The Electric Eels
Eels in the area!
The Electric Eels.

The Electric Eels were one of THE most important proto-punk groups ever to mic up a lawnmower. Their influence on the development of Punk Rock music over the last 3 decades cannot be understated. If you have never heard The Electric Eels then you should track down a copy of “The Eyeball Of Hell” almost immediately after reading the group’s brief history below:

A Brief History Of The Electric Eels.

The Electric Eels were active from 1972 to 1975 in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. The founding members were Dave E. McManus, vocals and clarinet, John Morton, lead guitar, and Brian McMahon, guitar. All were strong personalities and each contributed songs and distinctive points of view, but Morton started the band and his influence, like his physical person, tended to dominate. There were no bassists and the drummers came and went. Playing keyboards as well as guitar, Paul Marotta replaced McMahon from late 1973 to early 1975, McMahon subsequently rejoining. Marotta recorded the group before, during, and especially after his stay in the group. The majority of the Eels' recordings (and the entirety of the “Eyeball Of Hell”), come from their final months together and feature the three founders along with drummer Nick Knox, later of the Cramps. The few earlier recordings that exist can be heard on ”Those Were Different Times”, a Cleveland Compilation featuring The Electric Eels, The Mirrors & The Styrenes (Cat No. scat 45).

There were five public performances, and all were accompanied by some degree of chaos or violence, either between band members, members of the audience, the police, or various combinations. These shows became the bedrock of the budding Eels legend, which included essentially true rumors of the use of lawnmowers, vacuum cleaners and the like as additional instrumentation. Their first gig was in August of 1974 at the Moonshine Co-op in Columbus. McManus adorned himself in rat-traps for the occasion and Morton was wearing a jacket held together with safety pins, earning them the tag "Ratman and Bobbin" from the police they encountered when leaving the bar at the end of the night. Morton took offence and kicked the nearest policeman in the balls as hard as he could, despite being handcuffed at the time. As a result of the inevitable beating that ensued, Morton performed their next show three weeks later with a slide and wrench taped to his broken left hand in order to play his guitar.

In the fall of 1974, Morton, McManus and Marotta returned to Cleveland and began sharing a rehearsal loft with Rocket from the Tombs and Frankenstein (early incarnations of Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys respectively) in the warehouse district on West 9th Street. According to Morton, Stiv Bators spent a good deal of time studying McManus during Eels' rehearsals and copped many of McManus' mannerisms. Along with Mirrors and Rocket from the Tombs, gigs three and four were the "Extermination Music Nights" at the Viking Saloon in December 1974 and January 1975. After the second show, the band's equipment was impounded by the club owner, seeking recompense for damages. Marotta left the group shortly afterwards.

(NB – This brief history was stolen from The Electric Eels own website in the interests of accuracy & was motivated purely by laziness. No attempt at plagiarism has taken place.)

As a further illustration of just what makes John Morton such a stand up guy & The Electric Eels still relevant some 30 odd years after they imploded is reproduced below:
An open letter to President Bush

Sunday, October 14, 2001

Dear Mr. President Dude,

I live in Red Hook Brooklyn, about a mile and a half from ground zero. I watched the towers collapse from Van Brunt Street and was covered in the funerary ash while you cowered in various military bases till the coast was clear. Your less than courageous and inane performance on that day shows you are incompetent with extreme prejudice.

Your ill-conceived ill-fated attempt at retribution towards an enemy UNSEEN and UNKNOWN has released a nebulous cloud of gnarlum upon the CIVILIANS of this country. You go on (and on and on) with your erstwhile penchant for spouting eastwoodian clichés, but I don't believe you are cognizant of the difference between Mr. Eastwood and yourself. He is an actor. They are movies. Eastwood's lust for vengeance does not endanger civilian lives.

Your monstrous remonstrance to the American people to "go shopping" while the FBI has warned of additional terrorist attacks in the next several days is not only stupid, but criminally unconscionable.

You know dude, transpirations such as the W.T.C. disastoplex are hard for even me to fathom, and my IQ is in the upper 300s! But a guy with barley firing synapses like thou! You shouldn't even try. You have not a fugging clue!

My wife, Holly Block, a stalwart and courageous woman who works in Lower Manhattan, said to me, "If I die, I die. I am just furious that Bush has put our lives in jeopardy."

I love my wife dearly. You, sir, . . . are not a gentleman.

The next civilian blood shed in this country lies entirely on your hands and Daddy can't get you out of it this time.

We have seen the barricades go up to protect the police. Oh thank god they will be able TO MAINTAIN ORDER during the frigging abyss!



259 Van Brunt Street.
Brooklyn NY, 11231

(Call or write anytime, George)

Marquee Smith – tMx11 – 08/03
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