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Lexicon Devil: The Short Life and Fast Times of Darby Crash and the "Germs" Paperback – 10 Mar 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Feral House,U.S. (10 Mar. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0922915709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0922915705
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 507,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The Tragic Life of a Legendary Punk Rock Icon; The never-before-told story of the life and times of Darby Crash, the lead singer of the notorious LA punk band The Germs, who died of a drug overdose in 1980 at the age of 22. A charismatic, even iconic, singer and performer, Darby Crash has become a legendary but little understood figure; brilliant one moment but strangely suicidal and violent another, his story moves from the hilarious to the tragic. Like the lives of James Dean, Charles Manson and Jim Morrison, this story captures the essence and the dirty underbelly of Los Angeles, marking it as an essential purchase for all hard core punk fans - past and present.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Miss Brown on 26 April 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
recommend it to anyone its a really good read. This item arrived in good time and fantastic condition. The price was excellent. I am very pleased with this.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 43 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
hot times 15 Mar. 2007
By Robert B. Morgan - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this book is super but be warned, i bought it years ago and loved it, bought a copy recently and it has been censored..nude photos are re edited and i worry the text has been altered..not cool..try to buy an old used copy to get the orignal...bob
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
An important oral history of Darby, the Germs and LA punk 16 May 2002
By Trent Reinsmith - Published on
Format: Paperback
Anyone that has any passing interest in LA/American punk has heard the names Darby Crash and the Germs. The songs of the Germs (Darby Crash/Pat Smear/Lorna Doom/Don Bolles) have been heard for almost 25 years. The image of Darby and the Germs live in the film Decline of the Western Civilization has been visible for almost as long. In the years since his death in 1980, many tales have been told about Darby and the life he led. This book attempts to clear up some of the confusion and offer the story of Darby from people who where there with him. Band members, family members, hanger on's, hustlers, and scene makers all contribute in this recount of the life of Darby Crash.
The charm and allure of this book is that it is not a one-sided biography of Darby. Lexicon Devil is not presented as a "this is how it was" history. Instead, the three co-authors Adam Parfrey(Feral House founder), Brendan Mullen(founder of the Masque) and Don Bolles(drummer for the Germs, Vox Pop, 45 Grave and Celebrity Skin) compile a huge number of recollections and piece them together in chronological order. Lexicon Devil shows how a young man transformed himself from Paul Beahm to Bobby Pyn to Darby Crash and finally to death. This approach bears spectacular results. It allows the reader to see the same occurrences through multiple eyes and perspectives. And while this approach may not be the norm in the world of biographies, it is a style that works in this case; Darby Crash didn't live a life that can be pinned down in a one-dimensional conventional biography.
So was Darby a Manson like cult of personality? Was he a David Bowie glam rock wannabe? Was he a troubled genius? Was he a drunk? Was he a junkie? Was he gay? Was he a suicidal mess? Was he a hustler looking for a handout? Did he create his own myth? All these questions and more are asked during the course of this book. And they are all answered, sometimes by more than one person and sometimes in contradictory terms. So where does the truth lie in regard to the life of Darby Crash? I have no doubt that the real Darby can be found in the pages of this book. Lexicon Devil provides the reader with a few versions of "the truth" and then leaves it up to them to define their version of the real life of Paul/Bobby/Darby.
The folks that contribute to Lexicon Devil read like a who's who of the early LA punk scene. Members of X, the Weirdos, the Screamers, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Black Randy & the Metro Squad, Go-Go's, the Runaways, TSOL, the Dils, the Bags, the Zeroes, Fear, Angry Samoans, as well as other early scenesters all contribute. Also included at the end of the book are short profiles of each contributor.
In addition, this book includes 140 never before published photos, Germs lyrics, a Germs discography, as well as a list of gigs and key events. As a whole, the quality of the book is at the same high level that has come to be expected from any Feral House release.
This book is an important oral history of a person, a band, a time long past that will never be repeated. Today, when "punk" is heard on the radio and seen on MTV or reduced to a hairstyle and mall bought clothes, it is important to remember where, how and why this movement started. The creators of the LA punk scene started something special; Lexicon Devil tells their story and history while they in turn relay the story and history of Darby Crash. (TR)
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Spengler was right� 8 May 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Rest assured, this riveting chronicle of the brief rise and ugly eclipse of Jan Paul Beahm, aka Darby Crash, will not make you dream how romantic your life would have been as a first generation punk rocker in the late 70s. By the time the average reader has traversed the nearly 300 pages of damaged life documented here, they'll want to take a shower to wash off all the dried blood.
Wrapped with a stunning color photo (by Ruby Ray) of Darby in a filthy San Francisco dressing room, this book captures all the mayhem, the confusion, the broken glass and the shattered brains that a film like "The Decline of Western Civilization" only offered a fleeting glimpse at. Lexicon Devil is pure oral history, with the spit, vinegar and vomit right there alongside the vitriol. In this case, a thousand words are worth a lot more than one picture (although the book contains a goodly number of the latter that have never been seen before).
It's no wonder the cesspit of HelL.A. played home to a tragic tale of this sort. It's the stuff California is made of-the slime behind the hippy new age façade. In their few years of existence, the Germs captured something almost profound, although they themselves might not have realized it at the time. This book captures the Germs and Darby Crash in a way that will not likely be surpassed.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Darby-The 'Glitter' influenced performance artist 4 Dec. 2004
By sabrina stevenson - Published on
Format: Paperback
I love The Germs. I love this era of punk rock. I love that Southern California had it's own punk rock cult leader . We went to the same high school! I like how this book portrayed Darby as kind of nerdy and idealistic. I appreciated that he was such an earnest fan of David Bowie,searching for hidden meanings in his lyrics on LSD. I was also fascinated by the strange relationship with his mother. I thought the book did an excellent job of humanizing an "icon". I could really see and feel him as a disturbed young man creating work that still has profound ripple effects.
29 of 39 people found the following review helpful
No stars, this is purely revisionist history with an agenda 25 Sept. 2010
By Nicole Panter - Published on
Format: Paperback
No stars, this is purely revisionist history with an agenda

