The Nervebreakers history is convoluted , at best . (See Mike's Remembrances) Mike Haskins and I (then Barry Huebner) met at school in Irving Texas in the late sixties
. Mike became my music guru and introduced me to styles of music that
would bend my tastes irrevocable. Bands like The MC5 , The Stooges , Mott The
Hoople , The Chocolate Watchband ,
The Move ,Family , etc. were not , exactly ,
a staple for teenage musical appetites at that time and an educated , diverse
musical palette was definitely not the norm . Mike and I played in bands
together in various garages until I quit school in 1971 to join the Army .
Mike met drummer Carl Giesecke soon after and formed a band with David Clark on
bass called Sagebrush Boogie , playing many of the same , aforementioned garages
,high school dances and Irving hot spots .
(Like there were any)
After the inevitable breakup of that band , Mike went looking for fresh talent and met Thom Edwards working in a record store Mike frequented. Together , Thom and Mike formed The Idiots with Phillip Rubierre on drums and David Faulkner on bass. Sometime during this period , The End was formed and disbanded , consisting of Mike , Thom , David , Carl and me , freshly discharged from the Army and back on the scene after three years. While continuing their search for as yet undiscovered local interesting and / or eccentric potential band mates , Mike and Thom teamed up with Walter Brock on keyboards and Jean Pierre Thompson on bass , recruiting Carl as the percussionist and started Mr. Nervous Breakdown and a side band called The Bandoleros.
I was a theater major at a local junior college and played in the band VZ with fellow classmates Randy Clower on vocals, Michael VanZandt on guitar, James Hutton on bass and Mike Weatherly on drums and formed an extremely short lived theatrical band called A-Bomb. About the time A-Bomb came and went , Walter became increasingly interested in public radio and left Mr.Nervous Breakdown to pursue his new interest full time. The remaining band members , not without much internal debate , decided to approach me as the replacement and , at the Taco Inn on the corner of Pioneer and O'Connor Road in Irving Texas , the die was cast as I accepted the offer , not without reservations of my own.
The punk movement was just beginning in Europe when Thom offered me a delivery job at the beauty supply house where Thom worked . While out delivering , I ripped the crotch out of my jeans and , in lieu of a sewing kit , I bought a pack of safety pins and closed the offending gap and stuck the rest on my jeans. When Thom saw it , he said " Hey. That's what they're doing in England." and proceeded to enlighten me about punk rock. Pierre Thompson was becoming more involved in his day job and left the band , to be replaced by Clarke Blacker , an acquaintance of Mike's . Although Clarke didn't seem to fit , visually with the Nervebreakers , he did share their obscure musical tastes and hosted a local public radio show . With his shoulder length hair , a moustache and ever present white bell bottoms , white sports jacket and white "Bitch,Bitch,Bitch" T-shirt , he looked more like someone's dad than a punk rock bass player. He was ,however , single-handedly responsible for some of the most influential events in the bands career. He landed the band the opening spot for the Ramones first Texas show and , when it was learned that the largely unknown English punk band The Sex Pistols were to include a Dallas show in their six city , whirlwind U.S. tour , Clarke simply called through the red tape to the tour promoters and offered up the Nervebreakers as the perfect opening act .The promoters , not knowing much about either band agreed and the show was set.
When the Nervebreakers arrived at the Longhorn Ballroom , the Pistols were
already there along with a small road crew , body guards and a local news crew.
Though the Dallas punk scene was only about 100 to 200 strong in toto , they
were an enthusiastic bunch and wouldn't miss this . Sid Vicious and I had a
minor altercation over Sid's desire to for my spiked wristband which I
offered to trade for Sid's dog collar. Sid said "No , I stole this off a
dog.....can't get much lower than that , eh? Stealin' from a dog?" To which
I replied "Well was it pregnant? That would be REALLY low..." Sid
indicated that he would like to have me kick his skinny British butt by
throwing several mock punches in my face while saying "Come on...Come
on..." I was about to eagerly oblige when Bob ,whispered to me
something to the effect of " It's probably not a good idea to kick the crap
out of the lead act before you play." Cooler heads prevailed and the
Nervebreakers mounted the stage.
