Mike Watt on the Late Derf Scratch
Derf Scratch, founding member and the original bassist for the L.A. punk band Fear, passed away late last week after a long battle with an unspecified illness.
Scratch, born Frederick Milner, founded the band with vocalist Lee Ving in 1977 and was with the group when they performed on an infamous episode of Saturday Night Live that allegedly cost NBC $20,000 in damages to equipment.
Scratch, who split with Fear in 1982, had a profound impact on the punk community, in more ways than one. Another punk bass legend, Mike Watt, bought his first Fender bass from him when Scratch decided to focus on guitar and saxophone.
In an email to OC Weekly, Watt said, “I bought my first fender bass from Derf — I recorded Minutemen’s ‘What Makes a Man Start Fires’ with that Precision bass and probably more but that one for sure — he let it go for tiny monies! He was very kind man to me. He told me to not buy new bass strings but to boil old ones to make them new — econo! I have nothing but good thoughts about him cuz he always showed me respect so respect back. It broke my heart when I heard the sad news yesterday cuz I felt we lost another brother. We must be more intense before we lose more!”