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Legs McNeil

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Subject: Punk rock, Ain't It Fun (The Dead Boys song), Ramones, Golden Age of Porn, Nico
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Legs McNeil

Legs McNeil
Legs McNeil
McNeil and Gillian McCain doing a book reading at Book Soup in Los Angeles on July 26, 2014.
Born Roderick Edward McNeil
(1956-01-27) January 27, 1956
Cheshire, Connecticut, U.S.
Occupation Author, writer, rock historian
Known for Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk
Roderick Edward "Legs" McNeil (born January 27, 1956 in Cheshire, Connecticut, United States) 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 Magazine and editor-in-chief of Nerve Magazine. His regular column in Vice is read by over two hundred thousand readers each week.

Punk Magazine

At the age of 19, McNeil gathered with two high school friends, John Holmstrom and Ged Dunn and decided to create "some sort of media thing" for a living. Holmstrom had an idea of combining comics with rock n roll. They settled upon a magazine, assuming that people would "think [they were] cool and hang out with [them]" as well as "give [them] free drinks", and it worked. Within days of its first publication, Punk Magazine, McNeil, Holmstrom, and Dunn were famous.

The name "Punk" was decided upon because "it seemed to sum up...everything...obnoxious, smart but not pretentious, absurd, ironic, and things that appealed to the darker side". Holstrom wanted to call it "Teenage News Gazette" to which Ged said,"Absolutely not." The name Punk was Legs McNeil's idea to which Ged agreed to instantly and John rather reluctantly.

Nicknamed "Resident Punk" in the magazine, he claims (to much dispute) that he was the first person (along with co-founder John Holmstrom) to have coined the term "punk" to describe a certain type of music, fashion, and attitude. He says he came up with the name punk because Telly Savalas used the line "You lousy punk!" on the show "Kojak." According to McNeil: "After four years of doing Punk magazine, and basically getting laughed at, suddenly everything was "punk," so I quit the magazine."

McNeil is the co-author (with Gillian McCain) of Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, which is the number one Punk best seller of all time. It has been published in 12 languages and helped launch the oral history trend in music books.

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 is also the co-author of I Slept with Joey Ramone (A Punk Rock Family Memoir) with Mickey Leigh, Joey Ramone’s real brother.

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.


Oral histories

  • Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk with Gillian McCain (Penguin Books, 1997).
  • The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry, with Jennifer Osborne and Peter Pavia (Regan Books, 2006).


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