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Social Distortion Biography

Home > Music > S > Social Distortion > Biography

Birth Place: Fullerton, California, United States
Years Active: 1978–present
Genres: Punk Rock, Hardcore Punk, Alternative Rock

Social Distortion (sometimes referred to simply as Social D or SxDx) is an American punk rock band formed in 1978 in Fullerton, California. The band currently consists of Mike Ness (vocals, guitars), Jonny Wickersham (guitars), Brent Harding (bass) and David Hidalgo, Jr. (drums).

Social Distortion temporarily disbanded in 1985, due to frontman Ness' drug addiction and troubles with the law, which resulted in extended stints in various rehabilitation centers lasting for two years. However, the band reformed around 1986 and has continued being active today, even after the death of longtime guitarist Dennis Danell, who succumbed to a brain aneurysm in 2000. Since its inception the band lineup has been a virtual revolving-door of talent, with many members coming and going – Ness has been the only constant member.

After releasing a handful of singles between 1980 and 1982, Social Distortion released their first studio album in 1983, titled “Mommy's Little Monster.” Five years elapsed before Social Distortion's next major release, “Prison Bound.” While the band still failed to break into the mainstream success at the time of its release, critical praise given to “Prison Bound” garnered attention from major labels, including Epic Records, with whom Social Distortion would eventually sign in 1989.

In 1990, they released their third album, which is self-titled, with the singles "Let It Be Me", "Ball and Chain", "Ring of Fire", "Sick Boys" and "Story of My Life" bringing the band exposure on the United States charts. This album was followed by 1992's “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell,” which debuted at number 76 on the Billboard 200 and featured the band's highest charting single "Bad Luck", which reached number 2 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.

Four years elapsed before Social Distortion's next studio album, “White Light, White Heat, White Trash,” which peaked at #27 on the Billboard 200 in 1996, the band's highest chart position to date, and featured their only Billboard Hot 100 single "I Was Wrong". In 1997, Social Distortion terminated their contract with Epic and decided to stay on TimeBomb Recordings, who reissued their first two albums and released the “Mainliner” compilation two years earlier.

After the release of the “White Light, White Heat, White Trash” album, Social Distortion took another hiatus and Ness pursued a solo career and released two albums (“Cheating at Solitaire” and “Under the Influences”) in 1999. Tragedy struck on February 29, 2000 when their longtime guitarist Dennis Danell died from an apparently brain anyuerism. After debating whether to break up, or to move on with a new guitarist, Ness decided to hire a new guitarist, Jonny "2 Bags" Wickersham, who would stay with the band permanently. Also during that time, a new drummer, Charlie Quintana, was hired.

From 2001 to 2004, the band had been touring semi-frequently, playing sold-out shows in the Los Angeles, California area and other cities. In September 2004, Social Distortion issued their long-awaited sixth album “Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll,” which was their second album to peak in the top 40 of the Billboard 200, at number 31. The album's lead single, "Reach for the Sky", became another one of Social Distortion's biggest hits in the fall of 2004. Prior to the release of that album, longtime bassist John Maurer, who had remained with the band for 20 years, decided to leave Social Distortion and Rancid's Matt Freeman replaced him on tour for a few months and then the band hired their current bassist Brent Harding. Social Distortion released their seventh studio album, “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes,” on January 18, 2011 featuring the single "Machine Gun Blues." The song reached number 15 on Billboard's Alternative Songs in January 2011