Under The Big Black Sun Explores The Nascent Los Angeles Punk Rock Movement And Its Evolution To Hardcore Punk As It S Never Been Told Before Authors John Doe And Tom DeSavia Have Woven Together An Enthralling Story Of The Legendary West Coast Scene From By Enlisting The Voices Of People Who Were There The Book Shares Chapter Length Tales From The Authors Along With Personal Essays From Famous And Infamous Players In The Scene Additional Authors Include Exene Cervenka X , Henry Rollins Black Flag , Mike Watt The Minutemen , Jane Wiedlin And Charlotte Caffey The Go Go S , Dave Alvin The Blasters , Jack Grisham TSOL , Teresa Covarrubias The Brat , Robert Lopez The Zeros, El Vez , As Well As Scencesters And Journalists Pleasant Gehman, Kristine McKenna, And Chris Morris Through Interstitial Commentary, John Doe Narrates This Journey Through The Land Of Film Noir Sunshine, Hollywood Back Alleys, And Suburban Sprawl The Place Where He Met His Artistic Counterparts Exene, DJ Bonebrake, And Billy Zoom And Formed X, The Band That Became Synonymous With, And In Many Ways Defined, LA Punk Under The Big Black Sun Shares Stories Of Friendship And Love, Ambition And Feuds, Grandiose Dreams And Cultural Rage, All Combined With The Tattered, Glossy Sheen Of Pop Culture Weirdness That Epitomized The Operations Of Hollywood S Underbelly Readers Will Travel To The Clubs That Defined The Scene, As Well As To The Street Corners, Empty Lots, Apartment Complexes, And Squats That Served As De Facto Salons For The Musicians, Artists, And Fringe Players That Hashed Out What Would Become Punk Rock In Los Angeles


10 thoughts on “Under the Big Black Sun

  1. says:

    This is the best audiobook I have ever listened to.


  2. says:

    Disclaimer this review is for the audiobook This is a great fucking book And if you don t listen to the audiobook you re doing yourself a disservice All the chapters are read by the people who were there and experienced it all What a great piece of history told in their own voices John Doe has the perfect tone of voice for this He should become a voice actor or something There s a great Jack Grisham chapter And I wouldn t want to spoil all that sex for youso go listen Do not wait.


  3. says:

    This isn t a memoir by John Doe, nor is it an oral history like Please Kill Me This is a collection of personal short stories from an array of amazing, talented people who came into their own in the centre of the LA punk scene While the overall theme of finding a place they finally felt they belonged is found in each chapter, it s the personal memories, interactions, and how it all shaped them and the art they would create that makes it all fascinating.This was my first ever audiobook and I m so happy I chose that way to experience this collection Doe chose some awesome subjects to share their stories and hearing them all share their experiences in their own voice greatly enhanced the book for me I also loved that he made sure to include plenty of incredible women considering how often their contributions have been overlooked.One incredible woman featured in this book is Pleasant Gehman I had the immense pleasure of chatting with her on my podcast, and those who wish to hear some fantastic tales from the LA Punk scene can check it out at Muses and Stuff.


  4. says:

    As a superfan of L.A punk rock I was somewhat let down by Under the Big Black Sun It s not a memoir, nor is it an oral history, and it s kind of a stretch to call it an anthology It s a loose collection of essays that covers, or less, the same ground as Forming The Early Days of L.A Punk, Make The Music Go Bang The Early L.A Punk Scene, and We Got the Neutron Bomb The Untold Story of L.A Punk That s fine The voices collected here all add interesting insights to a story that s been told many times before despite co author Tom DeSavia s claims that LA punk rock is underdocumented Interspersed between these pieces are shorter remembrances by John Doe and DeSavia that add little to the collection I think I would have preferred if they d stuck to being editors and made it a proper anthology and added voices to the conversation If I sound a bit jaded you can thank Allan MacDonell s Punk Elegies True Tales of Death Trip Kids, Wrongful Sex, and Trial by Angel Dust and Alice Bag s Violence Girl East L.A Rage to Hollywood Stage, a Chicana Punk Story, which are both real and raw and burst the balloon that would have you believe that the early LA punk scene was a magical time of creativity and diversity There were drugs addicts, hustlers, prostitutes, rapists and rape victims, violence against women and STDs aplenty but you won t find any of that here.


  5. says:

    Great read about the original Los Angeles punk scene Really enjoyed the emphasis on the creativity, inclusiveness, and intellect of the scene which has always been the most most attractive thing about punk to me rather than just tales of debauch and nihilism, although those are scattered throughout as well It offers a very nice counter to all the current hype about the early New York punk scene, and successfully documents some great moments illustrating the unique feel the early LA artists brought to punk while remaining true to the voices of those who participated in creating it Many of the vignettes are touching eulogies to a brief time that left an impact still felt in music and art today.


