Eddie Inferno faded halfway into obscurity before crawling out of the overflowing toilet that had become his career. At the height of his phoenix-like ascension, he was the brightest burning star in the sky, relentlessly pursued by the press. Even the most mundane moments of his life were newsworthy for the huddled masses desperately seeking an iconic idol to give their uneventful lives meaning. He was a hero to the people and a villain to the mainstream media whose greedy corporate overlords were frustrated with their inability to rein in this unpredictable societal agitator.
It was the 1978 album “Jimmy Saville’s Sex Dungeon” that propelled his band, The Absent-Minded Gentlemen, into international stardom. It was an open-handed slap to the gaping maw of the music industry that was balls deep into churning out watered-down disco for prescription-pill-addicted housewives and men who felt threatened by the jungle rhythms of their trademark brand of funk and punk. While the band found success, it was Eddie who was propelled into the upper stratosphere. His wiry frame, pasty complexion and red-green eyes would soon grace the cover of every periodical on the newsstand—from the hardcore music musings of Razorwire to the subtle decorative stylings of Southern Hospitality. A cover photo of Eddie guaranteed sell-out success. He was a global sex symbol who could satisfy any woman with a curl of his lip and made men feel so inadequate that suicide rates tripled every time the band dropped a new single.
The band’s first single, “Your Mother’s Dirty Mouth,” was an immediate hit in the UK. The journey to success wasn’t quite as easy in the United States, where puritanical record stations resisted the urge to play the controversial song. But the outcry of rock ‘n’ roll fans forced management to put it in heavily edited rotation. Even with a mere 38 seconds of usable audio, the song ended up topping the chart for eight weeks in November and December of 1978.
Soon after, kids were obsessed with the band and imitating their trademark look. There were international shortages of petticoats and velvet well into the early 1980s. Kids from the Atlantic to the Pacific could be heard uttering Eddie’s catchphrase, “Get off my sack, boomers.”
Battles with establishment political candidates and the religious right only strengthened the band’s popularity. Eddie’s message of unfocused anger and unbridled anarchy was a rallying call for the youth of America, who were looking for leadership in a time where faith in conventional institutions and governing bodies was at an all-time low. Like Marlon Brando in “A Rebel Without A Cause,” Eddie Inferno was looking to rebel against whatever ideology or “ism” anyone had to offer. He denounced both capitalism and Communism as “the control methods of twat-chasing penny-pinchers.” In spite of controversies that would have buried and besmirched other celebrities, Eddie and the Absent-Minded Gentlemen continued to thrive.
Their second album, “Synthesizer Sex Slaves,” became regarded as the roadmap for the next 40 years of popular music. The electronic grooves and thumping beats helped usher in a new age of revolution. The youth of the world quickly began to see Eddie as the embodiment of human aspiration. He was uncompromising in his artistic endeavors, while actively shunning the wealth and lifestyle that came along with it.
After being asked to perform and present an award at the 56th annual GRAMMY Awards, he declined and instead hired eight men to defecate on the red carpet outside the ceremony. Eddie gained favor in the philanthropic community by donating the vast majority of his finances to a dozen different charities, as well as personally funding a nature reserve for the agoraphobic.
A grassroots campaign sought to have Eddie run for president in 1980, even though he lacked a number of qualifications for the role—age, formal education and American citizenship among them. But that mattered little to a disheartened nation of young people who had become disenfranchised with a system that no longer served them. Eddie often struggled with the idea of being a role model, admitting in an interview with the Hoboken Shopper, “Fuck off you maggot whores.”
In three years, Eddie Inferno changed the face of music and global geopolitics. The youth of the world were becoming an organized, frightening force with a worldview shaped by a school drop-out and admitted deviant. He stopped his education in third grade due to “ideological conflicts” with his teacher, Mrs. Sandy Lynch.
A mega-popular musician at the height of his stardom, Eddie Inferno evolved beyond the restraints of traditional artistry to become an unrivaled influencer. He seemed to be charting a course no one before ever had. He was at a pivotal crossroads in his life before he discovered he had the power to explode things with his mind.
Anghus is encore’s 2020 fact or fiction writer, featuring the serialized piece, “Burning Sensation.” Read the prologue and previous chapters at encorepub.com.