You probably never heard of the band ‘Death’, but they may have invented punk rock and never been recognized.
Music historian Patrick Hicks shared the ‘death’ story on his TikTok feed
If you’re a rock ‘n’ roll fan, you should follow Patrick on TikTok as he tells incredible stories about the rise and fall of some of your favorite 70s and 80s rock bands.
Last week, Patrick shared the story of Detroit band ‘Death’, who may have been the first hard core punk band. But, alas, as many things do in life, things never broke in their favor, and the group’s work was almost lost forever, until a son of a member of the band saves their bands.
As Patrick tells it, Bobby, Dannis and David Hackney fell in love with rock music after seeing The Beatles on TV. They formed a band in high school called the Rock Fire Funk Express, but David became a fan of guitar heroes like Jimi Hendrix, so they started moving in a rock direction.
They are friends and neighbors who chastise the brothers, “you play too loud”, “you play too fast” and “you play white boy music”, are some of the things they heard several times times, but it just makes them want to play harder and faster.
The name change that almost killed the band, pun intended
After the boy’s father is tragically killed in an accident, David changes the band’s name to “Death”, and although his brothers adamantly hate the new nickname, they respect their older brother and accept it.
In early 1975, they finally got studio time and recorded seven songs for their debut album. Their work on these songs was an early precursor to punk, and more so to the American hardcore sound that would emerge in the 80s.
It was kind of hardcore punk, long before its time
Their recordings are not well received, and I let you listen to this continuation of the story as Patrick tells it.
While the band eventually broke up long before achieving any success, the story has a happy ending as Bobby Hackney’s son Julian was able to locate the master tapes and have them posted online.
Eventually, the band would reform with a new drummer in 2010 and record more music, and begin to gain acclaim, which led to their songs being used in an episode of the TV show. ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and on the soundtrack to the film ‘Ash v. The Evil Dead’.
And here, my friends, is “Death”, in its raw and pure form, as David Hackney intended.
And here they are performing after reuniting a few years ago.
Michigan Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
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