My Damage: The Story of a Punk Rock Survivor
By Keith Morris with Jim Ruland
(Da Capo Press)
Keith Morris has never been one to keep silent about the slights he’s encountered in the punk rock world. From his estranged relationship (complete with a lawsuit) with Black Flag co-founder Greg Ginn to his arguments and botched reunion with the other members of Circle Jerks, Morris has never been one to keep quiet. As a result, his memoir, My Damage is just as confrontational and frank as you’ve come to expect from the guy who sang “World Up My Ass.”
Morris takes his fair share of blame, detailing his drinking and drug use as part of the problem with strained relationships over the years, but is just as quick to name all the folks who he believes betrayed him or were just being assholes.
After recounting a bad car crash, the result of Morris blacking out due to diabetes, My Damage begins with the singer detailing a rough childhood in Southern California, growing up as a small weak kid, the constant target of bullies (a theme that would serve him well as a punk rocker). As one of the founding members of the California hardcore movement, Morris has a slew of great stories and masterfully recounts them here, like the time a newly-formed Circle Jerks conned their way onto a public concert at Polly Wog Park in front of dozens of picnicking families, by masquerading as a light jazz band that played Fleetwood Mac covers. Turns out the folks didn’t dig hardcore and quickly started throwing whatever they could at the offending band.
In another chapter, Morris confesses that a 1978-era Don Dokken, the soon to be hair metal-er, was a big influence on him early on. “I wasn’t the biggest fan of his music, but we shared similar interests.” As did Bobby Blotzer and Juan Croucier, who would eventually join Ratt, a band that is the antithesis of Black Flag and Circle Jerks, but somehow could party with Morris.
Morris now fronts FLAG, an offshoot of Black Flag along with OFF!, a band that he formed after an attempted Circle jerk reunion imploded.