On the 20th Anniversary of His Untimely Death, We Reflect Upon The Life and Times of the Greatest Punk Rocker of All-Time
Twenty years ago today, Kevin Michael “G.G.” Allin loaded a fatal dose of heroin into his veins, and plopped over dead, leaving behind nothing but a bloated, discolored corpse and a good decade and a half of the greatest, most decadent, hyper-offensive puke-ola rock and roller music ever recorded. Everything you could say bad about society, you could find inside the liquor-enthused corpuscles of Allin -- a borderline psychotic, ultra-nihilistic punk rock singer whose music championed careless drug use, even more careless sexual adventuring and promoted murder of authority figures of all varieties -- politicians, policemen, teachers, parents, whoever. His stage shows became legendary for their crude excesses; not content with just singing about debauchery and bodily fluids, his concerts routinely culminated with his ejaculating of various viscous fluids -- urine, feces, snot, no-doubt-STD-tainted blood, etc. -- all over the audience. Most so-called rock and roll shows end with an encore, and the well-groomed singer thanking the crowd for their courtesy. G.G. shows, conversely, usually ended with either him getting beaten to a bloody pulp by paying concert-goers or a mini-riot breaking out that almost always resulted in him being arrested for some form of public lewdness. Did I mention that he frequently performed while completely nude? Well, he did.
Some have considered G.G.’s music to be among the worst ever recorded. Some have said that his stage presence -- with all of that bleeding, and vomiting and urinating -- was just to cover-up the fact that he and his band mates had minimal musical ability. They’re probably right, but at the same time, those detractors are also very, very wrong: what made G.G. special -- a figure who is still revered in many circles today -- was that complete and utter lack of giving a shit. His music may have been technically awful, but at the same time, it’s some of the most brilliant, unfettered, and -- dare I say it -- beautiful mayhem ever pressed to vinyl. G.G. Allin was the sort of madman-cum-poet genius that Iggy Pop wished he could’ve been. Not only was G.G. easily the greatest punk rocker in history, in hindsight? He’s probably the only punk rocker in the annals (and anus) of recorded music.
G.G.’s story is the kind of reverse-Americana tale that makes your heart swell with patriotic splendor. Born in the relative tranquility of the New England woodlands, G.G.’s father -- a hyper violent Christian fundamentalist -- told mama G.G. that her hitherto unborn son was actually the second coming of Yeshua, hence why G.G.’s actual birth name was “Jesus Christ Allin.” Eventually, momma Allin took G.G. and his brother Merle (who would serve as G.G.’s bassist in several bands) away from dear old dad (whose quirky activities including digging graves in the backyard and pointing menacingly at his wife and children), and enrolled him in special ed courses. To make life easier for her young-un, she decided to rename him “Kevin Michael” -- the G.G. namesake, if you were wondering, stemming from Merle’s inability to pronounce “Jesus” correctly as a wee one.
If you’ve ever seen “Hated” -- the absolutely astounding 1993 documentary helmed by, of all people, the dude that would go on to direct all of those “Hangover” movies -- you know how G.G.’s high school years played out. Routinely dressing in drag, G.G. fronted numerous rock and roll outfits, all of which sucked, and majestically. After school, he went out into the magnificent urban hellhole of late 1970s New York City, recording his first album “Always Was, Is and Always Shall Be” in 1980.
While song titles like “Pussy Summit Meeting,” “Beat, Beat, Beat” and “Assface” may sound juvenile and inauthentic, there’s no denying the no-frills, low-low-budget greatness of tracks like “1980s Rock and Roll” -- a Johnny Thunders meets “End of the Century”-era Ramones ass-stomper that’s one part the most flamboyantly homosexual thing you’ve ever heard and one part what you’d expect a hate crime murder by neo-Nazis to sound like. Very, very few artists -- in any medium -- have been able to meld extremes the way G.G. did. Even this early in his career, you can see his skill in mashing the antithetical into dialectical excellence: music that’s both fragile and murderously violent, music that’s ridiculously homophobic while bi-curiously artsy-fartsy and music that’s, at the same damn time, pop-radio catchy and sinisterly anti-social.
Throughout the 1980s, G.G. went on the musical equivalent of a jihadist rampage, recording such counterculture favorites as “Eat My Diarrhea,” “Hard Candy Cock,” “Kill the Children and Save the Food,” and of course, the punk anthem to rape, murder, dismember and repeatedly violate, post-mortem, all punk anthems, “Bite It You Scum,” alongside bands with cheery monikers like “The Texas Nazis,” “The Cedar Street Sluts” and “The AIDS Brigade.”
In 1987, GG recorded what many consider to be his magnum opus, “Freaks, Faggots Drunks and Junkies.” The zero-budget, minimalist underground masterpiece featured some of Allin’s greatest poetic works, including “Outlaw Scumfuc,” “Die When You Die,” “Commit Suicide,” and “Dope Money.” It was around this point that Allin took his violent-to-the-nth-degree stage performances to the max, with virtually every show ending with him being jailed for assault and/or battery. Or public indecency. Or inciting a riot. Or vandalism. Or arson. In his free time, G.G. started recording country music singles -- including the brilliant “When I Die” -- and visiting serial killers like John Wayne Gacy. Hey, if Matthew Sweet can spend his off-hours making cat pottery, why can’t G.G. spend his weekends hobnobbing with convicted murderers and rapists?
