UPDATE 5/2: IT HAS BEEN CONFIRMED THAT THE CAUSE OF DEATH WAS A HEART ATTACK THAT TOOK PLACE AT HIS HOME IN CHARLOTTE, NC. ACCORDING TO THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, YOUNG RECENTLY HAD “COMPLAINED OF HAVING CHEST PAINS WHILE PERFORMING ONSTAGE.” ALSO, A MEMORIAL IS SLATED FOR MAY 18, SEE DETAILS BELOW.
North Carolina punk scene mourns the destructo-rock guitarist’s passing.
BY FRED MILLS
Friends and fans of Joe Young, longtime guitarist for the equally long-running NC punk band Antiseen, which recently marked its 30th anniversary, are in shock today at the sudden news of Young’s death this morning (April 30).
The cause has not yet been announced.
His bandmate, vocalist Jeff Clayton, posted the news on Facebook, writing, “Today we lost my friend and partner of 30 years. Thank you for all the years of love and support that you all have given us. Please keep our brother Jeff Young in your thoughts and prayers. RIP Mighty Joe Young. I love you.”
Meanwhile, NC’s Michael Pilmer, a stalwart of the regional punk scene (and DEVO extended family member) posted to his Facebook page this testimonial:”I loved him like a brother even though I only saw him once or twice a year. He welcomed me, a little kid interested in learning more about this “punk rock” thing I’d heard about, into his group of friends way back in 1983. He was the most friendly & inviting member of ANTiSEEN…and taught me how to play guitar the first few months we knew each other. He changed my life and I will always cherish his memory. R.I.P., brother.”
Young and Clayton, of course, commenced operations as Antiseen back in the early ‘80s and remained the core of the band through innumerable rhythm section changes and an ongoing “evolution,” musically, that encompassed everything from hardcore to garage rock to metal. Essential to the sound were Clayton’s signature vocal growl and Young’s buzzsaw power chord fretwork – no frills, and definitely no filler. They dubbed it “destructo rock” and, indeed, early shows (many of which I was present for) did involve ritual destruction of stage sets and, on Clayton’s part, real blood. The group has remained active throughout the years… until now, I guess.
I’ll have a feature/tribute to Young and Antiseen in the near future, but just to add a personal note here: Like I mentioned above, I was on hand for scores of Antiseen performances, having lived in Charlotte from 1983-1992, and I also worked with Young in my capacity as Music Editor for Creative Loafing newsweekly in Charlotte; Young freelanced for the paper, and he and I collaborated on a number of stories, frequently attending shows together. We’d also hang out at the record store where he worked, and for a guy who helped create such a chaotic scene onstage, offstage he was one of the nicest and most thoughtful, introspective guys I knew during my entire time in Charlotte. Even after I moved away we kept in touch from time to time, either when I was working on a story about Antiseen or just to catch up on local politics, of which he was never less than vocal. (Later, he became a Libertarian and campaigned actively.)
Rest in peace, Joe. You were one of a kind and we will all miss you terribly.
According to the Antiseen Facebook page, memorial service/concert takes place in Charlotte at Tremont Music Hall on Sunday, May 18 at 3 p.m.
UPDATE 5/1: After much searching I found the raw transcript of an interview I did with Joe back in 2003, on the eve of Antiseen’s then-upcoming 20th anniversary. He reflected on the entire career, and I will be publishing the conversation in a few days, but meanwhile, here’s one of my favorite quotes from Joe. “The wildest Charlotte show was at the old Yellow Rose, down on Tyvola. That was the first time I saw Jeff juice himself – bloody himself up – and I had no idea he was gonna do it. I think he was mad because he saw this girl in the front row, maybe he wanted to be with her but she was with somebody else, and it made so mad he busted a Gator Ade bottle and gouged himself in the head then started slinging his head from side to side. I don’t know whether it was the loss of blood or from slinging his head, but he then collapsed on the side of the stage! He just lay there so I kept playing ,and at the end of the song I walked over and kicked him in the head. He finally opened his eyes, and I said, ‘Man, are you gonna finish or do we have to take you to the hospital?’ He got up and said, ‘Naw, I’m all right, let’s finish.’ And we did it. He had blood on every square inch of his face. There was blood on the ceiling, blood on the right of the stage, the left – he slung blood in 20 feet every direction! There was a pretty big crowd there, 200-300 people crammed into that little club, and I’m sure nobody had ever seen anything like that.”