Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk
by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
I picked this up on a whim years ago from a Half Price Books store. Holy crap it’s good! So good, I’ve read it a couple of times. Everyone in the 70s New York punk scene is covered: MC5, The Ramones, Patti Smith, Warhol, Velvet Underground, The New York Dolls, The Stooges, Richard Hell…on and on. What makes it work is that it’s not some long biography you have to drag through. It’s snippets of quotes from the artists and people involved with them. They tell stories about what it was like to be a part of an important emerging musical scene. That’s code for who fucked who, who overdosed, who inspired, who backstabbed, who was an asshole, who was a genius and who was a creep. It’s full of dirty dish.
The real benefit though is that after reading it, you’ll have an encyclopedic knowledge of the roots of American punk. I also guarantee you’ll start listening to a few of these bands that you are gonna love. Highly recommended!