Punk 'Zine Publisher Tim Yohannan Dead At 52

Maximumrocknroll fostered Bay Area punk-rock scene that eventually spawned Green Day and Rancid.

Tim Yohannan, founder of punk rock 'zine Maximumrocknroll (MRR) and

one of the forces behind the famed 924 Gilman St. punk-rock club in

Berkeley, Calif., died Friday due to complications from lymphatic

cancer. He was 52.

MRR staffers would not comment on Mr. Yohannan's death, per his wishes,

but when contacted Monday, a staffer said that "after a long bout with

cancer, Tim died at home on Friday, surrounded by friends."

Prior to founding MRR in 1982, Mr. Yohannan launched a weekly

rockabilly-themed radio show of the same name on Berkeley community radio

station KPFA in 1978. The program quickly evolved into a punk-rock

showcase, highlighting the burgeoning early '80s punk scene.

After establishing all-punk 'zine MRR, Mr. Yohannan was part of a

collective that launched 924 Gilman St. in 1984-85. The space was designed

as an egalitarian, alcohol-free, all-ages scene that featured live

performances and nurtured the careers of such modern-day punk acts as Green

Day, Rancid and a host of other bands. It is still open for business.

Mr. Yohannan, known for his provocative, incorrigible attitude, was also

credited with being a key player in the establishment of the Epicenter punk

record store in San Francisco.

"I always deeply, deeply respected his contribution to the punk-rock scene

in America and in the world," said Slim Moon, owner of the Olympia,

Wash.-based punk record label Kill Rock Stars.

Moon said Mr. Yohannan's endeavors helped the punk community grow in ways

unseen by most fans. For example, because MRR was distributed by

Mordam Records rather than a magazine distributor, it indirectly encouraged

music store owners to purchase more punk records when they placed their

monthly call for the 'zine.

V. Vale, publisher/editor of San Francisco-based V/Search publications,

said he remembered when a pompadoured, rockabilly-styled Mr. Yohannan walked

into the offices of Vale's short-lived punk 'zine Search and Destroy

in early 1979 to soak up as much information as he could about the

then-waning San Francisco punk scene.

"He is the central organizing and driving force behind an absolutely

prodigious body of documentation on punk rock which became published under

the name Maximumrocknroll," said Vale, who credited MRR with

being the "major clearinghouse and communication nerve center for the

global punk lifestyle/movement that emerged during the '80s and is still

with us."

Jonathan Floyd, who works at the Bay Area punk label Fat Wreck and who has

written reviews for MRR, testified to Mr. Yohannan's obsessive drive to

document and dissect the punk scene. He said Mr. Yohannan often pushed him to

be more discriminating in his reviews. "One time, I wrote this review of a

really bad album, and Tim really wanted to know why it was so awful. Was it

melodic and bad? Was it this, or that? He really wanted me to figure it

out," Floyd said. "He really lived and breathed that magazine."

So dedicated was Mr. Yohannan to his mission to spread the gospel of punk that

he turned the offices of the magazine into a communal living space

inhabited by staffers and frequently visited by punk bands in town for gigs.

"If it wasn't for him, there wouldn't be a scene here [in San Francisco],"

said Brian Archer, who works in the advertising department of Fat Wreck.

"If it wasn't for him, I definitely wouldn't be doing what I'm doing."

And while Slim Moon added that his relationship with Mr. Yohannan was often

contentious, he considered that a reflection of the strength of the punk

elder's convictions.

"Me and him almost always butted heads," Moon said, often in debates over

such topics as whether punk was more of a sound (Mr. Yohannan's view, according

to Moon) or a lifestyle. "But I think that just proves something about punk-rockers, which is that principles and issues and politics and ethics are

really important to us, and we're not going to be namby-pamby about it. If

there was one person who proved that, it was Tim Yohannan."

Mark Hanford, MRR's NetPunk columnist, set up a memorial website in

Mr. Yohannan's honor (http://gate.cruzio.com/~hanford/memorial), allowing users

to post and read dedications, farewells and memories.

By 2 p.m. Monday, there were 85 posts on the site. Many of them were from

people such as Pittsburgh resident Joe Horvath, who wrote that he

didn't know Mr. Yohannan personally, but he considered MRR a major

influence in his life.

"The first time that I grasped a copy of MRR and opened its pages, I

was in love," Horvath wrote. "I have never, before or since, seen such a

comprehensive source of the underground punk-rock scene. So many styles ...

so many bands ... so many stories and so much more. I appreciate everything

that Tim did and I believe that his heart was ... strong and filled with

the true passion of ... punk rock."

"The bottom line is Tim Yohannan changed my life," a fan named Joel Wick

wrote. "I can't thank him enough for starting a magazine that [put] into

motion so many people that ultimately made my life better. If it wasn't for

him, I wouldn't be where I am today. I knew he would pass away eventually,

but it's still very saddening. Thanks Tim."

(SonicNet contributing editor Randy Reiss contributed to this report.)