Dead Boys

Dead Boys are an American punk rock band from Cleveland, Ohio. The band was among the first wave of punk bands, and was known as one of the rowdiest and most violent punk groups of the era. Dead Boys were formed by vocalist Stiv Bators, lead guitarist Cheetah Chrome, rhythm guitarist Jimmy Zero, bassist Jeff Magnum, and drummer Johnny Blitz in 1976, splintering off from the band Rocket From The Tombs. They released two studio albums, Young Loud and Snotty and We Have Come for Your Children.

Dead Boys
Dead Boys in 1976
Background information
OriginCleveland, Ohio, United States
GenresPunk rock
Years active1976–1979, 1987, 2004–2005, 2017-present
LabelsSire, Bomp!, Revenge, Hell Yeah, Bacchus, Bad Boy, Cold Front, Relativity, Plowboy Records
Associated actsRocket From The Tombs, Pere Ubu, The Lords of the New Church
MembersCheetah Chrome
Jake Hout
Past membersStiv Bators
Johnny Blitz
Jason Kottwitz
Ricky Rat
Jimmy Zero
Jeff Magnum

Dead Boys were initially active from 1976 to 1979, briefly reuniting in 1986, and then later again in 2004 and 2005 for the first time without Bators, who had died in 1990. In September 2017, Chrome and Blitz reunited the band with a new lineup for a 40th anniversary tour along with a new album, Still Snotty: Young, Loud and Snotty at 40, a re-recording of their debut album. The new lineup includes vocalist Jake Hout, guitarist Jason "Ginchy" Kottwitz and bassist Ricky Rat, alongside Chrome and Blitz.


Formation and 1970s punk rock era

Dead Boys evolved out of the band Rocket From The Tombs and were originally called Frankenstein. When the band members relocated to New York City in July 1976, they adopted the Dead Boys moniker which came from the RFTT song "Down In Flames".[1][2][3]

Moving to New York City at the encouragement of Joey Ramone, the Ramones' lead singer, the Dead Boys quickly gained notoriety for their outrageous live performances. Lewd gestures and profanity were the norm. On more than one occasion, lead singer Stiv Bators slashed his stomach with his mic stand. Such antics reportedly discouraged the development of a mainstream rock following despite the relative breadth of their material beyond pure punk.[1] They frequently played at the rock club CBGB (the band was briefly managed by club owner Hilly Kristal)[4][5] and in 1977 they released their debut album, Young, Loud and Snotty, produced by Genya Ravan. Their song "Sonic Reducer" is often regarded as one of the classics of the punk genre, with AllMusic calling it "one of punk's great anthems."[6][7]

Their second album, We Have Come for Your Children, was released in 1978. Sire Records pressured the group to change their look and sound to appeal more to the U.S. mainstream (which had yet to embrace punk on the level seen in the UK) and this contributed to Dead Boys breaking up in 1979.[8] Several 1979 performances were featured in the 1980 film, D.O.A.. A few months after the breakup the band had to reunite to record a live album and thus fulfill their contractual obligations. To exact revenge on the label, Bators purposely sang off mic and the resulting recording was unusable. When the material eventually surfaced on Bomp! Records, Bators had re-recorded the vocals in a studio.

In 1978 Johnny Blitz and a group of his friends got into an altercation on Second Avenue in Manhattan which led to Blitz being stabbed in the chest approximately 17 times. While he was recovering in the hospital a benefit was held for him, at which the Dead Boys performed without him, with John Belushi and former New York Dolls and Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers drummer Jerry Nolan filling in for him on drums.[9]

Bators' and Chrome's subsequent careers

Bators recorded a solo album, Disconnected, on BOMP! Records. Bators later formed Lords of the New Church with Brian James from The Damned and Dave Tregunna from Sham 69. They released several albums on IRS Records, including the keyboard-laden hit single "Open Your Eyes" and a cover of "Like a Virgin".

After the Dead Boys dissolved, Cheetah Chrome played around New York City (mostly at Max's Kansas City) doing shows with The Stilettos, as well as his own band Cheetah Chrome and the Casualties. He recorded a single for ORK Records, "Still Wanna Die" / "Take Me Home", recorded with Atlantic Records co-founder Herb Abramson. Shortly thereafter, he played on Ronnie Spector's debut solo album Siren. He appeared on several recordings during the 1980s, and rejoined the Dead Boys for their ill-fated reunions of the late 1980s.[10]

In 2003, after the release of The Day the Earth Met the Rocket from the Tombs, Chrome reformed Rocket From The Tombs with David Thomas, Craig Bell, with Steve Mehlman (Pere Ubu) on drums and Richard Lloyd (Television) replacing the late Peter Laughner. This reincarnation of the group toured in 2003 and 2006.[10]

In Summer 2003, they entered the studio to record some of the band's old material for the first time. The recordings were released as Rocket Redux.[11] In 2005, the members of Rocket From The Tombs flew to Germany to headline one night ( Buzzcocks headlined the other) of the International Punk Kongress in Kassel; then, in 2006, they reconvened in Cleveland, Ohio to write material for a new record. This material became the single "I Sell Soul"/"Romeo and Juliet", released in 2010, and the full-length album Barfly, released in 2011.[7]

In September 2010 Cheetah Chrome: A Dead Boy's Tale From The Front Lines Of Punk Rock was published.[12] At the end of a week-long Rocket From The Tomb tour in December 2011, Chrome announced to the band that he had decided to stop touring extensively after 2012. He currently works for Plowboy Records in Nashville, TN, mainly in production and promotion.[7]

Reformation, death of Bators, 40th anniversary tour

The Dead Boys reformed for several gigs in the 1980s. They re-released their first album as Younger, Louder and Snottier in 1989, mastered from a cassette tape of rough mixes, attributed to a young Bob Clearmountain, a studio assistant at the time.

