Arts Desk

John Hansen—Longtime D.C. Punk Fixture; Roadie, Soundman, Guitarist of The Slickee Boys—Is Dead

J Hansen on left

John Hansen, far left, and The Slickee Boys.

John Hansen, a longtime fixture of D.C.’s punk scene known for his pranksterish joie de vivre, who spent much of the ‘80s as the roadie, soundman, and then the guitarist of The Slickee Boys, died last Friday. Hansen took his own life, according to his sister, Christine Hansen Martin. He was 47.
Hansen was 16 when he began working for The Slickee Boys around 1979—he had dropped out of Wilson High School along with his friend and future brother-in-law Seth Martin, who was then working sound for the early punk and new wave act. Hansen toured with The Slickee Boys throughout the ‘80s, and when rhythm guitarist Kim Kane left the group in 1988, Hansen took his place until the band broke up in 1991.
“He was kind of like the embodiment of rock ‘n’ roll,” says Marshall Keith, The Slickee Boys’ guitarist. “He was the powerful person in the club who always got things going.”
Hansen was known for antics on stage and off. Mark Noone, the band’s singer, recalled one before-gig prank at a venue in Connecticut, where Hansen spotted a mouse scurrying at the bottom of an empty trash can in the band’s dressing room. “So John had me hold the door open while he flung the mouse into the girls room,” Noone says. “He was a real prankster—one of those anything-for-a-laugh guys.”
Robbie White, who also did some road work for The Slickee Boys and ran their fan club, remembered one show at the Roxy in Dupont where Hansen joined the band to sing the rock standard “Stepping Stone”—he was wearing a loincloth and nothing beneath it. From the crowd, White’s then-girlfriend ripped it off Hansen while he was singing. Hansen didn’t pause, White says. “He probably appreciated it.”
Hansen played in other groups, like The Zones, his band with Seth Martin; The Upsetters, a glam project with Keith; and, in recent years, an outfit called Septic Twins. He worked for a number of years in the ‘80s as a soundman at the old 9:30 Club. In recent years he started a home-renovation business.
“Whenever you’d see John Hansen you’d walk away saying ‘I love that guy,’” says Seth Hurwitz, the co-owner of the 9:30 Club. “It’s very sad and pains me to think of someone who brought so much joy to others being so unhappy himself.”
Hansen took punk rock seriously, The Slickee Boys drummer, Dan Palenski, says. “Everything he did was professional.” At one show, Palenski’s snare broke off its stand, and Hansen held it in place for several songs. “He was one of those guys that everybody knew,” Palenski says. “If they had a band they could get an honest opinion of him. He always hated when opening bands got horrible treatment. He always stood [during their sets].”
Christine Hansen Martin says he brother struggled with addiction but that friends and family believed he’d been in recovery. Of his death, she says: “I think it was very sudden, it was not a well-thought-out plan. It was a quick decision. If he’d any time to think about it he wouldn’t have done it.”
“He was one of the most brilliant people I knew and he had the sharpest and quickest wit,” she says.
Hansen is survived by his daughters Emma, 20, and Audrey, 10; his mother; and five siblings.

John Hansen, a longtime fixture of D.C.’s punk scene known for his pranksterish joie de vivre, who spent much of the '80s as the roadie, soundman, and then the guitarist of The Slickee Boys, died last Friday. Hansen took his own life, according to his sister, Christine Hansen Martin. He was 47.

Hansen was 16 when he began working for The Slickee Boys around 1979—he had dropped out of high school along with his friend and future brother-in-law Seth Martin, who was then working sound for the early punk and new wave act. Hansen toured with The Slickee Boys throughout the '80s, and when rhythm guitarist Kim Kane left the group in 1988, Hansen took his place until the band broke up in 1991.

“He was kind of like the embodiment of rock 'n’ roll,” says Marshall Keith, The Slickee Boys’ guitarist. “He was the powerful person in the club who always got things going.”

Hansen was known for antics on stage and off. Mark Noone, the band’s singer, recalled one before-gig prank at a venue in Connecticut, where Hansen spotted a mouse scurrying at the bottom of an empty trash can in the band’s dressing room. “So John had me hold the door open while he flung the mouse into the girls room,” Noone says. “He was a real prankster—one of those anything-for-a-laugh guys.”

Robbie White, who also did some road work for The Slickee Boys and ran their fan club, remembered one show at the Roxy in Dupont where Hansen joined the band to sing the rock standard “Stepping Stone”—he was wearing a loincloth and nothing beneath it. From the crowd, White’s then-girlfriend ripped it off Hansen while he was singing. Hansen didn’t pause, White says. “He probably appreciated it.”


