Detroit is losing one of its native sons this week, as Art Lyzak and his lovely wife Christine leave the Motor City for the beautiful confines of San Francisco, where Christine has taken a job with a major advertising firm. "Dammit!" Art exclaimed on his first voicemail message to me, "can't we live in the same city again for longer than two weeks?" For the few of you who don't know, Art was a major part of the Detroit rock scene during the '70s and '80s as the lead singer of the Motor City Mutants, one of the best bands this town ever produced. Not only that, but he was the booker at Lili's in Hamtramck, one of the greatest rock clubs anywhere and perhaps the closest thing rock 'n' roll ever had to a bar like the one on Cheers, where "everyone knew your name." Lili, of course, was Art's mom... but she was like a mom to everyone who frequented the establishment... well, if your mom ran one of the coolest rock clubs in town. I actually cried when I read online that she'd passed away a few years ago.
After the Mutants broke up in the late '80s, Art, Dave Uchalik (who also led the Polish Muslims) and Bootsy X (of Bootsy X & the Lovemasters fame) led a band called The B.A.D. Experience (an acronym for Bootsy, Art and Dave), performing their "(shoulda been) greatest hits," backed up by the remnants of my own band, Let's Talk About Girls, which was still led by my brother, Barry, before he made his move to Los Angeles. The Mutants did a few reunion shows in town, before the untimely demise of their powerhouse drummer, Steve Sortor. But I still like to remember them in all their glory, opening for Iggy during his legendary one-week stint at Bookies, the Pretenders (make that the original Pretenders) at the Motor City Roller Rink, or numerous shows in East Lansing, where they once opened for a movie about the Doors. And, of course, every time they played Lili's and the line was down that infamous alley and around the block. George Clinton -- yes, that George Clinton -- produced their demos for a major label. They should have been huge.
Art and Christine threw a going-away bash at Gusoline Alley in Royal Oak Monday night. I planned to just stop by for a drink and ended up staying until almost 1 AM. Ran into Uchalik, who tells me the Polish Muslims are still up and running, as well as a bunch of cool people whose names I now mostly forget (have always been great with faces; it's the names that throw me off until I've met you twice or more)... well, I did remember Jerry Peterson (aka Vile), who was wearing a dog collar the first time I met him in 1978 or so. I also met Barry who runs two hair salons with his wife, Laura -- "Bang or Blow" (gotta love it!) -- and it looks like I've found somebody to hopefully cut the hair I have left. Hey, coming back from L.A., this is important! Also met an interesting guy who told me that there are teenagers in Detroit playing great rock 'n' roll; one such band, the Muldoons, even opened for the White Stripes here in town. I found that to be very encouraging. Also Amy Alkon, who says she can get me theater tix (you see where my priorities are these days -- but, hey, the best rock has always been theatrical), and Katie, who used to be in the Sillies back in the day. (One of the twin girls in the Sillies once mistook me for a member of the Psychedelic Furs backstage at the Royal Oak Music Theater... go figure...) A beautiful Michelle Pfeiffer lookalike named Dawn took a bunch of photos with her digital camera that she promised to send me. If she ever does, I'll post them here and maybe Brian Smith can help me identify the names I've already forgotten...
Oh, I also met local musician Greasy -- whom I imagine most of you already know -- who's currently playing with Robert Gordon and Chris Spedding. Pretty impressive as well. We discussed Spedding's classic "Guitar Jamboree" track, which Greasy says is still part of the great British guitarist's shows.
Anyway, had an excellent time. Leave it to Art to bring a great bunch of people together... just like in the Lili's days. Truthfully, I can't picture Mr. Lyzak in San Francisco, but then I never pictured myself in Los Angeles, either. And at least he'll now be in the same state as our mutual great friend, John Kordosh, formerly bassist for the Mutants and my fellow CREEM editor. Art says he wants to write a column called "A Detroiter in San Francisco," which is coincidental, since I'm hoping to do an ongoing series of columns for the Metro Times called "A Detroiter in L.A." The Lyzaks leave Detroit on Thursday of this week, so join me in wishing them well.
np: "So American" b/w "Piece of Shit," the Mutants