“He’s Good-Bad But He’s Not Evil….” Tribute To Cheetah Chrome by Pepsi Sheen & The Rocknroll People…

“I have a hand-made badge with Cheetah’s pic on it. It was obviously made by an art rocker ’cause the caption reads, Cheetah Chrome FAN CLUB – ONLY MEMBER.
If I was roasting him, I’d say, ‘Good evening ladies and germs. As the president and only member of the Cheetah Chrome Fan Club, I welcome you to an evening of….”
(-Peter Crowley)

“First time I met Cheetah I was with Stiv Bators in L.A., I think in ’88, Cheetah walks into my friends apartment, Stiv introduces us: This is Sami Yaffa and this Prick With Ears…..”
(-Sami Yaffa)

”Along with Brian James and Robert Quine,Cheetah is my favourite guitar player to emerge from the punk rock scene.
Always loved both Dead Boys albums…But his real genius is on the Rocket from the Tombs stuff, which if had ever seen a proper release at the time…In my opinion we’d be talking the greatest punk album of all time!!!!”
(-Darren Birch, bassist of Gunfire Dance)

“I just love Cheetah. I’ll leave the roasting to others! Thanks though!”
(-Alison Gordy NYC legendary singer in Johnny Thunders And The Oddballs)

“A fiery character from the great band The Dead Boys that the Ramones loved. Cheetah’s still keeping up the Punk spirit”.
(-Monte A. Melnick Ramones Tour Manager and author of “On The Road with the Ramones”.)

 “Well, I never knew him too well. but I met him several times and I thought that he’s a lovely character. and a great guitarist of course. plus he was a close friend of Stiv and he (Stiv) naturally told me a lot of stories about him.”
(-Danny Fury, lead singer of Tango Pirates)


 “These past 10 years I have seen many changes …It’s a toss up between triumphs and roadside burning wreckage….I think the hardest thing for me is seeing family, friends, lovers and the ones we have seen as leaders in the past change before our eyes…They become less familiar and more of an un-answered question: “Why?”….What I’m alluding to is the many musical figures that have crossed over to strange political camps that seem very mean spirited in agendas towards our fellow man ….Knowing this, I try and always keep a non-judgmental ear and just let the music do the talking…Having said this, my mind is guilt free when I hear the Dead Boys cranked …. All the time knowing that Cheetah is still  ‘A man of the people’…..Hard workin’, Hard Travellin’, Hard Playing soul….It’s this familiarity that rocks you back to your teen years where we were all idealistic and invincible …Hey–I can Handle the world changing, because from where I came from, it’s always in constant change, at the end of a gun…but to see souls that you respect do a 360 on your senses I can’t express how disappointing that is. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened to Mister Chrome. I wish him many more years of sonically assaulting our senses! God Speed!”
(-Neen Youkhana singer/guitarist of Trash Gallery)

 “He’s great.”
(-Ena Kostabi)

“I have one recollection of seeing The Dead Boys for the first time when I was about 16 years old… I didn’t know who was who in the band at that time, but they performed on the Uncle Floyd Show on UHF TV Channel 68 in New Jersey. I knew I was seeing something pretty special, but didn’t quite understand it yet. I was still new to the whole Punk thing, but the energy and urgency and fuck-all attitude came across and was a total turn on, something I have not forgotten in over 30 years. They were the new generation of rock stars… And ‘Uncle’ Floyd Vivino would go on to introduce me and my high school buddies to other great “local” bands at that time and soon after like The Ramones, Randazzo, Dramarama, Shrapnel and others.”
(-Joe Normal, guitarist of Cold Blue Rebels)


“My crystal meth nightmare began with ‘her’ talking about Cheetah Chrome. Later she racked-out lines and played Sonic Reducer at full volume. I tried to make it louder. She became the subject of my first book … Last night I watched Cheetah play Sonic Reducer at a tiny Lower East side bar (a warm-up gig for tonight’s Bowery Electrik show). I was glad that she wasn’t there.”
(-Jeff Ward, guitarist of Gunfire Dance, author of “Parasite Joyous Flashbacks Amidst A Crystal Meth Nightmare”)

“I remember seeing the Dead Boys at Hurrah and if I remember correctly (not likely), CBGB’s in NY late 70’s;later on my old band Circus of Power opened a Dead Boys reunion show at the Ritz and we used to see Cheetah around a bit in NY around that time, not sure if he really knew me but I knew him and would say hello if I saw him, an important part of an important and clearly hard rocking band and I was happy to have watched a bit of that history.”
(-Gary Sunshine, songwriter; guitarist for Circus Of Power and NY Loose)

