Teenage Head (band)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Teenage Head is a Canadian rock group from Hamilton, Ontario and was one of the most popular Canadian punk rock bands during the early 1980s. They were sometimes referred to as the "Canadian Ramones", despite the fact that their sound was closer to rockabilly than to some of the Ramones' 1960's pop influences. Nevertheless, they shared with the Ramones a love of goofy lyrics and a ferocious live show. Although the band is still recording and touring as a unit, they have never succeeded in recapturing their early audience.

Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, the group consisted of Frankie Venom (real name Frank Kerr), Gord Lewis, Steve Mahon (though he later changed his last name to Marshall) and Nick Stipanitz, and took their name from the 1971 album Teenage Head and title song by The Flamin' Groovies.

Teenage Head came together in the early 70's when four young guys from Westdale High School in Hamilton, Ontario decided to form a band. Gord Lewis, founder and leader, Frank Kerr, Steve Mahon, and Nick Stipanitz weren't buddies, but each had a strong interest in the same type of music. By May 1978, they released their first single "Picture My Face" on Epic Records, and quickly became part of the scene exploding in Toronto. The legendary self-titled debut album followed a year later, turning the heads of many because it perfectly captured the spirit of the era. What's more, it showcased the band's talent as writers, with the ability to craft songs that would continue to stand the test of time, even by today's standards.

They appeared at the infamous concert The Last Pogo in 1978, which ended in a riot. The concert was made into a short film by Colin Brunton; in 2006, Brunton began a feature-length doc about the concert, and includes interviews and footage of Teenage Head.

With the release of their first album, Teenage Head, in 1979, it was generally agreed that the recording and production (done by the band and Alan Caddy) were pretty crude. Although their first record label folded, and the album consequently never really took off in sales, it garnered significant airplay for the singles "Top Down" and "Picture My Face", and made the band a popular draw on the live music circuit.

1980's Frantic City was the band's breakthrough, making them stars across Canada with the hit singles "Let's Shake" and "Somethin' On My Mind". They toured to support that album, including opening the major Heatwave festival in August. In June 1980 their performance at Toronto's Ontario Place sparked a riot. The incident made headlines across the country, and led Ontario Place to ban rock concerts for several years afterward.

In September 1980, riding high on the success of Frantic City and the band's unintended notoriety, Attic Records, their Canadian label, set up a series of showcase gigs in New York City, hoping to attract a US record deal. Only a few days before their scheduled departure, Lewis was seriously injured in a car accident and the showcase was cancelled. Lewis was temporarily replaced by the legendary David Bendeth, although he was able to return in time to play on the 1982 album Some Kinda Fun, which was the band's last hit album. The biggest hit from that album was the catchy "Let's Go To Hawaii", and they retained their sense of humour with songs like "Teenage Beer-Drinking Party" and "Shag Shack".

Their 1983 record Tornado was marked by controversy, with the band's American distributor demanding that they change their name to Teenage Heads to placate the more conservative American audience. The title track proved to be the band's last big hit in Canada.

The band appeared, as themselves, in the campy B-movie Class of 1984 (starring fellow Canadian Michael J. Fox) and performed "Ain't Got No Sense".

In 1985 after the release of Trouble in the Jungle, Venom was replaced by Dave Desroches, who led the band for several years before departing to form his own band, The Dave Rave Conspiracy. Three quarters of the band's original lineup (minus Stipanitz, who was replaced by Jack Pedler) have since reunited, and continue to tour to this day.

In 2002, Canadian punk band The Vapids re-recorded all of Teenage Head's first release. The tracks on the album were performed in the reverse order that they were on the original LP.

In 2003, the band recorded a host of previously released material with Ramones drummer Marky Ramone at Catherine North Studios in Hamilton and Metalworks Studios in Toronto with well known Ramones producer, Daniel Rey. The resulting album was released in Canada on April 22, 2008, titled Teenage Head with Marky Ramone. It will be released in the USA on June 10, 2008. There is also rumor that there is a major motion biopic in the works. The renaissance the band has experienced has been attributed to their still reliable exuberant live shows.


  • 1979 - Teenage Head
  • 1980 - Frantic City
  • 1982 - Some Kinda Fun
  • 1983 - Tornado EP-Teenage Heads
  • 1984 - Endless Party
  • 1986 - Trouble in the Jungle
  • 1987 - Can't Stop Shakin'
  • 1988 - Electric Guitars
  • 1990 - Frantic City / Some Kinda Fun (double album reissue)
  • 1996 - Head Disorder
  • 1996 - Teenage Head (reissue)
  • 2006 - Teenage Head (reissue of original mix)
  • 2008 - Teenage Head with Marky Ramone

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