The Dead Boys have always been the Rodney Dangerfield of punk rock. They had the chops, but never really got the respect or credit they deserved for their role serving on the front lines of the New York punk scene in the late ’70s. They shared stages, groupies and drugs with The Ramones, but never quite got the amount of fame that their buddies achieved.
The Dead Boys are finally getting some of the credit they deserve, thanks to the memoir by founding guitarist Cheetah Chrome.
In “Cheetah Chrome: A Dead Boy’s Tale From the Front Lines of Punk Rock,” Chrome does a great job of throwing in just enough about his childhood – growing up poor in Cleveland, raised by a supportive single Mom – to add context to the group, but not enough to bore the reader (like most musician’s autobiographies). Cheetah spends the bulk of the book discussing his time in Rocket From the Tombs, one of Ohio’s first great punk rock bands, and finally the Dead Boys.
Chrome is honest about his alcohol and drug use, and more than a little defensive about getting kicked out of the band, but that’s to be expected. He also shares plenty of stories about the 70’s music scene at CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City and run ins with Johnny Rotten (annoying at first, but a decent enough guy on a second meeting), Sid Vicious (funny, when he was awake and away from Nancy Spungen) and Patti Smith (not Cheetah’s favorite person).
The Dead Boys have finally gotten the acknowledgement they deserve for their role in the early days of punk rock… too bad it had to be from one of their own.