GALAXIE 500 have split (30 years on)

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GALAXIE 500 split
GALAXIE 500 split

GALAXIE 500 have split after guitarist/vocalist Dean Wareham quit unexpectedly. All band commitments, including a June tour of Japan, have been cancelled.

The break-up occurred when the band returned from a successful tour of the States with Cocteau Twins.

Drummer Damon Krukowski told the Maker, “One day we were planning for a tour of Japan, and the next day he just quit. twas a big surprise for me and Naomi”. Galaxie 500 Split - Melody Maker (4th May 1991)

Thirty years ago today Galaxie 500 played their last show, three days later the band was no more.

It’s hard to write this because three people I love who were once friends aren’t friends any more - that’s sad. Of course a band splitting up is bad, but a friendship disolving is so much sadder. Maybe I should have just let this anniversary go by unmentioned, after all the stories around the split have been out there a while now and kicking up the dust again won’t change anything, but … this is a Galxie 500 web site and it’s hard to let this week pass without thinking back to 30 years ago.

This is just a collection of snippets related to those last few days of Galaxie 500, taken from various publications and interviews - it’s not comprehensive and it’s here just as a record - without any comment or editorialising. Nothing I say can change the fact that 30 years ago a band and a friendship died.

5th April 1991

Poster for the last Galaxie 500 show
Poster for the last Galaxie 500 show

The band played in a building called Moulton Union, in the main lounge. A band called The Wishniaks, from Philadelphia […] opened up. Galaxie 500 played for about an hour and really didn’t seem to want to be there beforehand, although they put on a phenomenal and truly hypnotic show.

Dean drove a Dodge Dart to Maine. Damon & Naomi drove up in a blue Saab 900. Damon had a drum kit that said Galaxie 500 in silver on the bass drum. Naomi wore orange leggings. About forty or fifty people came to the show. Dan Pearson (personal letter, 2003)

It was a truly awesome show, the acoustics were awful, but it was the coolest place to have a show. Dan Pearson (The Bowdoin Orient, 2014)

Naomi Yang at Bowdoin College in 1991 (photo: Dan Pearson)
Naomi Yang at Bowdoin College in 1991 (photo: Dan Pearson)

The Cocteau Twins’ tour ended in Boston, with a show at the Boston University hockey arena. We had one additional show booked for the following night, at Bowdoin College in Maine. April 5, 1991. We were scheduled to go on at nine that night, but the opening band played for an hour and a half while we waited in the green room that the students had set up for us. Being a college band, they didn’t know that the opener is supposed to play a short set and then get off the stage. We sat in that green room getting more and more irritated. And that was our final show-an annoying evening at Bowdoin College Dean Wareham (Black Postcards, 2008)

[Dean] finished, he packed up and went out the door and drove away. I don’t even think he said thank you. We wanted to have some beer and talk with them, but they just wanted to get back to Boston. Dan Pearson (The Bowdoin Orient, 2014)

I made it through the set, loaded my amplifier and guitar into the back of my blue 75 Dodge Dart, and drove all the way home to New York City. Dean Wareham (Black Postcards, 2008)

8th April 1991

What happened was simply that Dean quit, more or less out of the blue, on the telephone one day. We have not seen him since, nor spoken since that week. In fact, he didn’t even place the call! It was just after the weekend we had finished what turned out to be our last tour, which was an opening slot for the Cocteau Twins in the States; we had an upcoming tour to Japan (this was something Naomi and I were very much looking forward to, as you can imagine, as was Kramer, we were going to take him with us), and when I opened the paper on Monday I discovered there was a sale on for tickets to Tokyo that was ending at midnight. So I called Dean to say “let’s buy our tickets”, and he said, no, I quit. No explanation, just “there’s nothing more to talk about”, and that was it. A lot of years of friendship, not to mention the band, down the drain in a minute flat.
Damon Krukowski - Ptolemaic Terrascope (1997)

Damon did call me early on a Monday morning to see about booking flights to Japan. I had been up for about an hour, and was starting to get that sick, nervous feeling that you get when you have to fire someone or break up with them because today was the day.

Damon called first. My heart skipped a beat. The moment was upon me. I said don’t buy the tickets to Japan because I was leaving the band, and this time it was real.

They weren’t so nice and understanding this time. They were furious. There were three days of angry phone calls. Dean Wareham (Black Postcards, 2008)

Damon called Dean to say he was going to buy our plane tickets to Japan for the tour we had booked there, and Dean said he quit. Damon asked why and Dean said he had nothing more to say to us. I couldn’t believe Dean could just throw everything away so carelessly and not even want to discuss it. I got on the phone and did something I had never done before: I yelled at him and told him he was lazy and a selfish coward. Then I hung up. Naomi Yang (Temperature’s Rising, 2012)

I regret that it ended badly - but that’s how things often end. Dean Wareham (Black Postcards, 2008)

I felt completely stripped of my musical identity, it took a long time to recover. Naomi Yang (Temperature’s Rising, 2012)

How did I feel when Dean quit? Are you kidding? Listen to More Sad Hits Damon Krukowski (Temperature’s Rising, 2012)

There is no recording of that last show - the last live recording I have is from the previous week in Denver supporting The Cocteau Twins.

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On Fire | 30

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On Fire 30 CD sleeve (design: John Conley)
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