As authors of Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History Of Punk, Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil influenced a lot of people on several levels. Now regarded as the best-selling book on punk rock of all time, Please Kill Me first and foremost described what the heyday of the New York City punk scene was like as according to people that were around it. It cleared up myths about key players in the scene, and also helped readers pick up on some of the era’s underappreciated characters.
Legs McNeil will be reading Please Kill Me at Desert Island in Williamsburg, Brooklyn this Thursday, Oct.13th at 7pm. Come out and celebrate the 20th anniversary of Please Kill Me by getting your book signed!
Twenty years ago, Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain published Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, a scabby inside-look at the wildly fun, incredibly seedy and at times terrifying underbelly of the 1970s New York City punk scene.
They came not to bury punk but to praise it. 20 years ago, Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain published “Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk” with Grove Press. The format was ingenious — no single person could lay claim to know the whole of the sprawling, anarchically creative, drug-riddled scene.
When Gillian McCain was in high school she took an aptitude quiz that told her she should consider a career in "writing with a sociological bent, especially about fringe groups." A decade or so later, she teamed up with writer and editor Legs McNeil for their seminal history of New York's '70s punk scene, Please Kill Me. Score one for the quiz, right?
IF YOU’VE READ it, you probably remember exactly where you were when you first encountered Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain’s Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. I first came across the book as a 16-year-old kid in a small town in southwestern Colorado. I’d recently discovered punk, and went about putting safety pins in my clothes and calling myself a punk, but for all I knew, punk rock began and ended with the Sex Pistols. When I found Please Kill Me on the shelf of the local bookstore, I bought it without question, expecting mohawks and mosh pits. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Please Kill Me made its way into my life 13 years ago, when I was 14. I used to hang out at a record store in South Florida, where I'm from, and at one point the store clerks decided to take me under their wing. One of the clerks, Chris, ripped out a tiny slip of paper from behind the counter. He wrote the words “Please Kill Me” on it and handed it to me. "Go to the bookstore and get that book," he said. Music nerd in training that I was, I did as I was bidden without question. And so I entered the world of punk from its very beginning, told by the people who lived it.
As seminal punk saga 'Please Kill Me' gets a 20th anniversary rerelease, we speak to co-author Gillian McCain about why the antiestablishment genre deserves to be preserved just like any other piece of history.