Things took a nosedive for G.G. in 1989, when he was convicted of setting a groupie on fire and then cutting her to drink her blood in some sort of vampiric HIV ritual or something. Although G.G. professed his innocence -- kinda’ -- he still ended up serving time in the pokey, not being released (unleashed?) on society again until 1991.
With his new band “The Murder Junkies,” a freshly paroled G.G. came roaring back on the music scene, even garnering tons of daytime television publicity on “concerned citizenry” bullstuff like “Geraldo” and “The Jerry Springer Show” (back before “The Jerry Springer Show” was synonymous with exploitative sleaze, of course.) His comeback album “Brutality and Bloodshed for All,” was arguably the most absurdly violent compact disc of the early half of the decade, featuring all-time sing-along favorites such as “Legalize Murder,” “Terror in America” and of course, that Christmas standard “Shoot, Knife, Strangle, Beat and Crucify.”
Unfortunately, G.G.’s time on this earth was short, and on June 28, 1993 -- after a concert deteriorated into bedlam after just two and a half songs -- he decided to do some drinking and heroin shooting, which I guess is a bad combination, since it kinda’ killed him. He was subsequently buried in his tightie-whities, and in accordance to his lyrical wishes, put six feet under with a bottle of Jim Beam clasped to his hand. For years to come, fans the world over would trek to his burial grounds, where, in keeping with his true-blue punk roots, admirers and mourners would pay their final respects to the musical icon by dropping trou and literally shitting and peeing on his headstone.
“Had G.G. not died that night” has become one of the great “what-if” scenarios of music history. With all of that free daytime publicity, it seemed like G.G. was really not that far off from obtaining widespread, mainstream acknowledgement. Of course, he also said that later that year, he was going to kill himself on stage, so, yeah, it’s anybody’s guess as to what could’ve been here.
It’s easy to look back on G.G.’s life as a tragedy of excesses -- an excess of drugs, an excess of un-P.C. hatred, and excess of excrement, for sure. But if you ask me, the real tragedy of G.G.’s career is that so few people -- even some of his most die-hard fans -- have been able to look past the stage show shenanigans and celebrate Allin for his musicianship. In a musical landscape that would soon be telling us that Green Day, The Offspring and A.F.I. were punk music, G.G.’s one-take, one-minute, recorded for one-dollar songs about hate, animalistic sex and extravagant violence stood out as a sharp, sharp contrast to the ever-increasing pussification of what was once the most dangerous counter-culture construct in all of entertainment. The death of G.G. Allin really was the death of punk rock music itself, serving as that final bookend to an illustrious, phlegm and blood-stained movement. Before G.G.’s death, we had Reagan Youth, The Mentors and The Dead Boys. After, we got Bad Religion, NOFX and god help us, Anti-Flag -- pseudo-sensitive, pseudo-intellectual wannabe-protestor music that has more in common -- aurally and philosophically -- with Wilson Phillips than Sid Vicious.
While rock and roll music has become a castrated, all-inclusive culture of self-celebration and corporate profiteering, G.G. Allin remains a testament to what punk, and in many ways, rock and roll music as a whole, used to be. Long gone are the hyper-virile, hyper-aggressive anti-ballads -- too misogynistic and too homophobic, some moral guardians will tell you, when the fact of the matter is, music of the like is just too damn unfiltered as an artistic vision. The same people that thirty years ago were defending to the death the stupid, absurdly macho music of W.A.S.P. and Motley Crue now decry such entertainment as offensively masculine and culturally insensitive -- instead of being chastised for puking and peeing on stage by the PMRC, G.G.’s greatest opponent today would be the sickeningly equalitarian MTV and Rolling Stone mass culture complex. Instead of being chased out of town by middle-aged parents and pot-bellied local police, G.G. would be forced into exile by 20-something hipster inclusionists, who would consider his music too “racist, homophobic and anti-woman” to be allowed to be heard by anyone, anywhere.
At the end of the day, does the hate-filled vileness of G.G. Allin deserve commendation in this, the era of mandated tolerance, sterilization and diversity? Well, it’s pretty easy to find faults with a lot of G.G.’s behavior and beliefs -- oddly, a drugged up, severe alcoholic that sings about the Klan and mutilating children probably ISN’T the best role model out there -- but at the same time, is it really all that bad to admire the dude for following his dream, and creating counter-attitudinal music that, to this day sounds true, and cutting edge, and refreshingly brutish?
G.G. was a flawed human being, no doubt. If he lived next door, you’d probably want him arrested as soon as possible. If he walked towards your girlfriend, you’d probably feel the need to ball up your fists, just in case. He died a virtually penniless heroin addict, whose life revolved around beer bottles, singing songs about torture and an unjust social system and, in his own words “staying one step ahead of the law.” He was a bandit with a guitar instead of a pistol, an outlaw with a microphone instead of a bag of looted cash. He created an entire entertainment brand, and he was nothing more than a borderline retard that slept in his own pee and allegedly lived off PB&J sandwiches and whiskey. You really can’t admire the guy completely, but as an uncompromised artiste, you have to give the guy his proper dap for being, quite possibly, the only noteworthy punk rocker in history that EVER achieved transcendent fame without ever selling out.
But alas, G.G. Allin is still dead, two decades later. And with him, all those old school rock and roll ideals -- nonconformity, artistic integrity, low-budget inventiveness and commitment to substance over style -- remain rotting in the ground with him.