Saturday, September 27, 2008


Jan 19th, 1979
Well it was quite a night. Howie was alittle snotty at first but then he got nice. Oh - I went to see The Blessed & The Misfits at Max's. I went up to the dressing room for awhile. It was alot of fun. Cheetah Chrome & Johnny Blitz were there from The Dead Boys. Then for the encore of the second set, they did "Chinese Rocks " and Johnny Thunders went on stage. I think that Howie was a little mad because I do not think that he likes J.T. It was so great though. Eileen Polk, the Blessed manager was extremely nice and gave me her card to call her so we can discuss the fan club. Maybe we can get together so I can see all of her pictures. Of course the one I do not like wants to get in on it. She gets on my nerves so much. I filmed the Blessed while they played and I hope that it comes out. Too bad the movie camera has no sound but it is just great to get them on film anyway.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Just Another Winter Day....

Jan 18th, 1979
Well, its the day before the Blessed are supposed to be playing. I heard there is supposed to be a big snow storm tomorrow but I will find a way to get to NYC to see the Blessed playing. I can not miss them at all. Found out that the Clash are playing the Palladium on Feb 17th. I will see if I can get tickets. Johnny Thunders is also playing again at Max's on Jan 26th & Jan 27th. I was going to go to the Ramones that same weekend since they are playing in NJ. Now I don't know what I will do. I will probably go see Johnny Thunders or maybe I can go to one night of each. I wish they weren't not playing on the same nights. I really want to see the Ramones but it is so hard not to go see Johnny when he is playing.


Friday, September 19, 2008


Jan 13th, 1979
I went to see the David Johansen Band at Emmit's again. It was really good although the crowd leaves something to be desired. And that place is so awful but it is easy to get up front by the stage. I got 4 more guitar pics from Tommy Trask. For the first time after the show, he came over and talking to me. We talked for awhile and he was really nice. Even David Johansen was alittle friendlier but I still think he is such a snob. I also just found out that Blondie is opening for Rush at the Spectrum on Jan 21st. I want to get in touch with Debby Harry to see if there is someone that I could get free tickets. I will definetly find a way to sneak down to the front once I am there. I can't miss Blondie playing at all.

At Present - My Top 10 Favorite Performers (not in any order)
1. David Bowie
2. Iggy Pop
3. Deborah Harry
4. Tommy Trask
5. Howie Pyro
6. Johnny Thunders
7. Paul Zone
8. Mick Jones
9. Richard Hell
10. Walter Lure


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Start of the Guitar Pic Collection

Jan 12th, 1979
I went to see the David Johansen Band at Emmit's. That place is such a dive, some club in the woods in the middle of no where. The only good thing is that it is pretty close to my house, maybe 20 or 30 minutes and they are starting to get some decent bands from NYC there. Sylvain is no longer with the band. Some guy from The Rozz is now. I think that David Johansen is such an awful snob. Really obnoxious. At least the place was not overly crowded so we got to stand right up front against the stage. I got 6 guitar pics from Tommy Trask while they were playing and also 1 broken guitar string from him. I still like him the best in the band but there is something really kind of strange about Johnny Rao and at times he can come off a little mean. But the band was really good. They are playing again tomorrow night so we plan to go again.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Strange Night at Kim's

Jan 9th, 1979
Went to see The Fast at Hurrah. It was a hell of a weird night. First we saw Kim when we got there so we hung out with her for a little while. Then Billy, Howie, & Brad from the Blessed come in. So we hung out with them and then went into the dressing room for awhile. Paul Zone was there but we wasn't overly nice or anything. Donna Destri was there and she was very nice. I brought in my movie camera and I filmed Howie, Billy, & Paul for awhile. After some of us including Billy & Howie went to Kim's apartment to see photos of the Blessed. We wound up staying until 7:30am. I filmed there also and God only knows what I have on film. Howie asked for his earring back so I gave it to him. It was just a really crazy night. Can you imagine if the Blessed every get really famous? I think that Billy & Howie should be. They are both natural born stars.



