Friday, August 29, 2014

Offensive: GG Allin

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Time to really go for it here.

I first heard about GG Allin from the early Drive-By Truckers song “The Night GG Allin Came to Town.” As Patterson Hood tells the story, he and Mike Cooley were living in Memphis in 1991 as their first band, Adam’s House Cat, was disintegrating. They were poor, miserable and hated Memphis. GG Allin played the Antenna Club on November 16, and Hood and Cooley didn’t go—they were broke and weren’t fans. But the next morning, they were at a local restaurant, filled with an older crowd, just after church, and they overheard a couple, described in one version of the story as Thurston Howell III and Lovey, reading an article about the show in the local free paper, and being generally horrified. The lyrics to the song are pretty graphic, but here’s a transcription of the actual article at issue, and it is even better. For example:

To put it bluntly, Allen [sic] grossed out the audience at The Antenna Club. He defecated on the stage, then appeared to eat it and spit at the patrons. Allen, who is the lead singer, also beat his forehead bloody with a beer bottle and put a microphone up his rectum. The drummer performed naked.

My favorite line from the article is, though:

G.G. Allen will not be invited back to the Antenna Club, [club owner] McGehee said, although "people would pay for them to come back. He's got everyone talking.”

An excerpt from this very performance is the video above—it is offensive, but doesn’t include any of the feces-related material. (It also cuts off part way through—but if you aren’t satisfied, just Google him, and you will find many more videos not suitable for, well, pretty much anything.)

Allin was a pretty disgusting character. Literally born Jesus Christ Allin, to a spectacularly delusional and dysfunctional set of parents, Allin probably could have used someone to set a few boundaries. Instead, Allin described his childhood as “very chaotic. Full of chances and dangers. We sold drugs, stole, broke into houses, cars. Did whatever we wanted to for the most part – including all the bands we played in. People even hated us back then."

A drug addict and violent criminal, Allin served time for "assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder" on a female companion, and his psychological evaluation diagnosed him as having a “mixed personality disorder with narcissistic, borderline and masochistic features.” Before accepting a plea bargain, Allin claimed that the conduct at issue was consensual, and admitted to cutting the woman, burning her, and drinking her blood, but argued, in mitigation, that she did the same thing to him. So, that made it O.K.

After getting released from prison in March, 1991, Allin went on tour, which was documented in a film directed by Todd Phillips, who later directed the slightly less offensive, but substantially more successful Hangover movies.

In June, 1993, Allin was playing The Gas Station on the Lower East Side of New York, and something happened during the second song that angered Allin (accounts vary as to what that was, but it probably didn’t take much). Of, course, he trashed the club, then walked out, naked and covered in blood and feces, followed by his fans. He ended up at a friend’s apartment, continued to use drugs and overdosed. Allin died wearing a silver Nazi helmet. Here’s a first hand account of Allin’s last night, written by the legendary Legs McNeil, which differs in many details from the Wikipedia account. McNeil’s version is more fun to read, though, and better written.

Allmusic calls Allin “arguably the most degenerate and outrageous figure in rock history.” And based on my research, it seems like a pretty good argument.

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