The first raw, sloppy, speeding guitar chords announcing an Orange County punk scene blared from Huntington Beach and Fullerton California in 1978. They echoed the sound forged in 1976-77 in the seminal punk undergrounds of New York City, London and Los Angeles.
In the early days, O.C. punk's unyielding musical force slammed up against an immovable cultural object: the Orange County dream of quiet, well-oriented, economically impregnable suburban living.
Treating rowdy, often outrageous fans as a gang element, local authorities shut down a series of clubs that championed the music. But O.C. punk proved too hardy to erase.
In 1979, Mike Ness forms Social Distortion with drummer Casey Royer and brothers Rikk and Frank Agnew.
Police arrive to break up the first ever gig by Social Distortion, at a house party in Yorba Linda, CA. A 17 year-old Mike Ness spits in a plainclothesman's face and is carted off to jail.
"Basically, they're into violence," a Huntington Beach police sergeant told the LA Times in 1979. "They have a hatred virtually for everybody. There's no motive, no rationale. They just do whatever they feel like at the time." The officer went on to plea: "We can't do anything with out the public's help. It's the only way we're going to stop it." Misjudging punk as a gang movement, police in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach detained kids on the streets snapping their mug shots for police files.
Mike Ness was the original tenant of "the Black Hole" a one-bedroom pad in a nondescript Fullerton apartment complex. The walls were said to have witnessed wild experimentation with sex and intoxicants.
After meeting Dennis Danell, a punk loving classmate, Ness insisted Danell, who at the time didn't play an instrument, be included in the band as the Bass player. Not wanting to pause to break in a novice, Royer and the Agnews left and formed their own band instead.
The next few years saw a revolving-door membership.
Ness, now almost 18, went into a rage at "the Black Hole." He started slamming a knife into the wall. The knife got stuck, Ness' hand sliped and his left index finger is sliced.
KROQ-FM deejay Rodney Bingenheimer embraced Orange County music, playing highlights from its major local bands on his Sunday night radio show. Robbie Fields, a small-time music entrepreneur, saw potential in suburban punk. Fields combed the clubs and backyard parties, signing many of the significant local bands to his Posh Boy label for their initial singles or albums.
In the early '80's, Mike Ness was brawling outside of the Cuckoo's Nest with a rival punk rocker who wrestled him to the ground and bite off a chunk of his left ear.
1981, Social Distortion release their first single "Mainliner/Playpen" on the Posh Boy label.
In 1982 Social Distortion, along with LA's Youth Brigade and DC's Minor Threat, filmed the documentary "Another State of Mind," which follows the band's first stormy cross-continental tour.
In early 1983 Mike Ness punched out a bouncer before a Social Distortion club gig in San Diego. The triumph was short lived. After the show, a posse of bouncers grabbed Ness, beat him up and called the police.
By late1983, Social Distortion's first recording line up consisted of Mike Ness, Danell (now on rhythm guitar), bassist Brent Liles, and drummer Derek O'Brien. Released on 13th Floor, "Mommy's Little Monster" gained the band a national name in punk circles.
New Year's Eve 1983, a fed-up Brent Liles and Derek O'Brien bailed out of the band in the middle of the show.
At the beginning of 1984, Ness and Danell recruited John Maurer, another old school buddy from Fullerton to play bass and Christopher Reece came in on the drums. This lineup weathered Social Distortion's worst years.
1984 "Another State Of Mind" was one of the few punk videos to air on Mtv.
1984 Social Distortion continued to play locally and on weekend get-aways to Arizona and Northern California.
Late 1985, Mike Ness, after a series of hospitalizations and brief jailings, had put on the brakes by going into a drug recovery program.
1988, Social Distortion release "Prison Bound," an album whose moving title cut about a wasted life is one of the greatest songs ever to come out of Orange County, Ness turned Social Distortion's albums into an ongoing dialogue about impulsiveness, it's consequences and the hard struggle for maturity.
In 1990, "Social Distortion," SD's first album on a major label (Epic), the first not financed by the band itself was released.
In 1992 Social Distortion released "Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell." The second release on the major label Epic.
Although Social Distortion proudly proclaimed its Fullerton origins, other upwardly mobile rockers played down their O.C. connections.
July 1995, Time Bomb Recordings re-issues "Mommy's Little Monster," "Prison Bound," and releases the single compilation "Mainliner, Wreckage from the Past."
Social Distortion took an extended hiatus following the release of "Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell," and returned to the studios in the fall of 1995 to record "White Light, White Heat, White Trash."
August1996 Chuck Biscuits becomes the new drummer for Social Distortion.
Summer of 1997, Social Distortion play the Vans Warped Tour. Other bands on the bill include Pennywise, Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Helmet.
February 1998, Time Bomb Recordings re-issues the punk classic "Hell Comes To Your House."
April 7,8,9 1998, Social Distortion record three nights at the Roxy and release it as an album on Time Bomb Recordings.
Early 1999, Mike Ness records and releases his first solo record "Cheating At Solitaire."
Late 1999, Mike Ness records and releases the cover collection "Under The Influences."
February 29, 2000 Dennis Danell, the 38-year old guitarist, died of natural causes. "I am saddened beyond any possible form of expression. Dennis and I have been friends since boyhood, starting Social Distortion while we where in high school. My deepest regrets to his family." - Mike Ness
May 6, 2000 "When The Angels Sing" a benefit for the family of Dennis Danell. Bands who were on the bill include Social Distortion, The Offspring, X, Pennywise, TSOL, Punk Rock Karoke, Agent Orange and Rock Star BBQ.
Fall of 2000, Jonny "2 Bags" Wickersham becomes the new guitarist for Social Distortion.
Fall of 2000, Charlie Quintana becomes the new drummer for Social Distortion.
Fall of 2003 Social Distortion head into the studio to record "Sex, Love and Rock'n'Roll," their first full length studio recordl since 1996 and first record since founding member Dennis Danell passed away.
July 27, 2004 Social Distortion release "Live in The Orange County" their first live DVD
August 5, 2004 After 20 years of serving as Social Distortion's bass player John Maurer has decided to leave the band. Maurer completed the recording of "Sex, Love and Rock and Roll', the new Social Distortion full length studio recording but has decided to forgo the usual extended promotion and touring in order to stay home and devote time to his wife and two children. Matt Freeman of Rancid has come aboard for the cycle of Sex, Love and Rock'n' Roll.
August 24, 2004 Another State of Mind will be released on DVD for the time
September 28, 2004 Sex, Love and Rock'n'Roll will be released on CD and limited edition red vinyl.
--- from the official Social Distortion website