Bob Biggs, who led the upstart Los Angeles punk rock label Slash Records to nationwide prominence within the ‘80s, died Oct. 17 in Tehachapi, CA. He was 74, and had suffered from Lewys physique dementia.
Spawned by a loud, humorous tabloid publication that touted the hard-edged acts that poured out of the Hollywood basement membership the Masque within the late ‘70s, the small, savvy and classy Slash label latched onto the very best of the native crop, and later prolonged its attain, with the assistance of main label distribution, to signal a number of the greatest expertise from different different music scenes across the nation.
“I wouldn’t describe myself as a music fan and particular kinds of music don’t curiosity me,” Biggs advised the Los Angeles Occasions’ Kristine McKenna in 1987. “However I wouldn’t put out a document I didn’t discover some benefit in. I put out data I feel are vital and the problem of getting a mass viewers to agree they’re vital is what’s enjoyable for me.
“If I have been a consummate fan I’d be incapable of constructing sure enterprise strikes as a result of I’d contemplate the music too treasured. My job is to seek out — or create — a marketplace for a document and that requires me to be a bit ruthless at instances. You must be willful to run a document firm and for those who ever play sufferer you’re lifeless. This enterprise is about survival of the fittest and it requires psychological toughness and the power to bluff.”
Members of Slash’s best-known acts took to social media as phrase of Biggs’ demise unfold on Saturday.
“RIP, Bob Biggs,” Religion No Extra bassist Invoice Gould wrote on Twitter. “A lot like to all the oldsters who shared the Slash expertise with me. It was insanity and I’m grateful!”
The Dream Syndicate’s singer-songwriter-guitarist Steve Wynn wrote on Fb, “Slash head honcho Bob Biggs confirmed religion in a band like us and gave us a vaulted context amidst the very best label mates to make the remainder of the world take note of what we have been doing.”
On his Fb web page, former Blasters guitarist-songwriter Dave Alvin referred to as Biggs “a really charming, visionary rascal. He was an important painter/artist, a excessive idea mover and shaker in addition to a easy, barely shady jive talker with an excellent and insightful ear for musicians/bands/traits on his label, Slash Records. I’ve so as to add that he gave us Blasters an opportunity when no different label would.”
Biggs was born in Whittier and attended junior school in Cerritos, the place he performed soccer. He went on to attend UCLA on a soccer scholarship, however jettisoned athletics after injuring a leg. He graduated from UCLA with a level in artwork, and confirmed his work in native galleries whereas constructing furnishings on the market.
In 1977, Biggs’ Pico Boulevard studio was subsequent door to the workplaces of Slash journal, an attitude-flexing new publication catering to the burgeoning L.A. punk rock group. Slash’s writer Steve Samiof approached Biggs for a mortgage to document the unpredictable punk act the Germs, and he kicked in $600 for the recording of the three-track “Lexicon Satan” EP, which the journal offered through mail order.
Additional investments by Biggs — who grew to become managing director of the journal — in Slash’s toddler unbiased imprint adopted. In 1979, Slash launched its first LP, the Germs’ raucous LP “(GI),” produced by former Runaways guitarist Joan Jett.
By the 1980 launch of “Los Angeles,” the debut album by the highest native punk band X, Biggs (who helped design that album’s stark cowl, which featured a big, fiery “X”) had purchased out Samiof’s curiosity within the journal, which shuttered later that yr.
Pulling on a Budweiser, Biggs defined his label’s easy philosophy in “The Unheard Music,” W.T. Morgan’s 1986 documentary about X: “To start with, you signal good bands. You don’t signal a bunch of s—.”
In early 1981, the label issued the soundtrack for “The Decline of Western Civilization,” a documentary directed by Biggs’ then-wife Penelope Spheeris, which featured each class-of-‘77 L.A. punk bands and new hardcore acts like Black Flag and the Circle Jerks. Biggs and Slash journal staffers, together with the label’s early producer and A&R man Chris Desjardins, have been featured within the movie.
By way of 1981, Slash’s profile rose with the discharge of a second X album, “Wild Present” (which was named album of the yr by the Los Angeles Occasions’ critics), ferocious punk outings by the Gun Membership and the Flesh Eaters on the brand new Ruby Records subsidiary and the label debut of the Downey roots-rock band the Blasters.
On the finish of that yr, the latter act’s self-titled LP grew to become the primary document distributed through a two-tiered cope with Warner Bros. Records. Over the following three years, the connection bore fruit with the discharge of albums by such distinguished bands because the Dream Syndicate, Concern, Rank and File and Los Lobos (the latter of which collected Slash’s first Grammy Award, for his or her debut EP “…and a time to bounce”).
In 1984, the label issued a title that might turn into one among its largest sellers: the eponymous debut (really recorded as demos) by Violent Femmes, an acoustic trio from Milwaukee. Although the album wouldn’t attain the nationwide album charts till 1991, it was from the start a school radio normal (because of songs like “Blister within the Solar” and “Gone Daddy Gone”) and a dorm-room staple. Up to now it has offered an estimated 2 million copies.
By way of the ‘80s, Slash continued to maneuver nicely past the confines of punk with albums from Boston’s rock quartet Del Fuegos, the tongue-in-cheek folk-punk act the Knitters (that includes members of X and the Blasters) and the Wisconsin roots band the BoDeans. The yr 1987 introduced the arrival of the San Francisco band Religion No Extra; Biggs designed the quilt of their label debut “Introduce Your self” and co-directed their first video for a remake of the group’s “We Care a Lot.” The label additionally launched its first platinum album, the chart-topping soundtrack for the Ritchie Valens biopic “La Bamba,” that includes Los Lobos’ music. Each the LP and its title single reached No. 1 within the U.S.
Slash peaked in 1989 with Religion No Extra’s “The Actual Factor,” the band’s first set with new lead singer Mike Patton. Pushed by the ever-present prime 10 funk-metal single “Epic,” the million-selling assortment climbed to No. 11 nationally; the band’s tireless touring saved it on U.S. charts for 60 weeks.
Nevertheless, Biggs’ means to catch lightning in a bottle had begun to elude him by the tip of the last decade. Regardless of high quality signings like New Zealand’s the Chills, L.A.’s ferocious feminine rockers L7, the roots unit Grant Lee Buffalo and the hip-hop inflected New York combo Soul Coughing, the label’s roster was burdened by numerous undistinguished acts that didn’t catch fireplace.
Escalating friction between Biggs and his enterprise accomplice Mark Trilling prompted the 1995 sale of Slash to London Records, the PolyGram-owned imprint that had distributed the label abroad because the early ‘80s. Biggs grew to become a London government, based mostly in New York, and succeeded in convincing the corporate to let Slash launch music from the German industrial band Rammstein.
In 1999, when PolyGram Music Group president Roger Ames moved to Warner Music Worldwide, London’s belongings have been offered to Warner Music Group, and Slash’s catalog moved again to Warner. Slash’s Beverly Boulevard workplace, which had been working with a skeleton employees, was shuttered.
In 2003, following Biggs’ return to California, Ames gave Biggs his blessing to launch new music below the Slash shingle. Renting a small Hollywood Boulevard workplace and working below the company deal with “Up Yours Inc.,” Biggs restarted the imprint with a tiny employees of former Slash workers. The label managed just one launch, an album by the New York band Shiner Huge, earlier than excessive losses compelled its closure.
Biggs spent his later years working in a spacious studio adjoining to his hilltop dwelling on an 80-acre unfold in Tehachapi. His paintings appeared on the quilt of Swans’ 2014 album “To Be Type.”
He’s survived by his spouse Kim and son Monte.