Pride Month: Gary Floyd

Diego Artea

Pride Month: Gary Floyd

Taylor Wallace

Born in 1952, Gary Floyd grew up in Palestine, TX. The Vietnam War shaped his perception of the world and made him defiant of the status quo, and this was amplified by the conservatism of the Reagan era. Floyd took this attitude to Austin and voila! You get the Dicks.

Floyd started the Dicks in 1980 as a fake band: he posted flyers all over Austin announcing fake shows and bogus lineups. But when the Dicks were asked to perform at a punk rock prom at the famous Armadillo World Headquarters, Floyd had to make the band a reality. For the next three years, the Dicks commanded attention and stages in Austin with their raucous shows, and Raul’s served as their home base. Floyd performed in drag and pulled everything from frosting to liver out of his panties. The band challenged audiences with overtly Marxist songs and a confrontational attitude.

Gary Floyd amidst a performance

The Dicks released a string of material that would become punk rock canon and legend. Songs like “Wheelchair Epidemic” and “Hate the Police” became punk anthems, the latter of which was famously covered by 90’s grunge band Mudhoney. The Dicks’ music was released on quintessential punk labels like SST, R Radical Records, and Alternative Tentacles, and along with groups like Big Boys and MDC, became the ultimate trifecta of Austin 80s punk.

Floyd relocated to San Francisco in 1983 and started the 2nd era of the Dicks and played in dozens of other bands. He also leaned heavily into painting and printmaking, with his art regularly showcased in Austin. The Dicks were inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame in 2009, and the documentary The Dicks From Texas was released in 2015.

Gary Floyd in drag

Floyd wrote a short, but action-packed autobiography in 2014 calledPlease Bee Nice: My Life Up ‘Til Now, full of photos and stories from his punk rock heyday. Even then, Floyd was still Floyd, announcing the book in a YouTube video sitting next to a life-sized sock monkey doll named Maxine.

Through the final years of his life, Floyd continued with regular pilgrimages back to Texas for art shows, book signings that always included a short set from Floyd’s catalog, and benefits supporting gay youth. One of those final trips was also announced via a YouTube video, which he ended with this: **audio**

Gary Floyd died May 3rd, 2024 after being admitted to the hospital for congestive heart failure. He was 71 years old. A new documentary on the Dicks from Austin filmmakers Arts + Labor, is in the works.

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