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The Cramps’ Bryan Gregory on Memphis TV
08.16.2012
11:29 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
The Cramps
Bryan Gregory


 
The first time I saw The Cramps they were opening for The Ramones at CBGB IN 1977. It was the original lineup which in addition to Lux and Ivy included hot rebel girl Miriam Linna laying down a deep voodoo groove on drums and the diabolically dashing Bryan Gregory strafing the audience with his deadly guitar. They were a fucking dynamite combination. But as much as I loved the band as a whole, I found myself particularly drawn to Bryan Gregory. While Lux was funny scary, Bryan was really fucking scary. And sartorially speaking, I always thought Bryan was the best-dressed Cramp (a tough call).

Bryan left The Cramps in 1980. He worked as a tattoo artist, did bit parts in horror films, managed an adult book store and re-entered the music scene with several bands, none of which really caught fire. There was a bit of buzz and excitement surrounding his collaboration with Andrella Canne in Beast (sounding a lot like Siousxie and The Banshees) and a decade later The Dials, but that phase of Bryan’s musical career got snake bit when Canne became too ill to continue performing and The Dials broke up. And bad luck followed Bryan when he suffered a heart attack at the age of 49 just as he was putting together a new band called Shiver. While most heart attacks are unexpected, Bryan’s shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise to anyone close to him. His health had been lousy for awhile and he wasn’t doing anything to make it better. His body was breaking down and whatever death spiral he was in had begun to spin out of control. The heart attack didn’t kill him, it just weakened him beyond what he could handle. Bryan died of “multiple system failures” in a hospital in Anaheim, California.

Gregory never achieved the kind of fame that his undeniable star quality warranted. He had a vibe, a style and presence, that was as magnetic and intensely mesmerizing as any guitar player I’ve ever seen. Only artists as charismatic as Lux and Ivy could share a stage with Bryan and not be overshadowed. When he left The Cramps, the band felt less dangerous without him.

There’s not a lot of video footage of Bryan out there. Here’s something that was shot for Memphis TV when The Cramps were recording their debut album, Songs the Lord Taught Us, at Sam Phillips studio with Alex Chilton producing. The quality is lousy and the bits with Bryan are brief but you take what you can get.
 

 
Bryan Gregory and The Dials after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Wonderful punk and post-punk era photographs by David Arnoff


Stiv Bators, 1980
 
David Arnoff‘s post-punk era photography appeared in the NME, Melody Maker, Trouser Press, N.Y. Rocker and many other publications. The Cleveland-born, but London-based photographer and disc jockey’s work captures iconic bad boys and girls, relaxed and at their most playful. Arnoff is currently readying his photographs for a book and is looking for a publisher. I asked him a few questions over email:

Tara: Tell me about the Stiv Bators shot.

David Arnoff: I was hanging around with Stiv and his post-Dead Boys band in their hotel—pretty sure it was the Sunset Marquis—and we decided to do some shots of him on his own. He’d been messing about with a new air pistol, so we brought that along and just stepped out into the hall, after which it occured to him to maybe go back in the room and put some shoes on, but I said not to bother.  We started out doing some rather silly and predictable 007-type poses before he chose to just sit on the floor and look disturbed. I always thought the stripey socks made him look even more so.


Nick Cave, 1983
 
Tara: You worked with Nick Cave several times. He seems like a guy very concerned about his image, yet playful, too. What’s he like as a subject or collaborator?

David Arnoff: Nick is very easy and unaffected to work with. That shot with Harpo is the result of what started out as another cancelled session at the Tropicana Motel. He apologized for being up all night and indicated all the empty bottles on the TV as evidence, but was perfectly happy for me to carry on regardless even though he was not looking his best. The only downside was he was trying in vain to play “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” not really knowing the chords and the guitar was painfully out of tune.  Not an enjoyable aural experience. He was quite happy with the photos though.


Jeffrey Lee Pierce, 1983
 
Tara: Maybe it was the era, but several of the people you shot were junkies. Any “colorful” anecdotes about the likes of Cave, Jeffery Lee Pierce, Nico or Johnny Thunders?

David Arnoff: Far be it for me to say whether or not any of these people were actually junkies, but it’s funny you should mention Nick and Jeffrey together because I did squeeze all three of us into my little Volvo p1800 to go score on the street—Normandy, I think, around 3rd or somewhere. We then went back to my place in Hollywood, where Jeffrey became convinced they’d been ripped off. But Nick seemed more than happy with his purchase. Afterwards we went to that lesbian-run Mexican place near the Starwood. Nick tried to remember what he’d had previously and proceeded to attempt to describe what he wanted it to the baffled staff. I think they just gave up and sold him a burrito.

More with David Arnoff and his photographs after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment