Denise Mercedes is the founder and lead guitarist of The Stimulators.
A New York Native of Hispanic and Eastern European descent, Mercedes had an extraordinary musical journey playing amongst some of the greats before forming The Stimulators in 1978. In the 70s she had the opportunity to jam with icons like Link Wray, along with members of Bob Dylan’s band, and Iggy Pop before traveling to London to play with drummer Rat Scabies (of The Damned) in a short lived punk group in the UK. Back in the states, she performed a couple of New York shows with notable UK drummer Bryson Graham (of Spooky Tooth, Alvin Lee, Peter Frampton) in a 3-piece blues-based group called Banned. She was a guest on Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Review tours, around the time when Dylan bought Mercedes her first great electric guitar. And she became good friends with Mick Ronson (David Bowie) who gave Mercedes a coveted amp from his Spiders From Mars tour.
After ending The Stimulators, Mercedes took a long hiatus from music and focused on visual art, animal rights and wildlife conservation and writing.
In 2005, Mercedes was reunited with The Stimulators for three shows including "Save CBGB’s," also a memorial for Stiv Bators (of the Dead Boys), and along with old friends the Bad Brains, played at the historic closing night of CBGB’s.
In 2006 Mercedes teamed up with Patricia Nilsen and Tawny Lee to form Girls Girls Girls - the world’s 1st (and best) all-female tribute to Motley Crue. The band was featured on VH1 Classic TV’s “That Metal Show,” were featured in the promo for “Rock Star” in 2014 and appeared on the cover of the Village Voice Fall Preview Issue. 2014.
Mercedes has been featured in the New York Times, the Village Voice and numerous other media outlets over the years. She has made critical appearances in Hardcore: Life of My Own, by Harley Flanagan; NYHC New York Hardcore by Tony Rettman; Broken Summers, Henry Rollins; Life as Art – the Club 57 Story, Stanley Strychacki, in which she is credited by the founder of the venue for providing him the courage to open Club 57 at Irving Plaza; Mercedes makes an appearance in My Riot: Agnostic Front Grit, Guts & Glory by Roger Miret and Jon Wiederhorn; is interviewed in the 2012 movie: Bad Brains – A Band in DC, a film Mandy Stein (co-director) and for the Link Wray: The First Mann in Black by Dana Leigh Raidt, 2018, having been the only woman rock guitarist known to have performed alongside Link Wray. The Stimulator's Loud Fast Rules was featured in the 2017 documentary The Godfather's of Hardcore by Ian McFarland.
In 2018 Mercedes teamed up with longtime friend and collaborator Nick Marden and former singer of the iconic 60s girl group The Crystals, LaLa Brooks to work on a new project called "Dae Lilies."
Mercedes has been a feature writer for the entertainment site Music Realms since 2016.
For more information about Denise Mercedes:
Photo by Penny Rand
Harley Flanagan started playing drums for The Stimulators in 1979 at the age of 11.
Raised in Europe and on New York’s gritty Lower East Side among iconic figures like Allen Ginsberg, Richard Hell, Debbie Harry, the Ramones, Andy Warhol and the Clash, Flanagan began his own musical career early, performing at legendary hangouts like Max’s Kansas City and CBGBs, as the drummer for the classic NYC Punk band, the Stimulators, after drummers Johnny Blitz (Dead Boys) and Bob Wire.
During this same time period, while still in The Stimulators, Flanagan founded the seminal Hardcore band, Cro-Mags, writing the majority of their music and channeling his powerful survival instinct into the blistering soundtrack and storyline for the 80’s and 90’s; becoming one of the founding fathers Hardcore music.
Harley’s ever-growing popularity with audiences outside of the Punk and Hardcore world, is a testament to the ORIGINS of alternative music and lost histories from the visionaries who created it. It has often been said, there would be no Metallica, Green Day or Foo Fighters without the Cro-Mags. In a world searching for authenticity- it doesn’t get any more real than Harley Flanagan.
Since the early 1980s Flanagan has been writing and playing music and has amassed a large number of recordings with the The Stimulators, Cro-Mags, White Devil, and Harley's War along with various compilations and demos.
