Reviews & suggestions for punk rock fans.

My Damage by Keith Morris Lead Singer of Circle Jerks, Black Flag, & OFF! – Book Recommendation

Entertaining Read from One of Punk Rocks Legendary Figures, Keith Morris

Keith Morris is a living legend in the punk rock world. Those two eyes of his have seen the rise of punk rock on the West Coast, historic events for the genre, and countless bands throughout the years. Lucky for us, he revealed some of the most absurd and amazing tales in his autobiography, My Damage. By the time you finish his book, you will grow an appreciation for the frontman and maybe some knowledge about the music industry and how to live life to the fullest.

From the gecko, he reveals that he was teased as a young bloke due to being short. The world tried to convey that his height meant he couldn’t do anything. Early childhood events that probably led to his punk rock mindset of saying, “fuck you,” to those who try to put us down. Of course, the jokes on them, for we know Keith Morris would become the lead singer for some of the most iconic bands in punk rock. 

His mother’s influence is also worth mentioning early on in the book. He dives deep into the relationship with his father throughout it, and his mother appears here and there. It was this quote: “She told me to do what I wanted to do and have fun and don’t worry what anyone else says,” that made it apparent to me how influential his mother was to him. As you continue to read, you find that’s how he chose to life his life – having fun and doing what he wants, including drugs and alcohol.

His crash and burn moment with drugs comes during a night at a party when he physically hits his girlfriend . Never ok. Soon he would get sober and maintain his sobriety to this day. An unbelievable accomplishment and one that took a strong will, especially the amount of parties and events he went to with the temptation there in front of him. 

The experience he has collected over his many years in the music industry should not go unnoticed when reading My Damage. Each chapter seems to contain insider knowledge that is both interesting for bands looking to get their start, and those eager to learn about the snakes and pythons of the industry. He doesn’t go easy on them, either. You read brutal honesty from the man who played lead singer, manager, and A&R during his lifetime.

He gets the short end of the stick as manager for the Nymphs and The Hangmen. Constantly fitting the bill for bands under no contractual agreement left him with no funds once both bands leave him upon signing a record deal. How he responds to being screwed over is quite inspiring saying: “You can’t go through life afraid that you’re going to be screwed over. You have to go where your passion takes you or you’ll miss out on more than you’ll ever achieve.” Preach, brother man. And that is the best part of the book – discovering Keith Morris’ outlook on life. By the end of the book, you know he is happy because of all the good and BAD memories that brought him to the present. A beautiful way of looking at things if you ask me. 

As mentioned, each punk rock lover will get a kick out of how much history Keith Morris was involved in when it comes to punk rock. He had run-ins with legends such as Cheetah Chrome and Arthur Killer Kane. Of course, his years with starting Black Flag are in there, same with the Circle Jerks, plus tragedies like Darby Crash’s (of The Germs) death which he says signaled a shift in the scene.

I found only two things left out from the book, My Damage, that I thought was a bit weird. First, there is no reference to the Cuckoo’s Nest. After watching the documentary Clockwork Orange County: The Rise of West Coast Punk Rock, I figured Keith Morris would talk about the venue. Maybe I missed it. And second, no mention of politics. The only reason why I found it strange was some of the bands he has been part of haven’t been silent on their views toward our country’s leaders. Maybe Keith wanted to stick to his life experience.

The book ends with him being an active member of OFF! and says out of all the bands he has been with, OFF! has been the most fun. Lucky for you, they’ve released one of the best albums of 2022. You might have heard of it – Free LSD? And they are on tour with a stop at one of my favorite Nashville venues – Drk Mttr Collective, on May 7. Take a look at their tour dates, read the book – My Damage – and get to know the Tasmanian Devil, punk rock legend named Keith Morris.

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