World/Inferno Friendship Society frontman Jack Terricloth has died at the age of 50, the band announced on its website and social media:
“We are devastated to say that our guiding spirit, instigator, inciter — the person who, to most of us, lived under the name Jack Terricloth — has left us for the astral plane. We will be working on plans for a celebration of his extraordinary life. For now, we want to thank Jack for inspiring this remarkable community — something more than simply band, family, or scene — which changed the lives of so many people in ways which are hard to articulate, and which is perhaps the most enduring part of his legacy. Please raise a glass of your choice in his memory; we shall not see his like again.”
Born Peter Ventantonio and raised in Bridgewater Township, Terricloth was the only constant member of the Brooklyn-based band, which came together in the ’90s and built a cult following with its eccentric mix of punk energy and cabaret theatricality. Previously, he played in the New Brunswick punk bands Sticks and Stones, and P.E.D.
“Inferno still feels like my ‘new band,’ ” he told Bob Makin in 2018, in an interview that was published on NJArts.net and elsewhere. “I’m the guy from Sticks and Stones deep down.”
Among World/Inferno Friendship Society’s offbeat projects was “Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre’s Twentieth Century,” a multimedia show that the band presented at the Kasser Theater at Montclair State University in 2008.
“I’ve been a professional punk-rocker for like 20 years, which is a weird thing to be,” Terricloth told me, in an interview that year. “And I always looked for antecedents — people who might have been like me in the past — to look for some clue of what to do next. And Mr. Lorre stood out as being a globetrotting outsider who was successful, but also an eternal underdog. He was a street urchin in Vienna, and found his way into theater. He was always kicking against the odds, and became successful despite his bizarre appearance.”
Facebook is filled today with tributes to Terricloth. Sarah Mirabello, for instance, wrote on post to a Facebook group dedicated to the band:
Jack, his charisma, his energy, and his stories have brought me from state to state, year to year, with the best group of people I know. We were a family. For the better part of 2 decades, I have meticulously followed them to hundreds of shows and would average 20+ shows a year in my best years. Waltzing in circus tents. Screaming to the great pumpkin out on the Hudson River. Getting kicked out of colleges but not caring — the show goes on in the parking lot with a megaphone. Crowd surfing on couches. The confetti. The pumpkins. The family. The love. Singing and dancing and crying and laughing.
Jack was a beacon of light, a crafted storyteller, an activist, and he gave me the strength to fight for the important things in life.
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