John Kezdy, frontman of the iconic Chicago-based punk group the Effigies, has passed away, according to Streetsblog Chicago, quoting the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. The singer lost his life on Saturday, August 26, following a bicycle collision with a van parked in a bike lane in Glencoe, Illinois, earlier that week. Kezdy was 64 years old at the time of his death.
Born in 1959 as John F. Kezdy, he developed a passionate affinity for rock and punk music from a young age. This enthusiasm was shared by his older sibling, Pierre Kezdy, who later became the bass player for Naked Raygun and Strike Under. During his school years at Evanston Township High School and his brief tenure at the University of Wisconsin, John Kezdy was notably introverted. Yet, after just a year in college, he embraced the role of the effervescent lead vocalist for the Effigies, simply because nobody else was keen on taking the job.
Founded in 1980, the Effigies rocketed to local fame in Chicago’s punk scene, comprised of guitarist Earl Letiecq, bassist Paul Zamost, and drummer Steve Economou. The band drew inspiration from punk titans like Killing Joke, the Buzzcocks, and the Sex Pistols, melding these influences into a unique blend of punk and post-hardcore. With a vocal style that was as melodious as it was fervent, Kezdy often explored themes like local governance, societal double standards, and corruption in his lyrics. The band’s 1981 debut EP, “Haunted Town,” also made the Chicago flag a symbol of countercultural identity, as it was partially showcased on the cover art. That same year, they launched their own label, Ruthless Records.
Kezdy, in a 1990 interview with the Chicago Tribune, declared: “That initial Sex Pistols album told me it was time to act. I quit school and started pumping gas to save money because I had to be part of a band.” He argued that bands should be unafraid to vocalize their true beliefs and create or foster a community around them.
After launching another EP in 1983 and their first full-length album “For Ever Grounded” in 1984, the Effigies started scouting for a new guitarist. Lyle Preslar from Minor Threat expressed interest before Robert O’Connor eventually took the role. Following this, the band rolled out two more albums: “Fly on a Wire” in 1985 and “Ink” in 1986, both distributed by leading indie labels.
Although the band disbanded in 1990, Kezdy orchestrated a reunion later in the decade, featuring a refreshed lineup that included guitarist Chris Bjorkland, bassist Tom Woods, and drummer Joe Haggerty. This renewed Effigies lineup began performing live gigs again and even dropped some new material: the live album “V.M.Live” in 1996, a studio album “Reside” in 2007, and a 2012 EP titled “…On the Move, or in Danger (Stop) This Will Have Been My Life (Stop).” Aside from his work with the Effigies, Kezdy was briefly a member of another band, the Corrosives.
So, as we say goodbye to this punk icon, let’s jam to some Effigies tunes, ponder the indelible imprint he’s left on Chicago’s cultural tapestry, and ride our bikes extra carefully. Because, after all, you never know what kind of van might be lurking in the next bike lane.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about John Kezdy
Who was John Kezdy?
John Kezdy was the lead singer of the Effigies, an influential punk band based in Chicago. He was a key figure in the Chicago punk and post-hardcore scene.
How did John Kezdy die?
John Kezdy died following a bicycle accident. He crashed into a van that was parked in a bike lane in Glencoe, Illinois, and succumbed to his injuries on August 26.
What is the Effigies’ significance in the punk scene?
The Effigies were one of the few local punk bands in Chicago during the 1980s. They made a significant impact on the genre, blending influences from bands like Killing Joke, the Buzzcocks, and the Sex Pistols. They also founded their own label, Ruthless Records, and contributed to popularizing the Chicago flag as a symbol of cultural pride in the underground scene.
Did John Kezdy have any other musical projects?
Yes, besides his involvement with the Effigies, John Kezdy was briefly a part of another band called the Corrosives.
What was John Kezdy’s early life like?
Born in 1959, John Kezdy grew up with a deep love for rock and punk music, an interest he shared with his older brother, Pierre, who later joined Naked Raygun and Strike Under. John was a shy student who attended Evanston Township High School and spent a year at the University of Wisconsin before diving into his music career.
How many albums did the Effigies release?
The Effigies released several EPs and albums, including their debut EP “Haunted Town” in 1981, “For Ever Grounded” in 1984, “Fly on a Wire” in 1985, and “Ink” in 1986. They also released a live album “V.M.Live” in 1996, a studio album “Reside” in 2007, and a 2012 EP “…On the Move, or in Danger (Stop) This Will Have Been My Life (Stop).”
What inspired John Kezdy to become a musician?
According to an interview with the Chicago Tribune in 1990, the debut album from the Sex Pistols was a key inspiration for Kezdy. He stated that it motivated him to quit school and start a band, putting himself within a community or creating one around him.
Did the Effigies ever break up?
Yes, the Effigies initially disbanded in 1990. However, Kezdy reformed the group later that decade with a new lineup, and they continued to perform and release new material.
Was John Kezdy involved in any activism or politics?
John Kezdy often sang about themes like local politics, hypocrisy, and corruption. While there’s no information about formal activism, his lyrical content reflects an awareness and critique of societal issues.
What will John Kezdy be most remembered for?
John Kezdy will be most remembered for his influential role in the Chicago punk scene, his leadership of the Effigies, and for the cultural impact he made through his music and lyrics.