HAMILTON — Frank Kerr, lead singer of the iconic Hamilton punk band Teenage Head, has died of cancer at age 52.
Gord Lewis, his bandmate and close friend since childhood, said Kerr died Wednesday at a Hamilton hospital.
He had been diagnosed less than a month ago with throat cancer.
To his fans, Kerr was known as Frankie Venom, a wildly unpredictable stage persona seemingly capable of anything when standing in front of a microphone.
“Frankie was the true punk rocker. He really was,” said Lewis, who founded the band in 1975 with Kerr while they were students at Westdale high school.
“But that’s what made him interesting. I thrived off his abilities and his energy.”
Kerr’s death came on the same day it was announced that Teenage Head would be recognized with a lifetime achievement award at the Hamilton Music Awards on Nov. 16.
“He knew it was happening and I’m sure he felt good about it,” said Lewis.
Kerr and the band had their biggest hits with their first two albums, Teenage Head (1979) and Frantic City (1980).
They remain recognized by leading rock critics as among the greatest Canadian rock albums ever made.
Kerr’s most identifiable songs included Let’s Shake, Top Down, Somethin’ On My Mind and Picture My Face.”
The band’s popularity reached the point that, in 1980, more than 13,000 frenzied fans tried to squeeze into the old Ontario Place Forum for a show.
Officials attempted to close the gates on the over-capacity crowd and a riot ensued, ending in injuries to both police and fans, as well as about two dozen arrests.
Teenage Head continued recording and performing on and off through the years.
This year they released Teenage Head With Marky Ramone of the famous New York punk band, The Ramones.