Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Screamers - 1979 Whiskey A Go Go, LA

You may not be familiar with The Screamers music, but their Gary Panter designed logo of the stylized spiky haired screamer is recognizable to many. Along with others such as the Germs and the Weirdos, the Screamers were standouts in the first wave of LA punk. For a combo consisting of two keyboards, a drummer and a singer; they were successful in generating a sound that was every bit as forceful and robust as their guitar centric peers.

One of the most startling facts about the Screamers is that they never recorded a properly released single or record, leaving only demos and videos in their musical wake. Their legacy also includes their influence on fellow musicians and artists. Jello Biafra (whose San Franciscan hardcore heavy hitters the Dead Kennedys played often with The Screamers early on) heaped grand praise on the band and in Don Letts 2005 film Punk: Attitude, Jello again highlights the Screamers impact on the DKs and describes them as one of the great unrecorded groups in the history of rock music.

They were fronted by Tomata du Plenty, an exciting and colorful fellow who spent time as a member of the San Francisco psychedelic drag troupe The Cockettes in the late 60s as well as being involved with proto-punk combos while living in Seattle in the early 70s, eventually forming The Tupperwares in 1975 with Tommy Gear. A move to LA in 1977 found the pair changing the name to The Screamers and hooking up with new members David Brown (often credited with providing the synth direction) and drummer K. K. Barrett.

The band gained quick notoriety in the burgeoning LA scene and was soon able to headline multiple night stands at flagship clubs such the The Masque, Whisky a Go Go and The Roxy. The band incorporated a theatrical element into their music and live performances with Tomata working the stage in a possessed frenzy of excitement. Video presentations often accompanied the shows. Prior to the MTV explosion, the bands love of video became apparent when they pressed the idea of their first album being released only on video. Would have been a hell of a thing if they could have made it happen.

Along with this blog, I've also posted additional footage of The Screamers at blogs.myspace.com/gotankgo.





  1. Hey Scott. Great info and clips. I really didn't know anything about them. This was a good post to find out more. Have a great weekend.

  2. The Screamers were a rare and wild creature in the LA punk rock scene - thanks for giving them a look/listen.