“Harley Flanagan’s incredible story is not just the history of New York hard core, of which he is a founding father, but a history of New York itself,” wrote dear friend and fan, Anthony Bourdain, for the cover of Flanagan’s book, Hard Core: Life of My Own.
Harley alone and with Cro-Mags, has been featured in countless publications, videos, TV programs, books and documentaries over the years, from Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine as a child, to the Village Voice, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, VICE and numerous international publications, shows, documentaries and the like.
Harley is currently working on a new Cro-Mags album which will follow the release of "In the Beginning" out June 19, 2020, and is working on several creative projects for several media outlets. The feature film Between Wars, in which he plays "McManus" as well as wrote the score, is scheduled to release in 2020.
For more information about Harley Flanagan go to:
Photo by Robert Maplethorpe
Photo by Fernando Godoy
One of the most respected and legendary figures from the Lower East Side punk scene, Marden was born in Boston and spent his early childhood in NYC. When his folks split up he went to live with family in Central California. He is the son of the American post-modern artist Brice Marden and Pauline Baez, nephew of both Joan Baez and Mimi Farina.
Marden returned to New York permanently in the summer of 1979. He saw an early Stimulators show at Irving Plaza and met the band in person shortly thereafter, soon becoming their roadie and later, their bassist.
Nick was known for his incredible sense of personal style which included his infamous “Loud Fast Rules!” leather jacket, which became the inspiration for The Stimulator’s anthem. Wearing the iconic jacket Marden was photographed by Robert Maplethorpe.
Marden has played bass with numerous bands mainly in the punk/alternative genres since the late 70’s, including:
Defectors, DOGFACED BOYS, Even Worse and The Stimulators. He also did backups on the Beastie Boys “Egg Raid” 45 produced by Jerry Williams (RIP) at 171A, and performed with Blowtorch Boys, DJ Ivan Ivan, Flash Cooney and The Deans of Discipline and with Scab (with Wench guitarist). Marden also performed a show in Jungle Book and worked with Porno Dracula; Letch Patrol, Bulldozer with Joe Truck, False Prophets and Suicide King.
Marden continues to work with Mercedes, currently on their Dae Lilies project.
For more information about Nick Marden:
detail of Photo by Glenn Friedman
patrick mack (RIP)
Originally of Kansas City, MO., Mack, arrived in NYC in 1978 to pursue writing poetry and prose. Mercedes had already lined up the Stimulators first gig at Rock Bottom, without a singer or lyrics. Determined to find someone, she went to Max’s and met Mack. When she approached and asked “Are you a singer?” he said no. “Well, do you want to be?” and with Mack’s resounding “Yes!” the song writing team of Mercedes-Mack was born over a couple beers.
Without any experience composing rock songs, Patrick came up with some classic lyrics, including the band’s most well-known punk anthem “Loud Fast Rules!” which quickly asserted itself as the ‘battle cry’ of the emerging youthful Punk scene in NYC. The Village Voice stated “The greatest tunes were Run Run Run, Crazy House Rock, Loud Fast Rules!"
Mack was also known as an amazing front man, not only delivering the lyrics with contagious excitement, but doing so accompanied by somersaults and back flips—which no one had seen before.
Being a gay man in what was for a while NYC’s premiere punk band, added to The Stimulator’s notoriety as a completely unique and quintessential NYC underground band, breaking all the rules of rock and forging an entirely new scene/genre in the process.
The Stimulators was Mack's first and only group, and his contribution to the lyrics of that era are his rock & roll legacy.
Mack passed away in 1983.
Gustavsson teamed up with Mercedes by responding to an ad in the Village Voice. Gustavsson was a talented lefty bass player and the two enjoyed jamming to existing songs and going to clubs.
A pre-Stimulators group “Banned” was formed for a few shows with UK drummer Bryson Graham (Spooky Tooth, Peter Frampton, Alvin Lee).
It was still unusual to see women musicians in bands at that time, and having both a female lead guitarist and bass player set the Stimulators apart from everyone else around. Gustavsson played many shows with the Stimulators, including those on their 1980 tour of Ireland; the first American punk band to go there at that time.
Gustavsson left the band unexpectedly and was replaced by the band's roadie, Nick Marden, who became the second and final bassist of the band.