Well, it’s now official. As widely suspected since the death of drummer Charles Gocher nearly two weeks ago, the legendary avant-something group Sun City Girls are climbing into Shiva’s arms and departing for planes unimaginable to mere mortals, although they do intend to send occasional transmissions back to us when they can, drawing from the group’s voluminous Akashic archive.
The public announcement was made on Monday (Feb. 26, 2007) via the group’s web site, and I quote it here in full:
Our sincerest thanks for the many letters, messages, posts, and tributes all of you have sent to us this past week in support after the passing of Charlie. There were simply too many of them for us to even begin to respond to personally.
We have decided to hold a private memorial in Seattle for close friends only to celebrate his legacy. At a later date, when we can collect our thoughts to properly honor him, we will pay tribute to Charles at a public venue by screening films and displaying some of his drawings and photographs, and possibly perform some of his songs.
As many of you have suspected, Sun City Girls will no longer exist as a performing entity. Nor will any new recording projects be created utilizing the name Sun City Girls. There are many unreleased recordings and videos that will surface when time permits to release them.
– Alan and Richard Bishop
To learn more about Sun City Girls’ epic 26 year journey, visit the official Sun City Girls Chronology and their positively vast discography, consisting of 50 full-length LP/CD releases, 23 full-length cassettes, 12 seven-inch singles and EPs, appearances on a couple dozen compilations, plus full-length video tapes, movie soundtracks, bootlegs, and even a 78rpm record released by a precursor of Revenant — in all, very nearly 100 releases…and that’s not counting related side projects or the stuff they just forgot about.
Sun City Girls had, I think, a significant impact on underground music. They introduced an entire generation of punk rockers to avant garde music and, many years after bands of the same (initial) era either sold out or gave it all up for neckties and martinis, they remained 1000% committed to their own vision — especially if it meant confusing or, better yet, completely pissing off their audience — and to that most important imperative of the punk ethos: Do It Yourself.
But while born from the early ’80s punk scene, they were never really of it at all — you might say they were so punk they didn’t even play punk. By the same token, they were an avant garde band, but they were never really of that sprawling universe either. So what the hell were Sun City Girls, then. Maybe The Fugs of free jazz? The Cecil Taylors of disco? The Captain Beefhearts of ethnic lounge music? The GG Allins of musical theater? The La Monte Youngs of crunk? The snake dancers of Gregorian chant? The truck-stop floor show on the Apocalypse highway? The Yippies of religious studies? The Winston Smith rat masks of situation comedy? The UFO contactees of square dancing? The James Chances of particle physics? The Mexican gynecologists of cabinet making? Yes, all of these and more. But whatever they were, all you really need to know is the group are revered far and wide by the most creative minds of fringe music — both influential (read: “famous”) and obscure. There was, quite simply, nothing at all like them.
The legacy of the Girls will continue, of course. Alan and Rick are (obviously) creative and driven guys and its impossible to even imagine them just fading away. Rick has been pursuing a rewarding and notable solo thing (as Sir Richard Bishop) for a few years now; and Alan has his Sublime Frequencies film imprint and Abduction label, and has been active in various musical side projects as well. Once they recover from the loss of their adoptive brother Charlie, the brothers Bishop will continue to warp our minds for many years to come.
But nothing can possibly replace Sun City Girls…and I imagine Alan and Rick would probably agree.
Meanwhile…just a couple weeks before Charlie’s death, it was announced that a new film by Harmony Korine (Gummo, Julien Donkey Boy) will feature music by Sun City Girls. Mister Lonely, currently in preparation for a Cannes screening, centers on a love story involving celebrity impersonators and will feature the on-screen talents of Werner Herzog and magician David Blaine (both of whom have collaborated with Korine in the past). To learn more, you can read a PDF (187 kb) of a Feb. 2, 2007 article from ScreenDaily.com here or here.