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Richard Hell & The Voidoids

“More Heroes” – Spotlight on Punk: Richard Hell & The Voidoids

by Luca Morettini Paracucchi -April 9, 20200185

The Voidoids
richard hell & the voidoids

“More Heroes” is a column dedicated to the discovery of the biggest names that have made the history of punk, many of which are not adequately known as they deserve. Today the spotlight is on Richard Hell & The Voidoids.

The third attempt is the right one

Richard Lester Voices “Hell” Meyers was born in New York in 1976. Although active for a short time, they are one of the most influential groups of the first wave of American punk. Hell (whose pseudonym is inspired by the opera “A Season In Hell” by the French poet Arthur Rimbaud) had previously been bassist and founder of two other big names of those years: Television and Heartbreakers . Both experiences ended due to the constant clashes with those of those bands who will be the leaders, respectively Tom Verlaine and Johnny Thunders.

Finally, the third attempt to start a band proves to be the right one and thus the Richard Hell & The Voidoids are born. Accompanying the bassist are guitarists Robert Quine and Ivan Julian and drummer Marc Bell.

“Blank Generation” and “Destiny Street”

The group signs a contract with the Sire label and in 1977 they debuted with the epochal “Blank Generation” , a milestone of the first American punk which sees in the title track a real generational anthem and of all punk (song already played in the times of Television and Heartbreakers) in which Hell’s poetic vein and literary influences emerge. Noteworthy is also the work of Quine and Julian in which their passion for rock’n’roll and jazz emerges.

Cover of the 1990 reissue of “Blank Generation”. The original featured Hell with a bare chest and “You Make Me ____” written on his chest.

Immediately after the release of the album, the band goes through a difficult period in which they abuse drugs. They participate in a tour of England by shoulder to the Clash which however will leave them dissatisfied with the English punk scene. The internal balance between the various members does not hold and in 1978 Bell left the group to join the Ramones, assuming the pseudonym of Marky Ramone. In 1979, on drums Frank Mauro released the 45 rpm “The Kid With The Replaceable Head” . Shortly thereafter, Julian also leaves, disappearing from the music scene.

We have to wait until 1982 for the second rehearsal of Richard Hell & The Voidoids, who now see Fred Maher on drums and Juan “Naux” Maciel on the second guitar. But ” Destiny Street” , released for the Red Star label, however good a album it becomes, becomes the last piece of the band’s history which effectively ends its adventure in the same year. Some reunions will follow during the 90s, but never with the original lineup. The latter met once in 2000 to record the unreleased track “Oh” which will be included in a compilation.

Subsequent careers

Over the years Hell has ventured as a writer, poet and sometimes actor acting in several films, including “Desperately Seeking Susan” with Madonna. Very few record rehearsals, following his retirement from the world in music.

The poster for the film “Desperately Seeking Susan” by Susan Seidelman.

In 1992 he was in the supergroup named Dim Stars where he found Quine and which included Don Fleming of Gumball and Steve Shelley and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.

Quine has collaborated with many artists, first of all Lou Reed. He committed suicide in 2004 with an overdose of heroin. The previous year, his wife’s disappearance had led him into severe depression.


Richard Hell is considered by many to be the inventor of the famous punk look made of bristly hair, studs, chains and ragged clothes. Look taken from Malcom McLaren (manager of the Sex Pistols) and his wife, the stylist Vivienne Westwood.

In 1980 the film “Blank Generation” was released starring Hell, the band and a young Carole Bouquet.

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