Brothers Bobby, Dannis and David Hackney started jamming in a spare bedroom at home in 1971, knowing they wanted to form a band but uncertain which direction to take. The R&B sounds they started out with just weren’t working out. Something was missing.
Leave it to Alice Cooper to change their minds. The Hackney teens saw a Cooper show and were blown away by its energy and ferocity. Rock ‘n’ roll would be the key. And in the spirit of Cooper’s deranged stage theatrics, they christened their new band Death.
They played gigs around town and even had a single pressed in the hopes of getting a record deal. In 1974, they recorded seven songs Detroit’s United Sound Studios with engineer Jim Vitti. Unfortunately, the Hackneys were the odd fellows sticking out in an sea of R&B and disco acts . There was no place for them. And the few labels that actually heard their music would freak out over their loud, fast and furious style and what they thought was a morbid band name. Death? You gotta be kidding.
Death broke up in 1977, and David Hackney passed away in 1982, but thanks to dedicated fans, a new interest in Death’s music reemerged, and in 2009 Drag City Records released the tracks they had recorded at United Sound 35 years ago. The two surviving members, Bobby and Dannis, enlisted guitarist Bobbie Duncan for reunion shows. New fans have been clamoring to see what is widely regarded as not just the first black punk band, but the first punk band. Period.
Experience it for yourself. See Death play tonight at The Parish, 214 E. 6th St. Doors open at 8 p.m.
Don’t forget that Death will be at the next KUT’s Views and Brews session at the Cactus Cafe. Rebecca McInroy will host a conversation with the band members and creators of the documentary A Band Called Death, followed by a performance by the band. Doors open early at 5:30 p.m. And the documentary is being shown at the Alamo Drafthouse Village June 28 through July 4.
Absolute heaven for Death fans. Recommended.