We studied the band's high school years to piece together the teenage lives of Danzig, Doyle, and Jerry Only.
Though The Misfits have a mythical quality about them, they are in fact real people. Behind the skull makeup, behind the devilocks, behind superhero-esque muscles, the band members are human beings of flesh and blood.
Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only, and Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein have a history together that traces all the way back to the 1970s in Lodi, New Jersey. The three of them attended Lodi High School there, and, fun fact!: You can use Classmates.com to find pretty much any high school yearbook. Upon discovering this, I punched in “Lodi High School” to the site’s search field and spent a perfectly good afternoon rifling through over ten years’ worth of yearbooks to find as many photos and learn as much as I could about the real-world lives behind the legendary punk band.
Here is what I pieced together from studying the pages chronicling The Misfits’ high school years.
Let us start with Jerry Only, class of ’77. Born Gerald Caiafa, Jerry was, from what I can glean, the coolest motherfucker that ever stepped foot in Lodi High School or possibly any school in the history of education. He was BMOC. Nobody fucked with Jerry Only. The halls stood still when Jerry walked down them. Who is the most popular high school student you can think of? Ferris Bueller? Jerry Only made that puny Chicago jabroni look like a 12-sided dice-carrying Dungeon Master. Emilio Estevez in The Breakfast Club? That dumb jock was captain of the damn weiner club compared to Jerry. Dawson? Buddy. Dawson would’ve drowned himself in the creek if he went to the same school as Jerry.
The first thing you should know about Jerry Only’s high school years is that he NEVER TOOK HIS SUNGLASSES OFF. EVER. Here he is in Junior year, wearing sunglasses that look Photoshopped onto his face. They didn’t even have Photoshop back then but rumor has it that Jerry grabbed some nerd from the AV club and made him invent Photoshop for the sole purpose of putting glasses on his photo. Jerry could’ve easily beaten the guy up into doing his bidding, but that’s not how Jerry rolled. Everyone loved Jerry for how effortlessly cool he was that he hardly ever had to raise his voice. He simply said to the AV guy, “Hey, man, it’d be real cool if you could do this for me,” and the guy was all, “No problem, Jerry! I’ll have it ready outside your locker by 3 PM.” And Jerry was like, “Right on, my man,” and then he popped the collar up on his jean jacket and drove off in his black corvette with a bunch of babes in the backseat.
Here’s Jerry on the J.V. basketball team. The coach was all, “Ah jeez, Jerry, I hate to bother you but I bet you could see the ball a lot better if you took your sunglasses off.” Jerry didn’t even say anything, he just stood at half-court and did the first ever skyhook. It swished so perfectly that the net didn’t even move or make a sound. No one had ever seen anything like it. By sheer chance, NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was passing by and saw. He asked Jerry if he could borrow the move if he promised to call it the “jerryhook,” but Jerry just laughed and said, “It’s OK, man, you keep it.”
Here he is on he football team. I would tell you what his jersey number was, but it’s pretty obvious which one is Jerry given that HE’S THE ONLY ONE WEARING SUNGLASSES.
Jerry played football all four years of high school. The state championship was a big game for Jerry. He holds the record for most touchdowns scored in a single game (nine) in it, and still managed to have sex in the backseat of his car during halftime. Three years after Jerry's graduation, the league renamed the championship game "The Jerry Bowl." The crazy thing about his touchdown record is, he played Defensive Tackle.
Jerry even wore his sunglasses under his helmet. The team hired an equipment manager whose sole job it was to make sure Jerry’s glasses were thoroughly clean at all times. Years later, the equipment manager would name his firstborn son after Jerry.
By Senior year, Jerry had clocked in four years on the football team, two years on the basketball team, and a year of student service. He wrote that he was enrolling in “Boobie” College, and the yearbook editor was like, “Ha ha I know I could get fired for printing that but I am laughing too hard not to!”
In the school’s popularity poll, Jerry was voted Most Popular, along with Lori DiCrosta, who wasn’t even really that popular, but happened to be standing next to Jerry while he was smoking a cigarette and everyone assumed she must be cool as shit. Another woman was voted Prom Queen just because Jerry asked her for the time once.
