In 1979, 17-year old Mike Ness formed Social Distortion with drummer Casey Royer and brothers Rikk and Frank Agnew. The band’s world centered around Mike’s one-bedroom pad, dubbed “the black hole” in a nondescript Fullerton, CA apartment complex. After meeting Dennis Danell, whose brother worked in West Hollywood at The Starwood, he insisted Danell, who at the time didn’t play an instrument, join the band on bass.
In 1981, Social Distortion released their first single, “Mainliner/Playpen,” on the Posh Boy label. Around the same time, Mike Ness developed a reputation as a brawler resulting in a chunk of his left ear being bitten off during a confrontation at the Cuckoo’s Nest bar. In 1982 Social Distortion embarked on their first cross-continental tour in a run down old school bus and a year later, their debut album, Mommy’s Little Monster, was released on the 13th Floor label and gained the band a national name in punk circles.
In 1985 they to began work on a new album and in 1988, Social Distortion emerged with Prison Bound, an album whose moving title track about a wasted life foreshadowed the turn Social Distortion’s albums would soon take into an ongoing dialogue about impulsiveness and addiction, its consequences, and the struggle to overcome.
The self-titled album Social Distortion followed in 1990, marking the band's first release on a major label. The success of singles “Story Of My Life” and “Ball And Chain,” along with their remarkable cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire,” make the album Social Distortion’s first Gold record. In 1992 they released another new album, Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell. Lead by the blistering single “Bad Luck,” this album also went Gold.
3 more studio albums followed. In 1996 Social D returned with White Light White Heat White Trash. In February 2000, then 38-year old guitarist Dennis Danell died suddenly of heart failure, and it wasn't until 2003 that Social Distortion returned to the studio to record a new album – their first full-length studio record in 7 years-- and the first record without Danell. The result was Sex Love and Rock ‘n’ Roll, bolstered by the success of the single “Reach For The Sky.”
Social Distortion’s most recent work is 2010’s Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes.