Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk – The Book

About Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk

A contemporary classic, Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk is the definitive oral history of the most nihilistic of all pop movements. Iggy Pop, Richard Hell, the Ramones, and scores of other punk figures lend their voices to this decisive account of that explosive era. It is the number one best-selling Punk book of all time. It has been published in 12 languages and helped launch the oral history trend in music books. The 20th anniversary edition features new photos and an afterword by the authors.

Buy the Book – Various Editions


Grove/Atlantic Books has released the e-book edition of Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain.

The PKM e-book edition features an expanded and updated photo gallery and features a new cover with a classic photo of Iggy and the Stooges, photographed by Danny Fields.

Order the e-book here:
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Amazon Kindle
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Print book

Please Kill Me on Amazon
Get your printed copy of Please Kill Me from an independent bookseller!
Click here for Please Kill Me on IndieBound
Or, Get Please Kill Me at Barnes &

Foreign Editions

Please Kill Me – Spanish Edition

Please Kill Me – UK Edition

Please Kill Me – Czech Edition

Please Kill Me – French Edition

Please Kill Me – Russian Edition

Please Kill Me – Swedish Edition

Please Kill Me – Polish Edition


“This book tells it like it was. It is the very first book to do so.”


“Immensely entertaining…I found these tales of unholy madness and drug-fueled abandon all too thought-provoking.”

—ROBERT CHRISTGAU, The New York Times Book Review

“Dishes the crud on everyone…As someone who was there at the time, I can vouch for how vividly it recaptures the swampy vitality of the New York scene…candid, inside, and detailed.”

—JAMES WOLCOTT, The New Yorker

“Does for the Ramones what the disiples did for Jesus.”


Please Kill Me might make you shed the kind of tears reserved for lost poets and fuckups, but it almost certainly will also make you laugh. It’s an honest, detailed oral history, uncensored—hell, filthy—and fascinating.”


“Free of historical self-revision or precious musical pontification, [this] book comes as close to capturing the coruscated brilliance and vein-puncturing style of the Blank Generation as the written word is likely to get.”


“One of the rudest, rowdiest excursions into the dark side, stuffed full of the sickest, most scandalous tales ever assembled on the ongoing epic of sex, drugs and rock & roll.”


“When outrageous movie director John Waters calls a book ‘shocking’ it must be something special and Please Kill Me is a shocking behind-the-scenes and over-the-top look at the survivors of the ’70s New York punk rock scene.”


Please Kill Me is lurid, insolent, disorderly, funny, sometimes gross, sometimes mean and occasionally touching.”


Please Kill Me is a scenester’s paradise, four-hundred pages of person-to-person, ‘I was there’ testimony fabulously edited for speed and irony. It calls up Edie, but it’s much richer. A lot about Edie was about covering up; in Please Kill Me, you rarely, if ever, get the feeling anyone is protecting a reputation or holding back.”

—GREIL MARCUS, Interview Magazine

Please Kill Me ranks up there with the great rock & roll books of all time.”


“[A] saga of nasty lyrics deafening music, leather jackets, drugs and early death.”


“It’s a tale from the crypt.”


Reviews Review

Though Britain’s notorious Sex Pistols shoved punk rock into the face of mainstream America, the movement was already brewing in the U.S. in the 1960s with bands like the Velvet Underground and Iggy and the Stooges. Through hundreds of interviews with forgotten bands as well as the ones that made names for themselves–including Blondie and the Ramones–Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain chronicle punk rock history through the people who really lived it. Please Kill Me is a thrash down memory lane for those hip to punk’s early years and an enlightening history lesson for youngsters interested in the origins of modern “alternative” music. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

