To some, G.G. Allin was the ultimate symbol of rock & roll rebellion, taking it to extremes that no one else was dangerous enough to explore. To others, he was a lunatic whose attempts to shock and disgust were too ham-fisted to be taken seriously. Wherever the truth lay, there can be no doubt that Allin was the most spectacular degenerate in rock & roll history. Music was almost incidental to his violent, scatological stage act, which got him arrested over 50 times for a litany of offenses, and made Iggy Pop's antics with the Stooges look like The Donny & Marie Show. Rarely performing for more than 10-20 minutes before clubs shut him down, Allin usually took the stage in a jockstrap and wound up nude; he beat himself bloody with broken bottles, torn cans, and microphones (when he wasn't trying to shove the latter up his own ass); he attacked and was attacked by his own audience; he urinated on the stage, on his band, on the audience; he frequently took laxatives before shows in order to defecate on the stage, after which he generally ate his own feces or threw them at the audience; and yet, somehow, he still found audience members willing to perform oral sex on him on-stage. Needless to say, he also ingested enormous amounts of booze and drugs, served several prison terms, and even promised to commit suicide on-stage on Halloween (he died of an overdose in 1993 before he could follow through). His songs -- such as they were -- were comically over-the-top hell-raisers about substance abuse, casual violence, and sexual conduct that was at best degrading and at worst criminal. Yet no matter how vile he was, Allin had his supporters, whether they belonged to the outermost fringes of society, admired his absolute freedom of expression, or were simply fascinated by the spectacle of a man venting all the ugliest, most primal impulses of the human id.
Much like his life, Allin's discography is a confusing mess, with countless reissues, compilations, and live gigs cluttering the issue and making it difficult to tell at a glance where any given track listing originated. His music rarely deviates from basic, thrashy, three-chord punk, and his once-adequate voice, ravaged by years of mistreatment, can charitably be described as tuneless and hoarse. Song titles like "I'm Gonna Rape You," "Expose Yourself to Kids," "Bite It You Scum," "Outlaw Scumfuc," "Gypsy Motherfucker," "Suck My Ass It Smells," "Die When You Die," and "Young Little Meat" -- all fan favorites -- give a fair idea of his self-conscious repulsiveness. Allin recorded for many small labels and with many different bands -- the Jabbers, the Scumfucs, the Holy Men, Antiseen, the Murder Junkies, and many more; some were his own, some were one-off collaborators. Naturally, it was difficult to keep a steady group together behind Allin, but he also had many admirers who wanted to work with him and/or release his music, including surprisingly big names in the underground rock world (J Mascis, Thurston Moore, Dee Dee Ramone, Wayne Kramer, future Matador head Gerard Cosloy, etc.).
Few of Allin's associates denied that his erratic behavior was likely the result of mental problems worsened by substance abuse; many speculated about the possibility of a split personality, a man who would veer abruptly between politeness and violence, intelligence and incoherence, egomania and self-loathing. And if Allin wasn't a clinical sociopath -- as his public persona and interviews suggested -- he was likely pretty close. Yet even in his most rambling diatribes, he seemed to have a definite philosophy and a sense of what he was doing and why, regarding himself as the savior of real rock & roll. (Some even suspected that he eventually started taking his shock-value lyrics seriously, perhaps acting them out to prove his integrity.) Whether Allin's aesthetic and work should be taken seriously or not, it's abundantly clear that the danger was very definitely real.
Although Allin denied that his family environment played a significant role in what he became, it's difficult to think that his father had nothing at all to do with it. A highly religious, antisocial man (though according to G.G. not physically abusive), he ordered his son named Jesus Christ Allin when he was born in Lancaster, NH, on August 29, 1956, telling his wife he'd had visions about the boy. (Allin's brother and future bandmate Merle pronounced "Jesus" as "Je-Je," giving him his lifelong nickname.) The family lived in a two-room log cabin with no electricity or water, and Allin's father forbade all conversation after dark; he even dug the family's graves in the cellar, threatening to commit suicide and take them with him. When G.G. started school, his mother had him legally renamed Kevin Michael Allin; several years later, she divorced Allin's father.
Allowed to listen to the radio, G.G. fell in love with rock & roll and learned to play the drums. Unsurprisingly, G.G. was a misfit and a malcontent from junior high on; he was placed in special ed classes and was left back one year, and rebelled by sometimes showing up to school in drag. He and his brother Merle, a bassist, played together in several bands while still in school, and G.G. discovered his penchant for confrontational theatrics very early on, although they couldn't hold a candle to his later stage act. He discovered punk rock in the late '70s, and played drums in a band called Malpractice; around the same time, he was married for several years and had a daughter, but eventually left his family and took up with a 13-year-old girl. Musically, he moved on to a band called the Jabbers, which earned a following on the bar scene of Manchester, NH.
