It's June 28, 1993. GG Allin and the Murder Junkies have been playing for maybe fifteen minutes, and the show has already pretty much collapsed. Most of the band has left the room, and most of the crowd had left the moment GG started hurling his own feces off the stage. GG has just punched a crowd member (well, he's punched several, but this one has taken offense). The man in the audience lunges at GG, screaming, "I'm going to fuck you up!"
The fan's threat rings hollow. GG is wild-eyed, naked except for a studded dog collar, smeared in his own waste and bleeding from several self-inflicted gashes on his head. Fuck him up? How?
"Nobody ever fucked up GG, because he did everything to himself," confirms GG's brother Merle, who plays bass with the Murder Junkies. "If he covered himself in shit and blood, who's going to want to touch him?"
GG Allin had already cemented his legacy as rock's most disgusting man well before that night, a man whose shows ended more often than not with the crowd running as fast as they could, a man whose decadence and self-immolation were so complete as to frighten even his already hardened fans. But June 28, after that show, GG found the one level of fucked he hadn't found yet -- death. GG Allin overdosed on heroin that night, leaving behind a disgusting and controversial oeuvre that fascinates more people today than ever.
"It grows, every year, bigger and bigger," says Merle. "Kids today know GG's songs more than they ever did."
GG was the logical endpoint of the strands of punk rock that deified Sid Vicious. Vicious was helplessly ignorant, GG willfully so. Where Vicious chain-whipped an occasional journalist, GG pummeled anyone within reach; where Vicious would slice his chest with a razor, GG would savagely bash himself with jagged cans until the blood was everywhere. And where Vicious was abysmal on bass, GG intentionally created whole abysmal albums. Starting with his band the Jabbers, then later with the Scumfucs and the Murder Junkies (among others), GG recorded some of the worst music ever put to tape, with horrible sound and even worse messages. The titles alone tell you everything you need to know: "Assface, "Expose Yourself to Kids" and "Outlaw Scumbag" are just three less-obscene examples. But the raw shock of those songs were the mere soundtrack to the madness that reigned when GG took to the stage.
For Merle, who watched GG evolve, his outrages were part of a natural progression.
"He took his influences, Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, the New York Dolls. Anything that was theatrical and had a wild side, we were into that," says Merle. "He kind of took all of that and took it a step further. When he first started singing in the '70s with his first band the Jabbers, he was doing stuff like jumping off the stage and knocking people's tables over or taking their drinks and pouring them on them. Back then, we thought it was crazy. But now.... That was just the beginning."
For the Murder Junkies, now touring to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of his death, GG's shocking live act still hangs heavy. Once famous for a live show that fascinated their fan base and horrified club owners, the Murder Junkies are now struggling to convince the world that the magic is still there, but not the madness.
"We don't do [GG's extreme live show]," says Merle. "It took so long for club owners to realize that we weren't doing that. The few years after GG died, we had a rough time. Because we had the fans still wanting to see that."
Current lead singer Jeff Clayton, of the band Antiseen, is one of several who have taken the helm since GG's death, but no one has tried to replace him.
"We weren't looking for another singer to be like GG, because there's nobody like GG," says Merle. "That's why GG is the big phenomenon that he is. It took the fans a while to realize and accept us for our music. Meanwhile, the clubs didn't want to book us because they thought we were going to be like GG. So we were like torn between being this way and that way. So we did what we always did: play a good rock and roll show to balance out his insanity."
GG's insanity didn't die out after his death: GG's influence has spread across the culture. Disparate bands, from pop-punks to Hank Williams III, have recorded GG's songs. The whimsically monikered hardcore band Anal Cunt took their name from a GG Allin song. Bands that pull from the same influences as GG, the metal bands and Marilyn Mansons with their theatrics and stage blood, will always be haunted by the man who makes them pale poseurs. And it's impossible to imagine Jackass existing without GG's stomach-turning antics.
"You can't even imagine what [watching GG] was like. When you were there, the intensity was amazing. The best place to be was right behind GG on stage," Merle laughs.
Another facet of GG's lasting influence was seen recently in the news, when Florida metal band Hell on Earth promised to feature the onstage suicide of a terminally ill fan (the concert was cancelled and the promised online broadcast of the suicide didn't happen, leading many to believe it was a publicity stunt by the band). GG had vowed for years that he would take his life onstage, before cashing out with a rock-cliché overdose.
"I wish GG had gone out the way he wanted to. For him to die the way he did, it was a letdown. I mean, I didn't want to see my brother kill himself. But it would have been great if he'd gone out killing people in the audience and killing himself, if that's what he wanted to do. It would have been great for getting his message out and making him an underground legend, which he already is.
"That whole day he was doing coke and drinking Jim Beam like crazy. He went from that combination to doing a show that he didn't get to finish, which meant that he had all of this anger and built up energy inside him Then he goes to the extreme of doing heroin that night. And the next day I got the call."
Merle never expected GG to die of a drug overdose. "People had this image of GG as a junkie. That he did a lot of drugs and shit. Now he did a lot of drinking, he was definitely a total drunk. But he didn't do heroin that often."
But Merle did expect his brother to die: "People ask me all the time what I think GG would have been today if he hadn't died when he did. I say he'd probably still be dead. He might have lasted another year or two or maybe three. He just went too far."