Recently, punk rock titan Randy Rampage passed away. Rampage was a key figure in D.O.A. during their earliest releases and played bass on the seminal albums Something Better Change and Hardcore 81. Rampage would go on to join other bands including Annihilator, though he would return to perform and record with D.O.A. over the years.
D.O.A. frontman Joe Keithley has penned a tribute to the remarkable bassist. You can read that below.
Joe Keithley's tribute to Randy Rampage
This is always a hard thing to start, writing a eulogy about a fallen comrade who has now left this world, but it’s my duty and honour to tell you about Randy Rampage. We set out to conquer the world together, we didn’t quite do it, but at times we thought we came close. Randy was unique, like a super nova, burning red hot. This is what I remember about my friend.
I had just come back from Toronto in February of ’78, my first punk rock band The Skulls had moved to Toronto in the hopes of being successful, it never happened and we broke up. So when I got back home in Vancouver I wanted to start a new band, so I put an ad in the Georgia Straight weekly, “Looking for a drummer and a bassist for punk rock band. Wimps should not apply.” Soon I started getting a few phone calls about the band. One of the first calls was from a guy named Randy Archibald, he said he was a drummer in a band called Looney Tunes (taken from the Alice Cooper song I suppose). He came over to audition and he wasn’t bad, one thing, he was a lefty, so he could play the hi-hats open handed or cross handed. Growing up as a drummer myself I thought that was cool, Randy also sensed how to play it cool while trying out, not bad for a 17 year old.
Not long after that, I got word that Chuck Montgomery, who was the little brother of Dimwit (drummer of The Skulls) wanted to try out. Chuck turned out to be really good and only 15 years old! But at that point I knew that my new, as yet unnamed, band had a drummer, but we did not have a bassist. So I came back to Randy Archibald, I thought OK, this guy’s a drummer, he understands rhythm, I bet I can teach him how to play bass, so I called him and told him the news that he was in but he would have to learn bass, he jumped at the chance and said sure. I also had the hunch that he had some sort of crazy hidden charisma.
So the three of us rented some gear from the local Long and McQuade and started rehearsing at a dirty old warehouse on Vancouver’s waterfront called 343 Railway. The bass training with Randy went pretty quick and we soon had three songs. During our third rehearsal a guy by the name of Harry Homo walked in wearing a faux fur coat, he had a girl on each arm and a bottle of rye in one hand, they stopped and listened to us rehearse. After a few minutes, Harry said to us “Hey you guys are pretty good, how about this: you guys be the band, I’ll be the singer, and we’ll call ourselves D.O.A. and make a million bucks.” Chuck, Randy and I had a conference that lasted about two minutes and we told Harry. “OK let’s do it!” and D.O.A. was formed.
We played our first show in February 1978 at the Japanese Hall in Vancouver, there was a punk show set up, I talked our way onto the bill, and we were allowed to borrow the other band’s equipment. We only had 3 songs, so when we finished those, we started playing them over again. The other bands quickly realized this and a wrestling match ensued on stage as the other band wanted their gear back, we all jumped off the front of the stage into the audience and looked at each other and started laughing, we knew we had started something weird and crazy.
As I was the only one who been in a punk band before and I had already had the nickname Joey Shithead, I thought those guys needed nicknames. Coming up with punk handles was always fun. We started up with Chuck and said, well to chuck is kind of like puking, so how about Upchuck? But he had to upchuck something, so then we came up with Biscuits, then shortly after Chuck Biscuits. Randy was this skinny guy from North Vancouver, kind of a partying swim champ, as his parents could afford a pool, and he had the last name Archibald, which was one the most un punk names ever, sounds like a stuffy English lord “Sir Archibald” bleaaaah!!! So I thought about for a while over a beer and thought: hmmm….. How about Rampage, yes Randy Rampage, the two R’s went together and you could remember it, just like Shithead and Biscuits.
Harry only lasted the one show as our singer, but the band took off quick, Chuck and I wrote about another 12- 13 songs in a couple of weeks and Randy was really starting to get a handle on playing them. We had played five shows in Van and stated to get a rabid following, 15 year old Chuck had the blazing speed on the drums , I had the snarling vocals and guitar and Randy started jumping all over the place like a madman. For our sixth gig we got a real break, the Georgia Straight asked us to be part of their “battle of the bands” in June 1978, we of course agreed to play. It was at this weird club called The Body Shop, which was really just an 80’s glitzy pick up joint. There were some DOA fans in attendance, but mostly really straight people who did not like punk at all. We got on stage and stared acting really obnoxiously, which of course really infuriated the regular crowd and the judges. Randy was jumping around like a young Pete Townsend and performing his new stage trick, where he would spit up into the air about three feet over his head while playing and then catch the ball of gob in his mouth, which of course made some people sick. At the end of evening the MC Tom Harrison announced the winner of the “battle”, when our fans found out it was not D.O.A. they covered poor old Tom Harrison with a shower of gob and beer.
