SOCIAL DISTORTION is an American punk rock band formed in 1978 in
Fullerton, California . The band currently consists of Mike Ness
(lead vocals, lead guitar),
Jonny Wickersham (rhythm guitar, backing
Brent Harding (bass, backing vocals), David Hidalgo Jr.
(drums), and David Kalish (keyboards).
Social Distortion went on a temporary hiatus in the mid-1980s, due to
frontman Ness' drug addiction and troubles with the law which resulted
in extended stints in various rehabilitation centers that lasted for
two years. Since its inception, the band lineup has been a virtual
revolving-door of talent with many members coming and going – Ness
has been the only constant member. After 39 years of performing,
Social Distortion continues to tour and record music.
Social Distortion has released seven full-length studio
albums, two compilations , one live album, and two
DVDs . They
released two albums — Mommy\'s Little Monster (1983) and Prison
Bound (1988) — before signing a three-album contract with Epic
Records in 1989.
Social Distortion rose to fame with their 1990
self-titled third album , which produced their well-known hit singles
"Ball and Chain ", "Story of My Life ", and the cover of Johnny Cash
's "Ring of Fire ", and was certified gold by RIAA . Many of their
later albums, including their second gold record Somewhere Between
Heaven and Hell (1992), were also well received. They are considered
one of the best-selling punk rock bands, with more than three million
albums sold worldwide.
Social Distortion is currently working on a
new album, likely to be released in 2018.
* 1 History
* 1.1 Early years (1978–1982)
* 1.2 Mommy\'s Little Monster and first hiatus (1983–1985)
* 1.3 First comeback and
Prison Bound (1986–1988)
* 1.4 Major label years and mainstream success (1989–1996)
* 1.5 Second hiatus, Danell\'s death and Sex, Love and Rock \'n\'
* 1.6 Subsequent activities and departure of Quintana (2005–2009)
Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes (2009–2011)
* 1.8 Upcoming eighth studio album (2011–present)
* 3 Musical style, influences, and impact
* 4 Members
* 4.1 Current line-up
* 4.2 Former members
* 5 Discography
* 6 References
* 7 External links
EARLY YEARS (1978–1982)
Social Distortion was formed in late 1978 by frontman
Mike Ness ,
inspired by the Sex Pistols and many other British punk bands as well
as rock acts such as the Rolling Stones . The original lineup
consisted of Ness on lead guitar,
Rikk Agnew on bass,
Frank Agnew on
Casey Royer on drums. Ness met
Dennis Danell , who was a
year older, in high school and insisted he join the band on bass
guitar even though Danell had never played an instrument before. When
Danell was brought in, Frank, Rikk, and Casey left to join the
Adolescents . Mike and Dennis remained the only constant members for
the next two decades with bass and drum members changing every few
The Adolescents song "
Kids of the Black Hole " and Social
Distortion song "The Playpen" chronicled this period of the band's
Its first single, Mainliner/Playpen featuring Ness on guitar and
vocals, Dennis on bass, and Carrot on drums was released in 1981 on
Posh Boy , the label responsible for releasing the first singles and
albums of many of the local O.C. punk bands.
Rodney Bingenheimer of
KROQ-FM was responsible for much of the radio play in Orange County,
California , that punk received in the early 80s, and took a liking to
Social Distortion, releasing the single "1945" on his 1981 compilation
album, Rodney on the ROQ, Blood on the ROQ in 1983, and The Best Of
Rodney on the ROQ in 1989.
In 1982, the band—now consisting of Ness, Danell (who now played
Brent Liles on bass, and Derek O\'Brien on
drums—embarked on their first international tour (US and Canada)
with fellow punk band Youth Brigade , a trip chronicled in the punk
rockumentary Another State of Mind , which was not released until
MOMMY\'S LITTLE MONSTER AND FIRST HIATUS (1983–1985)
Upon its return from the Another State of Mind tour in 1982, they
recorded their debut album, Mommy\'s Little Monster . The album was
released in early 1983 on their own label,
13th Floor Records .
Mommy's Little Monster includes the title track as well as the song
for which the previous tour was named, "Another State of Mind ". This
was the album that "gained the band a national name in punk circles".
Ness mentions in his DVD commentary that he really had nowhere to
stay when he got back to California after the tour ended, so he would
crash on the couch of whoever would have him. He details how he
plunged headfirst into serious drug addiction and ended up being
strung out on heroin for weeks at a time. In 1983, Liles and O'Brien
left the band in the middle of a show on New Year's Eve, and were
replaced soon thereafter by Ness' high school friend
John Maurer and a
man named Bob Stubbs . This line-up lasted only a short time until
Christopher Reece joined on drums. Ness's drug habit continued
throughout 1984 and 1985 as the band continued to gain success with
Another State of Mind appearing as one of the punk rarities on MTV,
and touring in California and Arizona. As a result of Ness's
escalating drug habit and troubles with the law, Social Distortion
briefly went on hiatus in 1985. During this time, Ness was in and out
of various rehabilitation centers and jails.
FIRST COMEBACK AND PRISON BOUND (1986–1988)
The band reformed in or around 1986, once Ness finished his drug
rehabilitation program. It released its second album,
Prison Bound ,
two years later in 1988—over five years after their debut. The album
John Maurer on bass and
Christopher Reece on
Prison Bound never charted on Billboard , the title
track still receives extensive airplay on Los Angeles radio station,
A notable style change takes place in Prison Bound, which takes on a
definite country/western flavor and marks the start of the band's
entrance into a style sometimes called "cowpunk ." Country legend
Johnny Cash and the Rolling Stones ' honky tonk style became more
prominent influences on Social Distortion's music at this time. There
are references to Cash and the Stones in the songs "Prison Bound" and
"On My Nerves."
Five years had passed since releasing its debut. The success was just
beginning and, in fact, taking time between albums became a pattern
for Social Distortion. Ness acknowledges in a 2003 interview that it
is a little backward, marketing-wise, to play songs for the fans for a
few years before recording them—but it has always worked well for
them. "We know which songs are going to be fan favorites on the record
before we even record them."
MAJOR LABEL YEARS AND MAINSTREAM SUCCESS (1989–1996)
After the release of Prison Bound,
Social Distortion left Restless
Records and signed with Epic . The band then returned to the studio
around the summer/fall of 1989, with producer
Dave Jerden , to begin
recording their self-titled third album , which was released in 1990.
It was Social Distortion's first album that was not financed by the
band. The album includes the singles "Ball and Chain " and Story of
My Life as well as a cover of
Johnny Cash 's Ring of Fire . The
self-titled album fared better than both
Mommy's Little Monster and
Prison Bound, and is often credited as Social Distortion's best known
work, with sales continuing 27 years after its release. It is also
sometimes cited as among the best rock albums of 1990—the album is
said to "split the difference between rockabilly and Ramones-style
The fourth album,
Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell , was released in
1992. The album included two hit singles—"Bad Luck ", and "When She
Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell surpassed all their
previous albums in popularity. The album has a similar sound to the
previous, eponymous, album, said to be a blend of "punk, blues,
country and rockabilly". After the release of this album, drummer
Christopher Reece left
Social Distortion in 1994 and was replaced by
Randy Carr . Carr toured with the band and played drums on live
performances until he left in 1995.
The band took another hiatus after the release of Somewhere Between
Heaven and Hell, and did not return to the studio until 1995. During
Social Distortion released a compilation album, Mainliner:
Wreckage From the Past (1995), featuring pre-Mommy\'s Little Monster
cuts. It contains two versions of "1945" and "Playpen" from their two
indie labels, 13th Floor, and Posh Boy , and also a cover of the
Rolling Stones ' "
Under My Thumb
Under My Thumb ".