Final Installment of Interview with Billy Stark from the Blessed. Please visit his myspace page for more information on the Blessed.

CLOSING THOUGHTS FROM BILLY: Finally, I did want to mention my Father (RIP) who intentional or not had some major influences on me (both good and bad I think) and also set a certain sensibility in my personal approach and outlook to all this. A little about Him, He was a Commercial/High Fashion Photographer who also was involved with his Photos in the ‘Serious Art World” galleries and museums etc. In the 1930’s he apparently traveled w/ the Ballet Russe De Monte Carlo and was Photographer for Life Mag. in the 40’s and staff Photographer for Esquire in the 50’s. He photographed a wide variety of people including Suzy Parker-Don Loper -Marge and Gower Champion-Betty Grable-Humphrey Bogart-Pres. Truman. -Jimmy Stewart -Cary Grant-Lauren Bacall-Orson Wells-Raymond Massey- Yul Brynner - Gertrude Lawrence-Jack Lord-Glen Ford Etc. He is supposedly the only American Photographer to have Photographed Edith Piaf in a formal sitting and piloted a plane himself to Cuba to photograph Ernest Hemingway for an ad.

He also traveled w/ Ringling Bros Circus becoming friends w/ a lot of the performers (this fits in soon I promise), In 1929 in Ohio he won some kind of award in a race or something piloting a plane he flew himself -Who the hell was even flying IN a plane in 1929 never mind flying one yourself??!! He would have been about 16 years old or something (sounding familiar). I know he flew Glider planes during WW 2 and always wanted to take me flying in one. No way- uh-uh- was I ever getting in a plane that had no engine and I never did!

He had a studio in the Village –West 3rd St I believe in the 40’s and 50’s so he really was the epitome of the bohemian artist living/working in a loft in Greenwich Village @ that time. He never treated me like a child or his Son (well of course he did but not in any repressive way) but really as his ‘Adult Best Friend’ so I was exposed to and taken around to wide array of all that NY had to offer-going to see Warhol and Man Ray exhibits while listening to him extolling their genius. I also really loved that Goat w/ the spray painted tire around it-Rauschenberg I think? We used to go to the movies. One time he insisted I see this AMAZING film everyone is talking about- It was ‘El Topo’ and we went to the old Elgin Cinema @ Midnight in ’69 or 70 ? (I think that movie started the whole midnight movie thing) & I was about 9 years It was also the first time I smelled people smoking pot. We went to a lot of great festivals there -Buster Keaton, great double bills like a Marx bros. film and ‘Freaks’.

Pink Flamingos debuted here as well-they didn’t have a poster for it- just a big piece of white card board with the name written in magic marker or something. He tried to take me to see Warhols ‘ Trash’ (Truly Brilliant he’d enthuse about) but they wouldn’t let me in ‘ I’M HIS FATHER AND I SAY ITS ALRIGHT’ he argued with the person @ the Box office but it was to no avail. While I was still living in Connecticut the circus would be in town that weekend so of course we made plans to go. Now, this would be the Clyde Beatty Cole Bros circus which really was (is) the last of the old time circuses-Tents set up on a big lawn space etc, a midway-sideshow etc., as opposed to the Vegas like Ringling Bros. so the weekend comes and one night (or morning) about 4 a.m. he wakes me up ‘Come on get dressed-lets get going’ and I replied ‘Where are we going? And he said ‘To the Circus!!!” and seeing it was still kind of dark outside and it was 4 in the morning ‘Now??! we’re going now’!!? and he said ‘Sure this is the best part’- so we get there and his ‘BEST PART’ was watching them set-up(and he was right) The Bulls (elephants). Pulling up the poles for the main tent and the crew w/ mallets securing it all and the trailers arriving and it all being set up-its exactly like a Rock show. Pull in set up w/ roadies/Bulls setting up the trailers. The here today gone tomm’w atmosphere-had a big impact on me.

