The death from heroin of punk rocker Malcolm Owen of The Ruts in 1980

The Ruts in their heyday in 1980

The Ruts in their heyday in 1980

I was talking to my chum Lou, an interesting man who makes knuckledusters and who knows interesting people.

“I know the bloke who sold him the smack.” Lou told me. “Innit awful? He comes round to see me every now and again.”

“Malcolm Owen just overdosed?” I asked.

“Well, I’ll tell you what happened,” Lou replied. “These people I know went round to see him and he’d come off the gear: he’d left it alone.

“It was a boiling hot summer’s day and he had that mottled glass and they’re banging on the door and nothing’s happening and eventually – and he had been ill – they see someone pogo-ing towards them.”

“On a pogo stick?” I asked.

“No,” said Lou, “he’s jumping along and he opens the door and he’s in a sleeping bag. That’s why he’s pogo-ing. And he’s shaking – pouring with sweat but shaking. He says: I’m fucking freezing!

“He’s got the heat turned right up, all the windows shut. It’s like a fucking oven. So they go in and make him a cup of tea or whatever and he seemed to get a little bit better and they fucked off.

“And then, unfortunately, this mate of mine turned up with a really nice bit of gear and this is what I heard. I dunno if it’s true… I dunno if he did die of an overdose of heroin… He’d had some… a good bit of gear and he decided to have a bath or something and he drowned in about three inches of water on all fours in the bath, which is not unheard-of for a junkie. They go down on all fours and fall asleep.”

“Why on all fours?” I asked.

“Well,” Lou explained, “you start off standing, smashed out of your head on junk. You’re standing up but your knees start going and you go down and then, if you’re on all fours, you can’t fall over can you? You’re only going to roll over.

“Or sometimes they do just fall down. On diconal, people used to fall over all the time; it was very funny to watch. A lot of people crank it up. I dunno why. I never used to when I was doing it.”

“You’d think you’d tip over,” I said.

“Very strange,” said Lou.

Malcolm Owen died on 14th July 1980 at the age of 25.

So it goes.


Filed under Drugs, Music

7 responses to “The death from heroin of punk rocker Malcolm Owen of The Ruts in 1980

  1. R.I.P. I just love that band.

  2. I just bought the cd of “Animal Now” and thought of how great those songs would be with Malcolm singing, great as the LP is anyway in my opinion. The last Mojo Magazine has a piece on The Ruts:

  3. Daz

    One of the best singers from the heart.saw them in leeds early 80’s one of the best bands I have seen.and that’s over 40 years.god bless.x.x.

  4. Shaun Earley

    gutted when he went. and still am. watch the ruts back up suzie and the
    banshees at nottingham uni 1980. r.i.p.

  5. Doreen Trampe Owen

    Maybe I don’t have a sense of humour but I find this article rather offensive. Malcolm is my brother and I still miss him dearly. Please have some respect for his family.

  6. I saw the Ruts live on stage at Roxy’s In Sheffield Just a few weeks before Malcolm died. They were the best live punk band I ever saw – the atmosphere was absolutely electric.

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