RIP Jay Reatard

Jay Reatard was the greatest fucked up pervert whacko kid genius to hit the scene since 1973 (or so). You’ve probably never heard of him. He screamed songs like “Blood is Sweet but Semen is Sweeter” and “Oh How The Little Boy’s Blood Looks Good On Your Face” — and they found him dead in Memphis last night.

I shot this before Jay’s in-store show at the Hollywood Amoeba, August 18 2009. I thought, for an in-store, he’d just tip-toe through a few numbers. After all, it’s just an in-store.

Dumb me.

Jay ripped through his set with a vengeance. At one point, the Amoeba staff had had enough, and I’m just not sure what it was precisely that sent them over the edge: after he smashed up some of the records on their display, or when he tossing cans of beer all over the place, or when he called Amoeba “The Walmart of record stores.”

I’m sure it was the Walmart remark.

Jay Reatard became Jay Reatard (pronounced ree-tahrd, just like our mentally-challenged pals) after catching The Oblivians open for Rocket From The Crypt; he laid down a four track in his bedroom, sent it out to Goner Records, had it accepted, and dropped out of high school. He wasn’t even old enough to drive — at least legally.

I checked out his myspace and noted his new headline: “new band, new day…watch out”. He’d been at odds with his band for a while, and, if I’m not mistaken, they’d left him. But I’m not sure.

I’m sure his last record — Watch Me Fall — landed at #13 in Spin Magazine’s Best Albums Of The Year…whatever that’s worth. I think it made Jay proud.

Here’s the Jay Reatard official site; if you poke around, you’ll find some gems…like a killer cover of Nirvana’s Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle as well as a song Jay and his (then) girlfriend cooked up one one over a some sushi, some drinks and a chocolate soufflĂ© — In Heaven (Lady In The Radiator Song).

I thought it appropriate.

I only spoke with him once, and it was after the in-store. He hung out with fans in a far corner at Amoeba for at least an hour. Jay was drunk and kind and talkative and totally unaffected by the attention he was starting to receive.

I had an idea for a photograph, and Jay knew my business; when I asked him, he looked at me kinda funny. “Whacha got in mind?”

“I want to shoot you being roasted over a fire by a bunch of the alt-porn girls…Scarlett Pain, Joanna Angel…that kind of a crew. And I want to dress them up in Girl Scout outfits and set it all in the back of my ghetto warehouse studio, right in front of the garage door.”

“Roasted over a fire like a hog?” Jay asked.

I said, “Yes sir.”

He smiled and gave me his e-mail address, and we agreed we’d try and set it up the next time he was in town.

A month or so later, after I heard Jay had descended into The Heroin World, I was worried. Common Knowledge knew he was out of control, but I didn’t think he had taken it that far. And I didn’t give a shit about my picture anymore. I just reminded myself, I’m a worrier…and Jay will make it out OK. It’s gonna be difficult…but Jay will make it.

I wish I was right.

4 thoughts on “RIP Jay Reatard”

  1. I’d always heard he was a world-class prick, that the stage antics (throwing shit, pissing on his band members, etc) wasn’t far from the truth.

    Well, RIP at any rate. I’m a huge GBV fan so I thought I’d be given to his prolific music but I never got too into him.

  2. Sux.. terrible news man, he was getting famous and now out.. typical, he lived fast and died fast…. sux


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