Cleveland Punk Pioneers Rocket Into Athens This Weekend

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For years, Cleveland's Rocket From The Tombs was a rock history footnote. Few people had actually seen the band, which was known mainly for spawning two other legendary acts.

Lasting only eight months from 1974 to 1975, the group went through three different drummers, never recorded in a studio and tended to alternately frighten and impress other bands with its raw, uncompromising sound.

"Rocket opened for us in Cleveland," said Television guitarist (and future RFTT member) Richard Lloyd in a press release. "We were walking around after soundcheck saying, 'That's one scary group!' And I was saying to myself, 'I want to be in that band.'"

After disbanding in 1975, Rocket From The Tombs split into two groups that would become influential on the nascent punk rock scene: Pere Ubu and The Dead Boys.

Singer David Thomas and guitarist Peter Laughner formed Pere Ubu, taking some of Rocket's most memorable songs with them, including "Final Solution" and "30 Seconds Over Tokyo."

Likewise, guitarist Cheetah Chrome and drummer John "Johnny Blitz" Madansky plundered their former band's catalog, sharing future classics "Sonic Reducer" and "Down in Flames" with The Dead Boys' new audience.

Without an album to their name, Rocket From The Tombs stayed in the collective indie consciousness via a smattering of live bootleg recordings and colorful "Ya shoulda been there" tales from aging punks.

After a 2002 live collection titled The Day The Earth Met The Rocket From The Tombs rekindled interest in the band, original members Thomas, Chrome and bassist Craig Bell reformed in 2003 with Pere Ubu drummer Steve Mehlman and Richard Lloyd on guitar (Peter Laughner died in 1977).

Since then, the group has been on-again/off again, touring sporadically and releasing albums Rocket Redux in 2004 and Barfly in 2011. Lloyd and Chrome eventually left the band, leaving Thomas and Bell as the only remaining members from the original lineup.

Rocket From The Tombs will perform at The Union Bar & Grill on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 9 p.m. with opening acts Obnox and The County Pharaohs. Tickets are available at Haffa's Records or at the door.