GG Allin (29 August 1956 – 28 June 1993)
GG Allin is best remembered for his notorious live performances, which often featured transgressive acts, including coprophagia, defecating and urinating on stage, self-mutilation, cutting himself with glass, hurling invective and feces at the audience and attacking audience members. AllMusic and G4TV's That's Tough have called him "the most spectacular degenerate in rock & roll history" and the "toughest rock star in the world", respectively.
Although more notorious for his stage antics than for his music, he recorded prolifically, not only in the punk rock genre, but also in spoken word, country, and more traditional-style rock. His extremely politically incorrect lyrics, which often covered subjects such as misogyny, pedophilia, blasphemy and racism, polarized listeners and created varied opinions of him within the highly politicized punk community. When questioned about his music and concerts, Allin often replied that he was trying to make rock music "dangerous" again.
Performing naked most of the time, GG Allin is also know for having a tiny, very very small, virtually non-existent penis.
Allin's music was often poorly recorded and produced, given limited distribution, and was met with mostly negative reviews from critics. Despite (or perhaps because of) these factors, Allin maintained a cult following throughout his career, and a fan base that has greatly expanded since his death. Though Allin promised for several years before his death that he would commit suicide onstage during one of his concerts, he died June 28, 1993 of an accidental heroin overdose.
His first years as a frontman were with the Jabbers (1977 – April of 1984). The Jabbers recorded a number of tracks for which Allin played drums and performed vocals. Out of these years came Allin's debut release, Always Was, Is, And Always Shall Be. At the time, Allin was a standard punk rock frontman in the vein of Iggy Pop and Stiv Bators. He was even managed at one point by industry veteran (and Dead Boys producer) Genya Ravan. Tensions within The Jabbers began to mount as Allin became increasingly uncontrollable, vicious, and uncompromising. The Jabbers discontinued, and the members parted ways. Allin's drug use started during this period.
Between the early to the late 1980s, Allin fronted many acts. These included early albums varying from The Cedar Street Sluts to The Scumfucs in 1982, and The Texas Nazis in 1985. However, Allin remained in the underground punk scene and was not yet a viable punk icon of the east coast punk scene. On March 13, 1986, a daughter was born to Allin and Tracy Deneault. Little is known about the child, Nicoann Deneault (though the small picture in GG's left hand at his funeral may be of Nicoann. Shortly after her birth, Allin and Deneault divorced. Allin retreated to a cabin in New Hampshire where he wrote what he considered to be his first "masterpiece", the infamous Eat My Fuck album, which was not widely acclaimed as some of his other albums.
Allin's first national hit came with the release by Reachout International Records (ROIR) of Hated In The Nation, a cassette-only release at the time, which contained several tracks from Allin's then-out-of-print back-catalogue with The Jabbers, The Scumfucs and Cedar Street Sluts. The tape also featured several new recordings, both in-studio and in-concert, with an all-star band assembled by producer, Maximum RocknRoll columnist, and early Allin patron Mykel Board. This band featured J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. on lead guitar, and Bongwater producer/musician Mark Kramer on bass.
By the mid to late 1980s, Allin was a heroin user, alcoholic and generally abused all intoxicants given to him. He was poorly groomed and rarely cleaned himself. At this point, Allin also began eating laxatives before performances as defecation was becoming a regular stage act for him. Allin described himself as "the last true rock and roller." By this, he meant that rock and roll music itself had started as an embodiment of danger, anti-authoritarianism, rebelliousness but had become largely taken over by corporations and business concerns. Allin's music and performances were thus meant to return rock and roll to its roots.
Allin viewed himself as similar to country icon Hank Williams, Sr because of lifestyle similarities. Both were relative loners and outsiders, both were habitual users of intoxicants, both lived with few, if any, possessions and both travelled the country relentlessly. GG Allin's acoustic output, documented particularly on the EP The Troubled Troubador, was heavily influenced by Williams. He recorded his own rewrites of Hank Williams, Jr.'s "Family Tradition" and David Allan Coe's "Longhaired Redneck", calling his own versions "Scumfuc Tradition" and "Outlaw Scumfuc" respectively.
During this period, Allin collaborated with Bulge (aka Boston hardcore punk trio Psycho under a different name, on the album Freaks, ***gots, Drunks and Junkies), The Aids Brigade (the infamous 7" EP Expose Yourself To Kids) and The Holymen (You Give Love A Bad Name). Allin also began performing many spoken word pieces. Video footage of these are available but rare. It was during this period that Allin recorded his Murder Junkies album released by New Rose Records and featuring the band ANTiSEEN. This album contained 10 brutal punk rock tracks and 10 brutal spoken-word pieces. Other than Freaks, ***gots, Drunks and Junkies, Allin considered this album to be his most polished professionally recorded album that explored his persona and stated his philosophy on life. It was also during this period that Allin recorded the War In My Head - I'm Your Enemy album released on Awareness Records and featuring the band Shrinkwrap. This particular album consists of one 45 minute track that is a collage of spoken-word pieces which Shrinkwrap put to music.