I spent a lot of time in the Village obviously-I remember it in the late 60’s when all the Hippie stuff was happening-heh! I even got my hair-trimmed (NOT CUT) @ Paul McGregors on St.Marks-he apparently invented the ‘SHAG’ haircut in’65 or so. Interestingly enough Howie’s Coney Island High Club –I later found out occupied the very same space and building it was in. I recall music blaring out of the Electric circus(always wondered now who might have been playing?) and all the Poster and head shops etc-still the same- just different groups on the T-shirts and stuff Lots of Fur coat shops and rug shops(don’t know why?)

Other places would be bars and clubs of all sorts in fact the first time I was ever @ Max’s was in ’69-I must have been about 7 or 8 years?! My parents and some of his friends and I went to see ‘Paint Your Wagon’ @ the old Loews State Theatre in Times Square (The Virgin mega store is there now). Then we went Max’s. All I remember about Max’s was that everything was RED (hence the infamous Red Room) and WAY TOO SMOKY in fact I made everyone leave because it was really bothering me. My father was also the Photographer who photographed Madonna during her early NY days and were published in Penthouse Mag, which caused a bit of a stir back in the 80’s. That’s how she ‘PAID’ for those recording sessions I mentioned earlier although I reiterate –indirectly!

Now this would have been about ’78 when he took the photos and The Blessed were up and running playing Max’s and CB’s etc.,So things came full circle and I was off doing my ‘THING’-…Remember there is no such thing as coincidences ! So, the Village was just ‘another’ part of the city to me. I am probably the only Blessed Member to not have ‘RUN AWAY’ at some point. I had no need to. My parents were cool and I could just be ‘me’ so as much as I enjoy all the village has to offer. Also I want add that one might get the impression that he made a lot of $$ but he was a LOUSY businessman and we were always just getting by or what not. We were not starving of course but he really never was savvy enough to really take full advantage of his talent financially.

This has been a lot of fun and I hope that it doesn’t come off pompous or w/ a lot of gratuitous Name dropping-which I usually find rather vulgar and off putting but its hard to tell the Story of The Blessed and a little about me without-well dropping in some names. In addition I also think it provides one more perspective and another snap shot if you will of NYC during those times from my corner of the world.

Lastly, I remember once reading about how Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplin were having a conversation while outside the Premiere of one of Chaplins 'City Lights' and observing the huge crowd and pondering Chaplins fame. Einstein asked him “Charles, what does this all mean?” to which Chaplin responded ‘Nothing. It means nothing at all! I agree and feel the same way. Its fun and amusing and more exciting and interesting than most other things but ultimately its not important. Rock’n’Roll –The Punk Scene-the 70’s scene, Elvis, The Beatles etc, etc., and so on…..... Nothing. Its means Nothing at all Stay Tuned!The first 30 years was just a dress rehearsal............. ............NOW IT SHOWTIME!!!!!!!


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Interview with Billy Stark (Blessed) Part 6

ME: What are your most memorable experiences that you want share from the Blessed days?

BILLY: Do you mean in general or specifically to Blessed shows? Well from a show point of view of course the whole ‘21’ club was about as bizarre as it gets –lol Apparently the son of the Ambassador to Belgium under then Pres. Jimmy Carter was a fan of ours (yes I know it still sounds bizarre to me too) and hired us to play there for his 21st B’day party. Oh wow I just got that 21 @ 21 –lol. Now for those unfamiliar w/ the ‘21’ club-it’s the denizen of Manhattan’s wealthiest ‘movers and shakers’-Politicians- C.E.O’S etc., Jacket and Tie required etc. You can check out the movie ‘Sweet smell of success”. Anyhow we also brought a few of our friends along including Cheetah Chrome and his then girlfriend Gyda Gash.