During the set , one of the Dot Vaeth Group , another of the great DFW area punk bands threw a freshly thawed fish onto the stage , which I slammed into my guitar for a while before successfully attempting to bite it in half . Photos were taken . The Nervebreakers did a rousing set , ending with Stooges classic" I Wanna Be Your Dog". After that , the other band played for a while.
Although the official attendance for the show estimated to be about 250 , subsequent , vividly detailed personal accounts from people claiming to have been there suggest that there must have been at least 5,000 , most of which were under the age of 16 at the time......
They carded at the door and it was a 21 or over show .
Now , let's do the math together , using the algebraic formula (X-Y)+Z=U shall we? With "X" being the current year ; "Y" being year of event ; "Z" being minimum legal age and "U" being your present age .
If X=2000.....and Y=1977....and Z=>21....then U=>44.....THEREFORE
If you're under the age of 44 as of today , you weren't there . O.K.?
O.K. I have to make a change in this formula. A friend of mine, Dale MacDonnald, who WAS at the show reminded me that the legal drinking age in the state of Texas at the time of the Sex Pistol's show was still 18, therefore I must subtract 3 years from the value of "U".
I stand corrected. Thanks, Dale.
As I'm sure you can already surmise, there is no obvious rhyme or reason to
my choice of chapters , since I write what I can remember and that not only
changes daily but the importance of the events , themselves changes in an
interestingly random fashion. The Nervebreakers were very fortunate to hook up
with a local promoter/club manager , Eddie Gatis , who had them open for any and
all acts billed as punk or new wave at the Palladium , which changed it's name
to the Agora Ballroom or vise versa. I can't remember and it doesn't mater
enough for me to ask someone about. The Nervebreakers opened for the Ramones,
the Police , Roky Erickson ( more about HIM later...)the Boom Town Rats , the
Clash , John Cale , and a bunch of others. The point , here not being merely to
drop names but to help explain what an incredible time it was. These were pretty
much unknown acts at that time and we were given a unique opportunity to meet
bands that would be tremendously influential on popular music and history before
they got big heads and wallets. For instance , When we opened for the Police ,
Sting knew who I was and I had no idea who he was , due to the fact that I'd
just had my picture in Rolling Stone and was receiving much unwarranted
recognition, along with ANOTHER fact that , I'm what people well versed in music
history like to refer to as well...NOT well versed... As I said , it was in incredible time.
The Police opened and closed the show with a hot , new number called
"Roxanne" and were traveling across the U.S. in an old station wagon
pulling a U-Haul trailer. For the record, the nearest I've been to Sting since
was when I was sweeping the stage before he played at Starplex . Who'da thunk
I got an email from Insane Dwayne from the Skuds the other day and it started me thinking.
There were a myriad of bands in the DFW area during the time of the Nervebreakers who came and went and left their mark, not only on the band but also on the lives of the people they touched. Punk Rock opened the door for a lot of talented and NOT so talented guys who needed to vent their frustration on an audience. If you could put a group of people together with some sort of instruments and talk someone into letting you play at their party, you were in.
The Skuds were Dallas' truest Punk band. When I first saw Platinum Paul, he was standing on his head in the theater seats at the Festival Theater at a Nervebreakers show. The sight of a heavy set, leather jacketed bald kid bouncing upside down in the third row isn't something easily ignored. He was at almost all of our shows and was ALWAYS enthusiastic and damned fun to be around. Paul had terminal Leukemia and not a lot of time left and the Make A Wish Foundation probably couldn't have gotten CLOSE to granting THIS kids wish. His family, however, could and did.
Paul wanted to be in a punk band.
So Jimi Zokar, Jr., Insane Dwayne, Klyde and Low Life joined Paul to become the Skuds. They never took themselves too seriously and just wanted to grant Paul's request but what this wacky combination of nephews and cousins produced was true, classic Texas-Style Punk Rock. Light hearted, fun, lewd and crude. THIS was the way punk should be!
We old guys will always remember the Skud hits like "Johnny Gay Cowboy" and the ever popular "Dead Dogs", a tribute to road kill.
"Tippy was a friend of mine
In the back yard; doin' time
He broke his chain and jumped the fence
I found him by the curb but his neck was bent..."
We all knew the words and we all sang along.
