It is with considerable sadness that we share the following news : CHAIN GANG’s Ricky Luanda passed away earlier this year from esophageal cancer. Chain Gang (in general) and Ricky (in particular) provided a window onto a side of NYC much of the city’s cultural gatekeepers would’ve sooner forgotten. Though their 1977 7″, “Son Of Sam” b/w “Gary Gilmore And The Island Of Dr. Moreau” has achieved mythic status in recent years (the A-side covered by JSBX, Ty Segall and Fucked Up amongst others), subsequent recordings, performances and films were that all too rare combo of the genuinely weird but always fully realized. Their discography is slim, but close to flawless. Bruce Springsteen recently argued that Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame is shamed by their oversight of Suicide ; whether or not you agree with this statement, Chain Gang long ago earned their place in the Smithsonian, the Museum Of Natural History, and perhaps even Universal Studios in Orlando, FL.
We were very lucky to work with Ricky during the early days of Matador and we’re beyond lucky to have experienced his friendship and observed his artistry-in-action. NYC, nay, the world, is a poorer place without him. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and musical co-conspirators.
…on the big screen, anyway. Chain Gang’s centuries in the making “Mondo Manhattan” receives a screening Saturday, March 3 at 1pm as part of NYC’s Demented Film Festival . You really don’t want to know what kind of VIP gift bag opportunities there are at this event.
This monumental occasion comes very quickly on the heels of Chain Gang’s Ricky Luanda releasing a limited edition 7″ to accompany the deluxe paperback of Boo-Hooray’s “Ed Wood’s Sleaze Paperbacks”. WIth all due respect to Lana Del Rey, Jeremy Lin and Rick Santorum with this flurry of activity, 2012 is quickly shaping up to be The Year Of Chain Gang.
If this isn’t enough to spearhead a U68 revival, I don’t know what it will take. Thanks to Ricky Luanda for providing a link to the above clip for Chain Gang‘s ‘Cut Off The Drug Czar’s Head”, as heard on the 1993 Matador CD, ‘Perfumed’ (and more recently, on our sprawltastic ‘Matador At 21’ box set)
…and it’s not “The Dark Knight”, “Hancock” or even “Space Chimps”. Instead, much like the rest of you, I’m breathlessly awaiting the release of Chain Gang‘s long-awaited “Mondo Manhattan”. There’s every chance I’ll be writing these same words 12 months from now, but there’s worse things than watching this trailer, or basking in Ricky Luanda’s spirited narration.
25 years in the making El Chain gives us a glimpse of the genius moves to come with a trailer for Mondo Manhattan! The backstory to the cult behind Son of Sam! Murders! Torture! Dr. Mabuse!
Ricky, I sent in my 5 bucks for that VHS 18 years ago! I guess with inflation and compounded interest, that’ll still be good for the more expensive and expanded DVD format when it is eventually released!