In June 1994, the band began demoing songs for the fifth album, then
returned to the studio in 1995 to record White Light, White Heat,
White Trash , which was released in 1996. The album is said to have
taken on a harder sound than those preceding it, and to not focus as
much on their previous blues and rockabilly sound. The single "I Was
Wrong " received wide radio play and is said to resemble "the classic
sound more than any other track on the album". The album also
features the singles "When the Angels Sing," which is said to be a
tribute to Ness's grandmother, who was an avid supporter of the band,
and "Don't Drag Me Down". The album also included a re-recorded
version of "Under My Thumb", a cover of the Rolling Stones, as a
hidden track . Former Danzig drummer
Chuck Biscuits joined the band
between the recording and release of the album, and is credited in the
liner notes although this album actually features session drummer Deen
White Light, White Heat, White Trash was the final
Social Distortion album recorded with
Dennis Danell before his death.
SECOND HIATUS, DANELL\'S DEATH AND SEX, LOVE AND ROCK \'N\' ROLL
Social Distortion left Epic and returned to Time Bomb
Recordings for the first time in eight years. It released its first
(and only) live album, Live at the Roxy in 1998. Social Distortion
went on hiatus again as Ness went solo, releasing two albums, Cheating
at Solitaire and
Under the Influences , featuring song covers, in
Dennis Danell died on February 29, 2000 in his Newport Beach home
after apparently suffering a brain aneurysm , leaving Ness as the only
remaining original member of the band. There have been some rumors
claiming that the band broke up again, following his death. He was
replaced by former
U.S. Bombs , Cadillac Tramps and L.A.'s Youth
Jonny Wickersham , who had previously been Danell's
guitar technician. Biscuits also left during that time, and was
Charlie Quintana . After Danell's death, the band
continued touring semi-frequently, playing sold-out shows in the Los
Angeles area around the New Year for three straight years. The
band's 2004–2009 lineup, left to right: Wickersham, Harding,
Quintana, and Ness
Social Distortion started work on the follow-up to White Light, White
Heat, White Trash in 2000, which was originally to be released in the
fall of that year, but it was not completed. Since 2001, due to the
band's ongoing tour schedule, the album's release was put on hold
several times. In the fall of 2003, after completing demos, Social
Distortion returned to the studio with producer Cameron Webb to
complete the album. Sex, Love and Rock \'n\' Roll , released on
September 28, 2004, would be the band's first release with Wickersham
and Quintana. Just a month before the release of the album, longtime
John Maurer left the band to stay with his family, and was
replaced by Rancid 's
Matt Freeman . He stayed until late 2004, and
was replaced by current bassist
Brent Harding .
SUBSEQUENT ACTIVITIES AND DEPARTURE OF QUINTANA (2005–2009)
Social Distortion continued touring on and off between 2005 and 2007.
The band was scheduled to headline the
Soundwave Festival in Australia
in February–March 2008, along with Incubus and the Offspring , but
they cancelled their appearance and released the following statement:
Due to circumstances beyond our control,
Social Distortion is
regrettably unable to perform at
Soundwave Festival 2008 in Australia
and must officially withdraw from the bill. We apologise for any
inconvenience to our Australian fans and hope to make it there as soon
During this time, the band played with various other bands, including
Versus the World , Tsar ,
Shooter Jennings ,
I Hate Kate , the Black
Flogging Molly ,
Nine Black Alps
Nine Black Alps ,
Supersuckers , Blackpool
Lights , the
Lost City Angels , the
Street Dogs , the Backyard Babies
, the Hangmen , the Eyeliners , Cooper , the Stun Gunz ,
Bullets and Octane , and the Dead 60s .
In February 2006, Ness was injured and broke his wrist in a
skateboarding accident. For several months,
T.S.O.L. guitarist Ron
Emory and the Hangmen 's Bryan Small played guitar while Ness sang
with his arm in a cast and sling.
Brent Liles , who played bass on Mommy's Little
Monster, died on January 18, 2007 after being hit by a semi truck
while riding a dirt bike in
Placentia, California .
