Darby Crash
By: Lynn Peril | Categories: HiLo Heroes

Darby Crash by John Cederberg

DARBY CRASH (Jan Paul Beahm, 1958–80) was every inch a rock and roll star, but he wasn’t much of a musician. In the late 1970s, after reading all about Crash’s Iggy-esque onstage antics, notably a performance of bubble-pop band The Archies’ “Sugar Sugar” involving a ten-pound bag of sugar, I could hardly wait to hear his band, The Germs. Their contribution to the 1978 Dangerhouse compilation Yes, L.A. was “Forming” (the A-side of the first Germs’ single), which I found a challenging listening experience. With the unwavering self-assurance that only a teenage snob can muster, that was that for me and The Germs. Joan Jett produced their first album, (GI), to some acclaim? So what! However, the 2002 rock-and-roll biography Lexicon Devil: The Fast Times and Short Life of Darby Crash is one of the best of its kind; I recommend it to Germs fans and non-fans alike. It has everything: a charismatic subject in Crash himself, who was fascinated with cults, and who initiated more than one follower with a “Germs burn” from the end of his lit cigarette; Los Angeles in the mid-to-late 1970s; Scientology; copious amounts of LSD and angel dust; and a picture of Paul Lynde in a caftan. At 22, Crash committed a spectacularly ill-timed suicide — it was 24 hours before John Lennon’s murder, news of which pushed Crash’s death out of even the local newspapers.


On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Winsor McCay, Emile Henry.

READ MORE about members of the Original Generation X (1954–63).

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Lynn Peril is the author of Swimming in the Steno Pool: A Retro Guide to Making It in the Office. She lives in Oakland, California.