by Richard Hell, who had been a former member of the Neon Boys, Television and the Heartbreakers.

Richard Meyers moved to New York City after dropping out of high school in 1966, aspiring to become a poet. There he hoped he would be able start a career as a poet and immerse himself in the rich art community of the city. In his career as a poet he managed to get some of his works published in places like Rolling Stone and the New Directions’ Annuals. He also started his own
publishing imprints, Genesis: Grasp and then later Dot Books. He had little success as a poet, his imprints ultimately couldn’t be sustained and he ultimately cooled on his poetic aspirations.

He and his best friend from high school, Along with Tom Miller, founded the rock band the Neon Boys Their first group was it was a short lived group that produced only two
four-track studio recordings which became Television in 1973. The pair adopted stage names; Miller called himself Verlaine after Paul Verlaine, a French poet he admired, and Meyers became Richard Hell because, as he has said, it described his condition. Television received a good deal of hype in the New York music scene, with good write-ups in the Soho Weekly News, by Patti Smith, who was then sometimes working as a rock journalist, among others. Television was the first group on the New York scene to play at the Bowery club CBGB, which quickly became the epicenter of the emerging punk rock. There is both audio and video of the band while Hell remained, but nothing was officially released.

The group was the first rock band to play the club CBGB, which soon became a breeding ground for the early punk rock scene in New York.  Hell had an energetic stage presence and wore torn clothing held together with safety pins and his hair spiked, which was to be influential in punk fashion in 1975, after a failed management deal with the New York Dolls, impresario Malcolm McLaren brought these ideas back with him to England and eventually incorporated them into the Sex Pistols’ image.

Disputes with Verlaine led to Hell’s departure from Television in 1975, and he co-founded the Heartbreakers with New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan They were a super-group of sorts on the New York scene. Expectations for the new group were high and initial performances were met with criticism. In the group Hell faced many of the same issues of songwriting and singing that he had withTelevision, and the heroin problems of Hell, Thunders, and Nolan were mutually destructive. Hell eventually quit the Heartbreakers after a year, again before the group got into the studio to record an album. Live material featuring Hell exists, but was not officially released until years later.

Hell did not last long with this band, and he began recruiting members for a new band. For guitarists, Hell found Robert Quine and Ivan JulianQuine had worked in a bookstore with Hell, and Julian responded to an advertisement in The Village Voice. They lifted drummer Marc Bell, later Marky Ramone, from Wayne County. The band was named “the Voidoids” after a novel Hell had been writing.[

Musically, Hell drew inspiration from acts such as Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, protopunk band the Stooges and fellow New Yorker group the Velvet Underground, a group with a reputation for heroin-fuelled rock and roll with poetic lyrics. Quine’s admiration of the Velvet Underground led him to make hours’ worth of bootleg recordings of the band in the late 1960s.[citation needed] Hell also drew from and covered garage rock bands such as the Seeds and the Count Five that were found on the Nuggets compilation of 1972.[7] The Voidoids’ music was also characterized as art punk.#

Hell had written the song “Blank Generation” while still in Television; he had played it regularly with the band since at least 1975, and later with the Heartbreakers. The Voidoids released a 7″ Blank Generation EP in 1976 on Ork Records[ including “Blank Generation”, “Another World” and “You Gotta Lose”. The cover featured a black-and-white cover photo taken by Hell’s former girlfriend Roberta Bayley, depicting a bare-chested Hell with an open jeans zipper.  It was an underground hit, and the band signed to Sire Records for its album debut.

The Voidoids original lineup. Marc Bell (aka Marky Ramone), Ivan Julian, Robert Quine (later in the Lou Reed band), and Richard Hell (previously in the Heartbreakers and Television).

Nothing beats meeting your heroes especially when they’re happy to share their secrets. In the late 1960s, then-teenaged Richard Lloyd, Television co-guitarist and new wave pioneer, managed to get backstage and into the dressing rooms and inner circles of people like Jimi Hendrix and John Lee Hooker. He asked questions, took mental notes, and absorbed lifelong lessons about the guitar. He put those lessons to good use, too, and developed an alternative, holistic approach to the instrument. That approach was enhanced by his left-brain orientation, plus his never-ending spiritual quest.

Lloyd also studied the teachings of mid-20th-century mystical teacher George Gurdjieff, and those studies—in addition to the impact they’ve had on his spiritual life—transformed his understanding of music. The result, which you can check out in a series of instructional videos and columns that appeared in Guitar World about a decade ago (now on DVD as The Alchemical Guitarist), is a complex, pattern-focused, vertical approach to the instrument based on an idiosyncratic understanding of the major scale.

