Featuring All Original Members: Exene Cervenka, John Doe, Billy Zoom, DJ Bonebrake.
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X were the quintessential L.A. punk rockers before they grew into a world-class rock & roll band and live band; however, enthusiasm for their unique, intelligent and humorous work never quite reached critical mass.
Formed in 1977 after songwriter and bassist John Doe (b. Feb. 24, 1956) met (and later married) Exene Cervenka (b. Feb. 1, 1956) at a Venice poetry workshop, with rockabilly veteran Billy Zoom (b. Feb. 20, 194?) on guitar and D.J. Bonebrake (b. Dec. 8, 1955) on drums, the band garnered an immediate following. "Discovered" by ex-Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, he took the band into the studio for the recording of Los Angeles in 1980. It was curious, at a time when punks were supposed to hate hippies, that X's merging with an ex-Door was not only tolerated, but earned them stature as California's preeminent punk band when the record earned across-the-board raves. 1981 saw the release of the similarly punked-up Wild Gift, while their 1982 album, Under the Big Black Sun, began what would be a long career in merging hard rock, country and folk into their fiery mix. The band successfully began to mix in their populist politics with an eye toward matters of the heart.
As the band began to reach wider audiences, both Doe and Cervenka enjoyed outside careers in the arts — he as an actor in films like Great Balls of Fire and Roadside Prophets, and she as a poet and spoken-word artist, collaborating with Lydia Lunch and Wanda Coleman.
In 1983, the rootsy songs on More Fun in the New World lent themselves to acoustic performances which the band had taken to trying live. They took it one step further on their side project, the Knitters (with Dave Alvin) which yielded one Slash album, Poor Little Critter in the Road, in 1985. Ain't Love Grand was a harder rock album in 1986 and was followed by Zoom's departure. He was momentarily replaced by Alvin, but for recording purposes, the band recruited Tony Gilkyson (formerly of Lone Justice) for See How We Are, the band's most decidedly hard-rock record in the catalog. Gilkyson stayed for the recording Live at the Whisky A Go-Go in 1988 before the band took some much-needed time off, although they never broke up. In the interim, Doe and Cervenka had since divorced, and the pair continued to work as solo artists, releasing Cervenka's Old Wives Tales (Rhino, 1989) and Running Sacred (1990) and Doe's Meet John Doe for Geffen in 1990.