Raise a Bottle: Toasts & Tributes

“Ah, GG … or “Kevin” as I knew him. It was strange to watch him evolve over the years. As you probably know, he was a serious fan of “roots” punk whether it be the Stooges or MC5, the Standells or Watchband, the Sonics or Swamp Rats. We originally connected through that interest. He could write great songs and had the wisdom to surround himself with talented people who could help him achieve his vision. I remember him telling me about getting together with Wayne Kramer and Dennis Thompson and how excited he was. He was able to turn on and off the “GG” persona like a faucet. Unfortunately, he eventually made the decision that he was gonna go down screaming and get into the history books, and Kevin started to believe he was GG. I remember him calling me from prison a few times, and I could no longer connect with Kevin … he didn't exist anymore.”

— Bill Shute, Inner Mystique magazine

”I knew GG for quite a few years and even was a Jabber for 2 years. Back then he was quite normal and a lot of fun to hang out with. He was totally into music and had thousands of LP's of all kinds of music. Barely drank and never saw him do drugs. His life was music and he had a scrapbook of every little piece that was written about him or the band. When he got separated from his wife and moved back down to NH by himself was when he started unraveling. Sad. He was very talented. Great drummer.”

Mike O'Donnell - Jabbers drummer (taken from YouTube comments)

The following recollections were published as the liner notes to a GG Allin & The Jabbers tribute CD released in 2002 by Jimmie Bengsston in Sweden. Reprinted with permission.

After Malpractice broke up in late '77, Kevin (GG), Merle and myself all stayed in touch on a regular basis — especially guaranteed was a phone call from either party on the Holidays. Kevin called me one day in 1979 and asked me if I would go down to his apartment in Manchester to listen to a couple of new songs he had written. My brother Dan and I went down. We spent the better part of an afternoon with Kevin who plinked out the 3 or 4 chords he had written to these songs on a crappy acoustic guitar. In those days none of us were big partiers, but we all laughed our asses off talking old days, etc.

A week or two later Dan and I went to the studio. I brought a 1977 wine colored Les Paul custom, the studio had a Marshall there, or some small amp with a distortion box. Kev had brought me a Vox Mcartney copy bass, which I used on both songs. He had a drum kit set up. They had a small 8 track studio in the basement of some house. We had my set up and Kev's in the same room of the main open-air part of the basement and an iso-booth for the engineer. There was a guy with the standard then — a Fender/Rhodes 88 piano. We cut the drums/bass/guitar/lead overdubs and vocals. I sang harmonies and so did Dan. Everything went down real quick and we laughed our asses off the whole time. In fact the only time things stopped is when we were laughing so much we had to re-take a vocal.

When Kev said "… you make me cream in my jeans" I think he made that revision up on the spot — like we used to put in perverted words while playing live in the Malpractice days. We died laughing and had to briskly walk away from the main vocal mike as we had not yet heard that version on words. When the guy doing the piano track on "1980s Rock 'N Roll" he had headphones on but we were listening on the monitors. He was into his groove and HUFFING and PUFFING! We were delirious with laughter, laughing at him!! Finally we figured we had knocked it out in time — not bad for songs that I had no idea how to play just hours before.

We did the mix — at least the roughs that day. The engineer was so new at what he was doing that he was all impressed when I walked over to help him do a punch-in. I guess he had never seen one done and didn't know what it was! Out of all this I probably was paid a hamburger, a few beers and maybe $20 for gas! A couple of years later Kevin stopped in Bethel, Maine, to do the same return favor for my brother Dan and myself by playing drums on one of our songs. That's the kind of cool set-up we had with each other. All in all GG was not the "bad guy" in those years that he would later turn out to be…

Jeff Penney - Radio DJ & musician; founding member of Malpractice

I used to get into Jabbers shows by lugging gear. People who knew of GG in his later years missed out on a really nice, funny guy. He had a nice little apartment, a cute wife, a HUGE record collection, and a scrapbook of rejection letters from every record company in the world, which he loved to show off. Before every show, we'd always have to stop at a convenience store where GG would pick out things (eggs and stuff like that) to throw at him onstage. He was a fuckin' riot. That's the GG who I miss.

Chris Lamy covered my "shitting in Worcester" story pretty well in Swedish Scum's Jabbers interview, but left out my favorite part of the night and one of my favorite GG memories … GG was driving the van and let me ride shotgun in case I had to hurl again. As we were about to pull away, I saw some punk chick hanging around outside the club. I rolled down the window, leaned out and yelled "HEY, BABY! BLAARRRGAAH…" spilling my guts once again on the sidewalk. We pulled away laughing like hell. There's a picture of me puking into a garbage can with GG and Al on either side of my mugging at the camera, pretending to be throwing up too. The Jabbers were one of the greatest punk bands ever, and the best band ever to come out of NH!

