Mike Hudson is one of the most interesting front men in punk rock history. As a founding member of the legendary Cleveland band, The Pagans, he wrote some of the best (and unfortunately most obscure) singles of the late-70’s. In my mind, The Pagans’ Street Where Nobody Lives 45 is one of the best and most identifiable releases of that era. While he may be best known by music fans as the lead singer for the seminal group, his time with the band only offers a glimpse into his life. He’s also been a father, record label owner, vagabond, reporter, tabloid editor, union goon target, and novelist. He’s looked death in the face on several occasions and reinvented himself along the way. We didn’t have time to cover all that here, so check out Hudson’s autobiography Diary of a Punk for all the details.Most recently, Hudson left a position as the chief editor for the tabloid he founded, The Niagara Falls Reporter, to move to Los Angeles to focus on writing and music. He’s also back with The Pagans and in 2014 wrote and recorded an album of brand new material titled Hollywood High, which is out now.
I spoke with him recently from his hospital bed where he was recovering from a near-fatal car crash he was involved in earlier this year. “I was shooting a video with Fame Whore (Hudson’s other band), where in the video we are driving around the desert and drinking and fucking around, and it was on the way home where I decided to put the Jag into a wall at 70 miles per hour. I broke my leg, my hip, I broke my pelvis, broke my arm in two places… a bunch of concussions… I was unconscious for three or four days.”
Despite the injuries, Hudson is optimistic about his recovery and hoping to be back recording and performing again this year. “The last time I was in a studio to make a record was the ‘90’s, up until Hollywood High. There’s a lot that’s been backed up. It’s almost like just starting again, like when you first come out when you’re a kid and you never did it before.”
Prior to the new record, Mike Hudson and The Pagans had not released new material since 1990. “My brother-in-law, Loren Molinare of the Dogs, called me up for permission to release their version of (The Pagans song) “Her Name Was Jane” and we got to talking… about me coming out here to be in the video. I said ‘Yeah, sure. Send me a plane ticket.’” Hudson met former model, Evita Corby, during the shoot and fell in love. He left the tabloid he founded in New York to move to the West Coast to be with her. Soon after moving to Los Angeles, Hudson decided to check into a rehabilitation facility. “I’d always been a serious alcoholic, an addict for a long time, so I started getting involved in treatment.” In rehab, he met Bassist Jimmy Bain, (Rainbow, Dio) who was also friends with Corby, and they started writing songs together. “Some producer from back East wanted me to make a Country & Western record, so he started throwing money at me out here. So, me and Jimmy and Loren got together and started writing songs and we did the Hollywood High album.” The Country & Western idea was scrapped by Hudson & Co. soon after, but one track from the original project sessions made it to the final version of Hollywood High, a great cover of the Son House classic “Death Letter.”
Before the car accident sidetracked Hudson’s plans, The Pagans were back performing live in the Los Angeles area. He hardly seems to have lost a step after the 20-plus year hiatus as the band blew through such classics as “Dead End America” and “Six and Change” at a packed show at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach. The newest incarnation of The Pagans may be the most musically proficient lineup that Hudson has ever performed with too. I was lucky enough to see them in person at the recent show where the band captured a new generation of fans. Most remarkable was how seamlessly they performed a set containing material written over the course of 40 years. Hudson also seems to be having fun again with The Pagans and it certainly shows in the live performance. “Alex’s was a fun show! There were a lot of kids… It was cool.”
Hudson has a lot of new projects in the works, including a new Fame Whore record and another full Pagans album. So, keep your eye out for The Pagans, they will be back at it soon. Here’s wishing Mike Hudson a speedy recovery.
Newest release: Hollywood High