Stiv Bators

By: Tor Aarestad
October 22, 2009


Though Iggy Pop did Iggy first (and better), STIV BATORS (1949-90) did Iggy with a striver’s zeal in the right place and at the right time. The arrival of the Dead Boys in 1977 marked the transition of CBGBs from a highbrow/lowbrow DMZ that hosted Television and the Ramones to a lowbrow rawk club. Of course, the greatest Dead Boys songs — “Ain’t it Fun,” “Sonic Reducer” — had their origins in the hilo Dead Boys precursor Rocket from the Tombs, the highbrow half of which went on to form Pere Ubu. Soon after playing with the Damned in a tour-cum-battle of the bands, the Dead Boys disbanded, ceding the field to the superior force (whose tempo was faster, songs better, and lyrics and pseudonyms smarter). Bators next formed The Wanderers and released a paranoid conspiracy concept album, Only Lovers Left Alive; and later collaborated with former Damned guitarist Brian James as the Lords of the New Church, which took The Wanderers’ lyrical themes further, but with a bit of the crazy sanded off — thus helping to usher in low-middlebrow hard rock. No wonder Axl Rose has claimed Bators, who always did have some David Lee Roth in him, as a spiritual kinsman.


PUNK, POST-PUNK & ALTERNATIVE on HILOBROW: Joey Ramone | Dez Cadena | Jello Biafra | HR | Mike Watt | Vivienne Westwood | Iggy Pop | D. Boon | John Lydon | Henry Rollins | Palmolive | Plastic Bertrand | Kira Roessler | Lisa Carver | Frank Black | Ari Up | Gary Panter | Mike Watt | Ian Curtis | Paul Simonon | Darby Crash | Penelope Houston | Exene Cervenka | Sid Vicious | Andrew Eldritch | Kate Pierson | Richard Hell | Paul Westerberg | Lux Interior | Ian Dury | Stiv Bators | Tom Verlaine | Colin Newman | Johnny Thunders | Poison Ivy | Green Gartside | Lydia Lunch | Mark E. Smith | David Byrne | Debbie Harry | Captain Sensible | Mark Mothersbaugh | Kim Gordon | ALSO: The Original Generation X (1954–1963) and the birth of DIY | The Original Stooge | Origin of the Pogo | Shocking Blocking: Rock’n’Roll High School | Punk fanzines from the 1970s | Post-Punk and New Wave on HiLobrow

On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: | Curly Howard | Spike Jonze |

READ MORE about members of the Blank Generation (1944-53).


HiLo Heroes, Music, Punk

What do you think?

  1. I’ll second that–and you’re dead on regarding the crucial change that came over CBGB in ’77.

  2. Well if we writers don’t show progress in our understanding of the gnomic vision of hilobrow, we are asked to leave the ranch.

  3. A frequent New York Times crossword puzzle clue is ___ Bator (four letters) and I always plug in Stiv – I didn’t know his last name had an S. And of course the answer they’re looking for is Ulan.

  4. Your answer is wholly supportable — Stiv Bators (né Steve Bator) was occasionally inconsistent in the plurality of his stage name. Tell Will Shortz to be less vague (e.g. _____ Bator (not the one from Ohio)).

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