Reviewer: Nicole Panter from Venice, CA USA

This book is a steaming pile of revisionist history "written" by two people who didn't ever like Darby very much. I managed the Germs for two of the three years they existed (the crucial GI period) and despite what the authors would have you believe, I did not cooperate with them in any way whatsoever -- to do so would have been a violation of my friendship with Darby Crash. All the "quotes" attributed to me are cannibalized from old interviews, chopped and channeled to suit the way the "authors" wished to present me -- in an extremely negative light.

A measure of the disingenuousness of this project is the fact that Mullen thanks me in the acknowledgements, a ploy designed to lead the reader into believing I cooperated with them. Along with Lorna and Pat I have kept my mouth shut over the last 20 years and watched those who were very much at the periphery of what, in hindsight, has become a glamorous place to be place themselves at the center.

Don Bolles has spent the last 23 years trying to spin his involvement with the band into something bigger. He was the 3rd of 4 drummers (luckily for him during the GI period). Darby and the others disliked him intensely and Bolles never, never, never had a voice in the creative life of the band. Mullen has spent years trying to flog his completely sensationalized, tawdry version of events to anyone who might buy it, in any form possible -- script, book, whatever.

In light of the fact that I am untruthfully portrayed in this book, do I regret my non-cooperation with the "authors"? No, absolutely not -- the decision I made is the one I can live with -- to have cooperated with either Bolles or Mullen would have been a grossly immoral violation of my friendship with Darby Crash.

The true story of the Germs has yet to be written, the closest I've seen so far is an account by Jeff Spurrier that appeared in Details a few years ago. Forgo the fantasy account of "Lexicon Devil" and seek that one out.
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