October 15th marked the anniversary of the death of Frank Kerr, better known as Frankie Venom. He was the lead singer of Teenage Head. This Canadian punk rock band was most popular in Canada during the early 80’s, but never quite garnered attention outside of Canada. To me, Teenage Head was sort of a cross between punk rock, new wave, and 60’s surfer music. The band always seemed to be more radio friendly and upbeat than most punk rock bands. Frankie Venom had a wicked name, an evil look, but always came across as a down to earth, nice guy.
In their hometown of Hamilton, Teenage Head was ripping it up on stage. In 1978 they released their first single, Picture My Face, from the self titled album..
In 1980 Teenage Head released their second album, Frantic City. I would love to review this album, but I don’t think I could say it any better than Deke. So here is a link to his review.
Below is a few recorded TV show appearances during those days. The TV announcer is J.D. Roberts(now John Roberts), who was very popular in Canada on such shows as The NewMusic, Toronto Rocks and MuchMusic. He has since gone on to bigger and better things in the USA.
Teenage Head was reaching the height of their popularity in 1980, and they were scheduled to do a free concert at Ontario Place in Toronto. Their songs were hits on the radio, and the band promoters advertised a free show. Thousands of people lined up early, and the venue was full long before the band hit the stage. The police would not let any more people in, and a riot started. A Toronto newspaper book excerpt from events of that day.
After the second album, Teenage Head was ready to tour the USA, and bring their talents to a bigger audience. Unfortunately, just days before the tour was set to kick off, guitarist Gord Lewis broke his back in a car accident. Here is an interview from those days(featuring J.D. Roberts again).
The third album, Some Kinda Fun also features some great tunes, including the below clip.
In 1982 they were in the movie Class of 1984, featuring a then, unknown named Michael Fox(later known as Michael J Fox). The movie also included I am the Future by Alice Cooper.
In 2014, Tom Wilson (Junkhouse, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Lee Harvey Osmond) started a campaign to erect a statue to honour Frankie Venom in Hamilton. This has so far been met with some resistance, due to the late singer’s substance abuse and a conviction for assault. In my opinion, if the funds are not public funds, the statue should be made. He best represents the blue collar city, and was possibly the most famous musician from Hamilton.
There is a book about Teenage Head entitled Gods of the Hammer that I do not have, but I intend to purchase it soon.
A tribute song to Frankie Venom.
A tribute to the band by a fan on youtube.
Even though the band has continued on since his death, I will always think of Frankie Venom as the face of Teenage Head. We miss you Frankie. RIP.