“Cheetah is one of the finest songwriters I know. I will never forget an afternoon I had with him n’ Stiv in the spring of 88′ It made me what I am today. I hope to see you soon my friend.”
(-Stevie Klasson)

“1977, and I’m stuck in a small town in the middle of nowhere, all harvest gold and bellbottoms flapping with dust in the wind as the yokels are jolted awake by a new sound, a new look, a new attitude: Disco. Yep, my backwash burg slept right through Punk. Probably hasn’t woken up even now. Just in time for my own teenage tumult, Punk spoke to me as it happened, and rather far beyond as it turned out. Alienation as visually manifested by young reprobates with forked hair and eyes like burning flares. There were many such figures tearing through the bland cultural and musical landscape of the era, all of them dangerous and as such, enthralling. But one particular group seemed somehow more familiar. The Dead Boys were a product of the great unwashed Midwest: Ohio boys. Just like me. OK, from the other side of the state, and from an actual city. Still, knowing that these cats could come out of a place as hopeless as 1970’s Cleveland, and do some real damage right in the heart of the Bowery, a mythical place I longed to dive into while poring over mail-ordered copies of Punk magazine and New York Rocker, was heartening. They were also the first American Punk band I heard that exuded the howl of adolescent frustration and rage that attracted me to UK Punk bands like the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Damned. Patti Smith and Television were great, but rather cerebral and artsy, whereas I wanted to break things. The Ramones were a revelation, but I could still hear echoes of summers at the beach in the mid-60’s within their melodies. On the other hand, the Dead Boys snarled, they spat. Their guitars were too loud. They looked dirty, pissed off, and definitely up to no good. Your parents were never, ever going to be happy about you bringing their album home to blast out of your record player. With perfect timing, they got me. Having by then determined that I was going to be the guitar player in a big deal punk rock band, my attention was more often given over to whoever was abusing the six strings than to the front man. Cheetah Chrome was that guy in the Dead Boys. What more could I have wished for than the unharnessed electricity of a James Williamson, with the classic skill of a Glen Buxton? All battered Les Paul slashing and burning holes through every teacher, jock bully, disapproving adult and anyone else on the wrong side of the line in the sand that punk drew for me. It didn’t last long, but that kind of white-heat intensity never can. Sadly, as is the case for so many of the folks from that era, the ensuing decades were less than kind to the man. He’s been down lower than probably anyone, anyone who lived to tell about it anyway. But he’s always been the real deal. Fortunately, he’s still out there, and still loves playing the guitar really loud, and best of all, seems to have found some happiness. I’m glad he made it out the other side, and that he shared his stories via his memoir. Most of all though, I’m thankful for the time, some 36 years ago, when a misfit kid from the other side of Ohio with a shock of red hair and a crazed stare plugged in his guitar and sonically reduced all of my boredom and doubt to a pile of wreckage. I’ve never forgotten…”
(-Brian Morgan, guitarist of Carvels, Saviors, and Disruptors)



