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Seth Binzer, Frontman of Crazy Town, Passes Away at 49

Remembering the Rise and Challenges of Crazy Town

Seth Binzer, better known as Shifty Shellshock, the charismatic lead singer of the Los Angeles rap-rock band Crazy Town, has died at the age of 49. The Los Angeles County medical examiner confirmed that his death occurred on June 24, 2024, but the cause has not yet been disclosed.

Formation and Early Struggles

Crazy Town was co-founded by Binzer and Bret Mazur in 1995. The band made their debut with the album The Gift of the Game in 1999. Despite their innovative blend of rap and rock, their initial singles failed to chart, casting doubt on their future in the music industry. Their journey hit a rocky patch in 2000 when Binzer was arrested for drunkenly throwing a chair out of a window, leading to their withdrawal from the Ozzfest tour.

Breakthrough with “Butterfly”

In the fall of 2000, Crazy Town released “Butterfly,” their third single, which would become their signature hit. Sampling the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Pretty Little Ditty,” the track soared to No. 1 on the US charts and reached No. 3 in the UK. Despite initial hesitations about releasing the song, Binzer acknowledged its broad appeal, noting its radio-friendly nature and its popularity among female audiences while maintaining the band’s integrity.

Navigating Success and Criticism

The success of “Butterfly” brought mixed reactions. While it solidified their place in the music scene, it also led to them being labeled as “the Butterfly boys,” a term MTV reported on with some derision. Crazy Town had a lot to prove during their 2001 Ozzfest tour, striving to be seen as genuine punk-rock musicians rather than a pop act.

Later Years and Hiatus

In 2002, Crazy Town released their second album, Darkhorse, which failed to replicate the success of their debut, leading to a hiatus from 2003 to 2007. During this period, Binzer explored other musical avenues, collaborating with Paul Oakenfold on “Starry Eyed Surprise” and releasing a solo album, Happy Love Sick, in 2004.

Reformation and Continued Challenges

The band reformed in 2007, and Binzer’s participation in the VH1 reality shows Celebrity Rehab and Sober House highlighted his ongoing struggles with addiction. Crazy Town’s 2015 album, The Brimstone Sluggers, did not chart, and after Mazur left the band in 2017, Binzer continued touring under the name Crazy Town X until 2023. Their tour ended abruptly after a physical altercation between Binzer and Bobby Reeves of Hed PE.

Early Life and Personal Struggles

Seth Binzer was born to Rollin Binzer, a director known for the 1974 concert film Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones, and Leslie Brooks, a former model. Raised between Boston and Los Angeles, Binzer discovered rap in New York City and embraced skateboarding culture. His early life was tumultuous, marked by run-ins with the law, including jail time for assault with a firearm and drug-related issues.

Personal Life and Legal Issues

Binzer’s personal life was often in the public eye. His engagement to British model Jasmine Lennard around the 2010s was fraught with allegations of battery and drug use. In 2022, he was arrested in Los Angeles for driving under the influence.

Legacy and Loss

Binzer’s passing follows the deaths of other Crazy Town members, Rust Epique in 2004 and DJ AM in 2009. Despite the ups and downs, Binzer’s contribution to the music industry, especially with Crazy Town’s global hit “Butterfly,” remains significant. His life story is a testament to the challenges and triumphs faced by artists in the spotlight.

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