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The Dicks (Ritz Theater, Austin, ca. 1983). This seminal Austin punk band mixed politics and raw rock to attack racism, homophobia, and corporate greed. Photograph by John H. Slate.
THE DICKS. The Dicks, a punk rock band formed in 1980 in Austin, Texas, consisted of founding members Gary Floyd (vocals), Buff “Buxf “Parrot (bass, guitar, vocals), Pat Deason (drums), and Glen Taylor (guitar, bass). Considered by many music critics a crucial element of the vanguard of American hardcore punk, the Dicks debuted on May 16, 1980, at Austin’s Armadillo World Headquarters at an event billed as the Punk Prom.
The Dicks helped galvanize a second wave of punk rock music across the United States and internationally in the same vein as California’s Black Flag by moving from the more melodic earlier punk song style to a stripped-down and rhythm-heavy form with heavy emphasis on vocals. The Dicks, however, retained a unique sound that incorporated blues elements in a number of their songs.
Lead singer Gary Floyd’s blues-inflected commanding voice and imposing stage presence, sometimes augmented with dresses, drag costumes, and Mohawk haircuts, created a challenging and engaging, if not disturbing, package. Glen Taylor’s unusual guitar style, a raw sound that belied his complicated chords and picking, were well-matched by Buxf Parrot’s fluid bass lines and Pat Deason’s steady and aggressive but deceptively simple drumming style. Taylor (died 1997) played a dazzling combination of simultaneous rhythm and lead chords not unlike Jimi Hendrix. Later incarnations of the Dicks required two guitarists to approximate Taylor’s sound.
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Politically, the Dicks were outspoken and ahead of many of their contemporaries in confronting and denouncing, often in violent terms, police brutality (“Dicks Hate the Police”), racism (“Anti-Klan Part 1”, “No Nazi’s Friend”), homophobia, corporate greed, and class inequality. The band espoused and drew inspiration from Marxist ideology and rhetoric, and many of their songs were bitter, fiercely-angry social polemics. One-half of the band, Floyd and Taylor, were openly gay men and further influenced the group’s outsider and underdog status.
Their first single, "Dicks Hate the Police," was self-released in 1980 and followed by Live At Raul's, a split LP with the Big Boys recorded over two nights at Austin’s Raul’s Club on September 19–20, 1980. Kill from the Heart, their first full-length album, was released on the Los Angeles punk label SST in 1983. The band relocated to San Francisco in October 1982 and later joined the nationwide Rock Against Reagan tour of 1983 for three months.
With three of the four members returning to Austin permanently, Floyd parted ways to form a new version of the Dicks in San Francisco with Tim Carroll, Sebastian Fuchs, and Lynn Perko. These People was released in 1985 on Alternative Tentacles. They continued performing until the group disbanded in 1986. The original lineup, minus Glen Taylor, have periodically reunited since 2004 for a number of shows with the addition of Austin guitarists Davy Jones, Mark Kenyon, and Brian McGee.
Members have continued with many bands, including Floyd’s Sister Double Happiness, Black Kali Ma, the Gary Floyd Band, and the Buddha Brothers. Parrot and Deason played in the Trouser Trout, Pretty Mouth, and the Shootin’ Pains.
The influence of the Dicks includes covers and tributes by the Butthole Surfers, Mudhoney, the Jesus Lizard, and Limp Wrist. The band’s appearance on the cover of the Volume 1, Number 6 issue of California’s fanzine Maximum Rock’n’Roll also contributed to their national coverage and exposure. In 2009 the Dicks became inductees into the Austin Chronicle’s Texas Music Hall of Fame. A documentary film titled The Dicks From Texas by Cindy Marabito was released in 2015 as well as a tribute CD, The Dicks from texas and Friends.
Austin Chronicle, March 6, 2015. Greg Beets, “The Dicks,” Austin Music Database, Austin Chronicle (http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/AMDB/Profile?oid=oid:272292), accessed July 11, 2011. Art Black and Ira Robbins. "DICKS", Trouser Press Guide (http://www.trouserpress.com/entry.php?a=dicks), accessed July 11, 2011. “The Dicks: A Commie Faggot Band!??!”, Maximum RockNRoll, Vol. 1, No. 6 (May–-June 1983). Gary Floyd, Liner notes to Dicks 1980–1986 (Alternative Tentacles, 1997). Gregg Shapiro "Gay Dinosaurs and Others," Windy City Times, June 18, 2003(http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=3405), accessed July 11, 2011.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, John H. Slate, "THE DICKS," accessed November 14, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/xgd03.
Uploaded on July 11, 2014. Modified on November 1, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.