Cleveland's electric eels (all lower case in homage to poet e.e. cummings) is America's quintessential proto-punk band. Formed in 1972 by singer Dave E. McManus and guitarists John Morton and Brian McMahon, the group enlisted drummer Nick Knox (later of THE CRAMPS) and producer Paul Marotta to record a flurry of catchy and genuinely fucked-up tunes. After only five legendary live performances – complete with Dave E. in black leather jacket covered in rat-traps and playing a gas-powered lawnmower on stage – the eels broke up in 1976 and posthumously released their classic single Agitated on Rough Trade in 1978, blazing a trail for high-art, low-concept rock. As the eels demand "Attendance Required" on their flyer for the infamous Special Extermination Music Night, listening is absolutely mandatory for this seminal band.
Photo by Michele Zalopany.