THIS SEPTEMBER marks what would have been the sixtieth birthday of punk musician and Germs front man Darby Crash. As a musician, Darby was active for only a short time, leaving few artifacts beyond an album and a few memorable performances in Penelope Spheeris’ film The Decline of Western Civilization, about the underground music scene in Los Angeles. Darby died in 1980 at the age of 22.
It is sort of impossible even to picture what he might be like at sixty years old, so determined did he seem to embody the “live fast and die young” punk ethos. Maybe he would have gone on to a longer career of continual musical invention like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Joan Jett, and Prince—all born in the same year (1958)—but I doubt it. Darby enacted the script of his own five-year plan, one ending with his intentional death and pursuit of immortality.
Philip Moore is a doctoral candidate at Gratz College in Melrose Park, PA.