Wild Dog Archives is cataloguing Henry “Wild Dog” Weissborn’s wide-ranging and massive collection of subversive cover art and ephemera. See it now.
“It’s hard for me to even think about being a feminist. When people say, ‘You are a girl, you can’t do this,’ I can’t even conceive of that.” Joan Jett in WILD DOG zine
According to Joan Jett, founding member of The Runaways, Texas had always been good for the band. The Runaways played an early punk show with The Ramones in Houston in 1977, before Houston’s first wave emerged. After disbanding in 1979, Jett headed to England to record alongside Paul Cook and Steve Jones, original members of the Sex Pistols. In 1980, Jett released a self-titled album on Ariola (U.K. import); the domestic LP was released by Jett and bandmate Kenny Laguna on their independent label Blackheart Records.
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts sat down with WILD DOG in 1981 following a performance at the Agora Ballroom to discuss Jett as feminist icon, Wyoming’s Accelerators, British glitter influences and living in N.Y.C.
(Photos by Reta and Judy Hill; Original galley courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)
“Punk to us was: Do what you want, whatever the fuck it is, as long as your heart is in it.” – Jerry Anomie, Legionaire’s Disease
The Houston and Austin punk scenes manifested simultaneously yet from different soil. Both cities began experimenting with shows in 1978. Houston had Paradise Island and Austin’s stomping ground was a near-campus Tejano Bar called Raul’s, which hosted early punk performances from The Violators, The Skunks, and The Huns.
Judging by this letter to WILD DOG from SLUGGO! – Austin’s original punk fanzine – the banter seemed friendly enough on the surface between the competing scenes. While Wild Dog is lauded for its coverage in “Smogville,” there were menacing threats toward what Henry described as “the most notorious, original Houston punk band,” Legionaire’s Disease.
The “Diseased ones” formed during the earliest days of Houston’s embryonic punk scene. Discussing the band’s early shows, frontman Jerry Anomie told Wild Dog Archives, “Some bands were busy rehearsing, and they wouldn’t play for an audience until they got good.” In the DIY spirit of the times, Legionaire’s Disease followed a different tactic. “Man, we just started doin’ shows, you know.”
Anomie was the undisputed wild man of the Houston punk scene. “Anything could happen at our shows, and it usually did,” Anomie says. Brawls, fist fights, and full-fledged riots have been attributed to many Disease gigs.
Legionaire’s Disease was still a cover band in early 1979 with its roster of songs by the Dead Boys, Iggy Pop, Richard Hell, and the Sex Pistols. “What we had going for us was that we put on wild ass shows,” Anomie says. Released from prison in 1973, Anomie literally had no fear and there were few limits to his brazen stage antics when he was in high gear. “Our shows were wild as a motherfucker.”
The Huns from Austin were introduced to the Disease at a show at the Island. “We never did really connect with any Austin bands,” Anomie notes. “They were mostly college guys, and we considered most Austin bands as arty farty with the exception of The Dicks, Big Boys, The Huns, and a few others.” After hearing about the chaos of a Disease performance, The Huns invited the band to play in Austin.
Legionaire’s Disease accepted the offer and made the trip to Austin in mid-April 1979 shortly after their Rock Against Racism performance.
(Original galley courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)
Stabbing at Austin’s 1206 Club
The 1206 Club was a dive bar in Austin. “It was an old hippie bar in a black section of town,” Anomie recalls. Historically, the building was once the famed “Charlie’s Playhouse,” which opened in 1958 as a blues and jazz club. It was a known hot spot throughout the 1960s and shuttered in 1970. At the time of the Huns/Legionaire’s Disease gig, the 1206 Club had recently reopened in December 1978, and punk bands performed there as a side stage to Raul’s.
“The place was packed, and the old hippie that ran it made a lot of money off the bar,” Anomie says. “He asked us that night if we would come back and play in two weeks, and we said ‘Hell yes.’”
What the Disease didn’t know was that the core of Austin’s punk scene had come out against the band just after that first performance. SLUGGO! had published a scathing review of Legionaire’s Disease, and the band came back to a near empty house. Says Anomie, “They just didn’t like us; they thought we should have more artistic ability.”
There are two ways to look at small crowds, according to Anomie. “Some bands would get discouraged if they didn’t have a turnout. For us, the fewer people we had at a show the harder we would play.” He adds that the Disease’s second show in Austin was “one wild ass show!”
After the band’s set, Anomie approached the club owner for a cold drink. “I ain’t got nuthin’ for you!” was the reply. “I thought to myself, ‘we’d better get outta here. This is about to turn nasty,’” Anomie remembers.
He and the band started to load up, but before they could leave, Anomie’s nephew, drunk from the show, turned over a table inside the club. “When he did that, this guy punched him,” Anomie says. “Next thing I know, Norman’s got this guy jacked up and he’s trying to push him through the window, and then the fight spilled into the street.”
Within minutes, a crowd had gathered from the surrounding neighborhood. “Franky Frazier, who was known around the Houston scene as a bad motherfucker, had a baseball bat and we were all in full swing.” Anomie then witnessed an unknown assailant stab bassist Norman Cooper in the back, which ultimately punctured his lung and landed him in the hospital overnight. He snuck out of the hospital the next day.
The fight after this gig proved to be the end of Austin’s 1206 Club. And what appears to be a tongue-in-cheek insult from SLUGGO! is referencing a brutal assault that took place only weeks before the letter was written. Although the “junk rot” reference may sound harsh, Anomie explains the band “didn’t get good until I finally got David Tolbert and Craig Haynes on guitar and drums.”
Once the band acquired the rehearsal space behind the Old Plantation, its sound improved and by the end of 1979, Legionaire’s Disease had released its first single Rather See You Dead/Downtown, introducing Houston punk in the New York, L.A., and San Francisco scenes.
“Roky Erickson, singer for the late and much-lamented Thirteenth Floor Elevators, the best psychedelic band to emerge from the Southwest, knows a good hallucination when he shrieks one.” – Rolling Stone (from a flyer promoting Roky Erickson’s appearance at the Island)
After being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1968, famed 13th Floor Elevators frontman Roky Erickson was committed to Rusk State Hospital in East Texas. Shortly after his release in 1974, he formed Roky Erickson & The Aliens. The band’s first full length album, I Think of Demons, debuted in 1980, followed by The Evil One in 1981.
“Two Headed Dog,” “I Walked With a Zombie,” and “Creature With an Atom Brain” are just a few of the hard-driving, horror-infused songs Roky Erickson penned that separated him from the Elevators’ psych rock sound. The early 1980s proved to be a prolific time for the artist as he produced new music and toured consistently throughout the U.S. and Europe.
In the summer of 1981, Roky Erickson & The Aliens returned to Houston for a gig at the Island, the city’s premier punk rock venue.
(Flyer courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)
Established in August 1977, FLIPSIDE fanzine covered the early L.A. punk scene. The first issue featured an interview with Eulogy and performance reviews for The Quick and Devo.
One of the more successful publications to emerge from the first wave in the U.S., FLIPSIDE evolved from a small-run, photocopied zine to a glossy newsprint with worldwide distribution. After a 23-year run, the publication folded in 2000.
Since debuting his zine in April 1979, Henry “Wild Dog” Weissborn exchanged news about the Houston and L.A. scenes with founding editor Al “Flipside” Kowalewski.
In 1984, FLIPSIDE began releasing video fanzines featuring live punk performances and interviews with both local and touring bands. The first of the series featured live shows and recordings from Social Distortion, the Vandals, Black Flag, and the Circle Jerks and an interview with M.D.C., an original Austin punk band that relocated to San Francisco.
(Media courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)
The Dead Kennedys headlined the last show at the Island in Houston on May 14, 1983.
According to “A History of Houston Punk Rock Fanzines” by Henry “Wild Dog” Weissborn, which was published in PUNX, the Island officially closed in April 1983.
