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Accidental Genius

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The personal weirdness at Bomp! doesn't end with Greg and Suzy's partnership or Suzy's collection techniques, however. Greg and Suzy aren't the only ex-lovers working together at the company. Out of the six employees, five have been involved in interoffice marriages. Betsy Palmer, Greg's third wife (their union lasted from '85 to '86) and a former member of a Bomp! band, came to work as the label's publicist earlier this year. And Paul Grant, Suzy's second husband (their union began in the late '70s or early '80s -- neither of them remembers exactly when), returned to help out with the mail-order business in '97. (Grant originally came to the company in 1978 as the editor of Bomp! magazine; after it folded, he continued to work at the label doing various functions until '86.)

Suzy also lived with Epitaph Records head Brett Gurewitz for a time in the '80s. (Bomp! distributed the first single by Gurewitz's old band, Bad Religion, and Gurewitz then engineered and did other production work on several Bomp! projects.) Today, Greg proudly claims that "Suzy taught Brett everything he knew about the business, and he went on to have the most successful independent label ever." But Suzy downplays her role: "Brett says I taught him the record business, but I don't think so, myself."

Suzy's current husband, Patrick Boissel, has been involved with the label since '93, when he immigrated from France following a serendipitous meeting at a European music conference. Boissel runs his own labels, Alive and Total Energy, in loose affiliation with Bomp!, retaining complete creative control over his projects, but sharing business functions like shipping and promotion. He has also become Suzy's emissary when business matters between Greg and his first ex-wife can't be resolved via the fax machine. With the exception of Suzy and Greg, all the combinations of exes still talk and get along quite well. "I'm going to have to marry Greg next," jokes Grant. "And I'm not looking forward to it. Neither is my girlfriend. After that, there's Betsy. . . ."

For the first time in a while, Greg Shaw claims to be looking eagerly toward the future of Bomp!. During the past decade, he hasn't worked with many new bands except the Brian Jonestown Massacre, concentrating on reissue projects like the Pebbles series instead. While this has partially been because of a lack of interest in most of the '90s musical scenes, it also has had a lot to do with his health. A diabetic since the age of 10, his disease worsened several years ago to the point that his kidneys failed, and he required dialysis treatments every three hours. He credits Patrick with keeping his Bomp! business in order when his illness prevented him from doing things himself. In May of this year, however, Greg received both a kidney and pancreas transplant, which he claims cured his diabetes.

Feeling better than he has in ages, Greg Shaw claims that part of the label's ongoing 25th-anniversary celebration (which included a massive concert/party held earlier this month featuring performances by Wayne Kramer, Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Zeros and others) is to "let the world know that I'm back and I'm ready to rock." Although he quickly adds, "But I still don't want any demo tapes!"

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Sabrina Kaleta