by Ted Alan Sterns
As the old saying goes, ‘Gone but not forgotten,’ is definitely how I feel about Alan K, close friend and former lead singer and founding co-member of Lone Cowboys, and later Circumstantial Recording Artists Road Vultures.
I won’t go into all the details of Alan’s death. But it has affected the remainder of his friends deeply. His spirit lingers not only here on 13th Street, but at the home of Richie “Rock” Molesso, former bass player with Road Vultures, and now with the Kevin K Band. On occasion Richie has said that he’s walked into his bedroom and seen Alan’s apparition. Richie has a great amount of Alan’s personal property, especially Alan’s clothes and the remainder of his ashes. He keeps Alan’s spirit alive, and it appears in many ways.
As for me I still get a little spooked watching Alan on some of the old videos from the late 80’s and early 90’s. His death came as a shock, because he was always a survivor, even when he was at his lowest; no money, addicted, and living on the bad-ass streets of NYC, he always managed to crawl out of the gutter and establish himself again. So when Alan left NYC to go to Florida to get it together, I never thought I’d never see him again. He died in his sleep at the St. Marks Hotel the night he returned to New York, November 10, 1996.
The police had called, a Detective Swift from the 9th Precinct. I spoke to him briefly. The detective wanted to speak to Kevin, but Kevin was out. I never thought anything of it, because Kevin was talking to the detectives on a semi-regular basis for the past week or two. Friends of ours, Trash Brats from Detroit, had come up to play a gig at the Continental. And, unfortunately, some of their band equipment ended up being stolen. So naturally when the detectives called, I thought it was about that.
So I gave the message to Kevin when he got in. He called the detective back right away. When I saw the expression on Kevin’s face I knew it was bad. I knew it was Alan. I knew he had returned, but I never thought… In all the years I’ve known Kevin I never saw him the way he was that night — drawn, pale and shaking.
Alan is dead…Alan is dead.
My God, I still can’t believe it. I still expect to run into him here on the Lower East Side–wearing that stupid, f##king hat of his. Kevin has it now.
Alan always made me laugh. And I remember a gig we played in Buffalo many years ago. It was a Road Vultures show and the band hadn’t been to Buffalo, NY in a lot of years. It was April, and it was f##king cold.
So we show up at the club, the Continental–yeah, another club named the Continental. And as we’re coming around the corner onto Franklin Street, where the entrance of the club is, we see a bunch of bikers standing out front. This is pretty cool we thought. A lot of bikers used to come out to see the band when they played Buffalo regularly. We get closer and we see it’s the outlaw biker gang, the Road Vultures. And I think this is cool. These guys, who aren’t really a biker gang anymore (they were disbanded by the local law enforcement authorities after most went to prison for some heavy-duty shit back in the late 60s) have gotten a few of their members together to see the band. This is very cool, I thought. As we got closer I noticed there weren’t any motorcycles around. Then we came to the front door, and we were confronted by these four or five guys who wanted to f##k us up.
These guys weren’t here to see the band, they were here to give us an ultimatum. Change the name of the band, remove any Road Vulture tattoos we may have and never use their name again. This was the direct order of Billy, their leader. So you ask what was so funny about all this? Besides the fact that these bikers had no bikes, and they were all wearing new leather vests with new colors ( a large patch with their logo) — Alan of course!
As we were standing there, outside in the cold, trying not to get our heads kicked in each member of the band was disappearing, even Larry G., the President of Circumstantial Records made a quick exit into the club. So who’s left–me and Alan. Here’s Alan, flamboyant as he can possibly be, wearing this woman’s hat with a flower, dressed up like a real trash-rock celebrity trying to talk to these ugly-ass, hard-core bikers who wanted to kill him. And after all I said to these guys, it was Alan who finally calmed these guys down by putting them on the guest list! They never did stay long enough to see the band.
Maxx: When it comes to Kevin, you always hear somebody he knows has died. There’s some people that you think are going to be around forever. Johnny Thunders was one of them. And I always thought that Alan was going to be one of them too. But when Kevin told me Alan died, I felt pretty much the same way as when Johnny died, but more so because I was close to Alan. With Alan it was more of a heartbreak, very sad cause I always thought someday that he would be back in the band.
