Uncapped: CAINE ONE Forever

Posted on: November 22nd, 2021 at 5:14 am by

Did you ever visit him while painting jackets at Yogi Lala’s  (Shop in Astoria) & which of his jackets do you remember?

(JIMMY 131) After CAINE passed away, TAGE used to tell me that when CAINE painted trains, he didn’t speak much at all and I thought that overall; he was a quiet guy. We didn’t speak much. I spoke mostly with him while I was checking out his black books. In one book, CAINE drew a series of pages with a genie coming out of the bottle. When you flipped through the book quickly, the genie appeared to be moving, it was incredible. Everyone wanted one of his jackets, there was always a waiting list. There were so many: Led Zeppelin, the Stones, Jerry Garcia, Jim Morrison. Yogi Lala still has jackets. CAINE painted jackets with PC Kid and a local artist named Tina back in those days.

(LADY PINK) I didn’t see him painting jackets at Yogi Lala’s but at his house. He showed me how to do airbrush and we did a bunch of commissioned work together. The act of painting jackets takes knowledge and he shared with me the precise way of doing them. His jackets were more depictions of Rock album covers and artists, mine were more Graf based and specific commissions like people’s names.

(Martha) Yes, I have photos of his shop and jackets, they will be in my next book. The jacket I most remember is the one he painted for me.

(ROGER) CAINE was living with a girl out in Bayside for a while and one night I was out there to visit him at the basement he was staying at. He was one of the first guys that I ever saw putting canvases together and he had some for his production pieces. I was very surprised because up to that point I’d never seen anyone make canvases of what they were doing on the train. I thought to myself that this guy is actually doing real art, putting Graffiti and enhancing it to another level. It wasn’t only painting on trains, he was moving on to canvases and Lee jackets of Rock bands as well as store fronts, like the one he did for Yogi Lala. Everyone knows about the famous Debbie Harry portrait because at that time he was in love with her! Those were the kind of things that were surprising once you got to know Eddie.

(ZAR) He lived up the block from me and hung out at the small park on Roosevelt and 60th. He wore many of his freshly painted jackets every other day, my favorite was his Welcome to Hell jacket!

(NOTCH 56) I never got a chance to go to Yogi Lala. I was a writer/b-boy and was down with ‘Chill Town Rockers’ from 103rd St in Corona, the president was KASPER so between practice. spending time with my girl, who by the way was the writer SPEEDY 79; my schedule was fucking crazy but we always found time for a black book session and he would teach me about acrylic paint and brushes. (He said) think of acrylic as designer’s, you could reproduce everything in your black books on denim jeans/jackets and canvases and make some money but back then I didn’t have the capacity to understand the gem he was dropping on me

Courtesy: CHIEF 1

Do you remember his ‘Welcome To Hell’ car with Alice Cooper character and what was the reaction at the time?

(NOTCH 56) ‘Welcome To Hell ‘car was such an amazing piece and shows his prowess, you can see how he stood out from the rest, he definitely was the “Frank Frazetta” of graffiti. The father of heavy metal style, from trains to canvas to denim jackets and  jeans, he was a one man army. When he dropped this car people thought he was crazy but crazy is a very important ingredient in genius.

(JIMMY 131) In Woodside at that time, every new CAINE car that came out of the 7 yard was seen by hundreds of kids at Saint Sebastian’s grammar school. The school still stands on 58th St and Woodside Ave with a clear view of the 7 line. The nuns had to chase the kids back to their desks when Spellbound, Dick Tracy, The Freedom Train and Welcome to Hell exploded onto the scene.

(ROGER) Yeah I saw that and all his cars. We were there every day, the thing that made his pieces famous, is that the day they came out; you knew about it. From what I recall he was one of the first to start drawing characters into the pieces and using different coloring techniques plus a set up that was thought out. It wasn’t that when he went to the yard and used whatever can to do something he decided at the moment, he actually plotted what he was gonna put on the train, drew it to some degree on paper and executed everything thoroughly planned out on the train, One of his very first pieces was the Dick Tracy car, then a Peanuts car, then came ‘Welcome To Hell’ followed by ‘Spellbound’. If he did 20 of those cars it might be too much but he did it in such a way that no one was doing that, putting him on top.

Did you ever paint with him, If so, where & when?

(FREEDOM) I was lucky enough to paint with Eddie a few times. The first was the Solar Coaster wall, I was shocked at how quickly he painted, and how confident he was in his line. My own work on the wall was to try and help the PC Kid with his section which wasn’t working out. After that, I bumped into TRACY with CAINE while he was painting a lumber store by our gallery. Caine and I both pitched in to make it go faster.

