John Doe will be here on Sunday, July 17th, at 2pm to talk about and sign his book Under the Big Black Sun. John is probably best known as the bass player, songwriter and singer for the legendary Los Angeles Punk Rock Band X. John, along with his fellow partners in crime, singer Exene Cervenka, guitarist Billy Zoom, and drummer D.J. Bonebrake (yes, that’s D.J.’s real name), were key in creating the West Coast Punk Rock sound. X, Black Flag, The Minutemen, The Weirdos, The Germs, The Adolescents, The Zeros, The Plugz all kicked down the late 70’s to early 80’s door to the sound that helped to define a generation of youngsters struggling to understand their surroundings. Their ability to combine genres not normally associated, like old school country, rock-a-billy and Americana (before it was ever called that) with what was considered Punk Rock paved the way for acts like The Blasters, Los Lobos, Dwight Yoakum, The Screamin’ Sirens, Blood on the Saddle, Tex and the Horseheads, The Flesheaters and many others to stake out a piece of territory as well.
John and Exene’s songwriting style is more akin to poetry than traditional songwriting, listen to X then read some Charles Bukowski or Raymond Chandler, it really is poetry put to song.
Under The Big Black Sun (also the title of X’s third album) chronicles the formation and rise of the West Coast Punk Rock Scene. John and his co-author Tom DeSavia take a somewhat unusual approach, and rather than have John chronicle the entire scene through his eyes they gathered up a posse of collaborators who were all instrumental in establishing that scene. This book is not an autobiography, a biography or a memoir. This book is like a fever dream collage of sight and sound; full of dreams; some fulfilled, some broken and beaten down. This museum piece curated by John Doe is full of bright lights and dark shadows; life, death and all the pieces that lie in between those.
Black Flag’s Henry Rollins, The Minutemen’s Mike Watt, Chris D. of The Flesheaters, The Blaster’s Dave Alvin, Jane Weidlin and Charlotte Caffey of the Go-Gos all weigh in on the driving forces that both helped them succeed and tore some of them to pieces.
Black Flag: “Rise Above”
If you want unfiltered insight into the late 70’s/early 80’s West Coast Punk Rock scene, this is definitely the book you want. The joy of the early days of surviving off of each other’s hopes and dreams, the burgeoning successes and excesses, the heartbreak of death and deprivation are all captured here.
X still plays to this day with its original lineup. John was also in the Knitters with Exene and Dave Alvin, had his John Doe Thing and tours on his own as well. He is also an actor with roles in “Great Balls of Fire”, “Boogie Nights”, “Roadside Prophets” and of course as the mustachioed bartender who gets on Patrick Swayze’s bad side in “Roadhouse.”
John has a tight connection with Austin, with stalwarts such as Jesse Dayton and Jon Dee Graham playing with him from time to time. He also has at least one pair of pointy toed black patent leather boots that he bought here in town.
John will be playing with the aforementioned Jesse Dayton at the Continental Club on South Congress Ave. on Saturday, June 16.