Punk'd (Memphis-style)

January 04, 2008
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Among the memorable moments in Memphis punk-rock history, some things you just count on: the New York Dolls playing the Auditorium in '73, when David Johansen of the Dolls was arrested either for inciting a riot or impersonating a woman (accounts differ); the Sex Pistols at the Talysen Ballroom in '78 (no incidences, but hey, it was the Sex Pistols); and singer/onstage-defecator GG Allin at the Antenna club in '91, when Allin was stabbed by a fan.

Other high points are anybody's guess, and in The Official Punk Rock Book of Lists (Backbeat Books), it's Eric Friedl -- onetime Oblivian, today a True Son of Thunder, and the man behind Goner Records -- doing the guessing.

In addition to Friedl's "10 Things That Made Memphis Punk," count on #11, supplied by Memphian Jim Cole and his fond memory the 1910 Fruitgum Co.'s "Bubblegum Riot" at the Mid-South Coliseum in the late '60s. At the top of the bill was Tommy James & the Shondells, but it was the Fruitgum Co. that brought the house down and the police out in force when members of the band went running through the aisles, the lead singer took a swing at a security guard, and a dozen cops dragged the group off the stage.

Which kind of puts Tav Falco's appearance on Marge Thrasher's TV talk show (#2 on Friedl's list) in a kinder light. After Falco and his Panther Burns performed their version of "Train Kept A-Rollin," Thrasher greeted the group with: "That may be the worst sound I've ever heard come out on television." Falco's polite reply: "Thank you very much."

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