There has been an outpouring of grief from the Maltese music scene after one of the pioneers of punk music in Malta, Erich ‘il-Punk’ Azzopardi, passed away at the age of 55.
“Today, we lost our island’s punk icon Erich il-Punk,” said fellow Maltese punk pioneer Ray ‘Il-Baħri’ Xkembri.
“He was the frontman of Abstrass, the band he formed way back in 1979 and that ended today,” he continued. “Erich was the inspiration for other bands to follow, such as R.A.S, SubCulture and most of the bands in the early 2000’s punk scene.”
“In all these years, Abstrass appeared and participated in many events over 40 years of punk. Abstrass released one album titled Hard To Understand back in 2003. Most of the songs became the trademark for the Maltese youth rebellion,” he said.
Prominent people in Malta’s music scene expressed their sadness at the loss of a man who was a mainstay of the Maltese punk scene
A tribute video of Erich throughout the ages has been released
And a comment from Il-Baħri on the official Abstrass page lays out Erich’s rise in the Maltese scene through a fellow punk’s eyes
“It was a long voyage for Abstrass,” he said. “Started way back early 80s in Tigne’. Erich used to be the original bassist and the main vocalist and unique frontman. At that time, he passed some rough times as we all did, but he never let anyone down. He was always taking care of the friends around him. It was there in the practice room where I had my first punk lessons going through the UK Subs song ‘Warhead.”
“Though me and my mates were still beginners in the music scene, he encouraged us and introduced us to all his friends. He was our inspiration. Years later, he guided me through our anarchist views and helped me see the world from another angle. Then later on we recorded our album Hard To Understand, in one day… almost around 14 hours. Started doing more gigs and helped the punk scene to go stronger. Abstrass never stopped during the 80s, we did some gigs every now and then,” he continued.
“Then in the 90s and early 2000s, we continued till 2017 to spread our message to the young generation. Now it’s all up to us, the PUNKS and fans of Erich, to keep the flame burning,” he ended.