Punk legend was a mainstay of the NW indie rock scene. Above photo exclusively for Blurt by Michael Passman, Austin 2015.
By Fred Mills
We’ve lost another hero – Fred Cole, legendary for his hard-edge trio Dead Moon, and more recently frontman for the Pierced Arrows, passed away Thursday, Nov. 9, at the age of 69. According to Willamette Week, “Cole had been admitted to the hospital last month and treated for bleeding in his liver. While an operation to repair the damage was successful, updates on the Pierced Arrows Facebook page indicated that he was ‘still very ill.’”
Blurt reported in March of 2016 that Cole was in poor enough health to retire from music; health issues began in earnest in 2014 with him having to have emergency heart surgery, at which time his wife and longtime musical foil Toody issued an official statement that read, in part, “It’s just the way it needs to be. The last thing he wants to do is look like a complete parody of himself up there and do anything like fall over. He’s a very proud man, and he doesn’t need it that badly.”
Prior to moving to the Northwest (the Coles were based in Clackamas, Oregon), Fred Cole had been in ‘60s Las Vegas band The Weeds, which became the Lollipop Shoppe. Dead Moon was founded in ’87, with debut LP In The Graveyard being issued the following year on Cole’s own Tombstone label. The group, along with its signature blend of punk/garage and blues/country, would be celebrated by, and an influence upon, the ensuing grunge explosion – Mudhoney in particular championed the group. A healthy discography would follow until the trio broke up in 2006, the Coles going on to form the similar-sounding Pierced Arrows.
The Willamette Week report adds that “on Oct. 5, Portland celebrated “Dead Moon Night” at City Hall, honoring the band’s legacy and contributions to the city’s music culture. Mississippi Records is releasing a new Dead Moon book and record set next year.”
In 2015 and 2017, the Voodoo Doughnut label released a pair of smokin’ Dead Moon albums on LP and CD, Live At Satyricon (live in 1993), and What A Way to See the Old Girl Go (live at the X-Ray Café in ’94). Both are absolutely essential for fans of Cole and Dead Moon. (They can be previewed on Spotify.)
Blurt will have a tribute to Fred Cole shortly. Below, watch a few memorable videos.