Bobby Steele has gotten a raw deal. Before forming The Undead, Steele played on legendary recordings that laid the groundwork for The Misfits ascent to icon status. By 1980, Steele was fired and replaced with Jerry Only’s little brother. Doyle may get mainstream recognition as Misfits ax-slinger, but Bobby Steele deserves equal credit.
Barring the few that were around to witness the original line-up, fans largely discovered the classic Misfits recordings through compilations lovingly known as Collection 1 and 2. In the post-vinyl/pre-internet age, Bobby Steele’s contributions went largely un-credited.
My own recollection of Collection 1 had little in the way of liner notes. Armed with only album art and a track listing, the inside of my cassette insert was void of any text or pictures. It’s little wonder that Bobby Steele’s rightful legacy as Misfits ax-man is woefully under-represented.
Once Misfits history is untethered from compilations, one truly gets a sense of how vital Steele was to their trajectory. Steele made his debut on the Horror Business EP. The title track, “Teenagers From Mars,” and “Children in Heat” are undeniable classics. Steele was also present to witness the birth of the Crimson Ghost as Misfits mascot.
Night of the Living Dead was released the same year. “Where Eagles Dare” and a cover of “Rat Fink,” appeared on the B-side.
Steele’s involvement with “London Dungeon” goes beyond playing guitar. After getting into a brawl during an ill-fated UK tour, Bobby was arrested with Glenn Danzig. The incident gave birth to the Misfits ode to British hell.
After his ejection from The Misfits in 1980, Steele wasted no time forming his own band. Few musicians are capable of a second lease on life in rock and roll. Yet, with the formation of The Undead, Steele rose above adversity. Reborn as a front man, The Undead revealed a gifted songwriter whose talents had not been properly utilized.
Still in the good graces of his former band, Bobby Steele remained linked to Misfits lore. The Undead opened for The Misfits on the night Evilive was recorded. Glenn Danzig even helped finance the first Undead EP. Nice Toes Later was released in 1982 and signaled the arrival of a new punk powerhouse.
Subsequent releases, Never Say Die and Act Your Rage continued to document Steele’s vision. Later released as Dawn of the Undead, this material is required listening.
Line-ups continually changed throughout the years with Steele remaining the one constant member. The Undead are currently active and kicking it out in clubs across the country. Riding in style with the official Undead hearse, Bobby Steele refuses to die!