Brad L. Barker: Oct. 9, 1964–Feb. 4, 2023
A lifelong musician and artist, Brad was a crucial member of the Salt Lake City underground and alternative community and is remembered and mourned by many. Brad graced three covers of SLUG. Issue #38 features Brad and his life partner, Vickie Barker. Vickie says, “Brad was a social butterfly—very outgoing and friendly. I always kidded him that everyone he talked to seemed like his best friend. His philosophy was that every person, no matter what, was just as important as everyone else; he saw them and he let them know that he saw them.”
As a member of groups such as Victims Willing, Anger Overload, Hair Farm, Knowitall and Has Beens, the Salt Lake City underground music community was a home for Brad. “Everything was music to Brad,” says Vickie. “He had music constantly running through his head; it even kept him awake at night.” In his life, Brad wrote for zines, reviewed records, made flyers and set lists and created his own zines. He worked at Raunch Records, took over for Brad Collins doing Behind the Zion Curtain on 90.9 FM KRCL for a time and also started his own record label, Flatline Records.
In addition to his work as a musician, Brad was an accomplished designer who worked with SLUG for many years and helped design album layouts and other visuals for fellow SLC bands and artists. He owned and operated Pin Pricked Pins, a DIY side business where he made buttons for creatives while charging a nominal fee.
His work in these areas throughout his life reflects a continued dedication to innovation, creativity and community. “The DIY philosophy in punk rock enabled him to do what he did,” says Vickie. “If you don’t like the music being played, form your own band. If you don’t like the zines that are out there, make your own. Your favorite local bands aren’t being picked up by any labels, start your own label and put them out yourself.”
This love for independent art extended far past his own creations and into his influence on and support of other creatives in the Salt Lake Area. Vickie says, “Everything he did reflected that humbleness. He would help anyone with anything. He was part of the scene and just a part—he was not the scene or the leader or anything, but just one small part … He would give his shirt, his shoes, his money, his time, his talent, his knowhow; he could give anything he could if someone was in need.”
A celebration of life will be held on April 1, 2023 from 5–9 p.m. at McGillis School (668 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City, UT). Read more tributes to Brad from the community below.
“It was really great to keep in touch with Brad over the years and an amazing honor to play some music together in the Hasbeens. Brad was such a talented artist, painter and graphic designer. He did poster art for Little Help from my Friends shows, made a bunch of pins for me. And when I told him my design idea for the Punk Rock Farmer/KRCL logo, he came up with the most amazing iconic design. There are some traditional Italian anise cookies I make around Christmas time I knew he loved. It was my pleasure to drop some off at the house for him. Homemade salsa sometimes, too. He always made sure I knew how much he appreciated it. He was a great man, loved by me and so many others. Devastating news, I’ll miss him dearly.” –Aldine Strychnine
“I remember when I met Brad. He and his brother Brent made the trek to my shop (The Heavy Metal Shop) when I first opened in Sandy. Brad bought the Black Sabbath Sabotage import CD. We all instantly became friends, Brad, Brent and I. Angie loved Brad, too. Ang, Brad, Brent and I went to see Bad English together at Kingsbury Hall. We all went out for a late-night dinner after at Village Inn. So much laughter! We had a mutual love for John Waite! And of course Cheap Trick! I’m gonna miss our silly messages on Facebook. Most of all I’m gonna miss you Brad! As my Grandson Kayson said when we lost our precious little wiener dog Sydney: “Joey is going to have so many dogs to play with” You too Brad! Give Angie and Joey huge hugs for me! And play with all them doggies! Most Love to you Vickie ???☔️” –Kevin Kirk
“In 1989 I went to my first gig and it was either in Blackfoot or Fort Hall, Idaho. The band started and I saw this long haired, heavyset, sweaty man on the stage singing and it was Brad Barker. I was mesmerized by his performance. I bought the 7” vinyl and the poster. That poster remained on my wall for many years to come. I told Brad I appreciated him coming to Idaho all the way from SLC. He smiled and said “Thanks, man. I’m actually from Idaho Falls.” Later on I quit my job to go see him at a gig my junior year of high school (sorry, Denny’s). Meeting Brad introduced me to SLUG Magazine, Raunch Records, The Heavy Metal Shop and the whole SLC scene. I saw him perform a couple more times in my adult years and we’d chat when seeing each other at shows. He still remembered me from 1989. Brad was a huge influence in my musical inspirations along with Prince, David Bowie, Henry Rollins and many others. Thank you, Brad, for touching so many lives.” –Shawn Lowry
