I’m going to take you way back for this one. It was May of 1981. My first day on the air was May 18 of that year on KROQ-FM in Pasadena. At that time, KROQ was a pretty crazy place. Punk rockers were passed out in the corridors, drug deals and “indoor blizzards” were everywhere, the dirty green shag carpet was probably originally white, and the station’s promotions almost seemed as if they were created by a gang of pirates on a ship. Believe it or not, I had never listened to KROQ prior to going on the air there. My first on-air job was reviewing under $6 restaurants for five minutes a day based on the books I had written entitled The Poorman’s Guide to Gourmet Dining in Pasadena for Under $6 and The Poorman’s Guide to Gourmet Dining on the Westside of Town for Under $6. Both books were self-published and made the Los Angeles Times’ critics list. My under $6 eatery reviews aired at 12:55 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on Ramondo’s afternoon show. I didn’t get paid, but they promoted and gave away a copy of my book each day I was on with the expressed proviso from Program Director Rick Carroll that I would get meal certificates from each restaurant I reviewed, so everybody at the station could eat for freeeeeeee! Some radio folk provided drugs, I provided food. I’ll tell you guys my story in greater detail about how it all began in a future edition of this column.
As a result of being on the air, the KROQ staff had access to whatever prizes were being given away at the time. We were in the midst of numerous concert ticket giveaways at the old Perkins Palace theater venue in Pasadena. It has since been torn down and replaced by condos. Perkins, originally The Raymond Theatre, became the destination for live shows by all the new bands KROQ played, including Oingo Boingo, X, the Go-Go’s, Romeo Void, Adam and the Ants and plenty of punk shows. The promoter of Perkins, to this day, was the best I’ve ever seen. He was a swashbuckling, skinny, loud-spoken, quick-talking guy about to attend law school at USC. You might recognize his name: Mark Geragos. Yes, he’s the famous celebrity criminal defense attorney who represented Michael Jackson among others. He could have gone in a different direction and become the greatest concert promoter of all time. He promoted these shows in cooperation with the station. The way listeners won tickets was to bring in a bag of 100 soda and beer cans to the station for recycling and they’d receive a pair of tickets in exchange. You can probably imagine the mess! Trash bags filled with cans were everywhere in the KROQ building. Carroll approached me one day, shortly after I began doing my restaurant reviews, and said, “Hey Poorman, I have a couple tickets to see the Dickies at Perkins. Wanna go?” As I just confessed, I had never listened to KROQ prior to going on the air, never attended a punk show and had never heard of the Dickies. With no knowledge of what I was getting into, I responded, “Sure!”
My first radio producer, a 19-year-old from Louisville, Kentucky, named Rowland Jones, went to see the Dickies with me. Today, he’s a famous sculptor living in Louisville. When we arrived, Perkins Palace was packed. He was amazed that a punk show was going on at an Old Town Pasadena theater rather than some dive bar. He remembers the smell of vomit once we got inside. The Dickies took the stage, and it was immediately insane! The music was unbelievably loud, raw and unfamiliar. To me, it was beyond awful!
A massive mosh pit formed below the stage with hundreds of hard core, violent punk rockers. This was the first mosh pit I’d ever seen. We were thinking of jumping into it, but it was so f#@king wild that we had second thoughts. This turned out to be a brilliant decision considering what happened next. Suddenly, Dickies singer Leonard Graves Phillips screamed into the mic, “Should I take a golden shower on you!?!” The audience in the pit didn’t respond, and he screamed even louder, “SHOULD I TAKE A GOLDEN SHOWER ON YOU!?!!!!!!” The next thing you know, he unzipped his pants, pulled out his wanger and proceeded to take a piss on the moshers. It was almost surreal, a slow motion golden flow of liquid, glistening under the lights of the stage as it descended like a waterfall on the massive pack of punks below. This set off a chain reaction like nothing I’ve ever seen before or since. The angry punkers flipped out and were leaping on stage trying to beat the shit out of the peeing singer. Security guards on either side of the stage threw these violent punk rockers out of the side doors on both sides of the performance space. They weren’t just escorted out of the building. They were thrown through the air and tossed out like rag dolls.
“It became so gross after the singer peed on the people in the pit,” Rowland Jones recalls. “They responded by pelting his face with a hailstorm of spit and loogies. It was so smelly. I was thinking how were these guys doing this!?! The spit projectiles must have traveled at least 10 feet in the air to reach his face, and it didn’t let up. The fury of hundreds of rapid-fire spitballs continuously smacked his face through two songs. The hail of spit never slowed down! I couldn’t believe it!”
A month later, in June 1981, Dickies guitarist/keyboardist/saxophonist “Chuck Wagon” (born Bob Davis) committed suicide. My first punk concert might have been his last. R.I.P.
Fast forward 38 years (if you can believe it!) and this San Fernando Valley band the Dickies are still performing! Now in their 42nd year, it’s almost like deja vu. They playing Sept. 21 at the venue where it all began in September 1977, the Whiskey A Go Go. Something that has changed is … I no longer find their music awful. I now love their music! Recently, on my morning drive radio show Poorman’s Morning Rush–airing Mondays through Fridays from 7-10 a.m. on Orange County-based KOCI 101.5-FM and streaming worldwide at www.KOCIradio.com–I played not one but two songs by the band, “Eve of Destruction” and “Banana Splits.” In fact, I play punk every day on the show. I’ve never met the Dickies. I look forward to not only meeting them but extending an open invitation to sit in on my radio show as guest DJs and play any music they’d like.
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When Poorman doesn’t have his feet in the sand, you can find him on the air Monday-Friday 7am-10am at KOCI hosting Poorman’s Morning Rush – Orange County’s only morning drive show. His show brings plenty of excitement, and of course, the Poorman’s aura of unpredictability – both good and bad – that has defined his legend! Email Jim “Poorman” Trenton at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a song or submit music.