Gary Floyd, Incendiary Singer of Texan Punk Greats the Dicks, Dies at 71

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Gary Floyd, the whirling dervish at the heart of Texan punk institution the Dicks, has died of congestive heart failure, The Austin Chronicle reports. He was 71 years old.

Floyd was born in Arkansas, started performing after a move to East Texas, and made his name in Austin, where he formed the Dicks and became an emblem of queer punk. As he told Maximum Rocknroll in 2014, “I was loud and happy to be letting people know, ‘Hey, I am a big ol’ fat queer, what the hell are you?’ I did give a fuck and I spoke out about it, but not in an oppressed or sad way, more in a party, happy and very defiant way.”

The Dicks paired communist symbolism and vignettes from a taboo underworld with more straightforward screeds like “The Dicks Hate the Police,” recorded in 1980 and covered years later by Mudhoney. The Dicks’ cult status in Texas earned them a signing with SST, which released the band’s debut studio album, Kill From the Heart, in 1983; among its songs were “Anti-Klan,” “No Nazi’s Friend,” “Bourgeois Fascist Pig,” and “Cock Jam.”

Floyd moved to California later in the 1980s, playing in bands including Sister Double Happiness, Black Kali Ma, and the Buddha Brothers, as well as a San Francisco iteration of the Dicks. Though the band released its final studio album, These People, in 1985, Floyd continued to cement his status as a punk all-timer on stage, in shows that turned anger and despair at homophobia, racism, and the abuse of state power into righteous, rallying punk onslaughts. Floyd wished to establish a counterpoint to not only mainstream conformism, but also bigotry in their surrounding alternative communities. “Reagan was the leader and people were following like sheep,” Floyd told Maximum Rocknroll. “Wars all over; not Vietnam but non-ending small wars everywhere. Nobody gave a shit. It made me really mad—sheep! Seeing the oppressed queers going along with the norm—being right wing, even—really sickened me.”

In later life, while living with diabetes and congenital heart failure, Floyd continued to work as a multi-format artist, exhibiting paintings and photography in Texas and California. He published a pair of books, the memoir Please Bee Nice : My Life Up ’Til Now: A Gary Floyd Memoir and the lyric collection I Said That: Volume 1: The Dicks.

Upon hearing of Floyd’s death, Cloud Nothings’ Dylan Baldi wrote on X, “RIP to gary floyd! 7″ of this tune is one of the first records i bought with my own money, at my mind’s eye records in cleveland. what a legend. let’s all hate the police forever in his honor.”

Learn more about Gary Floyd and his work in “A History of Anti-Fascist Punk Around the World in 9 Songs” and “The Story of ’80s Texas Punk in 9 Photographs” on the Pitch.