The Canadian punk scene is mourning one of its legends with the death of legendary SNFU lead singer Mr. Chi Pig, 57, on June 16.
Kendall Stephen Chinn was an enigmatic musician and artist known for his superior high octane performances with the hardcore punk band formed in 1981 in Edmonton, which moved to Vancouver in 1992.
The social media reaction to the news of Chi Pig’s passing was swift.
“He was a real f ** king East Van Bohemian & Punk Rock Queen in the best sense of those words,” Anna Stewart wrote on Facebook. “I will never forget his live performances at Smilin ‘Buddha and other spots in Vancouver, his blazing energy and his dope style.
Chinn was born on October 19, 1962 to a German mother and a Chinese father, both deceased. He was the second youngest of 12 children.
He met brothers Marc and Brent Belke through skateboarding in Edmonton in 1981 and formed the group Live Sex Show. The short-lived group quickly transformed into the company’s No F ** king Use or SNFU. Chinn was a lyricist and charismatic leader, frequently incorporating masks, puppets, and other props into performances. A prolific artist, he has also created numerous covers.
The hardcore punk group has become a mainstay of the burgeoning skatepunk subculture.
Between 1985 and 2013, the group released eight albums as well as a concert and a compilation. Almost 30 members have passed through the group over the years, but Chinn has remained the centerpiece.
As the group’s success began to mount, Chinn began a long battle with hard drugs.
He also began to openly identify as a gay man. His early days were marked by trauma and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia.
He was given a month to live at the end of 2019, a diagnosis that rocked him a bit, but did not prevent him from fleeing the hospital earlier this year to his haunts in East Vancouver.
Chris Walter, a longtime friend, has documented much of the Canadian punk scene in his books, most notably “SNFU”. . . What no one else wanted to say.
“SNFU didn’t seem like obvious candidates for punk rock stardom – yet by combining the flamboyant antics and political lyricism of singer Chi Pig with the contagious guitar attack of Marc and Brent Belke, SNFU stood up to take not only Edmonton but the whole world. by the storm, ”read the back cover of a reissue commemorative edition due in several weeks.
Chi Pig was not a stage presence, Walter said. Chi Pig and Chinn were one and the same.
“He was 100% Chi Pig and zero percent anyone else,” Walter said. “He absolutely had the desire to create and the desire to create.”
But, he was the happiest on stage, Walter said.
“This is where he belonged.”
“He was a real pro.”
Walter said his friend was often a mystery to him and to many others.
Sometimes Walter would watch the singer create art. “I would look at him and I was like ‘where did he come up with that?’ It was difficult to understand. He had an active imagination.
And that fertile spirit also translated into the lyrical process. Walter said Chinn would take fragments of ideas, concepts that he wrote down in his album and create from there.
“He put his songs together like Frankenstein’s Monster,” Walter said.
It was this enigmatic presence that drew people to the singer, Walter said.
“He’s usually just different from everyone else,” Walter said. “It’s just kind of a mystery. He was so weird, they just wanted to get to know him.
But, woe to the fan who pushed him or invaded his personal space.
“If you pushed him too far he would lose him,” Walter said. “His band mates kept overzealous fans away. ”
No specific cause of death has been revealed. “He had a lot of medical issues,” Walter said. “It wasn’t COVID.”
He often courted at Pub 340 in Vancouver or maybe Cambie Pub, loved steak tartare, loved to travel, and had read Chef Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential several times.
Chinn was the subject of a 2010 documentary titled Open Your Mouth and Say… Mr. Chi Pig produced by Prairie Coast Films and directed by Sean Patrick Shaul. It featured punk luminaries such as Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene and now Burnaby City Councilor Joey Keithley of DOA.