John Albert, punk pioneer and chronicler of L.A.’s underbelly, dies at 58


Within the early days of Southern California’s hardcore punk explosion, John Albert went to Arizona along with his mates within the Orange County band the Adolescents. Being a roadie in these days meant using at the back of the truck with the amps and the gear. After they drove throughout the desert for eight hours, a brawl broke out on the gig. Albert locked himself within the dressing room, gathered up all of the deli platters and booze, and climbed out the window. The present could have been a bust, however due to Albert’s fast pondering, that they had sandwiches and beer for the lengthy journey house.

As a teen, Albert threw himself into the L.A. punk scene, the place he made lots of his lifelong mates. In an essay about seeing Black Flag for the primary time, he wrote concerning the suffocation of suburban ennui. “I’ve lower my hair brief and may’t cease smashing home windows.”

Musician Ben Harper, who grew up subsequent door to Albert and was 4 years his junior, witnessed the transformation: “I’ll always remember the primary time I noticed his Mohawk spiked to the moon. It was as if he had landed from outer area.”

A beloved participant in and observer of the L.A. underground, Albert died of a coronary heart assault Might 3. He was 58. His dying was confirmed by his brother, Jesse.

Albert grew up in Claremont, the youngest of two kids. His father, Robert S. Albert, was a professor of kid psychology at Pitzer School and his mom, Julie Maehling Albert, was a social employee at Loma Linda College. From an early age, John Albert was drawn to a aspect of L.A. that others didn’t admire or may even see. Wherever he went, others adopted.

As a musician, he performed an vital position in L.A.’s punk rock scene as a co-founder of the influential Goth-punk band Christian Demise, which he shaped with Roger Alan Painter, a.okay.a. Rozz Williams, in late 1979. “Christian Demise began in our storage,” mentioned Jesse.

“Jay Albert and his squad launched Southern California to punk rock,” Harper mentioned, “particularly within the 909 and the Inland Empire, the place he and I grew up.”

Later, Albert signed on because the drummer for the San Fernando Valley punk rock band Dangerous Faith although his good friend, founding member Brett Gurewitz, wasn’t taking part in within the group on the time. Albert additionally jammed with different L.A. bands, together with the New Romantics with Jack Grisham of T.S.O.L. and DFL with Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys. Albert’s stint in Dangerous Faith got here to an finish within the mid-’80s when he checked himself into rehab to get assist for his hardcore heroin dependancy.

After he emerged 18 months later, Albert reinvented himself as a author. He wrote concerning the metropolis he beloved and displayed a knack for dissecting L.A. on the intersection of glitz and dirt. He had a temperament completely fitted to documenting the incongruities of town on the flip of the century.

?url=https%3A%2F%2Fcalifornia times albert by winnie kessler crop - John Albert, punk pioneer and chronicler of L.A.'s underbelly, dies at 58

John Albert’s “Wrecking Crew” is a nonfiction account of a group of addicts, ex-cons and semi-reformed dirtbags whose members recapture a bit of their innocence on the baseball diamond.

(Winnie Kessler)

Albert wrote for various weeklies and magazines, together with LA Weekly throughout its heyday, and the influential literary journal Slake, based by Laurie Ochoa (now normal supervisor of Meals at The Instances) and Joe Donnelly. Albert was a eager observer and an intuitive critic. It didn’t matter if his topics had been on the rise or previous their prime in keeping with Hollywood’s ruthless calculus of cool — Albert was in a position to dismiss the hype and get on the essence.

In an LA Weekly cowl story concerning the Purple Sizzling Chili Peppers, Albert thought-about the band’s legacy — warts and all: “David Bowie acknowledged that the American public actually solely remembers the three largest issues any artist has performed. Sadly, for the Chili Peppers this could include nudity, drug dependancy and funk rock.”

“He had a method and he had a means of understanding the important components of the story,” mentioned Donnelly. “He was unencumbered by prejudice or snobbery when it got here to seeing what the guts of the story was. If it was a narrative with soul and which means, he didn’t care if it was cool or not.”

Maybe his biggest and very unlikely literary achievement was his 2005 memoir about baseball and dependancy, “Wrecking Crew: The Actually Dangerous Information Griffith Park Pirates.” The e book is a nonfiction account of a group of addicts, ex-cons and semi-reformed dirtbags whose members recapture a bit of their innocence on the baseball diamond.

Enjoying baseball with damaged folks, Albert was in a position to reconnect along with his youth. “Once I look again on these two seasons of Little League,” he wrote in “Wrecking Crew,” “they appear just like the relative calm earlier than the storm, a lingering second of true childhood earlier than I used to be swept up in a wave of teenage nihilism, petty crime, and punk music.”

For Albert, the sport crammed a gap he didn’t know he had. “For somebody like me,” he admitted in a profile in The Instances, “an anti-social mental who had spent his life sneering at any sort of middle-class normalcy, becoming a member of a baseball group felt oddly subversive.”

“Wrecking Crew” started as a narrative that ran in LA Weekly and advanced right into a book-length memoir of brutal honesty and gallows humor. Albert’s longtime good friend Jerry Stahl calls it “one of many nice unsung books about Los Angeles — particularly, the East Aspect.”

The e book was twice optioned by Paramount. Then, Philip Seymour Hoffman acquired the choice, which ended with the actor’s dying by unintended overdose in 2014. Such cosmic irony would unravel some writers, however Albert took it in stride.

“He was extremely unimpressed with fame,” Donnelly mentioned. “He had well-known mates, mates of nice renown. He had infamous mates. He had mates with legendary and epic lives. None of that mattered. What mattered to John was having a soulful relationship with folks.”

Albert wasn’t an actor however possessed the arrogance of somebody at house in his personal pores and skin. Though he lately accomplished a biography of nightclub impresario and conservationist Eric Goode and “Wrecking Crew” is being developed for tv, his mates recalled that he seldom talked about what he was engaged on or what he was as much as.

“John had a present for being all in favour of different folks,” Gurewitz mentioned. “At a cocktail party, you can seat him subsequent to essentially the most awkward particular person as a result of John may discuss to anyone.”

The riff that runs by way of all of Albert’s writing and relationships was his nice humorousness, which ranged from the scatological to the acerbic. “John was one of many funniest folks I ever met,” mentioned Stahl. “His humor was so dry you may not know to snort instantly, however the snort at all times arrived.”

Albert by no means overpassed what he went by way of to have the sort of regular life that many individuals take as a right, and he helped many Angelenos of their struggles with substance abuse. Harper recalled how Albert supported him within the early levels of his sobriety: “He helped pave the best way for me to not drink. He was a touchstone after I was white-knuckling it.” Albert inspired him to think about what the day after could be like if he relapsed. “Immediately, I’d be again in my physique,” Harper mentioned.

“He was a rock star of a human being,” Gurewitz mentioned.

Albert is survived by his 9-year-old son, Ravi, and his brother, Jesse.


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