Lloyd came to prominence in the mid 1970s withNew York band Television, a group he founded with Tom Verlaine, Billy Ficca, and Richard Hell in 1973. (Fred Smith replaced Hell on bass in 1975.) Television, along with the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, and others, were integral to New York City’s burgeoning punk scene. That scene—which, except for a few bands like the Ramones, wasn’t really punk—was based out of CBGB, a club on the Bowery. The black-walled rectangular-box-shaped venue supported a smorgasbord of styles, like new wave, post punk, and art rock, that dominated the Top 40 in the ’80s, albeit in a more plastic, synth-drenched incarnation.

But those sounds in their pure, distilled form were Television’s home. Television was a guitar band—no wailing synths or bad hair for them—and their debut, 1977’s “Marquee Moon”, is an iconic testament to the early, pre-sellout days of new wave. Lloyd and Verlaine shared guitar duties and crafted tight, interwoven parts, and the band was a huge influence on later acts like the Pixies, Sonic Youth, R.E.M, and many others. Lloyd’s tone with Television, while often overdriven and warm, sounds sharp and somewhat stark when appreciated in context—and given his roots and early association with Hendrix, it was a clean break with the past.

Lloyd left Television for the first time in 1978, after the band released its second album, Adventure. They reunited in 1992, and Lloyd stayed in Television until 2007. Along the way, he’s worked with other artists, including Matthew Sweet and X’s John Doe, released solo albums, and established himself as a sought-after teacher and alternative-rock elder statesman. His new solo album, The Countdown, is a collection of fuzzy, mid-tempo rockers that, along with the paperback edition of his 2017 memoir, Everything Is Combustible, was released in November.

“Before, everything was sacred about music. Personally, I think it still is something sacred, because you’re dealing with vibrations, and the universe is made of vibrations.”

John Lee Hooker once gave him advice about guitar playing—specifically about learning how to play one string at a time. Lloyd walked into the dressing room and sat down. Eventually, he took notice of me and he said—he pointed his finger at me, and he said, “And you, young man, what do you do?” I said, “I play guitar.” He said, “Are you good?” I said, “I don’t know.” He said, “No, no, no. You’re great. I can tell. Come over here and I’ll tell you the secret of playing the electric guitar.”

Then he cupped his hands and he whispered in my ear, “Take off all the strings but one and learn the one string up and down and down and up and bend it and shake it until the women go ‘oooo.’ Then put two strings on and learn two strings up and down and down and up.” I went home, but I didn’t take the strings off. I couldn’t afford to take them off—I didn’t have a replacement set. But I did practice what I call vertical knowledge, which is up and down pitch on a single string, a great deal. Jimi Hendrix had also suggested that to us—that we learn the neck that way.

To learn the single string. In fact, some of Jimi’s solos … like on “May This Be Love,” are all on the B string. The entire solo. There’s another one that’s all on the G string: “I Don’t Live Today.” Except for the last note, it’s all on the G string. It’s a very cool way to play. My solo on “Elevation” [from Marquee Moon] does the same thing on the G string. It goes up in A minor from the second fret to the 17th fret.

A lot of the guitarists in the New York City bands that you came up with were so different: Television, Talking Heads, Blondie, the Ramones. The scene was that everybody played original music and no covers. That was the basis of it, and there were an amazing number of bands who did not sound the same: the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Television, Mink DeVille, the Shirts, the Dead Boys … there were tons and they all sounded different, which was fantastic. Pretty much everyone got signed, that’s right. It took three years for Television to get signed. A lot of the bands had been signed, but we kept turning record companies down. We didn’t want to have a producer come in and we didn’t want to have to make a record on a $2 budget. We waited and went with Elektra because they had Love, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and the Doors.

Rhino Records is planning 11 titles for this year’s Record Store Day Black Friday–and two of them are fairly unexpected catalogue treats from two very different artists.

Richard Hell and the Voidoids will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of their debut album “Blank Generation” with a super deluxe reissue. Originally released on Sire Records in 1977, as the music world burned with Punk.

Richard Hell and his band were pioneers of the New York punk scene and this album is considered a seminal LP for the punk movement as a cornerstone of the scene. The title track was important, but this album is packed full of great songs.

The Blank Generation reissue includes previously unreleased alternate studio versions, out-of-print singles, rare bootleg live tracks from Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ debut 1976 appearance at CBGB – seriously how much do you wanna hear that!

The record’s booklet features an essay by Richard Hell, excerpts from his notebooks, unpublished photos of the band from Roberta Bayley, and even an interview with Julian by Hell himself.