At first we saw all these relatively young men. Well, they weren’t senior citizens lets just say that all wearing hearing aids!! We couldn’t figure out why there were so many deaf people there-WERE WE THAT BAD ??!!—lol Then someone mentioned to us ‘You idiots, those are the Secret Service” because the Host had invited Chip Carter to the party among his guests and Carter was currently the President. There was some story about Chip wanting to get high and figuring since we were Musicians and all that he was practically begging us for drugs. But we wanted no part of THAT—lol

So during our set they had shut off the power. Cheetah came up and we chanted F*CK THE 21 CLUB for about 20 mins. I then climbed on top of the P.A . and spit in no particular direction but it landed on this Maitre D’s hand. He wouldn’t wipe it off. He kept pointing at it and me and motioned he was going to throw me through the second floor window. Suffice to say we made a hasty retreat out through the employees entrance( exit) and that was that.

A couple of other amusing things that happened that night. It took forever for dinner to arrive (yes we had dinner before we played) so I went to Mcdonalds in Times Square to get some fries and was eating them on the way back to the club and the doormen told me “ No in and out and stay upstairs and no eating in the lobby’ Heh I can just picture this ‘undesirable’ type (me) standing in the Lobby of ‘21’ eating Mcdonalds-SACRE BLEU!!

Finally when dinner arrived and someone clanged a glass to make a toast and it got silent Cheetah said ‘ HEY, WHAT HAPPENED ??SOMEONE CUT ONE??? Then comes the soup (which spoon for soup please?) and it was Vichyssoise and Brad takes one taste and yells out ‘HEY! MY SOUP IS COLD!!”--Lastly not long after we played there I read or heard that Carter had issued a memo to the top record Co. Heads NOT to sign so-called Punk Bands this may be when they decided NEW WAVE sounded better…I’ve always wondered if we had anything to do w/ getting PUNK ROCK banned in the U.S.??!!

Here are other things that come to mind. The first time I ever got REALLY DRUNK was hanging w/ Stiv Bators (RIP) a @ some girls apt he was staying at. He was really sweet helping me downstairs to find a cab, making sure the driver had my address, and if I had enough money for the cab etc..-despite his onstage image he was a really nice guy.

Another one is getting a triple take from Divine (he of John waters Films fame) Before Hurrahs started having bands-Divine was doing an Off B’way Show Called ‘Women behind bars’ or something there and we were invited to see it. Then we were invited to take a look around @ the space. The play was due to close in a week or so and then be transformed into a venue for bands. I guess we were the first if not one of the first to play there. So we walk in one afternoon and Divine is @ the bar getting ready for rehearsal or something. He was in his undies and bra and had a nylon skull cap on before he put his wig on and was putting on his make-up. We walk in and he gives us not one not two but a triple take stare-lol. Now I don’t know if this is a compliment or insulting but all things Divine Has seen AND done on film and WE rank a triple stare-lol

Another one is going to a Blondie party @ the Copacabana w/ Nick.Blondies’ record co. was presenting them w/ their first gold albums I think from Australia or someplace and a Teenage Brooke Shields was there. Nick decided to use as an Ice breaker whether or not she had attended the same school that I had. She was polite but you could see her nose rising upward. I thought it was rather amusing Nick trying to pick up Brooke.

Another is when I had Appendicitis and was in the hospital and Anna Sui and ‘Fiorucci Linda(we called her that because she always shopped there) had visited me and also took pix! Incidentally Linda is supposedly the baby the KKK took away-(Ramones song reference) It was funny because I was still a minor and in the pediatric section with all these Disney and Nursery Rhyme motifs on the walls and everything. This was also the only time we cancelled a show and we had our Friends ‘The Misfits’ Fill in that night. More??!!

Having Francesco Scavullo take Eileen, Howie and I to Studio 54 when it was still in its heyday. Going to the V.V.V.IP rooms-I remember one was decorated in a camouflage motif.

Also @ our debut gig before we did Flagellation Rock for the first time I dedicated it To ‘Lux Interior of The Cramps’ having no idea he and the whole band were actually there. Apparently he was thrilled and used to chat w/ him and Ivy on occasions both very nice people, as was Bryan Gregory (RIP) who was always very polite and well mannered. I should mention our friendship and fun we had w/ The Student Teachers-The Fast-The Speedies-The Misfits-The Stimulators the Senders-the Contortions (if I’ve forgotten anyone I apologize)

Another outstanding memory is all that crap people used to throw at us. Not really spitting that was more of a London thing but everything else would come flying up-French fries-Pitchers of beer and water-Bottle caps-Lit cigarettes –half eaten Hamburgers (why anyone would order a Hamburger pay for it then throw it at us is beyond me). One show in particular is when Broken chairs and a Friggin table comes crashing onstage, that was most interesting –lol.

