On July 28, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) presented A World of Our Own: Mydolls and the Houston Punk Scene, an interview with Texas first-wave punk band MYDOLLS(1978-present), SugarHill Recording Studios President and producer Dan Workman and Wild Dog Archives. Mydolls discussed their nearly four-decade-long career recording, touring, and producing records; their DIY ethos and cultural impact; and their role as community leaders working to empower women and musicians of all ages. Following the discussion, Mydolls performed a live concert in the Museum gallery.
CAMH also displayed collected ephemera and materials from the band’s archives in the Museum’s Cullen Education Resource Room. Admission was free and open to the public.
Select artifacts from Mydolls’ band archive curated by Max Fields and organized by Wild Dog Archives (2016).
Part of the music-based lecture series 20HERTZ, this presentation is held in conjunction with Mark Flood: Gratest Hits. 20HERTZ is a lecture series conceived around themes of musical influence in everyday life. The series asks artists, musicians, and all-around-creatives to share the music that has influenced them throughout their lives.
Led by a sociology student named Henry Weissborn, the three-member strong Direct Action Committee (DAC) at the University of Houston began organizing “Be-In” events in the spirit of the previous decade’s counterculture. Also know by the Youth International Party’s moniker “Yippies,” Weissborn, brothers Jeff and Dave Stewart and their fellow activist party banded together with some of Houston’s earliest punk bands to produce these underground music gigs.
There is cut-and-paste evidence that legendary Houston punk progenitors Really Red and Legionaire’s Disease performed at Yippie-organized Be-Ins, including an outdoor event held November 18, 1978, at Lynn Eusan Park, which drew a massive crowd of around 500 supporters, according to a report in Weissborn’s first DIY publication, ULTRA magazine.
Houston’s student Yippie chapter planned to launch the city’s first Rock Against Racism event on campus as documented on this flyer promoting ULTRA, but the “free rock and reggae” campus event was called off. The show took place instead at Paradise Island on April 1, 1979. Among some of the classic punk bands performing for the first time were AK-47 and Vast Majority, two of Houston’s most radical.
Henry “Wild Dog” Weissborn’s punk record collection was legendary. After his untimely passing, these artifacts were among the first to go — some dispersed among local collectors whose record shops displayed scarce and signed copies “from the personal collection of,” and others purchased by online auction enthusiasts.
Wild Dog Archives recently spoke to a record store owner in town about his high-dollar sale of the Necrosfour-song EP Sex Drive — the band’s 1981 debut and the first Touch and Go Records release — a choice pick from Henry’s collection proving its weight in the collector’s market. While this scarce record is no longer among the artifacts that comprise Wild Dog Archives, original letters from band members, including Necros vocalist Barry Henssler, leave an indelible mark about Henry Wild Dog’s status as both ally and unofficial ambassador of Houston’s early scene.
In September 1981, Henssler sent Wild Dog several Necros flyers, including one with a hand scrawled letter on the back discussing his view on MDC/Stains and The Dicks (before garnering fame outside of Austin), The Hates, keeping shows close to home or touring the West Coast (though he says the band was not widely known there), his own zine, SMEGMA JOURNAL (out of hometown Maumee, Ohio), and sending a copy of the new Necros EP.
“We send in the tape tomorrow,” Henssler wrote. “Don’t worry you’ll get one.”
In the winter of 1979, Roky Erickson, on tour with the Explosives, played a two-day gig at Rock Island, a short-lived name for Houston’s legendary punk dive, or, as the flyer suggested at the time, “Cultural Rock Club.”
Tracks from the 1979 Island performance were later released on Rocky & the Explosives’ LP, Casting The Runes, in 1987 on UK label Five Hours Back.
As noted on the album, “The Wind and More,” “Night of the Vampire,” “For You,” “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” “I Walked with a Zombie,” “Bloody Hammer,” and “Stand for the Fire Demon” were recorded live at Rock Island in Houston, December 22, 1979, and the three remaining tracks at Soap Creek Saloon in Austin, November 27, 1979.
By early 1979, the Island had become a mainstay for Houston’s first wave punk scene with bands such as Legionaire’s Disease gigging there regularly. The Disease made even earlier appearances at local Yippie events, including a “Be-In” organized by Henry Weissborn and the UH Direct Action Committee held November 18, 1978, at Lynn Eusan Park on the University of Houston campus; the outdoor event, which included Texas punk legends Really Red, drew a crowd of around 500 supporters.
Not long after, Houston’s first Rock Against Racism (RAR) event was planned for April 1, 1979. An original flyer promoting a Legionaire’s Disease show with Plastic Idols on the bill lists a date (March 25, 1979) a week prior to this seminal event, indicating that “punk & the Direct Action Committee” were affiliated or had at least banded together for a time.
Within weeks of the RAR show, Weissborn reworked the final copy for ULTRA (what would have been a fifth installment), instead launching his first music fanzine, WILD DOG #1, in late April 1979.
“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.