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Legendary Hardcore Guitarist Todd Youth Dies at 47

Todd Youth

October 29, 2018 | by James Greene, Jr.

Todd Youth, the New York-bred guitarist whose raw style became a building block of hardcore punk, died Saturday at the age of 47. The cause of death remains unknown at this time. Youth enjoyed a robust, diverse career in his trade, playing with everyone from Skinhead Youth to Glen Campbell.

Born Todd Schofield in New Jersey, Youth was a mere 11 when he attended his first hardcore punk show at CBGBs. Previous influences like Black Sabbath and the Sex Pistols fell by the wayside as he absorbed an intense performance by the Bad Brains that night. "Within the first 30 seconds... my life has never been the same since," he later remarked. "I get goosebumps just talking about it."

The following year Youth began playing bass for hardcore pioneers Agnostic Front. Though he wrote much of the material that appears on Agnostic Front's 1984 debut Victim in Pain, Youth didn't play on the album. He'd already moved forward for a stint with Skinhead Youth before joining the highly influential Warzone (for whom he was also the primary songwriter).

In 1986, 16-year-old Youth appeared on ABC's "The Morning Show," hosted by Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford, as part of an "adults try to understand the kids today" segment on punk rockers ("That music just made me move," he explains in reference to the Cro-Mags). The same year, Youth joined the more jocular outfit Murphy's Law just in time for that group's nationwide tour with the Beastie Boys. It proved a good fit; the guitarist stayed with the group for a decade, playing on well known albums such as 1989's Back With a Bong and 1991's The Best of Times.

Following 1996's Dedicated, Youth quit Murphy's Law, citing fatigue. "It just wasn't going anywhere," he recalled. "I didn't even want to play music at that point. I just wanted to concentrate on [my wife's] restaurant. Well, that lasted like two minutes."

Indeed, the hiatus was brief. Youth soon formed the Homewreckers, a Stooges and MC5-influenced project that recorded a single in 1998. The Homewreckers disc was released by 007 Records and is enormously hard to come by today; 007's World Trade Center storage space was destroyed on 9/11.

By this point Todd Youth's fierce but rhythmic style was in demand. He quickly passed through D Generation and Chrome Locust (whom Atlantic Records offered a near six figure deal) before fielding invites from the Foo Fighters and Danzig. Youth chose the latter, touring heavily with the swaggering quartet and playing on 2002's I Luciferi.

Once Youth left Danzig he found plenty of work as a session guitarist, backing greats such as Cheap Trick, Glen Campbell, and Ace Frehley. More recently he returned to his hardcore roots via Bloodclot, a project with Cro-Mag John Joseph, and FireBurn, whose single "Shine" was released just this year.

"Everything with [FireBurn] has been effortless and organic. We get off being together and playing together. I haven't felt this kind of energy in a really long time."

Much of this obituary was sourced from Todd Youth's March 2018 conversation with No Echo, a fantastic dive into the life of a legend who will be sorely missed. It's also a testament to Youth's wit. The guitarist dubs Kiss castaway Frehley "an uptown Johnny Thunders"; in speaking about D Generation, whom Youth joined during their transition from glam punk to more rootsy sounds, he surmised, "I thought I was joining the New York Dolls... but it ended up that I had joined the Counting Crows."

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