About this site

A few months ago, I filed a defamation lawsuit. Valarie Newman and at least some of Chris’ siblings have published claims that I was abusive to Chris, and forced him into isolation. They have refused to unpublish the claims, which are false. Others have picked up on these false claims and republished them on social media, etc. In the answer to the lawsuit, Valarie made counter claims, saying that I had published defamatory information on this website.

A few months prior to this, a former bandmate of Chris’ tried to talk me into removing basically everything I’ve published. When I tried to get him to be more specific about what he actually had problems with, and why, it appeared that he wasn’t actually familiar with anything I’d written – he just felt very strongly it all needed to be deleted.

Because it appeared that people had all these problems with what I have published here, I made the site password-protected and sent a letter to the people whom I understood to have had complaints about me and the things I’ve published, giving them a password and asking them to tell me specifically what they had problems with. Outside of the former bandmate and Valarie who both thought I should remove everything that wasn’t directly related to music (like generic music promo I suppose) – no one had any response.

Rock n’ roll is a way of life. It’s not just a bunch of notes, or recordings.

I know Chris and I saw these things the same – but where we differed is that he was unable to see how or why he was being blocked professionally. Everyone – including everyone who appears to be offended by my writings – lied to him. Literally everyone but me and my daughter lied to Chris Newman – in ways that were damaging to him. And I saw that, and he didn’t. And while he was alive, I tried, mostly, to avoid creating conflict. But the lies endangered both of us, and in the end, he was killed because of this fraud.

I understand that for decades Portland, Oregon and beyond lived in a blissful bed of lies, and I’ve disrupted that. I cannot understand the mentality of the music community here. The town turned into a hole where everyone just circled around, as Seattle became a musical destination. Chris accepted that because he was trained, brainwashed, and deceived. Not because he didn’t care about success.

He deserved to earn an income off of his own work, to support his family, to be able to work with musicians of his own caliber, and to do the things he knew he could do – record professional albums, tour, make music for movies, etc. Because of this deceit, all of this was denied to him. Successful musicians literally took his ideas, never giving him credit – not because they were bad people – but because they were rewarded for this. And he ended up being given cancer deliberately, tortured to death, not permitted to record the last album he wanted to record – died feeling like a failure, professionally.

But that still wasn’t enough. The co-conspirators had to turn around and somehow make me the villain.

They started making Chris disappear from his already tiny sliver in history shortly before he died – this was clearly planned out and methodical. YouTube deleted our band accounts. He’s no longer remembered in articles about Portland music history. Seattle times suddenly changed their obituary policy – apparently between the time I purchased an obituary and the time it was published – so that the obituary we published would not be fed into a legacy feed, just published on their local site. The paper version was shoved into a corner of the paper all alone, with the usual print paper subtext all around it. And none of the local music news sites will publish anything about him, or anything about new musical releases – nor will local labels put out records, even records that are historically significant remixes. I don’t even know if the snubbing is about Chris or about me, because usually my emails just don’t get answered.

So I can only speculate – no one has anything to say, specifically – about what I’ve published – but the blacklisting has just gotten worse, and worse, and worse.

Years ago, I thought that the problem was that Chris had been a drug addict. But then I couldn’t see why, after he cleaned up, he still wasn’t being given respect. I probably didn’t really see until after he died and I did a deep dive into the history that in fact he was never really given respect. That what there was, was a lot of manipulation and mental control around him.

For me, I keep coming back to my own value system – not just what rock n’ roll is, but what art is, and what it means to care for another person. Chris was a uniquely talented person. Where he was weak, he should have been protected. Instead he was deceived and exploited. And there just isn’t a prettier way to put it.

I’m not out to be bitter about this – but I’m not out to cover it up, either – because behind Chris are dozens of other artists who should have had much longer, healthier lives, and who didn’t because of these exact same forces.

Our family was deliberately torn up, that much is clear. And no, I’m not going to make it comfortable for those who have contributed to this. Nor will I accept having my reputation – or Chris’ reputation, or my daughter’s – dragged through the mud.

I’ve always been willing to listen and engage with people who have a different opinion than me – but I will not accept being lied to, lied about, or controlled.

Stop telling lies about us.

Where was Chris Newman from, and where did he live?

During the Boo Frog era, when Chris and I were working round the clock trying to progress musically, playing show after show (I was constantly telling him, we can’t play more than twice a month in Portland, with the idea that we needed to space our shows out to keep the draw sufficient) – sending press kits and albums to record labels, trying again and again to book tours – I recall reading an article in one of the weeklies in which Chris was described as being a “fixture” in the local music scene and getting mad as heck. Of course, I had no clue at that time that Chris was a “fixture” by outside design.

In other words, Chris was not a “fixture” in Portland in the same way that, say, Tobi Vail is a fixture in Olympia. Some people want to be fixtures. We did not.

Later, in an online discussion circa 2013, Chris’ influence on Seattle music of the 1990s was dismissed by someone saying he “wasn’t from Seattle.” In fact, that wasn’t exactly true, either and the ways that Chris’ was dismissed or diminished were almost always things that could have been said about a number of Seattle bands. In fact Chris’ connections to Seattle were deeper than many of the bands that had been associated with the “Seattle sound.” I now doubt that these comments were actually genuine – I’ve come to learn that there’s been so much cover up around Chris’ music and its links to “grunge” – and indeed, so much cover up around grunge in general – that storytellers don’t really seem to care so much about the truth as about how well (or at least how persistently) they pull off their cover stories. I however, care about the truth, and there may be some who don’t know the truth. So let me take a moment to give the low down on where Chris was from, exactly.

1923 James Newman obituary
Stockton Evening and Sunday Record
Stockton, California
June 13, 1923

Chris was born in Longview, Washington, which is about 50 miles north of Portland. My research indicates that his family goes back 5 generations to this region. On his father’s side, his great great grandparents immigrated to Newburg, Oregon from Indiana. They were living in Yamhill County, just outside of Portland, by 1880. Interestingly, Chris’ father’s family line actually seems to have immigrated to North America from Wessex, England, in the early 1600s. They were Quakers and continued to be Quakers for about 300 years, before switching in the mid-20th century to a Pentecostal denomination, Assembly of God. I don’t recall as much about his mom’s side of the family but I do believe that she too, was born in Longview. That said, people didn’t always stay in Longview. Chris’ great great grandfather died in Salida, California. His obituary in the Stockton Evening and Sunday Records omits mention of his wife who had died nine years earlier and seems to leave out several of his children including Chris’ great grandfather, Lawson Henderson Newman.

The Newman family, by the way, lived in Newburg, Oregon. Chris’ great grandfather, Lawson, married in Illinois and then settled in Longview which is where Chris’ grandfather, Ogden Gould Newman, was born in 1906. They seem to have then moved to Portland, where they had a bakery (same as my maternal great grandparents in Minnesota, and during this same period of time, the 1920s) and then moved back to Washington. They lived in some interestingly named areas – like Rainbow (which was in Kelso) and Stella (just outside of Longview). Kelso and Longview are essentially the same “urban” area, but of course, in the early 1900s people didn’t travel the same way they do now. It is interesting that Chris’ first guitar was a Stella, giving to him in 1967 by his Aunt Sylvia. (According to Edmond S Meany’s 1923 Origin of Washington Geographic Names Stella, Washington – named after the postmaster’s daughter – was founded in 1880. The Stella guitar brand started in 1899.) So it is true that the Newman family has fairly deep roots in Longview, Washington (Cowlitz County) and in and around Portland, Oregon as well. But Chris’ father, Elton Harley Newman, worked for the Seattle-based Boeing company (again paralleling my Minnesota-born maternal grandmother – who was a Rosie Riveter at Seattle Boeing during the World War II – and who also worked in a sawmill in Newport, Oregon where my mother was born). Chris’ family seems to have lived in Seattle for much of Chris’ early elementary school period before Boeing transferred them to the Deep South – Mississippi and New Orleans – as his father was apparently part of a team working on the NASA space program. This was probably starting around 1963. When the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show on February 9, 1964, Chris was ten years old, watching from New Orleans.

