Without Keith Morris aka Johnny Bob Goldstein aka Morty, Hardcore West Coast Punk Rock as we know it would not exist. Hell, hardcore punk rock in general would be what? Who knows. We do know Keith Morris brought drive, a thirst for something new and a dark, twisted sense of humor to help kick off the creation of the hardcore punk rock world.
Out of Hermosa Beach, Keith worked at his Dad’s bait shop and was the original singer for seminal punk rock warriors Black Flag. Along with guitarist Greg Ginn, bassist and taskmaster Chuck Dukowski , and drummer Brian Migdol, they created a sound not heard before and attacked it with a do it yourself attitude that would kill lesser people (and has).Coming together as Panic in 1976, they formed their own label, booked their own shows and generally just gave no fucks about what anyone else thought of them. No video exists of Keith’s time with Black Flag before he left to form the Ciʀcle JƎʀᴋs, but he did record the Nervous Breakdown EP with them.
Listen to 44 seconds of abject rage, resentment and resignation here; Wasted:
….and no, thats not a 44 second excerpt, its the entire song…The Nervous Breakdown EP clocked in at 5 minutes and 14 seconds for 4 songs, the aural equivalent of a beatdown with an aluminum baseball bat…
Keith left Black Flag over creative differences with Black Flag’s founding guitarist and chief songwriter; Greg Ginn (long sober now, Keith self admitted to a serious struggle with cocaine and speed) and went on to found the Ciʀcle JƎʀᴋs, who would prove to be the crown princes of smart ass punk rock for many, many years. Here they are in a scene from Penelope Spheeris’ 1980 seminal take on West Cost Hardcore, The Decline of Western Civilization:
The had no trouble sending themselves up in this excerpt from Alex Cox’s ode to Los Angeles, Repo Man:
Keith, young angry punk also has one hell of a crazy sense of humor as evidenced by his tenure in Midget Handjob, a revolving cadre of punk rock visionaries and wastrels doing performance art and minstrel music…or something like that… (by the way do not google Midget Handjob at work-Keith’s band is not at the top of the list).
Keith is like the energizer bunny , so when The Circle Jerks went on hiatus, He upped the ante with his new band OFF.
Here, Keith and the band share a hilarious video with favorite Austin son David Yow of Scratch Acid and Jesus Lizard fame:
…and…He takes part in FLAG, a band made up of himself, Chuck Dukowsi, Dez Cadena, Bill Stevenson (arguably the strongest of the many characters who were part of Black Flag) with the addition of The Descendants Stephen Egerton in the place of Black Flag’s Greg Ginn (who no one really likes anyway). They play classic Black Flag songs and will be playing at the Sound on Sound Fest outside of Austin on Saturday November 5.
Flag do MY WAR:
In addition to all the great music Keith is responsible, he has worked as an A & R guy, helping to bring up young bands and is proud of his many years of sobriety and in light of being diagnosed with diabetes; still gets out there and flies the punk rock flag (pun absolutely intended)
Come see Keith read from, talk about & sign his book My Damage: The Story of a Punk Rock Survivor at BookPeople on November 4th at 4pm.
Assuming I can get away with it, we will play some of Keith’s music in the half hour before the talk!