Monday, September 05, 2005

This is really starting to feel more like an obit column

More sad news : I will cut and paste very nice notes from Charles / Gern Blandsten and Graham / of Austin's Emos on the passing of Randy "Biscuit" Turner : singer of the Big Boys.

As many of you probably have heard by now, Randy "Biscuit" Turner, singer of the legendary BIG BOYS, passed away at home in Austin, TX on August 18, 2005. We at Gern Blandsten Records send our condolences to his family, friends, and the legions of fans that have lost a hero.

Randy was one of the kindest people I have ever been privileged to meet, and his voice narrated the soundtrack that guided my life. Half a lifetime ago, I was a teenager clenching my fists and dreaming of being Biscuit, playing my Big Boys records and tapes until they wore out. I can't even imagine what kind of impact they would have made on me had I actually seen them live. As it was, they completely changed my life through my stereo speakers and fanzine interviews! In recent years, each time I spoke with him personally I would feel an urgent need to thank him for being such an enormous influence on the person I am today.

I never did thank him, though. I knew he would not have accepted it. He would have told me that I am who I am because of me. But without a doubt it was Randy's voice resonating through the needle on my turntable that encouraged me to "go start my own band," put out my own records, and meet the world on my own terms.

Randy took music to another level, a level way beyond anything before or since. He kept taking it to that level with every band he was in (BIG BOYS, CARGO CULT, SWINE KING, TEXAS BISCUIT BOMBS and more) and he never stopped creating some of the most intricate and compelling artwork I have seen. He was a man that spoke directly to me and to thousands of others in a way we needed to be spoken to at a crucial time in our lives. This is probably why it meant so much to me to have my logo on a Big Boys record- I simply wanted to return a favor that the band never even knew they had done for me.

Shortly after Randy died, Tim and Beth Kerr sent a message saying, "if you want to celebrate his life, be creative. We all have it in us." I urge you all to take this advice as a call to arms. I know I will. Randy "Biscuit" Turner, without realizing it you spoke to me and made me care. I only wish I could have adequately returned the favor. But then again, maybe I have. If I can touch even one person the same way you touched me, the cycle will continue and you will live on forever.

Love and Respect,
Charles Maggio / Gern Blandsten Records

Randy Turner was born in 1956 in a small Texas town and relocated to Austin in the 70's,
quickly immersing himself in the psychedelic, beatnik, art and music scene. As punk grew, he became involved in playing, not just watching, and started one of Austin's FIRST punk rock bands: the Big Boys. Truly original, the Big Boys fused funk and punk/hardcore. It can safely be said there would probably be no Red Hot Chili Peppers without them (good or bad?). Their unique sound and style helped shape the Austin punk scene and put it on the map as a place to play for touring bands, and a place of originality and art.

After the Big Boys disbanded in the early 80's, Biscuit went on to continue art, music (Swine Kings, Slurpees, Biscuit Bombs and more) and had recently been the busiest he's been in years with touring in his newest band and doing art shows all over the country as well as Japan.

On a personal note, I'd like to say that Randy Turner might be the kindest person I've ever met, and most anyone who knew him would agree. He was sweet, hilarious and just plain interesting. Being born in 1978 here in Austin, I missed the early 80's punk scene where Austin was so much weirder and cooler than the fashion punk scene of spikes and leather. People like Biscuit would wear a purple cape and a hunter's hat with bicycle shorts that would piss off the frat boys and rednecks, doing so far better than the Sid Vicious rip offs any day. But he didn't just dress like that in the 80's. Last time I saw Randy he had on acid-washed jeans, neon green shoes, a Cross Colors jacket and purple hair...all at around 50 years old. Why not? Why look like everyone
else, or "grow up?"

"Fuck that," he must have thought. I love that there are still people this brave. I love that Randy "Biscuit" Turner was one of them. I love that this guy knew so much about the history of Austin music and loved to talk about it. I love that his art was so important to him and his friends were such a big part of his life. I love that Exene still stayed at his house when coming through with X and that he'd stop by Emo's to say hi to Fugazi before going to work. These legends of music weren't a part of his past and a trend he was into, but a part of his life today and what made him the man he was.

As a Big Boys fan, I knew of him when I was young, but didn't met him and befriend him until I started working at Emo's. I'd met him and booked his really fun cover band Slurpees a few times. When we had X play our anniversary show I asked him to do a poster, since I knew he'd done the original X and Big Boys flyer in the early 80's when they first played Austin at Club Foot. Excited, he took to it like a lion and tore out another Biscuit classic, complete with photo copied images and hand drawn psychedelia... art that could only be his. He told me how important his art was and how he had EVERY piece of art he'd ever made in his life, except for a Chronicle Anniversary piece he did which the paper lost many years ago. Knowing this, I was
surprised a couple of years later when he stopped by the club and said, "Hey, I made you something," and handed me this amazing Emo's sign/painting, glitter-filled and star-studded. It even had a letter on the back to me and he'd hot glued string to hang it from. "I wanted to do it. Just saying thanks for booking my bands, letting me do art here and supporting music and stuff in Austin." This coming from a guy whose records I sang along with and pretend to stage dive on my bed to at age 12.

He didn't have to give me anything. Who was I? There are people he knows much better and for far longer; I'm just another kid in the scene, right? But Biscuit didn't look at things that way. He figured if you did something good or right, then it came back. He treated people amazing that were good to him and shit on anyone who pissed him off. The Golden Rule, Turner style, and I think he was loved for it.

Graham Williams
Emo's, Austin, TX

Randy "Biscuit" Turner related links:

Biscuit was found the very same day he was featured on the cover of the Austin
Chronicle with a full-length feature written by Marc Savlov. He didn't even get to see
the newspaper. Here is the article:

The Austin American-Statesman article about Biscuit's death:

Lots of old pictures of the Big Boys, plus photos from the old Austin punk scene: