1977

February 4th - Skafish opens for Sha Na Na at the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago.  Audience members throw things as they rush the stage, waving their fists at Skafish.  Mothers cover their children’s eyes as the performer strips down to an old ladies one-piece bathing suit while the band breaks into a vile, burlesque improvisation.  Fearing a riot, the set is abruptly stopped by police.

April 12th & 13th - Skafish plays CBGB’s in New York with Lance Loud’s group The Mumps.

Summer – Guitarist/Vocalist Karen Winner becomes the first female Skafish band member. 

Other new, “modern” rock artists begin to appear in Chicago.  Skafish’s pioneering performances, along with the press coverage he attracted, caused owners of venues to open their eyes to the “modern” era of where rock music was heading.  Chicago’s music scene was extremely narrow-minded at the time. By Skafish boldly going forward with such an innovative show, braving the cynical reactions and taking the initial hits (literally), other artists, who were “modern” yet less extreme than Skafish, were therefore considered more palatable—giving them an easier pathway to being heard and recognized.

May through November - The band plays dates in Detroit, Minneapolis, and Chicago, including two shows with The Ramones and a single performance with The Dead Boys.

Skafish at a Chicago Performance
A Chicago performance
Photo by Bill Sosin
In the summer of 1977, Skafish begins to find an audience.  With the emergence of punk, Chicago kids enthusiastically embrace the Skafish shows.  The first wave of these kids were visually unique, expressive, free spirited and unusual, reflecting the progressive rather than the violent side of punk.  In July, Skafish fans show up dressed as nuns and priests and stage a mock orgy on stage.

October - Mercury Record’s Robin McBride produces 4 speculative Skafish studio recordings.  The session features “You Invited Me,” “Tattle Tale,” “Sign of the Cross,” and “No Liberation Here.”  The lyrics are extreme, the music a frantic yet technically disciplined sound, blending surreal mixtures of punk, metal, jazz, and pop all with the trademark Skafish in-your-face edge.  When McBride presents the tape at an A&R meeting, executives at the company appear dumbfounded, laugh and then question why this is even being played for them.  The rejected tapes don’t surface again until 1999 when found in the Los Angeles warehouse of manager Scott Cameron.

December  - Skafish is back at CBGB’s with The Cramps, and debuts at The Rat in Boston.  By the end of 1977, Skafish has tremendously shaken things up in Chicago, and received press in such national magazines as Billboard, Variety, and Performance without ever granting a single interview. Since Skafish was so much more complicated, multi-faceted, and difficult to discern than the popular artists of the day, no one knew where to put or classify him—he was largely dismissed as non-viable.  Scott Cameron is ridiculed by music industry veterans for managing Skafish.

Blues giant Willie Dixon, who is quite fond of Skafish, gives him a songwriting lesson, explaining how to keep things simple, allowing the story to be heard.

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