Brothers Bobby, Dannis and David Hackney began playing The Who and Alice Cooper-influenced material in their Detroit neighborhood of the early 1970s at a time when other black artists were epitomized by the Motown sound. This resulted in an unreleased 1974 recording of aggressive, proto-punk tunes that predated The Ramones and The Sex Pistols. There is a strong argument to be made that not only was Death the first black punk band, they were the first punk band. Despite receiving offers of record deals from major labels, the act was unwilling to change its downer name -- a real dealbreaker back then. So the trio's music all but disappeared until its burgeoning cult reputation led to the record being released in 2009 under the title "...For the Whole World to See." This also spawned the acclaimed 2012 documentary "A Band Called Death," which hits theaters June 28. The reunited Death (minus guitarist David Hackney, who died of lung cancer in 2000) just recorded an album of new material and embarked on their first tour in four decades.
"My brother David decided it was time for Death to get out and do some shows. So he booked us at a cabaret that was on Warren Avenue in Detroit (Michigan). It was a typical east-side-of-Detroit cabaret where you had mostly auto workers. This was an all-black audience. We're the opening band. We came out and did Jerry Lee Lewis' 'Great Balls of Fire,' then 'I'm a Man,' then a couple Rolling Stones songs. Then we did our own songs 'Keep On Knocking' and 'Politicians in My Eyes.' After each of our songs you could hear a pin drop even though the place was packed. We were pulling out all the stops. We were jumping and rolling on the floor. Then at the end of 'Politicians,' one guy -- just one person -- started a slow clap. Nobody else joined in. He might have been clapping because the program was over. ... What would make us so mad is that there was always some guy who would come up and say, 'You know what you should do is play some James Brown or the Isley Brothers. Then people would really like you.' We could have played that if we wanted to. But we wanted to play our own music. And the reason David kept wanting to book us at these gigs is he was on a quest to educate the black community about rock and roll. To a certain extent, we did."
— Bobby Hackney, Death