John Doe - Biography
Punk rock pioneer, country rock balladeer, and star of both the silver and television screen, John Doe has proven to be a resilient presence in American pop-culture since the late 1970’s.
Doe was born with the less than anonymous name John Duchac on February 25, 1954 in Decatur, Illinois, but moved to Baltimore, Maryland as a young man. In Baltimore, he played bass and sang in several rock bands, but he relocated to Venice, California in 1976 to pursue writing. After meeting writer and singer Exene Cervenka in a Venice poetry workshop, the two formed the highly influential punk band X, along with guitarist Billy Zoom and drummer D.J. Bonebrake.
X’s hook-filled, high-energy style of punk and the melodious intertwining vocals of Doe and Cervenka ensured that the band quickly became the darlings of the LA punk scene. Their debut album, Los Angeles (1980 Slash) earned X an Official Certificate of Recognition from the City of Los Angeles acknowledging their contributions to the city’s culture. Despite X’s many personal conflicts (Doe and Cervenka married in 1980 and divorced five years later), breakups, and reunions, they released thirteen albums and continued to tour into the new millennium.
In 1986, Doe launched his second career as a Hollywood actor with a supporting role in Oliver Stone's award-winning thriller Salvador. In the next three years, Doe appeared in several films, including Jim McBride’s Jerry Lee Lewis biopic Great Balls of Fire (1989). X announced their official breakup that same year. Taking a brief hiatus from his film career, Doe released his first solo album Meet John Doe (1990 Geffen). As no-frills and straightforward as its name, Meet John Doe offers a traditional, striped-down, solid country sound with Doe’s solitary woebegone voice as its centerpiece. Compared to his work with X, Doe’s debut solo album is as lonely and windswept as a desert plain.
In the early 1990’s, Doe resumed his film career and reunited with X in 1993. Two years later, he released his second solo album Kissingsohard (1995 Forward/Rhino). Stylistically, Kissingsohard continues down the dusty road laid by Meet John Doe, with just a few more cacophonous rock elements. Doe and Cervenka pair up to cover X song “My Goodness,” which originally appeared on Ain't Love Grand! (1985 Rhino).
Collaborating with Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and several musicians from Beck’s band under the characteristically unassuming moniker, The John Doe Thing, Doe produced an EP called For the Rest of Us (1998 Kill Rock Stars/2006 expanded and re-issued by Yep Rock as full-length album For the Best of Us). Although only five songs long, the EP signaled a drift away from raw country towards a reawakening of Doe’s more rowdy rock roots. However, Doe’s following two albums found him mixing his styles and delving into rich acoustic tones for most of Freedom Is... (2000 spinART) and Dim Stars, Bright Sky (2002 Artist Direct/BMG) -- the later of which features guest vocalists Aimee Mann, Juliana Hatfield, Jakob Dylan, Jane Wiedlin, and Rhett Miller.
Meanwhile, Doe’s acting career hit an upswing at the turn of the new century. He had become a recognizable figure in mainstream America, mostly due to his 18 episode appearances on the hit alien-themed television series, Roswell. As if expanding with his public, Doe’s fifth album Forever Hasn't Happened Yet (2005 Yep Roc) spans the sounds of country, blues, pop, and straight-up rock. As with his previous album, Forever Hasn't Happened Yet boasts several musical guests from Nico Case to Doe’s 16-year-old daughter.
In 2007, A Year in the Wilderness (2007 Yep Roc) was released to much critical acclaim and charted at number 42 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers. Once again Doe showcases a variety of musical guests (including Kathleen Edwards, Aimee Mann, and Dave Auerbach) and a deep musical breadth, confirming that he is a thoroughly adaptable and enduring musical force. 2009 saw the release of Country Club, followed by two records in 2011- A Day At The Pass and Keeper.