Please Kill Me, the oral history of punk written by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain, was published 20 years ago this year. It’s credited as the book that popularised the oral history format, but, more than that, it’s an essential read for anyone with even the slightest interest in the movement. Featuring interviews with punk’s most important characters, from Lou Reed and Patti Smith to Iggy Pop and Richard Hell, it’s full of hilarious, lurid and sometimes downright disgusting anecdotes from the much-glorified period.
The Stooges’ bloody bathroom
Please Kill Me is not short of gross anecdotes, largely about drugs, and the description of the bathroom The Stooges used to shoot up in once they’d discovered heroin. Ron Asheton described it in minute detail, talking about the dark green tile floor, “cheap white acoustical ceiling things” and brown walls. “The walls were already kind of brown, but the worst thing was that the acoustical tiles were all bloodstained,” he recalled. “And then there were big blood drips on the floor and on the walls, because when you pull a needle out of your arm after shooting up, some blood gets in the syringe, and to clean it out, you squirt it.” What follows are some vivid descriptions of the blood stains all over the room and a pile of cotton balls on the floor. “Such degradation”, as Asheton put it.