August 22, 2018 | by James Greene, Jr.
Randy Rampage, the founding bass player for Canadian punk titans D.O.A., passed away last week at 58, claimed by a heart attack on August 14 while watching a "South Park" DVD at his home in Vancouver. Rampage's partner Susanne Tabata found him after returning from an errand.
"I just talked to him before I left," she told the Vancouver Sun.
That day, Rampage completed a shift at North Vancouver's Lynnterm Terminal where he worked as a longshoreman. The energetic musician, recognized internationally as much for his music as for his bleach blonde shock of hair and trademark leather jacket, spent decades loading and unloading ships in port as his day job.
In 1978, 18-year-old Rampage (né Randall Archibald) responded to an ad in Vancouver weekly Georgia Straight seeking "a drummer and a bassist for punk rock band. Wimps need not apply." The ad was placed by 20-something guitarist Joe "Shithead" Keithley, who quickly accepted Rampage along with 15-year-old drummer Chuck Biscuits (Charles Montgomery). The trio were christened D.O.A. by a singer who vanished after one gig; Keithley assumed vocals and D.O.A. went on to grind out a handful of landmark LPs — namely, Something Better Change (1980) and Hardcore '81 (1981).
The rhythmic fury of songs like "The Prisoner" and "World War 3" were propelled by Rampage and Biscuits rolling together like brawling dogs. Unfortunately, it wasn't built to last. Rampage's "excessive partying" began to interfere with his performing abilities, so D.O.A. fired him on New Year's Day 1982. Shortly thereafter the bassist found employment as a gopher for The Clash on a North American tour. And of course he moved on to play in other underground groups, including the 45s, Ground Zero, and SF9.
Randy Rampage's biggest post-D.O.A. musical success, however, came as singer for heavy metal group Annihilator. Joining up with the Ontario thrashers in 1988, Rampage sang on their debut LP, 1989's Alice In Hell, but exited the same year. Stories vary as to why he left Annihilator; the ever rambunctious Rampage claimed in interviews that there was a physical confrontation between the band members, but other sources say Randy's longshoreman job was at stake and he was determined to retain his seniority (both stories could be true).
The longshoreman gig on the Vancouver coast was not without incident for this D.O.A. legend. Around the turn of the century, a co-worker accidentally drove a forklift into a 7,000 pound roll of newsprint that wound up crushing Rampage's leg. He recalled the injury in a 2008 interview, saying the damaged appendage ended up "twisted around one and a half times, not just upside down. Bones poking out here and there."
"[This accident] triggered 22 years of pain management," Tabata said, "and some pretty heavy pain management problems."
More recently, Rampage had his hip broken in the wake of another forklift mishap.
In 2000, Rampage reunited with D.O.A. and played on their 2002 album Win the Battle. As always, the bass player proved to be the trio's wildcard. During a D.O.A. concert in Rome circa 2001, Rampage miscalculated one of his vigorous stage leaps and fell into the crowd, landing on his tail bone.
"This is what a trouper he was," Keithley remembered. "There wasn't much coming out of his amp, but he was still playing... a couple of notes here and there."
Rampage departed D.O.A. following that creative cycle, returning again in 2007. He is the first of the original D.O.A. lineup to pass but sadly not the first deceased member in general. Other late D.O.A. players include Simon Wilde, Ken "Dimwit" Montgomery, Ken Jensen, Dave Gregg, Brian "Wimpy" Goble, and Brad Kent.
There could only be one Randy Rampage, though, and his mark on punk won't soon be forgotten, or forgotten at all.