Steve a.k.a. Stig Fink - ex Crementor in Worcester 1982; now guitarist in Rat Fink

I knew GG Allin back in the early 80s. I wrote him a fan letter telling him how much I loved his album and I ended it by saying, "Your record Always Was, Is and Always Shall Be on my turntable." A few days later, I got a phone call from him (he called information to get my number) and we spoke for a long time about music and the local scene here in the Boston area. He invited me and my friend Gwenn to a gig up in Manchester, N.H., at a place called George's Pub on 1/23/81. Gwenn and I thought they were great. The club owner didn't think so and mid-way through the set he threw them and the rest of us out. Over the years, I would witness GG being thrown out or banned from just about every club here in the Boston area.

I remember when he played at The Rat, a kind of grungy basement hangout for punks. GG was told repeatedly by the management not to hang from the pipes. He assured them that he wouldn't do it and when he went on stage, the first thing he did was hang from the pipes! That may have been the night that Gwenn and I kept spraying the band with air freshener and GG dumped a pitcher of beer over my head! We had some great times. During that period, it seems like I always had some kind of drug on me, usually Valiums, so GG would do the song "Pills" and dedicate it to me. I would go up to him and give him a handful of pills and he'd gulp them all down in one swallow. Sometimes I don't know how he could still stand at the end of the night. GG was great with kids and so was Al (not!). One time they came to my house and GG was playing with my son Chad's cap gun while Alan was showing Chad how to use a switchblade knife! I got him away pretty fast! They were not the best influence for a 5 year old chld! The Jabbers played my kind of music — loud & fast rock 'n roll. There was always that element of danger in seeing them live. Anything could happen and it usually did!

Julie Thalin - long time friend and fan of GG Allin & The Jabbers

Emily XYZ was late for the session, because she was driving to Maine from NYC. Willie Alexander showed up from Boston. GG entertained us all from about 9 p.m. until 2 a.m., telling stories and cracking us up. He was intensely funny that night. Emily finally arrived with a police escort. Our local police chief must have thought that the carload of NY punks driving around our little New England village in the middle of the night were suspicous or something. He stopped them in town to find out where they were going and brought them here. The cars came screaming up the driveway with blue lights flashing. "This must be them now…" GG had to leave by 6 a.m. so the session started about 3 a.m. He was a fantastic drummer (and a perfect gentleman).

Ted St. Pierre - engineer at Outlook Studio in Bethel, Maine

As I remember it was warm in N.Y.C., musta been summertime. I was fresh on the streets from my extended vacation with the federal prison system and was just thrilled to be a working musician again when David Peel called to say he had a recording session for me.

I was pretty deep into my bad behavior in those days and, to tell you the truth, the 60 bucks I made on that session came in pretty handy. GG, in those days, was just a very enthusiastic rock 'n roll guy. He was excited about his songwriting, and his band, and the fact that he had made a record. GG seemed to be very happy to have me on the session and I thought he had a great energy about him. He was really committed to a no-holds-barred kind of rock and roll that truly was direct. Of course, he had not, at that point, developed into the bizarre "performance artist" he would later become.

I lost track of him after the session until the early 90s when I was living in Nashville, TN and he called me up to invite me to his concert that night. We had a chance to talk on the phone briefly, which was the first I heard about his misadventures and eventual incarceration. His gig that night was cancelled by the authorities in Nashville. Needless to say, I don't think the good-ole-boy bible-belt South was ready for GG Allin.

Wayne Kramer - ex MC5 guitarist

In the winter of 1980 I was in N.Y.C. with "Serious Trixon & The Motor City Bad Boys." We were performing at Max's Kansas City club. While in town, I had the pleasure of recording three tunes in the studio with GG Allin & The Jabbers. I had an absolutely bodacious time. Plenty of laughs, plenty of women & plenty of high energy music.

I will never forget GG and the guys. I believe the band could rock with the best of them till this day. I truly miss GG, as he was not only my friend, he was ahead of his time. In the following years, he broke ground that even Iggy Pop would dare not tread.

