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Today's Song: Keep On Knocking by Death

NPR did a story on this band today. It's pretty amazing. What we have here are three young black brothers -- Bobby, David, and Dennis Hackney -- who formed a proto-punk rock band in Detroit back in 1971. Detroit bands MC5 and The Stooges are considered two of punk's forerunners -- playing proto-punk in the late 60's and early 70's (with both releasing debut albums in 1969). Death was influenced by these bands, as well as The Who, Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, and others. But their problems were threefold. Virtually nobody understood punk in 1974, nobody in the black community had a clue what these boys were doing, and, of course, the name "Death" was far too nihilistic for people to deal with at the time. The band nearly had a record deal, but refused to change their name. They recorded a demo and released one single (about 500 copies), and then were forgotten (if "never having been heard of in the first place" counts as being forgotten).

They moved to Vermont, played gospel and then reggae, and raised families.

Meanwhile, the obscure punk band that had only released a single was something of legend among serious punk collectors. One copy of the single recently sold for $800 on Ebay. When Bobby Hackney's sons heard this amazing song being played at parties in California, they recognized their own father's voice. Their father still had the band's demo tapes, given to him by his brother David before his death of lung cancer. "Some day the world will come looking for these," his brother had said. David believed more than the other two in what the band had accomplished. When Bobby and his sons listened to the demos, they were all amazed at how good they sounded -- even Bobby himself.

Bobby's sons formed a band called Rough Francis as a tribute band (the name itself was a nickname for the departed brother David). Death's album was finally released last year, and Death (with the guitarist from their reggae group Lambsbread) have been on tour. They are playing at South by Southwest this weekend.

I had to download this right after hearing the NPR story. ^_^

Death -- Keep On Knocking
Death -- Keep On Knocking (live Nov 2009)

Death -- Politicians In My Eyes

Rough Francis myspace
Death myspace
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miko2: Ranma disguised as a schoolgirl to fool Ryoga (Default)
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