MANKATO — On Jan. 8, 1997, a man walked into the Blue Earth County Courthouse named Fred Lynn Williams. He walked out named Punk Rock Freddie. Officially. No kidding.
“I was unhappy with my original name and I was going to punk parties where the youth told me I was a good punk rocker,” Punk told Static magazine in June 2004.
Punk Rock Freddie, who wowed passersby with his many piercings, tattoos and an old-school boombox, died Sunday at age 69. He reportedly had bladder cancer.
He was a colorful member of Mankato’s cast of characters, changing his hair color weekly, adding new piercings to this body. At the height of his movement about town, it would have been hard for anyone in town to not have at least seen him.
But Punk’s last few years saw him slow down quite a bit. He’d continued to lose his grip on reality and spend more and more time out of the public eye. He’d given up dyeing his hair. And he’d taken most of the piercings out of his ears, nose and chest. But on his hands, written across his knuckles — one letter per knuckle — you could still see his first tattoos he’d ever gotten: “P-U-N-K R-O-C-K.”
He was born and raised in Des Moines. When he was in his mid-20s, he bought a home on Lake Okoboji in Iowa. He got a job on the maintenance and grounds crew at an area school. This is where he said he began working with kids.
In that Static magazine article, he said: “The more I worked, the more youth I met and they would have nowhere to go so they would show up at my door. There was one counselor for five school systems. The youth came to me with their problems. Sometimes quite a few would show up at my door. They’d bring pizzas, snacks, have a real good time.”