The aftermath of Darby’s death was swift and sharp. The LA scene, which had been evolving into a beach scene since about 1978, became the sole property of the brawling teens. Many of Darby’s Hollywood friends left the scene altogether, becoming recluses and establishing new lives, marrying, having children. Others sank into deepening addiction themselves; ex-Bags and 45 Grave guitarist Rob Ritter, who in 1978 traveled to LA from Phoenix with a young Jimmie Giorsetti so the latter could audtiion for the vacant Germs drum stool, died of a heroin OD in 1991.
The punk scene divided into warring factions as the 80s began. The hardcore punks, who further refined Darby’s end-stage look of Mohican, leather jacket and combat boots, dominated, while the Goth scene was springing from the ruins of the Hollywood scene. Some key members of the former Germs contingent, including Don Bolles and Mary Sims (aka Dinah Cancer), formed 45 Grave and spearheaded the developing movement.
The class of 77, including the Germs, has gone around in a big blue circle and closed. In the age of MTV, it is easy to forget that there was a time when music was urgent, when culture was something you created, not copied. Darby Crash and the Germs defined an earlier time, and without them and their contemporaries there would have been no Nirvana, no Pearl Jam. Punk rock really did change the world, but not in the way its progenitors thought or intended. It changed the way people listen to music, the way bands relate to their audiences, even the way the industry treats its product (not that this ever was, or is now, anything to praise). Some scream that punk is dead, but the argument can be made that punk accomplished its goals and then was assimilated. It initiated and nurtured change. The spirit of punk might not be found today in the countless numbers of mediocre bands playing guitar, bass, and drums, but it’s out there, lurking in new places. In keeping with the spirit of change, rebellion constantly changes its guise.
It’s a circular rhythm Darby Crash would have understood.