(PHANTOM)- Eddie love the night life and one night we hanging out a school yard and painted the whole school end to end. He had great magic in his hands, when he drew people stopped whatever they were doing. Eddie never stopped drawing or painting there were countless sessions of him exploring styles and forms. Eddie asked me to take on the name CAINE 2 when I was bombing the MTA..

(NOTCH 56) I never painted murals but plenty of tags with him and whenever we had meetings,  someone always pulled out a can or a marker and we all copped tags, whether it was on 111th St, 103rd St, behind Aviation HS etc…

(JIMMY 131) No. CAINE mainly painted alone.

What do you remember of his first gallery show at the time of his unexpected passing?

(FREEDOM) CAINE was alive for his first show at Graffiti Above Ground, his painting of Debbie Harry stole the show, I’m pretty certain all of his works sold out. The best part about the show was that an older woman showed up with photos of all of his trains, she had an amazing collection.

(ZAR) I didn’t go. l was too upset. l was 16 at the time.

(LADY PINK) He was down with Graffiti Above Ground, they opened up a space on 14th and 9th avenue, a corner studio space with windows overlooking all sides of the street. That space became a gallery. We all exhibited our work there and CAINE’s canvases incorporated Graf, inspired by Rock music stars, like the Blondie painting he did. It was probably going to go somewhere, he was producing work non-stop.

There is story he was caught stealing skulls from a cemetery and was involved with some kind of cult?

(ROGER) They were going to Calvary cemetery on Queens Boulevard and the story is that they were digging up bodies to steal the skulls for their rituals, he had a thing for the occult, that kind of stuff drove us away a bit from hanging out with him. One time he invited me and CHINO 174 to a place in Manhattan and it was  a little weird when we walked in. It was one of those cult type get togethers where you had a Santero Warlock deal going on there. Me and CHINO looked at each other and we both said this is some weird shit; didn’t want any part of that so after a while we just got up and left.

(JIMMY 131) Sure, it was in the Daily News and the neighborhood people were freaked out about it. Years later, I asked TAGE if he was connected in any way and he denied any involvement.

The newspaper clipping of his death mentions he was shot for burglary. From your knowledge, is there an alternate explanation?

(LADY PINK) He was set up and chased, ran up a fire escape; the evidence showed he’d been dragged by the front of his shoes by people that were out to get him. I don’t know if you’re aware of this but back in 1977 he was arrested for selling skulls stolen from a cemetery, he had taken up with a bonafide witch cult and after his arrest he was taken to a funny house (mental prison ward) where the notorious Son Of Sam (David Berkowitz) serial killer was his next door cellmate, they wrote long wrote long letters to each other once CAINE got out. That cult kept pursuing him as he became more known and for some reason had to rub him out. After he died they kept coming to my shows for me to work with them. I flatly rejected that and after so many years I couldn’t tell you exactly who they were, just really scary people.

(NOTCH 56) He wasn’t there to rob anybody that night! He was trying to escape from a group of men that was trying to rob him and in the process he got shot!! I warned him plenty of times you just can’t trust every writer you meet now this man is no longer here because of envy and greed and the group of men that chased Eddie; two are dead and the rest never saw the light of justice, how crazy is that?

(JIMMY 131) Anyone who knew CAINE, ruled out a robbery attempt immediately. The story going around at the time was that CAINE had beef with some Sunnyside guys and they chased him to that fire escape.

(ZAR) Yes. I can bear witness that Eddie was not a thief at all. There were a lot of jealous people that didn’t like him because of his fame and charismatic character, we used to all get into fights with them because of that. The only thing  that comes to my mind while asking myself is `why?’, was that maybe it was over some girl, he had a lot of them. Maybe some beef over that? Did someone chase him and the only way to save his own life was to randomly leap into some apartment window for safety? I guess we will never know.

(ROGER) I heard they were hanging out and got into some kind of altercation, tried to get away from some dude that was trying to harm him. Unfortunately he climbed up a fire escape and got to a certain level where an ex-cop was living, mistook him for a burglar and wound up shooting him. I’m not sure that it was a beef with rival writers but just with someone in the neighborhood, it wasn’t anything graf related, just a personal misfortune.

(FREEDOM) I’ve heard a lot of rumors about Eddie’s death, only he would know. He either stumbled through the window while being chased, or it was a burglary, it remains a mystery.

(Eileen Galindo) I only found out about his death a few years ago. In the early ‘70s, many of these guys lived for their art, nothing else was important. I don’t know if he was gay but he was the youngest and was fawned over by the older guys. I’m sure they took care of him, that was the scene. There were drugs, booze, music, parties, sex and the freedom to express yourself, everything a young artist could ask for. I imagine as he got older it got harder, once they changed the trains and made it impossible for the paint to adhere to them, a whole art form was lost and I’m sure with it their way of life.

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