   Consider if you will all, the hyperbolic language used by advertising weasels to sell crooked politicians, mediocre rappers, and blow-dried Ken doll actors on cable shows about vampires to America’s intentionally dumbed down Taco Bell drive-thru customers. All the extravagant descriptions squandered on the latest round of emo sissy Fauntleroy’s and champagne room heiresses with boring sex tapes.“Maverick…Revolutionary…Outlaw…Survivor….Diehard….Renegade….Elder Statesmen….” We’re all so numb from being sold false goods all day that it’s hard to even tap into that true vein, but all of these descriptions really do apply to this wise, heroic, and profane artist, Cheetah Chrome. (“That’s MISTER Scumbag to you!”) One of the funniest, biggest hearted, and most true blue human beings I’ve ever brushed with. He used to let me follow him around Manhattan and we’d joke about being in the “loser’s club”, there was a moment, when he had nothing and I had nothing, too, we were both in a bad way on the NY streets, but would still find ourselves laughing compulsively almost daily and telling each other stories for hours on end. He was one of the most sincere folks I ever met, back then, we were both in mourning, and making the kind of decisions desperately poor and broken hearted people, who both have the mischievous souls of clowns, are inclined to make, but thankfully, he doesn’t have to worry about that, anymore.Nowadays, if he’s not ushering his son, Rogan, backstage to meet Aerosmith, he’s lecturing at some university. His legacy is daunting to even skim the surface of, from collaborating with Laughner and Rockets, to Stiv, he co-wrote with some of rocknroll’s all-time great lyricists. He hangs around both lowlife hoodlums like Keith and Belushi, and showbiz royals like Spacely and Vicious. He’d even personally lined Lou motherfuckin’ Reed (R.I.P.) up to produce the Deadboys next album, but was thwarted by the business weasels who wanted them to go “new wave” in commercial suits and skinny ties. The always controversial Deadboys were, obviously, every bit as important to C.B.G.B.’s and the development of what is now called “punk” as any of their art school friends, or disco queen crossovers, though, in most corporate “punk” documentaries, they barely get mentioned in between the Ramones and Devo and Talking Heads. That big movie with the good looking youngsters portraying all the venerable artists of the seventies is being endlessly picked apart and argued about on a million chat rooms and music pages, online. I haven’t seen it, but I love the idea of the kid from Harry Potter playing Chrome, even if I’m a bit surly about not being asked to audition for the Stiv role. Ask around-I know how to lose weight, fast.DeadBoyTaleThe indestructible Cheetah Chrome’s a busy man nowadays, juggling fatherhood with writing his critically acclaimed memoirs “Cheetah Chrome: A Dead Boy’s Tale: From the Front Lines of Punk Rock” , book tours, having a day job, rocking is his business, etc. In recent years, we’ve seen him working with people as diverse as (the reunion of) Deadboys, (the reunion) of Rocket From The Tombs, the Batusis with Sylvain Sylvain, Alejandro Escovedo, Bebe Buell, Blondie, Michael Monroe, Jeff Dahl, Texas Terri. He’s jammed with Bob Stinson and even Nico. In what some consider his darkest hours, when Stiv and Johnny died, his songs were being covered by Pearl Jam, Guns N Roses, Hanoi Rocks alumni, and a million dead-end kid bands in Midwestern garages and rented farmhouses on the edge of town in between the car dealership and the Christian bookstore. I see why the fan base is divided on the punk nostalgia. We’re all grateful to behold some of the more deserving trailblazers and genuine figureheads finally receiving their long awaited and well deserved acclaim, better late than never, but I think everybody’s pretty jaded by the capitalist cash-cow milking oversaturation, and lack of deep feeling for our favorite artists, who changed some of our lives irreparably forever. Cheetah released a live disc recorded in Detroit about ten years ago, surrounded by longtime friends and his rabid Motor City following, but “SOLO” is the real record that his most fervent and dedicated constituents have been waiting for ever since we wore out that pink and white splattered “Ghetto Dogs” vinyl from twenty years ago. 

“There ain’t no future and there ain’t no past, there’s just a graveyard and it’s comin’ fast…When you check out of this hotel, Jack, you ain’t nuthin’ but an autograph…All my boyhood friends told me I’d fail…Don’t need no pretty face, don’t need no human race…virgins with tainted saviors…I don’t wanna be no Catholic Boy…” The Deadboys gang spoke straight to the heart of Midwestern j.d.’s and expelled Catholic school outcasts like me…Bators and Chrome….”Sick in the head, she’s in my bed, how can I laugh when I’m three quarters dead?” They really affirmed something primal, and honest, and true in all of us sneering, porn-hearted hellions, who just weren’t put here to shutup and obey, and punch the clock, and watch tv. It was actually PAINFUL to discover their legions of fratboy fans when we finally fled smalltown hell to seek our own rocknroll redemption in the big city only to end up singing hymns for a cup of soup. Fuckin’ A, man, I felt every note those guys ever played. The original Frankenstein monsters of rock. All their offensive, straight society scorning, square-baiting, anti-social stoogery resonated with all of us smutty weirdos and marauding, hard partying, dropouts ,who learned their songs and imitated their blueprint, preposterously, out of time. We were the ones who became the devoted congregation of the Lords Of The New Church. The bloody nosed, leather jacketed losers with duct taped creepers and jailhouse tattoos. We had, similarly, broken up every band that we ever begun, we fucked up everything that we’d ever done. Some of us didn’t even successfully die young. We just got fat and brokenhearted–retail knees, ruined backs, bad teeth, and chronic heartburn. “Used to get what you paid for, but not anymore.”

