The now legendary Goner Records was humbly started by Eric Friedl in 1993 when he was still making waves as 1/3rd of one of the 90s most influential underground bands, the Oblivians. As the first few releases trickled out in the mid 90s (including debut releases from the Oblivians, Guitar Wolf, King Louie, Reatards, and most recently the King Khan & BBQ Show), most of the limited edition singles were quickly snatched up without much attention outside of a close-knit circle of rock'n roll fiends orbiting the Memphis's label's ring of influence. Some of the bands went on to bigger labels and others sank even further into obscurity, but there was real love for the music always at the core, and that's one of the main reasons it means so much to so many people. The year 1998 saw the birth of the first official Goner website, and with it a year later, the infamous 'Goner Board' messageboard, which soon provided countless hours of entertainment for rock'n roll types from around the globe on a daily basis. Always the most well-rounded group of characters in the three-chord underworld, the daily jive-talk on the site has grown by leaps and bounds since the early 00s, and a work day for any stiff behind a desk with an inclination to coolness would now be unfathomable without it. With the omnipresence of the Goner website's tuned-in cast of regular "contributors," it's always a great reference spot for postings on upcoming gigs, record releases, or just random opinions from reclusive band members themselves, right along with the casual show-goer. In 2004, Eric had the chance to take over the Legba record store previously run by ex-band partner Greg Cartwright (Greg Oblivian) in Memphis' Cooper-Young district. Quickly seeing an opportunity to turn the growing website and mailorder into something more substantial, Friedl and new business partner Zac Ives (also the frontman of the Final Solutions) took the momentum they had going with the site and the Goner retail store was born. Having a clear window of insight (such as their high-traffic message board) into their site's fan's tastes would soon evolve into expanding the store's selection and sure enough, planning started for Memphis' very own rock'n roll weekend fest the following year. As the news of the stellar lineup spread via the 'Goner Board,' soon the River City was swarmed with people from hundreds and in some cases thousands of miles away, anxiously anticipating an unforgettable weekend brimming with wild fun, like-minded folks, and excesses beyond belief. On the last weekend in January 2005, the first official Goner Fest kicked off with three nights of chicken-fried live music samplings from each corner of the Goner universe (or the 'Gonerverse' as it is quickly becoming), mostly taking place at the beloved Buccaneer tavern. The first fest's success soon led to the second Goner Fest not even nine months later, this time with the video & audio documentation crew in attendance, which is reported to be available as a DVD/CD package at this week's shindig as well. This year's fest has been moved to the Hi-Tone, which is the building that housed Elvis Presley's kung fu dojo in the 1970s, and should be able to accomodate the growing crowd. Daytime activities are also planned this year, like a Saturday afternoon outdoor party with bands at the Buccaneer (with a dunk tank!), and even exclusive Sun Studio tours narrated and accompanied by Msr. Jeffrey Evans himself and Ross Johnson, that should not be missed. If you're in the Memphis area, be sure to check out Goner co-conspirator Zac Ives with Rockin' Enocky on Channel 3's "Live At 9" morning TV show Thursday around 9am for a rundown the of the weekend's highlights, and be sure to pinch King Louie's cheeks at least once during the weekend for good luck. Bands start Thursday night, check out band itinerary and lineup HERE, get your tickets HERE and as a special treat for those who may have stumbled upon the Goner site only recently, here's a glimpse of the site six years ago, at the turn of the century.
Here's a video clip of the Leather Uppers from the second Goner Fest in 2005: