Screamers Collection at Cornell University
The Screamers, a West Coast experimental punk music group, was formed in 1976 by Tomata du Plenty and Tommy Gear. Noted for using synthesizers instead of guitars, for early attempts to establish a wide video presence, and for having been one of the most unforgettable West Coast bands in performance, the Screamers neither signed a record contract nor recorded any of their songs during their years of existence.
Du Plenty, born David Harrigan (1948-2000) came to San Francisco in 1968 where he performed with the Cockettes, a local theatrical ensemble troupe of mostly gay hippies who favored gender-bending, glitter-laden drag. With other Cockettes, du Plenty moved to Seattle in 1969 to form Ze Whiz Kids, a similar performance group. In 1975, in Seattle, du Plenty, Thomas Tibbits/Tommy Gear (who under the stage name Melba Toast performed in Ze Whiz Kids), Rio De Janiero (David Gulbranson), and 15-year-old drummer Eldon Hoake (later known as El Duce, founder of the Mentors) formed a new glam/proto-punk band, the Tupperwares. The group’s first of several successful local performances was for the Seattle premiere of John Waters’ Pink Flamingos.
In 1976, du Plenty and Toast moved to Los Angeles, renaming the band the Screamers following copyright complaints from Tupperware. The revised lineup was du Plenty on vocals, Gear on ARP Odyssey synthesizer, David Brown on Fender Rhodes electric piano [Brown was later succeeded by Paul Roessler], and KK Barrett on drums. Artist Gary Panter designed the band’s logo, a stylization of du Plenty’s screaming face that has since become one of the iconic images of the Punk era.
The collection includes original art, photographs and fliers, a 1977 fan club application, press kits, press releases, files of handwritten lyrics, letters, press clippings and magazines, including TOLO, the Franklin High School (Seattle, WA) Newsletter with articles authored by Tommy Tibbits (Gear), a notebook that belonged to Tomata du Plenty (1978), touring, publicity and business plans, guest lists, fan club mailing lists, plans to release a debut album in video form, and other business records and correspondence.