45 Grave

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45 Grave are

An American Gothic/Punk act from Los Angeles, 45 Grave kicked everything off in 1979, but this original line up called it quits in 1985, although the the vocalist Dinah Cancer did manage to revive the band.

45 Grave are credited as being possibly the first band to blend up punk with horror-themed vocals, this creating a great argument for positioning them as the pioneers of horror punk, we're sure it's possible to argue the case that many bands, from The Damned, to the Sisters of Mercy, to even Evanescence should owe 45 Grave a debt of gratitude.

Although, according to 45 Grave's Facebook, they cite The Damned Alice Cooper, King Crimson, MC5, The Germs, Black Flag and Black Sabbath as their influences and likes.

They had a unique image and used morbid theatricality, which also distinguished them as the innovators of Horror Punk, Gothic Rock and Deathrock, all terms used to identify varying sub-genres of PuNk. These sub-genres often incorporate horror elements and spooky atmospherics and dark lyrics.

In their early days they managed to tour the USA., with artists like The Ramones, Specimen, The Damned, The Misfits, The Cramps, and Black Flag.

Original line up

This consisted of Dinah Cancer on vocals, Paul Cutler (formerly of The Consumers) on guitar, Rob Ritter (also known as Rob Graves of The Bags) on bass, and Don Bolles (of The Germs) on drums. The band evolved out of an Industriall act called Vox Pop, who only recorded two singles and performed around Los Angeles. Vox Pop had the same members as 45 Grave as well as Jeff Dahl. Vox Pop and 45 Grave managed to both keep going until early 1981.

Early Days

In 1980, 45 Grave released their first song, titled "Riboflavin Flavored, Non-Carbonated, Poly-Unsaturated Blood".

This was as part of the "LAFMS" (Los Angeles Free Music Society) art rock compilation, Darker Skratcher and even seemed to have a ska-punk edge to it's sound. This was a cover of a novelty song first performed by "Don Hinson And The Rigamorticians" on their 1964 album "Monster Dance Party". The 45 Grave version, same as the original, was produced by Gary S. Paxton of Skip & Flip, both versions achieved cult status and the 45 Grave version became a signature song of the band's shows.

Other tracks the band began by playing, were "The Consumers" songs that Paul Cutler had written, although they changed the lyrics to fit Dinah Cancer's vocal style. Soon after this they worked on composing new material like "Black Cross", that track became their first single and featured Pat Smear of The Germs on guitar. Next came along a fast-paced punk song called "Party Time", later they slowed this track down and for their 1983 debut and sadly only studio album, "Sleep in Safety." MTV featured the 45 Grave track, "Evil", and the band members appeared as extras in the legendary Ridley Scott movie, Blade Runner.

It is a shame that 45 Grave never realised major success, but they are known to be one of the first ever Gothic bands, managing to create this kind of sound before the likes of Christian Death, Sisters of Mercy, or The Damned.

The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles lists 45 Grave and Christian Death as the "early proponents of American Gothic Rock."

into the mid '80s

In 1985, a brand new and much heavier version of "Party Time" came out on the film soundtrack to the movie "Return of the Living Dead" featured alongside tracks by bands such as T.S.O.L. and The Cramps.

The band reformed in 1988 for a brief tour, which was recorded and released as "Only the Good Die Young". However, when Ritter died in 1990 from an accidental drug overdose, the band broke up once again.

2004 reunion

In 2004 the world saw a 45 Grave reunion, this was to commemorate the 25th anniversary of their forming, with Dinah Cancer as the only original member. Dinah Cancer posted this on her MySpace blog, "I'm building this to keep the spirit of 45 Grave alive, introduce its magic to new fans, and as a personal commemorative of my best memories being the driving force and front person of 45 Grave. This is a part of my life that indeed changed me forever." These shows also featured Rikk Agnew, formerly of Christian Death in the line up.

you can't keep a good band down

In 2010, Frank Agnew of T.S.O.L., Social Distortion and The Adolescents, teamed up with 45 Grave. Agnew's addition to the band, took them closer to that original 45 Graves sound, it was of course amazing to see these sounds being recreated and bought back to life.

The lineup (at the time this article was written) also included Los Angeles goth-rock mainstay, Tom Coyne, from The Last Dance and Frankenstein on drums and Brannden Blackwell on bass.

45 Grave's first new album in 27 years "Pick Your Poison", came out in 2012 on Frontier Records. This album contains a mix of new songs, unrecorded old songs, and a remake of "Night of the Demons" for which a was produced.

45 Grave have even been credited by many rock legend's biographies as being a huge influence on many of the bands that surfaced from the L.A. scene, including Motley Crue, Guns N' Roses, L.A. Guns, Faster Pussycat, Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others. Their hit song “Partytime” is still licensed for tv and radio ads today.


Year Track/Album Title Format/Title
1980 Riboflavin Flavored, Non-Carbonated, Poly-Unsaturated Blood Compilation/Darker Skratcher
1981 Hell Comes to Your House Compilation
1981 Black Cross Single
1983 Phantoms Original Album
1983 Sleep in Safety Single
1984 What Is 45 Grave? A Tale Of A Strange Phenomena Original Album
1984 Partytime Single
1985 Partytime Film Soundtrack/The Return of the Living Dead
1985 Enigma Variations Compilation
1987 Autopsy Album
1989 Only the Good Die Young Live Album
1993 Debasement Tapes ...........
2012 Pick Your Poison Original Album

External Links

45 Grave Website

Last FM

45 Grave Facebook

Dinah Cancer's website