San Francisco: 1976.
Unbound. A small archive of three printing plates, three maquettes, three posters, and a 7" record sleeve made for the San Francisco punk band, Crime. All items are near fine with some modest chips, tears, and some waviness.
Beginning in 1976, Crime, made up of "Johnny Strike" (vocals, guitar), Frankie Fix (vocals, guitar), Ron "The Ripper" Greco (bass; ex-Flamin' Groovies), and Chris Cat (drums), who was rapidly replaced by Ricky Tractor (Ricky Williams)," released the "first single by a U.S. punk act from the West Coast." It was a self-funded 45 with the tracks "Hot Wire My Heart" and "Baby You're So Repulsive," the sleeve for which is present here. Strike said of the record, "we saw it as the first 'something'. What, we weren't quite sure. We knew it was unique, especially when some hippie KSAN DJ said on the air that it was the worst record that he'd ever heard." A notorious group of musicians, in the loosest sense, who were known for their loud, raucous shows and "damn the man" attitude, Crime was said to have made "more enemies than fans" by the end of their short lived career. Fred Beldin, music critic for *Resonance 49 Magazine*, liken the band to "a stumbling drunk Chuck Berry fronting the Velvet Underground after an all-night binge." After forming they quickly decided to "cultivate their image" so they enlisted the help of photographer, James Stark, who created the band's logo and was responsible for numerous photo shoots used for flyers and album covers. "In 1976 he [Stark] met up with some people who were starting a rock n’ roll band and needed some photographs, thus began a relationship with the band Crime" and punk. The "Hot Wire My Heart" 7" record featured a Stark photograph which was also used for a 1977 show at Mabuhay Gardens with Punk, both are in this archive along with the maquette or mock-ups for the flyer. Beldin said of the band's appearance, "four cold, cadaverous men clad in regulation police uniforms wearing dead, drugged sneers on their faces." Another print, a 22" x 24" black and white poster featuring the band dressed as 1920s gangsters surrounded by bags of money, is featured here along with the original printing plate for a Mabuhay show. Another plate declares Crime is "San Francisco's first rock n' roll banned," and shows the band members behind a chain link fence. The third printing plate is from 1978 by Bad Dream Image for a show at the Keystone Berk and shows stencil images of police beating someone.
A *New York Rocker* magazine critic noted after a 1978 live show "Crime play loud. So loud that the plate glass window at the opposite end of the club shakes, tables tremble and people hang onto their drinks." Between 1976 and 1982 Crime managed to book shows at the legendary San Francisco venue of Mabuhay Gardens and even played at San Quentin Penitentiary playing "in full police regalia to the puzzled inmates." Their infamy was short lived and they remained a "local phenomenon, stubbornly staying in the face of a scene that considered them rude and primitive even by punk standards." Their attitudes cost them fans and only managed to anger fellow musicians, after they "shunned the label punk" and they eventually disbanded in 1982. A unique collection of early punk ephemera from a band who helped shape the San Francisco sound and West Coast punk.