Monks are a rock n roll band, primarily active in Germany in the mid to late sixties. They reunited in 1999 and have continued to play concerts, although no new studio recordings have been made. The Monks stood out from the music of the time, and have developed a cult following amongst many musicians and music fans. One band to have acknowledged The Monks is The Fall who covered Shut Up (Shut Up) on their 1994 album Middle Class Revolt, and both I Hate You and Oh, How To Do Now on their 1990 album Extricate.
All the members were American GIs stationed in Germany in the mid-sixties. They began playing together in 1964, calling themselves the Torquays. The Torquays differed little from countless other bands of the time: they covered Chuck Berry songs and played music inspired by the British Invasion bands. But the band experimented together musically - Gary Burger said:
"It probably took us a year to get the sound right. We experimented all the time. A lot of the experiments were total failures and some of the songs we worked on were terrible. But the ones we kept felt like they had something special to them. And they became more defined over time."
And upon their discharge from the army the band had an extremely distinctive musical style, and took up a distinctive name and image to go with it. At the beginning of 1965, Dave Day and Roger Johnston, on a whim, got their heads shaved into monks' tonsures. The rest of the band followed their lead, and to complete the image, the band took to wearing a uniform - all black, sometimes in cassocks, with nooses worn as neckties. Eddie Shaw later claimed in his band autobiography "Black Monk Time" that the nooses were symbolic of the metaphorical nooses that all humanity wear. His explanation of the symbolism is unclear and confusing, but regardless, dressed as black monks, The Monks undoubtedly made a shocking visual impression.
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