  6. says:

    Instead of a John Doe book, this is set up as John Doe curating a book about the LA punk scene The stated objective of the book is that the Los Angeles punk scene of the late 70s doesn t get enough respect and attention in comparison to the London and New York scenes.I admire working towards that end, although for me, it s impossible to beat the UK and NYC for depth and quality, as well as diversity Still, LA is very important For starters, Doe s band X is despite many plaudits, still underappreciated As is so many of the bands that former the LA scene the Go Gos, Fear, TSOL, the Weirdos, the Dickies, the Germs and there is a wealth of diversity and thought Black Randy and the Metro Squad, the Blasters, the Bags, the Polecats, the Zeros, the Plugz, the Screamers and many .The book are short pieces about 20 or so from 15 of the scene s members musicians, journalists, film makers Billie Joe Armstrong with the introduction, and pieces written by Henry Rollins, Exene Cevenka, and The best in my opinion were the ones written by Doe, and Jane Weidlin and Charlotte Caffey of the Go Gos They really captured that period of youth where you discover others with the same tastes as you, and start making towards a scene, capturing the energy and the lack of money, no car, dead end jobs but also as the scene evolves over time I was very inspired to think of my teenage years and early 20s and surely others will be reminded of their local scenes Maybe not everyone we knew ended up on MTV, but we were inspired and created and made the scene in our lives.Mike Watt has an excellent piece which is a fitting tribute to D Boon but also captures that feeling of being a lonely outsider and is written in the captifying way of wattspeak like only he can El Vez and others pointed out the openness of the scene and that it was not just a white male scene, but everyone was equal, and the scene was accepting of women, gays, Latinos and everyone.I found Dave Alvin s piece worthwhile in that it argues over what punk is If punk is do what you love no matter what then the Blasters were indeed punk but if punk is a haircut or a uniform , his band did not fit in The Blasters shared stages with acts as diverse as Queen, Fear, Los Lobos, Bo Diddley, and Dwight Yoakam It was cool that Lee Ving had the band s back, and that their rockabilly influenced sound fit in a scene where they did not sound like anyone else I also really appreciated Jack Grisham s piece Most of the book follows the same thread there was this magical group of outsiders who came together to form art, then hardcore came in, hard drugs were introduced, the scene was violent and testosterone driven Grisham offers a great rebuttal on what drove bands like TSOL and others to do what they did They were coming into a scene that had become the establishment it once railed against Journalist Kristine McKenna and Doe end the book with two pieces that sum up the chapters before McKenna is a great writer, though I think she is a bit off with postulating that the scene wouldn t have been created in world of social media This to me hits a bit too much Get off my lawn for me I get her point, but scenes involve Now, there are blogs, sites like Bandcamp, kickstarter campaigns, guerilla marketing, and people across the world with similar tastes can connect, and artists like car Seat Headrest can go from home recordings to national stardom without leaving the bedroom Her other contention borders on the youth is wasted on the young meme, which is mostly true Without being ageist, many of her points are valid The young have the time and energy and drive, before worrying about bills and families set in, and other motivations drive decisions Another point made is that the scene once rebellious and considered something the mainstream would ridicule turned into something that corporations like record labels and MTV embraced because they saw financial implications What was pure art was now being tinged by the greed of Capitalism Doe ties it all together, capturing the points where the scene moved from a collection of creative souls to where it loses the plot Go Gos Top 10 success, X s major label signing and national tour, Darby Crash s death These things led to the scene no longer being this pure uncorrupted thing For me, this book was really powerful, and reminded me so much of my younger years and the scene , and I think friends of mine would say the same Granted, we may not have the level of fame, but the scene for us was just as important to shaping our lives To McKenna s point, it was a time that you could get beat up for the way you looked, a nostalgia that the alt right apparently wants to bring back When I look at the reviews, they seem mixed I think it may help that I know these bands very well For me, this book was perfect for what Doe wanted to accomplish.I would be remiss if I didn t end this review with a glowing appreciation of my local library In the last year or so , they have brought in not only this book, but a bunch of significant music biographies Unfaithful Music, Porcelain, Trouble Boys, How Music Works as well as this book Not to mention a lot of other cool books like Richard Zacks Mark Twain book This is an amazing selection that I doubt my Big Box store can compete with Way to go local library


  7. says:

    One could make a pretty good argument that the L.A punk scene of the late 70 s early 80 s was every bit as culturally influential as the London and New York punk movements, if not so Besides the music, SoCal popularized the D.I.Y ethos, gave us the art of Raymond Petttibon, and the documentaries of Penelope Spheeris It s fairly crying out for a good book about it Under the Big Black Sun is not that book What is it A collection of short essays about L.A in the late 70 s, written by several of the musicians and scenesters from those days It s pretty hit or miss Most of theses pieces follow the same narrative, and tell the same stories, to wit 1 I came here when I was 16, and met others like myself who didn t fit in 2 The parties were crazy Tomata du Plenty made gross appetizers the Disgraceland Party and we smoked pot with Tony Curtis There s a lot of name dropping going on here.3 The music was great The first Plugz Weirdos Germs show I went to was like nothing I d ever experienced It was so raw 4 Drugs and Orange County skinheads came and ruined it for everyone, so I moved on There s not a lot of insight into what made punk music from that time and place so powerful The best part of the book is Mike Watt s story of the birth of the Minutemen Written without capital letters, and strewn with teenageisms prolly, dealio , Watt s essay is a tender paean to his best friend and bandmate, D Boon, who died in a car accident just when the band was about to take off It s funny and heartbreaking.


  8. says:

    Totally rad I love these oral history books and it was especially great on audio because I get to learn about a time I didn t get to live through myself, and straight from the mouths of the people who were at the center of it Most of the recollections weren t very pretty, but that s punk.


  9. says:

    Excellent history, in a quirky random manner that perfectly suits the subject Many writers co authored the book with John Doe I want to check out The Flesheaters and the Minute Men after hearing Jason and Mike give their accounts of the bands, respectively.


  10. says:

    If you are interested in this, may I suggest the audio book So fun And so much LA punk history I had no idea the Go Go s were involved in the LA punk scene.