A VERY IMPORTANT CANADIAN TURNS 50
It was at a staff meeting for "The Pig Paper," upstairs at Toronto's Beverly Tavern sometime in very late 1975, that I first had the pleasure of bumming a ride home from the one, the only Imants Krumins. You see, he was the only denizen of our nascent Blank Canuck Generation way back then who not only had an (operable) car, but a JOB as well. You have NO IDEA how vitally important this was to all of us Ontario College of Art and Sheridan College drop-outs then unwittingly littering Queen Street West in search of what was to soon become, quote, An Alternative Lifestyle.
Then about a year later, from the depths of said car's trunk (which was then, and still is I'm so pleased to report, full of dozens upon dozens of swap copies of some of the world's coolest records) Imants handed me two import 45's by Nick Lowe and The Saints. "Uh, you should really write about these in your fanzine you know," he said (and is STILL saying!) Thus "The Pig Paper" soon turned from a silly little mock-Who-and-Kink-concert-handbill to a great big (silly) voice of Proto-Punk and Garage-y Rock in General. (and IT still is too, only now my Pigshit's spread all over the dreaded web instead.)
Suddenly it was nearing the Summer of Hate (that's 1977 to all of you born after the Chief Beatle was gunned down), and fantastic little music scenes were busy developing well beneath the radar in both Toronto (Viletones especially) and in Hamilton of course (Teenage Head and those grand-daddys of em all, Simply Saucer). Again however, had it not been for Imants' job, car, and expert mastery of the Queen Elizabeth Highway which joined those cities, these two tribes would never ever have even met, let alone scored gigs together at CBGB's on the Bow-wow-ery by season's end (....you bet, Imants was already making regular gig and record runs to NYC and London as well, networking our homegrown noise to kindred souls in these other key burgs too).
But one of literally hundreds of classic Krumins moments can say it all: The Viletones are playing some secret gig off Yonge Street. Teenage Head wanna go (so they can supplant the opening act or, failing that, throw stale buns from some Mafia-backed bakery on the Hamilton Mountain at the 'tones). I wanna go too, of course ...mainly coz what else was there to do in the suburbs at 2AM on a Friday night? So Imants grabs the Head, picks me up en route to Toronto, I hear ABBA in the tape deck, discover through the rear-view that Head bassman Steve Mahon knows all the words to "Mamma Mia," and we all spend the next twenty minutes along the Queen Elizabeth Way learning in precise detail about Teenage Head's otherwise top-secret Swedish disco-pop roots.
A defining moment, to say the very least.
I could go on and on (as I usually do), about how Imants became the Ramones' designated chauffeur one night, spilt some beer on Phil Lynott about an hour later, gave me my first copy of "Metal Machine Music," successfully beat up the garbage disposal in Simply Saucer's kitchen..... but suffice to say that long, long before the Internet or even cable TV existed, we who played, wrote about, or just plain loved Rock and Roll basically relied on uber-fans such as Imants to keep us all connected, mobile, supplied with the latest sounds, and on top of every single musical thing in general.
I'm very proud to report Imants is about to enter his second half-century of duty in this noble endeavor, and I remain particularly honored to have known the man in the many ways (and in his many cars) that I have. Insofar as most of the Great Wide North is concerned then, if nobody else truly did, IMANTS invented Punk Rock. So there!
Long may he drive.