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Legendary Punk Producer Glen “SPOT” Lockett, Dead at 71

Glen “SPOT” Lockett produced many of the earliest releases by essential punk acts Black Flag, Hüsker Dü, Misfits, Minutemen and others.

SPΘT, recording Big Boys "Fun Fun Fun" at Third Coast Studio, Austin Texas;March 14 1982. PHOTO: Photobill/Bill Daniel; used with permission.
SPOT, recording Big Boys “Fun Fun Fun” at Third Coast Studio, Austin Texas; March 14 1982. PHOTO: Photobill/Bill Daniel; used with permission.

Sheboygan, WI (March 6, 2023)—Glen “SPOT” Lockett, who helmed many of the most-influential records coming out of California’s early punk scene, died March 4, 2023 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Diagnosed with fibrosis in 2021, Locket was awaiting a lung transplant when he suffered a stroke three months ago from which he never properly recovered. A documentarian of the nascent 1980s Los Angeles punk world through his photography and music production work, Lockett was responsible for capturing some of the earliest efforts by now-revered acts like Black Flag, Hüsker Dü, Misfits, Subhumans, Redd Kross, Meat Puppets, Minutemen and others. He was 71.

Lockett was born July 1, 1951 in Los Angeles, the son of Claybourne Lockett, a former fighter pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. Initially raised in Hollywood, the younger Lockett learned guitar at age 12, and developed a passion for jazz and improvisational music that led to his once auditioning for Captain Beefheart. Moving to Hermosa Beach in the mid-1970s, Lockett thrust himself into the area’s thriving arts scene, capturing it all with his music, camera lens and, soon, recording tape, as he took up engineering after helping build a facility, Media Art Recording Studio on Pier Avenue.

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While discovering his way around a studio, Lockett began using the pseudonym SPʘT—stylized in all-caps with a dot in the center of the “O”—when he wrote freelance jazz record reviews for local weekly newspaper Easy Reader. Nonetheless, he mainly worked as a waiter in a vegetarian restaurant and it was there that he met fellow musician Greg Ginn. The two musicians often jammed, and Lockett briefly played bass in Ginn’s band, Panic, which would ultimately evolve into Black Flag. When Ginn decided to start his own record label, SST Records, it was only a matter of time before Lockett became deeply involved as its in-house producer/engineer.

In the years that followed, SPOT could regularly be found in the credits of the label’s releases as he recorded, mixed and produced or co-produced most SST acts between 1980 and 1985. As a result, he had a hand in some of the seminal punk releases of the era, including Descendents’ debut album, 1982’s Milo Goes To College; Hüsker Dü’s acclaimed 1984 collection, Zen Arcade; the first three Meat Puppets albums; the first two albums and an EP by Saint Vitus; and a half-dozen Black Flag releases, among others.

Most of those acts were recorded at Hermosa Beach’s then-fledgling Total Access Recording Studios, still owned and operated today by producer/engineer Wyn Davis. Former Hüsker Dü frontman Bob Mould recalled the era in a Tweet memorializing SPOT, noting, “From 1982 to 1984, Hüsker Dü recorded four projects with SPOT. We worked at Total Access in Redondo Beach, CA, mostly during the discounted overnight hours. SPOT always encouraged free expression and experimentation, even as those recordings were made as expeditiously as possible.” He added, “SPOT was a wonderful soul who loved making music, documenting the scene, and unconditionally supporting all the projects that bear his name. Thank you, SPOT. You gave so much to all of us.”

While initially closely associated with SST, SPOT produced, engineered and/or handled technical tasks on various releases on through the 2000s for other labels, including Touch And Go, Rykodisc, New Alliance, Homestead, Taang! and PVC, notably co-producing 1983’s Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood, the last Misfits album to feature co-founder Glenn Danzig, which was released on the singer’s own Plan 9 label. Ultimately, SPOT would go on to produce more than 100 records.

Fed up with Los Angeles, SPOT moved to Austin, Texas in the mid-1980s, where he released a number of his own solo, lo-fi experimental recordings over the years, started multiple bands including the Muleskinners and Delorean Mechanics, and developed a deep love of Celtic music. He eventually became so enamored of playing Celtic guitar and banjo that he moved to Sheboygan in 2008 to be closer to the region’s Celtic music community. He didn’t leave punk entirely behind, however, as he published a book, Sounds of Two Eyes Opening—Southern California Life: Skate/Beach/Punk 1969-1982 in 2014, collecting his photographs documenting the Los Angeles subcultures he ran in decades earlier.

Former SST co-owner Joe Carducci announced SPOT’s passing on Facebook, praising the producer’s recording style that he felt applied “the primacy of live jazz playing into recording bands against prevailing attempts to soften or industrialize a back-to-basics arts movement in sound.” He added that SPOT had been writing a novel in recent years, Decline and Fall of Alternative Civilization, adapting a 10-hour online audio drama he had produced and narrated in 2016.