Sex Pistols Don’t Kill People, But a .44 Will Do the Job

Sex Pistols Don’t Kill People, But a .44 Will Do the Job

Fresh on the heels of the Sex Pistols appearance in Atlanta, a band appeared on the local scene called The Restraints. The front man was Chris Wood, who had the misfortune of having been born with a long list of physical defects, chief among them diabetes. He was short and skinny and pale and nearly blind. He wanted to be an artist for a hot minute and enrolled at the Atlanta College of Art, which held classes at the High Museum. No matter what the subject the rest of his class was drawing– a nude, a bowl of fruit, a flower– Chris turneChris Woods, photographed by Murray Silverd out sketches of torture and mayhem. And when he wasn't drawing on his pad, he drew on himself and had tattoo artists make it permanent long before tats were fashionable.

In putting together Atlanta's first punk rock band Chris, as front man, had gone to school on the train wreck that was the Sex Pistols and tread that fine line between show biz and authenticity. In making sure audiences would not soon forget him, Chris filled syringes with lighter fluid, stuck them in his shaved head, and set them ablaze. And, according to the fashion of that day, Chris wore a leather vest emblazoned with swastikas and otherwise tried to come off as some sort of biker dude.

The band's biggest hit: "I Cannot Be a Nun".

One night at a party at his place, 19-year-old Robin Peskin picked up Wood's .44 and accidentally shot herself in the face. So the police take one look at the deceased– a nice Jewish girl– and take one look at Chris– a tatted biker dude fixated on Nazis– and it didn't take long for the district attorney to run up murder charges against him. He tried to explain that Robin was his friend– his girlfriend, in fact– and that all this punk rock leather biker nazi shit was just an act. The jury wasn't buying it.

I called Chris' lawyer and told him that I had taken photos of Chris and Robin backstage at one of The Restraints gigs, which tended to prove Chris' claim that they were close friends. Robin's death was certainly not the hate crime that prosecutors wanted the jury to believe. But in the end appearances were everything in this case and Chris was sentenced to prison where he died of diabetes in 1989.

There is a very fine line between artistry and atrocity and it shall not be crossed; the two words appear on the same page of the dictionary but their meanings could not be farther apart.

You'll find many more stories in my memoirs, "When  Elvis Meets the Dalai Lama"  I would love for you to write a review on Amazon and let me know your thoughts here in the blog.

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