Rock-N- Roll’s Own Unsung Artists: Death aka Punk Rock Royalty

The song is called Let The World Turn By Death

Note: I do not own this song. This song is performed and writen by the group Death from the album “For All The World To See”

imagesdeath 1975


I was so excited when I got permission to write this article about Death. When I first wrote this blog I went a generic route. I was really looking for inspiration and hoping and praying to get a call from one of the members of Death or their manager. Then as I was going through the email giving me permission to write this article I decided to look at the movie “A Band Called Death”. That movie became the inspiration that I was searching for. I still pray and hope I do justice to this band and give proper honor to the memory of David Hackney. I must say as I am writing and wiping the tears from my eyes it really frustrates me that music executives don’t see gifts or pure talent no matter how it is presented to them and then they want to change that gift into something it is not. I can understand the name Death being of shock value yet when you hear David play guitar he stirs your soul and he settles your spirit and mind to get you ready to receive the message he brings to you. Let’s talk about shock value for a moment when you compare what was shocking in 1975 and what is now the norm calling the name of your band Death is pretty tame. These men three brothers from Detroit Michigan Bobby Hackney on bass and vocals, David Hackney on guitar, and Dannis Hackney on drums formed a band and created a sound that was way before their time. They were before The Ramones, Blondie, The Sex Pistols and even The Clash. They were the predecessors of a new genre called Punk they were the pioneers of this genre I call them rock royalty. All it took was them watching the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan the show on TV with their father. Little did this family know that three of their boys would be embarking on a musical journey that would come to fruition 35 years later. Death’s story is about staying true to yourself, your vision and fighting for your legacy and being allowed to have a chance to be heard. David Hackney after the death of his father became a more spiritual person and he knew he wasn’t long for this world. He was quoted as saying that “this earth is a giant waiting room” and after we leave here there is something better and bigger to go on to. David was a visionary he was giving his brothers little nuggets of knowledge to prepare them for what was to come after he was gone. He knew the world would come looking for their music and the band called Death would take off. David reminds me of another visionary that I know who is always telling his band members little nuggets of enlightenment and knowledge preparing them for fame and what trappings come with that. His brothers thought he was talking crazy but 35 years later they honor him for what he did for them even after they thought everything was all over. David was a man of principle and he would not budge when the big deal came calling and all he had to do was change the name of the band and he could have the world. David stood his ground. He flat out refused and he and his brothers endured heartache and rejection from everyone in the industry. It wasn’t just the name but it was the easiest thing to blame but we as people of color know full well that race had a lot to do with a lot of their rejection. David showed himself to be a man of good character and he had the forethought of knowing that this band Death was their legacy he was fighting for that and the right to be heard. Death began to gain popularity when record collectors and underground classic rock listening parties hosted by college students started the buzz. Dannis and Bobby had begun playing reggae music and working regular jobs to support their families. I found this to be very important because the legacy of Death continues through the sons and nephews of the three original members of Death because of one of those parties. While at college one of the sons heard a Death song and he had to tell his brother when they did research they found out about their dad and uncles and the band. The band Rough Francis is part of that Death legacy. This gave birth to record companies hearing and reissuing the music of Death back in 2009. Here’s a lesson and again David thinking ahead when they left the music studio United Sound System and the music company Grooveville he asked for their master recordings and they gave it to him. These masters produced the album “For The Whole World To See”. The passing of David Hackney was very shocking and sad, to say the least, but Death was blessed with a guitar player that does David justice his name is Bobbie Duncan. Bobbie Duncan, I am in love with you. Your guitar playing is like David’s but you got your own style so if you are ever worried about doing David honor as a fan I can honestly say you nailed it. I said at the outset as I began this blog or article again I was wiping away tears part of that was because of you and I want you and the band to know that. This is what I love about writing I get to share what I know. If you want more information about this proto-punk band Death or as I call them Rock Royalty check out these links: This is how to get Bobby Hackney’s autobiography called: “Rock N Roll Victims The Story of A Band Called Death”

This is highly recommended for Death fans. There is also a movie about them called “A Band Called Death”. Here is the link: this was what inspired my rewrite of this blog and to show from my heart that I support this band called Death for life. this is the link to their website and you can read and see more about this band that used to be Unsung for real but now they are found.
This has also been a great year for the band they just finished a successful tour in Wales, Leeds, and London England, also just last month they just came back from Brazil. Death is also finally getting recognized and they will be inducted into the Smithsonian Museum’s New African American History building. Looks like David was right and we are about to see more from this dynamic band they are currently in the studio doing a new album (Yes people that mean new music) So get ready it may have taken them 35 years but Death has claimed their legacy, and they are about to be heard loud and clear. I love closing with a video and so here is something to keep you company while you are waiting to see what else is coming down the pike. Some people may feel that Rock Stars don't know about the world around them Well I am here to say if you think that you are so wrong. Here are some views directly from Death band member Bobby Hackney: "The song "Politicians In My Eyes" was inspired by the things that were going on at the time. The Vietnam war, and Presidents and Politicians who cared more for making their Washington deals than solving the problem of so many young people dying in a war that was hard to explain or understand. Sadly, things are the same today, and I think this is why so many music fans are tuning into the song as if I wrote it for today.

The situation in Flint Michigan is just evident of people who are trusted by people who elect them, and just plain do the wrong thing by those people. Growing up in Detroit, when I heard they were originally getting the water from the Detroit river, that made me sick as well. Michigan is surrounded by water-surely, they can do better than that".

Bobby Hackney

(This is the link to the song Keep On Knocking by Death)

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