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The Imports (1979-1980) - Chronology

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The Imports
The Void: Ben Krug, Joe Strell, and Tom Krug at Aeden's Loft - Photo by Peter Strell

Table of Contents

Gig Index
Saturday, October 13, 1979 St. Ignatius College Prep - as "The Girls" (Oktoberfest)
Tuesday, December 18, 1979 Aeden's Loft - as "The Void" (audition)
Monday, December 31, 1979 Aeden's loft - as "The Void" w/ Leslie (drums)
Thursday, March 6, 1980 Ann Arkees - debut as "The Imports" w/ John Krug (drums)
Friday, March 7, 1980 Old Chicago - acoustic set for Paul Weller
Friday, March 14, 1980 The Place in Park Forest South
Sunday, March 29, 1980 The Moss Club - debut of Alec Dale on drums
Saturday, April 12, 1980 Gaspar's - with The Dadistics
Monday, May 5, 1980 The Lucky Number - Tom Krug places his hat on stage
Saturday, May 17, 1980 University of Chicago party
Monday, May 19, 1980 The Lucky Number - The Imports learn of Ian Curtis' death
Saturday, May 24, 1980 Hyde Park Festival of the Arts - outdoors on a flatbed truck
Saturday, June 7, 1980 Huey's - Benefit for the Winter Palace
Tuesday, June 10, 1980 Jamie's Elsewhere - poster by Steve Lafreniere
Thursday, June 12, 1980 Tuts - with the Dadistics
Friday, June 13, 1980 Ruts - club that would become Waves and then Smart Bar
Saturday, June 14, 1980 Ruts (again) - Amy watches from a chair on the dancefloor
Friday, July 11, 1980 Party on Blackstone, Hyde Park - debut of new repertoire
Saturday, July 12, 1980 Hubbard Street Gallery - across the street from police station
Monday, July 21, 1980 The Lucky Number - Joe finds black leather strap for his bass
Sunday, July 27, 1980 Tuts - full moon with the Cramps
Monday, August 11, 1980 Tuts - first gig with Tom Wall on drums
Tuesday, September 16, 1980 The Lucky Number - torrential rain
Tuesday, September 23, 1980 Gaspars - Fanatic Magazine party
Saturday, September 27, 1980 Gaspars - with the Painter Band
Saturday, October 11, 1980 Gaspars
Sunday, October 12, 1980 Tuts
Saturday, October 25, 1980 U of C International House - with The White Castles
Saturday, November 1, 1980 Wizards - with Special Affect
Thursday, November 6, 1980 Lucky Number
Thursday, December 4, 1980 Sammie's in Minneapolis - with the Jim Caroll Band
Friday, December 5, 1980 The Seventh Street Entry - The Imports final performance

Chronology, Minutia, and Ephemera

Friday, September 14, 1979 - Tom Krug, Ben Krug, and Joe Strell attend a "Take the Fifth" tour performance by the Clash at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom. Classic rocker Bo Diddley opens the night, followed by the Undertones and then finally the headlining Clash. Overhead, projected clouds roll across the blue sky of the ballroom ceiling.

Saturday, October 13, 1979 - The Girls play at the St. Ignatius College Preparatory in Chicago at their "Coffee House" talent show. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (rhythm guitar), Alex Kniepkamp (lead guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Leslie (drums). Their energetic set consists of covers of three-chord songs by David Bowie, Iggy Pop, the Ramones, the Clash, and the Sex Pistols. Afterward, hand-painted buttons with "The Girls" written on them become a short-lived fashion rave with the in-crowd. Return to Gig Index.

The Clash at Chicago's Aragon BallroomPoster for the Clash at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago

Tuesday, December 18, 1979 - The Void audition at Aeden's Loft on 180 N Wacker Drive (near Randolph) in downtown Chicago. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass). They had no drummer for this event. The trio receive limited praise from those who managed to show up early enough to catch them play. Return to Gig Index.

The Void at Aeden's Loft
The Void: Tom Krug, Ben Krug, and Joe Strell at Aeden's Loft - Photo by Peter Strell

Monday, December 31, 1979 - The Void play thir second gig at Aeden's loft at 180 N Wacker Drive. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Leslie (drums).

Marc Clifton, Hope and Carol X from Wax Trax show up for the evening's festivities, but arrive too late to see The Void play. Their set is balanced between original material and a selection of punk covers from the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Ramones, and David Bowie. They play a total of fourteen songs plus three encores. Tom, Ben, and Joe spray their hair with silver hairspray, for effect. Soon after this gig, all covers are abolished. Also playing this evening is a band fronted by the guitarist Alec Dale, who later becomes a drummer for the Imports. During the course of the evening, someone gives Alec Dale, a friend of The Void whose band was also playing that evening, the names of several clubs that were punk-friendly, such as Ann Arkees in Chicago and Zak's in Milwaukee. Return to Gig Index.
Mark Clifton
Marc Clifton

Thursday, January 10, 1980 - Jim Peterson calls the Void regarding an ad they placed in the January 9th issue of the Chicago Reader for a drummer. Also responding to the ad is a woman named Marcie, who offers to be the group's manager. She asks them whether they ever rehearse in the nude, and if they would enjoy having someone lick the sweat from their bodies as they played. The group declines her kind offer. Jim, however, is invited to an audition.

Friday, January 11, 1980 - Jim auditions as a drummer for the Void, and is accepted.

Saturday, January 12 1980 - The Void, including their new drummer, go shopping for a bass amp. Up to this point, Joe has been using an antique tube radio amplifier hooked up to a couple of old speakers wired up inside a cardboard box. Somewhere around this time, the band settles upon the name of "The Imports", as this was their favorite section at Wax Trax. This name was chosen after having also considered such names as "The Optics", "Profile", and "The Razors".

Saturday, February 9, 1980 - Joe Strell's girlfriend Margaret Fitzsimmons attends an Imports rehearsal in Hyde Park on the South Side of Chicago.

Wednesday, February 13, 1980 - Joe Strell gets the hives in response to an altercation with his Latin teacher and writes "He's Just Spastic".

Saturday, March 1, 1980 - Alec Dale first plays drums. [The Imports have decided to seek a new drummer, as Jim Peterson has been having marital problems and misses rehearsal on a regular basis. To those rehearsals that he is able to attend, he brings a six-pack or two of beer, which he proceeds to consume until he falls over his drumset. The fact that they don't much like his style of playing doesn't help his case much.] This evening, Joe Strell calls several clubs around Chicago, managing to secure a date playing at Ann Arkees on north Clark Street.

Sunday, March 2, 1980 - The Imports visit Huey's on Chicago's North Side, a nightclub sporting a huge replica of Huey the Duck suspended above its entrance. Afterwards, they stop by Wax Trax to put up posters for their March 6th debut gig at Ann Arkees. Wax Trax business card

Wednesday, March 5, 1980 - Jim Peterson, who failed to mesh sufficiently with the Imports rapid punk style, picks up his drums and bows out of the picture. John Krug, Tom and Ben's 12-year old younger brother, is appointed de facto drummer of the band, as Alec Dale is still coming up to speed. Tom Krug goes up to Wax Trax to drop off a cassette tape of the Imports for Paul Weller of the Jam, who will be stopping by for a personal appearance to support their 1980 "Setting Sons" tour.

Thursday, March 6, 1980 - The Imports play their first professional (albeit free) gig at Ann Arkees, a gig they obtained by calling up the manager of the club and claiming that they had played at Zak's in Milwaukee. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), John Krug (drums). For their debut, they played two, 45-minutes sets of originals to a crowd of a half dozen people, including parents. Other attendees included Rose and her friend Marie from France, as well as a self-proclaimed "Lady Blues". Before the gig, Tom Krug and Joe Strell drop by Wax Trax at 6:00 p.m. to talk to Paul Weller, who invites them to drop by early to the Jam's show the following day at Old Chicago in order to play him a few Imports' songs. Return to Gig Index.
John Krug
John Krug
The Jam "Setting Sons Tour"

Friday, March 7, 1980 - The Imports play an acoustic set of four to five originals for Paul Weller of the Jam before their gig at Old Chicago. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), John Krug (drums).

The Imports arrive at Old Chicago around 3:30 p.m. Two hours later, Paul Weller and the rest of the Jam arrive, and Paul brings the Imports backstage, where they play four five songs for him ...

Paul Weller tells the Imports that they would be popular in England right now, and that he would mention them in an upcoming interview he had scheduled with the New York Rocker (which he does, when asked if he has heard any bands he liked while touring the United States). He also suggests that they listen to the British bands Joy Division and Gang of Four. During the show, Joe Strell befriends Sandy Rizzo, radio disk jockey and media photographer from Downers Grove. Return to Gig Index.

The Imports
The Imports: Alec Dale, Ben Krug, Tom Krug, and Joe Strell at The Place

The Imports Friday, March 14, 1980- The Imports play (for free) at "The Place" in Park Forest South, a far southern suburb of Chicago. Equipment failures plague the event, including a flat tire and problems with the microphone and guitar chords. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), John Krug (drums). Joe's girlfriend Margaret comes along. Tom gets annoyed at Joe for paying attention to her when he should be helping the band load their gear into the truck. On the way home, Margaret asks Joe if he thinks that she is fat. . . Return to Gig Index.

Saturday, March 16, 1980 - The Imports begin to break in Alec Dale, a guitarist, as their new drummer. Alec would replace John Krug, whose young age (12) was perceived by the other members of the Imports as a liability in getting gigs at Chicago bars, for which the legal drinking age was 21, although the rest of the Imports were also under age. John Krug would go on to join the Throbbers, a University of Chicago band featuring Vincent Katz (guitar/vocals), Mark David (guitar), John Heckel (bass), and "Billy Krummond" aka John Krug (drums). The Throbbers released a 7" single on Ock-Bok-Boe Records in 1981featuring "Unrequited Hardon" b/w "Dear One".

Monday, March 17, 1980 - Joe Strell calls Huey's to see about getting a gig.

Young Imports
The Imports: Tom Krug, Ben Krug, Alec Dale, Joe Strell - Photo by Dave Miller

Wednesday, March 19, 1980 - Joe Strell retrieves the Imports' tape from Marc Clifton at Wax Trax. While there, he talks to Carol X for a long time. Eventually, Joe buys the Joy Division album "Unknown Pleasures" for $8.98, which she says she preferred to Gang of Four. She also recommended Cut by The Slits.

Carol X was one of the original fans of The Imports, having come to see The Void play at Aeden's loft on New Year's Eve, 1979. Her "new wave" appearance was always striking, with two-tone hair creatively styled (or stylishly created) to the envy of the scene. The impact of her later suicide in December of 1982 was felt deeply by all who knew her.

After leaving Wax Trax, Joe returns to Hyde Park to rewire the innards of his 3-string bass guitar.

Carol X

Sunday, March 23, 1980 - Joe Strell calls Huey's again and speaks to Bob, who says something about the Imports possibly playing in May. Joe wonders whether he heard right, and if Bob didn't perhaps mean April... The Imports eventually do play a show at Huey's, at a benefit for the Winter Palace on June 7, 1980.

Boomtown Rats Tickets Friday, March 28, 1980 - Joe Strell sees the Boomtown Rats at the Riviera theater (tickets $7.50) with Margaret Fitzsimmons, and experiences his first Jakarta, an Indonesian clove cigarette. Margaret loses her purse. Joe spends the night at Margaret's house (in a separate room, of course).

Sunday, March 29, 1980 - The Imports play at a poet's book party at the Moss Club on West Randolph in Chicago, along with the bands Special Affect and the Ferraris. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Alec Dale(drums). This date marks Alec Dale's debut as the Imports' drummer. The general rumor at the time was that the Imports were either eleven and a half year old girls, or else twelve year old boys. One woman is so impressed with Tom that she gives him her most prized band button. Rose and her friend Marie from France are in the audience. Return to Gig Index.

Tuesday, April 1, 1980 - Alec Dale marks his milestone of one month playing drums. Joe Strell and Alec walk in the rain, thinking deep thoughts. Joe falls asleep while Alec is talking.

Wednesday, April 2, 1980 - Joe Strell dyes his hair blue black.

Sunday, April 6, 1980 - The Imports dye Easter eggs at the home of Shari Roberts. Afterwards, they practice for awhile.

Friday, April 11, 1980 - Joe Strell, Ben Krug, and Anne Knepler take the train up to Northwestern to see the band Da! perform. Unfortunately, Da! were playing at Northeastern. The three make the best of the evening, having dinner at a restaurant under the train tracks and then heading down to Joe's house in Wicker Park to spend the night.

Saturday, April 12, 1980 - The Imports open (and close) for the Dadistics at Gaspar's in Chicago, playing the first and last sets of the evening. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Alec Dale (drums). This gig comes courtesy of Tom Krug's friendship with Audrey Stanzler, lead singer of the Dadistics. The Imports receive $50 for their efforts. Prior to the gig, Joe picks up a speaker for his bass amp from Kagin & Gaines, where it was being re-coned. Return to Gig Index.

Wednesday, April 16, 1980 - Alec Dale and Joe Strell walk about Hyde Park after rehearsal smoking Camel cigarettes, taking puffs between long intervals. The two end up in a Illinois Central (IC) warm-up hut, where Joe begins to feel ill and curls up in a fetal position. Alec keeps asking if Joe wants more of the cigarette. Joe is incredulous, responding "I feel like I'm dying and you're offering me cigarettes!"

Thursday, April 24, 1980 - The Imports are interviewed by Renee Saracki, reviewer and newspaper columnist for The Chicago Maroon. The Imports meet Renee and Danny Kahn at her dormitory apartment in the Shoreland Hotel.

Ben: I remember when I first heard the Sex Pistols and I thought that what I heard was really funny. Because I heard that they threw upon their audiences and all. I thought that their record was reallly boring at first so I sold it and then I heard it at a friend's house and I realized how great it was...

After the interview and a quick photo session, Renee invites Don Hedecker, guitarist of the Trouble Boys, over for introductions.

The Chicago Maroon
Kagin and Gaines receipt

Tuesday, April 29, 1980 - Alec Dale and Joe Strell go to Kagin & Gaines to drop off Alec's Peavy guitar amp on consignment.

Afterwards, they head up to Wax Trax and talk to Hope, who gives them a flyer for the Lucky Number, a new club opening up at 950 W. Wrightwood, just up the street.

Alec and Joe head over to the Lucky Number, where they talk to Max, who says that he has heard of the band, and that they were good. Max agrees to have them play on Monday, March 5th.

Thursday, May 1, 1980 - The Imports go to see Public Image Limited (PIL) at the Riviera theater (tickets $9.00). During the performance, someone throws an unlit firecracker onto the stage. John Lydon lights it, startling guitarist Keith Levine. Afterwards, whilst waiting for Sandy Rizzo to finish with the band, Joe kicks the security gate in front of a nearby shop, and is reprimanded by Chicago's Finest (aka the police).
John Lydon at the Riviera, Chicago, 1980
Photo by Sandy Rizzo

The Imports
Tom Krug, Ben Krug, Joe Strell, and Alec Dale at The Lucky Number - Photo by Praxis

Monday, May 5, 1980 - The Imports play at the Lucky Number on 950 w. Wrightwood in Chicago, a new club that had just had its grand opening on April 30th (with Special Affect). Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Alec Dale (drums). The Imports take the stage at 10:45 p.m., and play a powerful set delivered with intense enthusiasm. Altogether they make $185, of which $60 came from Tom's black Fedora, which he put on the edge of the stage as a joke, saying "Every little bit helps". People gave dollar bills, threw change, and one woman gave her favorite band button. A handful of lascivious notes (e.g. "I don't have big tits but I have gonorrhea"), some with telephone numbers, find their way into the hat as well. A photographer from the arts periodical "Praxis" took photos of the band between sets, one of which finds its way into the Chicago Reader. Sinclair Erod from The Coolest Retard asks for a phone number in order to arrange an interview. Return to Gig Index. The Imports

Tuesday, May 6, 1980 - Tom Krug and Alec Dale move the Imports' equipment into a rehearsal space in the basement of the Shoreland Hotel in Hyde Park. At the time, the Shorland was used as a student dormitory for the University of Chicago. The rehearsal space is secured for the Imports by Danny Kahn in exchange for his student ID.

Wednesday, May 7, 1980 - The Imports set up their equipment for their first rehearsal in their new space in the Shoreland Hotel. Despite Tom Krug and Joe Strell having a tiff over a paucity of picks, the band is in an overall good mood, similar to the excitement they experienced setting up their gear for the recent Lucky Number gig. The Shoreland Hotel

Saturday, May 10, 1980 - The Imports rehearse at the Shoreland. Alec Dale had spent the whole day working at the boatyard without having a bite to eat. As the Imports begin to rehearse, Alec goes berserk, becoming inconsistently critical of the group's direction and saying that he was going to kill himself. After rehearsal, having been joined by Shari Roberts and Anne Knepler, the Imports attend a "hostage party" on the tenth floor, in honor of the Iran crisis, costuming themselves in crepe paper streamers. Tom and Joe make red armbands for themselves, and bind Ben with white streamers and tape. Tom and Joe then proceeded to go about the party accusing everyone of being spies, wrapping them up, and putting them in the closet. Alec Dale smeared his sport coat with dip and went about complaining what a dull party it was.

Monday, May 12, 1980 - Joe Strell called a number of clubs, including Lucky Number, Jamie's Elsewhere, Beginnings, and O'Banion's (who said the Imports were too young). Joe buys a pair of black, high-top Converse All Stars and writes "Detestable Communications".

Tuesday, May 13, 1980 - The Imports rehearse their two sets of material at the Shoreland. Exhausted from staying up late the night before with Tom Krug, playing Beatles songs and harmonizing, Joe Strell rehearses while lying down, and takes a fifteen minute nap between sets while Ben Krug gets a Dr. Pepper. After rehearsal, they call Beginnings to cancel a gig, having decided that they didn't want to play the suburbs.

Wednesday, May 14, 1980 - Joe Strell goes to Wax Trax with Sandy Rizzo, where he talks with Andrew Clark, who says that his band Epicycle is having "age problems", meaning that they are finding it difficult to get booked into clubs as they (like the Imports) are under age.

Saturday, May 17, 1980 - The Imports play two 45-minute sets and one 30-minute set at Hank's, a University of Chicago party on 4901 S. Greenwood Avenue. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Alec Dale (drums). The crowd loves them. The Imports are paid $40.

That evening, Joe Strell befriends Laura Salinger, a University High School student who enjoyed using the words "mutants", "bogus", and "freak out". Laura later goes on to marry (and ultimately divorce) Mark E Smith of the Fall, becoming Brix Smith. She also lead the band Adult Net as guitarist and vocalist, releasing several singles and an album or two. Return to Gig Index.

Brix and Mark E Smith
Brix and Mark E Smith
The Imports Monday, May 19, 1980- The Imports play at the Lucky Number. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Alec Dale (drums). Hope from Wax Trax brings Regan, a friend of hers from the Hubbard Street Gallery. . . Joy Division Ticket
. . . The Imports also learn of the death the previous day of Ian Curtis, lead singer for Joy Division, for whom they had hoped to open at Tuts. Return to Gig Index.

Wednesday, May 21, 1980 - The Imports stop by Jackson Gray Graphics / Praxis at 180 W Washington to work with Brian Shanley on a poster for an upcoming gig.

Thursday, May 22, 1980 - The Imports rehearse at the Shoreland Hotel. Jeff Elton stops by to watch them practice, and agrees to hire them for a fraternity party on May 24th. After rehearsal, Joe Strell and Alec Dale jam with the Aardvarks until around one in the morning. The Aardvarks, who are occupying the rehearsal space next door to the Imports, consisted of Bruce (guitar), Ed (guitar), and Lore (keyboards).

Friday, May 23, 1980 - The Imports rehearse at the Shoreland Hotel. After rehearsal, Joe Strell goes next door to jam again with the Aardvarks, playing songs such as Elvis Costello's "Watching the Detectives". Afterwards, they all go onto the roof of the Shoreland.

Saturday, May 24, 1980- The Imports play on a flatbed truck outside Mellow Yellow in Harpers Court of Hyde Park, Chicago for the Festival of the Arts. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Alec Dale (drums). In attendance is Tom Wall, who will soon become the Imports new drummer. Tom is favorably impressed with their performance. The same evening, the Imports play a University of Chicago Phi Delta Theta fraternity party, for which they receive $125. The University of Chicago cover band Drag opened. Return to Gig Index.

Sunday, May 25, 1980 - The Trouble Boys play a party at the Shoreland Hotel. The Imports attend.

Tuesday, May 27, 1980 - Tom Krug and Joe Strell graduate from St. Ignatius College Preparatory, Chicago, Illinois, in a service at the Holy Name Cathedral.

Saturday, May 31, 1980 - The Imports (sans Alec Dale) are interviewed by Steve Lafreniere of Praxis. Tom Krug, Ben Krug, and Joe Strell obtain IDs at a small shop on State Street, downtown.

Sunday, June 1, 1980 - The Imports rehearse at the Shoreland. Rehearsal is delayed while the Imports search for some cables that had been lent to the Aardvarks. Following a rumor that they had been given to someone on the twelfth floor, they try Lore's apartment. Retrieving the cables, Joe Strell invites her to come watch the Imports practice. Afterwards, everyone heads up the fire escape to the roof.

Saturday, June 7, 1980 - The Imports play a benefit for the Winter Palace at Huey's for $40. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Alec Dale (drums). Return to Gig Index.

Monday, June 9, 1980 - Alec Dale graduates from Kenwood Academy high school on the South Side of Chicago. The Imports hold a late rehearsal in their borrowed space in the basement of the Shoreland Hotel.

The Imports
Joe Strell, Alec Dale, Ben Krug, and Tom Krug at Jamie's Elsewhere - Photo by Peter Strell

Tuesday, June 10, 1980 - The Imports play at Jamie's Elsewhere on north Clark Street, near Belmont Avenue in Chicago. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Alec Dale (drums). The poster for this gig was designed by Steve Lafreniere of Praxis, and included an anatomical line drawing from the 1500s. Return to Gig Index.

Thursday, June 12, 1980 - The Imports play at Tuts on Belmont with the Dadistics for $50. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Alec Dale (drums). Return to Gig Index.

The Imports
Ben Krug tuning his brother's guitar - Photo by Peter Strell

Friday, June 13, 1980 - The Imports play at Ruts for $50. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Alec Dale (drums). Return to Gig Index.

Saturday, June 14, 1980 - The Imports play again at Ruts for $50. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Alec Dale (drums). Pete Strell, Joe's father, brings Joe's younger sisters Constance and Meghan to see the show. During the second set, a woman named Amy brings a chair out onto the dance floor, sets it down directly in front of the band, and watches the remainder of the show from this proprietary vantage point. Later, she gives the Imports a ride back to Hyde Park in her station wagon. Return to Gig Index.

Friday, July 11, 1980 - The Imports play a party in a house on Blackstone in Hyde Park, Chicago, where they debut their new "post-punk" material consisting of three songs that they play for ten to fifteen minutes apiece. They make around $63 by charging a dollar at the door. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Alec Dale (drums). Ben Krug celebrates his 16th birthday. Return to Gig Index.

The Imports
Joe Strell at the Lucky Number with his infamous 3-string bass - Photo by Peter Strell

Saturday, July 12, 1980 - The Imports play in the context of a poetry reading at the Hubbard Street Gallery. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Alec Dale (drums). Bruce Pavitt of Subterranean Pop (Sub Pop) fame dances with great enthusiasm, as do the police officers in the station across the street, with perhaps a certain degree of irony. Return to Gig Index.

Monday, July 21, 1980 - The Imports play Lucky Number for a large and supportive audience. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Alec Dale (drums). Joe Strell finds a black leather guitar strap for his bass on the floor in the dressing room in the basement. Return to Gig Index.

Sunday, July 27, 1980 - The Imports open for the Cramps at Tuts on Belmont in Chicago. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Alec Dale (drums). Appropriately, the moon is full for the event, as was the club. The mix was good, and the cathedral atmosphere of Tuts lent a certain somber quality to the occasion. Joe Strell makes the acquaintance of Ginte, a Lithuanian woman who later lends him her sister Oste's copy of a book of Kafka's short stories. This is Alec Dale's last gig as drummer for the Imports. Alec goes on to become the drummer of the Vagueley's, who release the song "Sofa or a Chair" on Bruce Pavitt's "Sub Pop 5" cassette 'zine (1981). Later, Alec returns to guitar and joins New York's Killdozer, until Wisconsin group emerges with the same name and the New York band is renamed Sharky's Machine. Return to Gig Index.

The Imports
Joe Strell, Ben Krug, Tom Wall, and Tom Krug at Tuts - Photo by Peter Strell

Monday, August 11, 1980 - The Imports headline at Tuts. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Tom Wall (drums). This is Tom Wall's first gig with the Imports.

"I remember seeing the Imports play outside ... during the day.  I was really impressed.  Then I saw the ad for a drummer in the Reader.  When I joined the band, we practiced in the basement of the Krug's house.  I would take the #6 Jeffery Express to Hyde Park after work and we would practice until 8:00 or so.  I think that was the deal worked out with the neighbors.  Then I remember taking the IC train back to the city." -- Tom Wall

Return to Gig Index.

The Imports
Joe Strell at Tuts - Photo by Peter Strell

August 20, 1980 - Joe Strell and Renee Saracki start dating.

Tuesday, September 16, 1980- The Imports play the Lucky Number. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Tom Wall (drums). Net loss for the gig was -$90, as only twenty-eight of an expected two-hundred showed up, presumably due to a heavy rain that started around 6:30 that evening. The sound men are jerks and do a poor job at balancing the vocals with bass, guitar, and drums. Return to Gig Index.

Fanatic Release Party

Tuesday, September 23, 1980- The Imports play at Gaspar's for the release party of Fanatic Magazine. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Tom Wall (drums). Although not listed on the flyer, also playing that night were Special Affect. The sound mix for the Imports set this evening was very good. The audience really grooved and Rich Taylor said that the band sounded fuller. Sandy Rizzo attends the performance, and is very impressed.

The debut issue of Fanatic Magazine contains a favorable review of The Imports new single by none other than Bruce Pavitt of Subterranean Pop, along with a photo of the Imports opening up for the Cramps at Tuts on July 27th. Return to Gig Index.

Saturday, September 27, 1980- The Imports play Gaspar's with the Painter Band. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Tom Wall (drums). Joe Strell wears a white air force jacket he borrowed from Danny Kahn. The Imports put on a great show. Joe sprains his ankle. After the event, they drop off Tom Wall at 123 W Chestnut to see Heavy Manners. Return to Gig Index.

Saturday, October 4, 1980 - Joe Strell goes to Cincinnati with several friends and acquaintances from the University of Chicago to see Bruce Springsteen play the Riverfront Coliseum (tickets $6.50) and also to meet up with members of another band named "The Imports". After hearing the songs on the (Chicago) Imports' single, the representative of the (Cincinnati) Imports stated that the two bands were "worlds apart". Bruce Springsteen Tickets

Thursday, October 9, 1980 - Joe Strell composes a melancholy melody on the upright piano in the Krug's dining room with lyrics entitled "A Friend", mourning the gradual dissolution of his friendship with Tom Krug.

Friday, October 10, 1980 - Tom Krug's friend Joyce attends an Imports rehearsal. Joe Strell writes in his journal that he is contemplating quitting the Imports, as he and Tom Krug have not been getting along well for some time.

Saturday, October 11, 1980 - The Imports play Gaspar's. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Tom Wall (drums). The show is so-so. Afterwards, Joe, Danny, Renee, and Sara catch a cab from Gaspar's down to 51st and Dorchester in Hyde Park to attend a U of C party where a man with a beard asks Joe if he knows Mohamed Ali. Return to Gig Index.

Sunday, October 12, 1980 - The Imports play at Tuts. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Tom Wall (drums). Rose, a fan from the very beginning, comes to see the show. Return to Gig Index.

Wednesday, October 15, 1980 - After The Imports rehearsal, Joe Strell and Renee Saracki go about the University of Chicago putting up "generic" Imports posters, i.e. for general promotion and not advertising any specific gig.

Monday, October 20, 1980 - The Imports record a rehearsal session on a monophonic tape recorder from Sears. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Tom Wall (drums). The songs recorded on this day were as follows (Click on the links to see the lyrics!):

Thursday, October 23, 1980 - The Imports record a rehearsal session on a monophonic tape recorder from Sears. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Tom Wall (drums). Afterwards, Joe Strell heads north to see the B-52s play at the Riviera Theater (tickets $9.50) . The songs recorded by the Imports on this day were as follows (Click on the links to see the lyrics!): B-52s

Friday, October 24, 1980 - The Imports' single is played on WXRT by Bobby Skafish.

Saturday, October 25, 1980- The Imports play with the White Castles at the International House of the University of Chicago. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Tom Wall (drums). The two bands play two sets apiece, alternating between bands. The White Castles start off with a short set, followed by an equally sparse set by the Imports lit only with red lighting. For this first set, the Imports play two instrumentals and one song with Ben Krug singing vocals. After the White Castles second set, the Imports begin their second set with the band playing behind a closed curtain that gradually opened to a thunderous crowd screaming "Imports!" In attendance at this gig are Jeff and Marko Pezatti, who will later go on to form Naked Raygun. Return to Gig Index.

Friday, October 31, 1980 - The Imports see the Throbbers and Drag play a party at Pierce, a University of Chicago dormitory. Throbbers lineup: Mark David, John Heckel, Billy Krummond (aka John Krug) and Vincent Katz.

The Imports
Joe Strell, Ben Krug, and Tom Wall at Tuts - Photo by Peter Strell

Saturday, November 1, 1980 - The Imports play with Special Affect at Wizards on North Wells in Chicago. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Tom Wall (drums). On the way to the show, the band experiences a certain degree of anxiety as Robert drives through Cabrini Green with the band's equipment in his pickup truck. The band has dinner at Arby's. Rebecca walked by, looking for the Pickle Barrel. During the show, a drunk fan burns a ten dollar bill in The Imports' honor. Marty Sorensen, the bassist of Special Affect, especially appreciates the manic bass line of "Justice". Return to Gig Index.

Thursday, November 6, 1980 - The Imports play the Lucky Number. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Tom Wall (drums). Margaret Fitzsimmons celebrates her sixteenth birthday. Return to Gig Index.

Friday, November 7, 1980 - Joe Strell and Joan Miller attend the record release party for Special Affect's new album Too Much Soft Living. They have dinner at Billy Goat's Pub on lower Michigan, and then walk north to the nightclub. Heavy Manners open. Follow these links to see video of Special Affect performances of Too Much Soft Living and Out of Order on YouTube.

Saturday, November 22, 1980 - Joe Strell goes down to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois on a Greyhound bus to visit with his friend Ward Toy. While there, Joe decides to quit the Imports to attend college at the University of Illinois.

Wednesday, November 26, 1980 - Joe Strell tells Tom Krug in a phone call from Champaign, Illinois that he is no longer serious about the Imports, and doesn't want to play anymore. Joe agrees to play the two scheduled gigs in Minneapolis, however.

Wednesday, December 3, 1980 - Robert Krug and his girlfriend Cathy drive Tom Krug, Ben Krug, and Joe Strell from Hyde Park, Chicago, to Minneapolis in Robert's red antique pickup truck. Tom, Ben, and Joe ride in the back of the covered (but unheated) truck, watching the road recede behind them and wondering vaguely about the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. Arriving in Minneapolis, they check in at Sammie's, where the club manger welcomes them with drinks on the house. They all indulge, and by the time the bar closes Joe has managed to down several too many screwdrivers.

During the course of the evening, they had befriended a few local denizen, who offer them a place to stay. Tom and Ben stay with a couple who provide toothbrushes, wash cloths, and towels. Robert, Cathy, and Joe aren't as fortunate.

Upon arrival at two in the morning at their prospective accommodations, their hosts quickly disappear into the bushes, abandoning the woebegone trio in subzero temperatures. The disorienting ride in the back of the pickup is the last straw for Joe's already woozy stomach, and he proceeds to throw up all over himself and the back of the truck. With only a thin leather jacket to keep him from the cold, and an excess of alcohol in his system, he then begins to shiver so dramatically that the entire truck shakes back and forth. Cathy brings Joe up front into the heated cab, and, despite the mess and smell, embraces him in an attempt to keep him from freezing to death. Meanwhile, Robert walks up and down the block, knocking on door after door in a valiant attempt to find shelter from the cold. Eventually, he comes upon a small commune of hippies who agree to take them in. Joe is quickly stuffed into a sleeping bag while his clothes are tossed into the washer. Small kittens pounce on his head while his shivering gradually subsides.

The next day, Tom Wall arrives by airplane. Also joining the group, haven driven from Chicago in a borrowed station wagon, are Renee Saracki and Danny Kahn. Having been loyal fans of the Imports from the very beginning, Danny and Renee wouldn't dream of missing their final shows.

Thursday, December 4, 1980- The Imports open for the Jim Carroll Band at Sammie's (aka Sam's) in Minneapolis, a gig they landed courtesy of Steve Lindsey, Jim Carroll's bass player, whom they had met while he was visiting his girlfriend Amy in Hyde Park. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Tom Wall (drums). Tom and Ben appear breathless in the group's dressing room before the show, bearing bags of purloined food from McDonald's. Tom and Ben are too pumped up on adrenaline to eat. The rest of the crew digs in with great appreciation.

The cassette board tape of this evening's performance is perhaps the best recording available of the Imports later material, as the only other extent recordings are from a couple of rehearsal sessions on October 16th and 23rd (see above entries for these dates). The set list for the December 4th show was as follows (Click on the links to see the lyrics!):

During the sixth song, "Red is Black", Tom Krug breaks a guitar string. As the Imports had no back-up equipment, he has little choice but to replace the string on stage, while the rest of the band keep playing the song. The Imports receive scattered applause throughout the set, but the audience is clearly there for the Jim Carroll Band.

After the show, the Imports, with the added guests Renee Saracki and Danny Kahn, rent a room in an old hotel in downtown Minneapolis. This hotel occupied an entire city block, having been created by joining once separate buildings into a more or less coherent whole. The group is somewhat cramped in the room, but after the events of the previous night, no one is complaining. To safeguard their equipment, Tom spends the night in the pickup truck with the gear. Joe spends much of the night wandering up and down the labyrinth of hotel hallways. Return to Gig Index.

Friday, December 5, 1980 - The Imports headline at the Seventh Street Entry. Lineup: Ben Krug (vocals), Tom Krug (guitar), Joe Strell (bass), Tom Wall (drums). This was the Imports' last gig. Although the Imports had certainly enjoyed playing on the large stage at Sammie's the night before, they felt far more at home in the intimate environment of the Seventh Street Entry. The crowd is enthusiastic. The Imports exit on a high note. Return to Gig Index.


After their final performance in Minneapolis, Joe Strell left the band and the Imports dissolved. Tom Krug, Ben Krug, and Tom Wall then joined up briefly with Al Jorgensen from Special Affect to create the short-lived Carmichaels (aka the Silly Carmichaels), which played a couple of dates around Chicago and recorded several songs in the studio (see Ben Krug's interview on this subject). Al Jorgensen went on from there to create Ministry, which debuted at the Lucky Number on New Year's Eve 1981, and has since received some degree of acclaim in the alternative / industrial community. For additional information on Al Jorgensen's other post Special Affect projects, see the Wikipedia entries for Al Jorgensen as well as My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult.

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