Slaughterhouse’s Bob Madigan dead at 47

February 20, 2012

Bob Madigan in Fluff Grrl.

Former Detroiter and noise-punk trailblazer Bob Madigan has died in San Francisco from liver failure. He was 47.

Madigan founded the demented, drug-addled and noisy band Slaughterhouse in 1983 in Detroit, pulling together a bunch of friends to meld guitar feedback, banging drums and Madigan’s shouted lyrics into a viable noise combo. The band never really hit the big time, but Madigan was all over the Detroit scene, encouraging people to listen to and perform weirder, stranger sounds. It was he who nudged 29-year-old Al “the Carp” Halversen into looking for a space to host all-ages shows, which would eventually become the Hungry Brain. He had cultivated a friendship with G.G. Allin, who once promised to commit suicide in Detroit. Madigan was always pushing things a bit farther than others in the scene; once Graystone manager Cary Safarian had to leap into action to stop Black Flag’s Henry Rollins from punching Madigan, who had been nagging him from the audience all night to “read poetry!”

A Slaughterhouse show could be kind of an ordeal, even if you liked Madigan. I recall in particular once night at Blondie’s perhaps in 1987. Between the screeching feedback, the constant strobe light and the re-looped videos of animals being disemboweled in an abattoir, it was hard to take. Luckily, Madigan had hooked up a car battery to some electrodes and offered audience members the chance to get a good, strong electric shock. He demonstrated, but I don’t think any guests took him up on it.

By the 1990s, Slaughterhouse was over. By the 2000s, Madigan had moved on to San Francisco, had adopted the stage name “Donkey Daddy” and was in a group called Fluff Grrl, sometimes wearing a meat loin cloth on stage. He teamed up and did some radio with Boom of erstwhile Detroit punk band Boom & the Legion of Doom, who had a DJ gig at college station KUSF, doing a show called Rampage Radio (

Over the years, evidence would trickle in suggesting that Madigan was … er … drinking more than he should. As in nonstop. We had a bit of a laugh a few years ago when somebody sent us a link to a Bob Madigan for president commercial. Then we saw the original footage, and didn’t find it quite so funny. Or this clip of Madigan from several years ago, in which it is difficult to tell if he is drunk or brain-damaged.

Well, a week ago, word came to us that he was hospitalized with complete liver failure and compromised kidneys. It took a week, but Madigan was able to recognize guests and died quite peacefully, sitting with his brother, watching Frank Zappa on the tube.

Madigan leaves behind him a legacy of sorts — a noisy, confusing, almost insane legacy of high jinks and low points — but damn if he didn’t cheer others on in their weirdness. I remember a cold night in the 1980s when I’d run away from home with my girlfriend. Madigan found a spot for us on the couch of his apartment on Michigan Avenue in Detroit. And, drinkin’ and doobin’ or not, it was might nice of him to open up his home and watch Psychomania for the 100th time with us. And maybe that’s the point: Madigan was more than a weird guy; he inspired weirdness in others and praised it. In that way, Detroit’s ever-weirder music scene owes its lost son a great debt.

Some of Madigan’s old punk friends are rumored to be planning a get-together starting at 9 p.m. Friday, March 2, at the Old Miami (3930 Cass Ave.; 313-831-3830). We’ll post updates if we hear anything more. And feel free to share your own memories of Madigan as well.

As for you, Bob: Thanks for everything.

  • benson

    Bob was a true pioneer and a friend. I wish his brothers peace and ease in dealing with Bob’s transition. 

  • Angela Shutes

    Great article on Bob!  I loved hanging out with him in the Slaughterhouse days.  It was always crazy and extreme and I loved every minute of it.  Wish I still lived close enough to get to the Old Miami but I will be there in spirit! Rest in Peace Bob!

  • Jane Weems

    Bob was a cool guy…I loved all his great stories! R.I.P. Madman Madigan , we’ll miss you!  : )

  • Queen Bee

    Poor Bob!  Long live Cum Dumpster!  <3

  • Adventures

    I knew Bob when he was rattling around the S.F. bar scene. Drunk, but never mean or violent or cruel. A kindly drunk man. Hard to pull that off. The world is a little worse without him.  

  • Strez

    Bob and I were friends since 1983. He and I did things that’d make most folks’ hair stand on end. I will never forget the fun we had. I’m not saying it was all fun, but 99% of it was. I’ll miss you, Bro.

  • KennyK

    His ability to puke on command always impressed me. Kinda reminded me of a cat…. R.I.P. Brother Bob!

