Crazy Town Frontman Seth Binzer – Known as Shifty Shellshock – Dies at 49

Crazy Town Frontman Seth Binzer - Known as Shifty Shellshock - Dies at 49

Crazy Town Frontman Seth Binzer – Known as Shifty Shellshock – Dies at 49

Seth Binzer, the lead singer of Los Angeles rap-rock band Crazy Town – who had a US No 1 hit with Butterfly in 2001 – has died aged 49. The LA medical examiner certified that his death took place on 24 June 2024 but gave no cause.

Binzer, also known as Shifty Shellshock, founded Crazy Town in 1995 alongside Bret Mazur. The band released their debut album, The Gift of the Game, in 1999.

Crazy Town Frontman Seth Binzer - Known as Shifty Shellshock - Dies at 49
Crazy Town Frontman Seth Binzer – Known as Shifty Shellshock – Dies at 49

It initially failed to find success, with two singles failing to chart. The band’s prospects looked dim, particularly after they withdrew from the travelling Ozzfest festival in 2000 after Binzer was arrested for throwing a chair out of a window while drunk.

However in autumn 2000, they released a third single, Butterfly, which sampled Pretty Little Ditty by Red Hot Chili Peppers, with whom they had previously toured. The song climbed the US charts to reach No 1 the following year; in the UK it peaked at No 3.

The band had been hesitant to release the song as the album’s first single, they said, because they knew it would come to define them. Binzer said: “A song like Butterfly is a no-brainer, everyone seems to love that no matter how hard they are, it’s very radio friendly. The female audience loves it and at the same time I think we kept our integrity with it.”

They had made the correct assumption: when they toured with Ozzfest in 2001, Binzer told Rolling Stone the band had “a lot to prove”. Because of the single – namely that they were “aggressive punk kids – a real band and not a pop act”. Nevertheless, they received mixed reviews and were dismissed as “the Butterfly boys”, MTV reported.

They released a second album, Darkhorse, in 2002. Which failed to reach the same heights, prompting the band to go on hiatus from 2003 to 2007.

In 2002, Binzer collaborated with Paul Oakenfold on the single Starry Eyed Surprise. In 2004, he released a solo album, Happy Love Sick, under the Shifty Shellshock alias.

The band reformed in 2007; a year later, Binzer would participate in the VH1 reality show Celebrity Rehab. And a followup programme, Sober House, during which he relapsed.

Crazy Town Frontman Seth Binzer - Known as Shifty Shellshock - Dies at 49
Crazy Town Frontman Seth Binzer – Known as Shifty Shellshock – Dies at 49

In 2015 they released their third album, The Brimstone Sluggers, which failed to chart. After Mazur left the band in 2017, Binzer renamed the group Crazy Town X, and toured until 2023.

Binzer was born to Rollin Binzer, who directed the 1974 concert film Ladies and Gentlemen. The Rolling Stones and former model Leslie Brooks. He was raised in Boston and LA and discovered rap by travelling to New York City to buy cassette tapes. Where he also embraced skateboarding culture.

Binzer spoke openly about having spent time in jail as a young man following incidents including assault with a firearm. As well as selling and using drugs and struggling with addiction.

Binzer’s death follows those of previous Crazy Town members Rust Epique, in 2004, and DJ AM, in 2009.

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