Art Bergmann and Los Rádicos Popularos
A Vancouver invention from the punk era — the fuck band.
It was inevitable that I would publish a photograph of Vancouver guitar legend/virtuoso Art Bergmann in this blog. Thanks to a scanner I can show the story behind it. I started taking pictures of Art in the late 70s and stopped in the mid 90s. When I took this picture in April 1981 many Vancouver punk bands formed ancillary bands in which the guitar player of one band would play as a drummer in another and so on. They played for “the fuck of it” so they were known as fuck bands. Los Popularos ( began its days in 1980 as Los Rádicos Popularos) was a fuck band that became a super group. Bill Shirt was the lead singer but many of us went to Pops concerts not only to hear Art Bergmann’s brilliant lead guitar (Buck Cherry’s rhythm guitar was dynamite, too), but also in the hope of hearing a bit of that inimitable Bergmann voice/rasp. In one of the songs Art would scream (to our delight), “It was the sex, it was the sex!” In February 81, I bought a copy of my favourite camera magazine of the day, Camera 35. In April I had to photograph Los Popularos for Les Wiseman’s In One Ear column in Vancouver Magazine. There was no doubt in my mind what I was going to do. From gun collector Tom Bongalis, I obtained three antique rifles and the bandoleers. I needed a fourth rifle, so writer Ben Metcalfe lent me his Winchester repeater. The white pants and shirts were courtesy of BJ’s, a 70s and 80s underground drag queen club on West Pender, very near the Niagara Hotel. The bandido hats I rented at Watts Costumes on West 6th Avenue. I asked the band to come to my Burnaby home studio. Tony Bardach and Art Bergmann called me from the Boundary Loop so I picked them up in my two-seater Fiat. When Tony sat on Art’s lap, Art slammed the door on Tony’s hand. I did not notice that Tony’s hand was bleeding until I began to take my photos. We bandaged it up.
Tony Bardach (centre), base, Zippy Pinhead (middle, left),drums, Art Bergmann (middle right), lead guitar, John Armstrong, aka Buck Cherry (top, left), rhythm guitar, Bill Shirt (top right), lead singer.
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.