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I, Shithead: A Life in Punk [Paperback]

Joe Keithley , Jack Rabid
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 1 2003

Joe Keithley, aka Joey Shithead, founded legendary punk pioneers D.O.A. in 1978. Punk kings who spread counterculture around the world, they've been cited as influences by Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Rancid, and The Offspring, and have toured with The Clash, The Ramones, The Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Nirvana, PiL, Minor Threat, and others, and are the subject of two tribute albums.

But punk is more than a style of music: it's a political act, and D.O.A. have always had a social conscience, having performed in support of Greenpeace, women's rape/crisis centres, prisoner rights, and anti-nuke and anti-globalization organizations. Twenty-five years later D.O.A. can claim sales of more than 500,000 copies of their eleven albums and tours in thirty different countries, and they are still going strong.

I, Shithead is Joe's recollections of a life in punk, starting with a bunch of kids in Burnaby transfixed with the burgeoning punk movement, and traversing a generation disillusioned with the status quo: stories of riots, drinking, travelling, playing, and conquering all manner of obstacles through sheer determination. And through it all, Joe reveals that the famous D.O.A. slogan, talk - action = 0 is, for him, more than a soundbyte.

With an introduction by music producer Jack Rabid, publisher of seminal New York music magazine Big Takeover.

D.O.A.
25 years
3000 shows
500,000 records sold
10 vans
331 tires
30 countries
938,000 miles travelled
28 punch-ups
212,000 beers consumed
9 riots
13 CDs
33 releases
9 lives (not used up yet)
27 busts
15 roadies
12 deaf soundmen

* Voted one of the Top 25 Non-Fiction Books of the Year on Amazon.ca
* National Bestseller
* BC Bestseller

German-language rights sold to IP Verlag; French-language rights sold to Rytrut.

Joe Keithley, lead singer of the seminal punk rock band DOA, is featured prominently in the 2006 feature-length documentary American Hardcore.

Now in its third printing


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From Amazon

Canada's contribution to the famed first wave of late-70s punk rock might have gone mostly unnoticed were it not for the revolting (in both popular senses of the word) comportment of career agitators and now-legendary politi-punk rock band D.O.A. Helming the anti-war ship through a tumultuous 25 years and, in their words, some "3,000 shows, 500,000 records sold, [and]...212,000 beers consumed," has been frontman and founder Joey "Shithead" Keithley. You'd be right in thinking he has a few stories to tell.

Applying the longstanding D.O.A. credo TALK-ACTION=0 to his literary aspirations, Keithley finally documents his band's hand in developing the more aggressive variant of North American punk called hardcore. Feeling breezily brief at 229 pages--a tribute to the author's no-frills, conversational writing style--Keithley limits his remembrances to hardcore's hey-day, from D.O.A.'s 1978 inception onward, concluding with the band’s break-up in 1990 (though they reformed shortly thereafter and have continued on since). Keithley's powers of recall are almost forensic in their detail as he leads the reader, blow by blow, through a chronological catalogue of D.O.A.'s battles musical, personal, and political in more than 15 countries around the world. That said, one is left with the powerful suspicion that the grislier tidbits have been omitted out of an elder punk rock statesmen’s sense of loyalty and decorum. The "code of the road" (i.e., what happens on the road, stays on the road) is definitely in effect. However, harrowing and hilarious by turns is Keithley's recounting of a backstage confrontation with The Clash that spilled onstage, a riot outside a gig in L.A. that was to forever change the complexion of punk in that city, and a nearly year-long tour with friends and contemporaries like Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, and Hüsker Dü that saw the band consolidate their place in the history of revolution rock...and that's only the tip of the mohawk. --Jamie O'Meara

