DEATH - A Band called Death
Detroit may be the most rock and roll city in America. Let’s look at the pedigree of its royalty: Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Jack White, Bob Seger, Mick Collins, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Alice Cooper, the MC5 and countless others from rock and soul to Hip-hop have been forged in the shadows of the once prolific car factories that dominated the city. Much like the factories of Birmingham influenced the direction of Black Sabbath and produced the sound of doom metal; Detroit imparted a sound that oozed grittiness while holding down a backbeat. Most importantly: Detroit birthed Death.
Before the Bad Brains massacred the New York punk scene, before there was a New York punk scene; there was Death. Like so many of their contemporaries the brothers: David, Bobby and Dannis Hackney saw the Beatles in 1964 on Ed Sullivan and the music bug had its hooks in them. In 1971 the band that had been formerly been known as Rock Funk Express, saw the Who and it changed their outlook, attitude and name. The concept was to spin the negative into a positive and Death rose from the ashes of Rock Funk Express with a hard rock vibe, mostly unparalleled by other bands from the time.
Clive Davis, the Atlantic Records mogul that broke Led Zeppelin, was a huge fan of the band and helped fund recording time. He did not see the band’s name in such a positive light though and implored the brothers to change the name to something more palatable to public tastes. They did not; he stopped being so supportive and as many of these stories tend to do, the band imploded.
The brothers continued making music but nothing in the vein of their previous band. In 2000 David Hackney succumbed to lung cancer. However, 9 years later Drag City Records re-released Death’s unreleased session on CD and LP, thanks in part to a new generation of Hackney’s playing old Hackney tunes. This prompted the band to re-visit their raucous past with a new guitar player from their reggae band: Lambsbread. The reinvigoration lead to the now notorious documentary: A Band Called: Death; which opened up the band to a whole new generation of punks, rockers and purveyors of good taste and bad times with seedy people. Death are back and they’re touring for their new record, NEW, on Drag City Records; quite frankly you’re not ready. Now would be a good time to bone up on their discography before the band descends on Gramps in Miami and blows the doors off the place as only a band from legendary Detroit Rock City can do.
Death plays Gramps in Wynwood, Thursday, February 9 with the Jacuzzi Boys. Doors are at 8pm, tickets are $15 and itís 21 and up.