Crime was an early American punk band from San Francisco. The band was formed in 1976 by Johnny Strike (vocals, guitar), Frankie Fix (vocals, guitar), Ron "The Ripper" Greco (bass; ex-Flamin' Groovies), and Chris Cat (drums), who was rapidly replaced by Ricky Tractor (Ricky Williams) (drums). Their debut, the self-financed double A-side, "Hot Wire My Heart" and "Baby You're So Repulsive", appeared at the end of 1976, and is the first single released by a U.S. punk act from the West Coast.
The band's sound was characterized by simple rock-and-roll arrangements played at intensely high volumes. Michael Goldberg, critic for New York Rocker magazine, wrote in 1978: "Crime play loud. So loud that the plate glass window at the opposite end of the club shakes, tables tremble and people hang onto their drinks. Loudness may be Crime's only musical raison d'etre. This band is a literal translation of the concept 'minimal.' Drummer Hank Rank thumps out a simple Bo Diddley beat that is only adequate in the context of the rest of the band. Bassist Ron the Ripper coaxes a thick rumble from his amp that reminds one of the thunder of a bulldozer rolling over rugged terrain. And the guitar playing of Johnny Strike and Frankie Fix make you feel like you've been forcefully held underwater for the full 25 minutes of the set."
In the following years Crime changed their line-up several times.
Ricky Tractor was fired (later appearing in groups such as Flipper, Toiling Midgets and The Sleepers) and was succeeded by Brittley Black (Larry Black) in 1977. After releasing one single, another double A-side, "Frustration" and "Murder by Guitar", Black was replaced by Hank Rank (Henry Rosenthal) that same year.
In 1979, Greco left the band and was replaced by Joey D'Kaye (Joey Swails) on bass, who had been the band's sound engineer.
Greco and Black both returned for Crime's last release, the single "Maserati/Gangster Funk" in 1981, while D'Kaye moved to synthesizers and produced the recording.
The band split up the following year. Strike and D'Kaye briefly formed a synthpunk duo called Vector Commande, while Fix attempted to start a solo career. Neither produced any record releases.
Ricky Tractor died in 1992, Frankie Fix in 1996, and Brittley Black in 2004.
Recordings and media
Over the course of their career in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Crime officially only released three 7" vinyl records. But many bootleg recordings of the band's live performances and demo tapes were sporadically produced throughout the 1980s.
San Francisco's Doomed, a collection of studio recordings and rehearsal tapes, was released with the approval of the band members by Solar Lodge in the United Kingdom in 1991 on vinyl and CD. Fix, Strike and Rank played on all the songs, with Greco playing bass on side one of the LP, and D'Kaye on side two. The album was re-released as San Francisco's Still Doomed (with added tracks and remastering) in 2004 by Swami Records.
In 1979 San Francisco video company Target Video produced Crime: Live in San Quentin Prison, a documentary of a live performance by the band at San Quentin State Penitentiary in California, where they played for the prisoners wearing exact copies of the uniforms worn by the prison guards.
Sonic Youth featured a cover of "Hot Wire My Heart" on their 1987 release Sister.
In January 2010, a book of Crime's early photographs and posters, The Band Crime: Punk '77 Revisited by James Stark, was published by Last Gasp Books.
In 2001, Strike formed a new band, The Johnsons, with Jimmy Crucifix (bass/vocals) and Biff O'Hara (drums). They changed their name later that year to The Venus Hunters and eventually shortened it to TVH. In 2002 they released the album Night Raid on Lisbon Street on Flapping Jet Records. The unofficial Crime fan site, San Francisco's FIRST and ONLY Rock & Roll Band, reported that Hank Rank had joined TVH in late 2002, replacing O'Hara on drums.
Crime was re-formed in 2007 to headline the Road to Ruins punk festival in Rome. Original members Strike and Rank were joined by: Mickey Tractor on bass, and Pat 'Monsignor' Ryan (formerly of The Nuns) on guitar. In 2008, Crime recorded a new album of rare, older material entitled Exalted Masters, available on LP only, after Ryan was replaced by Count Fink (Brett Stillo of The Flakes) on guitar. They played a half dozen shows in 2008 to support their new album, and recently collaborated with the Moroccan group the Gnawa Express.
In an interview Johnny Strike claimed a boxed set of Crime recordings would possibly be released in 2009. A new EP is due out in Jan-Feb 2010 from F.Y.B.S. Records, featuring two new songs along with a featured collaboration with Gnawa Express.
The current members of Crime have also performed in San Francisco under the band name "Remote Viewers".
Strike has published two works of fiction in recent years: Ports of Hell, and A Loud Humming Sound Came from Above. Rank has produced numerous films (under his real name, Henry Rosenthal) including the hit The Devil and Daniel Johnston. D'Kaye (under his real name, Joey Swails) continued to work as a Bay Area recording engineer and producer.