CHEETAH CHROME “SOLO” (-Plowboy Records)

 cheetah-chrome-solo “Sharky” surprisingly boasts some retro sixties sounding keyboards reminiscent of the Batusi’s cover of “Blue’s Theme”, or any of your other favorite “Nuggets” era surf/garage scuzzery. Finally, one of the most essential guitarists in the world gets back in a real recording studio and what does the still unpredictable crazy kook open the album with? A teenage delinquent instrumental. The searing guitar lines will remind you of Link Wray, Wayne Kramer, Dick Dale, Buxton/Bruce. In spite of his legendary reputation as a hell raising hotel destroyer, smashing up stages and pissing in the ice machine, Chrome is foremost a motherfucker guitarist. “East Side Story” is stone beauty-confessional, soulful, and as thoughtful as any bruised rumination by Keith Richards, Tom Waits, Johnny Thunders, or Peter Perrett. To me, it’s as lovely as anything Cheetah has ever written. Brings back a lot of hazy memories of stumblin’ around in the moonlight of the Lower East Side. Really exceptionally gorgeous, surpasses our expectations.

“Rollin’ Voodoo” is pure blues, like a midnight knife fight between Bo Diddley and Willie Deville. Cheetah still has Robert Johnson and Peter Laughner’s hellhound on his trail. Still killer, after all these years. Love it to death. Demonstrates how few of his imitators ever came close. A lot of people have worn animal print scarves and smoked cigarettes. Very, very, very few of ’em have ever faintly demonstrated anything similar to Chrome’s stamina, integrity, feel, guts, or imagination. Just fantastic. Cheetah sings the hell outta this one, guitars go wild like a self-immolating Mick Taylor. Breathtakingly beyond. Coarse, scabby vocals, always full of irrefutable sincerity, pain and pathos, with menacing, glowering, evil guitar work. “Whoo, whoo.”

“Stare Into The Night” sounds like classic Chrome, ya know, catchy, tough guy power pop. If you love the Deadboys, the Ghetto Dogs, or any old seventies pop bands like the Real Kids or Knots, this one’s for you. The kind of rocknroll I can listen to everyday, something that goes on a cassette tape in between the Flaming Groovies and Dictators. His trademark charring lead guitar playing and innate mastery of sixties pop forms. “No Credit” is a somber rooftop Cheetah Chrome, surveying his savage kingdom in the a.m., in the burnt-out Mad Max cityscape of Lower Manhattan before the venal white collar criminals and pinstriped billionaire elites and hedge-fund scumbags kicked all the poor people out and Disneyfied the once dangerous, melting pot, art-ghetto, downtown.

“This ain’t Sears”. I remember rolling smokes outta cigarette butts while looking at the limos lined up outside the Palladium through a broken window with the generous and compassionate, hilarious and always humane, Cheetah Chrome. “Nuthin'” is dark. We don’t hear music like this, too often, no more. Will remind the youngsters of top-shelf Social Distortion, and oldsters of the real Alice Cooper, when he was part of a band, not a brand, and the Dead Fuckin’ Boys. Proves again, and again, how Cheetah is the very essence of rocknroll. He’s the meanest mean, he’s the blackest black, the last man standing, the minister of mayhem. “Love Song To Death” is another pitch black spooky ballad, from someone who’s been all the way to the bottom, about walkin’ around in the dark alone. Extraordinary, one of the greatest guitar players to ever grace a stage reminds us how he is also still one of the great punk rock SONGWRITERS. Naturally, this one’s steadily becoming one of my own personal favorites. If you only purchase one autobiography, compact disc, and t-shirt this Christmas, it should be Cheetah Chrome’s. The man is every bit the wildly courageous and incorrigible personification of rocknroll as Lemmy, Keith, or Iggy…and those other guys don’t need the money. I love you, Cheetah. Just ’cause we don’t talk every day, that don’t mean we ain’t cool.  Long live Cheetah Chrome.




3 thoughts on ““He’s Good-Bad But He’s Not Evil….” Tribute To Cheetah Chrome by Pepsi Sheen & The Rocknroll People…

  1. From the first time I saw the Dead Boys (October 2nd 1977) at CBGB’s, I was hooked forever… saw them at least 40-50 times, no one has influenced my life as much as Stiv, Cheetah, and the rest of the band…one of these days I’ll get the nerve to write about some of the fun I had with those wonderful lads 😉

  2. “Consider if you will all, the hyperbolic language used by advertising weasels to sell crooked politicians, mediocre rappers, and blow-dried Ken doll actors on cable shows about vampires to America’s intentionally dumbed down Taco Bell drive-thru customers. All the extravagant descriptions squandered on the latest round of emo sissy Fauntleroy’s and champagne room heiresses with boring sex tapes.”

    Although I didn’t get there and was never lucky enough to witness the apparent, hands down best of the best that Cheetah was and still is, the memories and observations of him are not excluded from the greatness of the influence and impressions he leaves. In other words, his light shines so bright that nothing in his wake is spared, including the words applied anywhere because of his existence of which is a blessing to all he has encountered.

    Amazing article, thank you.

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