Jeffrey Lee Pierce
by OFF!

Album: First Four EPs (2010)
  • songfacts ®
  • This song is dedicated to OFF! frontman Keith Morris' friend and former roommate, Jeffrey Lee Pierce, who was a founding member of the influential blues-punk band, The Gun Club. In 1996, Pierce died from a brain haemorrhage, aged just 37. Keith Morris revealed to us in our interview that this song's main riff actually came from Pierce: "Well, before he died, he and I were going to start a band. He was playing songs, and I recorded some of his musical ideas on one of those little microcassettes. He was pushing all the buttons and flipping the switch on his self-destruct mechanism, the built-in self-destruct mechanism. We tried to save his life, me and a friend, Mike Martt, who's in a band called Tex and the Horseheads and Thelonious Monsters. So we got him into the hospital and he was really upset because he wanted to go back to Japan. But getting back to the music, he was playing all of these songs, and he played the music, the main riff for his song, and he said, 'Keith, you're going to write lyrics about Deborah Harry.' Because he was the president of the Blondie fan club. And I was like, 'Well, no, Jeffrey. You're a big fan.' I like Blondie and I like a lot of their songs, but I'm not going to write lyrics about Deborah Harry. That's just not going to happen...And he passed away and I had the music. So we listened to the song that is the basic riff for 'Jeffrey Lee Pierce.' And I just figured I'm going to write a eulogy for one of my best friends."
  • Keith Morris spoke to us about his relationship with Pierce: "Well, we spent a lot of time at the Hong Kong Café - I saw his original band Creeping Ritual. There was Madam Wong's, which was where all the pop bands and the new wave bands played. And then there was the Hong Kong Café, where we would see Fear, we would see the Mau-Maus, or we would see the Controllers, or the Bags, or the Mutants from San Francisco, or the Avengers from San Francisco, or the Zeroes or the Flesheaters. All these amazing bands. Some of Black Flag's earliest shows were at the Hong Kong Café. But Jeffrey Lee Pierce, he was a fan of all of these bands, he was just part of the scene. We'd smoke and we'd drink and we'd do drugs and we'd carry on like a bunch of crazy goofballs." Morris told us he believes Pierce had an incredible influence on the music industry: "But the fact is that he created a genre of music. While I was in Black Flag, we didn't know that we were starting or creating a template for a lot of bands. We didn't know that we started hardcore along with Middle Class and the Germs, and the Bad Brains, and Minor Threat and all of these bands. We just played music. And I'm sure that he did the same thing. He brought in blues, he brought in Howling Wolf and he brought in Robert Johnson and he created this country blues punk rock vibe. He not only influenced people like Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, but also The Cramps. We're talking about two major acts. This is a whole new thing."
  • "Jeffrey Lee Pierce" features on OFF!'s debut album, First Four EPs. Keith Morris told us he doesn't necessarily label OFF! "punk rock," but "angry music": "Well, I don't call it punk rock. I'm 56 years old. I'm just angry...Very angry, yes. But it's also a dark party, we want everybody to have a good time. Just because our lyrics are dark and we're upset doesn't mean that you have to have that mentality. You can jump up and down, you can get loose. Even though we play extremely fast music, you can still shake your ass to it, you can still dance to it. And that's one of our secret weapons."
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