With the release, in practically every format imaginable, of some TOO-long-awaited Forgotten Rebels tribute albums, not to mention an accompanying eBook even, I couldn’t help but cast what remains of my memory back to that good ol’ Summer of Hate, and…
Ten Reasons Why I Can NEVER Forget the Rebels
1. The very first time I ever laid eyes upon The Artist Soon To Be Known As DeSadist, at Simply Saucer’s Hamilton, Ontario band house in very late October 1977, he was meticulously dressed head to foot as an ersatz yet somehow uniquely eclectic Johnny Rotten …and it wasn’t even Halloween yet!
2. The very first thing Mickey DeS ever shouted at me that night (over the din of Saucer’s four turntables simultaneously spinning a side each of Metal Machine Music) was “If I get a band together, can you give us a gig?” I promised that I would not only do that, but I’d put him within the hallowed pages of my Pig Paper to boot. Yes, in a word, I was intrigued.
3. Amazingly, within a week (!) Mickey had not only assembled the very
first Rebels – and photographed them beating up some bearded hippie in a local
alleyway – he duly supplied me as well with enough biographical background (and
I quote, “Influences: Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop, James Williamson, Ace Frehley;
Ambition: to get my hands on Sally Cato”) to warrant a place of pride right
there in Pig
Paper # 8. In my own word then I was, yes, impressed.
4. So, keeping my promise, I invited Mickey, Chriss Suicide, Mister Madness and Les Ripper to warm up the crowd at the very next Simply Saucer soiree I held in the local YWCA. And warm up they certainly did, setting fire to a Canadian flag at the end of their set and causing The Hamilton Downtown Young Men’s Christian Association to sue me for $400 in damages (including $25.00 over harm inflicted upon carrots and lettuces). “I would also like to inform you that at no time in the future your group will be allowed to use the YMCA facilities,” Y manager George [last name still blacked out on paperwork] informed us. Point taken.
5. Typically and totally undaunted however, Mickey proceeded to canvas the town (meaning not only Saucer House, but the local Tim Hortons donut shop as well) for all the ten dollar bills he could cadge, beg, borrow and steal, rented a genuine Radio Shack mixer and some stray microphones, and soon produced the obviously titled Burn The Flag demo-slash-cassette. Upon hearing the abundant raw power therein, I immediately insisted he corral all the Rebels he could and meet me over on the nearby McMaster University campus for the band’s very first radio interview. Well! Mickey was, as always, a wizard; a true star, part J. Rotten, part D. Rickles. The telephone lines lit up, orders for over a dozen Burn The Flag’s poured in, and most impressive yet fortuitous of all? Immensely respected concert promoter Gary Topp asked that The Forgotten Rebels perform as soon as possible …all the way over there in Toronto!
6. Interestingly, but not that surprisingly, Mickey quickly assumed the focal point for all things Rebel …just as he had all those months ago whilst holding court at Saucer’s. Gary Topp tried to convince me to convince Mickey to start appearing on stage alone, as in solo – sans FLQ guitar even! – as a monologuist. But, rather than become Henry Rollins years before the fact, Mickey then and forever after remained stubbornly and resolutely loyal to his vision, his ideals, and to his beloved Rebels. Why, he wouldn’t even let me produce An Evening with Mickey DeSadist spoken-word album for him ...and if that ain’t Hollywood, I’m not sure what is!
7. Meanwhile, thanks to my run-in with George at the YMCA, not to mention pouring all the money I didn’t have into Simply Saucer’s first record, the Rebels’ “National Unity” b/w “Angry” never did appear as planned on Pig Record # 2. But, most happily, their career on vinyl turned out more than alright …I mean, who else but M. DeSadist could take one listen to the Dutch single “We’re So Glad Elvis Is Dead” by Tits I was distributing and morph it most effortlessly into that more-than-anthemic “Elvis Is Dead”?!
8. And speaking of iconic socio-musical figures, who else but Mickey could conceive of, and then convince (though I’m sure he knew nothing about it) no less than Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau – fresh from a run-in with those semi-Rolling Stones – to help promote the Rebels’ inaugural Tomorrow Belongs To Us release? Hopefully you’ve heard the tales; luckier still, you’ve seen the photographic evidence. And the Liberal Party of Canada? Believe me, they’ve never been quite the same since.
9. May I just mention at this point that it has not always been simply Mickey’s wholly P.T. Barnum M.O. that has impressed me and those all around his show-bizzy circles. The man’s taste in music quite possibly equals even his flair for the hautest in haberdashery. To wit: Who the heck else, at the very height of Never Mind The Bollocks and Road To Ruin, would have the unmitigated cahones to strut around Hamilton with Sensational Alex Harvey Band platters? Come to think of it, I believe Mickey was even the town’s most unapologetic ABBA fan back then too …or maybe that was Steve from Teenage Head…
10. Suffice to say though, when all is said and sung, The Forgotten Rebels have made it through punk, new wave, no wave, new romantic, neo-rockabilly, (hair-) metal, garage, grunge, and just about every other audio pigeonhole imaginable with their audience, not to mention values, firmly and entirely intact. No small feat indeed in these dear dead days of Green Day, for starters. And I credit that all, as should you, to the one and only Mickey DeSadist, Rebel without pause. And you know what? He did it all without ever giving up his day job!
Long may he burn.