The LOUIE REPORT just lost another great ally. Dirk Dirksen, San Francisco’s own “pope of punk” has passed away. Apparently, he died in his sleep Sunday night/Monday morning.
Dirk was the most influential music promoter during the heyday of punk rock in San Francisco. In 1976, Dirk began booking punk and new music shows at The Mabuhay Gardens, aka the “Fab Mab,” a little Filipino restaurant and club based in the North Beach district of San Francisco. In a sense, the “Fab Mab” became the CBGB’s of the West, featuring a lot of bands like the Dead Kennedys, Flipper, Romeo Void, Black Flag, The Dictators, The Nuns, The Mutants, The Avengers, The Damned, DEVO, Iggy Pop, The Ramones, Hüsker Dü, D.O.A., The Screamers, Minutemen, DRI, Redd Kross, JFA, and Metallica. He also booked music at the On Broadway, which was on the second floor of the building that housed the Mabuhay. The Mab shut down in 1986, and in recent years the space has become The Velvet Lounge, a swanky nightclub for a whole different type of clientele.
I went to a handful of great shows at both the Fab Mab and the On Broadway, including a hillarious evening of drunken stupidity with Flipper and Polkacide, one of the earliest shows with the Grand Mothers (former members of Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention), and the final performance of the original Dead Kennedys. Years later, the Octalouie team (myself and Jesse Block) got hired to shoot video of the final D.O.A. show at the DNA Lounge, which is available for purchase as a home videotape.
The last time I worked with Dirk, we videotaped a show with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, who performed a hysterical comedy at Dolores Park featuring a wild scenario involving a lot of silly political figures for the 2004 election.
Dirk had a wonderful sense of humor that I will never forget. Beneath his somewhat abrasive and sarcastic exterior was the heart and soul of a man who genuinely cared about his fellow humans. For many years, he’s been an Advisory Board Member of H.E.A.R., a non-profit organization dedicated to hearing awareness, and worked closely with the Unity Foundation, an organization that actively promotes world peace, cooperation, unity and tolerance.
Of course it goes without saying that Dirk will be missed. He was a great guy.