Derf Scratch, original bassist for Los Angeles punk band Fear, passed away on July 28 due to complications from an unknown illness, the OC Weekly reports. Although Fear continues to work today under original guitarist/vocalist Lee Ving, the band underwent numerous lineup changes over the last 30-plus years, with Scratch playing in the band’s most fruitful period, 1977-1982.
Born Frederick Milner, Scratch helped raise Fear’s profile in the late ’70s and early ’80s by befriending punk rock fan John Belushi. The actor became such a supporter of the band, he secured them as a musical guest on the 1981 Halloween episode of ‘Saturday Night Live.’ One of the more notorious performances in ‘SNL’ history, Fear and their crowd of moshing, brawling fans, which included Belushi and Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye, caused $20,000 worth of damage.
Ving eventually fired Scratch from the band a short time after their 1982 debut album, ‘The Record,’ was released. In a 2004 interview with Mark Prindle, Scratch revealed his post Fear career included a band called Scratch and another later band called Derf Scratch and Friends. In 2006, he was in a bad car accident following a gig of another new act he was playing with called the Werewolfs.
Check out Fear antagonizing a crowd in 1980 below.