First up, the label has announced an upcoming expanded edition on CD and LP of Richard Hell & The Voidoids’ Blank Generation. Hell, a founding member of the band Television and one of the key figures of early punk rock in New York and beyond (his personal style of spiked hair and safety pins is said to have influenced Malcolm McLaren’s Sex shop and the look of the Sex Pistols), formed The Voidoids with guitarists Ivan Julian and Robert Quine (later of Lou Reed’s band in the early ’80s) plus drummer Marc Bell (who a year later would change his name to Marky Ramone and drum for the Ramones). Blank Generation remains a touchstone of punk’s original wave; Robert Christgau cheekily decreed it was perfect “for those very special occasions when I feel like turning into a nervous wreck.” This expanded 2CD or 2LP edition, available November 24th as an “RSD First” release at 2500 units on each format, restores the album’s original cover and running order on the first disc (remastered by the album’s original engineer, Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound) and includes a 12-track bonus disc with alternate takes, live tracks recorded at legendary New York City punk club CBGB and more.

Richard Hell & The VoidoidsBlank Generation: 40th Anniversary Edition

CD/LP 1: Original remastered album (released as Sire SR 6037, 1977)

  1. Love Comes In Spurts
  2. Liars Beware
  3. New Pleasure
  4. Betrayal Takes Two
  5. Down At The Rock and Roll Club
  6. Who Says?
  7. Blank Generation
  8. Walking On The Water
  9. The Plan
  10. Another World

CD/LP 2: Bonus album

  1. Love Comes In Spurts (Electric Lady Studios Alternate Version)
  2. Blank Generation (Electric Lady Studios Alternate Version)
  3. You Gotta Lose (Electric Lady Studios Outtake Version)
  4. Who Says? – Plaza Sound Studios Alternate Version)
  5. Love Comes In Spurts (Live @ CBGB – 11/19/1976)
  6. Blank Generation (Live @ CBGB – 11/19/1976)
  7. Liars Beware (Live @ CBGB – 4/14/1977)
  8. New Pleasure (Live @ CBGB – 4/14/1977)
  9. Walking On The Water (Live @ CBGB – 4/14/1977)
  10. Another World (Ork Records Version – from Ork single 81976, 1976)
  11. Oh (from Wayne Kramer Presents Beyond Cyberpunk – MusicBlitz 30005, 2001)
  12. 1977 Sire Records Radio Commercial


On this day in 31st March 1974,  The seminal rock/punk/alternative band Television began their Sunday night residency at CBGB, a former Bowery dive bar where band members built a stage for their debut performance.

Although Hilly had run Times listings using the name CBGB as early as the summer of ’1973, journalists have traditionally followed his lead in dating the name-change to December of that year. In March he hung a new awning out front and planned a Grand Reopening. Tradition holds that while he was hanging that awning, members of Television stopped by and asked him about the place. In March 1974, Television had played its first show, at a mid-town theater, and was looking for venues downtown. The band consisted of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd on guitars, Richard Hell on bass, and Billy Ficca on drums. Some combination of these guys – the details change depending on whom you ask – convinced Hilly that they were capable of playing country, bluegrass, or blues, or at least that they could bring friends to buy beer.

CBGB’s re-opening night, Wednesday the 20th, featured ridiculously cheap drink specials, followed by three nights of the Con-Fullam Band, a bluegrass act from Maine, but the next week he advertised three nights of Elly Greenberg’s country blues over a smaller, innocuous listing for Sunday: “ROCK Concert TELEVISION March 31.” Another ad for the first show, paid for by Television’s manager, foregrounds a photo of the band and also lists the “fancy guitar pickin’s” of Erik Frandsen.

Richard Hell, who came up with the band’s earliest image, wanted them to look like street kids, like Bowery Boys. They wore oversized thrift suits with torn shirts, sometimes held together with safety pins. They cut their hair short, rejecting glitter and hippies alike. They wanted to blend in with the bums on the street. A few years later, Malcolm McLaren, who had briefly hoped to take the band to London, gave up and created his own band there instead. The Sex Pistols’ look was directly lifted from Hell’s template for Television.

Television’s first Sunday shows at CBGB may or may not have attracted enough patrons to allow Hilly to make money from the bar, but they did lead to a confluence of interests and talents that would shape the local scene. Friends from the downtown film and lit circles, Warhol scenesters from Max’s Kansas City near Union Square, drag queens from the Bouwerie Lane made up the early crowd. The group’s biggest payoff came on the third Sunday of their residency, when Hell succeeded in getting his friends Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye to drop by and see his new band. Smith and Kaye were currently trying to get a band of their own off the ground, and Patti already enjoyed some celebrity as a rock poetess and critic. She wrote some of the band’s most influential early press, helping to cement its mythology.