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'A Band Called Death' - Documentary Explores Little-Known Piece of Michigan History

by Eli Kroes

 Michigan music has been traditionally forward-thinking. From the Motown days to the times of Iggy Pop to Eminem, we've always been ahead of the curve. Of course, that means a lot of artists don't sell any records during their existence and wind up forgotten for years and years. Such is the case with Death, a band consisting of three brothers, Bobby, Dannis and David Hackney.

Forming in the early 70's in Detroit, the group is now considered not only one of the very first punk rock bands, but also the first all-black punk rock band. They took cues from contemporaries like The Stooges and MC5, but Death's sound is both faster and more violent than both. In fact, the 1974 recording date on their album 'For the Whole World to See' (not released until 2009) is almost wholly unbelievable.

However, Death did happen, and what a noise they made. Drafthouse Films  has just released a documentary, titled 'A Band Called Death,' that is garnering almost exclusively positive reviews.

For those interested, the film makes its way to the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids next month (August 2-8.) More information is available here.

The film can also be digitally downloaded  from the Drafthouse website.

It's a must-see for anyone interested in Michigan's musical history, or loud rock and roll in general.


Detroit photo by {meagen}.