I didn’t know Josh Betterton well. We weren’t friends, I never sat next to him on a bar stool, and I couldn’t tell you his middle name. But I met the man on a dozen occasions and logged hours of conversation with him in our natural habitat: the record store. The first conversation we ever had began how I’m sure many of his introductions did, by talking about his DRI and Flipper neck tattoos. Over the months and years, I would occasionally run into him in the basement of Prospero’s, where we would exchange stories, talk about punk rock and records, and lament the closing of Recycled Sounds and the state of record stores in KC at the time. He didn’t know a stranger, and he proclaimed his views in an endearingly brash manner. He once regaled me with a story of how he was banned for life from a well-known Oklahoma City record store and venue after chastising the owner for selling Skrewdriver bootlegs. After about an hour of conversation, we would shake hands and part ways. I don’t think there was a single time I saw him outside of a music shop.
Earlier this month, Josh passed suddenly. The details are hazy, and I probably wouldn’t post more info here out of respect even if I knew. His family has set up a memorial fund to help pay for the funeral and other related expenses. If you knew Josh, or you shared some laughs and memories like I did, please consider donating.
Betterton fronted the long-running KC punk band Hopeless Destroyers, a group who outlasted many of the venues at which they performed (El Torreon, The Anchor, and the Sleeper Cellar, among others). Prior to living in Kansas City, he and his brother Justin grew up in Oklahoma City, where Josh fronted a few punk bands in the early ’90s like Blaster (who played great, Queers-inspired pop-punk) and the Real Ones (who released a 7″ that enjoys a space in my record collection). Both brothers moved to KC around the turn of the decade, where Josh’s primary musical focus was Hopeless Destroyers and Justin has played in such notable punk staples as Olsen Terror, Dark Ages and Anxiety Attack, and presently hosts the KC DIY radio show on KKFI 90.1fm with Jordan Carr (Dark Ages, Alert! Alert!).