Dead Boys / Frankenstein


Cleveland, 1975 - 80 + one off shows

The Dead Boys were Cleveland's most famous band from the original punk era, even though they had to leave Cleveland to succeed. Their story is covered in detail in other sources but here is a quick history.

The band started in 1975 after the breakup of Rocket From the Tombs. RFTT guitarist Cheetah Chrome and drummer Johnny Blitz (Madansky) wanted to do more rock while the other RFTT members were interested in a more avant garde sound (Pere Ubu) or didn't continue on. Cheetah and Johnny already knew Stiv Bator (from Girard, just outside of Youngstown) after he had hung out with them at a couple of the few RFTT shows. The rest of the band were also known to Stiv or Cheetah or Johnny - bass player Jeff Magnum and guitarist Jimmy Zero. Jimmy was from the SW suburbs while Magnum was from the east side. Stiv had been in a long running Youngstown area band called Mother Goose (or the Mother Goose Band) who were a pretty straight hard rock band similar to the original Alice Cooper with some glam influence. The opinion was that Stiv was half Iggy Pop and half Alice Cooper. 

Together they took some of the RFTT songs and started to get the band together. One of the first, if not the first, shows they played was on Halloween 1975 so they became Frankenstein. Just like with RFTT, Cleveland was not especially interested in hearing them so thet only played a handful of shows including one or two in Akron. In the spring of 1976 the rock-n-roll scene was altered for good with the landmark release of the first Ramones LP - although it didn't seem like it at the time. Stiv had already checked out New York City around Easter1976 where he met Johnny Thunders of the Hearbreakers (and formely the New York Dolls). When the Ramones came through the area on tour in the summer of 1976, Stiv met Joey Ramone who got word back to Hilly Crystal ar CBGBs in NYC. Crystal got the band a show, and once there, the band stayed. For the first NYC show they renamed themselves the Dead Boys from a line in the old RFTT song "Down In Flames". Jeff Magnum had resisted the move and rejoined the band several months later, not having played on several of the songs for the first LP.

During the next two or so years they released two LPs, played in the UK and Europe, and are credited with being one the top punk bands in the world. By late 1978 / early 1979, frustration and burnout had taken hold so Stiv decided he wanted to do something different, and Cheetah Chrome wanted out, and Johnny Blitz had suffered a near fatal stabbing so the original Dead Boys ended. 

Stiv's new sound was a lot more influenced by the mid 1960s and the still fresh power pop sound so he recorded a 45 for Bomp records, a cover of the Choir's "It's Cold Outside". Around the same time, the Dead Boys were restarted with George Cabaniss (formerly of Hammer Damage) replacing Cheetah Chrome. Frank Secich, formely of Blue Ash and a longtime friend of Stiv's going back to the late 1960s, replaced Jeff Magnum, and David "Quinton" Steinberg from Toronto replaced Johnny Blitz. Jimmy Zero was still there. This lineup of the Dead Boys lasted for about 6-8 months. A lot of DB fans don't really consider this to be a real Dead Boys band but that's who they were at the time. 

The band went to Los Angeles to play some gigs and recorded an LP for Bomp. Jimmy Zero returned to Cleveland and that was the end of the line for the Dead Boys. The LP that came out was credited to Stiv and was titled "Disconnected". The LP is a solid rock LP with elements of the original DBs and power pop.

Not long after the Disconnected LP, Stiv did some recording with the members of the English punk band Sham 69, which resulted in a band called the Wanderers. Jimmy Zero formed Club Wow that included Frank Secich for a while. Cheetah Chrome returned to NYC and formed Cheetah Chrome and the Casualties who released a 45.

The original band reunited in 1987 for a few shows. Stiv Bators passed away in 1990 from injuries caused by being hit by a car.

Discography