The Misfits are an American punk rock band often recognized as the pioneers of the horror punk subgenre, blending punk and other musical influences with horror film themes and imagery. The group was founded in 1977 in Lodi, New Jersey, by vocalist, songwriter and keyboardist Glenn Danzig. Danzig’s first recruit to the Misfits was drummer Mr. Jim and bassist Diane DiPazza, however, DiPiazza never showed up. Mr. Jim was replaced by Manny Martinez shortly after. Jerry Only joined on bass guitar shortly after. Over the next six years, membership would change frequently, with Danzig and Only being the sole consistent members. During this time period, they released several EPs and singles, and with Only’s brother Doyle as guitarist, the albums Walk Among Us (1982) and Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood (1983), both considered touchstones of the early-1980s hardcore punk movement. The band has gone through many lineup changes over the years, with bassist Jerry Only being the only constant member in the group.
The Misfits disbanded in 1983, and Glenn Danzig went on to form Samhain and then Danzig. Several albums of reissued and previously unreleased material were issued after the group’s dissolution, and their music later became influential to punk rock, heavy metal, hard rock, and alternative rock, including high-profile acts such as Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Marilyn Manson, Green Day, the Offspring, NOFX, AFI and My Chemical Romance. After a series of legal battles with Danzig, Only and Doyle regained the rights to record and perform as the Misfits. They formed a new version of the band in 1995 with singer Michale Graves and drummer Dr. Chud. This incarnation of Misfits had more of a heavy metal sound, and released the albums American Psycho (1997) and Famous Monsters (1999) before dissolving in 2000. Jerry Only then took over lead vocals and recruited former Black Flag guitarist Dez Cadena and former Ramones drummer Marky Ramone for a Misfits 25th anniversary tour.
This lineup released an album of cover songs titled Project 1950 and toured for several years. In 2005, Marky was replaced by Robo, who had played with Black Flag in the early 1980s and had also previously been Misfits’ drummer from 1982 to 1983. This lineup released a single titled “Land of the Dead” in 2009. The Misfits’ lineup of Only, Cadena, and drummer Eric “Chupacabra” Arce released a new album titled The Devil’s Rain in October 2011. In 2015, it was announced that Cadena would be taking a break from music after receiving a cancer diagnosis, and was replaced by Only’s son Jerry Caiafa II, presented as Jerry Other. That same year Soulfly‘s Marc Rizzo joined the band, also playing guitar. He filled in for Cadena, before Caiafa would become the sole guitarist for the band.
In September 2016, for the first time in 33 years, Danzig, Only, and Doyle reunited for two headlining shows as the Original Misfits at that year’s edition of Riot Fest, along with drummer Dave Lombardo and second guitarist Acey Slade. The Original Misfits lineup has continued performing sporadically.
1982–1983: Albums and dissolution
Walk Among Us was released in March 1982 through Ruby and Slash Records. It was the first full-length Misfits album to be properly released, and the only album to be released while the early incarnation of the band was still active. A national tour in support of the album followed, and the band’s performances began to grow more intense and violent. Danzig and Googy clashed frequently during the tour, and after a heated argument at a McDonald’s restaurant Danzig kicked Googy out of the band, delaying their plans to record their next EP. They offered the vacant drummer position to their friend Eerie Von, who had served as their occasional roadie and photographer, but he had already committed to drumming for Rosemary’s Babies. Henry Rollins recommended former Black Flag drummer Robo, who flew to New Jersey to join the Misfits in July 1982. Doyle graduated from high school and he and Only began working full-time at their father’s machine shop, earning money to purchase new instruments, fund the band’s tours, and press records, while Danzig ran the Fiend Club and continued writing new songs.
In September 1982 the Misfits embarked on a national tour, with the Necros as their opening act. During the tour they stopped at a studio to record the instrumental tracks for their next EP. They were arrested in New Orleans on charges of grave robbing while attempting to locate the grave of voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau, but bailed themselves out of jail and skipped their court date to drive to their next performance in Florida. Following the tour they released seven songs from the November 1981 performance in San Francisco in limited numbers only to members of the Fiend Club as the Evilive EP.
By this time Danzig was growing increasingly dissatisfied with the Misfits and had begun writings songs for a new band project. In June 1983 he confided to Henry Rollins that he planned to quit the group. In July 1983 the Misfits finished recording their EP, and Danzig decided to record two more songs that he had intended for his new project, turning it into a full album. Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood demonstrated the increased influence of hardcore punk and heavy metal on the band, though they would break up just two months before it was released. After a series of arguments with Danzig, Robo left the band in August and Danzig became further disenchanted, beginning to audition musicians for his next project.
On October 29, 1983, the Misfits played their annual Halloween performance at Greystone Hall in Detroit with the Necros. Danzig had selected Brian Damage (real name Brian Keats), formerly of Genöcide and Verbal Abuse, as the band’s new drummer. However, Damage became drunk before the show and could not play properly. After several songs Doyle escorted him off the stage and Todd Swalla of The Necros filled in for the remainder of the performance. Tensions came to a head and Danzig announced to the audience that it would be the band’s final show. Upon returning to Lodi the band members went their separate ways.
0:00 Earth A.D. (missing a couple seconds)
1:23 Band Introductions and Talking
3:32 I Turned Into A Martian
8:30 Queen Wasp
10:52 Mommy, Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight?
21:10 Horror Business
23:44 We Are 138