J. Satz Beret in 2008 or 2009 in Mountlake Terrace, WA. (TSHIT photo)
J. Satz Beret of The Lewd, the unique punk singer who unleashed a memorable gurgly delivery spiked with grit and sarcasm as he commanded the stage, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Oct. 21, according to guitarist Bob Clic in a Facebook post on the band's page the following day.
"I can’t express how important a musical factor he was for me and many other west coast musicians. We’ll miss you Satz," Clic wrote last week on the same Lewd page.
The band's records are absolute classics and I was fortunate to witness Beret snarkily snake his way across the stage and spout out the band's lyrics like daggers at the crowd once in Los Angeles in the early '80s and thrice in the Seattle area much later in their existence.
During one heavyweight bill that was hard to beat on March 12, 1982, The Lewd joined forces with Bad Brains, Bad Religion and Jody Foster's Army within the historical walls of the Ukrainian Cultural Center on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.
We had our eyes on The Lewd that night since its "American Wino" LP was one of our faves. Beret propelled his way through the set to our approval, and bassist Olga de Volga and the rest of the SF crew powered things home.
Here's a piece I penned for this blog in 2011 regarding attaining the "Wino" album:
Who cares what some smart-mouthed, dyed-hair punk kid thinks when it comes to a pleasant record-buying experience.
The place: Recycled Records in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
The year: 1982
The record: The Lewd's "American Wino"
I was anticipating the record's release, snatched it out of the L bin right away, and then continued perusing the stacks for more solid slabs of vinyl one Saturday afternoon. However, the aforementioned guy -- whom I'd seen around and who always gave me the evil eye for some unknown reason -- spotted me with the record, and when his buddy mentioned that The Lewd album was out, he groaned, "Big deal, they suck." (Good one, real words of wisdom.)
Maybe I was deemed uncool by this lad because I sported my natural brown hair (it was a bit spiky, though, since I've got a cowlick), but, hey, I donned an Adolescents T-shirt and knew my punk rock. Maybe it was a "I'm-more-punk-than-you thing," but I wasn't having any of that ... I liked The Lewd and soon I would be in my room blasting that record, and loving it.
That ICI Records offering still rules today, complete with J. Satz Beret's gurgly vocals (my friend John and I always had a good time mimicking his delivery) on a host of tunes with both dark and humorous lyrics matched with more rock song structures that defied the hardcore speed demons of the day.
Lyrics-wise, "Polluted Brain" chipped in with, "I'm not playing with a full deck, I am not a total wreck, Don't know why my mind's on void, Don't ask me I'm not Sigmund Freud." And "Dressed in Black" was a ray of sunshine: "Smoke-filled skies block out the sun, As I greet oblivion, Upon my brother I turn my back, I will always be dressed in black."
Weird thing is that, a few months down the road, I had a nice exchange with my nemesis from the record store. While the crowd was thrashing about at the front of the stage during a Redd Kross gig at the Bijou Theater in Hermosa, we both looked at each other, grinned and banged our heads in unison.