From Booklist

Punker Keithley, aka Joey Shithead, recounts life in the seminal punk band D.O.A. Having outlived such more famous punkers as the Ramones, the Clash, and Black Flag, D.O.A. has seen other acts issue tribute albums--very unpunkishly reverential but underscoring not only appreciation for D.O.A.'s stuff but also how punk music, like everything the punkers originally hated, has wormed its way into the pop canon. Not that Mr. Shithead would appreciate that sort of thing; he would prefer hewing to D.O.A.'s slogan talk-action=0 (i.e., talk minus action equals zero), a strange credo for an autobiographer, perhaps, but then nobody said punk history would be easier to digest than the punk lifestyle. Although less iconic than, say, Henry Rollins or Joey Ramone, Keithley-Shithead was an important influence on such big-hit bands as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana. Think of the Velvet Underground phenomenon of influence well beyond album sales to fully appreciate the D.O.A. saga. Good stuff about an underappreciated, anarchistic act. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential punk rock history April 17 2004
Format:Paperback
I will start by claiming 100% bias as I've known the author for well over 20 years and have greatly enjoyed his contributions to punk rock for over 25 years. DOA taught a lot of us how to go out and get it done, with "it" being spreading the music and message to the less than masses spread out among the world. Joe's book is simple, straightforward blast of history that will interest anyone into the punk rock way of existence. Essential reading, so get it and enjoy!
Was this review helpful to you?
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as being there April 17 2005
Format:Paperback
Anyone, and I do mean ANYONE, who is interested in the west coast punk scene needs to read this book. Keithley gives a fantastic first hand account of how he formed his band and all of the tests they endured going from relative nobodies to one of the biggest and best known punk bands in North America.
The book is also a mini how-to manual for anyone interested in starting up their own punk band. Keithley talks about the business side of the music industry, what it's like to play gigs to crowds of different sizes and interests, and above all, he gives a great first hand account of just what it takes to make it in the music business.
Finally, Keithley's writing style is very easy to digest. The book is written like the lyrics to many of his songs; straight ahead without and BS! What's more, the book contains many pictures and personal anecdotes about Vancouver and places beyond. In reading the book it easy to see yourself sitting at a bar with Keithley as he tells a couple tales over a couple of beers.
If you're a punk, or even think about calling yourself a punk, then you owe it to yourself to give this book a read.
Was this review helpful to you?
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A God-father of punk speaks to you. June 21 2004
Format:Paperback
Sit down at a kitchen table with Joe Keithley. Open a few beers, and hand him one, or two... Ask him to give you a crash course on himself and his legendary punk band, D.O.A., making sure not to gloss over the interesting bits.
If you can't arrange to do this with Joe, picking up a copy of this book would be your only alternative. It's 200+ pages of compelling reading, written by a man who helped define punk music both in and out of Canada, and who certainly put Canada at the roots of the punk historical tree.
Unlike a lot of books about punk bands, this is first-person stuff of the first order.
Was this review helpful to you?
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wild trip June 3 2004
Format:Paperback
As a big fan of DOA since the late seventies, I was really looking forward to reading this book. Joe gives you a great amount of background about one of the hardest working bands ever.
If you love punk music and the DIY attitude, this book is must read.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as being there April 17 2005
By NorthVan Dave - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Anyone, and I do mean ANYONE, who is interested in the west coast punk scene needs to read this book. Keithley gives a fantastic first hand account of how he formed his band and all of the tests they endured going from relative nobodies to one of the biggest and best known punk bands in North America.
The book is also a mini how-to manual for anyone interested in starting up their own punk band. Keithley talks about the business side of the music industry, what it's like to play gigs to crowds of different sizes and interests, and above all, he gives a great first hand account of just what it takes to make it in the music business.
Finally, Keithley's writing style is very easy to digest. The book is written like the lyrics to many of his songs; straight ahead without and BS! What's more, the book contains many pictures and personal anecdotes about Vancouver and places beyond. In reading the book it easy to see yourself sitting at a bar with Keithley as he tells a couple tales over a couple of beers.
If you're a punk, or even think about calling yourself a punk, then you owe it to yourself to give this book a read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A God-father of punk speaks to you. June 21 2004
By Mike Vainio - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Sit down at a kitchen table with Joe Keithley. Open a few beers, and hand him one, or two... Ask him to give you a crash course on himself and his legendary punk band, D.O.A., making sure not to gloss over the interesting bits.
If you can't arrange to do this with Joe, picking up a copy of this book would be your only alternative. It's 200+ pages of compelling reading, written by a man who helped define punk music both in and out of Canada, and who certainly put Canada at the roots of the punk historical tree.
Unlike a lot of books about punk bands, this is first-person stuff of the first order.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential punk rock history April 17 2004
By David E. Hintz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I will start by claiming 100% bias as I've known the author for well over 20 years and have greatly enjoyed his contributions to punk rock for over 25 years. DOA taught a lot of us how to go out and get it done, with "it" being spreading the music and message to the less than masses spread out among the world. Joe's book is simple, straightforward blast of history that will interest anyone into the punk rock way of existence. Essential reading, so get it and enjoy!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wild trip June 3 2004
By C. D. Chinn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a big fan of DOA since the late seventies, I was really looking forward to reading this book. Joe gives you a great amount of background about one of the hardest working bands ever.
If you love punk music and the DIY attitude, this book is must read.
5.0 out of 5 stars A very entertaining read !! May 11 2013
By James Mcquarrie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was in one of the band's that was lucky enough to play several shows with D.O.A back in the early 1980's, and I can honestly say that I have never seen another band before or to this day with as much energy and raw talent as them. They are the gold standard of what a Rock n Roll band should be. I am still a big fan and still listen to their music. Thanks for sharing Joe.
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