For Hard Core Rock ‘N’ Rollers Only

14 Mar

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Living in far west London, now and again I do find myself missing my old life back in Southern California. At such times I often reach for stacks of old music fanzines accrued in the 80’s as a teen – Flipside, Maximum Rocknroll, Forced Exposure – to remind me just where I came from. And while these mags were great, no single body of work ever summed up the Southern California suburban rocker experience quite like BACK DOOR MAN magazine did.

BDM magazine first leapt into print in the North Torrance area of the South Bay in early 1975, as edited by Fred Patterson AKA Phast Phreddie. By all accounts, this was a fucking tough time to be a true r’n’r believer: it was in that no-man’s land between the hippie and punk wars, when PETER FRAMPTON and THE EAGLES ruled airwaves coast to coast. Fred somehow managed to publish 15 issues during that mid/late 70’s vacuum, and fully 3/4 of these predate the initial July 1977 issue of the far more renowned, Hollywood-based Slash magazine.

BDM writers (Fred, Don Waller, D.D. Faye, Bob Myers, Thom Gardner, Don Underwood) were barely grown up themselves, and their writing reflects this. It was gonzo bedroom fandom at it’s most manical: the logical offspring of Creem mag letters section ranting, Lester Bangs carburetor dungpile run-off, and barely legible high school yearbook scribblings. The graphic layout was handset and looked it, the B&W photos all starkly contrasted, and the text as dense as rush-hour traffic on the Harbor Freeway. Subject matter spanned 2-chord 60’s wonders (BLUE CHEER, DOORS, SEEDS) tasty glam/bubblegum (SWEET, THE RASBERRIES, DWIGHT TWILLY) hard arena rock (BÖC, THIN LIZZY, KISS) not to mention exciting new “punk” sounds starting to leak out back then (IGGY, PATTI SMITH, THE DICTATORS).

While the Slash crew were stylistically aligned with punk from the get-go, BDM were earlier and had far too much love and appreciation of the entire spectrum of rock n roll – and lowbrow culture in general – to ever sever connections to the hairier end of 70’s life. This meant a trippy interview with PERE UBU might follow ernest gushings about Night Moves-era BOB SEGER and insightful musings about the current state of pornography. Most intriguingly to my South Baycentric mindset, BDM always gave lots of coverage to all manner of local acts (anybody remember BLIND OWL, SPIKE, or RED ASPHALT?) then playing around in those very same suburbs I grew up in. Reading these mags a decade+ later in the late 80’s, it had the neat effect of helping me believe my local scene and shitty garage band was, potentially, as glorious & meaningful as any Haight/Ashbury or Led Zeppelin ever was. Thanks, BDM.

New Wavers who pitted themselves against all that came before must’ve invariably turned up their noses at BDM‘s inclusive aesthetic (punk + metal + soul + alcohol + local taco stand). But I’m confident Hard Core Rock ‘N’ Rollers knew just who had Shake Appeal. In retrospect, it wasn’t Slash but BDM who foreshadowed the resurgence of hard and heavy rock within post-hardcore independent music scenes. For this, they earn my undying respect.

And Back Door Man are now on MySpace! Do check out the amazing first BDM issue now online here. Of course the South Bay Rock ‘N’ Roll feature found therein is my fave, where mention is made of a wild, late 60’s party/crash pad known as The Third Eye in Palos Verdes(!), and D.D. Faye’s band ATOMIC KID are said to sound “like a cross between The Count Five, Sparks, and Robin Trower”. Yeah!

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13 Responses to “For Hard Core Rock ‘N’ Rollers Only”

  1. Dennis Catron March 18, 2009 at 6:02 am #

    Thanks for the post Michael! I could sit and read Creem, BOMP and Rock Scene Magazine for hours. MOJO is the only thing nowadays that has that kind of joy, except for the fact they’re writing about the exact same bands in these and Back Door Man :-)

  2. D.D. Faye June 23, 2009 at 5:38 pm #

    Thanks, Michael. You described the spirit of the South Bay rock scene in the seventies (taco stands! alcohol!) perfectly . By the way, my sister (we looked alike then) Danielle Faye–was in Atomic Kid. I later managed the Zippers–who had some of the same personnel. She’s the musician; I’m the writer. See the BDM Blondie interview for more on “the Faye Twins” (Debbie Harry’s nickname for us).

    • Lewis Ray Cammarata May 18, 2012 at 7:43 am #

      Hi D.D. It’s Lewis. I kinda ran across this thing. Lotta fun reading back on the old BDM/Zips stuff. Miss ya a lot. Kath sends her love.

  3. mrowster June 24, 2009 at 6:31 am #

    D.D. – My apologies for confusing you and your sister, though it sounds like it’s not the first time someone made that mistake . . . Anyway thanks for all your writing, it helped me get through some tough years. The mag was a glowing reminder to me that there were other interesting rock n roll people who’d survived the South Bay with burning passions intact.

  4. Scott Aicher August 6, 2009 at 11:00 pm #

    Don Underwood was my uncle and best friend (R.I.P.) He loved rock and roll and anything outside the normal. He had a great record collection, and taught me not only about punk and rock and roll, but music history including jazz, Reggae, and the Blues. He had so much knowledge about the things he loved. He was a big part of my life…

  5. Mark April 5, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    My dad was the bass player in Red Asphalt. Were they ever mentioned in BDM?

  6. mrowster April 5, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    Mark: yep they got a line or two in that first or second issue of BDM if I recall right, but I’d haveta to dig out my old mags to verify that. What did your dad’s band sound like?

  7. Mark April 5, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

    A hard rock/glam rock type sound. They had originals, but they also covered stuff from Bowie Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Stones, Cream, Grand Funk, etc…

    Sounds like they had a wild stage show too. There was fire breathing, chains, glitter… Devil costume?!

    • Mark March 1, 2011 at 5:09 am #

      I know my last post was from almost a year ago but, I’ve always wanted to edit it cause I think I described my dads band wrong, especially with that devil costume comment… It wasn’t a mascot or anything like that. I think it was just some kind of winged top that my dad wore at a show at Carson High.

      I should probably just shut up from now on.

      • mrowster March 1, 2011 at 7:40 am #

        Mark: still, you made them sound good, a band I’d have tried to see live if it was ’74. Great name too – everyone up to a certain age had to sit through that exploito/educational film in Driver’s Ed class. Is your dad still playing music?

  8. Lewis Ray Cammarata September 6, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    Just wanna say hi. Lewis, guitarist from the Zippers. BDM was the first, most brutally honest depiction of what was really going on in the LA scene at the time. Best time of my life…

    • mrowster September 8, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, Lewis. The Zippers mini-LP was waaay AOK, and felt far more of that BDM scene than, say, The Pop 45s. What happened to Danielle Faye?

  9. Phast Phreddie Patterson January 3, 2014 at 4:31 am #

    Thanks so much for your kind words about my fanzine, Back Door Man. I really appreciate the fact that someone remembers it after so long. Yes, we were very young when we did this thing. We had a LOT of fun, but we were not very good business people–thus its demise. I live in Brooklyn now, but last week I was in LA where I was able to see Don, DD and Tom the punk. The four of us went to so many parties and rock shows together that we called ourselves the Hard Core Four! Anyway, if you want to know what I’m up to these days, dig my blog, the Boogaloo Bag… http://boogaloobag.com/about/

    Thanks again for remembering.

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