The family moved back to Longview about the time Chris was beginning high school. The kids at the school taunted and ostracized Chris, and I’ve already told the story about the music gear theft catalyst (almost certainly a set up) that sent him to boarding school in Canyonville, Washington.

Later, between the mid 1970s and into the mid 1980s, Chris’ family lived for some time in San José, California, and Chris was also back and forth from San José.

But Chris didn’t just live in Seattle as a child, he played music in Seattle regularly, going back to 1980, often staying in town for a week or two and playing a series of dates per trip. It does appear that there were deliberate manipulations done around Chris to push and pull him in different ways. He was clearly not wanted in California, especially Los Angeles – a place that I now know, was exploiting him. In 1984, when Napalm Beach was living in San Francisco, it seems like they were hired to play, but only as openers. In contrast, beginning in 1984, Portland had essentially built a playground – a Potemkin village – an enticing trap – with Satyricon and other clubs of that type. It was during the latter half of the 1980s that Seattle seems to have moved away from booking Chris’ bands, while he was distracted by playing in Portland, touring in Europe, and increasingly drugs like cocaine, and then heroin.

Seattle punk scene 1982

Napalm Beach’s first shows

Chris photographed performing 1980 or 1981

I’ve been a bit hung up on trying to get to the truth of exactly when and with whom Untouchables were playing their first shows in Portland. Chris’ memory was really good but not perfect, and in fact he was also pretty suggestible so I witnessed for myself that it was possible for his memory to be changed by stress or suggestion.

Here’s Chris’ story:

It’s interesting because he told two stories in his memoir having to do with the earliest shows, that I could not corroborate but not exactly confirm with primary source material, the first having to do with the Untouchable’s first show, which he claimed was on the day of the Mt St Helens eruption, which most people consider to be May 18 (a Sunday) – though the volcanic eruption process actually lasted months – and the other story has to do with meeting Greg Sage of the Wipers, which he indicated happened at their next show, and that it was at the Long Goodbye the following June. I can’t find evidence of either show having happened. It doesn’t mean they didn’t happen – but it’s frustrating to have so little information to go on.

“The Untouchables felt triumphant May 18, 1980. We had blown the roof off of the Long Good-bye club and they asked us back. Mt. St. Helens blew her top off that night too. We were driving back to Longview feeling great about everything. I was driving Mark and Terry in my non discript beige Ford Falcon. We had all crashed at Koenigs rental house and woke up to a giant plume of ash billowing above Mount St. Helens! It was a mere forty five miles away. We hadn’t heard the big news and were shocked at the sight of millions of logs and trees clogging up the Cowlitz river. It was like an atomic bomb had been detonated over the mountain. People in the immediate vicinity were killed instantly. Some took advantage of the situation and disappeared, never to be seen again by loved ones. Changing idenities, moving somewhere else. Starting over. A common fantasy I’m sure. Eventually the whole area was covered with a blanket of grey ash. Like an unpure snow. It covered everything with pulvarized glass-like particles. Cars were stalled. People put nylon stockings over the manifold intakes of the carberator. The cars were choking on the ash. Some clever old ladies like Grandma Newman saw an opportunity to make some cash selling ash souvenirs. Some even fashioned ash sculptures.

“Our next gig in Portland was a real impressive one. Not a Thursday opening for a lame-ass Longview band. This was a Saturday. The Rats were headlining the Long Goodbye. A punk trio, led by handsome guitarist/singer, Fred Cole. His rockin’sexy wife Toody was on bass. Rod Rat was the spectacled punk drummer. Fred had some real rock history. No one really knew about that yet. The Rats were a raw and honest punk rock band with a hillbilly flare. Fred and Toody were a little older than their audience. They owned a cool music store downtown called Captain Whizeagles, and we all hungout there.
Strings were $3.00 a pack. They repaired musical equipment, the “Fred Cole way.” Fred could jerry-rig anything to make it work. Usually for no charge.

“That June night in 1980 the Long Goodbye featured four awesome bands. Opening was young Tom Roberts band the Imperialist Pigs. Eighteen and enthusiastic, Roberts went on to form Poison Idea with Jerry A as frontman.
Next up was the Untouchables. I had my (self painted) pink Fender Stratocaster guitar. Pink wrap around shades and pink converse tennis shoes with a crazy suit and a skinny tie. Nelson was in full black leather regalia with his signature three belts hanging off one narrow hip. Chon decked out in Zebra pants and fushia jacket was ready for his clowning drum style the people loved. Koenig bearded and slumped over his bass in full battle camoflauge layed down the bottom sounds.
We hit ’em hard and fast with a whirlwind of modern new visuals and sounds! The crowd responded quite favorably. It was a packed house, and all of us were celebrating a new musical movement. It belonged to us. We began to be a regular fixture at Long Goodbye.”

Oregon Journal ad for Untouchables - May 29, 1980

It looks like the Untouchables opened for Alost on Thursday May 29, 1980. That could be the gig he was thinking of, but Chris indicates that they drove back to Longview, Washington unaware that the volcano had erupted. I find it almost impossible to believe that someone in this part of the world could have been unaware of the eruption by May 29, 1980 as it was all over the news, and ash was blanketing the ground, especially after May 26. So possibly there was an earlier show on May 18, or maybe Chris’ memory was mixed up. I know that before they played in Portland they were driving down to check out the live music scene.

Chris indicated that the next show after that was a show featuring the Wipers, the Imperialist Pigs, and the Rats as well as the Untouchables, and that it was at the Long Goodbye the following June. So far, I can’t find this show listed anywhere else. However, if the May 29 show was their first show, such a show would likely have been their second show as I can’t find any other Untouchables shows listed before August 1980.

A similar (though not the same) line-up is advertised September 5, 1980, not at the Long Goodbye, but at a place called The Pacific Academy. On Friday, September 5, 1980 The Oregonian wrote:

“The Pacific Academy, located at 1532 SW Morrision St, will be the site of two concerts Friday and Saturday night with New wave rock and avant garde music the subject.
Saturday – Bop Zombies, Anesthesia, Spaztics, Untouchables, Chris Tense, Jungle Nausea – $3 sponsored by Alternative Art Association.
Friday’s 9 p.m. show will feature Sado Nation, Rat$, Imperialist Pigs, UHF, the Preps, and Government Surfers For Saturday the Bop Zombies will play along with Anesthesia, Spaztics, Untouchables, Chris Tense, and Jungle Nausea. Tickets for both concerts are $3 and the acadmey is open to all ages. Concerts are sponsored by Alternative Art Association.

This is an old brick building on the west side of the river, next door to the historic Scottish Rite Center. I This location doesn’t come up much as I research show dates. It looks like it might have been one of those venues that punk promoters would rent out specifically to put on all ages shows. Often they were Masonic Halls, VFW buildings, Granges, etc.

This would have been the Untouchables fourth and fifth shows in Portland, or assuming Chris’ memory about the June show with the Wipers is correct, their fifth and sixth.

1980 – Untouchables / Rapture

10 Oct 1980 MGM Grand advertisement Oregonian
MGM Grand ad
10 Oct 1980 Oregonian

While researching Chris and Untouchables/Napalm Beach show dates I continue to come up with a series of weird coincidences. I already mentioned noticing a pattern where Napalm Beach and Nirvana tended to follow each other at the same clubs, separated by a week or two – between about 1988 and 1990. This was true first in Seattle at the Vogue and Squid Row, then Portland at Satyricon, and then at clubs in Europe both in 1989 during Napalm’s first tour of Europe – and in 1991 during their Napalm’s last tour of Europe. Beginning around 1990 Napalm was pushed under water and Nirvana lifted up, though the process for this seems to have started about when Napalm Beach signed to Flying Heart. Clearly, this plan was in place a lot longer.

Anyway, that’s the first weirdness I noticed around Napalm Beach show dates. There are a lot of other weird coincidences, mostly with bad stuff happening, especially to other bands and musicians, including Tupac/Biggie. Will have to come back to this.

I was just wrapping my day’s research up, when I noticed another thing. In the Oregonian on 10 Oct 1980 – exactly 42 years ago today – there’s this ad for Untouchables to be performing at Long Goodbye on Saturday 11 Oct 1980 – and this time I decided I would document the whole page, just to show the section of The Oregonian which was cleverly called “NIGHTMUSIC” – and then I saw that ad on the bottom for MGM Grand Reno saying “Grand Escape” – and I took a screenshot of that, because the woman in the top had reminded me of the “Man From Mars” character in the January 1981 Blondie song “Rapture.” Rapture is a Biblical concept where true believers just dematerialize straight to heaven.

I looked closer and I realized that it was the following month – on 21 Nov 1980 – that there was a fire at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (Paradise) Nevada. This was a catastrophic fire that caused 85 deaths and 588 non-fatal injuries. So then looking back at the ad, a lot of stuff looks freaky in retrospect – the idea of a “Grand Escape” (death) – “89 per person – double occupancy – singles $139” – and that fish image right next to it. And then that Rapture music video coming out a couple months later.

AFA that woman in the top hat matching Blondie’s “Man From Mars” – they also called that man “voodoo god” – well doesn’t he also look like the Voodoo Doughnut logo?

“Hello Hollywood, Hello!’

Tom Peterson, ALOST, and the Goners

I’ve been trying to figure out how to describe the exact origins of Napalm Beach. Chris tended to connect the name change from Untouchables to Napalm Beach to the changing of drummers from Chon Carter to Sam Henry. To Chris this also made sense, because of the different styles of the two drummers, Chon being a simpler New Wave style drummer and Sam being influenced by jazz rhythms of Buddy Rich and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Thanks to the help of other archivists, I’ve learned that the first show that the band played under the name Napalm Beach was on July 17, 1981. It sounds like Sam didn’t start playing shows with them until the following October. Old show calendars show a gradual adapting of the name change by clubs – for example, in August 1981 some clubs were listing them as Untouchables, and some as Napalm Beach.

I’ve written before about the name change from the Goners to the Untouchables. It sounds like the Goners was actually a Ramones-inspired punk-influenced rock band that Chris formed around 1978, who were playing shows at this time, and who recorded a demo in 1979 at Wave Studios. In fact, according to Chris’ memoir, by 1980 it looks like he’d been in the studio twice already – once with Bodhi, and once, in 1979 with the Goners.

Chris wrote: “I enjoyed hanging around with Greg (Sage) and talking about music. Soon we were recording on 2″ 16 track tape out at Wave Studios in Vancouver, Washington. It blew my mind when I walked in and realized it was the very same studio I had recorded at with Bodhi eight years before.” He was talking about the sessions with Sage for Trap Sampler which would have been in 1981. That means that Chris had recorded with Bodhi in 1973. He likely left Bodhi that same year as by 1974 he’d already formed his own original band and gone down to Los Angeles in an attempt to break into the music scene there.

The Goners, it seemed, had recorded something in San José in 1979. Chris doesn’t mention the name of the studio, but the name of the owner, Richard Dias, who Chris had also employed in 1984 to duplicate the Pugsley tapes.

It’s pretty clear that there was a continuum between Untouchables and Napalm Beach, the catalyst for the name change being the conflict with the LA ska band who wanted the Untouchables name. What is less clear is to what extent there was a continuum between the Goners and the Untouchables. The Goners had been going back and forth between Longview, Washington and San José, California, while it could be said that the Untouchables really started in Portland. Of course, the way the Untouchables started was that The Long Goodbye – apparently following instructions from someone in the band ALOST – changed the band name on the poster, and the new name stuck. This may have been their very first gig in Portland, and that gig may have been May 18, 1980, the day of the Mt St Helen’s eruption. In fact, that date, so far, is the earliest date I can find for the Untouchables playing in Portland.

There are other ways that the band changed around this time. It sounds like this is about the time that Chon Carter started playing drums; the previous drummer being someone named Luke Pyro. Chris mentions Pyro in his memoir, drops the narrative, and then mentions the band hiring “seventeen year old Chon Carter” of Longview, Washington to play drums, beginning either in 1979 or early 1980. It sounds like Mark Nelson was in the band at this time, playing rhythm guitar, and the bassists were switching back and forth between Dave Minick. Minick actually seems to have been the first bassist with the Goners, but by 1980, after Chris had moved back to Longview, Minick was still in San Francisco and playing with a punk band called The Cosmetics, so Dave Koenig ended up playing bass. Chris liked Minick’s playing and had described him to me as “Napalm Beach’s first bassist” – so you can see that there was in fact a continuum between the Goners and the Untouchables.

