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Alanson Russell "Lance" Loud (June 26, 1951–December 22, 2001) was an openly gay magazine columnist. He is best known for his 1973 appearance in An American Family, a pioneer documentary television series which featured his parents and family.[1]



Early life

Loud was born in La Jolla, California, while his father was in the United States Navy during the Korean War. He spent his early childhood with his parents and four siblings in Eugene, Oregon, and his later childhood and teen years in Santa Barbara, California. When he was about 13, Lance discovered Andy Warhol (who later became a penpal with him), The Factory, and The Velvet Underground.

As a teenager, Lance commandeered the family car and drove a few friends to Haight-Ashbury to investigate the San Francisco neighborhood's renowned cultural scene. He hitchhiked to Altamont Raceway Park to attend The Rolling Stones concert that later became the subject of the documentary Gimme Shelter.

His fame came with An American Family, a documentary of his family's life, which was broadcast in the U.S. on PBS in 1973, drawing 10 million viewers and causing considerable controversy at the time. The show was based in Santa Barbara, California. Lance moved to New York City to live, inspired by his teenage obsession with the Velvet Underground and everything related to Warhol, where he frequented various rock clubs, and drag shows with luminaries such as Andy Warhol superstar Jackie Curtis (who later became a close Loud family friend), Holly Woodlawn, and productions by Charles Ludlam. After the series ended, Lance appeared on The Dick Cavett Show, performing with a working version of what would later become Mumps (which at that point included Delilah Michelle and Kevin in the line-up), and stated that he thought the filmmakers had intentionally edited the series to make him seem obnoxious and grating.

Loud became a gay icon by having his homosexuality revealed to a national audience in the documentary series, although he never had an explicit "coming out" on the series proper. His sexuality became a thing of national controversy and media scrutiny after several appearances on Dick Cavett and other talk shows. But the overwhelmingly positive and grateful feedback of thousands of struggling "outsiders" of all stripes from all over America led Lance to embrace this role with passion and his usual flamboyant, often self-derogatory wit.


In New York, he regrouped his band, now (officially) called Mumps, along with Santa Barbara High School friend Kristian Hoffman (also featured in An American Family), Rob Duprey (later of the Iggy Pop Band), high school alumnus Jay Dee Daugherty (later of the Patti Smith Group and The Church), and Aaron Kiley. Daugherty and Kiley were soon replaced in what would become Mumps classic long term line up: Lance, Kristian, Rob and Kevin Kiely on bass, and Paul Rutner on drums.

The Mumps (called "The great lost CBGBs era band" by Allmusic) were one of the most popular bands on the Max's/CBGBs circuit, regularly headlining there and at clubs all over America on several national tours for almost five years. They played on bills with all of the seminal bands of the era, including Television, the Ramones, Blondie, Cheap Trick, and even Van Halen. However, despite this popularity, and two critically lauded and top-selling independent 45s, the expected "major label" deal never quite materialized.

This inequity was somewhat rectified by the release of two highly regarded Mumps compilations: "Fatal Charm" (Eggbert Records, 1994) and more recently, the lavishly illustrated, remastered 2 disc CD/DVD compilation "How I Saved The World" (Sympathy For the Record Industry, 2005).[2] The CD booklets contain affectionate tributes from members of the Cramps, Sparks, R.E.M., the New York Dolls, Blondie, Dramarama, the Go-Go's, Danzig, Devo, Patti Smith Group, and the Screamers, as well as praise from Ramones' manager Danny Fields, Jayne County, Rufus Wainwright, and Paul Reubens, securing Mumps a more balanced place in musical history.

Lance was always obsessed with music, and this led naturally to his having a monthly column in the influential Rock Scene magazine, where he got to write about his favorite artists at length and just basically hold forth, as well as covering unlikely junkets such as a brief tour with Jim Dandy Mangrum from Black Oak Arkansas. Rock Scene was an early supporter of glam and the punk scene, and, with tongue firmly in cheek, also featured an advice column from Lance's good friend Jayne County.


Ultimately, as Loud retired from music, he became a noted columnist for various magazines, including The Advocate, Details, Interview, and Creem.

Through journalism and sheer force of personality, Loud remained active in many cultural scenes throughout most of his adult life, and gave occasional lectures on the impact of An American Family at various colleges around the country. He was present at the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh when his teenage letters to Andy were officially entered into the Andy Warhol archive.

The Loud family was kept in the public eye through two televised PBS updates, both filmed by the original Academy Award winning team of Alan and Susan Raymond.[3]

The last, called Lance Loud! A Death in An American Family, was a poignant depiction of Lance's physical decline, due at least in part to an addiction to crystal meth which had lasted for over 20 years, and complications from HIV. It was shown on PBS in January 2003.[3]

Subsequent to the showing of A Death in An American Family, Pat and Bill Loud moved back in together, granting one of Lance's fondest wishes. They live very close to their surviving children, Grant, Michelle, and Delilah, and keep in close contact with an out-of-state Kevin and his family.

At age 50, Loud entered the Carl Bean hospice in Los Angeles, California, suffering from HIV and hepatitis C. On realizing he was dying, Loud called the film crew back again, expressing dissatisfaction with how the series ended and how various people were portrayed in it. His most heartfelt wish was that the Louds be portrayed as the loving family he knew them to be. In this at least, the show was an unqualified success, although Lance's cadaverous appearance and ultimately his death make the show difficult to watch.

Parts of his memorial in the garden of Hollywood's Chateau Marmont are included in the documentary, including many loving tributes by Lance's varied, eccentric, and articulate tribe of bohemian friends, with a particularly moving rendition of "Over the Rainbow" sung by Lance's close friend Rufus Wainwright (accompanied on piano by his mother Kate McGarrigle).


  • In his last few days, on having injected crystal meth for 20 years: "I was a bit of a prick."
  • In his final appearance on camera in the 2003 documentary Lance Loud: A Death in An American Family, as mother Pat holds him in her arms, he states, "When Louds love, they love long and deep: about six feet deep."
  • Narrating over footage of himself at the Chelsea in Episode 2 of An American Family: "Living in New York, I've become more and more aware that there are other things. If someone gave me a ticket it would just be another excuse and it would be so easy to just go back there and go up to Adivas Beach and just sit there all summer long, see my old friends and all my old enemies. Seeing enemies is much more interesting than seeing friends ... and I have so many enemies in Santa Barbara. Always, always interesting. But I think that ... you know, New York has so many things that really do interest me or that could interest me that for ... for my own good, I think I'll just have to stay. Even if I really don't want to. In fact I guess I really don't. It is so much easier just to go home. I could get a little job and make everyone happy on a day to day type basis and get a little money and live by myself in my own apartment or something ... but I don't think that's what I really want to do. I've always felt that, to be dedicated to life, you have to be really passionate, and so I never really think anything is just ok, I either love something or I just hate it forever, to death."


  • Mumps: How I Saved the World (Sympathy for the Music Industry, 2005), an anthology of recordings, with a DVD of live performances. Lance is the lead singer and co-songwriter (with Kristian Hoffman) for this popular CBGB era NYC headlining pop/punk outfit.


  1. ^ Dannatt, Adrian (2002-04-02). "Lance Loud (obituary)". The Independent (London: Independent News and Media). Retrieved 2008-10-26.  
  2. ^ [1] Allmusic, biography of The Mumps
  3. ^ a b "About the Film". Retrieved 2008-10-26.  

See also

External links

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