Also since no one asked but You might wonder how come I wasn’t @ the Sid Vicious (RIP)Thing? Why I’ll tell you-actually both Eileen and Howie called me saying ‘Come on there’s a party @ Michelle’s tonight for Sid (who just gotten out of Rikers-infamous jail in NYC) but I declined. I knew it was a bad scene and probably more trouble than not and didn’t want to be bothered. Turned out I was right I guess.

Another thing that I find rather amusing-in retrospect is Eileen ‘Retiring” as our manager. When she left I took over –Booking the clubs-dealing with our stage crew and roadies in addition to -performing –dealing w/ this crazy band I was in .–What I’m only 17??!!-lol(play the youth card when necessary) But Eileen had dated Dee Dee Ramone(RIP) of which that craziness is chronicled elsewhere-she dated Arthur Kane (RIP)during HIS crazy period- chronicled elsewhere and she was at the epicenter of all the Sid Vicious Craziness-again chronicled elsewhere- But managing The Blessed??!!-no, that got way too crazy and out of hand and too much too handle-lol But having spoken w/ her in recent years there was a lot of sordid drama behind the scenes that I shan’t go into-use your imagination but was enough reason for any sane person to bail. I would like to say that Eileen did contribute an ENOURMOUS amount to whatever we achieved and without her I doubt we would have done even a quarter of the things we did. She was an integral and very important contribution to all that we did and very instrumental (ok pun intended) in a lot of our success-however you want to define it- and I appreciate all that she did. She literally was the perfect Mama Bear watching out for her cubs!

Heres a good one-one time and only once we encored w/ a song called ‘SHORT SHORT SHORT” which was just that-3 seconds long- just BAM-BAM-BAM- we came back on stage-fumbled a bit –maybe pretend to tune up and then I sang (1-2-3-) “SHORT SHORT SHORT” The band played for 3 seconds and we walked off-lol A true exercise in obnoxiousness. In fact, more times than not we would ‘Dress’ the stage. I’ve always believed that every show should be an ‘event’ as if every show would be possibly the only and perhaps the last one you would ever see-going through the so-called motions seemed unfathomable to me. In short, a show we did on ‘Mothers Day” had a huge white backdrop w/ flowers strewn about the stage. On our 1st Anniversary Show we had streamers and balloons and some kids party backdrop. One show we T.P.’ ed the stage (Toilet papered) I remember as a kid in Connecticut the day after Halloween Neighborhoods would be completely festooned w/ Toilet paper hanging everywhere-from the trees etc, so one show we festooned the stage and equip in that manner.

There are other things we things we did as they are mentioned throughout this interview (the XXX film shown beforehand etc.,) and of course The Puberty Ball @ the Mudd Club. I didn’t mention the Blitz benefit did I? Of course I’m referring to the infamous Blitz Benefit shows that were to help Johnny Blitz (Dead Boys) when he was seriously injured. We were supposed to play but one of us having something to do or other with a fire being started @ CB’s( no not Mr.Pyro-lol) or whatever got us ‘Punished ‘ by not being allowed to play @ CB’ s for a month- 86’ed or 98’ed or something it was called. But this Punishment month fell during the Blitz Benefit shows and despite the Dead Boys intervening and asking that our ‘Month’ be the next one-CB’s would not relent. Personally, I always thought the ‘Real Reason’ was that on the ubiquitous Blitz Benefit t-shirts that were everywhere –all the bands that were playing were listed alphabetically. So we would have been first-ahead of Blondie -Even ahead of Blitz!! But I’m sorry we couldn’t have played –just to show our support- even though but we did go and see the shows anyway .

