Who is Mike Ness?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
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  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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Michael James Ness is an American musician who is mainly known for his work as a guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist as part of the punk rock band Social Distortion. Born in Stoneham, Massachusetts on 3 April 1962, Mike Ness spent most of his early years in California, growing up in the Orange County area. It was in his late teens and early twenties that Ness became involved with the punk rock scene in the late 1970’s and began to create a name for himself within the genre.

Issues within the home led to Mike Ness going out on his own at the age of fifteen. During the first months away from the home, Ness became involved with drugs and also engaged in some petty crimes. However, his introduction to the punk music scene began to make an impact in the direction of his life. Already a budding musician, Mike Ness became part of the Band Easter and began to hone his musical chops in clubs around the area.


By 1978, Mike Ness was interested in exploring his own musical path within the genre of punk rock. He formed the group Social Distortion during that year and began to write songs for the band to perform. As the reputation of Social Distortion began to grow, the band began to attract attention in the punk community. Eventually, Mike Ness and Social Distortion secured a recording contract with the independent label Posh Boy Records. The relationship led to the 1981 release of the band’s first extended play record, titled Mainliner/Playpen. This was followed up two years later, with the release of the album Mommy’s Little Monster on 13th Floor Records.

The decade of the 1980s saw Mike Ness pursuing several different music and career tracks. During the course of the decade, Ness continued to work with Social Distortion, but also was a part of the group Easter, appeared in several music videos, and even spent some time working as a house painter. Drugs continued to be an issue in the Ness's, eventually leading to a stint in a drug therapy and recovery program. By 1988, Ness was back full time with Social Distortion, and ready to focus on making music with the group.

Signing with Epic Records in 1989, Mike Ness and Social Distortion entered into a period that is earmarked by a steady amount of creative output. Between 1989 and 1996, the band produced three albums and a wealth of original musical compositions. Fans were treated to both recorded and unrecorded songs by Ness, which helped to make their concerts extremely popular. The flow of creative output continued after the band left Epic in 1996 with a compilation of older work and a live album issued under Mike Ness’s newly formed Time Bomb Recordings.

The new century saw Mike Ness continuing to record at part of Social Distortion as well as issuing new releases under his own name. Ness makes his home in Santa Ana, California, along with a wife and two sons. Social Distortion continues to be a huge part of his life, both as a recording and a touring band. The group, featuring Mike Ness, plans on a new album to be released during 2008.


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