Saturday, September 7, 2013

X - Hungry Wolf

Although they were not the first LA punk band, X quickly became the standard-bearer for the California punk scene.  The band's literate, dangerous lyrics and unique punk meets rockabilly sound earned them rave reviews and a loyal following but never translated to mainstream success.  Perhaps that is part of their charm, through their lack of success says more about rock radio and the listening audience than it does about X.  It is easy to describe a band as ahead of their time and few truly were, but X fits the bill.

The group came together in the late 1970's and was made up of transplants from all over the U.S. -- John Doe (bass and vocals, born John Duchac from Baltimore), Exene Cervenka (vocals, born Christine Cervenkova from Tampa), Billy Zoom (guitars, born Ty Kindell from Illinois) and D.J. Bonebrake (drums, from California and using his real name -- Donald James Bonebrake).

X released two spectacular early 1980's independent albums (both of which made Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time) before signing a major label deal with Elektra.  Their Elektra debut, 1982's Under the Big Black Sun was just as strong, in your author's opinion.  The LP opened with "Hungry Wolf," and the video picked up some airplay on MTV back in the day.  In spite of this, the album peaked at #76, and the single did not chart.

After Under the Big Black Sun, X slowly shifted their sound, trying for greater commercial success.  These changes did not pan out and guitarist Billy Zoom left the band in 1986, supposedly frustrated by the lack of success.  Amazingly, X has remained together through the years, albeit with several extended breaks.  While the group has not recorded any new material since 1993, they continue to perform to the present day (with Billy Zoom, as of this writing).

Cool trivia fact:  Ray Manzarek (The Doors) produced X's first four albums.

Cool trivia fact #2:  John Doe and Exene were an item, and were married from 1980 - 85.


  1. So Happy to see this again.
    I'm a Big X fan. In any configuration of the band.
    (Of course the original line up is the Best!)
    If you've never seen it, I highly recommend X: The Unheard Music
    Maybe the Best Rock Movie ever. YES!
    And you can view it on YouTube

    1. Great call on the movie -- I liked it. And agree on X, they are a really underrated band.