Tuesday, July 29, 2008
BILLY RANCHER AND THE UNREAL GODS
If you were into punk rock in Portland back in the day, you remember Billy Rancher. He started the Malchicks in the late 70s, and on weekends if you crowded into the cavern under the Long Goodbye with every weirdo and deviant who ever crawled out of Naked Lunch you could see them play. This was PDX punk. After the Malchicks fell apart, Rancher formed the Unreal Gods around 1980. They mixed punk and ska with a little sloppy Stones, and played what they called Boom Chuck Rock. You might have seen them at Louis La Bamba or maybe out at Lung Fung's Dragon Room on 82nd, a huge Chinese hangar where the drinks were strong.
Billy was cool, man. He was funny and charismatic and he really got the crowd rocking. He was all set to "make it big," and it was just a matter of time. The planets were aligned, it seemed. He was opening for a lot of big acts when they came to town. Sadly, in his mid-20s, Billy was diagnosed with lymphoma. He died in 1986 and is still missed.
I was surprised to come across this live clip from a Portland show. It's a souvenir. It reminds me of all those great nights. Try to imagine a time before blogs and YouTube...you're jammed into a small club with all the freaks, and you've had a few drinks, maybe you smoked a joint in the parking lot, and things are going weird, but the Unreal Gods kick into boom chuck rock and you are pulled in and you can't stop dancing. When you hit the streets afterward you're icey with sweat and you can't hear anymore, but it doesn't matter because you saw--experienced--this amazing show, and you'll still be talking about it nearly thirty years later!
Now that's something for the time capsule--another fly trapped in amber. I heard Billy's old Strat turned up a while ago on Craig's List.
So it goes.
Thanks, Billy. And thanks to Jack Bog for reminding me of some of those great shows.