An Oral History Of Crime
CRIME: SAN FRANCISCO’S FIRST AND ONLY ROCK’N’ROLL GROUP – by Michael Lucas
This oral history first appeared in the hallowed pages of Ugly Things, Issue 14, in 1995 … it has been edited/revised as it appears here by Jean Encoule, with the express permission of Mike Stax, Michael Lucas, and Johnny Strike.
Following the release of their sterling comeback LP, Exalted Masters (2007), CRIME are currently active once again. To purchase a copy of the vinyl-only pressing of Exalted Masters, and to keep abreast of all future CRIME activity, simply follow the links at the foot of this article:
“CRIME … Still SF’s only rock’n’roll group … finally, a present not embarrassed by its past!” – Jean Encoule, 2011
Despite having independently released the first punk rock single on the US West Coast, CRIME’s legend has never spread beyond a comparatively small but extremely adamant cult. The fact that they only released three singles during their existence is certainly a factor in the lack of recognition afforded them, as is the minimal distribution of the recently released San Francisco’s Still Doomed CD/LP.
Probably more significant is the fact that, despite “getting there first with the mostest”, CRIME’s music and image set them apart from what soon became discernable as the punk rock ‘scene’. The amphetamine blues lead guitar bursts which responded to the vocal lines in nearly every song, as well as the frequently dispassionate vocals, set them apart from the bandwagon-jumping art-schoolers (who were all too often devoid of rock and roll attitude), as did their carefully cultivated look, and their anti-social attitude! The last factor, especially during the well-intentioned, but rather silly, ‘let’s get political and organise for anarchy like the British’ phase of the San Francisco punk scene, created plenty of animosity, which still seems to linger.
Defying the wishes of those who would prefer to pretend that CRIME never existed, I hereby present the saga of “San Francisco’s first and only rock’n’roll band”: CRIME, as related by vocalist/guitarist/co-founder Johnny Strike, and drummer/manager Hank Rank, with a dash of bassist Ron Ripper’s unique perspective. -> -> ->