Social Distortion released its first Greatest Hits compilation on
June 26, 2007. It includes hit singles from Mommy\'s Little Monster to
Sex, Love and Rock \'n\' Roll , yet lacks any song from
Along with a new studio recording of the song, "Far Behind ", new
studio recordings of 6 of their classic songs are included as well.
Rerecording these songs allowed the band to own rights to them again,
instead of Epic (their former label) owning them. Through iTunes in
the U.S., as a download only, the Greatest Hits also includes a new
Social Distortion cover version of the Chuck Berry classic
"Maybellene". Ness stated in an interview that this Greatest Hits
technically means "what was good with radio." Ness also stated in the
same interview that "we may follow this up with something that is more
essential Social D. – songs that are the band's favorites."
In April 2009 the band announced that longtime drummer Charlie
Quintana was leaving the band:
After ten amazing years behind the drum kit for Social Distortion,
Charlie "Chalo" Quintana has announced he's moving on to explore other
musical opportunities. Charlie had this to say about his departure,
"Playing with Social D for ten years was a good time in my life. I was
lucky to play on two Social D records and the second solo album, and I
am proud to have been part of the band. We hit some spectacular
heights which I will never forget – adios amigos!"
Quintana's replacement was announced as Angels "> Social
Distortion performing songs from
Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes with
backing singers Kandace Lindsey (second from left) and Ijeoma Njaka
(third from left)
At a show in
Poughkeepsie, New York on July 27, 2010, frontman Mike
Ness revealed that the new
Social Distortion album would be called
Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes . Despite being planned for a November
2010 release, the band announced that the album would be released on
January 18, 2011. They also mentioned that "
Machine Gun Blues " would
be the album's first single and available for download via iTunes on
November 16. On December 6,
Social Distortion made their network
television debut on
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Jimmy Kimmel Live! performing Machine Gun Blues
and Story of My Life.
Social Distortion joined the ritual at The
Voodoo Experience 2011 in
City Park in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 28–30, 2011.
On August 6, 2011,
Social Distortion performed a live set for "Guitar
Center Sessions" on
DirecTV . The episode included an interview with
Nic Harcourt .
UPCOMING EIGHTH STUDIO ALBUM (2011–PRESENT)
Asked in a January 2011 interview with Performer Magazine if Social
Distortion intended to record more albums for Epitaph, Ness replied,
"I would suspect so, yes." Also in a January 2011 interview with
Mike Ness said that there would not be another seven- or
eight-year wait between
Social Distortion albums. Ness stated,
"Although this record is out, I'm going to continue the process of
writing so maybe there won't be such a large gap between records. Even
when the record's done, it doesn't mean the creativity of writing is."
In his interview with
Frank Turner , Ness stated that his goal was to
make a new
Social Distortion album in two years and wanted it to be
different than Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes. In an August 2011,
interview at his home in Los Angeles, Ness said that he did not want
"too many years to go by before the next Social D record. I'm really
trying to be a little bit more disciplined. That's really what it
comes down to. It's not like it takes me eight years to write a
record. Once I get out of that mode, I'm out of that mode completely.
Then of course, it's hard to get back and write a record. This time,
when this record was finished, the creative process didn't end just
because the record was done."
In May 2012, Ness stated that
Social Distortion was expected to begin
writing their eighth studio album in January 2013. On July 22, 2015,
in an interview with
Rolling Stone , Ness stated that he would write
songs then forget them a few days later. He stated that the band were
banking on a 2016 release date and that some songs that he considered
to be filler were getting praise from his bandmates,
In 2015, the band toured to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their
self-titled album .
In a March 2017 interview with
Las Vegas Review-Journal , Ness
revealed that the band has about 20 new songs in various stages of
completion, and said that they range from garage punk to the gospel
-inspired. Later that month, he was said that he has been "reading
and writing, and kind of wrapping my mind around the self-imposed
challenge that I've put on myself: that I've got to write the record
of my career. So I've got to raise the bar. That's just something that
I put on myself because I don't like to just go, 'Time to put out
another record' and go through the motions." He also hinted at the
band entering the studio in about six months. In an interview with
Phoenix New Times , which also took place in March 2017, Ness stated
that his goal is to be in the studio by fall, and added, "I have to
write the record of my career right now. That’s the pressure I put
The band is set to start their Summer 2017 tour around the United
States on July 22.
