“I had a Gibson deal at one point where I could get Les Pauls at factory prices. I would sell them at pawn shops and put the money towards older Les Pauls”: Mike Ness on fighting cancer and the roots influences behind Social Distortion’s self-titled LP

Mike Ness of Social Distortion onstage in 1991
(Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Social Distortion formed in 1978, and amid ever-changing lineups, the presence of singer/guitarist Mike Ness has been a constant. With the release of their self-financed debut album, Mommy’s Little Monster, in 1983, they rapidly became one of the biggest names on the California punk scene, influencing countless bands in their wake. 

Ness’s well-documented addiction problems then saw the band stall, with a five-year gap between their debut record and its 1988 follow-up, Prison Bound. Ness knew he had to prioritize his recovery over the band’s progress at that time. “There wouldn’t have been a band if I didn’t sort myself out,” he says. 

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Mark McStea

Mark is a freelance writer with particular expertise in the fields of ‘70s glam, punk, rockabilly and classic ‘50s rock and roll. He sings and plays guitar in his own musical project, Star Studded Sham, which has been described as sounding like the hits of T. Rex and Slade as played by Johnny Thunders. He had several indie hits with his band, Private Sector and has worked with a host of UK punk luminaries. Mark also presents themed radio shows for Generating Steam Heat. He has just completed his first novel, The Bulletproof Truth, and is currently working on the sequel.