X bids farewell: A quick look back at the punk rock icons

Who are, or were, X?
X With The English Beat And Save Ferris Perform At Pacific Amphitheatre
X With The English Beat And Save Ferris Perform At Pacific Amphitheatre / Harmony Gerber/GettyImages

X has recently announced its farewell tour, so it seems like a good time to take a quick overview of the iconic American punk rock bandmformed in Los Angeles in 1977. X were a part of the flourishing punk scene in LA during the late 1970s and early 1980s, alongside bands like Black Flag, The Germs, and The Weirdos. The band's original lineup consisted of vocalist Exene Cervenka, vocalist/bassist John Doe, guitarist Billy Zoom, and drummer D. J. Bonebrake. Typical of punk, the band is known for their raw and energetic sound, blending punk with elements of rockabilly, country, and roots rock.

They gained recognition for their intense live performances and poetic, often politically charged lyrics. Exene Cervenka and John Doe shared songwriting duties, crafting songs that explored themes of love, alienation, and the struggles of urban life. The band released their debut album, Los Angeles, in 1980, which received critical acclaim for its gritty sound and insightful (albeit occasonally offensive) lyrics.

They followed up with a series of influential albums throughout the 1980s, including Wild Gift (1981), Under the Big Black Sun (1982), and More Fun in the New World (1983), which is considered a more radio-oriented album.

X's music has had a lasting impact on the punk rock genre and beyond, influencing numerous bands and artists in the years that followed. Despite several lineup changes over the years and periods of hiatus, X has continued to perform and record music, cementing their status as one of the seminal bands of the American punk rock scene. Their recent final tour announcement is not entirely surprising, considering the band is over fprty years old.

More facts about X

  • Though they have not been nominated for any Grammy Awards, the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live opened an exhibit titled X: 40 Years of Punk in Los Angeles that ran from late 2017 to early 2018. The Grammy Awards website has her listed as one of the 5 Women Essential To Punk.
  • They band has not been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but may technically be influential enough to merit consideration (they are often considered among the quintessential punk bands).
  • Not to be confused with Elon Musk's new name for Twitter, or the punk band X-Ray Spex (not that most people would be confused by that, but we're just trying to be cute here).
  • X is notable for its unique sound and image and became one of the earliest and best-known female and male duet-fronted punk rock bands of the 1970s.
  • Likely in defiance of expectations, X's cover version of "Wild Thing" from 1984 became the lead single for the soundtrack to the 1989 comedy film Major League, starring Charlie Sheen. It's also been played regularly at sporting events and has even been the entrance music used by two different professional wrestlers: Atsushi Onita and Jon Moxley.
  • Known for occasional lengthy hiatuses, X reunited in the early 2000s and continues to tour as of 2023. Their most recent album is Alphabetland, released in 2020.

Here is their latest album, legally available in full from Fat Possum Record (a label commonly associated with The Black Keys).