Of all the legendary figures and over-the-top characters to come out of New York's '70s punk scene, there were few who were more influential than Richard Hell -- and probably none who were as mercurial. He was a founding member of three groundbreaking bands -- Television, the Heartbreakers, and his own group, the Voidoids -- and played a vital role in transforming CBGB's into one of the world's most famous rock clubs.
In fact, Hell was the definition of punk: dressed in ripped clothes that were held together by clothespins, his shirts scrawled with provocative slogans -- one of them, "Please Kill Me," later immortalized in book form -- and hair done up in a mess of spikes. His style was even the inspiration for the Sex Pistols, and in turn, to most punks that have come since. And the music matched: a bundle of nervy, raw energy that threatened constant self-destruction, summed up by anthems like "Love Comes in Spurts" and "Blank Generation."
Now, almost 30 years since Hell retired from playing music, his career run off the rails by addiction, he's written a memoir, I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp
, out now through Ecco press. Ahead of his reading this Saturday at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis, Gimme Noise chatted with Hell over the phone from his hotel room in San Francisco.More »