In 1980, Allin and the Jabbers cut their debut album, Always Was, Is, and Always Shall Be, for the New York-based independent label Orange. At this stage, Allin could carry a tune in a decently snotty punk rock voice, and his music was a fairly catchy hybrid of hardcore punk and power pop. His subject matter was hardly extreme, although he did show a strong misogynist streak right from the start (even if he generally hated everyone else too). In 1981, he recorded "Gimme Some Head," a one-off single with the Motor City Badboys, who included guitarist Wayne Kramer and drummer Dennis Thompson of the MC5. Two EPs, Public Animal #1 and No Rules, followed on Orange in 1982 and 1983, respectively; the former featured perhaps his best-known early single, "You Hate Me and I Hate You." Disturbed by Allin's increasingly volatile stage antics, the Jabbers broke up in 1984.
Allin joined his brother Merle in Boston and briefly fronted the Cedar Street Sluts before forming a new group dubbed the Scumfucs. He also started his own Blood label in 1984 to release an album with an otherwise unreleasable title, Eat My Fuc (later dubbed E.M.F. when reissued). True to its name, Eat My Fuc marked the point where Allin's lyrics took a turn for the demented. Several EPs -- Hard Candy Cock, I Wanna Fuck Your Brains Out, Live Fast, Die Fast -- followed, and over the next couple of years, Allin's live act soon became one of the most feared (or celebrated, depending on your point of view) concert experiences in the Northeast. He was an enormously polarizing figure in the punk community, and -- unsurprisingly -- found it increasingly difficult to get gigs, especially after a 1986 Village Voice article that chronicled a notorious show at New York City's Cat Club (reportedly the first time he defecated on-stage).
In 1987, ROIR issued the compilation Hated in the Nation, which became a cornerstone of the Allin catalog for the simple reason that it stayed in print. It featured early sessions and live gigs with the Scumfucs, the New York Superscum (an all-star group with J Mascis, Gerard Cosloy, and Shimmy-Disc label head Kramer), the Cedar Street Sluts, and the Motor City Badboys. That year, Cosloy's Homestead label signed Allin and released his album with the Holy Men, You Give Love a Bad Name. His second effort for Homestead was 1988's Freaks, Faggots, Drunks & Junkies, a fan favorite that introduced some of the most popular numbers in his later repertoire. That year, Allin was scheduled to appear on the confrontational Morton Downey Jr. Show but never made it to the taping; he and the band trashed their hotel room and were arrested.
In 1989, Allin first made his infamous announcement that he would shoot himself on-stage on Halloween night 1990. An execrable concert album, Anti-Social Personality Disorder - Live, was culled from his tour that year, which ended in Michigan when he was arrested for assault. Specifically, Allin had taken up with a young woman who requested (according to Allin) various sadistic sex acts over a period of several days, but turned him in when he tried to wake her from a drunken stupor by burning her leg with a cigarette lighter. Allin pleaded no contest to charges of aggravated assault with intent to mutilate, and went to jail for 18 months. During that time, archival Allin material appeared on several labels, most notably on 1990's Doctrine of Mayhem.
Upon his release, Allin jumped parole to mount a tour with the Murder Junkies, who featured drummer Donald "Dino" Saches (who performed in the nude and had served time for indecent exposure), guitarist Bill Weber, and brother Merle on bass. The early part of the tour was documented by NYU film student Todd Phillips (who would go on to direct mainstream comedies like Road Trip and Old School). Phillips financed the finished documentary, Hated, in part by selling Allin posters painted by G.G.'s pen pal, John Wayne Gacy (whose work also graced the cover of the accompanying soundtrack album). Allin was arrested several times on the tour, the last in Texas, where officers discovered his parole violation (by this time, he had outstanding warrants in several other states as well). He was extradited to Michigan and served some more time in Jackson State Penitentiary.
Still claiming he would commit suicide on-stage on Halloween, Allin emerged from prison in 1993 more determined than ever to exact his vengeance on society. He recorded a new album for the Alive label, Brutality and Bloodshed for All, that added revolutionary (albeit somewhat inarticulate) politics to his typical subject matter. He and the Murder Junkies mounted another tour, accompanied by videographer Evan Cohen (who would later write the book I Was a Murder Junkie: The Last Days of G.G. Allin about the experience). Allin also made the rounds on the talk show circuit, appearing on Jerry Springer and several other programs (he'd previously appeared on Geraldo to announce that his body fluids were "a communion with the people"). That June, Allin went to New York to attend the premiere of Phillips' documentary, Hated. Several nights later, he played a show at the Gas Station club that ended with fans rioting in the streets, and Allin escaping the police naked and on foot. He went to a friend's apartment on the Lower East Side, where he consumed alcohol and heroin. On the morning of June 28, 1993, Allin was found dead of an overdose -- a typical rock & roll death for a rock & roller who was anything but typical. He was buried in Littleton, NH, after a predictably colorful funeral, leaving behind the most disgusting legacy in rock history. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi