Champions of Brutality
The angel that appeared to
Merle Allin Sr. bore an omen:
his newborn son was destined to
be a man as great as the Messiah.
So was born Jesus Christ “GG” Allin.
He came into this world to save rock and roll. He hoped that through his life and death, the genre might be redeemed. Billed as the “sickest, most decadent rocker of all time,” he was unstoppable: “I’ve had death threats, but that doesn’t stop me. I go into every show with full acceleration that somebody’s gonna get hurt.”
Since his debut in 1977 as a drummer with the band Malpractice, GG Allin has become a legend – but not for his music. Despite 16 years of experience in various punk bands including the Cedar Street Sluts, the Scumfucs, and the AIDS Brigade, GG’s recordings are essentially a musical abortion. Simple chord progressions underlay lyrics such as, “Your pussy’s got fleas / zits all over your body, bitch, give me your disease” and animalistic grunting noises to create almost comically bad songs. (Imagine the Sex Pistols with even more abrasive vocals, even less instrumental talent, and more lyrics about eating pussy and jamming tampons and shot glasses up people’s asses.)
His live shows were less a display of musical ability and style, and more a three-ring circus of blood, shit, and come. His pre-show rituals included eating laxatives so he would be better able to shit on stage, eat it, roll around in it, spit it, fling it at the crowd, and smear it all over his body. He masturbated on stage and beat himself with beer bottles, microphones, anything he could get his hands on. At one show, GG bared his front teeth and shattered them with the microphone – the same one he’d recently shoved up his own ass.
By the end of his life, GG Allin was so self-mutilated he was barely recognizable. His scalp and face were permanently discolored and misshapen from his on stage brutality. His body was covered in scars and homemade prison-ink tattoos reading, “life sucks scum fuck,” “vomitus,” and “live fast die,” alongside a tombstone engraved with the letters “GG.”
“It’s kind of a therapeutic release,” he once said. “I kind of just crawl inside myself and then I use my body as a weapon against the audience. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the enemy and beyond that stage is enemy lines.” It wasn’t uncommon that fans would be injured at his shows – his motto was, “With GG, you don’t get what you expect – you get what you deserve.” One of his many jail stints came after he viciously attacked a female fan with a penknife during a show. But people kept coming back for more, a phenomenon even GG himself had trouble understanding. Nevertheless, he regarded his fans as his own personal army, existing only to carry out his will.
The incident that secured his place in the halls of rock and roll infamy was his promise, made in a letter to underground punk fanzine Maximum RocknRoll, to publicly execute himself on stage on Halloween 1990. He considered suicide a graceful exit from the peak of his career -- he wanted to enter the next world at his strongest. That year, his plan was thwarted by his incarceration for knifing that groupie. Each Halloween he repeated the threat, but somehow always landed in jail the night he was supposed to die.
To GG, this is what rock and roll was all about – the brutality, the way of living. He was said to have mugged people and robbed homes to finance his lifestyle, which included a lot of heroin. He sold his records all by hand and detested record companies. The 80’s found straight edge, political punk rock on more mainstream record labels and in mainstream record stores. “Everybody else has drawn lines and limits, and conformed themselves and sold out, and I’ve had opportunities and I’ve said no – that’s not GG Allin,” he said in 1991. He developed a superiority complex over the rest of the upper East Coast punk scene that led him to believe that he, and only he, could be the scene’s saving grace.
During his 1989 trial in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for the rape of one of his fans (who, he said, “knew what she was getting herself into. [Leslie], she threw herself on the GG Allin altar thinking that she was going to be this big bad bitch and she was gonna outdo everybody and she learned she couldn’t do it. Now, you don’t walk into fucking combat without a gun. You don’t go to a fire and expect not to burn. You don’t come to see GG Allin and expect to have a real sweet time.”) the court declared that GG, while fairly intelligent, was probably a megalomaniac. Given that he was christened “Jesus Christ,” is it any wonder he suffered from a psychiatric condition characterized by an unrealistic belief in one’s own superiority, grandiose abilities, and omnipotence? That he had recorded songs such as, “Kill Thy Father, Rape Thy Mother,” and “I’m Gonna Rape You” probably didn’t help his case, and he was eventually sentenced to one-and-a-half to four years in prison.
During the 15 months he served, he wrote his Mein Kampf: the infamous GG Allin Manifesto, in which he openly proclaimed himself as the Messiah of rock and roll. “The Jesus Christ they preach about in the Bible is a phony imposter – just a crutch for the cripples to lean on,” he wrote. “Fuck that weak shit! I am the man to deal with. I created myself inside the womb from the fires of Hell. There are no separations between Jesus Christ, God, and the Devil, because I am all of them. I am here to take rock ‘n’ roll back and prove to the world that I am the real king through the powers I have acquired.”
It was after the Manifesto and his release from prison that he began to tell people he was no longer interested in publicly executing himself. He had one reason to live, and he believed he could never rest until rock and roll had been saved, or as he put it, “My mission is to destroy rock and roll as it now stands and rebuild it in GG Allin’s name.” His life, he believed, was the key to saving the dying and corrupt genre of rock and roll.
His fixation with the rock and roll lifestyle eventually killed him at the age of 36, hours after he was seen running through the streets of New York City, naked and covered in blood and feces. The night he died, he played what many fans and critics consider his greatest, most violent show of all time. He had been strung out all day, and after only two songs, the power in Manhattan’s Gas Station club was turned off. GG marched into the streets, with his army of fans behind him. They rioted, throwing bottles at police, overturning garbage cans and breaking windows.
GG went to the Alphabet City apartment of his friend Johnny Puke, where he was found the next morning, dead of an apparent heroin overdose. He was wearing a white miniskirt he’d borrowed from his 17 year-old girlfriend, a denim jacket, and a dog collar. His last words were, “We gotta do that spoken word tour, man.”
Like his life, his funeral was unruly, unconventional, and fairly disturbing. An account by mourner Joe Coughlin, published in a zine called Pretentious Shit, describes the leather-clad body as discolored and noticeably “going bad after five days,” leaking embalming fluid. In an acoustic country ballad called “When I Die,” GG had requested to be buried with a bottle of Jim Beam; when the beer ran out, drunken funeral-goers ripped the bottle from his hands. One girl removed her panties and put them on GG’s face. They pulled his dick from the filthy jock strap he was buried in and played with it. Even in death, GG Allin was a public spectacle. The crowd of mourners agreed: he would have wanted it that way.
For further exploration:
Todd Philips’s Hated is the definitive GG Allin
on extensive interviews
and concert footage to
paint the picture of a man who tried to a escape his demons
by submitting to them.
Besides being a shit-throwing, blood-spraying demon on stage, Allin had a remarkably self-aware offstage presence, which Hated hints at but doesn’t fully explore – for a more complete picture of the man, fans will have to dig up
the numerous performance bootlegs floating around. For the new fan, though, Hated does an excellent job of introducing the man, the demon, GG Allin.