Behind The Circle : The Germs

This article was first published in Sex Before Suicide #3, but is here reworked and updated.

Anyone interested in a way or another in hardcore punk must know the Germs. This L.A. band who put out in 1979 one of the best and most influential punk record of all time, "G.I."

Known mostly for their chaotic live shows, and for their charismatic singer, Darby Crash, because ending a gig ith his body covered with peanut butter, or in blood after having slashed his chest, while mumbling some lyrics next to the mic has become business as usual. 
Another distinctive Germs' mark was their enigmatic logo, the blue circle.

The legend says Darby came up one day with this blue circle idea and thought it would make a great logo for the band. Soon after, the band members (and their devoted fans as well) were appearing with armbands showing off the circle, mocking the nazi imagery used heavily in the english punk scene by  the likes of Sid Vicious or Siouxsie Sioux.

Around 1996, when "A Small Circle Of Friends : Germs' tribute" was released, guitarist Pat Smear said these words about the blue circle logo : "I don't know what it meant, [Darby] had some little speech at the time, but I can't recall. I always thought the blue circle was like his blue eyes, but I might be wrong. Darby himself was adamant about the symbol, even prompting interviewers to ask him about the meaning of the armband, and the more permanent show of allegiance, the Germs Burn." (The Germs Burn is when a hardcore fan of the band is getting a cigarette burn on the wrist from someone in the circle)

But, the other day, while I was watching this great documentary, "Unknown Images : The Vietnam War" (1997), I had to rewind and press pause when I noticed something that instantaneously struck me. Exactly the same blue circle that the Germs used as a logo, painted on one of these famous Bell ''Huey'' helicopter. As usual, I don't need much to stay awake for hours and think about anything that comes up to me. So, I began to put forward hypotheses in my head, questions that may remain without answers, but it worth the try.

Born in September 1958, Darby Crash belongs to the generation that has literally grown uo with the Vietnam War. Vietnam, the first war that almost became a daily TV reality show for American families. Bloodsheds, insane batlles against an invisible enemy in the jungle, this hostile environnement. This commies hunt made the glory days of the small screen. As General Westmorland said "We won every battle until we lost the war"...

According to Lori Weiner, who interviewed a lot of Darby's parents and relatives for her limited publication released in the early 90s, "Wild Eyed Boy : The Darby Crash Story", he was fascinated by culture from an early age. Darby was always encouraged to read, and his intellectual curiosity was vast. Weiner also stated that when he was a kid, his hair past his shoulders, he grew up actively opposed to the Vietnam War.

Vietnam trauma in America may have marked him, and for whatever reason, As I found out recently, it was common to see blue circles, triangles or diamonds on the choppers for different teams. One famous is the "Blues" platoon, which was the heliborne portion of a Cavalry Troop. Darby could have seen the same blue circles on military helicopters at the time, and thought it would make a great symbol for the band. Even the title of Germs' album, "G.I.", is an army reference. The non-sense, plain absurdity, the violence, and the dark angry void that grabbed him in the late seventies cannot be better represented than by this Vietnam war nightmare.

But, you know, that's just one possibility. Just me letting my mind wander...


  1. You're totally right. I'm watching the new Ken Burns documentary The Vietnam War, episode 3, and I saw a Huey with the blue circle. I immediately thought that was the inspiration for the GI recor, and started looking on the web to see if anyone else had seen this.

    I think you and I might be the only ones to make the connection with the Germs.

    Chris Stockwell

  2. FINALLY! I thought I would forever be the only one noticing or caring about this connection ha ha

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  4. I remember hearing back in the day that it was an Army symbol for Germ Warfare. Maybe that was Chinese Whispers/Telephone Game of the vietnam helicopter symbol??? I too have seen the blue circle on choppers from vietnam in pix & video from the time.


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