There are so many others that this is turning into ‘War and peace w/ The Blessed’ There was our aborted Cable TV show-(Nick Era) we were thrown out of the studio. Some college students or aspiring filmmakers wanted to do a half hour show on us for Cable TV so we went to the TV studio. First they interviewed Eileen. Then we played a couple of songs and then we sat down to be interviewed. One of us –Nick I think- had a can of beer and the studio manger a no nonsense Sgt. Type told us in no uncertain terms “ If you open that can of beer on camera I’m shutting the whole thing down.” So, naturally once the cameras were rolling, the can of beer was shook up vigorously and when it was opened sprayed everywhere. Needless to say that stage manager shut everything down and threw us out. I must give him credit-He kept his word and meant what he said-lol. This tape has been unseen for about 30 years now and would probably include the earliest known footage of The Blessed that exists (or existed) and we are fervently trying to track down a copy.

July 4th 1980-we had another ‘New’ Guitarist’ (name? who cares) who went AWOL before sound check so Howie played Guitar the first set- and Johnny Thunders (RIP) played the second set. One show w/ Rico and Charlie where our Bass player didn’t show up (got into trouble on the way –not arrested but something or other) so we went on just Guitar-Drums and I It sounded great and got a great reaction. I have recently spoken w/ Rico and we talked about that show and we both laughed and agreed that maybe we should have gone ahead like that It was in the mid 80’s predating all that White Stripes-YeahYeahYeah’s stripped down type of set up. Hindsight and all…..

There’s also amusing stuff about RCA and I think London records coming to see us live and in rehearsal- way early on’78 (Nick Era) There’s probably more that others would/could recall but to me those are the ones that stand out and come to mind first.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Interview with Billy Stark (Blessed) Part 5

ME:Do you stay in contact with any of the original members? EH?

BILLY: Why would I do that? –lol- after the Gildersleeves show Howie and I were rather on the outs. Not too long after there was a MAXS night @ the Peppermint lounge with a bunch of bands playing and the promoter wanted us to do a re-union thing but I was just starting to play out w/ The Rico Version of the Blessed and didn’t want confusion with the name. I also wanted to move forward and not be stuck already doing ‘Reunions’ so I said no to that & NIPPED IT IN THE BUD.

Later on I went to see Howie’s band Freaks and checked out Degeneration intermittently from the Continental to CB’s to Irving Plaza. I also hung out @ the Green Door parties and Coney Island High and caught that post D-Gen thing he and Jesse (Malin) did called PCP Highway or Bellvue or whatever they were called that day-lol. It was in a great club-don't know if its still running, but it was the old Bleecker St. Movie theatre! I am also a great admirer of Howie’s Intoxica Show and think the Illuminoid’ Mash -ups are way cool. We are now in communicado on a regular basis.

After Nick left in ’78, Nick and I rarely kept in contact but he did come to one of the Rico/Blessed shows. He sat right in front-lol and we hung out and chatted during our break. He came back and sat through the second set! After that Nick & I hadn’t spoken for ‘DECADES” until quite recently with the Blessed My Space etc. I glad he’s doing really well.

The last time I saw Brad was @ Charlie Sox’s (O’BM) funeral.(but he recently popped up via the internet) The last time I saw Walter was at a tribute show The Waldos did @ the Continental for his brother Richie Lure (RIP) who had just passed away and to show my respects. Richie was a very sweet and nice guy. Walter and I have occasionally spoken via e-mail and I recall he came to one of the Screaming End shows (other band I was in) @ CB'S and Rico was there too! Eileen Polk and I have re-connected over the last few years thanks to the wonderful world o’ the Internet though she comes and goes.

Post-script- Most people now via the internet and w/ The Blessed My space page have popped up but I think the original intent of your question was after we broke up did we continue to have contact w/ each other. PRE-internet the answer would have to be no. Only the few times I went to a Waldos show and said Hi to Walter and Howie after a few years of no contact as stated above.Also Rico Blythe and I have re-connected after years of no contact (again thanks to the internet).