You Say It's Your Birthday: X's Exene Cervenka

Today is the birthday of X vocalist Exene Cervenka

(Christine Cervenka), born in 1956 in Chicago, Illinois. X won the hearts of

critics and punks alike, putting the early-'80s Los Angeles punk scene on the

map while peppering their songs with rockabilly and country influences,

recording two of the great albums of the '80s: Los Angeles and Wild

Gift; the Addicted To Noise Radio ATN show, "The Unheard Music," takes its

name from an early X song.

X formed in 1997 when bassist John Doe and

guitarist Billy Zoom met in L.A. Cervenka had just moved to California from

Florida and met Doe at a poetry workshop. The duo became a couple and Cervenka

was added to the lineup of the nascent band. They began playing local clubs;

ex-Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek took a liking to the band and became their

producer. Their indie debut, Los Angeles, sold more than 60,000 copies

and its follow-up, Wild Gift did equally well. By Los Angeles standards

they were superstars in their adoptive hometown, earning spots in Penelope

Spheeris’ Decline of Western Civilization and another documentary,

Urgh! A Music War.



Meanwhile, Cervenka was continuing to write and stage

spoken-word performances, co-writing Adulterers Anonymous with Lydia

Lunch in 1982. Doe appeared in a number of films, including Great Balls of

Fire and Roadside Prophets. The duo formed a side band, called the

Knitters, recording and touring under that name.

Billy Zoom left X to be

replaced by Tony Gilkyson. Cervenka and Doe's relationship entered a rocky

phase toward the end of the 1980s, ending in a divorce which threw X into an

extended hiatus. During this time, