Published Mar 15, 2014In truly sad bit of news, Gary Burger, the frontman for proto-garage rock heroes the Monks, has died. According to Minnesota newspaper Bemidji Pioneer, Burger passed away Friday (March 14) after losing a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was reportedly 70.
Originally called the 5 Torquays, the Monks formed in 1964 and were made up of five U.S. soldiers stationed in Germany. They got their start playing hospitals and nursing homes, before eventually hitting the German club circuit. Soon, a German music promoter got behind the band and convinced the group to adopt the name the Monks, who, as you can see above, wore monastic attire of black robes and sported traditional monk tonsures.
The band went on to open for the likes of Jimi Hendrix, the Kinks and the Troggs, and soon became the thing of rock'n'roll legend, thanks not only to their unique stage attire but wild proto-garage/punk structures that remain unique to this very day.
"After awhile, we came to love the haircut," Burger wrote in "The New Testament," a web collection of band members' reminisces. "As long as [we] were in full dress Monk stuff, it kept us out of trouble with the polizei [German police] and most ruffians plus it put us all in the same pew, further bonded us and made us instantly recognizable."
In 2009, Light in the Attic reissued the Monks' now classic Black Monk Time, as well as a a compilation of the band's earliest recordings. Burger and the Monks also embarked on a brief reunion in 1999.
Besides leading the Monks, Burger was elected as mayor of Turtle River, MN, in 2006. He also operated a local recording studio for decades out of his home and pursued a filmmaking career.
"He lived courageously and well," Bemidji Pioneer quotes longtime friend Carl Baer as saying.
Thanks to Pitchfork for the tip.