This Halloween marks the 10th anniversary of the passing of Anjanette Comer and Dennis “Doc” Shockley, two of the most colorful movers and shakers of Knoxville’s first-wave punk community, who were killed by a drunk driver in 2000. The many of us who knew and loved them will never get over it.
While they were not musicians, they certainly were stars of the proto-hardcore scene that coalesced in the backroom of Vic & Bill’s Cumberland Avenue deli in the mid-1980s. Dennis attained notoriety through his columns, written under the nom de plume “Doc Shock,” in local punk ’zine The Addict; he was always willing to offer a hungry punk the “Baltimore Special,” a noxious concoction of spam and eggs. Angie was something of a patron saint for many of Knoxville’s more rebellious sorts, her home oftentimes a safe haven for renegade youths and besotted punk poets. Both were fixtures on the bar and party circuits. Neither, it seems, could ever get enough rock ’n’ roll.
Although it’s been a decade since their loss, it might as well have been yesterday. It’s as if I could walk into the Longbranch on any given night and they’d still be there. Never wavering in their fervor for loud music and good times, they each walked the walk, lived the life, and personified the punk ethos. Their passing marked the end of an era for many of us. Friends to many, they were artistic, endearingly confrontational, wildly intelligent, and deeply sweet, idealistic people—true bohemians in the best kind of way. They burned bright for all of their lives, and we’ll never forget them. So here’s to you, kids.