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KROQ in 1981
Los Angeles Punk Rock 1980sbilly eye punk rock 1980s articles
October 6, 1981 / / / Billy Ingram

KROQ - Rock of the 80s?
Missing Persons at The Whisky

PLEASE NOTE SOME OF THESE ARTICLES WERE HEAVILY RE-WRITTEN FROM MY ORIGINAL NOTES IN 1994 & 2011.

KROQ - Duran DuranDuran Duran, in the midst of their Euro-tour, made one quick stop to the Roxy on the Sunset Strip on June 10. When they returned to the Strip on October 2, they were in the midst of a tour of the states to support their hit album. Thanks to relentless hype from KROQ, Duran Duran at the Roxy was the hottest ticket in town last week.

KROQ spins have elevated a local band. Missing Persons was an opening act one week, headliners the next - with four sold out shows over two nights in September where hundreds of their fans were turned away. They were the number one concert draw in LA that week.

Missing Persons Dale Bozzio Dale BozzioThe Whisky's stage was transformed for the occasion with black plastic draped around pylons surrounding the group, illuminated with scattered neon lights cast against the black. This is the band's new stage setting, created for a video they shot recently.

On the opening night, Dale was wrapped in a mini-skirt made up of four album covers, with two singles covering her breats. It was clear from the Whisky stage that the band has hit its stride. Dale was suddenly chatting with the audience and her bandmates, she was much more open and effussive than I've seen her in the past.

This all came after several shows in New York where the band recorded a live radio concert (mixed on the spot by Ken Scott) and played to an unexpectedly large, responsive crowd at The Ritz.

Don't think the record companies aren't finally taking notice, but MP will no longer put them on the guest list. This is because producer Ken Scott has recorded a number of demos and jumped through dozens of hoops for different outfits - as a result, flacks and hacks have to pay to get in like everyone else (well, almost everyone!). Their attitude is - why turn away a paying customer who WANTS to see the band for these guys who offer so little.

More than one major label wants to close a deal but the band is looking for a contract commiserate with their experience. After all, they are a viable attraction solely due to their own efforts.

The Motels on KROQA night at The Greek with headliners The Motels follows on October 17th. That should be a spectacular night for the KROQ crowd and music lovers alike, The Motels being one of LA's premier bands.

LEFT: The Motels in 1981


RADIO WAVES

Local musicians like The Motels, Missing Persons, Josie ("Johnny Are You Queer?") Cotton and the Go-Gos have propelled KROQ from an also-ran to heavy hitter. The much smaller station is now beating KMET and KLOS for the first time.

KROQ - Rick CarrollRIGHT: KROQ's 1981
program director, Rick Carroll

The "Roq of the 80s" is helping to break bands nationally as well - Depeche Mode, Human League, Talking heads, Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys are some non-locals benefiting from LA's adulation of KROQ.

KROQ DJs have power. In fact, had Chuck Wild not dropped off a copy of the Missing Persons' EP to KROQ's back door one evening they might still be lanquishing in obscurity. Chuck passed it over to Jed The Fish who, on his own, played 'I Like Boys' that night - the band started pulling in more than just the Zappa fans to their gigs - and rest is history.

Contrary to public perception, most radio stations won't let the DJs play what they want anymore, they certainly can't introduce new bands on their shift. KROQ was different and accounted for their success. Unpredictable radio is good radio; at its best KROQ is event radio every day. Like a soap opera with the best damn soundtrack ever.

KROQ 1980s TV Commercial

With power comes - other stuff. For instance, no one parties harder than the KROQ jocks. More than one band has stumbled offstage after a KROQ promoted event only to find Dusty Street in the Green Room partying hard with her crazed friends, drinking the band's champagne and devouring their food. But she'll be on the air talking the next day about what a great time she had. That's pure LA gold.

KROQ 1981 / Go-GosPeople are complaining that KROQ's playlist has gotten too tight, there's less experimentation (and do the Rolling Stones really belong on an alternative radio station?). True, in 1980, KROQ was a lot more courageous than it is now. They featured more obscure bands and that's what attracted the audience in the first place.

But the tighter the format (they're playing their biggest hits once every hour or two now) the higher the ratings go. And the more popular the station gets with the unwashed masses.

The benefit - concert sales go WAY up for any band that can get on that golden rotation. Where Jed and Dusty point them, the masses follow.

Then - out come the freaks. I met a guy who plastered Missing Persons bumper stickers all over his entire car and a chick who wrote, 'I Love you Warren' thousands of times in a composition book and was trying to get backstage to present it to him.

Radio DJs make their real cash hosting nights at a club. For instance, Dusty hosts a night of New Wave roller skating in the Valley each week that draws a huge crowd and Rodney MCs regular punk shows down in Orange County.

