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B.C. punk-rock was born in White Rock, says author of new Art Bergmann biography

Jason Schneider’s ‘The Longest Suicide’ book will be published by Anvil Press on Sept. 30
Art Bergmann on stage with the Young Canadians in 1980, in a Bev Davies photo published in Jason Schneiders forthcoming new book, The Longest Suicide: The Authorized Biography of Art Bergmann (Anvil Press).

Elvis Presley died on the day B.C.-area punk-rock was born, on an outdoor stage in White Rock.

So claims author Jason Schneider, who’s written an authorized biography of musician Art Bergmann.

“The Longest Suicide,” to be published by Anvil Press on Sept. 30, documents the path of Canada’s punk poet laureate from his early days playing gigs in White Rock and Surrey to his recent Order of Canada award.

“I am proud to have worked with Art on the greatest rock ‘n roll story never told — until now,” Schneider, who lives in Kitchener, Ont., posted to Twitter on Aug. 17.

The day before, he tweeted about some music history 45 years earlier, on Aug. 16, 1977.

“Yes, Elvis died, but also punk rock was born in BC when The Skulls (soon to become DOA and the Subhumans) played the White Rock bandshell with Art Bergmann’s Shmorgs and John Armstrong’s The Monitors.”


Based in Vancouver, Anvil Press hypes Schneider’s 168-page book as “both a triumphant story of personal survival, as well as a unique glimpse inside the rise of alternative rock. Above all, it is a tribute to Canada’s most unheralded singer-songwriter, whose greatness is only now being widely recognized.”

“The Longest Suicide” includes “cameos” by John Cale, Bob Rock, The Clash, Bob Geldof and others.

Book orders are done on

Last December, Bergmann was among 61 Order of Canada appointees announced by Governor General Julie Payette. Bergmann, who now lives in Rocky View County, Alberta, was made a Member of the Order of Canada “for his indelible contributions to the Canadian punk music scene, and for his thought-provoking discourse on social, gender and racial inequalities.”

He was a punk-rock trailblazer in the Vancouver music scene of the late-1970s and 1980s, with bands including The K-Tels and Young Canadians, and in 1996 won a Juno Award for Best Alternative Album (“What Fresh Hell Is This?”).

Back in the 1970s, Bergmann played music while living in the White Rock/Cloverdale area, and he also called Abbotsford home for a couple of years.

In his 2001 book Guilty of Everything, fellow musician John Armstrong wrote about his friendship with Bergmann. They became roommates at a three-bedroom apartment on White Rock’s Marine Drive, where Armstrong learned guitar chords in a call-and-response game with Bergmann.

“Why he tolerated me I have no idea,” Armstrong wrote, “expect perhaps that he liked me or that I amused him or that I would shoplift cans of beans or soup from the Chinese grocer halfway between school and his house, as a sort of tuition fee.”

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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