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Steven John Bator (October 22, 1949 – June 4, 1990), known as Stiv Bators (which translates to English as “Stevedores”) , was an American singer and guitarist, born in Ohio. He is remembered for being a leader and singer of the punk rock bands Dead Boys and post-punk The Lords of the New Church.
Throughout his life, Bators worked with several bands apart from those for which he is known. Some of these are Rocket From The Tombs, Frankenstein, The Wanderers and The Whores of Babylon (with Dee Dee Ramone and Johnny Thunders), he also recorded a solo album with Bomp! Records However, he led the Dead Boys when he was part of the creation of punk rock. Bators and the Dead Boys appeared in several independent films about punk rock as “Punking Out” (1978), “Live at CBGB’s” (1977) and Crash ‘n’ Burn (1977). At that time, the band also became one of the usual shows of CBGB’s, the legendary club of New York.
After the disappearance of the Dead Boys in 1979, the relationship between Bators, Bomp! Records and the label’s president, Greg Shaw, went from bad to worse; According to Shaw “What I most wanted was to escape the weight of his Dead Boys image and earn respect as a contemporary pop rock singer.” Bators recorded several singles, most of which were not published, and one LP, Disconnected , published in 1980. In 1994 the album LA was published L.A., documenting Bators’ work as a pop-punk singer.
Later, once he was living in London, Bators created the band The Wanderers with some of the members of the newly dissolved English group Sham 69. This band did not attract much attention, although they did publish two singles and an album conceptual, something strange in the context of punk rock, called Only Lovers Left Alive (1981).
In 1981 he created the band The Lords of the New Church along with Brian James of The Damned and Dave Tregunna of Sham 69 (Bators and Tregunna had already played together before in The Wanderers). The Lords of the New Church became known for their concerts. Being as he was, a fan of Iggy Pop, Bators had created an intrepid reputation when he was with the Dead Boys, which he continued to exhibit with the Lords.
Apart from his career as a musician, the singer also appeared in some films. In 1981 he acted in “Polyester”, directed by John Waters. Seven years later he also made a cameo appearance in the comedy “Tapeheads”, in which John Cusack and Tim Robbins performed, playing “Dick Slammer”, the singer of “The Blender Children”.
The Lords of the New Church was disbanded in 1989 when Bators injured his back and Brian James began secretly searching for a new singer. The group was dissolved in a bitter final when in their last concert Bators played in the encores with a shirt that had printed in front the advertisement of the newspaper of James.
Towards the end of the 70s, Bators was living with the model and singer Bebe Buell, mother of the then-girl Liv Tyler in Maine. Later, he moved to England and married an English woman, who left him for one of the members of Hanoi Rocks. Some years after divorcing he moved to Paris, where he met a woman he had lived with until his death.
In the summer of 1990, Bators, who was drunk, was hit by a taxi when crossing the street. He was taken to the hospital, although it is said that he left without being examined by a doctor after waiting several hours. Reports say he died while asleep because of a concussion.
Dave Tregunna said Bators, a fan of Jim Morrison, had asked to spread his ashes over his grave in Paris, and his girlfriend agreed to it. However, John Waters, director of “Polyester”, said his girlfriend had snorted his ashes.
Ironically, Stiv is the only one of the 3 “Whores of Babylon” who did not die of an overdose of heroin. Both Johnny Thunders and Dee Dee Ramone died for this cause; Johnny in New Orleans, less than a year later and Dee Dee shortly after his entry into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.
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