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SGV 005: Eternally is Here – Jeffrey Lee Pierce in the heart of his sister, Jacqui

Chris Greenspon December 3, 2020 233 5

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SGV Weekly
SGV 005: Eternally is Here - Jeffrey Lee Pierce in the heart of his sister, Jacqui

Very few SoCal punk bands are legendary on the level that Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s Gun Club is. And of course, legends can be misleading. Pierce is known to come from El Monte, but his hometown was in fact South El Monte. Though he would say he was from Texas, like his mother. Questions about who Pierce really was were left without a direct answer when he died in 1996. Why did he pretend to be other people, like Chili Con Chola? Why did he stray so far from home, to London, Osaka, Berlin, and Cairo?

The Pierce siblings returning from a trip to Mexico – Courtesy Jacqui Pierce

Several documentaries have been made about the songwriter’s life. One movie focused on Pierce’s at times erratic behavior and strained relationships with bandmates, more so than his musicality. It’s not flattering. Another narrative comes from the many bootleg records that have been released. Artwork gets changed, titles are mixed up, and people who have no ownership over the music make money off it. Yet there’s often a form of hero worship involved.

The back cover of the unofficial French live album, Love Supreme, released in 1985

In between these differing perspectives, are those who knew and loved him, flaws and all. Particularly, his sister Jacqui Pierce and her husband Johnny Faretra. They’re the custodians of his estate, rereleasing his work as he intended through Creeping Ritual Productions. This is the primary way they affect the telling of his story, more so than in liner notes or documentaries (though they’ve given a few interviews to Gun Club historian Ryan Leach).

Home for Christmas 1986 or ’87, at Margie Pierce-Schriver’s apartment in West LA – Courtesy Jacqui Pierce

But they have insight into Pierce’s upbringing, and how his music has survived. Their memories provide an affectionate perspective that has lacked from much of the legend. 

That said, there’s no need to throw out the parts of Jeffrey that pissed people off. He sure didn’t. Rather, let’s include in our mental albums the impression he left on his sister – that of a seer of wisdom in others – so that we may hear his words and music in more detail.

Listen to the podcast episode above to hear this side of Jeffrey Lee Pierce from Jacqui and Johnny, starting with his time in the San Gabriel Valley. Thanks to Dan Perloff at Manifesto Records for music permissions and Rita Greenspon for driving to Washington with me.

Purchase JLP’s autobiography, Go Tell the Mountain from Creeping Ritual Productions, and the remastered double disc cd/lp of Miami with the demos from Blixa Sounds.

Songs heard in this story:
Carry Home (Miami demo)
Eternally is Here (The Las Vegas Story)
The Jungle Book (by the Red Lights)
Preachin’ Blues (The Birth, the Death, the Ghost live lp)
Jack on Fire (Fire of Love)
Texas Serenade (Miami)
Bad America (The Las Vegas Story)
Lupita Screams (Mother Juno)
Go Tell the Mountain (Ramblin’ Jeffrey Lee)
Walkin’ with the Beast (Miami demo)

Jacqui Pierce at Riverfront Park in Spokane, Washington – by SGV Weekly
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Chris Greenspon

I'm a radio journalist from La Puente, California. I've worked for KPCC, KNX, and KFWB, and freelanced to many others. My specialties are human interest stories, cultural criticism, and audio engineering.

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