As its sensationalist title suggests, this stresses the sex, drugs, morbidity and celebrity culture of punk at the expense of the music. Starting out with the electroshock therapy Lou Reed received as a teenager, working through such watersheds as the untimely deaths by overdose or mishap of Sid Vicious, Johnny Thunders and Nico, as well as the complicated sexual escapades of the likes of Dee Dee Ramone, the portrayal here of the birth of an alternative culture is intermittently entertaining and often depressing. McNeil, one of the founding writers of the original ‘zine, Punk, in 1975 , is certainly qualified to tell this tale. But the book’s take on punk rock as “doing anything that’s gonna offend a grown-up” overemphasizes the self-destructive side of the movement. Details of Iggy Pop’s drug abuse and seedy sex with groupies receive more attention than important bands such as Television and Blondie, which had comparatively puritan lifestyles. Constructed as an oral history, the book weaves together personal accounts by the crucial players in the scene, many of whom seem to have been so drugged out most of the time that their reliability is questionable. McNeil and McCain (Tilt) provide a vivid look at the volatile and needy personalities who created punk, if they do not offer perceptive musical or cultural analysis. Photos.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Imagine one of those on-line “chat rooms” filled with the aging movers and shakers of American punk rock?former members of the Velvet Underground, the Stooges, the New York Dolls, the Ramones, and others?as well as assorted hangers-on, all reminiscing about the glory days of punk. Denizens remember when downtown Manhattan was the epicenter of a musical and cultural earthquake whose aftershocks are still felt long after its initial impact. The stories told by these musicians and scenesters trace the history of punk from its earliest incarnations in the late Sixties, through its appropriation by British imitators in the Seventies, and ending just before its stylistic balkanization and quick decline in the early Eighties. Unfortunately, this oral history depends almost entirely on voices from Detroit and a small core of New York bands, ignoring the important scenes in Los Angeles, Boston, and Cleveland. Numerous behind-the-scenes anecdotes make this book undeniably fun reading. But the lack of any index, bibliography, discography, or overarching narrative context keeps it from being much more than that. Not an essential purchase, but worth considering for larger collections. (Photos not seen.)?Rick Anderson, Penacook, N.H.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Punk rock, known to most people through the notoriety of England’s Sex Pistols, began in America in the ’60s with bands like the Velvet Underground and Iggy and the Stooges. McNeil and McCain chronicle punk rock history through hundreds of interviews with the people who really lived it, the streetwise ex-hippies disgusted with corporate/stadium rock and disco who reinvented rock and roll by making the old new again. The authors have interviewed members of short-lived, forgotten bands like the Dictators, Television, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, and Johnny Thunder’s Heartbreakers, as well as the bands that made it big: the Ramones, Blondie, and the Patti Smith Group. There are some great stories, too, about the origins of glitter and the ripped T-shirt, Iggy Pop’s proclivity for taking off his clothes, bar fights, groupie sex, inflated egos, drugs, drugs, and more drugs, and the deaths. For the uninitiated, the authors provide brief bios of the 220-member cast of characters. David Siegfried –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

Punk’s chaotic energy and revolutionary spirit come through vividly in this mesmerizing account of American punk. For instance, Kathy Asheton notes, “I remember the day of his [Iggy Pop’s] wedding because that was the day Iggy and I started our romantic relationship.” Legions of groupies and other American punk scene denizens are similarly heard from here, as are central figures, including Iggy, Richard Hell, Malcolm McLaren, and members of the Velvet Underground, the Patti Smith Group, et al. During the heyday of hippiedom, the Velvets, the Stooges, and the MC5 distinguished themselves by their refusal to have any part of the peace-and-love agenda. Their unromanticized visions of boredom, violence, drug use, and weird sex had little commercial appeal. But the Velvets’ Lou Reed and especially the Stooges’ drug-crazed Iggy Pop became icons for a generation of disaffected kids who identified with the impulse to roll around shirtless in broken glass while howling “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” In the early ’70s the New York Dolls continued the tradition, combining goofy glamour and short, fast songs; the overdose death of the Dolls’ first drummer cemented narcotics abuse as a central feature of the punk life. Authors McNeil, one of Punk magazine’s founders, and McCain, a former promoter of downtown New York poetry readings, definitively assert punk’s all-American origins; British impresario Malcolm McLaren tells here how he molded the Sex Pistols after patterns set by the Dolls and Richard Hell. Despite the astonishing prevalence of drug addiction, the New York bands and scene-makers of the mid-’70s, led by the Ramones, had splendid instincts for music and style, and most subsequent pop culture is to some degree indebted to them. An essential accompaniment to the first, still-thrilling punk records, this preposterously entertaining document just reeks with all the brilliance and filth of the Blank Generation. (illustrations, not seen) — Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. — This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Authors – Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain

Legs McNeil is an American music journalist. He is one of the three original founders of the seminal Punk magazine that gave the movement its name; as well as being a former editor at Spin and editor-in-chief of Nerve MagazineBesides Please Kill Me, McNeil is also co-author of The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry, a definitive work on the porn industry. As Publisher’s Weekly said, “This compulsively readable book perfectly captures the pop culture zeitgeist. It doesn’t hurt that the history of American pornography is inextricably intertwined with all the subjects that captivate us: sex, drugs, beauty, fame, money, the Mafia, law enforcement and violence.” McNeil’s most recent book, Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose is another collaborative effort with Gillian McCain. Dear Nobody was published on April 1st 2014 and received widespread critical acclaim as being the authentic version of Go Ask Alice. McNeil has appeared on many TV documentaries, from the History Channel to VH1, and has produced and hosted a three-hour TV special on Court TV over three nights on the porn industry, which was the highest-rated original programming in that network’s history.

Gillian McCain is a Canadian poet, author, and photography collector. Besides Please Kill Me McCain is also the author of two books of poetry: Tilt and Religion. Portions of her “found photo” collection have been featured in magazines, published as limited edition books, and exhibited at the Camera Club of New York gallery. She sat on the Board of Directors of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax and was the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery New York City.[2][3]

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