Before bands like Bad Brains and The Ramones, there was another band that blew up the punk scene. Death was an African-American punk trio from the 1970’s that never hit the big times, but 30 years later, their work showed up to the public as a hit.
What started out as an R&B band, they quickly switched to a ‘Proto-Punk‘ sound that didn’t click with the public. Although they’re thought of as visionaries for their sound, Death was a struggling group of teenagers. The claim to the sudden switch was after an Alice Cooper show, a member felt the need to pursue rock. They’re unorthodox switch made a major impact on many musicians today.
Jack White said it best with a quote in a New York Times article, “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. When I was told the history of the band and what year they recorded this music, it just didn’t make sense. Ahead of punk, and ahead of their time.”
Ahead of punk, ahead of time. Death was lucky enough to not have to survive on musical earnings, but a documentary about the band has been played around a few festivals. Titled, A Band Called Death, the documentary follows the group as they go through major moments in the band. From how they got their name, to finding a discarded guitar in an alley that allowed the members to play, this is quite an impactful film.
Check out a personal favorite full album here: