Eye on the Scene: "Biker" Mark Gallagher, R.I.P.

"Biker" Mark Gallagher, R.I.P.

Mark Gallagher, a prime mover in the 1980s punk/hardcore scene that revolved around the Hippie House and Vic & Bill's, died Sunday from injuries incurred while jumping off a bluff into Fort Loudon Lake. Gallagher was 51.

Nicknamed "Biker" Mark for his love of motorcycles, Gallagher was as enthusiastic about extreme sports and bodybuilding as punk rock. He played a key role in the careers of the STD's and Teenage Love by driving his van, the "Urban Assault Vehicle," on several tours for each band. A surveyor by trade, and perhaps the most avid Ramones fan on the planet, "Biker" Mark was an unstoppable force, the kind of guy who would party hard all night long and then wake up and eat a hearty breakfast, seemingly no worse for wear.

"He was a very hardworking man who applied his trade with talent and pride," said Todd "Bonehead" Townsend, frontman of Knoxville's legendary speed-metal act Bone and one of Mark's best friends. "And he played just as hard, with a lust for life that was fearless. He was a cretin hopper of the first order, and I lost a brother." (John Sewell)

Rock 'n' Roll Picture Show

If you've attended any of Knoxville's major rock concerts in the past, oh, 30 years, then you've probably seen Eric Smith crouching in the aisles or at the stage. He'll typically have a camera clenched against his bearded and bespectacled face as he waits for just the right moment to click the shutter. If you've ever wondered what kinds of shots he brought back home, now's your chance to see 26 of those "clicks" in the Staff In•Flux•Ion showcase of past and current University of Tennessee staff members at the Ewing Gallery through Aug. 24.

Smith has entitled his selection of photos "A to ZZ: An Alphabet of Rock and Other Rollers," and it covers a wide range of artists performing in Knoxville over the years, from Bo Diddley at the Orpheus (now the Valarium) in 1991 to Tom Waits just last month at the Civic Auditorium.

So why did Smith make snapping rockers a life-long pursuit?

"I think it chose me because I'm a frustrated musician and the camera is the only instrument I know how to play," he writes in an e-mail. "I started shooting casually back in the mid- to late-1970s and started pursuing it with more frequency in the late '80s. By the mid-'90s, my wife had become a photo-widow."

Mickey Chapman's sacrifice has been worth it—Smith's photos not only capture the emotions of the performers, but also the real effort that lies behind their glamorous livelihoods.

"After a lot of ‘hurry up and wait' backstage at concerts, I started seeing these gigs as jobs these artists work at, what they do for a living, like some people teach school and others go to offices," writes Smith. "It's just another workday for them. This goes for the stagehands and other behind-the-scene folks as well. So I'm trying to document an aspect of this person's working life as they perform at the Bijou Theatre or the Tennessee Theatre or wherever. It's become an act of documenting a slice of history at a given place and time."

Smith vows to keep shooting as long as he's able—and will continue to work with his photos even afterward: "When my knees give out and I can no longer hobble up and down theater aisles, I'll use my collected images as a basis to create some paintings, illustration, and fine art. I wanted to do this back in 1993 but have been too busy shooting to paint!" (Coury Turczyn)

Scarred but Smarter

Jonathan Sexton, formerly of Whiskey Scars, will celebrate the release of his new solo CD, Big Love, at World Grotto on Friday, July 25. Since the Whiskey Scars dissolved a few years ago, due in part to the recently ended reunion of Dixie Dirt, Sexton's taken a break from music, finished his master's degree, and got a job teaching kindergarten.

Last winter, he started writing and performing again and recruited Dave Campbell and Bryan Garvey from the Coveralls to record Big Love, on which he pursues a singer/songwriter direction, a departure from the honky tonk he played in Whiskey Scars. (Matthew Everett)