Metal Legacies



Jason Thirsk

Metal Legacies is an ongoing memorial to extreme music pioneers who kicked the proverbial bucket way too soon.

Co-founder and bassist for the seminal Hermosa Beach punk-rock band Pennywise, Jason Thirsk was a positive contributing force to the indie rock pioneers. His contributions can be found on four albums including Pennywise and Unknown Road.

Despite his positive outlook on life and in his lyrics, Thirsk struggled with a dependency to alcohol. The freewheeling, partying lifestyle of the punk rock band caught up with the young bass player. In the summer of 1995, Thirsk left to sober up. He went to rehab several times, but he was unable to shake his addiction.

On July 29, 1996, the 27-year-old Thirsk was hanging out in the backyard of his Hermosa Beach home. According to police authorities, he had been drinking. While under the influence, he grabbed a small caliber pistol and began to shoot the weapon. He fired the gun towards his house, and the bullet went through his refrigerator. He then turned the weapon on himself, firing a bullet into his chest. He bled to death.

While police and the coroner’s office ruled Thirsk’s death a suicide, the members of Pennywise disagree. They believed that Thirsk was turning his life around and was actually happy. Guitarist Fletcher Dragge pointed out that Thirsk had taken his bass in for repairs that day and was heading out to the river with his girlfriend the following day.

Dragge further elaborated when he said, “It’s not like he shot himself in the head or wrote a suicide note. If you knew how he partied, then you know when he gets hammered, he’s the kind of guy who would fall off a balcony backwards. So it’s pretty conceivable that it was an accident.”

How comforting.

© Corey Mitchell, 2001

Excerpted from Corey Mitchell’s Hollywood Death Scenes: True Crime and Tragedy in Paradise (Olmstead Press, 2001)

Corey’s books, blog, and tweets.

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