Remembering Elda Stilletto

EldaI never met Elda Stilletto, who died unexpectedly on August 6. But I’d corresponded with her on social media, and I’d hoped to interview her about her role during the New York underground’s crucial moment of artistic churn between Andy Warhol’s Factory and the rise of CBGB.

In her music and her friendships, Elda Stilletto (née Gentile) was at the center of a New York scene at the cusp of the ’60s and ’70s that included Warhol’s superstars; nascent icons of punk; and the luminaries of the city’s glitter-punk movement such as The Magic Tramps (whose lead singer, Warhol superstar Eric Emerson, was the father of her son Branch); The Harlots of 42nd Street; Teenage Lust; and Wayne County and the Backstreet Boys.

Continue reading “Remembering Elda Stilletto”

Johnny Angel, Boston’s Rat, and 5 bands you should know about

Portrait of Johnny Angel
Johnny Angel, 2015.

There are 8 million stories in the naked city, and Johnny Angel has a few thousand of them. As founder of Thrills, the Massachusetts native (and current Los Angeles resident) played a major role in Boston’s late-’70s scene focused on the legendary Rathskeller, better know as the Rat (and a k a “Boston’s CBGB“). Thrills gigged with Boston’s finest as well as touring groups from the Ramones to the Dead Boys to U2; Angel has maintained those relationships as a musician, radio personality, print journalist and actor.

But how to tell the tale without the clichés of a standard-issue memoir? Johnny took a novel route in 2015, when he published Looking for Lady Dee: A Punk Rock Mystery. The book weaves together scrupulous autobiography with a film noir mystery: An old flame from his days at The Rat has disappeared, and Johnny teams with a punk femme fatale to find her.

Along the way, Johnny Angel pays homage to his band and a slew of others who pioneered the scene. Here are five you should know about: Continue reading “Johnny Angel, Boston’s Rat, and 5 bands you should know about”

From Cleveland to New Haven: Craig Bell and 5 bands you should know about

Craig Bell in front of an American flag.
Craig Bell, 2014.

Even intermediate students of proto-punk know that Rocket from the Tombs was a band whose influence far outstripped its sales: a Cleveland, Ohio, combo that split to create art-rockers Pere Ubu (formed by Rocket vocalist David Thomas and guitarist Peter Laughner) and CBGB pioneers the Dead Boys (featuring guitarist Cheetah Chrome and drummer Johnny Blitz). To add to the mythos, Laughner is remembered for his untimely death at age 24; an evocative body of unreleased work; and a eulogy by his friend, seminal rock critic Lester Bangs.

One member of RFTT is mentioned less often than the rest: bassist Craig Bell. However, Bell’s trajectory helped catalyze the Cleveland scene before Rocket ever started, then sparked an indie music movement 500 miles east in New Haven, Connecticut.

Follow Craig Bell’s path to learn about five bands you should know about:  Continue reading “From Cleveland to New Haven: Craig Bell and 5 bands you should know about”