“I never got to meet Brad in person, but he still made a big impact on me. I’m a Type 1 diabetic, and I’m sure you’ve seen how expensive insulin can be. Brad gave me enough insulin and other supplies that I won’t have to worry about going without for at least two years, all without ever really meeting or knowing me, only knowing mutual friends. His generosity was truly inspiring.” –Jamison Palmer
“I admired Brad from the first time I saw Anger Overload in Club DV8‘s basement in the mid-90s, and we became friends in the 2010s when my bands got to share stages with Victims Willing a precious few times. He was an incredibly kind, intelligent and funny soul, a brilliant visual artist and one of my five or six favorite singers of all time, at any level of fame. What a heartbreaking loss for those of us who knew him, and for the music and art of Salt Lake City.” –Ben Duffy
“I will miss Brad Barker a lot. He was an incredibly nice, colorful, smart, amusing and creative individual. I will miss his personality and his music and art, but also his input and reviews of movies and television. Most of all, I will miss Brad’s conversations. He never judged me, accepted me for who I am and always cheered me up.” –David Parish
“We have all suffered such a loss with the passing of Brad Barker. He made the world a better place and he made me a better person. Brad has been my best friend since we were 11 years old and joined the KISS Army together. The hours spent listening to old records at our houses—Kiss, Journey, Rush—and later when he introduced me to punk—X, The Dead Kennedys, The Circle Jerks—are some of the happiest times of my life. Seeing Brad perform in Victims Willing, Anger Overload and Hair Farm are treasured memories. Anything I know or do that is cool is because of Brad. Thank you for all the Blue Mouse midnight movies, smoking for hours over coffee at Kostas or the old Other Place and sluffing school to hike in Millcreek Canyon, working at the Haunted House, the concerts at Speedway. You will always be my best friend and I am so thankful to have your music, your art and my memories of you. I will love and remember you always, Brad.” –Amy O’Connor
“Brad was an amazing person. He always let you know he was thinking about you with a text, a FB post, a care-package, a plant, a bit of music or whatever. He was generous with his love, his time and his art. Brad was talented in so many areas. I’m lucky to have some of his paintings, designs and music. Brad was a fierce protector of people he loved. He loved me despite my darker parts and told me so often. I have been so lucky to know him. Thank you, Brad, for your friendship. I’ll miss you so very much.” –BethAnne FryingPan
“Brad, you were the gatekeeper of everything cool. You were a professor of punk rock, independent film and good eateries. You were a DJ, a movie critic and a staple in the Salt Lake punk scene—you were the ideal front man. Not only were you an OG in the punk scene but you were also a teacher for the next generation of punkers. With your guidance we were less likely to become posers. When I first met you I was barely out of high school fronting a nu metal band and obsessed with punk rock and anything in the SLC underground scene. It was the late ’90s and you were already a legend. We played a lot of shows together and you never had any kind of diva attitude. In hindsight you were more than likely some of the reasons I put my diva attitude in check, eventually. I used to love to go to Knowitall practices. I remember you guys always trying out drummers; you were like Spinal Tap with your drummer situation. I loved watching you curate the poppiest punk rock—sometimes at practice you would let me do backing vocals and twice you let me jump on stage to perform backing vocals. Another time you asked me to rap over some of your music and every few measures you would say in a sarcastic manner, “Funky Cold Medina.” The paintings you made were just as poppy as the late-’90s punk you curated. It was fun pop art but always and an edge of darkness baked in. The way you blended colors made me hungry for sweets. It was your paintings that inspired me to start pain
ting, I remember when I first started to paint, we agreed to do a trade and I got the better end of the deal. You gave me “Squids Day out” and I gave you “Pig in Drag.” I felt so bad I painted a second one for you to try to even the score a bit. I used to love to see the paint on your hands when we would meet up, it got me excited to know you were working on something and I couldn’t wait to see the results. You were always such a great person to have conversations with. You went from a guest on me and Adam‘s podcast (Punk n Pie Fraudcast) to becoming a co-host. Who better to discuss punk and pie with? You were perfect, we would clown on the current popular music and you would bring your list of recommendations of what you were currently listening to. You turned Adam and I on to so much great music and movies. I am so thankful we have so much of you talking on audio. It captured your passion, your sarcasm and how truly lovable you were. Brad, you were one of the most generous and humble people I knew. When we started doing the Cre801 charity shows, not only did you participate but you also created the logo for no charge. We were able to help people with art and music. One of the benefit shows we did was for a small child with cancer and the turnout was amazing. Not only did you show your art but Victims Willing played, with Tough Tittie and Los Rojos as support acts, and it was one of the best shows I ever promoted and witnessed. I have had a lot of heroes in punk rock that have become disappointing to me as I grew up; often I had to divorce my love of the art from the artist, but I never had to do that with you. I was always able to love the art and the artist equally when it comes to you. I will miss you, I will miss your friendship. I know everybody that shared friendship with you will feel a giant hole with you being gone. Your art and music will live on. I will be able to remember you with my two favorite things in life, music and art. Much love.” –Jeramie Velarde
“I met Brad Barker shortly after seeing his band Victims Willing play sometime in the late ’80s. They were one of the first punk bands I ever witnessed live, and I’ll admit that Brad was a bit intimidating as a larger-than-life frontman, especially to 15-year-old me who was just starting to experience the cool subculture of my own home town. Shortly after that, I started playing in a band myself, and that new circle of friends I gained included Brad, who couldn’t have been a nicer guy. Over the following years, I would have the privilege of sharing a stage with Brad, with my band playing shows with his band Anger Overload. It was the hanging out backstage, or outside, where I got to know how fucking funny he was. That, and how much positive feedback and encouragement he gave to the other bands he played shows with, and eventually producing on his own label, Flatline Records. Over the next few decades, he and I would catch up at shows, meet for coffee and run into each other at the occasional art show. Once social media became a thing, it was so easy to chat and share ideas at any time. Brad
was an encyclopedia of all things punk, art and horror movies (the more messed up, the better!) The guy was my resource for any art ideas when I ran my own label, and he even helped with design on various posters and merch. Just an endless amountof talent, and he always nailed it. When the pandemic was becoming more intense, a small group of friends started our Friday night Zoom gatherings, and Brad was a mainstay throughout these past few years. We would all laugh and commiserate over the state of our world. He could always turn the saddest conversation around with dark yet poignant jokes, with us just busting out with laughter. Even through all of his health issues over the past year, he never gave up on helping his friends out. I am so grateful for his efforts to make others happy. Even with my recent birthday celebration, he went above and beyond to make the best poster and pins for the event. And I was always excited to point out his awesome work by pointing at his designs and exclaiming, “Brad did this!” Even though he was unable to attend, his presence was felt and celebrated, and he knew how much we loved him. I was just heartbroken to hear of his passing later that same weekend. There’s so much more to be said about the guy, and how wonderful he was as a person. But for now, please continue to share your memories about Brad, and send all your love and support to Vickie during this difficult time. Much love to you, Brad. We miss you terribly?” –Ryan-Ashley Workman
“I met Brad on Sept 11, 2001 when we struck up a conversation about the first plane hitting the World Trade Center in photography class at SLCC and became fast friends ever since. Brad imparted his prolific music knowledge to me, opening my eyes to everything from ABBA to King Diamond. Brad graciously invited me to play in several of his bands where I got to meet so many wonderful people in the SLC music scene. Brad always made me laugh and was the most genuine and kind person I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. I feel extremely fortunate for the opportunity to collaborate with Brad on his artistic projects and even more to be considered his friend. Brad was an incredibly positive force in my life and I will miss him for the rest of my days. Rock on Bradster!” –Matt Moyle
Join us at Metro Music Hall for a celebration of Brad’s life on April 13, with performances by Insight with Iceburn, Search, Villain with Reality, Seven Daggers with Water Front and a silent auction of Flatline Records memorabilia. For tickets, show times and more information, check out the listing at 24tix.com.
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