When he was 17 years old, Darby Crash (born Jan Beahm) developed a five-year plan to become famous: start a band with his friends, make one great album, and the kill himself to secure his legend.
Crash had a troubled childhood and lost several family members, including his older brother (who died from a heroin overdose in 1969, when Darby was 11).
Crash formed the Germs with his friend Georg Ruthenberg (who called himself Pat Smear) in 1976 and released a single the following year. The Germs were known for their violent, chaotic performances, often exacerbated by Crash’s drug abuse, and are captured in the documentary The Decline of Western Civilization (1981).
The Germs released their debut (and only) album in 1979 (produced by Joan Jett) and then disintegrated. Crash left for England and returned and formed the short-lived Darby Crash Band before performing with the reunited Germs on 3 Dec. 1980.
On the night of 7 Dec. 1980, the 22-year-old Crash fulfilled his 5-year-plan with a suicide pact with his girlfriend, by taking a lethal dose of heroin. His girlfriend survived. Crash was convinced that his suicide would be headline news and make him famous. His death, however, was quickly overshadowed by John Lennon’s murder the next day.