Delores once asked Paul and I to do some work on the DJ's mens room. We had to remove the toilet that had been yanked off the wall several days earlier but was still being used and was full to the brim. I had the tank side and Paul had the bowl side as I backed across Oram so we could chunk it in the dumpster. The contents were sloshing all over our shoes and I'll never forget Paul going "Oh God! I'm gonna be sick.....BLEAAAAAKKK! BRAAACH!!" and barfing in to the bowl. I was laughing to hard I nearly dropped it in the middle of the street and Jr. was rolling on the sidewalk.
Sometimes Punk Rock isn't pretty...
It was years later that I found out that Paul had passed away not long after those days. The popular rumor was of two. 1)He got married and moved off. 2)He had died. I didn't really want to think the latter so for a long time, I would imagine him living out in the country with a parcel of Bald Punk Rock kids chasing chickens.
Once, we got a call from a girl who wanted to interview us for a new magazine called Headbanger. We agreed on a meeting time and gathered at Mike's apartment to wait for Ace LaRue, the columnist. She showed up and proceeded to pass out a bunch of copies of a questionnaire she had prepared. That was the interview. We were pretty dumbfounded as to why it was necessary for us to get together at a pre determined time so we could fill out questionnaires. ANYhow, she mentioned that she was dating a singer of a punk band from Daingerfield Texas called the Vomit Pigs. He (Mike Brock AKA Mite Vomit) sounded like a bad rendition of old Iggy outtakes, from the description but in reality, turned out to be an incredibly interesting and accomplished writer and singer. Mikey could put things very succinctly. It would take me pages to say what he could in a few words. The VP's were much more interested in the darker side of life and their music reflected it.
"I'm in love with Karen Ann Quinlin
She doesn't even know I'm here.
Lyin' there in a fetal position
She's kinda quiet; but I don't care..."
Mikey passed away long after the hay day overweight and under appreciated from a combination of Placidils and hamburgers on Bobby Soxx's front porch under less than fully explained circumstances. I have my suspicions that I won't go in to here but idiocy, not malice was a major contributor.
Outside of the ten members of the band( including replacements), there were forces at work behind the scenes. Managers, management companies,
roadies and, of course, the infamous Nervettes.
The Nervettes were Pam Olsen, Karol Mayo Haskins and Paula Brown. There were other, "honorary" Nervettes but these three were the core group. They were band entourage, seat keepers, guitar watchers, poster makers, wardrobe girls, body guards, background singers, go-go dancers, door guards and numerous other jobs that were crucial to the band's success. I remember a long squabble when Bobette Riner, a local music writer, listed herself as a Nervette. Fine with the band; not so with the Nervettes.
Steve Haskins, Mike's brother is responsible for most of the earlly photos of the band and also did door duty and equipment hauling. He was the first and most long lived of all the roadies. Rockabilly Robert Essrey (sp?) and Pope were the roadies who traveled with the band on tour and to most out of town gigs. I'm not sure if Pope had a last name or if Pope WAS his last name but he was always just Pope. The two of them were often mistaken for the band at gigs since they both looked a hell of a lot more punk than we did. I remember going into their hotel room at the American Inn in Austin and there were Little King beer bottles covering every horizontal surface. It was amazing. Once, on the West coast tour, I went to the bar to get a beer and was told that we had exceeded our limit. I hadn't had any and I knew that the band hadn't had but a few so I went to Pope who said "We only had 6 pitchers!" In one 45 minute set, our roadies had drunk the entire bands limit and then some. Gotta love 'em.
Many people over the years attempted to "manage" the band with varying amounts of success but the real manager will always be Tom Ordon. Tom was a true believer in the band and wanted us to succeed without concern for his own personal gain. He was a great guy with a good heart and we made him pay for it every day. Tom booked the tours, furnished his own van for us to use and did everything in his power to help us get the attention that he felt we deserved. We finally wore him down and drove him to a life of more peaceful pursuits as a Jehovah's Witness.
God forgive us...or Bless us!
Clarke Blacker managed the band for a short time after vacating the bass player position but we beat him down as well. Luckily, he was able to escape before we did too much emotional damage and became guitarist and co-collaborator for another local act, Bobby Sox.
The band had an actual management company for a time. Incorsel (sink-or-swim) management signed us to an exclusive contract, did nothing, and after Clark got us the Sex Pistols and Ramones shows, Incorsel reamed us in a mutually agreed upon buy out of our own contract.