Minnesota Public Radio reports that Gary Burger, frontman of influential 1960s garage rock outfit The Monks, has died from pancreatic cancer. He was 72 years old.
The Monks formed in 1964 in Germany — originally under the name The Torquays — when all five members were stationed there while serving in the Army. After being discharged, they began touring, and adopted a monastic image (black robes with white ropes as neckwear, and tonsures) that was thought up by a German marketing company, according to Minneapolis City Pages.
The group only released one proper full-length album during their career — 1966’s Black Monk Time — but it became a cult favorite over the years, thanks to its weird, psychedelic sound, unusual arrangements (they used banjo in addition to guitar), and good-humored yet raucous tunes like “Monk Time,” “Oh How to Do Now” and “Complication.” On “Monk Time,” Burger introduces himself and the band in a legendarily manic narration: “Alright, my name’s Gary! Let’s go, it’s beat time, it’s hop time, it’s monk time!”
Monks reunited in 1999 for a brief period, and in 2009, Light In the Attic reissued Black Monk Time, in addition to releasing a compilation of their early songs. In 2006, Burger was elected mayor of Turtle River, Minnesota, a town with a population of 75.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.