Thirty Two years later, look out world! Jim Skafish is shaking it up again. The man who set the Chicago musical bar so high, envious bands could never top it, is releasing his new CD, What’s This? 1976-1979 on the 829 Records label. This masterful CD is a collection of eleven studio recordings from 1976 to 1979, nine of which are previously unreleased. It also features five new commentary tracks by Skafish including the historically accurate story of Sid Vicious’ last public event at a Skafish performance in New York. The CD is accompanied by a 36 page booklet featuring liner notes by rock legends Cheap Trick, previously unseen photos and complete lyrics. In the liner notes, Cheap Trick refers to these recordings as “The music that started it all.”
In early 1973, the then sixteen year old Skafish began seeking to create music, sounds, forms and structures that had never been heard before. Jim began to compose highly avant-garde piano pieces which led to him writing the songs that would be credited with giving birth to Chicago Punk by music industry professionals, journalists and other artists. With his Chicago debut in February 1976, the then 19 year old unleashed his shocking new style pf performance on an unsuspecting public. From disbelief to violent reactions, the press immediately took notice: first locally in 1976, nationally in February 1977 and internationally in April, 1978, in London’s New Musical Express with an article aptly titled, New Messiah Scores With Deviants.
Skafish inherited his talent by being born into a musical family. His mother was a world class Coloratura Operatic soprano and voice teacher while his father was a Big Band musician and musical arranger. Jim’s first musical experience began when he started classical piano instructions at age 6, when he was immediately regarded as a child prodigy by his blind piano teacher. By the time he was nine, he was playing in church and local rock bands. At twelve years old, he was composing, writing jazz instrumentals and some pop songs and a year later he made his first recording. While in high school, Jim went on to study jazz piano at The American Conservatory Of Music in Chicago with international jazz legend Willie Pickens.
After performing many Chicago dates, Skafish was the first Chicago punk / alternative artist to play the legendary CBGB’s in New York in April 1977, the Whisky A Go Go in February 1978, and before a mass audience of 45,000 people in London alongside Sting and The Police, Squeeze and UB-40 in July 1980. The first American artist to ever be signed by the legendary I.R.S. Records in February 1979, Skafish has toured and / or performed with the likes of: Iggy Pop. Ramones, Sting and The Police, U-2, UB-40, XTC, Squeeze, New Order and The Stranglers, to name but a few.
What’s This? 1976-1979, is set to be released on April 1, 2008, by 829 Records, the new Punk and Alternative label started by Skafish, which provides the vehicle for Skafish to release his work in an uncensored forum. The album, featuring 11 of over 50 vocals songs Skafish wrote for his band between 1974 and 1979, stands as a permanent historical record of the artist’s musical breakthrough beginning in Chicago in the 1970’s. The CD offers the promise of a new appreciation for Skafish, his genius and pioneering achievement. It will be an appreciation long-awaited and highly warranted.