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.

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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.