It’s probably been a year and a half since I asked Jim Tillman permission to post this photo of the Tom Price Desert Classic, for no other reason than I simply think it’s one of the greatest band photos I’ve ever seen anywhere.
So instead of another New Year’s post like the one I did last year, I figured I may as well just start this year with an awesome pic of a band that I’ve never actually seen live, but who I have an indirect history with regardless.
I first met Tom Price back in the very early ‘80s shortly after I arrived in Seattle. He was in one of the very first bands that grabbed my attention and never let go – the semi-legendary and semi-infamous U-Men. In June of 1985, when my band Skin Yard played our first show, it was opening for the “U-Men leave Home” show at the Odd Fellows Hall on Capitol Hill. Later on New Year’s Eve, 12/31/85, we played again with U-Men in a cool loft space on Third Ave. owned by Brook Lizotte. Toward the end of that evening skin heads began beating up random music goers as they left that show, and the doors were locked to keep the skin heads from coming in and causing further harm. The police came and thankfully intervened. It ended up being a sad night in the music scene as many of our friends got hurt. Just a couple of months later, the Deep Six compilation was released on C/Z Records, the record that is widely considered the very first chronicle of the phenomenon that would soon become known as “grunge.” That record was the first recoding of Skin Yard to ever be released (and is still the only recording that we did that still makes me cringe whenever I hear it). Deep Six also included one song by U-Men, at the time the one band that was hoped would help to sell the record locally. On March 22, 1986, we played on a bill with U-Men and Malfunkshun on the second night of a record release party for the Deep Six compilation.
During most of these years, an even older friend – Jim Tillman, the one who took the above photo – was playing bass for U-Men. I was, regardless of the successes that Skin Yard were garnering at the time, admittedly a little envious, as U-Men were one of my very favorite bands at the time. That said, Jim was indeed the perfect bass player for the band. I first met Jim in 1980, prior to my moving to Seattle. I was visiting my friends Tom & Ben after a 10 week bicycle trip through Europe, and quickly fell into a tight group of friends and creative misfits, most of who were students at the Northwest School, an alternative private high school with a heavy focus on the arts. That month-long visit cemented my decision to make Seattle my home, and most of the people I met at Northwest – including Jim –became the core of my social circle in Seattle during my first year or two there.
At some point during these same years, Tom recruited me for a R&B/Soul review side project that he envisioned called “Ernst Hardward and the Red Eyed Soul Monster.” We only played a couple of times, one of which was at the Northwest School. We did covers of early Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrel, The Contours (First I Look at the Purse), The Robins (Riot in Cell Block #9) and others.
Post U-Men, Tom founded and played in Gas Huffer, and also played in The Monkeywrench with Mudhoney co-founders Mark Arm and Steve Turner. Decades later, Tom is still bringing the rock. Check out The Tom Price Desert Classic.
Have a happy and healthy 2013.