Born Jan Paul Beahm in Los Angeles in 1958. He was the last of four kids. His mother Faith had split up with husband Harold Beahm, who was not Paul's (as he would come to be known) father. Paul was the bastard son of a man named William Beorkland. He was raised by stepfather Bob Baker who his mother joined in holy matrimony in the year 1964. He died in '71, and Paul went to search for his real father, who he discovered had passed on. Paul also had an big brother, who, in an eerily prophetic way, had died of a heroin overdose.

Paul met friend, guitarist and companion Pat Smear when he was in 8th grade. They met thru a speed dealer they both bought from. Pat was in 7th grade. They became friends quickly, despite some differences of opinion - while Paul loved old 50s rock and roll, the more cutting-edge Pat was a fan the New York Dolls, David Bowie, and Queen. Paul disliked this music at first, but would grow to appreciate it. At 13, Pat ran off and lived in a "Jesus commune" for a year. He came back and saw Paul again, and that's where the story really begins.

The setting was the notorious "Innovative Program School" at University High in Santa Monica. The school was designed to harbor social miscreants, and, not surprisingly, both Paul and Pat were admitted to the experimental facility. Also found on campus was future Black Flag bass player Kira Roessler. Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth graduated from the school. Around this time, the two first got the notion of forming a band. Originally it was just sort of a joke - they had the name "Sophistifuck and the Revlon Spam Queens." Not much came of the idea until later. Paul and Pat were thrown out of IPS - they accused Paul of trying to brainwash students.

Soon the two became interested in punk rock. The story of the early days is littered with familiar names and places - The Whiskey a Go-Go, the Licorice Pizza record store across the street, and the parking lot of the Rainbow, where many of the people involved in this story and others from the same period would spend their time. Bands like The Runaways and The Ramones were a big influence, but the catalyst was the bombastic glam / arena-rock sensation, Queen.

Queen was staying at the Beverly Hilton. Pat and Paul arrived to look for Freddie Mercury, and ran into two (they claimed) "twins" from the Valley. They were Belinda Carlisle and friend Lorna. They never thought they'd see each other again. Lorna later said she immediately liked Pat and Paul, calling them "the weirdest guys we ever met!"

Now Pat and Paul were determined to form a band for real. Soon the city was plastered with flyers asking for "two untalented girls", and, as if by fate, Lorna and Belinda answered. Belinda played drums, calling herself Dottie Danger, but quit fairly quickly after getting mononucleosis. She brought in her friend Becky, who was named Donna Rhia. Belinda continued to work with the band, doing such things as making flyers and supplying Paul with peanut butter. Reportedly the girls were disappointed with Pat and Paul's name for the band, which symbolized "the germ of an idea", something that was there at the beginning.

In no time the band had their first performance, with pointy-shoed Mexican kids The Zeros and "LA's first punk band" The Weirdos. They "made noise." Paul, who was now known as Bobby Pyn, covered himself with licorice and peanut butter and threw himself around dramatically. In five minutes they were shut down. This was the beginning. They also played at the audition for Cheech and Chong's "Up In Smoke", from which the best-known version of "Sex Boy" is taken. They also played at Kim Fowley's "New Wave Nights", a performance recorded on the Germicide album. They covered "Sugar Sugar" and Bobby covered the audience in, well, sugar.

They attracted the attention of Chris Ashford, a record store employee who founded What? Records and released the band's first single - "Forming", with the live "Sex Boy" as a B-side. Bobby included his shockingly literate and intelligent lyrics on a lyric sheet. The eerie, unmistakable echo on the recording was apparently, according to Pat, a "button left on by accident." The band, quickly deciding to "get more serious", went thru a series of new drummers, including Cliff Hanger, Don Bonebrake, and Nicky Beat, who played with them on the Slash Records 7 inch #SCAM-101 that included the songs "Lexicon Devil", "Circle One", and "No God" and showcased the band's impressive playing ability and skill, as well as Bobby's lyrical prowess. It featured a cover with sinister, Nazi-esque imagery for shock value. Paul also dropped the name Bobby Pyn, adopting a new moniker: Darby Crash.

The Germs were born.

They had gone from a horrifying shock band to a darkly powerful, dynamic group, and followers flocked to them like lambs to the slaughter. The haunting blue circle began to appear everywhere, and true loyalists of the band scarred themselves with a Germs burn: a circular cigarette burn on the left wrist. Darby said this when interviewed: "You haven't asked me about burns and circles. You've gotta have them right here (points to inside of left wrist) . . . over 200 people have them, even in San Francisco. You can only get one from someone who already has one. It all has to do with circles."

