One of the Best Punk Rock Books Available – Please Kill Me
One book every punk rock fan should own is Please Kill Me: An Uncensored Oral History of Punk written by Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil. Beginning with the Velvet Underground and sharing the stories of artists like Iggy Pop, Richard Hell, Dee Dee Ramone, and others, Please Kill Me reveals how these characters with their fearless attitudes helped form a new movement of free expression and music exploration. Much like the genre it speaks to, the book holds nothing back.
As the title mentions, the book is an oral history. Clippings of quotes from various music producers, executives, publicists, queens, kings, and more are mashed together to form a coherent story. Stories of sexual misconduct, blood spurts on the walls at drug houses, musicians scoring dope, and even the disgusting smell we’ve all come to hear about at the famed CBGB’s are revealed for the reader to get the full picture. You can see what I mean with this quote from Leee Childers (manager and famed photographer):
So the first time I went to CBGB’s, we ate the chili, which tasted horrible. The whole place stunk of urine. The whole place smelled like a bathroom. And there were literally six people in the audience and then the Ramones were on onstage, and I went, “Oh … my … God!”
And I knew it, in a minute. The first song. The first song. I knew that I was home and happy and secure and free and rock & roll.Leee Childers in Please Kill Me: An Uncensored Oral History of Punk
Another key aspect of the book is you become familiar with the evolution of the genre as well as the artist. One example is Patti Smith. From her own spoken words, and others, you read about her views on feminism, what is rock ‘n’ roll, and how she eventually left it all behind to start a family. As we all should know Patti Smith’s importance to punk, she is only a single player in the grand scheme. Each individual within the book adds to the overall puzzle and reveals how punk rock came to be piece by piece.
Please Kill Me: An Uncensored Oral History of Punk is the book every punk rock fan should own, and the one which anyone who is interested in the genre should start. You can quote me on that.