Here is what Chris wrote about hiring Chon Carter:

“We ran into the seventeen year old Chon Carter on Commerce avenue in Longview. It was a sunny spring afternoon. Chon stopped to talk to us in front of The Minder Binder. We offered him the drum posistion in the Goners based on his looks and age alone. His brother Cris Carter was a known rock drummer in Longview’s ALOST. Chon boasted, “I’m already in a band… We play heavy metal… We’re called LAMANTARA!” He held up the logo he had carefully scrawled during school detention that week. We waited a few hours, and it must have sunk in. He came back to the Minder Binder where we were playing Six million Dollar Man pin ball and drinking pitchers of cheap beer. Chon told us he was ready to join the Goners. Then he quit school. The band was off and running.”

Chris indicates that the Goners first show was at the Stop Inn in Rainer, Oregon, writing “We got our act together there just like Bohdi had done in 1972. It was still the same seedy dive owned by Bud Diss (Erika’s note: I’ve seen his name written elsewhere as Al Diss). Diss was a perfect name for the old saloon owner and card room gangster… The Goners tore it up, working out some great tunes, and we had a great old time blowing minds! I was writing pop songs with a punk edge. I followed the Monkees and the Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart school of songwriting. We were ready for the Big City of Portland, Oregon.”

If it is true that May 18, 1980 was the date of the Goners/Untouchables first show in Portland, it’s likely that is also when the band’s name was changed from the Goners to the Untouchables. This is the show where they opened for Chon’s brother’s band, ALOST.

What seems to be going on with Chris, is he seems to have been marking changes in the band partly by changes in drummers. First the Goners had Luke Pyro. Was this in San José? Was it Pyro who played with them in their 1979 studio sessions? I’m not sure, but if I’d had to guess, that’s what I’d guess. Was Mark Nelson in the band then? Possibly. Minick may have been on bass. Then Chris (and Mark?) moved back to Longview, and Minick stayed in San Francisco, joining the Cosmetics. Chris and Mark Nelson hired Dave Koenig and Chon Carter in Longview, and the Goners played their first local show in Ranier, Oregon, soon plotting out a move to “the big city” – Portland, Oregon.

So even though the roots of the Goners likely go back to 1978 – that period of time is murky. I think that based on the information currently available, the most concise and accurate way of describing Napalm Beach’s origin is to say that they formed in 1979 in Longview, Washington, and moved to Portland in 1980. And that their first show was was in Rainier, Oregon – probably in 1979 – and their first show in Portland was at the Long Goodbye, May 18, 1980, opening for ALOST, another Longview, Washington based band. And that this is the show where the band name was changed from the Goners to the Untouchables.

In researching this, I came across another couple of details that I found interesting, something Chris mentions in passing – first is that Mark Nelson had played in ALOST, and it appears that The Goners and ALOST socialized and likely played together several times. And that the lead guitar player for ALOST was named Tom Peterson – the same name as the iconic Portland car dealer who’s face was pictured on the cover of Wipers 10-29-79 album, and on the watch that Kurt Cobain was said to have always worn.

This is what Chris wrote:

ALOST were from Longview and they were the band of which Nelson was once a member. They played mostly modern cover tunes and light metal originals. Their originals were weak and out of step with the times. I had spent the last two years as guest guitar shredder at all ALOST’s outdoor keg party’s in Longviews surrounding hills. I heard some cute chicks say, Oh yeah, he’s the guitar player that’s better than Tom Peterson (ALOST). The Goners made them sweat. We always built a fire under their asses. We were a tough act to follow for sure. Soon other bands halfway ruling the roost, had to step down when Newman and company came around. We were now known as The Untouchables, thanks to ALOST and the poster from our first Portland show.