In Phoenix, Arizona, musician Don Bolles heard the Germs early work and wanted to join the band. He called Darby and Pat, but to no avail. Months later he travelled to LA and in minutes he was the Germs new drummer. With Don on board, the band released their masterpiece: G.I. Produced by Joan Jett, the album featured Darby's brilliant introspective lyrics and some amazing songs. Released on Slash Records, the tracklisting is as follows:

1. What We Do is Secret
2. Communist Eyes
3. Land of Treason
4. Richie Dagger's Crime
5. Strange Notes
6. American Leather
8. Lexicon Devil
(note: This version is much faster)
9. Manimal
10. Our Way
11. We Must Bleed
12. Media Blitz
13. The Other Newest One
14. Let's Pretend
15. Dragon Lady
16. The Slave
17. Shut Down (Annihilation Man)

The L.A. Times called it "the most important album to come out of Los Angeles since The Doors' 'L.A. Woman.'"

The band was a lot tighter and more explosive and their live shows became more and more catastrophic, with riots becoming more frequent. Darby becoming more involved with drugs - when asked if he was a junkie, he laughed and claimed he could never afford it. Darby had also developed his habit of not singing on mic. The band became notorious for their incredibly intense and destructive shows, and Penelope Spheeris decided to film them for her documentary "The Decline of Western Civilization." They appear performing what would become their signature song, "Manimal." Director William Friedkin (The Exorcist) saw them and was so impressed he asked them to do some songs for his new film, "Cruising." They recorded five tracks - "My Tunnel", "Throw It Away", "Not All Right", "Now I Hear the Laughter" (which Lorna wrote with Darby), "Going Down", and "Lion's Share." The only one to appear in the contraversial film was "Lion's Share." The other four were never heard until 1993, when Slash issued the truly fantastic "MIA" compilation.

Darby had gathered a certified cult of acolytes and was a true punk icon. He appeared with many girlfriends, but the facts of Darby's personal life were kept secret. Like Bowie, he flirted with bisexual imagery. There are some cryptic references to Hollywood punk Donnie Rose. In a later interview Donnie said: "We loved each other a lot; I just couldn't give him what he needed . . . it's personal."

Things started to fall apart. Darby, for no reason other than he saw Don wearing a dress while playing with side project Vox Pop, fired Don and replaced him with the inept Rob Henley. The "Germs contingent" complained, but Darby would not relent. Soon Darby himself disappeared, running off to England with a female friend named Amber. He called Pat and Lorna and told them to practice with Rob while he was gone. It didn't work. Lorna quit. Darby came back in the summer of 1980, wearing a mohawk, leather bondage gear, a blue stripe on his forehead, and some blue feathers. He had become infatuated with Adam and the Ants while in England for reasons still not totally clear. He put together The Darby Crash Band, with "friend" Bosco on bass and Pat filling in on guitar "until a permanent guitarist could be found." The band played fairly well, but it didn't work at all. The chemisty and raw power wasn't there. It wouldn't fly.

Darby decided to play a Germs reunion show. He wanted to put things in perspective for the kids new to the scene. Don was happy to do it, he said he thought Darby was "a genius, like some crazed LSD guru."

It was December 3rd, and a rainy night in Hollywood. The Starwood was packed with wide-eyed punk kids eager to see The Germs. X was supposed to appear as a special guest, but they never showed, inciting Darby's rage. He verbally sheared guitarist Billy Zoom during "Strange Notes." The set was fantastic. The band played furiously, and Darby's singing was on the mic more than anyone thought possible. Lorna and Don played a improvisational version of "Another One Bites the Dust", recalling the band that helped the group formed. Darby addressed the new punks: "We did this show so you new people could see what it was like when we were around. You're not going to see it again."

On December 6th, Darby Crash injected a terminal amount of heroin into his bloodstream and died of an overdose. He was found with his arms splayed out in the shape of a cross. John Lennon was killed the next day, eclisping the young punk avatar's death.

The rest of the band moved on, doing other things. Most notably, Pat Smear went on to play with Nirvana and the Foo Fighters. Belinda Carlisle became lead singer of the pop princesses the Go-Gos. Nicky Beat worked with The Cramps and Pearl Jam. They all went their seperate ways.

Darby Crash meant many things to many people. He was a hero, a free-spirited punk who didn't care what people thought. He was a gifted poet and a deep, soulful person. He was a dangerous, self-destructive, heroin-crazed lunatic. He was just some guy who sang with the some band called The Germs. People remember him in different ways. The truth is, the impact he had on the people around him and the world of music in general is still seen today. He will never be forgotten.

R.I.P. DARBY CRASH. 1958-1980

NOTE: a lot of this information from the liner notes in the "A Small Circle of Friends" tribute album. Thanks.

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