Misfits' Jerry Only on Getting Arrested for Grave Robbing and Sharing Sid Vicious' Last Meal
Photo by Ian Witlen
The Misfits are the blood and guts of punk rock. Founded in Lodi, New Jersey in 1977, the band has grown into a monster of iconic sounds and merchandise ripped from the burning reels of American horror.
Founding member Jerry Only, former Black Flag barker Dez Cadena, and Chupacabra from Murphy's Law form the band's longest-running lineup. They're on their way to kill Miami, and they still live everyday like it's Halloween.
We here at Crossfade caught up with Jerry Only to find out about junkies, death, and grave robbing.
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Crossfade: The Misfits have a Christmas album?
Jerry Only: Yeah, well, we been wanting to do this for a while. The beauty of Christmas music is that you're gonna hear it every year till you and your children die.
You're from New Jersey. Do you think you could kick Bruce Springsteen's ass?
Yeah, I would like to think that. Ahahaha. That's funny.
What was your first time playing down here?
Our first time in South Florida was Hallandale. We had gotten arrested the night before in New Orleans. The charge was grave robbing. We got bailed out of jail. We had a choice to either go to court or keep on with the tour and go play Hallandale. So we chose goin' to the beach.
How'd you catch the charge?
We had just played Tipitina's and we were with our friend Sky, who is about six-foot, eight-inches tall, and weighs 350 pounds. He used to kill people in Afghanistan for money. He used to have us do stuff like unload guns to see who was the fastest with a revolver and shit.
After the show, he was like, "Hey, there's a cemetery around the corner, let's go." It was all these old mausoleums above the ground. These little stone buildings where the bodies rot in a year. We pulled in around 3 or 4 in the morning in this bad section of town where there's a murder every night. Before you know it, the cemetery is surrounded by cop cars, and all I hear is "Hey, Dracula, get your fucking hands up on the wall!" We tried to run, but they flushed us out.
We weren't bein' destructive, just curious. But they weren't playin'. They locked us all up. They stole my German daggers. They took all our cameras and left our vehicles open like we'd been robbed by locals. We spent the night in jail and got the fuck out of town. MTV had just started, and the next day we got a call that we're on TV for grave robbing in New Orleans.
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I read online that you had dinner with Sid Vicious the day he died. Is that true?
Yeah. That was sad. You think all these people in bands have such a great life? You gotta be careful. Sid had just gotten out of jail for murder. He hadn't stood trial, so we don't know the details of whether he actually killed Nancy. He took that secret to the grave. But I'll tell you this: he and Nancy were staying at the Chelsea Hotel, which was full of junkies. And they all knew that Sid had just made five grand for playing Max's Kansas City. Sid and Nancy took that money and bought dope and she got stabbed. That's all we know. It could have been anyone that did it.
I had met Sid's mother at the Max's Kansas City show, and I was driving her around town while Sid was in jail, helping her do stuff 'cause she was from England, y'know. We had made him dinner the night he got out and talked about doing great things. He was on and on about all the things he wanted to do. Meanwhile, he was shooting dope all night and overdosed twice while I was there. It's one thing to talk about doing karate and starting a new band, and utilizing your fame for something greater. And it's another thing to talk about it with a needle in your arm while you're turning blue.
My brother Doyle was 14 years old at the time and had just played the Misfits' "Walk Among Us" stuff, so I offered to Sid that we could back him up on guitars. I said, "Look, you're in the public eye. That 'My Way' is about the coolest thing you've ever done. You could be the biggest thing in the world. We'll back you up." But he didn't give a shit about himself, about his mom, about facing murder charges. He just sat there and shot dope. He'd got clean being in jail for a month, came out and started shooting almost pure heroin. They got him really killer shit and he couldn't handle it.
I said, "I ain't gonna drag me and my brother into this shit. If you're gonna just kill yourself, fuck this shit."
So we went back to work, driving to Connecticut and delivering machine parts for the family business.
The police never questioned me for some reason.
What was his last meal?
Spaghetti Bolognese. I'm Italian, y'know. We made a red sauce, and his mom threw a bunch of big vegetables in. It was a kinda thin, wet sauce. It was British spaghetti. That's why when the Romans were conquering the world, they left the UK alone. They can't make spaghetti sauce anyway.
Misfits. With the Attack and Askultura. Saturday, December 14. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $18 to $20 plus fees via ticketfly.com. All ages. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.
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