Mark Wells: rocking from VB to LA

Mark sitting with Robert Dixon. They are checking out a sheet of slides featuring the art portfolio that I submitted to get into the Stockley Gardens Spring Art Show. Fall 1984

by Danna Cullen

Mark Wells was tall, lanky, and had bleached blonde tousled locks and a cherubic smile that was a welcoming sight in a sea of scowling punks back in the day. He and his punk Barbie-beautiful girlfriend Nadia were always hanging around the boardwalk scene when we weren't all at some dark bar, off the beaten track, or a house party, listening to one of our friends’ bands play. In the early 1980's Mark was in a band called Stinky with Mike Crescini and Jeff Clites, which featured Deet Novak ripping up the vocals while he penetrated you visually with his razor sharp Mohawk and piercing electric blue eyes. Later Mark was in KJB, based in Norfolk, and did a short stint with Brash, featuring handsome Jason Vincent on vocals and John Williams. His last band that played around Norfolk and Virginia Beach was DEPF with Kirby Brownell and Pork Chop, but that wouldn't be the last time he worked with musicians from Virginia Beach. 

L-R: Mark at Rock Against Reagan, 1985; Jodi Mills, Pork Chop and Mark on far right at Rock Against Reagan, 1985; Mark and his girlfriend Nadia on the boardwalk, c. August 1984

In 1987 Mark left Virginia Beach for Los Angeles. Virginia Beach friends Robert English and Eddie Whedbee would later join him in Los Angeles where they formed a band called Dumpster with Mike Staggs, who was a friend of Axel Rose's from Indiana. After that Mark was in a group called Death Bred with Ian Olsted featuring what he describes as "cool Krishna heavy Metal."  By the mid 1990's Mark played drums for Butt Trumpet which released an album called, "Private Enema." After Butt Trumpet, Mark played with Mank Rage but bowed out gracefully after having a blast being booked in major clubs. The guitar player for that band was Paul Tobias who was in Guns & Roses from '96-2012. Today Mark lives a quieter life away from the bright lights of Sunset Boulevard in the quiet artists' enclave of Topanga Canyon just outside Los Angeles.

Driving to Rock Against Reagan in my Mom’s vintage Mercedes, July 4, 1985


Local historian, photographer

I have been photo documenting the local punk scene since the early 1980's when I began shooting my friends’ bands and the scene around them when they played around the area. Decades later it's comforting to see many of the same faces still rocking out and inspiring new generations of artists to express themselves in a world that seems to have less tolerance for freedom of expression with each passing day. Check out my Facebook page Vintage North End Virginia Beach Illustrated History Archive if you are into local history!

Danna Cullen