So, I dug some more after last night’s post, and I found Silke Berlinn and her band, the Addictions.
I’d never heard of Silke, but her bio is a rampage of reference and namedropping, with confusing punctuation and a style that takes the long view. I’ve bolded one graf simply because it seems like the most honest and least self-aggrandizing, and is genuinely funny. Plus she admits hanging with GG Allin.
Silke Berlinn, a “proto-punk” vocalist renowned for her exceptional and broad-ranging vocal abilities with rhythm-and-blues feel. Silke, once called the female alter-ego of lead singer, Willie Borsey (with whom she once lived) of Mink deVille, is often compared to Amy Winehouse. Silke began singing in Catholic girls’ choirs at the age of 5, perfecting her style with the help of blues greats Charles “Blue Boy” Huff, one of Sam Cooke’s original Soul Stirrers, Oakland blues greats Hi-Tide Harris and Cool Pappa among others. Silke has studied voice from the time she was a child and her distinct vibratto-rich vocal style is at once reminiscent of great girl-group vocalists Ronnie Ronette & Mary Wells with the unleashed performance qualities of a Janis Joplin or Tina Turner and more recently, Amy Winehouse (with whom Addictions guitarist, Eric Zodik, was linked. Silke’s poetry has been compared to that of Patti Smith
Silke Berlinn began singing in San Francisco underground bands at the age of 15 when she left home in NYC to join the original members of Mink deVille, started by Robbie McKenzie was later known as Fast Floyd & The Famous Firebirds. Willie Borsey, lead singer of Mink deVille & childhood friend of McKenzie, left Connecticut for San Francisco at McKenzie’s importuning, urging Willie to join McKenzie (now known as “Floyd”), bassist Ruben Siguenza and Oakland drummer Manfred Jones in McKenzie’s newly-formed band which he called “Mink deVille.” Floyd did not want to move back to NYC permanently, leaving Mink deVille to form Fast Floyd & The Famous Firebirds with Silke in 1979.
After recording “Bizarre” with the assistance of Bill Graham Presents, Silke & Floyd had a falling out (he began stalking her with a gun when she left him for Addictions guitarist Spike Mayfield (n. Keith M Dailidenas, aka Keeth Paul, Keeth Mayfield, seminal member of the entourages of David Bowie, New York Dolls, & Teen-Age Lust)
Silke fled Los Angeles for New York City, followed shortly thereafter by guitarist Keeth “Spike” Paul and other members of The Addictions, which, over the years, came to include Brendan Earley (The Mutants); Steve Berman (The Victims); Jerry Nolan (New York Dolls, The Heartbreakers, Richie Scarlett, Teen-Age Lust); Frankie Infante (Blondie); Clement Burke (Blondie); Johnnie Opat (Etta James); Clarence Clemmons (E Street Band); The Hooters; drummer, Richie Spinoza; Luigi Scorcia, avatar of NYC’s 90s Swing Scene (Johnny Thunders, The Casualties, Lords of the New Church, Phreddy Vomit, Them Bowery Bums); Steve McKay (Iggy Pop); The Dangerous Birds; Andy Paley; Billy Bacon; Billy Balls; Ruben Siguenza (Mink deVille); and saxophonist, Manhattan Rob Walsh. Silke had a three-record contract with Columbia Records negotiated with former Blondie manager, Gino Riccardi, which she failed to fulfill after a nervous breakdown in the late eighties.
She has been linked romantically with Cheetah Chrome (Dead Boys); DeeDee Ramone (Ramones); Jerry Nolan (New York Dolls, Heartbreakers, Teen Age Lust); Fast Floyd (Mink deVille, Fast Floyd, Offs); & Addictions’ guitarist, Keith Dailidenas (David Bowie, Richie Scarlett, New York Dolls, Teen Age Lust.) Silke in known to caution those with a potential romantic interest: “I only get involved with guitarists and most of the guitarists I get involved with die.”
Silke has co-written, recorded, played, and/or toured with most of the above-mentioned artists.
Her memoir, “Queen of the Underground,” one of three she has written, chronicles her life as a notable figure of the “heroin chic” in the late 80s New York underground scene is being currently serialized in the music publication, Teenage News. At age 26, Silke’s first volume of poetry, “Palace of Perversion” was published by a prominent university press.
She currently seeks a major publisher for her three memoirs. We include a passage from “Queen of the Underground”:
Cheetah Chrome: “What’s this?”
Silke Berlinn: “It’s my wrist after the other love of my life (Keeth) slashed it with a straight-edge razor & i went to the hospital & got 60 stitches because when she got home that night, Vicki Schrott said i was bleeding to death because i went to bed after Keeth slashed my wrist, it was just a little love bite anyway, & Keeth & I played in bands together for the next 5 years anyway… but it is true, the slashing did end any thoughts I had of a guitar-playing career, which was a good thing anyway, because it never even started so I wouldn’t have to sit around practicing guitar chords anymore trying to be a hardcore Patti Smith, it was a relief—-i always fall in love with the weirdest people.”
Over the years, Silke has collaborated extensively with guitarist, Luigi Scorcia, impresario of the New York underground as a photographer, videographer and musician having played, recorded and/or toured with Johnny Thunders, Cheetah Chrome, Stiv Bators, Steve Jones and Chris Spedding among others. He is a co-writer of Asphalt Punk, Silke Berlinn’s much-anticipated third album with The Addictions.
Among the band’s ecumenical influences are the Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop, Tommy James and The Shondells, The Mamas and The Papas, Thunderclap Newman, any and all things Motown or Phil Spector, Sixties garage bands, Mink deVille, Bush, John Murry, Biggie Smalls, Cypress Hill, GG Allin, The Flamin’ Groovies, Mary Wells, Tina Turner, Janis Joplin, Social Distortion, The Dead Boys and The Ramones, among others.
The music? I like Candy better, but I bet they would be fun live.