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Circle Jerks

Biography/History

Circle Jerks (1979-1990, 1994-1995, 1998, 2001-2011, 2019-present): a Punk band from Hermosa Beach, California, USA.

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ircle Jerks was formed in Los Angeles, California, USA in 1980 by former Black Flag front man Keith Morris, with help from buddy Greg Hutson (ex-Redd Kross; guitar) who in turn recruited Roger Rogerson (Real Name: Roger Dowding; bass) and Lucky Lehrer (drums). Hiding away in their Hawthorne, California garage, they set the mold for the rest of their career by recording their debut album, Group Sex in 1981 for the US market only, featuring frenetic bursts of hardcore and adolescent humor. After appearing in Penelope Spheris' The Decline Of Western Civilization documentary, their cameo appearance got the attention of pop band Police's manager, Miles Copeland, to be signed to his 'Faulty' label to release their follow-up album, Wild In The Streets in 1982.

Ex-D.O.A. drummer, Chuck Biscuits stepped in to replace Lehrer but he was in turn soon after replaced by John Ingram in time for the release of the mini compilation album, Golden Shower Of Hits in 1983 (for those of you who do not know what a 'golden shower' is I'll leave you to research that in another encyclopedia). The compilation featured a title track comprising of a medley of standards by Paul Anka, Bacharach & David, etc. The album also boasted tracks like Coup D'etat and When The Shit Hits The Fan, both being included on the soundtrack to the Repo Man movie.

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Along the same lines of many of the other hardcore punk rock purveyors, the Circle Jerks changed direction into heavy glam metal and thrash metal influences when those movements were gaining credibility in the early 1980s, specifically along the same lines of Twisted Sister and Dictators. With the new membership of Zander Schloss and Keith Clark replacing Rogerson and Ingram respectively, the Circle Jerks managed two more albums, Wonderful (1985) and VI (1987) for heavy metal labels 'Combat' and 'Roadrunner' respectively.

Chris Poland played bass with Circle Jerks briefly around 1989 after being fired as guitarist for Megadeth.

Circle Jerks dissolved in 1990 after Hetson left to continue recording with Bad Religion. Live recordings made during what would be their final tour were immortalized in the live album Gig (1992), their third and last release for 'Relativity'.

During the hiatus, Hetson would continue playing in Bad Religion. Schloss played guitar and bass with various acts. Clark initially retired from music. Morris worked menial jobs and battled health problems due to a longtime dependence on drugs and alcohol.

A long period of inactivity for Circle Jerks ended in 1994 when the so-called 'wonderful-era' lineup reunited and signed a major label deal with 'Mercury Records', a move that had a few business complications. The problem was Hetson was still with Bad Religion, who had signed a long-term contract with 'Atlantic Records', while Schloss had been part of a band contracted to 'Interscope Records'. After ironing out these difficulties, the band recorded their final studio album to date, Oddities, Abnormalities and Curiosities (1995), with the infamous cover of the Soft Boys' I Wanna Destroy You featuring popster Debbie Gibson on vocals.

Now more heavy metal than punk rock, Circle Jerks resumed their heavy touring of the US at the cost of studio work. One such part of the touring saw Gibson returning to make a surprise appearance at Circle Jerks' performance at punk mecca CBGB to perform I Wanna Destroy You with the band. Despite such media attention, the group suddenly imploded three weeks into the tour. The breakup was not complete for the band played sporadically throughout the late 1990s. Clark then left music for good afterward. Original bassist Rogerson died in 1996 of a drug overdose at age 41. Further Circle Jerks activity was put on hold when Morris announced that he had been diagnosed with adult onset diabetes in 1999. Morris, Hetson and Schloss, with drummer Kevin Fitzgerald, continued to tour until 2011, in between other commitments.

Between 2011 and 2019, the band were on hiatus due to a dispute between Morris and the rest of the band. The conflict was over songs that were written by Morris and Dimitri Coats. Coats (of Burning Brides), who was preparing to produce a new Circle Jerks album, decided that the songs Hetson had written were not up to par with Circle Jerks' standards. Morris agreed, and both he and Coats wrote multiple songs intended for the new album. The plot thickened, for the other members of Circle Jerks believed Coats to be "arrogant, overbearing, egotistical" and called for him to be dismissed. Morris disagreed, and he and Coats recruited Steven Shane McDonald (from Redd Kross) and Mario Rubalcaba (Rocket from the Crypt, Hot Snakes, 411, Clikatat Ikatowi, Earthless) to start a new band called Off!

On November 22, 2019, it was announced that the Circle Jerks were going to reunite under the membership of Morris, Hetson, Schloss and a to-be named drummer.


Footnote: The name "Plastic Hippies" and "The Runs" were considered as names for this band in the beginning but dismissed.

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Nation USA
City Hermosa Beach, California
Genre Punk
Formations 5
Active Years 1979-1990, 1994-1995, 1998, 2001-2011, 2019-
Last Modified 2022-06-21
Diskery ID 952


Artists Linked to Circle Jerks

Black Flag Dictators Megadeth
Twisted Sister


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