Forty-three years ago tonight, the Social Blemishes – me, Ras Pierre, Rockin’ Al and a few others miscreants – took to the makeshift stage in the gym at Bishop Carroll High School in Calgary for the first-ever performance of a punk band in our hometown. In all of Alberta, too.
We were opening for local luminaries Fosterchild, and we were terrible. But we were hooked: maybe this punk rock stuff would never win us fame or riches or groupies, but could there be any better way to alienate our parents, teachers and peers? Nope.
And, besides: it was fun. Case in point: we even got our picture in the Calgary Herald, up above. The guy on the far left (ahem) was John Heaney, who went on to be Rachel Notley’s Chief of Staff; beside him, Ras Pierre, now a multimillionaire engineer in Alberta (and my best friend, still); Yours Screwly, in shades, homemade Sex Pistols T-shirt and (seriously) a dog collar; Rockin’ Al, a standout stand-up comedian and performer; Allen Baekeland, later a famous Western Canadian DJ (RIP); Pat O’Heran, an award-winning Hollywood filmmaker; and, behind the skins, Ronnie Macdonald, another successful engineering technologist type, but in B.C.
Me and Ras Pierre would leave the Blems to form the Hot Nasties – and Al and Ronnie would go on to the Sturgeons or the Mild Chaps or Riot 303. Along the way, one of the songs we wrote, Invasion of the Tribbles, was to be covered by British chart-toppers the Palma Violets. Another one, Barney Rubble Is My Double, ended up covered by Nardwuar and the Evaporators. And Secret of Immortality was to be covered by Moe Berg of Pursuit of Happiness. Not bad.
Anyway, because I’m going to taking a dirt nap any day now – or so says one of my sons, now the same age I was in that photo, up above – I’ve immortalized the Social Blemishes in Recipe For Hate and its sequels, New Dark Ages and the just-out Age of Unreason. Meanwhile, The Ballad of the Social Blemishes is a song about our departed-too-soon former manager, Tom Wolfe, and came out on Ugly Pop Records – the video, showing rare Blems footage, is here.
Forty-three years: I can’t fucking believe I’m so old.
The only solution is to continue acting like I’m seventeen.
Gabba gabba hey!