In the Last Will section, Jerry graciously left his earring to Coach Blasi, who he could always feel had a deep love for him, even though the two never directly spoke of it. It wasn’t a sexual love, but more like the love between a father and son, with Coach Blasi seeing Jerry as something of a father figure despite being 30 years Jerry’s senior. It was a bond that the Coach cherished until his dying day. The Coach’s wife has said that his last words were about Jerry.
Jerry also let his high school sweetheart Denise call him Pooh-Bear in print. No one even dared to snicker. One kid did and he died in a gruesome drag race accident after prom. Coincidence???
And finally, here is Jerry’s Senior portrait. Legend has it that he slept with the school photographer before and after this photo was taken while Kenneth Calabrese watched, occasionally offering Jerry a towel.
Two years after Jerry graduated, his younger brother, Paul Caiafa a.k.a. "Doyle," followed in his legendary footsteps at Lodi High School.
Doyle was a bit of a gawky teen in Freshman year, but then again, no one is born cool like Jerry Only, whose high school years are said to have served as the inspiration for the Happy Days character, Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli.
By Junior year, Doyle had come into his own with his own unique brand of cool—the kind of cool that was dark and mysterious, but still totally approachable. Like, you’d see him playing guitar on the quad and you’d casually mention that you had always wanted to learn guitar, but your parents forced you to take piano lessons as a kid, and he would offer to give you a lesson anytime you wanted, but you could tell that it was a serious offer, not just an empty gesture like when people say “Oh we should get dinner sometime” but they know you never will. That kind of cool.
By Senior year in 1982, Doyle had put in four years on the football team in addition to his rigorous studies and oh yeah, PLAYING IN THE FUCKING MISFITS FOR TWO YEARS.
Jesus this guy was so frickin’ cool it’s crazy.
While other students used the Last Will section to leave behind four years of fantastic memories, Doyle, in true nihilist fashion, left behind “nothing.”
Doyle didn’t get voted Most Popular like his brother Jerry. He got something better: Most Unique, which is an appropriate title to give someone for rocking a soon-to-be iconic hairstyle that HE INVENTED BEFORE HE EVEN GRADUATED FRICKIN HIGH SCHOOL.
Here is Doyle’s Senior photo. Elaine D. Brownlee asked Doyle to the prom in the cafeteria one April afternoon and everyone within earshot began to laugh at her, calling her a fool for trying to date above her league. But Doyle stood up and wagged his finger. “Excuse me! Who are we to laugh at this woman?” he began. He launched into an impromptu speech critiquing society’s perception of beauty that was so powerful and moving that many in the room—including faculty and administrators—began to openly weep. A slow clap started to build until it gave way to outright uproarious applause. It was the most inspiring moment of Elaine Brownlee’s life and she was so filled with self-confidence that she went on to spend four years at Columbia undergrad, followed by three years at Yale Law, where she received her degree and went on to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The dedication page of her memoir read simply: “For Doyle, thank you.”
Doyle graduated Lodi High School in 1982. His name is still whispered throughout the halls there. Many believe that he never really existed, that he is just a myth perpetuated by underclassmen. But anyone old enough to remember will tell you: The legend of Doyle is true.
Glenn Danzig, born Glenn Anzalone, graduated from Lodi High School in 1973, though the only appearance he makes in any yearbooks is this lone Senior portrait. Not much is known about Danzig’s high school years other than that he aspired to attend trade school. His whereabouts throughout his first three school years are a mystery. Many believe he was raised and trained by an ageless martial arts master in Japan, where he rose to lead a secret society of warriors called The Whisper of Shadows, but was forced to flee after killing an emperor’s son in combat. Others surmise that he was a special agent assigned to work undercover at Lodi High School in an effort to infiltrate an alleged drug smuggling operation within the school. Or maybe he was like, a transfer student or whatever.
Dan Ozzi was voted Most Likely to Receive a Pulitzer for His Excellent Journalism. Follow him on Twitter - @danozzi