A sub-division of oldpunks.com

Friday, September 02, 2005

Stevo. He Dead

Stevo was the original lead singer for 80s-90s-00s punk band The Vandals, before the band shifted to the logo, Joe Escalante, and others, each and every one unique and special in their own way.

Stevo killed himself, and there's a memorial website with details on commemorative events.

This e-mail is making the rounds. It says Stevo died from a broken heart after being royally skuh-roooooed by Escalante. It does ramble:

Subject: boycott the vandals! ...please read this> > Hail Stevo! Hail! He was a friend who understood> friendship and a > brother who understood> brotherhood!> > We are bereft, robbed of one of our brightest,> funniest, most > creative talents. What can we say> when the awful news is still so fresh? My mind reels> when I think too > hard about the fact that I> will never again trade old war stories with him,> never again sit > mesmerized at his skill as a> raconteur, never again. He was going to be the> wise-crackingest > codger on the whole porch at the> punk rock old-folks home, his initially-guarded> smile perking us all > up like the sun coming through> the clouds... that smile that he used to keep in> reserve until he was > sure he could trust you. It> was his mark of approval, and as good a reward as> you'll ever get for > anything in this world.> > We don't get to see that smile ever again. We've> been robbed.> > Naturally we all want to know why. How could this> happen? What was in > Stevo's mind in the hours> before he died? And let's just come right out and> ask: Did he kill > himself?> > I don't believe he killed himself. I don't believe> this was anything > but an accident, and I speak> from that very clear-eyed point of view of a person> who has lost a > whole lot of friends over the> years, many of them by their own hands. I think> Stevo died by > accident, overdosed on pills that> were prescribed for the racking pain that was eating> at him night and > day from two busted-up arms> and a bad back.> > It was an accident; a tragic, random, stupid> accident. I still have > to wonder, though, why> Stevo's last phone call to one of his old friends on> the mainland, > just days before his death, was> so full of bitterness. I have to wonder why so many> of my > conversations with Stevo for so many> years circled -- almost obsessively, for him --> around certain events > that took place quite a long> time ago, as though they were forever fresh in his> mind, like wounds > that wouldn't heal. I have to> wonder how Stevo, normally a living, strutting> beacon of confidence > and supernal joy, got so filled> with bitterness and rage and helplessness. I have to> wonder, too, if > it's inappropriate to make a> call for action at a memorial service... but I have> thought on it > long and hard, and I do believe> that Stevo would want it this way. I don't know how> many indignities > and outrages he was forced to> endure in his painfully brief lifetime, but I know> that he only hung > on to a grudge for one single> person in this world, and I do not believe that> Stevo would want us > to forgive and forget about that> person's actions even now. It's time to take up the> cudgels on our > brother's behalf and correct a> great wrong.> > To understand this story you have to know a little> bit about Stevo's > brilliant though truncated> music career, and you have to know something about> Stevo's fellow > musicians. One of them, Stevo's> ex-bandmate, was the person who earned Stevo's> single solitary > grudge. He was the one person at> whom all that distressing, un-Stevolike bitterness> was directed. Joe > Escalante. Correction: Joseph> Patrick Escalante, Esquire, Attorney at Law.> > Joe has managed to not only pocket all the money> that early Vandals > music generates but also to> credit himself as sole author ("words and music by> Joe Escalante") of > songs that were> written and performed before he was even in the> band!> > Joe's theft of Stevo's work was a consuming> frustration for Stevo, an > ugly knot of pain and rage> that at times threatened to define Stevo,> overwhelming that golden > persona we all basked in. When> Stevo saw the credits at the end of the film 'XXX'> it was a blow he > never recovered from. 'Anarchy> Burger, words and music by Joe Escalante' is what> rolled by on the > screen as Stevo's jaw dropped and> his heart broke within him. The line that Vin Diesel> recites in the > movie was completely, purely> Stevo's. Everyone who was around back then knows it> was Stevo's, and > Joe stole it and sold it to> Sony as his own work. That really ate Stevo up. It> wasn't the money > that hurt him so much,> although the $20,000 that Joey pocketed from the> licensing deal with > Sony certainly added insult to> the injury. It was the loss of his cachet, his claim> to fame, and a > very severe tarnishing of his> very brightest memories. It was a betrayal that> Stevo could not > possibly have seen coming, because> Stevo would not have been capable of a betrayal of> that magnitude > himself.