Long before it was trendy to look like a "Happy Days" extra, Social Distortion exploded out of the Socal punk scene in the late 1970s with a string of singles that set the world on fire, including "Mommy's Little Monster" and "Another State Of Mind" - the former becoming the title track to their first influential album, and the latter becoming the theme song to the definitive punk rock tour documentary of the same name.
After the needle and legal troubles threatened to derail Social Distortion's singer/songwriter Mike Ness - he emerged from rehab in 1988 with "Prison Bound" - a mid-tempo, rough and tumble record that included a cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring Of Fire" and found Ness dumping the hair dye and mascara of his early days in favor of Fonzie gear and PBR. The "Prison Bound" tour gig at Churchill's Pub in 1989 remains one of the most talked about shows in the city's punk rock history.
The next year, Columbia records decided they could make a few bucks off of Social D, and released a self titled, radio friendly record for their new, punk rock elvis and his gang of greasers. The video for "Ball & Chain," became a mainstay on MTV and the publicity machine made Mike Ness a star - while Social D's street cred refused to go away no matter how many times Ness shied off playing too many punk blasts that only "the fellas" would like.
When the 3rd wave of punk rock hit in the mid 90s, Ness put the vitrol back into his music and released "White Light/White Heat/White Trash" - with a lead single that seemed to second guess watering down Social D's sound. The title: "I was wrong."
By then, Ness had compartmentalized Social Distortion as a punk band, and put it on hold for a few years to pursue a more roots-oriented solo career. By the time the 21st century rolled around, Social Distortion was back in full force, not only as a touring machine, but at a cultural bridge between rockabilly adults who work on cars and teenage kids who slam dance and tag walls.
In January, Social Distortion will release their 7th studio album, "Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes." As it was originally slated to come out in November, Miami Beach has the privilege of hearing those songs before most of the world does. So get thee to the Fillmore Saturday night and hear the story of Mike Ness' life. It's more interesting and tuneful than most.