WPKN’s Howard Thompson interviews Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain-co-authors of Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk
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.
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 that gave the movement its name; as well as being a former editor at Spin 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 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.
WPKN is a 10,000-watt non-commercial radio station founded in 1963 as the college radio station of the University of Bridgeport. While our studios and offices remain on the campus of the University of Bridgeport, in 1989 we became an independent, non-profit 501 (c)3 corporation. Since then WPKN has been a listener-supported community radio station, broadcasting at 89.5 FM. WPKN can also be heard streaming live on the internet at wpkn.org. There’s also an app for Apple and Android- WPKN LIVE. WPKN’s terrestrial signal now serves a potential listenership of 1.5 million people in Connecticut, Long Island, and parts of New York and Massachusetts. Programs on WPKN include live and recorded music, news, public affairs, and spoken word.