The Rage (1976-1978)

Something clicked inside the heads of Paula, Don, Sue and Robin, and they decided to start a band, just so they could play The Quick's Teacher's Pet and it wouldn't disappear. Robin piped up that she knew how to play drums (something the other three didn't know). Sue had played acoustic guitar at summer camp, so that position was filled. Paula could play anything, and as a big Dee Dee Ramone fan, she eagerly agreed to play bass. Don, having no musical talent beyond rudimentary keyboards, took over the job of singer by default. The idea seemed original—three girls backing up a male lead singer.

In August 1976, Robin was 14, Paula had just hit 16, Sue was also 16 and Don was 17. All four also being big fans of The Sweet, they decided to name their band after a favorite single, Teenage Rampage, and The Rampagers was born.

They asked a friend and huge music fan, Gary Stewart (yes, the same Gary Stewart who went on to fame as an executive at Rhino Records), to be their manager before they even played or wrote a song. Gary persuaded them to change their name to The Rage, and off to the pawn shops and Recycler they went to equip the band. Sue had saved up money from working at McDonald's and Paula cashed in US Savings Bonds she had won playing accordion. Paula and Sue ended up with matching white Fender Mustang guitars (Sue later got a black Gibson L6-S), and Robin already had drums ready for pounding.

Sue, being the guitarist, was selected to write the music. Don wrote the lyrics since he was the singer, and he was also a writer. With the notable exception of The Quick's Teacher's Pet, The Rage didn't take the typical first-band path of learning covers first. That seemed much harder than simply writing and performing their own songs. Into the garage they went, and there they stayed for nearly a year.

Although they understood and embraced the DIY approach to music, the band never felt confident in their abilities to try to book a show. A big stumbling block was Don's vocals. He had lead singer charisma, but a terrible singing voice! Regardless, the four plugged away, refining their songs and sound, while hitting the clubs as fans at an alarming rate for kids in high school.

There's no doubt about the fact that they were having a great time, though sometimes impulse had priority over planning. Backstage liaisons with Steve T. of Venus and the Razorblades at The Whisky in late 1976 and Rat Scabies of The Damned at The Starwood in early 1977 each resulted in a pregnant Paula Pierce. No worse for the experience, Paula proudly proclaimed after her second abortion, "I flushed Rat's baby." Wisely, Paula went on The Pill after that.

One particularly wild night was Halloween Eve 1976. A show at the no-longer-standing Bel Air Sands Hotel featured The Quick and The Dogs. Robin ended up in a bathroom with The Quick's lead singer Danny Wilde, Paula was in Rodney Bingenheimer's car and Sue was in Back Door Man's Phast Phreddie's AMC Gremlin (which has a Blue Oyster Cult emblem stenciled on the side) with a Velvet Underground cassette providing the soundtrack. The obvious was going on and the last to be tracked down was Sue, who didn't resurface until about 4am! Ever the dutiful employee, Sue stopped at the McDonald's she was working at on the way home (the janitor was there at 5am to let her in) to find out if she had a Sunday shift. Meanwhile, Sue's mother called Don's parents demanding to know where she was at 3am, not knowing that Don, Paula and Robin were wandering around the Bel Air Sands looking for her!

In June 1977 Kim Fowley put on a Punk Rock Weekend at the Whisky A-Go-Go. He asked The Rage to get out of the garage and play their debut show there and, after hearing them audition over the phone, gave them a prime spot on the bill, which included The Weirdos, The Dils, The Wildcats and Low Budget, all MCed by Rodney Bingenheimer. Also making their first public appearance at the Punk Rock Weekend were The Germs, who played along side bands such as The Zippers. Bomp Records recorded the entire weekend of bands for a live compilation, but only a single by The Germs saw the light of day.

With all their friends, including members of The Quick who came down to see Teacher's Pet performed by another band, in the audience or roadying for them, The Rage gave it all they got, including a cover of The Who's I'm A Boy, which was certainly appropriate given the makeup of the band.

Sue had borrowed a Marshall stack from a Black Sabbath-obsessed guitar-slinging high school friend Jeff Johnson and a Gibson SG from neighbor Bill Wilner. Paula and Robin clicked, so everything sounded as good as it could. Lots of applause ensued, and The Rage picked up one of only two encores that weekend (the other going to The Zippers), finishing up with The Beatles' The Night Before.

Buoyed by the success of the Whisky show, The Rage returned to the practice garage with a renewed sense of purpose and confidence. In addition to new songs, they added an unusual selection of covers that ranged from pure pop (Rabbits Make Love and Good Friends by Milk ‘n’ Cookies) to glam (Sweet’s UK Desolation Blvd. LP version of Fox On The Run) to psychedelic (Jagged Time Lapse by John’s Children, It’s Been A Long Time by Andy Ellison [of John’s Children, Jet, Radio Stars fame]) and Nobody Knows by The Raspberries.

However, there were splits forming within the band. Punk rock was in full swing, and Paula was moving in that direction with more urgency than the others. Sue and Don's personal relationship was deteriorating, causing more arguments at practice and less playing. Back Door Man Records (The Pop, The Zippers, The Imperial Dogs) and Double-R Records (The Furys, whose Suburbia, Suburbia was about The Rage) both showed interest in doing a single, but neither happened, demoralizing the band.

In September 1977, Sue started college. A week after school started, in one fell swoop she broke up the band and her relationship with Don. The Rage was over. Sue concentrated on college, Robin went to cosmetology school, Don continued collecting records, seeing bands and going to college. Paula, however, wasn't going to give up on being in a band quite that easily.

While Paula considered her options, word got out that John Hewlett (of John's Children, Sparks and Milk 'n' Cookies fame) was putting together a compilation LP of local bands. In January 1978, the four members regrouped in a Simi Valley studio to record one of their final originals, Signals, and a cover of John's Children's Jagged Time Lapse. Manning the faders and running the four-track Teac 3340 was Bill Inglot (yes, the same Bill Inglot who went on to fame mastering records at Rhino Records, and produced The Pandoras' Stop Pretending album).

By this time, none of the band members were happy with the name The Rage. They renamed themselves The Stripes (Don always wore striped shirts) for the compilation. As it turned out, the compilation never came to be and the songs remained forever unreleased, except for a stint on the now-defunct

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The Rage Gallery

Listen to The Rage: Jagged Time Lapse and Signals

Before The Rage (1974-1976)

The Rage (1976-1978)

The Punk Rock Year (1978)

The Digits (1979)

The Direct Hits (v.1, 1979-1980)

The Direct Hits (v.2, 1980)

The Direct Hits (v.3, 1980-1981)

The Direct Hits (v.4, 1981-1982)

Action Now (v.1 1982-1983)

Action Now (v.2 1983-1984)

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