  • Jason Voisine

    I knew Bob both in Detroit & in SF.
    He was always the same jovial dude w/ a sick/funny sense of humor. We had some crazy times & some ugly times together.
    The Heart & Soul of Detroit Scum-Punk.
    Took his schtick to the West Coast. Thrived in it.
    I tattooed him.
    I drank with him.
    I poured syrup in his pants when he passed out – well, a few of us did, actually.
    If he really, really liked you, he’d “show you his scar” & proceed to torch his pubes in your presence. That always cleared the bar out…

  • John Law

    I got to know Bob in his SF Fluff Grrl days and was always glad to see him. Bob and FG could clear a room faster than any other noise outfit. No small feat considering the competition! Burning pubic hair always did the trick. He was a very sweet man and made a lot of friends here on the Left Coast. I’ll miss seeing him around town.

  • Pingback: RIP Bob Madigan

  • chuckufarlie

     The first time I met Bob was in S.F. He was drinking SOMETHING out of a hydrogen peroxide bottle on our way to contribute to the first “Womentors” show, where he proceeded to light his pubes ablaze…what a fucking stink!!! R.I.P. man!

  • mattcornell

    RIP Bob Madigan. 

  • Larry Wessel

    I loved Bob very much. I have lots of happy memories of hanging out with Bob in san Francisco and the one and only time he visited Los Angeles. He wanted me to shoot nude photos of him all over L.A. and so I did. In front of The Hollywood Sign, at The La Brea Tar Pits, at Marilyn Monroe’s crypt in Westwood (next to Truman Capote, he french kissed his brother Jerry in front of Truman), in Bel Air I bought some Ketchup at a small grocery store so that Bob could pretend to be one of OJ’s victims standing naked in front of OJ’s house and in front of the gate where Nicole Simpson’s mutilated corpse was found. His last wish on his L.A. tour was to be photographed nude with The Goddess Bunny”. I brought him over to Bunny’s and he posed for nekkid pix with her. The Goddess was more interested in Jerry though. She acted quickly, removing an instamatic camera from a drawer and undoing Jerry’s belt buckle, pulling down his bluejeans and snapping a photo of his penis in less than ten seconds!! I will never forget that day. I was so happy that I could accommodate all of Bob’s special wishes.

  • Dave W

    I am very saddened to hear this news about Bob. My life was changed in 1983 when I first saw Slaughterhouse at The Hungry Brain. I was blown away by their intensity and Bob scared the hell out of me. I invited them to my radio show at WAYN and several months later found myself co-hosting a weekly show on CJAM with Bob. I spend several years hanging out with him every week. I lost track of him when he move to SF many years ago. He was a kind, caring, obnoxious person who I will never forget.

  • tmc

    they broke
    the mold
    before & aft
    mfg. the m.f.

  • Corneliajensen


    You licked the soles of thousands of girls’ boots as well as touched the souls of thousands of punks and artists. You are an original. You are gold. May you wave your freak flag for all of us here on earth.

  • Sybil Augustine

    My favorite Bob story is when Cum Dumpster played the Community Concert Series at the Art Center Music School/funeral home on Cass. Bob was wearing fishnet pantyhose, & not much else as I recall, pulling his old vomit-on-cue trick between those unique lyrical stylings.  This caused a ruckus among some CCS volunteers, as we were an extremely diverse bunch– from Rod R, Susan Sunshine, and Charlie Gorvitz to Rob Tyner, Andy Sunfrog and myself, we didn’t agree on much except that creative freedom was a huge part of our mission.  So, the next meeting of the collective held after this incident was well attended and many opinions were expressed. After much debate, we ended up voting in a resolution that went something like the following:  “In any case where a performer on the CCS stage may be involved in an expulsion of bodily fluids, such as vomit, they shall also be REQUIRED to be wearing fishnet pantyhose, regardless of age, gender or body shape.”  Seriously, we were *that high* back then. ;-)   Anyone else remember this?  Anyway….very sad to hear of his passing…Praise “Bob!”

     – Sybil Augustine

  • Sybil Augustine

     Hi Dave Warmbier!   Fond memories of CJAM, they were cool enough to let us ‘Mericans do shit there.

  • Dave W

    Hey Sybil! I was surprised every week they would let Bob and myself into the country and take over their airwaves. Luckily we didn’t have to deal with the FCC there because Bob wouldn’t have lasted for more than 1 week. I enjoyed the overnight shifts where Bob would pass out about 2 hours in and I could play what I wanted the rest of the night.

  • Malibufrancie

    Bob caught the garter at my wedding many years ago….I still remember fondly the after-hours parties at his place, lots of  memories (and fuzzy memories), met many friends through Bob…..lots of   fun times…..RIP, my friend, shame to see you go. 

