Mike "Motor X" Anderson, the original drummer of the pioneering Toronto punk rock band the Viletones, has passed away, according to lead singer Steven Leckie. Of all the bands in the 1970s local punk scene, the Viletones were the most notorious and dangerous band around. Loved (and hated) by many, they made a huge impact, and not just locally.
Seminal rock critic Lester Bangs once called them the best punk band of all time, and while it's likely he might have written that about more than one act over the years, there's no denying the unique primal fury of songs like Screamin Fist. Built on just two chords, Anderson's driving beat was integral to its raw unhinged energy.
As a teenager, I used to hang out at Leckie's rock'n'roll culture shop/art gallery Fleurs De Mal, gleefully soaking up his tales of the early days of punk. Were it not for those times, I probably wouldn't have ended up being a music writer. While I never got to meet Anderson, it was always apparent how important he'd been to the band's sound and attitude.
The obit Leckie posted on Facebook captures that far better than a stranger like me could:
My Deepest Sympathies To Motor's Loved Ones. Truly Impossible To Express The Power Of His Riff In Screaming Fist, And The VILETONES Period, When We Entered The Music Landscape In 77, It Felt Like We Were As Joe Pesci In "Casino", When He Arrives Uninvited And Simply Informs The Status Quo, That VILETONES Are The New Gangsters In Town. PUNK. They Never Knew What Hit Em. Motor Is Immortal, The Record Will Live Another 30 Years. We Took NYC Like A Playground. Motor X on Drums Was A Big Reason Why. In 76 I Put An Ad "Looking To Form Band", He Was The First To Respond. I Wanted A Band Like No Other. Called It Punk. That's That. I Love You Mike Anderson. Live In The Art You Left Us Forever. Rest In Power. Steve.