1982-1995, 2001-2004, 2010-
Johnette Napolitano(bass, vocals)1982-
Gabriel Ramirez Quezada(drums)2002-
Concrete Blonde grew out of the Los Angeles post-punk club circuit that produced bands like Wall of Voodoo and the Go-Go's. Vocalist Johnette Napolitano founded the group with guitarist James Mankey and drummer Harry Rushakoff.
They originally used the moniker Dream 6 and released an eponymous EP under that name in France on the Happy Hermit label in 1983.
After landing a deal with I.R.S. Records, Michael Stipe, frontman of label mates R.E.M., suggested they change their name to Concrete Blonde.
Concrete Blonde's tale of a love affair ended by alcoholism, "Joey
" peaked at #19 on the Hot 100 and remains their only mainstream hit.
Roxy Music drummer Paul Thompson replaced Rushakoff for a period in early 1990s while he was in treatment for drug addiction. Rushakoff was eventually kicked out of the band after quitting a U.S. tour to go back home. Shortly afterwards he landed up in jail in L.A. on charges of spouse abuse. Rushakoff was replaced by Gabriel Ramirez Quezada, former member of the Mexican band Maria Fatal.
Speaking to us in a 2013 interview, Johnette Napolitano
said that she "didn't set out to play bass." However as the band "couldn't keep a bass player," she had to learn the instrument. "It was hard to play," she added. "I've been playing guitar since I was nine years old, but it was really hard to learn to play bass and sing at the same time. It's a whole different patient, you know. You sing in a different place in the measure than you do when you're playing a straight beat. It's just a thing you have to learn."
Asked about the songwriting process for Concrete Blonde, Johnette told us she’s found that "of all the ways we've worked, it still works the best if the song is written and then brought in and then played. And then everybody adds what they add to it. Gabriel and I throw down some beats and things.
Once in a while we'll come up with something together," she added. "But at this point, it's kind of like I've got the song written, and I think everybody prefers that. I think everybody prefers that at this point. Or at least they seem like they do."
Johnette told us that the paranormal influences her songwriting. "It's a normal part of my life and who I am since I was very young," she said. "I've had mentors in New Orleans and that's just a part of who I am."
She added: "I've studied for many, many, many years, many different disciplines, and it's just who I am. And it's definitely where my songs come from - clairvoyance."
Napolitano is a woman who cannot quell her creative spirit, whether it's songwriting or painting her own Mexican-influenced artwork (one of which graces the cover of Concrete Blonde's Mexican Moon album). "To create is probably the best thing about life, whether it's a baby or a piece of art," she told Happening magazine. "Everyone has the ability to create something out of nothing, which is a gift that you can't ignore. If you choose not to, I think that's the greatest evil."
Three different tracks from Concrete Blonde's eponymous debut album ("Still In Hollywood
", "Your Haunted Head" and "Over Your Shoulder") featured prominently in the science fiction film The Hidden
(1987). The latter two songs also appeared on the soundtrack for the 1986 movie The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2