Written by Bevis M. Griffin
1978 was a very interesting year in the evolution of rock music due to the fractious collision of new-wave innovators such as Talking Heads, Pere Ubu, and Elvis Costello, versus neo-rockers like The Cars, Cheap Trick, and the extremely controversial, and uber-bombastic Van Halen. Chris and I envisioned The Skyscrapers in the cast of the latter, and we were bolstered by the caliber of musical prowess that Jimmy Saurage and Byron ‘Bucky’ Davies brought to the band.
After years of arduous dedication to craft, we were bound and determined to bring our A-game. Jimmy Saurage was far more confident and sophisticated when I invited him to join the band. Bucky Davies had the visage of a super-model with the jaded, ultra-cool persona of a true star. At 6’3″ and 6’2″ respectively, the twin towers of CKB and Bucky standing next to our strikingly diminutive 5’5″ front-man, was the stark visual inspiration for The Skyscrapers.
At first glance, to our credit, we were a uniquely photogenic congregation of cultural diversity. Our dramatic physical contrast made us highly desirable subjects for Austin’s shutter-bugs. Our set-list was comprised of freshly penned, hard-hitting originals by Jimmy, CK, and myself. Our style was a mysterious hybrid of heavy-rock hooks and punk-rock energy, combined with a penchant for immaculate, symmetrical, sonic-architecture. We were bold, loud, and proud!
In 1978, The Skyscrapers infamously debuted at Raul’s to a decidedly punk-centric audience. The “mixed” response we received from that incident only steeled our intrepid determination. My long-time friend, and maverick-show promoter, Wayne Nagle, saw us there and invited us to perform at a memorial tribute for one of Austin’s most beloved music impresarios of the legendary One Knite club, who allegedly died suddenly due to a pharmaceutical misadventure.
To our good fortune, the show was held at The Austin Opry House, a newly revived venue of 900+ capacity, famously owned by Willie Nelson and future Backyard promoter, Tim O’ Connor. The Skyscrapers performed a blistering 30-minute set that prompted Wayne to book us as the headliners for the debut of the newly revived Continental Club, which had been dormant since the late 1950s. The Skunks, The Next, Terminal Mind, Big Boys, and D-Day all followed suit.
It was a beautiful day in 1979 when The Skyscrapers were famously photographed before the gorgeous, classically rendered, hand-painted mural that adorned the entire facade of the stage. The talented photographer who created our official headshots was the amazing Scott Newton. Today, Mr. Newton’s esteemed collection of rock and roll portraiture adorns the walls of The Moody Theatre.
Following a series of packed-out Continental shows, the buzz extended to Armadillo World HQ. My dearly departed friend, and seminal poster-art maestro, was the irrepressible AWHQ MC and due to his beneficent enthusiasm, The Skyscrapers ultimately became a go-to support act culminating in a sold-out blitzkrieg opening for NYC’s ferocious punk-rock icons, The Ramones.
As 1979 waned towards 1980, I’d suffered a devasting loss due to a horrific apartment fire the night before Thanksgiving Day. At the time I had a beautiful waterfront residence adjacent to the Holiday Inn on Town Lake. That night I had just dozed off with my girlfriend when we were suddenly startled by the sound of breaking glass and blood-curdling screams from down below. A neighbor had accidentally fallen asleep and his errant lit cigarette ignited his bedroom and the raging flames swiftly migrated from unit to unit until the entire complex was engulfed in flame.
We were fortunate to escape with the clothes on our backs, but we lost all of our possessions except for my gold-sparkle Ludwig drum set and a small cache of antique heirloom jewelry. Thankfully, my good friend De Lewellen and her bandmates in D-Day magnanimously hosted a huge fundraising benefit on our behalf, and my beloved friends Leyola Perez and Drew Pennington invited us into their home with open arms as a safe-haven towards full recovery.
P.S. Rock and Roll is more than just a musical genre, and it’s more than just an individual lifestyle. From my experiences from day one to the present, Rock and Roll is about celebrating community! For all the talk about racial disparities and systemic societal inequities, never underestimate the power of soul and the indomitable bonds of genuine friendship. I am a humble recipient.
P.S.S. Thank You De, D-Day, Raul’s, CK, Jimmy and Leyola. R.I.P. Bucky and Brother Drew. XOXO