July 3, 2004. Rock 'n' roll infamy.
It's been 10 years since "the punch," and I'd be lying if I told you I hated it. You see, I was in local punk act North Side Kings, and now-legendary Glenn Danzig slayer Danny Marianino was my bandmate in 2004 (and is still my friend today). I was there in Tuba City, on the Navajo Nation, and what follows is the truth.
For me, it was a thing of ridiculous beauty. I never liked the Misfits -- Danzig's legendary horror-punk group -- growing up. I found it too boring, cartoonish, and repetitive to take seriously. I think even less of Danzig's solo material. So, in my opinion at the time, Glenn Danzig was a joke, and the opportunity to open for him was merely another notch on the gig belt for me. In 2004, North Side Kings was on the cusp of our best work, and even if the band sounded nothing like Danzig, we knew the kids of the Navajo Nation would be into it. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to find out.
On the day of the show, I drove up to Tuba City with Rudy "Rude-T" Reilly, who often traveled with us and did our sound. We followed the rest of the band, which included guitar players Ryan Butler and Luke Lanham, drummer Richie Gallen, and a few other friends who were in a van we borrowed for the trip. Once we got to the venue, things started to unravel.
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Originally, the plan was for two stages to be set up at a Tuba City venue and have continuous music. We were working with a young promoter, but everything seemed as if it would be a great event. As we got the lay of the land at the venue, we noticed that only one stage had been built. The promoter informed us that Danzig had nixed the idea of there being two stages. Strike one against the rock demon child. The star also decided that he would perform at 10 p.m. and not midnight, as planned, because he needed to be on the road to Los Angeles by midnight. Now, we had to figure out how 11 bands were going to play on one stage in five hours.
See also: When Danny Punched Danzig
As the hours passed, it became apparent that we were going to get screwed, so Danny started asking questions. It was relayed to us that Danzig would announce during his set that a few bands would play after he was finished and that fans should stick around to see them. We were satisfied with that and went back to enjoying ourselves and the hospitality of Tuba City.
After the dark lord and his band finished a thoroughly boring and uninspired set, the lights came up and the crew began tearing down the stage. We felt ripped off and were all, "What the fuck?" Danzig also had been rude to some of our folks during the evening, and so tension was in the air.
Danny said he was going to talk to him and see what happened. At this point, I'd like to set the record straight about how the altercation that ensued ended up on film.
Our friend Dan Stone had been filming us for a couple of years. We'd talked to our label, Thorp Records, about doing a DVD and had hours of footage of us playing and just being idiots. Dan Stone had a habit of filming our antics, so we were used to his having a camera in hand. It was for this reason alone that the camera was rolling when Danny talked to Danzig. He had no plans to get into a fight with the singer and there definitely was nothing underhanded about what happened.
The moment itself was surreal.
People always talk about certain events happening quickly, and this one was no different. I remember thinking, "This is not going to end well," after Danzig yelled, "Fuck you, motherfucker," and shoved Danny.
Danny simply reacted. The next thing I knew, I could see Glenn "Mother" Danzig, on his hands and knees looking 10 shades paler than usual with a little trickle of blood coming out of his mouth. He looked dazed as pandemonium ensued in the hallway that served as a backstage area.
Little Glenn, badass black belt that he supposedly was, began to crawl toward the hallway to my immediate right. I have to point out here that when I first laid eyes on him that evening, I could not believe how short he is, like a stout, pale elf. Shaking off the shock of the moment, I realized I needed to make sure that Danny was okay, get my bass gear out of the hallway (it was about 10 feet from the where the "punch" happened), and load up my truck, which was parked, of course, right in front of Evil Elvis' tour bus.
After things calmed, it seemed we were on the verge of some odd rock 'n' roll street brawl. The security team at the venue decided Danny had acted in self-defense and stayed close to him, but the rest of us were able to walk around, gather our gear, and get ready to get the heck out of Dodge. At that point, I didn't even know there was a video of the incident. We laughed about what had happened and couldn't believe what Danny had done. I thought, "No one is going to believe this."
Eventually, we got in our vehicles and headed to Flagstaff. As Rude-T and I were driving out of the parking lot, we saw a number of tribal police vehicles speeding into the venue, wondering if they were after Danny. We had heard through the venue security that he was considering pressing charges. We laughed about Danzig going down and how ridiculous he looked crawling down the hall. We met up with the rest of the band at a Denny's in Flagstaff, and it was there that I saw the video for the first time. We talked, laughed, watched, and laughed again and again. At that point, I don't think anyone had any idea what we would do with the video or what was on the horizon.
I spent the night of July 4 telling and re-telling the story as more and more people heard what had happened. I remember that rumors of both Danny and Danzig having knives already forming, so it was fun to refute them and tell people, "No, it was just a punch." Someone -- I'm not sure who -- posted the video to www.azpunk.com, and it went viral from there. The rest is history.
What happened next is well covered in Danny's book, Don't Ever Punch a Rock Star. We got tons of hate mail and death threats, and it made subsequent road trips a lot more interesting, as satanic folks were cursing us and karate kids were threatening to get us as soon as we stepped foot in California. I thought it would die down, but it didn't. People accused Danny and the rest of us of trying to use the video to make us famous or cash in.
But if anything, it killed the band. We did shows for a few more years, but we certainly didn't make any more money or get much positive press. The last real show we ever played was opening for the Misfits -- sans Danzig -- at the Venue of Scottsdale. Fitting, I suppose, and Jerry Only was very cool to us. I really enjoyed getting to meet him and hear him laugh about Danzig getting punched.
And poor, pitiful Glenn. You know, maybe the best thing in all this (for me, at least) was getting to see all the crap he said in interviews about the "punch" and know he was lying his ass off. It's truly pathetic. All he would have had to do was say something like, "You know, things happened and tempers flared and I got punched." That would have ended all the bullshit that came from those 10 seconds of infamy. Instead, the sheep who follow turds like him sent Danny, primarily, and the rest of us volley after volley of hate.
I had a lot of fun being in North Side Kings and loved playing shows and recording with those guys, but I truly believe the Danzig incident sucked a lot of the fun out of it for Danny, which is a bummer because part of what drew me to the band was his enthusiasm for what we did.
In the past 10 years, I've had the opportunity to talk to lots of music folks who know Danzig and not one of them has ever said to me that they wished Danny had not punched him. That says a lot. Most people are like, "No way, you were there?"
I tell them what happened, and they are blown away what they saw on video is truly what happened. To me, Danzig is still Danny's bitch.
Editor's Note: This article originally published with the headline "The 10-Year Anniversary of Danzig Getting Punched in the Face."
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