Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Legendary Ave Rat Chris Harvey, AKA Slats, dies

This is a shortened edited intro to providing the Silly Killers songs. Apparently what I thought was a fairly honest description people thought was inaccurate factually. I felt the accounts in The Stranger were kinda glossing over a major part of Slats life, but I do realize how maybe now is not the time to talk about it. Apologies to anyone I offended.

The first time I went to The Ave (also known as Seattle's University Way) was in 1984 on a road trip from suburbia in search of the famed record store Cellophane Square. I parked my parent's big ass Ford Country Squire green station wagon with some difficulty blocks away and headed over to do some record shopping. This was when I first laid eyes on a guy I'd later find out was named Slats. He was possibly the skinniest guy I've ever seen, in super pegged black pants, with '80s metal hair leaping out from under a big black hat with a bandanna on it. He seemed stuck right between punk rocker and '80s hair metal in a pretty awesome way. Over the next couple years of highschool, as I started hitting Seattle more often for shows and to shop on The Ave and Broadway, I kept seeing the guy around everywhere.

I moved to the U-District in 1986, where Slats was a fixture daily, usually hanging out with a motley crew of folks by Campus Food Mart, just down from the Post Office. For us younger folks, it was an area we could go to score some drugs, talk someone into buying booze for us, and find out about shows (the late '80s was the era of Washington Hall, Community World Theater in Tacoma, and The Underground on the Ave). Slats was already legendary for his look and hanging out on the Ave for years.

Slats, whose real name was Chris Harvey, had a major claim to fame. He had been in a punk band called The Silly Killers with Duff McKagan of Guns'n'Roses. The Silly Killers put out one 7" in 1982 that is pretty collectible in KBD circles today after being featured on a Killed By Death compilation, where a lot of people rediscovered the band. Gas Huffer covered their song "Knife Manual" on an Empty Records split with Mudhoney (who covered "Stupid Asshole" by the Angry Samoans), that's how I first heard the song. Here are the songs from the one and only Silly Killers 7" (MP3's courtesy of the excellent Killed By Death Records blog):

Great stuff! This is a photo of Slats with Blowfly live on stage at Funhouse from a year or two ago:

Slats was a fixture in the punk rock scene... same tight pants, same teased hair, same style of hat... FOR 30 YEARS. It was impressive the stayin' power the guy had. He was first a U-District icon, then later a Capitol Hill icon. Sadly, Chris passed away a few days ago, another Seattle fixture has disappeared.

Here's a great video slideshow of The Silly Killers circa 1982 with a then young Slats on guitar:

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