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In late 1981, San Francisco’s short-lived hardcore phenoms Sick Pleasure broke up, having lost their singer. Casting around for a new one, they found a young, sharp-faced kid who called himself Johnithin Christ. Inspired by a poster on the wall of the Guy Place house they all shared, the new band wrote an 11-point statement of principals and named their band after it: Code of Honor. Over three records and two years, the band recorded a bunch of songs and played with Bad Brains, DOA, Husker Du, the Misfits, and the Dead Kennedys, fellow hardcore San Franciscans in whose shadow Code of Honor found their place.
In 2006, Subterranean, the legendary label run by Code of Honor guitarist Michael Fox (who released Flipper’s first record, the legendary SF Underground comp, and what Simon Reynolds once called “the San Francisco counterpart to No New York,” Live at Target), issued Complete Studio Recordings 1982-1984, a comprehensive document of the band’s short existence. In the depths of a Bush second term, lyrics like “The destruction of peace in the Far and Middle East/ They’re playing their game/ We all know what it’s for/ Their eyes are money/ They’re planning for war” felt both galvanizing and prescient.
The man who wrote those lyrics, Johnithin Christ, died last Thursday morning. A 2008 brain tumor had left his immune system weak, and though he beat it (“nice to be alive for a few thousand years more,” he wrote then on his MySpace page: “life is to live”), he did not survive more recent complications from pneumonia. “Be fighting still” was the Code of Honor motto, and Christ made it count until the end. Our condolences to those who knew him.