Th’ Cigaretz Jerry Williams 1949-2010 R.I.P.



Musician also was
integral on the NYC hardcore scene and helped bring the Bad Brains to national


By Fred Mills


Sad news for punk and hardcore fans arrived a couple of
days: according to an obituary at Papermag by Holly George Warren, Jerry Lee Williams (aka Jay Dublee) passed away on
September 19 following a protracted stint with failing health brought on by
liver problems. He was 61. Williams, a North Carolina
native born in Charlotte, was a founding member
of legendary Raleigh
punk pioneers Th’ Cigaretz, and later a New York City-based producer and
soundman whose studio at 171 Avenue A was a nexus for the burgeoning NYC
hardcore scene during the early ‘80s. Over the years he worked with the likes
of the Bad Brains, Beastie Boys, Reagan Youth and the Velvet Monkeys,
additionally playing in bands that included Hi Sheriffs of Blue, Workdogs and Church of
the Little Green Man.




On a personal note: I was on the
Chapel Hill-Raleigh scene in the mid/late ‘70s and saw Th’ Cigaretz perform
many times, often on a double bill with my dear friends The H-Bombs (featuring
Peter Holsapple and Mitch Easter). Williams founded the band along with Byron
McCay and drummer Scott Jarvis, and their performances were instrumental in
kickstarting the Triangle area punk scene. The members also had a hand in a
now-legendary Raleigh-based punk fanzine, Blind
Boys Gazette
, that was also a key manifestation of various punk scene goings-on.  


A highlight of a Cigaretz show was
frequently when the band would assault (theoretically) unsuspecting members of
the audience with bags of chips, popcorn and other junk food; that, plus the
sheer volume and in-your-face attitude, was generally enough to clear the room
of any lingering hippie presence and ensure plenty of room on the dance floor
for the pogo contingent. And then there was the legendary Halloween show when
the band played 3 sets, and for each set they dressed up as a dead rock star’s
band – time to slay some sacred cows – and while my memory is a tad wobby, I
think the bands were Jimi Hendrix, the Doors and Buddy Holly. Their lone
full-length 1978’s Crawl Rite Outta My
(Cancer Records) remains a visceral document, as do the
numerous live tapes that have survived, and is today quite the Tarheel


A couple of years after Williams
and Jarvis had gotten their studio up and running, I was vacationing NYC and
dropped in at the facility to say hello. At one point a tall dreadlocked
African-American casually wandered past, nodding at Jarvis, who informed me
that it was one of the Bad Brains – Jerry Williams, of course, produced and recorded
the Bad Brains’ 1982 debut and subsequently worked as their live soundman.



[Cigaretz photo by Malcolm Riviera;
Williams photo by Caki Kallas]


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