The band's skeleton logo on a banner during a live show
The band has consistently used as their logo a skeleton holding a
cigarette and a martini glass . It is frequently featured in live
performances as well as album covers., it should be noted the band's
famous logo of a skeleton holding a martini and cigarette came from an
invitation to a New Year's Eve party that a friend of Ness’ had
designed. Said Ness in an April 2011 interview with Rolling Stone: "At
the time, I saw that, and it just felt like, ‘That's it right there.
It's life and death, it's celebration.’ It just felt powerful."
MUSICAL STYLE, INFLUENCES, AND IMPACT
Social Distortion's musical style began as decidedly punk rock or pop
punk when the band formed in the late 1970s. They are thought to be
one of the pioneering bands of the original Southern California punk
rock movement out of
Orange County, California , and their style
closely associated with the Dickies , the Germs , and other bands from
that place and time. In the mid-'80s there was a notable change in
their style of music – taking more from country music and rock and
Mike Ness admits in the DVD commentary from Another State of
Mind that he may have even tried too hard on the
Prison Bound album.
They did eventually find their niche, and the majority of their albums
from the mid-80s on to the early '90s are considered to be punk rock
or rockabilly – a melodic punk sound that is distinctly – and
distinctively – their own.
Social Distortion's music is influenced by bands and artists such as
Johnny Cash ,
Hank Williams ,
Bob Dylan ,
Eddie Cochran , the Rolling
Stones , the Sex Pistols , the Clash ,
New York Dolls
New York Dolls ,
Dead Boys ,
and the Ramones .
Social Distortion have influenced bands such as
Pennywise , Face to Face ,
Green Day ,
Rise Against ,
Pearl Jam , Rancid , the Offspring , and
Thrice . The band began
playing with fellow
Orange County, California bands such as the
Adolescents , China White ,
Shattered Faith and
T.S.O.L. . The music
was fast, angry and energetic.
All of Social Distortion's songs are written and sung by Mike Ness.
There is a common theme in most of his lyrics about "impulsiveness,
its consequences and the hard struggle to overcome".
For past members, see
List of Social Distortion band members .
Mike Ness – lead vocals, lead guitar (1978–present)
* Jonny "2 Bags" Wickersham – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Brent Harding – bass, backing vocals (2004–present)
David Hidalgo Jr. – drums, percussion (2010–present)
* David Kalish – keyboards, Hammond organ (2011–present)
Rikk Agnew – bass (1978 – 1979)
Frank Agnew – guitar (1978 – 1979)
Casey Royer – drums (1978 – 1979)
Dennis Danell – bass (1979-1981), guitar (1981-2000; died 2000)
* John "Carrot" Stevenson – drums (1979 – 1981)
Brent Liles – bass (1981 – 1984; died 2007)
* Derek O\'Brien – drums (1981 – 1984)
John Maurer – bass (1984 – 2004)
* Bob Stubbs – drums (1984)
Christopher Reece – drums (1984 – 1994)
Randy Carr – drums (1994 – 1995)
Deen Castronovo – drums (1995 – 1996)
Chuck Biscuits – drums (1996 – 1999)
Charlie Quintana – drums (1999 – 2009)
Matt Freeman – bass (2004 – 2005)
* Adam "Atom" Willard – drums (2009 – 2010)
Social Distortion discography
* Mommy\'s Little Monster (1983)
Prison Bound (1988)
Social Distortion (1990)
Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell (1992)
White Light, White Heat, White Trash (1996)
* Sex, Love and Rock \'n\' Roll (2004)
Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes (2011)
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to SOCIAL DISTORTION .
* Official website
* MIKE NESS