Special thanks to ThisDayinMusic.com.
It was June 5, 1990 and Stiv Bators, a cult hero from the New York punk scene was wandering the streets of Paris. For an outrageous rock and roll talent talent, known for his full-throttle performances that included self-mutilation, Iggy and Sid Vicious-style, his end was eerily unremarkable.
A little intoxicated as he strolled, Bators was hit by a car. Nothing too serious it seemed, or maybe his threshold for pain simply disguised the extent of his injuries. He casually mentioned the accident to his girlfriend Caroline t but said he didn’t need medical treatment. Later in the evening, however, Stiv Bators began to have problems breathing. His girlfriend called for an ambulance but it was too late. Bators died from a blood clot and internal bleeding.
Which is where rock and roll legend and myth come into play. Stiv Bators was a massive Jim Morrison fan and had just visited the Doors enigma’s grave in the Pre Lachaise Cemetery. Some say that Bators had told his girlfriend that he’d like his ashes scattered over Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris and that she complied with his wishes. However, film director John Waters, who directed Bators in the movie, Polyester, claims in the director’s commentary on the DVD that Stiv Bators’ girlfriend instead snorted his ashes.
Bators had exploded on the New York punk scene in the Dead Boys alongside Cheetah Chrome, Jimmy Vero, Johnny Blitz and Jeff Magnum when they opened for Brit punks The Damned at CBGB in April 1977. Signed by Seymour Stein to Sire Records (Stein had previously signed The Ramones), they released Young Loud and Snotty, an outrageously powerful slice of NYC punk, but the album failed to sell. As the label tried to move the band ever pop-wards, the Dead Boys split.
After some solo adventures, Bators found his greatest success when he moved to England and formed Lords of the New Church with The Damned’s Brian James, Sham 69’s Dave Tregunna and Barracudas’ drummer Nicky Turner. The band released three albums and an EP, but it was Bators’ post-Iggy stage antics that draw the band their cult following. One night, Bators almost hanged himself on his microphone cord and was recorded as clinically dead for two minutes.
The band broke up acrimoniously and Bators spent the latter part of the ’80s wandering from project to project and then moved to France.
Charles Young of Musician magazine talked to Dee Dee Ramone about Bators’ last few months in Paris. Dee Dee had gone to Paris to work with Bators on material for a supposed comeback. He was getting his health together, said Dee Dee.
“I wanted to play punk rock where you have to be tougher than the kids,” he said. “We’d play for hours. His eyes would roll back and he’d chant, ‘Hate! Hate! Die, mother****!’ Finally he told me, ‘You’re right, Dee Dee. Music should be three chords and a grudge.’ Then he wrote ‘Helter Skelter’ on the mirror with a lipstick.”
Bators lived for rock and roll. A maverick and an outsider, he cared little for fame or fortune. He was a rebel until the day he died. As Dead Boys’ guitarist Cheetah Chrome said of his former partner in punk, “If there is an ice machine in heaven, Stiv is p****ng in it.”