(Flyer designed by Tom Bunch; courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)
Prior to Houston’s first wave punk scene, the city held its own during the psychedelic underground of the late 1960s, with legendary venues such as Love Street Light Circus downtown and its own version of Woodstock in Milby Park every Saturday and Sunday.
Local psych and garage rock bands performed for free on the rolling hill where nearby trees concealed coolers full of LSD-laced oranges. The venue at Milby Park ended abruptly, once again under the boot of an antagonistic HPD.
Formed in Houston in 1969, Josefus was a latecomer to the Houston psychedelic circuit, which included 13th Floor Elevators and Red Krayola, two of the most notable Texas acts from this era. Playing at Milby Park and other local venues, Josefus’ darker experimental sound bridged acid rock and blues-infused Southern rock; however, the sound was not harmonious with Summer of Love psychedelia.
Dead Man, the band’s first full length album, was released in 1970. While the band dissolved shortly after this debut, it was revived again in 1978 with a new lineup, and Josefus released several singles on its own Hookah label. Josefus continues to perform sporadically as of 2013.
Simultaneous to Houston’s earliest punk bands, WILD DOG zine acknowledged the garage and psych rock music that influenced — yet created a rift within — the newest wave.
(Media courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)
“In the past there have been alot [sic] of situations where people were up and pogoing, but there has never been fist fighting and destruction as went on at my last two shows. There were things being thrown at us, and I liked it.” — Christian Arnheiter on performing at the Island, WILD DOG #5 (1981)
Christian Arnheiter formed Guyana Boys Choir with bassist Robert Kainer and drummer Mike McWilliams in 1978. The band’s first live performance took place December that same year as an opening act for Louisiana Zydeco performer Clifton Chenier, at the downtown Masonic Temple.
Guyana Boys Choir was short lived, and Arnheiter regrouped as Christian Oppression with drummer Glenn Sorvisto and bassist Ed Felch. The band was renamed The Hates after Kainer rejoined Arnheiter. The Hates’ first two EPs were recorded at Wells Sound in Houston in 1979 on the band’s private label, Faceless Records.
“The punk scene in Houston is systematically suppressed,” Christian Arnheiter said in WILD DOG #1 (April 1979). Arnheiter commented in a 1981 interview (pictured) with WILD DOG that punk shows were becoming more violent at the Island — and that he enjoyed this response.
“There’s a punk crowd in Houston, and this is part of that hardcore crowd,” he said. “It’s building up; before you just had a few people going crazy in the crowd. There seems to be different factions, too…they really didn’t get along, and I thought it was great.”
(Original galley courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)
Before WILD DOG zine, Henry Weissborn, a sociology student at the University of Houston and President of the Direct Action Committee (Yippie Chapter), edited the organization’s underground zine, ULTRA (1978-1979), which covered civil disobedience, gay rights, feminism, marijuana reform, anti-nuclear campaigns, and the counterculture.
In 1979, Weissborn booked New York’s Joy Ryder and Avis Davis to headline a Rock Against Racism (RAR) outdoor concert/event at the University of Houston. The Yipster organized show was cancelled at the university campus, and the lineup was rescheduled at the Paradise Island club. Houston’s first RAR concert on April 1, 1979, featured first wave punk bands Really Red, Legionaire’s Disease, and Christian Oppression (The Hates). Vast Majority, a band Weissborn later joined as Henry “Bad Guitar” and helped to produce its only release on Wild Dog Records, made its first appearance at the venue, as did AK-47.
ULTRA #4, Weissborn’s last issue, covered Houston’s emerging punk scene in its last pages and notified readers about an April 1 “Be In.” Only weeks after the RAR showcase, WILD DOG #1 debuted in April ’79.
“We’ve only just begun,” Weissborn said in his inaugural Editor’s Note in WILD DOG. “The Houston punk scene is getting off the ground…the April 1 Rock Against Racism brought out virtually all the punk bands in town. Wild Dog hopes to keep the heat on!”