  • Bluehun66

    Let us not forget that Bob also created the “1000 Club Hotline” that gave callers daily updates on the number of suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge as the “magic number” approached 1000. He was interviewed by the SF Weekly’s Jack Boulware for a weekly column that ran in the 90′s. Rest In Peace Bob. You were a true original bro.

  • DL

    Just because it’s a good story…Slaughterhouse recorded an album’s worth of songs at my apartment in downtown Kalamazoo over 3 or 4 days in the early 1980s, and as anyone who ever saw them play could attest, recording them was likely to be a challenge. It was. Hours and hours and hours of intense volume, distortion, feedback, pounding percussion, and god knows what else, jammed onto 1/2″ 8 track tape, with copious quantities of alcohol and chemicals added in for good measure…they’d play til they’d pass out. Vocals were to be recorded last, and I was forewarned that Bob couldn’t sing properly without vomiting; in a gesture I took to be pure courtesy, he brought his own plastic tarp to protect the horrid orange shag carpet. Finally it was time for the mix, and Bob was fully involved: “More bass….now more treble…how about more midrange…can you put some delay on that…got a flanger?…What about reverb?”, etc. etc., hour upon hour. Finally, he started nodding his head; he and the rest of the guys seemed to like where things were going. Then: “Now…if you can just do something to make it more CLEAR…”

    RIP, man.

  • Bill Blank

    Sybil, I oddly recall that epic Community Concert Series night in Detroit as well. Several disgusted audience and (not his) band members wanted to strangle Bob after his wild shock rock show, yet you, Dean Western & I were among a few willing to defend (an exhausted) Bob’s (1st amendment?) rights, even if was after 3:00am. Bob understandly seemed taken back by all the late night rage against him as we tried to help him pack up the stage debris.

    At that moment, when it looked a couple of the more enraged might physically attack Bob, I ended up playing Lennon’s “Imagine” over and over on the grand piano, until the small crowd staggered away. Bob turned me and smiled, “Hey, Blank, I get it. Thanks, that was perfect.”  A short yet memorably touching exchange, even if we came from two different ends of the punk rock spectrum. Further proof that Detroit and San Francisco cannot contain some trail blazers. R

    IP Bob and treat Lennon to a show if you get a chance. . . .
    Bill Blank

  • Jeffrey Prosser

    An asshole amongst assholes. Good riddance.

  • Crab

    Ah, Bob.  Hadn’t seen him in years, yet there he was at the Midtown, 568 Haight, handing out fliers that defended the 1at Ammend. Rights for a man who illustrated kitty porn…the girl I was with tore all his fliers up.  He was mad at both of us for at least a year…..but fuck him, and RIP, and I hope Boom’s ok…

  • Annie Krist

    I lived with Bob in Detroit as well as San Francisco for more years then I care to say, suffice to say it was NEVER boring when Bob was around. I am touched by the outpouring of love but not surprised; Bob could be a real jerk at times but he was the kindest, gentlest and most creative person I knew and that is saying a LOT. Anyone who happens to be around May 18th in Detroit please come by The Corktown Tavern for the official Bob Madigan memorial shindig. Thanks! xoxo, Annie

  • Annie Krist

    I’m sure you are a downright prize Jeffery! May you die a 1000 painful deaths! Cheers!

  • Annie Krist

     DAVE! Annie here I hope you see this, I’ll be in town for Bob’s memorial. I hope you will be there too!

  • Dave W

    Annie! Wow, been a while. I always felt you should have been nominated for sainthood for living with him for all those years. I will try to make it down to the Corktown Tavern on May 18th. Good to hear from you.

  • J.Gray

    I am truely sadened by this news,i first met Bob in Detroit in the 80′s hanging out by the plasma clinic and saw cumdumpster somewhere where he set his hair on fire and put it on with a bucket of vomit.years latter i met him again in san fran where i had formed a band called the Destroyed and was hiding out from the law in michigan.perfect place to dissapear too right?He was playing in fluffgrrrl then and i cought several shows.i think he was also in a short lived band called Clitler….anyway i always used to run into him at shows even when  niether of our bands were playing.he just loved to get fucked up and check out the multitudes of bands that were always playing.if you lived in san fransisco at the time it was impossible not to run into him siomewhere.If anyone has any footage or music by the man please please get in touch with me.i lost all mine sadly over the years.J.Gray

  • Severin Cox

     Fuck you, asshole. Altho’ you may be entitled to your own opinion you’d best be cautious as to whom you voice those opinions in front of.  Just sayin’.