We July ’78 we got our first record out, a four song 7” EP called Disco Sucks, we started mailing the vinyl around and it took off, we soon booked our first road trip to San Francisco. We got booked into the Fab Mab for a weekend with the Avengers. That really got the ball rolling, we knew we had to get out and tour and not just sit in our home town, so in 1979 Randy bought a ’67 green GM panel van so we could tour. We got booked to play a big Rock against Racism in Chicago in July 1979, so I organized a ramshackle tour around North America. We did a lot of miles in that old van, Randy and I would split the driving and it had a handy bench seat in the front, so when one of us was too tired to drive, the guy driving would jump into the back and the next driver would slide to his left and take over the wheel, all while doing 60 miles an hour. The van was in pretty rough shape, I remember Randy was driving through a snowstorm in Ontario and the windshield wipers would only go to the left, so we pulled over and tied a sting to the drivers wiper, so as Randy drove on, the wiper would go to the left and from the passenger seat with the window rolled down I would pull the wiper to the right with the string, meanwhile the guys in the back were getting covered with snow.
In 1980 we got our first album Something Better Change released and Dave Gregg had joined the band as the second guitar player. We kept touring non-stop around North America. On a tour through the Midwest our manager Ken Lester had brought along his motorcycle to get ahead of the shows and help the promo. Well Ken got tired of riding his bike, so Randy took over, I was driving along and I lost sight of Randy, who was behind me on the bike. All of a sudden Randy came up into sight in my rear view mirror, he was blazing maybe about 80 miles an hour and not wearing a helmet. I soon realized as he got closer that he was standing on the seat of the Kawasaki and crouched over with his hand on the throttle. We all started pissing ourselves laughing, except for Lester, who said “My bike, my bike!” Randy pulled up level even with me in the fast lane and said “Hey Joe, grab me a beer!” I said sure. So our roadie Bob Montgomery (Chuck and Dimwit’s brother) handed me a beer, so as I am driving 60 MPH, I hand Randy the beer as Lester is grabbing my arm screaming and trying to stop me, Randy got the beer and hit the throttle and blazed ahead of us and out of sight.
Not long after that we released our signature album Hardcore 81. By this time Randy and Chuck had combined into one of the mostly deadly rhythm sections in the world, they blew a lot people away, D.O.A. was erupting like an exploding volcano.
But as rock n’ roll fate would have it, Randy was partying pretty hard along the way and it was really starting to take its toll on his ability to play in D.O.A., so after our New Year’s Eve bash at The Smiling Buddha December 31, 1981, we made a collective decision to kick him out of the band. Randy of course was a big attraction and knew a lot of people, so not long after he left D.O.A. he got a job working for The Clash on a big American tour, he was their runner to get whatever was needed, that lasted for a while, till he got sacked by the manager. Randy of course played in lots of other bands: The 45’s, Ground Zero, (with the late great Brad Kent), SF9, and of course he really made a big impression on the metal world fronting Annihilator for a couple of different stints. While still rocking hard and exciting people with his natural showmanship, Randy got a job as a longshoreman, which turned out to be a great move, he received a great wage, benefits and some security to help get through this world.
Rampage was back in D.O.A. for a couple of more stints: from 2001-2002 and we recorded and released Win The Battle, then his third and final stint 2006-2008 when we cut Northern Avenger with old friend Bob Rock. Bob had been the assistant engineer when we cut the Prisoner/Thirteen and World War 3 singles with producer Ron Obvious. It was a lot of fun to travel with Randy again and talk about old times, he possessed this amazing memory of the stuff that had happened years before and anybody who had the chance to hang out with him were always overwhelmed at his unmatched knack for recounting amazing tales of his rock n’ roll lifestyle.
During the 2,000’s Randy and I had a whole fresh set of adventures as we toured through Japan, Australia, Europe and North America. A lot of the time we didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things in music and life and sadly I did not see him very often over the last 10 years or so, but doesn’t affect some of the most important things in life: like our friendship and camaraderie that D.O.A. was built on. Randy you’ll be my friend forever and even in death your spirit will always burn bright.