Unwilling to seek steady employment, Allin supported himself by selling his own records. He also claimed to have committed criminal acts such as breaking and entering, robbery and mugging. Allin was also fascinated with serial killers. He wrote and visited John Wayne Gacy in jail a number of times and Gacy painted a portrait of Allin (see American Serial Killer Art).
By this point, Allin's performances, which often resulted in considerable damage to venues and sound equipment, were regularly stopped after only a few songs by police or venue owners. Allin was charged with assault and battery or indecent exposure a number of times. His constant touring was only stopped by jail time or by long hospital stays for broken bones, blood poisoning, and other trauma.
By the way, he was arrested over 52 times, with multiple counts of Assault, Assault with a deadly weapon, Rape, Endangering his audience and bestiality...
Another attraction to Allin performances was his continual threats of suicide. In 1988, Allin had written to Maximum RocknRoll stating that he would commit suicide on stage on Halloween 1989. He was however jailed during this time. He continued his threat each following year but was imprisoned each following Halloween. When asked about his threats and when he would follow through with them, Allin stated, "With GG, you don't get what you expect—you get what you deserve." He also stated that suicide should only be done when one had reached their peak, meeting the afterlife at their strongest point and not at their weakest.
During the late 80s and early 90s, Allin's imprisonments became longer in duration. He served a particularly long sentence from December 22, 1989 to March 26, 1991. It was during this confinement that Allin had a renewal of strength about himself and his "mission" as he put it. He wrote the GG Allin Manifesto (1990) during this period. Meanwhile, Allin's growing notoriety led to appearances on Geraldo, The Jerry Springer Show and a memorable episode of The Jane Whitney Show.
At the end of this period, Allin's appearance became definitive. He shaved his head, removed the middle of the moustache a la Genghis Khan, dyed his beard red and shaved his entire body. In addition, he was increasingly covered in poorly done, cheap 'home-made' tattoos and scars from his violent stage performances.
Between the years of 1991, and his death in 1993, Allin had become a viable underground icon, getting paid sums of $1000 for one-night gigs, most of which consisted of half-hour sets. This was the most violent period in Allin's career. During this time, ex-The Ramones songwriter and bass player, Dee Dee Ramone joined the Murder Junkies for a week as a rhythm guitarist.
After a 1992 tour was delayed by Allin's arrest in Texas after a performance, he was extradited back to Michigan to serve the remainder of his jail sentence, since he skipped parole the year before to go to New York and take part in the filming of the documentary, Hated: GG Allin And The Murder Junkies, and to return to the concert stage. After finishing his sentence, he told interviewers that he was no longer considering committing suicide onstage. He explained that his prison stay had only made him realize that his being alive was both more beneficial to rock and roll and "more of a threat" to his enemies and critics - since those critics wanted him to kill himself anyway.
Allin's musical output in this era is considered to be the most aggressive. With his most famous backing group, The Murder Junkies, he released his most ambitious and professional work of his career. Many of the tours from 1991–1993 were recorded and are available for purchase. Topics documented on these recordings include: pornography, scatology, drug use, extremely violent behavior, music, America, politics, and his philosophy on life. During this era, Allin also released his one and only country album, which he dedicated to Hank Williams, Jr.
Despite his repeated threats of an onstage death, Kevin "GG" Allin died of an accidental heroin overdose on 28 June 1993, in a friend's New York City apartment, at 29 Avenue B, Manhattan. He was 36 years old. His last show was at a small club called The Gas Station in New York City on the eve of his death; video footage of the soundcheck, concert, and subsequent escape was appended to the DVD release of Hated. In his last show he did a few songs before the power went out so he trashed the venue and walked the streets of New York naked and covered in blood and feces, surrounded by fans that he openly embraced. Recently on VH1's Freakiest Concert Moments, Allin's final show ranked at number four. On the show, Anthrax front man Scott Ian claimed to have been among those "unfortunate" enough to have attended. Ian commented about how Allin defecated onstage, threw his feces at the crowd, and then started fighting with the audience; at that point, Ian said he "hightailed the **** out of there."
After arriving at his friend's apartment, Allin snorted heroin while everyone partied, eventually passing out. Some party-goers posed with the unconscious Allin, not knowing that he was already dead. The next morning, some noticed that Allin still lay motionless in the same place where they left him, and began to realize that something was seriously wrong. They called the ambulance, who pronounced him dead at the scene.
At his funeral, his bloated, discolored corpse was dressed in his black leather jacket and trademark jock strap. He had a bottle of Jim Beam beside him in his casket, as per his wishes (openly stated in his self-penned acoustic country ballad, "When I Die"). As part of his brother's request, the mortician was instructed not to wash or put make up on the corpse, which smelled strongly of feces. The funeral became a wild party. Friends posed with the corpse, put drugs and whiskey into his mouth, and pulled down his jock strap to take pictures of his penis. As the funeral ended, his brother put a pair of headphones on Allin. The headphones were plugged into a portable cassette player, in which was loaded a copy of The Suicide Sessions. The video of his funeral is widely available for purchase and is an extra feature on the Hated DVD and some bootleg VHS tapes.