> > Once Stevo found out about the deal with Sony for> the film 'XXX' a > number of other disconcerting> facts came to light. An Adidas commercial had aired> featuring 'Urban > Struggle', a song written by> Stevo and Jan before they met Joe. Joe pocketed> $60,000 on that deal. > A Soundscan analysis showed> that the early Vandals records were still selling> strongly fifteen > and even twenty years after their> initial releases, contrary to what Joe had been> telling Stevo, Jan, > and Human the entire time. A> property that Joe claimed was a worthless old dud> turned out to be > the cash cow for Joe's new> line-up of the band, and for Joe's company, Kung Fu> Records. The > latest re-releases of PEACE THRU> VANDALISM and WHEN IN ROME had the credits changed> from the original > pressings, and now each and> every copy stated that Joe had written all the words> and music they > had ever played, all by himself,> including music that was written before he joined> the band.> > Joe is currently sticking to his lie that there was> an agreement by > Stevo and Jan to hand over all> future Vandals earnings they were entitled to (!) in> exchange for > Joe's 'permission' to play a> reunion show in 1989. At various times, Joe has> claimed that there > was a written contract, that it> was a verbal agreement, that he paid Stevo and Jan> in cash for the > deal, or that Stevo and Jan were> paid $5000 from Goldenvoice for the show. His story> changes every > time he tells it, but the thrust> of his lies is that Stevo and Jan agreed to give Joe> all future > earnings from their music (and> credit for authorship to boot, which is absurd) in> exchange for the > right to play a single show. In> reality the only 'agreement' that took place> consisted of absolutely > nothing more than Joe screaming> "F--K YOU F--K YOU F--K YOU, I'M NEVER PAYING YOU> ANOTHER DIME IF YOU > PLAY THIS SHOW!" and> them playing the show anyway.> > It took the band a long while to wake up to what Joe> had done to > them, and that's the only fact in> Joe's favor at all. The delay was at first a matter> of simply being > oblivious to what was going on,> but later Stevo hesitated to pursue Joe over his> vile plagiarism > because he was intimidated; at one> point, Joe stated plainly to Stevo that he was> spending Stevo's > royalty checks and there was nothing> Stevo could do about it because Joe was an attorney.> When the case > finally did make it to court Joe> used his law degree and a pocket full of Stevo, Jan,> and Human's own > royalty money to give them a> good old-fashioned record industry screwing. The> legal team > representing the band told them that> the case was undoubtedly a sure win against Joe, but> only if they had > the money to pay the necessary> legal fees up front. As lawyers do, they took the> easy way out and > took their cut according to> their opportunity. In the process Stevo and Jan and> Human (but > especially Stevo) got the very short> end of the stick.> > If Joe were here, he might try to tell you that> exploiting Stevo's > death to cast the harsh light> of truth on some musty old music industry crimes is> in bad taste. I > know, though, that the thing> that would've made Stevo happiest in his life would> have been to see > Joe's crimes exposed, and to> see the lyrics Joe stole credited properly for a> change. He wanted > Joe to get his comeuppance, and> he wanted his legacy back. He had a constant burning> desire to spend > just a few more moments in the> limelight talking to his fans, his way. More than> anything, he wanted > to take back that thing he> created, wave it around like a flag for all to see,> and explain to > everyone just exactly what> happened to his band, without any meddling from Joe.> Joe, who was > forever trying to control what> Stevo could sing or say, first in the Vandals, and> then in court.> > Stevo nearly made it, too. Jan even had some gigs> lined up. Stevo > begged off by saying that he> had no way to get to the mainland, but the truth is> that he was too > afraid of legal repercussions> from Joe to take the plunge and do a reunion tour.> We got robbed > again. It would have rocked hard,> and maybe it would have lanced that terrible boil> festering on poor > Stevo's happiness.> > We can take Joe down, and when I think of Stevo and> the exemplary > loyalty he had for his friends,> I know in my heart that it is our obligation to take> our best shot. > Let's show Joe that Stevo had> the kind of friends who stick by a man in his> darkest hour, and that > when you steal the thunder of> our tribe and sell it back to us as your own, there> are consequences!> > If you can make a statement regarding the events> described above, > please send it to> atomdebris@gmail.com. > We want to hear from you, > with your first-hand accounts of what happened> between Stevo and Joe Escalante.> > http://stevojensen.com/


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is a shame. The Vandals had such a great sense of humour, something that seems to be almost absent from today's punk.

7:44 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home