(Originally posted on my Agony Shorthand blog in 2006)


The name “Tom Guido” is whispered around these parts (San Francisco) with a mixture of swelling admiration and out-and-out mocking glee. The guy is infamous for being the living embodiment of insane party host “Z-Man” from “Beyond The Valley of the Dolls”, except plied with far more drinks and possessive of far fewer faculties.

His deserved claim to fame is that he turned a series of occasional “club nights” featuring late 80s garage acolyte bands called “The Fuzz Club” into a regular ownership/management gig at The Purple Onion, one of San Francisco’s most famous 1950s-60s comedy & music nightclubs, set smack dab in the middle of North Beach, the entertainment hub of the city at one point (and later the center of the city’s stripping & porn industry). That such a “character” was able to build and nurture such a cool scene around such a great venue was always nothing short of miraculous to me. His inebriated on-stage rants, most often conducted in the middle of a band’s set while they glared at him, featured some of the great ridiculous quotes in rock & roll history, and each night coming home from a Fuzz Club or Onion show was usually spent recounting those gems as much as they were recounting the sets one had seen.

Anyway, I spent a good amount of time at these venues, though I missed a few of the 1989-90 acts documented on this somewhat recent live EP called “Fuzz Club”. DRIVING WHEELS, who I definitely missed, absolutely rip – fast shredding caveman garage, of a par with the pre-lunatic speedburning Dwarves, or the Mummies at their best. If I had made some better entertainment choices in 1989 and not gone to so many friggin’ Thinking Fellers shows or whatever, I might’ve been able to tell you more.

I do remember Guido personally telling me around 1990 or so that I should forget San Francisco, that the “real scene was down in San Mateo” where garage bands like THE MUMMIES, the VANILLA WHORES and WILD BREED were uh, “bred”. All three appear here, but you won’t likely get any whiff of that magickal San Mateo scene of yesteryear, since all 3 are blurry, weak live tape deck versions of bands that were arguably better on record or truly in person (though I could truly care less about the ‘Whores or the Wild Breed).

My favorite of the 7 acts featured here after the Driving Wheels is hands-down THE GAPING WOUNDS, whom I once stumbled upon at the Chatterbox around 1989 or so and never saw nor heard again until this here record. Imagine “Toolin For A Warm Teabag”-era DWARVES with a sneering, pissed-off heroin hottie on vocals instead of Blag Jesus, blowing through a bunch of gnarly ‘core for maybe 10 minutes – oh, and two members actually were in the Dwarves, and around ’89 no one could touch the Dwarves.

So there you have it. I love that my 45 is #423/777 and that it’s personally autographed by Guido himself, but I can’t imagine that anyone outside of European garage collectors and folks who saw one or more of these bands live could ever listen to this thing more than twice. But what do I know?

(postscript – Tom Guido was found, alive and well, in San Francisco just this year (2015) by one of our correspondents)


Flyer from 1994 “End of Rock” show with The Demolition Doll Rods, Monoshock and Icky Boyfriends, courtesy of Anthony Bedard’s Facebook page. Anthony, who headed up Past It Records, and I put this show on together (we also put out the Doll Rods first single). I actually couldn’t attend it, having been previously committed to some work-related trip to New Jersey or somewhere thereabouts.

My then-new girlfriend Rebecca, now my wife-of-14-years Rebecca, sold the merch at the Doll Rods table in my absence. Everyone we talked to said it was a ripping show, punctuated by Tom Guido, the Purple Onion’s L’enfant terrible, jumping onto the stage multiple times to interrupt the bands, a very common occurrence from the drunkest, worst club owner in history (who nonetheless ran a terrific club for a few years in the mid-90s).