Crime – Hot Wire My Heart

18th November 2023 · 1970s, 1976, Music, Punk

This lost gem from 1976 is a little piece of punk history – the first single to be released by a West Coast punk band. A double A-side of Hot Wire My Heart and Baby You’re So Repulsive (surely a contender for best punk song title), it was the debut single by a San Francisco band called Crime.

They were formed in 1976 by Johnny Strike (vocals, guitar) and Frankie Fix (vocals, guitar), who had initially planned to be a Glam group called The Space Invaders before adding Ron ‘The Ripper’ Greco (bass) and Ricky Tractor (drums).

Notorious for their LOUD performances, frequently causing furniture to shake, their entire career consisted of just three 7-inch singles, though countless bootlegs and demos would later appear.

When they made their live debut at a gay political fund-raiser on Halloween, 1976, the plug was pulled during the fifth song with many of the audience heading for the exits.

By 1977 they had begun wearing police uniforms at gigs – and on the streets of San Francisco, much to the dismay of the real San Francisco police department – and dressed as prison guards for a performance at San Quentin State Penitentiary, later documented on film.

Their antisocial behaviour alienated record labels, including Seymour Stein of Sire Records when Fix informed him that he was wasting his time with the Ramones, and that they were “hippies who should get haircuts.”

The first song here – Hot Wire My Heart – went on to become better known when it was covered by Sonic Youth on their fourth album, Sister, in 1987.