MY DAMAGE: THE STORY OF A PUNK ROCK SURVIVOR, by Keith Morris (with Jim Ruland)

Title: My Damage

Author: Keith Morris, with Jim Ruland

Publisher: Da Capo Press

Publication Date: August 30, 2016


The Upshot: An exhilarating read, so much so that you can almost feel yourself diving off the stage at The Whiskey in ’81.


As most of you know, Keith Morris is/was the singer for a few legendary punk bands, namely Black Flag and the Circle Jerks More recently he’s fronting throwback bands OFF! and FLAG. The guy is a Southern California lifer and he has a helluva story to tell and does so with aplomb in MY DAMAGE. He started out as a small kid (who am I kiddin’; Keith is still small), the son of a bait and tackle shop owner in Hermosa Beach, California. Not liking school he got in with the wrong crowd and eventually, after high school, began hanging out at an abandoned church in Hermosa Beach where other like-minded folks hung out. Those folks were in bands like Black Flag, Redd Cross (before the K), The Last, Descendents and a few others.

Morris eventually joined Black Flag but their practice schedule was too stringent for the fun-loving Morris, so upon meeting Greg Hetson and Keith “Lucky” Lehrer at a gig, they formed the Circle Jerks, eventually meeting bassist Roger Rogerson, who is a whole other story. Through the book Morris comes clean about his love for booze and cocaine—he eventually became clean and sober over 20 years ago—and friendships and rifts with band members, and he also falls out and then falls back in again with his dad before his dad died. In addition he also became an A & R guy in the 90’s while also forming the oddball band Midget Handjob as well as working at a small diner in Silverlake (a pal told me once years ago that “I went to this diner for breakfast and Keith Morris served me coffee!”) and discovering he’s a diabetic which led to cleaner living (mentioned above).

As generic as this might sound, the guy truly is a survivor—from his hedonistic early years to being grateful, for not just being alive, but for the opportunities he’s been given and the important people in his life. If you’ve seen OFF! or FLAG recently you’ll often hear Morris from the stage saying things like “Hey everyone, take care of each other out there.” Coming from a guy who’s now in his sixties, a guy who’s literally been there and done that, MY DAMAGE isn’t an outsider’s view, even though the author would consider himself to be an outsider. Morris was right there in the mix the whole time. An exhilarating read, so much so that you can almost feel yourself diving off the stage at The Whiskey in ’81 while the Circle jerks rip through “Deny Everything.” Whew! 



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