A Band Called Death is a documentary that was produced in 2009 that told the story of the first black punk band called Death. It featured three brothers from Detroit, David, Bobby and Dennis. It all began in 1964 when their father introduced the three brothers to the Beatles and this was the moment that inspired the brothers to make music apart of their life. The brothers practiced together and played together as years moved on but it wasn’t until the family came into money that their true talent began to flourish. The boys were able to purchase brand new instruments and convert a room in the house into a practice room.
David had gone to The Who concert and was introduced into a whole new world of music. This was a movement for their band that had them begun to play rock n’ roll. When their father had passed away David who was the most spiritual of the group felt it to be important to name the band Death. His goal was for the name to not have a negative connotation but rather a positive one, Death meaning the beginning of something new. The boys had officially begun their band Death in 1971.
David was the leader of the group, being the eldest of the three. He worked towards getting Death a contract. For those who stopped and listened they fell in love with Death, the band became as close as signing a record deal with United Sound. The one thing truly stopping them was their name. They are told time and time again by different companies that they needed to change their name, Bobby also stated they got rejection for their looks, that they were a black band playing “white boy” music. The boys having been torn apart, had walked away when the opportunity came to sign a deal in exchange for changing their name. The brothers do what they always do and that is stick together. David felt it in his heart that changing the name was not right for who they were and what they wanted to be.
Over time the brothers got torn apart, Death was never going to make it if they didn’t give into what look they were “suppose” to have. While Bobby and Dennis wanted to continue to have fun and make their music apart of their lives, they created a new band called Lambsbread. It was a reggae band that was pretty successful. David hit a hard turn and continued to play music for fun but also got heavily into drinking. He passed away in 2000. Before he passed away he had given Bobby all of their records and notes from Death and told him to save it; he said the world will come looking for it some day and he needed to be ready.
In 2008 Death was found, word got around when a few old records were found in various record stores. With the help of Bobby’s three sons, Drag City Records produced the album titled “For The Whole World To See”. Their band along with Bobby’s sons’ band, Rough Francis, came together and went on tour. The bands were both featured in the NY Times, and had gained popular success and respect in the Punk Rock culture.
So many bands are willing to fold and change who they are and what they represent in order to make it in this world. Death did not and while their success came it came 35 years too late. This documentary shows that the true art in music is not to succeed and the cost of your soul, your music, but to succeed with the your soul still intact. The band had phenomenal music one that was not appreciated by the way the package was presented, in their time being a black punk band with the title Death was never going to allow them to succeed.
Before the class Music Beyond Earbuds, I would never have cared for this documentary. I would’ve been closed minded and bored, but before I started to watch, I just listened. I listened to their songs and their passion. The documentary had captured my attention after I had truly listened to their music, which I had done in an active manner. When we listen to a band their name, and their looks do not matter. It is their voice and their passion that do. We live in a world were looks matter too much, and that will prevent a truly successful person from being acknowledged.