Interviewing Jim Basnight, Part 1

Posted: November 29, 2011 in Other Key Interviews

(Yeah, Jim gets two parts…lucky him.)

Have you seen The Runaways, the film about Joan Jett’s first band?  There’s a scene early on where singer Cherie Curie performs at a high school talent show.  Donning David Bowie Aladdin Sane-era make-up and singing one of his songs, the crowd roundly boos her.  Curie responds, in true punk rock fashion, with the requisite middle finger.  Seattle’s underground music scene began under similar circumstances, with Jim Basnight taking Curie’s role.

It was 1975.  The setting: a talent show held at Roosevelt High School in Seattle’s North End. Jim’s band the Luvaboys would perform after lunch.  “We came out there wearing makeup,” he recalls.  “I painted my whole body in silver spray paint, like Iggy.  And I put a big, black X on my chest.

“We were just really into that whole idea of rebelliousness and being really flamboyant and kind of irreverent and trying to incite trouble and stir up shit like the [New York] Dolls, and like Iggy, and like Alice Cooper and Bowie and stuff.”

To paraphrase George W. Bush, they accomplished their mission.

The Luvaboys played too loud, so loud in fact that the vice principal attempted to turn the volume down several times without success.  Angry jocks, armed with vegetables leftover from lunch, pelted the band mercilessly.  “And then later on I got my ass kicked by a bunch of ’em,” Jim remembers.

Despite the trouble, much of the crowd got into that performance, inspiring some to migrate south to the University District and start their own bands.

The Luvaboys’ talent show gig had become Seattle punk rock’s opening salvo.


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