When singer Stiv Bators died in 1990, the prospect of a Dead Boys reunion seemed to be snuffed out.
“We all agreed that that would be it,” admits drummer Johnny Blitz. “I guess time heals.”
Indeed it does, as the group will be getting back together to play shows this summer. The impetus for the reunion came when the surviving Boys — Blitz, bassist Jeff Magnum, and guitarists Cheetah Chrome and Jimmy Zero — were invited to do a Q&A session and performance (with Chrome and Zero filling in for Bators behind the mike) in September in their original home base of Cleveland.
Blitz recalls, “I said, ‘It sounds like a great idea to me, but I doubt you’re going to get everybody else to agree to this.'”
To his surprise, the other surviving Dead Boys were game. “It was just amazing,” says Blitz. “I couldn’t believe how tight we were. Two nights of rehearsal and then we did the show.”
Although the Dead Boys’ story originated in Cleveland, it wasn’t until the group began trekking to New York City’s CBGB club that they carved their niche. Equipped with a stack of raw punk anthems and a stage show that rivaled Iggy Pop’s in both confrontation and unpredictability, the Dead Boys issued a pair of albums, 1977’s Young Loud and Snotty and 1978’s We Have Come For Your Children, before burning out.
The group reunited sporadically for live gigs throughout the Eighties, while Bators also fronted the goth-punk supergroup, Lords of the New Church. But on June 4, 1990, Bators died from injuries sustained after a car hit him while he walking on a sidewalk in Paris.
During the ensuing years, the Dead Boys continued to be name-checked by such chart-topping rockers as Guns n’ Roses, Pearl Jam and the Beastie Boys, who have all either covered or sampled Dead Boys songs.
While the Cleveland show stuck strictly to the classics, the forthcoming dates may very well include new compositions.
“Apparently there is new material, but that’s between Jimmy and Cheetah,” says Blitz. “But I think we’ll have enough time to put some new songs together.”