“When I die, don’t you cry, don’t ask why”
Other than being home to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland is a city not often mentioned in the scheme of ‘rock ‘n’ roll importance’, especially alongside its more outspoken, pretentious cousins, New York, Los Angeles, London et al. Why, is a mystery. An unjust oddity in an unjust world. It really only takes a quick, preliminary reel-off of the better known bands of the city to understand just how crucial an element Cleveland is in the rock ‘n’ roll molecular structure. Without batting an eyelid, the obvious big three come to mind, Rocket From the Tombs, Dead Boys and Perl Ubu. Then there’s proto-punksters Electric Eels, The Styrenes. Garage rockers The Outsiders. Power-poppers The Raspberries… on and on it goes.
And never, ever, forget the Pagans.
An integral cog in the makings of a scene that decades on is still honoured, treasured and revered, was lost to us in physical entity only over the weekend, as frontman Mike Hudson succumbed to a plaguing serious illness. The creator of some of the most blistering, derelict rock ‘n’ roll ever to finger-fuck our earholes, ‘Nowhere to Run‘, ‘Street Where Nobody Lives‘, ‘Multiple Personalities’, to name but a few, must be held in as high esteem as his more heralded contemporaries. Not because he’s dead, far too often is an icon or celebrity made into some sort of folkloric hero-beast only once having passed. But because dang it, the man is immortal. Just take the legendary Pagans Pink Album for a spin. The realisation will very quickly become apparent that the man with the scream of curdled sandpaper and a sonic assault that would make Ed Gein queasy surely must be of a higher power than us mere mortals. To strip it down simply, perhaps poignantly, any being with the scope to be able to provide such joy, such emotive power and goosebump skin crawl so effortlessly, selflessly and without ego or pretence, who has the ability to seep into ones consciousness at either the most inopportune or appropriate of times without any aura of intrusion, who has the innate ability to squeeze every last drop of sweat into each frenetic song, is of a god damn higher spiritual power in my book.
Mike sung about it himself; don’t you cry, don’t ask why. Just whack on a Pagans record and celebrate the physical life and contribution of a human who is most certainly worthy of any mention alongside his more prevalent Cleveland counterparts.
Rest in peace, brother.