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Bob Biggs Dead: Slash Records co-founder was 74

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Bob Biggs, who led Los Angeles punk rock label Slash Records to nationwide renown in the 1980s, died on October 17 in Tehachapi, California. He was 74 years old and suffered from Lewys body dementia.

Created by a loud and funny tabloid publication that praised the relentless deeds that poured out of Hollywood’s basement club, the Mask in the late ’70s, the smart and stylish little Slash label clung to the best of culture. local, and later. has expanded its reach, with the help of major distribution labels, to recruit some of the best talent from other alternative music venues across the country.

“I wouldn’t describe myself as a fan of music and I’m not interested in specific styles of music,” Biggs told Kristine McKenna of the Los Angeles Times in 1987. “But I wouldn’t release a record that I didn’t have. I have not found records that I think are necessary and the challenge of convincing a mass audience that they are necessary is what entertains me.

“If I were an accomplished fan, I wouldn’t be able to make certain commercial moves because I would consider the music too valuable. My job is to find – or create – a market for a record and that sometimes forces me to be a little ruthless. You have to volunteer to run a record company and if you ever play a victim, you are dead. This activity is about the survival of the fittest and requires mental toughness and the ability to bluff.

Members of Slash’s best-known acts took to social media as news of Biggs’ death spread on Saturday.

“RIP, Bob Biggs,” Faith No More bassist Bill Gould wrote on Twitter. “Much love to everyone who shared the Slash experience with me. It was madness and I am grateful!

Dream Syndicate singer-songwriter-guitarist Steve Wynn wrote on Facebook: “Bob Biggs, Slash’s head honcho, showed his faith in a band like us and gave us hunchbacked context amidst the best. label mates so the rest of the world would pay attention to what we were doing. “

On his Facebook page, former Blasters guitarist-songwriter Dave Alvin called Biggs “a very charming rascal visionary.” He was a great painter / artist, designer and high profile shaker as well as a sweet, slightly shaded jive talker with a bright and insightful ear for musicians / bands / trends at his label, Slash Records. I have to add that he gave us a chance at Blasters when no other label would.

Biggs was born in Whittier and attended college in Cerritos, where he played football. He then attended UCLA on a football scholarship, but quit athletics after injuring his leg. He graduated from UCLA with an art degree and has shown his work in local galleries while building furniture for sale.

In 1977, Biggs’ Pico Boulevard studio was right next to the offices of Slash magazine, a new publication aimed at LA’s burgeoning punk rock community. Slash editor Steve Samiof approached Biggs for a loan to record the unpredictable punk number The Germs, and he shelled out $ 600 for the recording of the three-track EP “Lexicon Devil,” which the magazine sold by mail order.

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Bob Biggs in the X documentary “The Unheard Music”

Further investments by Biggs – who became the magazine’s chief executive – in Slash’s independent infant imprint followed. In 1979, Slash released his debut album, Germs’ raucous LP “(GI)”, produced by former Runaways guitarist Joan Jett.

By the 1980 release of “Los Angeles,” the debut album by top local punk band X, Biggs (who helped design that album’s clean cover, which featured a large, fiery “X”) had redeemed it. Samiof’s interest in the magazine, which closed later this year.

Pulling on a Budweiser, Biggs explained his label’s simple philosophy in “The Unheard Music,” WT Morgan’s 1986 X documentary: “First of all, you sign great bands. You don’t sign a bunch of s ….

In early 1981, the label released the soundtrack to “The Decline of Western Civilization,” a documentary directed by Penelope Spheeris, then Biggs’ wife, which featured both Class 77 punk bands from LA and newcomers. hardcore bands like Black Flag and the Jerks Circle. Staff from Biggs and Slash magazines, including the label’s first producer and A&R man Chris Desjardins, were featured in the film.

In 1981, Slash’s profile rose with the release of a second X album, “Wild Gift” (which was named Album of the Year by Los Angeles Times critics), fierce punk releases from The Gun Club and Flesh Eaters on the new Ruby Records Affiliate and debut on the label of roots rock band Downey The Blasters.

At the end of that year, the eponymous LP from that last act became the first record released through a two-tier deal with Warner Bros. Records. Over the next three years, the relationship paid off with the release of albums by groups as important as Dream Syndicate, Fear, Rank and File, and Los Lobos (the latter of which won Slash’s first Grammy Award, for their first EP “… and a time to dance”).

In 1984, the label released a title that would become one of its biggest sellers: the eponymous first album (actually recorded in demos) by Violent Femmes, an acoustic trio from Milwaukee. Although the album did not reach the national charts until 1991, it was from the start a college radio standard (thanks to songs like “Blister in the Sun” and “Gone Daddy Gone”) and a dormitory staple. . To date, it has sold around 2 million copies.

Throughout the ’80s, Slash continued to go way beyond the limits of punk with albums by the Boston rock quartet Del Fuegos, the ironic folk-punk band The Knitters (featuring members of X and The Blasters) and from the Wisconsin root group. the BoDeans. The year 1987 brought the arrival of the San Francisco band Faith No More; Biggs designed the cover of their debut album on the “Introduce Yourself” label and co-directed their first video for a remake of the band “We Care a Lot”. The label also released their platinum debut album, the soundtrack to the soundtrack of Ritchie Valens’ biopic “La Bamba”, featuring music from Los Lobos. The LP and its single track both reached No. 1 in the United States.

Slash peaked in 1989 with Faith No More’s “The Real Thing”, the band’s first set with new vocalist Mike Patton. Driven by the ubiquity of the top 10 funk-metal single “Epic”, the collection, which sold for a million, rose to 11th national rank; the band’s tireless tours kept it in the US charts for 60 weeks.

However, Biggs’ ability to catch lightning in a bottle had begun to elude him by the end of the decade. Despite quality signings like The Chills from New Zealand, ferocious rockers L7 from LA, root unit Grant Lee Buffalo, and hip-hop-inflected New York combo Soul Coughing, the label’s roster was weighed down by a large number of indistinct acts which failed to catch fire. .

The escalating friction between Biggs and his business partner Mark Trilling led to the 1995 sale of Slash to London Records, the PolyGram-owned brand that had distributed the label overseas since the early 1980s. Biggs became a London leader, based in New York, and managed to convince the company to let Slash release the music of the German industrial group Rammstein.

In 1999, when PolyGram Music Group chairman Roger Ames moved to Warner Music International, the London assets were sold to Warner Music Group and Slash’s catalog reverted to Warner. Slash’s Beverly Boulevard office, which operated with skeleton staff, has been closed.

In 2003, after Biggs returned to California, Ames gave Biggs his blessing to release new music under the slash shingle. Renting a small office on Hollywood Boulevard and operating under the management of “Up Yours Inc.”, Biggs relaunched the imprint with a small staff of former Slash employees. The label managed only one release, an album by New York-based band Shiner Massive, before heavy losses forced its closure.

Biggs spent his later years working in a spacious studio adjacent to his home perched on 80 acres of land in Tehachapi. His works appeared on the cover of Swans’ album “To Be Kind” in 2014.

He is survived by his wife Kim and his son Monte.



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