In June 1990, Bators died in France due to injuries sustained after having been hit by a taxi.[13] In September 2004, the remaining members of the band re-formed for a one-off gig in Cleveland.[14] In 2005, they played a benefit show for CBGB and another reunion show on Halloween.

On April 25, 2017,Chrome and Blitz played six shows in Canada as a tribute to the 40th anniversary of Young, Loud and Snotty.[15] The band played the record in its entirety. Chrome and Blitz then announced in 2017 that the band would go on a full reunion tour.[16]

On September 8, 2017, Still Snotty: Young, Loud and Snotty at 40 was released. The album is a re-recording of their debut album and the first album by the Dead Boys in 39 years.[16] Along with Chrome and Blitz, the tour and album will feature Jason "Ginchy" Kottwitz (Bulemics, Sylvain Sylvain and the Sylvains, Cheetah Chrome solo band) on guitar , Ricky Rat (Trash Brats) on bass and vocalist Jake Hout from zombie-themed Dead Boys tribute band the Undead Boys.[16]

Chrome said of the tour "With the 40th anniversary of the Dead Boys on the horizon and a solid band that could interpret and deliver the performance and sound needed to maintain the authenticity of the Dead Boys, I reached out to Johnny Blitz about an anniversary tour and he said yes and we began the journey of what would become Still Snotty. I've been singing the Dead Boys songs myself for 20 years because I couldn't find another singer I trusted enough to hand it to. The first gig with Jake, it was like, 'You got it, man!' I think Stiv would be very proud of our choice."[17] A photobook, Dead Boys 1977: The Lost Photographs of Dave Treat, was also released on September 29, 2017.[18]

CBGB movie

In 2013, an American made motion picture titled CBGB was released to theaters.[19] Bators is portrayed by actor Justin Bartha, best known for his roles in The Hangover films and the National Treasure films, while Rupert Grint, best known for his work in the Harry Potter film series as Ron Weasley, plays Cheetah Chrome. Chrome also makes a cameo appearance in the film.[20]



The Dead Boys only have three official full-length studio releases, however many labels have released rough material and outtakes in the years following their initial 1979 breakup.


  1. "Dead Boys History".
  2. "The Dead Boys".
  3. "The Dead Boys".
  4. Gil de Rubio, Gavin (23 October 2007). "Resurrecting The Dead Boys". Retrieved 2019-03-10.
  5. Holmstrom, John (2007). "HILLY KRISTAL R.I.P. (1932-2007)". Retrieved 2007-08-21.
  6. Prato, Greg; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas, "Dead Boys: Biography", AllMusic, retrieved 2007-10-12
  7. Ludwig, Jamie (May 2014). "From Dead Boy to Plowboy".
  8. McNeil, Legs; McCain, Gillian (1997), Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, New York, London: Penguin Books, pp. 335–336, ISBN 0-14-026690-9
  9. Epting, Chris (November 1, 2017). "Dead Boys legacy very much alive thanks to Cheetah Chrome". Huffington Post.
  10. Norman, Michael (August 20, 2013). "Cheetah Chrome, guitarist with Cleveland punk legends the Dead Boys and Rocket from the Tombs, to release 'Solo' EP to coincide with 'CBGB' movie".
  11. Tangari, Joe (May 12, 2004). "Rocket from the Tombs Rocket Redux review".
  12. Sullivan, Jim (September 17, 2017). "Dead Boys Resurrected — The 1970s American Punk Rockers Are On Tour".
  13. "Remembering Stiv Bators". The Worleygig. 2009-10-22. Retrieved 2014-04-17.
  14. Prato, Greg (January 25, 2005). "Dead Boys Come to Life".
  15. Groopie, Matt (February 16, 2017). "DEAD BOYS Confirm April 2017 Ontario Tour Celebrating 40th Anniversary of 'Young Loud and Snotty'".
  16. "Punk Legends DEAD BOYS Celebrate 40 Years Of 'Young Loud And Snotty' With Album And Tour". 26 July 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  17. "The Dead Boys Celebrate 40 Years - New Album and 2017 Tour". Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  18. "Dead Boys 1977: The Lost Photographs Of Dave Treat by Dave Treat". Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  19. "'CBGB' Movie Review Inspires Old Punks to Troll Each Other". 7 October 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  20. Norman, Michael (August 20, 2013). "Cheetah Chrome, guitarist with Cleveland punk legends the Dead Boys and Rocket from the Tombs, to release 'Solo' EP to coincide with 'CBGB' movie". Retrieved December 7, 2015.

Further reading

  • Wolff, Carlo (2006). Cleveland Rock and Roll Memories. Cleveland, OH: Gray & Company, Publishers. ISBN 978-1-886228-99-3
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