There's even been an exploitation horror movie filmed about a supposed KROQ jock, the unbelievably cheesy (I'm told) 'New Year's Evil.'

Ironically, with KROQ's new-found success, the DJs find they have less discretion to play what they like, they're lucky to choose one tune an hour. Then again, Rodney Bingenheimer still has his weekend shows where he showcases new bands, with an emphasis on hardcore.

I listen to KXLU during the day, anyhow...

Richard Blade 1980's TV show - MV3 - in LA.

KRoq 1980sSpeaking of hardcore - Circle One, Channel 3, Bad Religion and Social Distortion will headline November 12th at the Old Victorian Theater. If I go, it will be to see Social Distortion, they keep getting better every time I watch them - and they've always been blazing hot. Social D released their first single 'Mainliner/Playpen' on Posh Boy.

The Plimsouls will be playing a KROQ Halloween concert, that should help them get more airplay for the excellent power-pop LP they just released.


UPDATE:
Dusty Street left LA radio in 1994, and was on radio in Las Vegas Sunday nights where she played the songs she made famous on KROQ. She was voted Las Vegas' Best Radio Personality in 2004. She now has a show heard on Sirius Sattelite.

PLACENTIA, California (AP) -- Brent Liles, a former bassist for the
1980s punk rock group Social Distortion, was struck and killed by a
truck while riding a bicycle, authorities said Wednesday. He was 43.

 
Missing Persons played the US Festival in the summer of 1983.

 

These original Data-Boy Music columns have been collected in a book with LOTS of new material and photos - it's the story of Data-Boy magazine and the LA Punk / Post-Punk scene. The story presented is a lot more complete!

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Punk Rock Los Angeles

INTRODUCTION

10-7-80 The first article, The Masque, Punk bands, Darby Crash & The Germs, The Garage

10-21-80 The Toasters, Great Buildings, The Go-Gos

11-2-80 New Wave nights in Hollywood, T.S.O.L, Shandi, The Smog Marines

11-16-80 Grace Jones, The Nobodys, Billy Sheets and the Elites, The Talking Heads

12-1-80 Hollywood Boulevard 'punks'

12-27-80 End of the year wrap-up, The Naughtie Sweeties, Dead Kennedys, Fear, punk riot in the OC

12-27-80 David Bowie as The Elephant Man

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1-05-81 Devo, Rock Against Racism

1-19-81 John Hiatt and The Toasters at the Starwood

2-03-81 Wendy O Williams, London aka Motley Crue, and Live Nude Girl

2-17-81 The Veil, Darby Crash death, Phil Seymour and The Textones

3-5-81 New wave night at the Odyssey, Ray Manzerek

3-19-81 The East LA scene, Hey Taxi!, The Rentz, The Plugz, The Detour, Human Sexual Response

3-19-81 Judy Zee on LA radio in 1981

4-02-81 Tonio K & Romeo Void, Oki-Dog, Flippers, A week in the LA clubs

4-16-81 XTC, Wall of Voodoo, Madame
Wong, and The Pop

4-30-81 U2 and Missing Persons

5-14-81 Billy Eye Rock Awards, Manakin

5-28-81 Missing Persons at the Topanga Corral

6-11-81 The Brat, Parapalegic Infants in Downtown LA and U2 in Santa Monica

6-25-81 Performance artist Adore O'Hare, downtown clubs, Red Wedding

6-25-81 Missing Persons in Westwood

7-09-81 Los Illegals, The Brat in Hollywood, Al's Bar, Johanna Went, Jerry Lee Lewis

7-09-81 John Cale live at The Whisky

7-23-81 Brave Dog, Stiff Little Fingers with Missing Persons, The Grandmothers

8-06-81 Bow Wow Wow, Malcolm McLaren, Mad Society, Ian Hunter , and the new psychedelia

8-22-81 Missing Persons, Jean Pierre Rampal

9-07-81 Filming at the Brave Dog, Red Wedding, Atomic Cafe, The Stains, Los Illegals, East LA bands

10-06-81 KROQ of the '80s, hardcore EPs, Missing Persons at The Whisky

10-20-81 West Hollywood & the end of The Starwood

4-7-82 New Wave Theatre, Aphotic Culture, The Waitresses and The Plimsouls

5-07-82 In the clubs, The Spoons, Nick Lowe, Madame Wong's West, Angry Samoans, Motley Crue

5-21-82 Interview with Terry Bozzio in 1982

8-27-82 Missing Persons, Red Wedding at the Whisky, Dream Syndicate, The Untouchables, The Go-Gos, Orange County hardcore

1-12-83 End of the year, Minutemen, Fear, Gun Club, Theoretical party, KROQ, Missing Persons

3-14-85 Red Wedding closes The Odyssey in 1985


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