Few bands have undergone as many reinventions as the Misfits
(no, not those Misfits
). Formed in New Jersey in 1977 by Glenn Danzig (vocals and keyboard), Jerry Only (bass) and Manny Martinez (drums), the original lineup played at CBGB and released one unclassifiable guitar-less rock single
. In late '77 guitarist Franché Coma was brought on and Martinez was kicked out of the band in favor of a drummer named Mr. Jim. With this lineup, their sound began to take on a more defined sound
, merging with the developing second wave of North American punk rock.
Both Coma and Mr. Jim left the band in 1978, to be replaced by Joey Image and Bobby Steele. It was with this lineup that the Misfits began to develop their own "horror punk" mythos and sound
. The devilock
, the ubiquitous crimson ghost logo
and the Fiend Club
all first appeared in this era.
In 1979, Image quit the band in the middle of a disastrous UK tour to be replaced by Arthur Googy and then in 1980 Steele was kicked out in favor of Jerry's sixteen-year-old younger brother Doyle. With this line-up, they finally released their first full length album, Walk Among Us
, consisting mostly of songs about classic horror films, including Night of the Living Dead
and Astro Zombies
In November 1981, during a show in San Francisco, Black Flag vocalist and long-time Misfits fan Henry Rollins joined the band on stage in a performance
that can be seen as an early indication of an imminent change in their sound. When Googy was kicked out the band in 1982 because of personality clashes with Danzig, Rollins recommended former Black Flag drummer Robo. With this new lineup, they released Earth A.D. which showed considerable influence
from hardcore punk rock
and heavy metal
In 1983, Robo left the band and was replaced with Brian Damage who only made it one song into his first show
before being kicked out of the band. Having finally had enough, Danzig dissolved the band after the show. And so ends the first
chapter in the Misfits saga.
Danzig went on to form an occult-and-pagan-themed deathrock band called Samhain
while Jerry and Doyle returned to New Jersey, rediscovered their Christian faith and, honest to god, started a barbarian-themed Christian metal band called Kryst the Conqueror
(with Jeff Scott Soto on vocals
) to stand in opposition.
Meanwhile, the early work of the Misfits began to garner a degree of attention it had never received while the band was actually together. Glenn Danzig had released several albums of remastered Misfits songs
(often with some instrument tracks overdubbed to avoid paying royalties to other members
) and Samhain (now known simply as Danzig
) had gone on to become a pretty big deal in its own right
. Misfits songs were coverered by both Metallica
(I guess I should warn about infanticide, necrophilia and rape-themed lyrics
) and Guns N' Roses
In the early nineties, a legal battle began between Jerry Only and Glen Danzig about royalties and use of the Misfits name and imagery. In 1995, an out of court agreement was reached and The Misfits reformed with Jerry Only (the only remaining original member
), Doyle, drummer Dr. Chud and vocalist Michale Graves. The sound of the new lineup was much poppier
, while retaining to the horror movie themes
of the earlier incarnation.
In the same year as the new Misfits released their first album, a tribute album to the old Misfits was released including covers by Pennywise
(same song as the Metallica cover, so the same warnings stand
), Sick of it All
(warning: they're really phoning it in
In 1999, for the first time ever, the Misfits released a second full length album with the same line up. George Romero directed the music video for the "Scream!"
, the album's only radio single. The Misfits did a stint wrestling in WCW
) and filmed cameos in several Hollywood
films. It looked like the Misfits had finally, after 22 years, found their groove. Then, on October 25th
2000, Graves and Dr. Chud walked off stage in the middle of a show and quit the band. Afterwards, Doyle also took an indefinite leave of absence, leaving Jerry as a one-man band.
Not content to let the band die, Jerry recruited Dez Cardena of Black Flag and Marky Ramone of The Ramones (yes, those Ramones
) and began a three-year long tour
with Jerry on vocals. This same lineup then, in one of the strangest turns of Misfits history yet, then released an album consisting entirely
from the 1950s and '60s
In 2005 (that's right, this isn't over yet
) Marky Ramone left the band and Robo returned long enough to record one single
before being kicked out and replaced with Eric Arce from Murphy's Law. The Misfits latest album "The Devil's Rain" is due out as early as later this month
Quoth Jerry Only: "It's really nice. I think we've finally reached a level of tranquility when it comes to personnel."
BONUS - A list of bands (in addition to those mentioned above) spun off from, or otherwise directly descended from, The Misfits: The Undead, Son of Sam, Dr. Chud's X-Ward, Gorgeous Frankenstein, Graves, Gotham Road and, indirectly, AFI.