EXPIRED: 07/29/10 – Derf Scratch, 58, lived, for a time, in FEAR. Seriously. Scratch was in FEAR. In fact, he was a founding member of the band.
Born Frederick Charles Milner III in New Jersey, the musician landed in California in his 20’s and played in crap bands like Marquis De Sade, the Sweet Jesus Fish & Mattress Company, and Trashy Ted & the Dog Shit Canyon All-Stars. The music was a step up from bar band glam rock, and he knew wasn’t going anywhere.
So in 1978, when Milner was approached by an aspiring actor named Lee Capellaro to start a punk band Milner jumped at the chance. Milner became Derf Scratch, Capellaro became Lee Ving and the new band became FEAR once they added Burt Good on guitar and Johnny Backbeat on drums.
FEAR’s 1st single, “I Love Livin’ in the City,” was released in 1978, and by 1982, the band – which had since replaced guitar and drums with Philo Cramer and Spit Stix, respectively – released their debut LP The Record. Their live shows were dangerous and exhilarating. And Scratch became a punk to be reckoned with.
In the 1981 Penelope Spheeris documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, a film that perfectly captured the west coast punk scene, Scratch took care of one FEAR heckler by railing back at him with the now famous line “Eat my fuck, asshole!”
For such a chaotic, messed up, anything-goes party band (the legend is that they destroyed tens of thousands of dollars worth of stage sets during a 1981 Saturday Night Live engagement) it’s a little remarkable to consider that Scratch was fired from the band the following year because he partied too much.
We’re not sure how he made a living after that although he was a part-time licensed real estate broker, and for a while things were good so maybe that sustained him. His music output since the early 80’s was sporadic. A band called Scratch was followed by one called the Werewolfs but neither made much of a dent in the industry. He died of an undisclosed liver disease, so maybe the hard partying accusations weren’t that far off.
Ving, who supposedly was the reason Scratch was fired, went on to a minor acting career. According to IMDB.com he’s currently bi-polar and continues to tour with a revamped FEAR. It consists of no original members and, according to me, shouldn’t be bothered with.
As Scratch might say, “Eat my fuck!”