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RICHARD HELL                             Born Kentucky, October 2, 1949. Of all those who lay claim to the invention of punk, Richard Hell may have the strongest case. He wandered
through 70s New York acting as a general catalyst to the scene there, forming three of its most important
bands, and unwittingly inspiring the British scene. Born Richard Meyers, he was a troublesome youth and was expelled from every school he attended. On
moving to Virginia, his desperate mother sent him to a boarding school in Delaware, from which he promptly
absconded with a like-minded 'slum-kid with big visions', Tom Miller. Meyers moved to New York in
1967, followed later by Miller. After time spent writing poetry and working in bookshops the pair formed
The Neon Boys with drummer Billy Ficca. This first attempt to fuse Meyers' poetic sensibilities with
Miller's love of 60s rock and free jazz saw Meyers pick up a bass for the first time. During their brief
existence in 1972-73, The Neon Boys produced a demo which included an early take of the seminal "Love
Comes In Spurts". A year later the trio added second guitarist, Richard Lloyd, and became Television. Meyers cultivated a
wasted rock-star look of ripped clothes and short, spiky hair - 'Rimbaud looked like that'. To complete the
picture, Meyers became Richard Hell and Miller became Tom Verlaine. Television, alongside Patti Smith,
kick-started the New York new wave, but Verlaine became irked by Hell's manic stage antics, not to
mention his unsophisticated bass playing. One by one, Hell's songs were dropped from the set, and when the
last, "Blank Generation", disappeared, so did Hell. At Hell's final Television gigs two things happened. First,
then-manager of The New York Dolls, Malcolm McLaren, fascinated by Hell's look, attempted to lure him
across the Atlantic to front a band he was putting together. Hell refused, but within a year both that look and
the Sex Pistols would be big news in England. Secondly, he got together with equally disillusioned Dolls'
guitarist Johnny Thunders to form The Heartbreakers. Hell lasted a year with the Heartbreakers before deciding to form his own band to realize his view of rock'n'
roll as 'an outlet for passions and ideas too radical for any other form'. During that year, Hell co-wrote the
classic "Chinese Rocks" with Dee Dee Ramone, about the trials of heroin addiction. The song was
autobiographical for both its authors, and Hell's taste for junk had not been helped by twelve months in the
company of 'the Dean Martin of heroin', Johnny Thunders. Robert Quine was an old friend who also happened to be a phenomenal guitarist, capable of playing
everything bar the predictable. Together, they nicked drummer Marc Bell from Wayne County and found
second guitarist Ivan Julian. This bunch were dubbed The Voidoids, after a novel Hell had been writing.
With remarkable speed they recorded the Blank Generation EP (1976), finally committing one of the
defining songs of the era to vinyl. Soon after making their first live appearances in late 1976, they signed to Sire and commenced work on their
debut album. The recording was complicated by record company politics and by the time Blank
Generation (1977) was released, Hell was questioning his commitment to music. His mood wasn't helped
by a nightly gob-drenching during a British tour supporting The Clash. Back in the States, The Voidoids left Sire and recruited a bass player so that Hell could concentrate on being
a frontman. The next two years saw the band playing sporadically and releasing one single, "The Kid With
The Replaceable Head"/"I'm Your Man" (1978). Hell's heroin-exacerbated tendency to view himself as a
doomed poet was by now taking a real toll. Quine remarked that Hell couldn't decide whether 'to be a rock
star . . . or just go die' and left at the end of 1979 when it became obvious that neither a record deal nor a
second album were forthcoming. After a two-year hiatus, a cleaned-up Hell managed to summon up enough enthusiasm to record a second
Voidoids album, Destiny Street (1982). Response was muted and Hell disappeared from the music world
for a decade, filling his time with writing and acting (notably alongside Madonna in Desperately Seeking
Susan). In the 90s he returned to recording with the Dim Stars, backed by Don Fleming of Gumball, and Steve
Shelley and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. He also gives occasional spoken word performances and has
recently published his mid-70s novel, The Voidoid.     Blank Generation (1977; Sire). Poetic nihilism-a-go-go with "Blank Generation", "Love Comes In
    Spurts" and "The Plan", a paean to incest. Despite an ill-advised struggle through Sinatra's "All The Way",
it still holds its own against any New York art-punk record, past or present.     Destiny Street (1982; Danceteria). Well worth a listen and contains a version of the killer single "The
    Kid With The Replaceable Head". Glenn Law                                    ROCK HOMEPAGE                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
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