I remember the time we played Buffalo, New York. I had never been there. Here are all these bikers out front looking for the leader of the band. But Alan handled it very well though, as professional as he could be considering the way he looked that night. It was actually very funny, especially with the outfit he was wearing, and that pink, plastic sword dangling from his hip–and his hair all done up. Here’s this punky rock star talking to these hard-core bikers, trying to get them not to kill us.
Richie: Shock and sadness are the only words for it.
Alan had just come back from Florida. It was August of 1993. Alan called me cause he had nothing to do that day. He was a bit depressed I guess cause it seemed all his “friends” didn’t want to hang out with him. So I hooked up with him in the City and we headed to Queens. We went to St. Mary’s cemetery to visit Johnny & Jerry (Johnny Thunders & Jerry Nolan). Afterwards we went to Corona, Queens to the Lemon Ice King, which is an Italian Ices shop (a shop that sells flavored ice–thinly ground ice flavored with Cherry, Orange, Pina Colada, Root Beer, etc. you eat out of a paper cup. Most famous ice is the classic lemon ice). The reason we went was cause it was near were Johnny grew up, and the Lemon Ice King was the only place that Alan could get his favorite flavor. So we spent much of the day and early evening together. Later that evening he called me to thank me for hanging out with him. And taking him to Corona. It made him very happy to get his Italian Ice.
Kevin: When we were kids we lived next door to this older girl and Alan really liked her. So they became friends, but Alan wanted more. But this girl didn’t want anything to do with a younger guy. So Alan got pissed off and really showed her, he covered this girl’s brand new bicycle with dogshit–handlebars, fenders, the banana seat, the horn, the bell–everywhere!
So this girl’s parents come over to talk to my parents and want to know how Alan could do this. Though my parents acted as if they were upset, they actually thought it was hysterical.
It was about ten years ago and we were having a hard time getting into seeing the major shows for free at the clubs. So Alan comes up with this idea. He goes around to like five of the major record labels and drops off our demo tape and press kit. While he’s there he picks up a business card from one of the A&R guys that he’s given the tape to. So for like a week he’s working on these business cards. He gets them laminated, and these things look amazing. It was Alan K. A&R Rep, Atlantic Records; Alan K., CBS Records. We go to these clubs and he flashes his card at the door guy and says we’re on the guest list, and they let us right in, show us to a reserved table and give us free drinks. Yeah, like I’m Alan K. from CBS and we’re on the guest list tonight to see Iggy.
One time when we were living in West Hollywood. Alan got a hold of these keys from his ex-girlfriend who was renting this amazing condo on Fuller Avenue. This was a very exclusive building with a pool, Jacuzzi and sauna on the roof. So his ex gives the keys back to the guy who owns the apartment, (he’s living in NYC) but in the mean time Alan had made copies. So Alan doctors up a phone bill and electric bill to look like he’s actually living at the condo. So for the whole summer of 1992 we would go up on the roof, sit in the Jacuzzi, drink beer, smoke cigars, and talk to models.
Growing up with Alan there was never a dull moment. He was never afraid to try something different, try something new, or constantly move. He never had second thoughts about doing anything, he would just do it . And that’s how he lived his life.
The way I deal with everything now is I have two worlds, my physical world here and my spiritual world where Alan and many of my friends are.
Prologue: You’ve read a personal side about Alan that we rarely share with anyone. These are our fond memories of a friend, a brother, and brilliant musician and song writer. Though he’s gone from this world it has not lessened our love and respect for him.
If you would like to know more about Alan please visit the 13th Street Entertainment web site at http://www.13th-street.com/artists/alank/biography.html where you’ll find a memorial page, and pages dedicated to the bands he was in.
Ted Alan Sterns
13th Street Entertainment
Note: Article originally appeared in Vicious Kitten Fanzine – 1996
It was written in 1996 by Ted Sterns, Kevin K, Ritchie Ritchard and Max Gallo