Monday, August 9, 2010
I'm half American, lived there as a kid and I've been back a bunch of times visiting friends and family. I've seen some of the US, but I've yet to make it to Texas. However, I do know they must put something gnarly in the water there, cuz the region produces some seriously talented & badass people.
The skaters I admired most in the '80s (and after) were all Texans. Rippers like John "Tex" Gibson and Craig Johnson embodied the true spirit of down & dirty skatepunk like no one else. They didn't give a fuck about trends, fashions, Tony Hawk's retarded haircut or much of anything else for that matter. Skate. Party. Rock out. AND FUCK Y'ALL.
The reigning king of the Texas scene and - in my humble opinion - the greatest vert skater of all time was this guy. Jeff Phillips. Jeff was the real deal and destroyed whatever terrain he rode with a ferocity that is still amazing to watch 17 years after his death. While others celebrate the birth of a myth, I always take a few minutes every X-mas day to remember that it was on that day that a rad dude took his own life way before his time...
But you can't have skating without rock, and after hyper-prolific California, no other state in the '80s produced as many awesome punk bands as the Lone Star: Really Red, DRI, Butthole Surfers, Dicks, Verbal Abuse, Bark Hard, Rhythm Pigs, Big Boys, The Stains/MDC etc. Sure, a lot of those bands relocated to San Francisco early in their careers, but they always seemed to retain their distinctive Texan sound.
Another great Texan band was Austin's Offenders, and another legendary (and also sadly fallen) Texan punker was their bass player, Mikey Donaldson. When I say he was a legend it's not hyperbole. As well as the Offenders he played on MDC's Millions of Dead Cops LP, and laid down most of the bass tracks on DRI's Dealing With It. Fuck, what a legacy. He also regularly played shows with MDC early on, and after moving to SF in the mid 80's joined fellow Texan Gary Floyd in Sister Double Happiness. Mikey Offender could shred the bass like few others. In the words of Offenders' drummer Pat Doyle:
Mikey is universally regarded as one of the most innovative and inimitable masters of the bass guitar. He played his Rickenbacker like it was an out-sized rhythm guitar. Taking cues from Jack Bruce and Lemmy, Mikey pioneered an aggressive speed-picking style and liberal employment of bass chords that few have been able to emulate in the past 20 years. He will be sorely missed, certainly in Austin and his hometown of Killeen, but also across the globe.
The Endless Struggle LP was the Offenders' finest moment, featuring some really catchy slower moments and atmosphere amidst it's paint peeling thrash. It still kills. Get it: