Composer Producer Arranger
Bevis Melvin Griffin was born on April 26, 1953 in Los Angeles, California. His music loving father, Melvin was a self-employed barber and his mother, Navaline was a grocery store manager. “Melvin’s Barber Shop” shared the same block as the renowned R&B nightclub “The Five-Four Ballroom” (located on the corner of 54 th St. & Broadway Blvd.) where many of greatest black entertainers, such as B.B. King, Ike Turner, and Bobby Bland often played.
Since many of these performers were also ‘friends’ of his father, this gave the young Bevis a unique opportunity to personally experience the music of America’s most popular R&B and Blues musicians at a very early age.
Following the “Urban-Blight” caused by the infamous ‘Watts Riots’ of 65’ his parents would later divorce and Bevis moved to Wichita Falls, Texas with his Mother and three younger siblings. Prior to relocating, Bevis was formally trained in classical woodwind instruments and he actively participated in the L.A. Junior Symphony Orchestra program, which cultivated his musical pallet.
Bevis taught himself to play the drums and sing while attending the ‘barely-integrated’ Wichita Falls High School. He would successfully graduate in 1970 due to attending summer school classes as an “academically accelerated” student. This was also where he initially met and befriended his first pivotal collaborator and seminal band-mate, the multi-talented Jimmy Lee Saurage.
Upon graduation, Bevis immediately began his professional career in earnest by relentlessly touring the upper Midwest as an itinerant show-drummer until eventually rejoining Saurage and bassist Barry Minnick in Austin, Texas to form the hard rocking’ power-trio “Franklin’s Mast” in the winter of 1971. This would also earmark Griffin’s eventual rise to cultural prominence as Texas’ first African American Hard-Rock/Glam-Rock/Punk-Rock performer.
In 1978, Bevis and Jimmy forged a dynamic musical alliance with a brilliant young guitarist / songwriter named Christopher K. Bailey before quickly recruiting journeyman bassist Byron ‘Bucky’ Davies to form The Skyscrapers. The Skyscrapers soon established their prowess on the Austin nightclub circuit and with concert performances at the Armadillo World HQ in 1979.
Bevis and Chris rapidly developed a unique songwriting-style and it was during this time that Griffin decided to be become a full-fledged ‘front-man’ Aided by C.K. Bailey, bassist Courtney Audain, and drummer Billy Blackmon, ‘The Bats’ swooped on the Texas music scene in 1980 armed with an arsenal of infectious new tunes such as “I Ain’t Keith Richards” and “Noisy Music”, and a hyperkinetic stage-show fueled by Griffin’s flamboyant showmanship.
The Bats recorded a full-length 10-song demo with British producer John Rollo at Indian Creek Studios in Uvalde TX during the summer of 1981. Bevis began fielding numerous requests for interviews by the local press, so prior to going international, the band changed it’s moniker to ‘Banzai Kik’. By 1982 Banzai Kik were among the top unsigned hard-rock bands of Texas. Discouraged by the dearth of opportunity to be seen by a major label, Bevis disbanded Banzai Kik during the winter of 1983 and moved to New York City.
After arriving in Manhattan, and armed only with a handful of demo-tapes, he established contact with guitarist Vernon Reid of Living Colour and joined the Black Rock Coalition to illuminate the issue of racially biased disparity commonly experienced by Black rock artists seeking major recording deals. Banzai Kik was also featured during a record-breaking BRC showcase at the legendary New York punk-rock venue CBGB for the Stalking Heads of 87’.
Bevis fortuitously found a formidable ally in chief recording engineer, Tim Hatfield, who agreed to sign Bevis to an ‘in-house’ development contract at the prestigious Media Sound Recording Studios in 1986. With newly found resources and funding intact, Bevis imported Chris Bailey from Austin for a series of high quality recording sessions starring a slew of N.Y. studio vets, thus rekindling their musical collaboration in a state-of-the-art environment.
In 1987 Bevis was chosen to record with legendary producer Jack Douglas who was genuinely impressed by Griffin’s demos, songwriting, and vocal talents and offered to record and sign Banzai Kik to a boutique label that he was negotiating with EMI Records U.K. Bevis agreed to record with Douglas and following a week of pre-production rehearsals, the group immediately began a month of day-long recording sessions at the NYC Record Plant.
Unfortunately prior to the completion of these sessions accusations of alleged ‘financial malfeasance’ arose to spark a series of career-impacting litigations between the warring factions of Jack Douglas’ and Griffin’s managerial staff, which subsequently resulted in Griffin’s temporary departure to L.A. in a deliberate effort to salvage his career by resolving his legal entanglements.
In 1988 Bevis briefly relocated to Austin, TX and formed The Chill Factor with guitarist Denny Freeman and recorded a legendary performance on Paul Ray’s ‘Twine Time Live’ radio show featuring Sarah Brown (Bass) and George Rains (Drums). The band toured aggressively state-wide and was generally regarded as a hot local sensation but disbanded shortly thereafter due to myriad creative conflicts exacerbated by miscellaneous personal difficulties.
In 1990 Bevis returned to Austin as not only one of the city’s premier musicians and live entertainers, but also as a cultural historical pioneer.
On May 14, 1998 Bevis was publicly honored by The City of Austin as a musician of cultural significance and awarded a Mayoral Proclamation by the honorable Kirk Watson for 25 years of musical contributions as one of the earliest pioneers of the Texas Hard-Rock/Glam-Rock/and Punk music scene.
Bevis M. Griffin has successfully performed, toured, and recorded with an astounding variety of groundbreaking groups over the past four decades such as: Franklin’s Mast, Fools, The Skyscrapers, The Bats, The Shades, Banzai Kik, Chill Factor, Rawhead TechX, Spy vs. Spy, Solid Senders, The Cosmopolitans, Dino Lee’s Luv Johnson, One Fell Swoop, Papa Mali & the Instigators, R.C. Banks, The Paradigm, and he will continue performing with “Bevis & The Painkillers” throughout 2010 and beyond.