Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
X (US band)
- For the Australian band called X, see X (Australian band).
X are a noted punk rock band, formed in Los Angeles in 1977. They have achieved only limited mainstream success, but were one of the most accessible and tuneful of Los Angeles' many punk bands. Original members were Exene Cervenka (vocals), John Doe (bass guitar, vocals), DJ Bonebrake (drums), Billy Zoom (guitar). This line-up now tours sporadically and still has a sizable and vociferous fanbase.
Their albums had a hard-driving sound that occasionally flirted with country and blues; one critic suggests that X "were not just one of the greatest punk bands, but one of the greatest live rock acts of all time."
In many ways--from songwriting to performaces--X were arguably a bit more sophisticated and diverse than many of their punk peers. Excepting Cervenka, the band members all had previous musical experience. One critic writes that X were "too self-conscious, artsy and ambitious to simply spew" in typical punk fashion.
Their first release, the appropriately titled Los Angeles (1980) (produced by The Doors' keyboard player, Ray Manzarek), was a minor hit, and well received by the underground press. Much of X's early material had a rockabilly edge, due in part to guitarist Billy Zoom . Doe and Cervenka co-wrote most of the group's songs, and their slightly off-kilter harmony vocals remain perhaps the group's most distinctive element.
1985 saw the release of Poor Little Critter In The Road, credited to The Knitters: X minus Zoom, plus Dave Alvin (of The Blasters) and a double bassist. The Knitters were devoted to folk and country music; their take of Merle Haggard's "Silver Wings" "may be the definitive version."
Zoom left the group in 1986. He was briefly replaced by Alvin, then by Tony Gilkyson for See How We Are. The album found X far from their punk origins, but maintaining a punchy, energetic hard rock sound. After touring for the album, X went on an extended hiatus.
X regrouped in the early 1990s to record and are still playing shows as of 2002. Bassist/singer John Doe moved more toward country music in his solo work, starred in the independent film Roadside Prophets with Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz.
- Los Angeles (1980)
- Wild Gift (1981)
- Under the Big Black Sun (1982)
- More Fun in the New World (1983)
- Ain't Love Grand (1985)
- See How We Are (1987)
- Live at the Whiskey A Go-Go (1988 - Live)
- Hey Zeus! (1993)
- Unclogged (1995 - Live)
- Beyond and Back: The X Anthology (1997)
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