Yes, most people will know Bobby Durango from his association with Johnny Depp. That is a fact we cannot escape here in the blogosphere and most certainly not in South Florida, where J-Depp fans tend to be neurotically obsessed with things he might've touched. Good for him. I commend him for his early musical leanings and for splitting time with the Kids and glam-punkers Rock City Angels.
But I would be too reserved if I didn't harbor a nagging suspicion that his departure from the band, via Nightmare on Elm Street, ensured the band damaging deals by once-friendly record labels who got their nudges from the other heavies in L.A.
But the imprint that Durango and cofounder Andy Panik (along with a revolving door of cohorts) left on the '80s music scene, known to us now as "hair metal," is undeniable.
Clawing out of the hell of the early '80s Fort Lauderdale scene, the Rock City Angels were a straight-up punk blues outfit that began dabbling with elements of glam. Mostly the visual ones anyways. Lore has it that on the eve that they would split, a record label offered them a contract, and reenergized by the experience, the band relocated to Los Angeles to pursue fame and fortune.
By 1986, Geffen Records had taken note and bought the band's contract and packed it away to Memphis to record 1988's Young Man's Blues, an album that featured the compositions of Depp but not his actual playing.
The following frenzies of rock 'n' roll excess are said to make the "confessions" of Mötley Crüe's "The Dirt" similar to the riveting exploits of Mother Teresa. And rightly so, because the Crüe could've only gotten their cues from some true South Florida-sun-fried freaks. Lots of starts and stops would plague the band over its ethereal 30-year existence, but to fans and the curious, its catalog, a lot of it recorded years ago, has actually been released fairly recently in the grand scheme of things with one in the works at the time of death.
As of this blogging, Durango's death came after a brief but intense illness. While he will always be lumped with Johnny Depp, we here in South Florida will remember him as a pioneer of our underground and a true testament to musicians who want to make it.
Just take it a little easy on the intake, and don't let no pretty boys in the band.
Rock City Angels - "Deep Inside My Heart"
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