Dennis "Machine Gun" Thompson - ex MC5 drummer

The Jabbers were the first and last band I played for. I felt playing in another band after my Jabber days would be a letdown because I could never find guys like GG and Al to play with and have just as much fun hanging around and being good friends with them. The last time I saw GG alive was at a phone booth and I drove by and saw him and stopped. We talked a bit about what he was doing with his career. He still had his great sense of humor. We were friendly to one another and I always liked Kevin and admired him.

It's too bad GG died so young because he could have told his grandchildren some great stories.

Steve Spenard - Jabbers guitarist 1982-1984

GG once showed my a couple of real good songs which were never recorded cause he thought they were too commercial. I tried to convince him he should use 'em cause they really would have made it big. Yet, he chose to throw them away.

Rick "Currency" Kearns - played with GG and Al in 1984, produced The Jabbers in 2001

I first "met" GG Allin thru the mail in 1979, when I was going to college in Buffalo, N.Y., and doing a fanzine. He sent me a photo, I ran it in the zine captioned "BACHELOR #1". We stayed in touch. When I dropped out of school and started a band, our first shows were with the Jabbers. We opened for them at McVans (the punk bar in Buffalo) and Cantone's (the punk bar besides The Rat in Boston).

GG Allin was smart, quick-witted, foul-mouthed, and hilarious. Also polite. Great company and totally devoted to rock 'n roll. I didn't see him for a long time after he played on my first record. We got back in touch around 1986. He stayed at my apartment in N.Y. a few times. GG was a great houseguest. He washed his own dishes and was always considerate about coming in quietly. His last visit, a couple of years before he died, was kinda sloppy. But for the most part he was fabulous. Mostly what I loved about GG was how funny he was. We always had great conversations. One time we were hanging out on my rooftop in the summer and I said to him, "What are you going to do when you get old? How are you going to take care of yourself?" Without missing a beat he was like, "I'm gonna be a ward of the state!" Like he'd actually *thought* about this and he knew the answer.

But GG could sound very purposeful and be totally putting you on, or he could sound very purposeful and really mean it. He used to spend mornings at my house making phone calls. Planning, planning, organizing. All those recordings did not just "happen." He *made* them happen. Not many people know how innately together he was. Sometimes I wonder if his whole over-the-top drug thing was really him trying to get loose from his own directed and motivated and organized and plan-oriented nature. He used to scold me sometimes for being too lazy and not getting my work out more. And he was right — compared to him, I am lazy!

However, I was really uncomfortable with his — I would like to say "performance" or "show," but after a while it was his life, really, because the point was to *not* be different onstage and off. In one sense, GG simply took the whole rock 'n roll myth to its logical and purest extreme. Or you could say he simply didn't see the joke that rock 'n roll is — he took it all dead serious. There was nothing ironic about him (If you don't believe me, check out his appearance on the "Jerry Springer Show" shortly before he died.) But his thing had everything to do with drugs and alcohol. After a while I realized that where all this was *really* coming from was not some anarchic, demonic inspiration, but just alcohol and dope — that he could never do the things he was doing without being completely fucked up, and he *was* completely fucked up. What GG did on stage (to call it "performance" is to miss the point) was absolutely shocking. Things were sort of wild in those days, but I'd NEVER seen anyone do what he did — not before, not since. And while I was kind of in awe of its extremity, it was horrible because I knew the person involved. There was no way I could watch it, liking him as I did. And there was no way to separate from it — you couldn't say, "Oh well, it's just his act," because it wasn't an act: it was real; it was his life. I kind of understood why he was doing it, but the "audience" were total ghouls and the whole thing was just revolting and disturbing.

I did not see him in the two or three years before he died. He wrote me a couple of times from prison. I tried to persuade him to get clean, to go to AA, to go to NA. He said he felt that was "mind control" and not for him, although he saw that it worked for other people. He made the same mistake a lot of junkies make: he thought his addiction was his genius. I miss him a lot.

Emily XYZ - musician, poet & long time friend of GG Allin

When I met GG he was the drummer on an Emily XYZ session at The Outlook in Behtel, Maine, that I was producing. Emily is a poet. It was an all nite session. GG was very professional. He set up, played the tunes, didn't waste any time and got the job done. He was one of the best musicians on the session. They did originals plus "Your Cheating Heart," believe it or not. GG was just a regular dude I thought, no hint of the later rock 'n roll madman. He seemed to be a nice guy.

Willie "Loco" Alexander - musician

My old band Powertrip played together with GG & The Jabbers at the A7 Club in New York in 1983. That's my favorite era of GG bands. I thought the Jabbers were great. I'm just happy to see that the music of GG is still having an influence and impact on bands and people. A fitting legacy to the man.

Jeff Dahl - musician

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