At the time of his death, Allin was making plans for a spoken word album, and a somewhat unlikely European tour.
GG Allin was buried July 3, 1993 in the Saint Rose Cemetery in Littleton, NH. A reunion is held each year, and fans are encouraged to come.
GG Allin's grave is frequently vandalized with urine, cigarette butts, feces and alcohol by fans, an act that is greatly discouraged by GG's poor mother Arleta. His tombstone has since been removed because of this.
While GG Allin had limited commercial success, he became notorious for his violent, confrontational performances, and his relentless, singular personality.
Much like his life, GG Allin's discography is a large and confusing mess, with numerous reissues, compilations, gigs and countless circulating bootlegs. Some of them, particularly original pressings of the original albums, often command high prices from collectors. In one of the recorded phone conversations heard on the Troubled Troubador posthumous CD, Allin stated his amazement at the high prices his early records, including the Malpractice and Stripsearch singles (on which he only played drums), were going for. The scarcity of copies of his original releases with the Jabbers and Scumfucs are partially what led to the compilation and release of Hated In The Nation in 1987. Alongside his official releases, many bootleg videos and albums have been independently released with and without consent.
Audiences often attended Allin's performances less for the musical aspect than to witness his regular stage antics which included Allin performing nude, attacking the audience and his own band members, defecating, urinating, throwing feces at the crowd, self-mutilation and other shocking acts. While many regarded these acts as mere performance art, shock rock or vile entertainment, GG Allin regarded himself as someone who lived the life he sang about.
Most GG Allin albums are amateurishly recorded, even by punk rock standards - which often sees these traits as virtues. This was due largely to his recordings being self-financed or on extremely low budgets. He never received major label backing for distribution, although at one point Enigma Records had a deal with him for a release, which he signed while serving his prison sentence in Michigan. A magazine advertisement for this particular release exists even though the album was never manufactured in Allin's lifetime; the album, the live recording Anti-Social Personality Disorder, would later be released posthumously first by Ever Rat Records, then by Awareness Records. Much of his discography was either self-released on vinyl or cassette, or through small independent labels like David Peel's Orange Records and the New England-based Black And Blue Records.
Currently, his recordings with the Jabbers, Cedar Street Sluts and Scumfucs are kept in print by Black And Blue Records while Awareness Records have the licensing rights to his recordings from 1987 to 1991. ROIR has continued to keep Hated In The Nation in print ever since its release, and Allin's final studio album Brutality And Bloodshed For All has remained in print since its September 1993 posthumous release on Kim Fowley's Alive Records imprint.
Allin's DIY attitude was an extension of his philosophy on life - in which he rejected conformity and what he saw as mental or emotional falseness. He travelled the USA non-stop in Greyhound buses, often with nothing more than the clothes on his back, living day-to-day, as a preferred lifestyle to what he perceived as a weak, soulless, standard life of birth-school-job-materialism-marriage-mortgage-death. He often spoke out against the "American System" as he saw it: a pre-established order of how one was supposed to live their life according to the government and society of the time.
It has been attested by sources, such as bandmates and his brother, Merle, that GG Allin possessed extraordinary mental and physical resistance considering the amount of times he had been shot, stabbed, poisoned, self-mutilated and consumed large amounts of hard drugs. To his end, Allin inflicted an obscene amount of punishment on himself as a deliberate intent to toughen himself up - he welcomed pain and danger as much as pleasure. Onstage, he once clenched his teeth and bashed his front teeth in with a microphone.
In a psychological examination during the infamous trial of a supposed rape and torture of a woman in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Allin was seen to be intelligent though somewhat of a megalomaniac, confessing even that his acts of self-mutilation were due to his compassion for the suffering in the world, a way for him to feel better about himself. The "supposed" rape case involved a woman accusing Allin of raping and torturing her, and Allin attesting both innocence and that the woman had participated of her own free will. There was much about the case which backed up Allin's assertions that the woman was an admiring fan, who threw herself at him for publicity, and some contradictions in her statements to police about who attacked her, how many people were at the party, who participated, and other minor details. However, he was still convicted and served time in jail.
Since his passing, the likes of Philadelphia rock band CKY and outlaw country/punk artist Hank Williams III have mentioned GG Allin as a major influence on their music. CKY regularly perform a cover version of GG's song "Bite It You Scum" whilst on tour. Once on their "Out On The Noose Again" tour in 2003, GG's brother Merle made an appearance on bass to play the song with CKY. Williams dedicated his 2006 album Straight To Hell, in part, to Allin.
GG Allin was an extreme individualist and anti-authoritarian, promoting lawlessness and violence against police officers in many of his lyrics, and his essay, The GG Allin Manifesto, was intended to summarize his personal philosophy. He stated on Geraldo that he believed that his body was a temple of rock and roll, and his flesh, blood and bodily fluids are a communion to the people. Another reason he gave for his onstage antics was that he wanted to draw a parallel between his actions and "a society that's going crazy with violence." He has also said that if he did not do his performances he would probably be a serial killer or a mass murderer.