Hansen played in other groups, like The Zones, his band with Seth Martin ; The Upsetters, a glam project with Keith; and, in recent years, an outfit called Septic Twins. He worked for a number of years as a soundman at the old 9:30 Club. In recent years he started a home-renovation business. He played in some of The Slickee Boys' regular reunion gigs, and earlier this year attended the 9:30 Club's 30th anniversary party, where the band performed.

“Whenever you’d see John Hansen you’d walk away saying ‘I love that guy,’” says Seth Hurwitz, the co-owner of the 9:30 Club. “It’s very sad and pains me to think of someone who brought so much joy to others being so unhappy himself.”

Hansen took punk rock seriously, The Slickee Boys' drummer, Dan Palenski, says. “Everything he did was professional.” At one show, Palenski’s snare broke off its stand, and Hansen held it in place for several songs. “He was one of those guys that everybody knew,” Palenski says. “If they had a band they could get an honest opinion of him. He always hated when opening bands got horrible treatment. He always stood [during their sets].”

Christine Hansen Martin says her brother struggled with addiction but that friends and family believed he’d been in recovery. Of his death, she says: “I think it was very sudden, it was not a well-thought-out plan. It was a quick decision. If he’d any time to think about it he wouldn’t have done it.”

“He was one of the most brilliant people I knew and he had the sharpest and quickest wit,” she says.

Hansen is survived by his daughters Emma, 20, and Audrey, 10; his mother; and five siblings.

Hansen's family and friends have set up a fund for his daughters. Donate to it here.

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  • Ramon “Mony” Sison

    I met John about the time when he first started as a roadie for the Slickee Boys. He loved music and being around the scene. He was always an upbeat guy that could make anyone laugh out loud at him and at themselves. I remember silk-screening shirts with him at his mothers house on Nebraska Avenue and he would crack me up telling me he was changing his name to "Hashimoto Hansen". He helped me in a photography class by coming and sitting for hours under hot studio lights at Montgomery College, all the while with his well known smirk/smile and never complaining or asking "how much longer?" I'm sorry to say that over the years I didn't see him as much of him as I did when we were younger, but John was the type of friend that you might not see for a few years and yet when you did it was like you were together yesterday and I will miss him and his penchant for nicknames, like his I'm going to be a wrestler name Young Johnny Young and the one he took from his name, John Alexander Hansen=JAH. I know that his family and friends will take a line from Bob Marley, "We'll be forever loving JAH"....

  • http://www.reverbgalaxy.com Mojito

    John will be missed, both personally and by a generation of us aging DC musicians. I came across John as both a performer and a spectator and all times he was great to be around.
    Mojito

  • dean trakas

    fairwell, Too slow for those who wait,Too fast for those who fear, Too long for those who mourn, Too short for who rejoice, But for who love... Time is eternity. GOD TAKE CARE OF ARE BROTHER JOHN NO MORE NEED BE SAID. DINO.

  • http://dissonance.libsyn.com/ Danger Mike

    Radio CPR expresses great sadness at the loss of our friend, colleague and tech guru John aka DJ One Lung. John was a terrific DJ with a quick wit who saved many of us from on-air technical snafus. He will be missed.

  • Robbie White

    Mony said it all. John was just an all-around great guy, and one of the most fun guys to be around I have ever met. He really contributed so much to the DC scene, and I am so grateful to have been his friend.

  • dj betn

    wow i can't believe this. sending lots of love to you one lung and to all the surviving family.

  • Mark Mattson

    Johnny Boy and I were friends back in the day, like many of you, and recently reconnected on FB. We spent endless hours in dressing rooms, on the Slickee Bus, harassing people at the door and behind the stage. John was a good friend who always had a joke, was completely politically incorrect, and made me look at myself in a different way. He could get you to do things you'd never do. John was one of a kind and will be truly missed. You touched my life, John, and contributed to who I am today. Thank you. I'll miss you, my friend.

  • some dude

    So long, JohnnyTheBoy.

  • http://www.angela.com Steve Melkisethian

    Every day of our lives that we crossed paths with John was better for it. We'll miss him like crazy, forever. Love to his family and his many other friends.
    The Melkisethian Family

  • DJ Maestra

    This is very sad to hear. I will always remember DJ One Lung's funk rock show on Saturdays at Radio CPR. God bless the family left behind. My deepest sympathies.

    DJ Maestra

  • DJ-WANAKO

    For Us CPR He Was DJ-ONELUNG But for the Nature & Power Of his messages & pointers I Always thought he had 4 lungs, I learned alot from him in all aspects & topics, did so many community activities, plus radio tech, I loved to cover his shows cause I got to play metal & I was safe cause his was rock show so I used to get back to my real thin, but I know wherever he is ... he is talking about doing things better.
    DJ-WANAKO

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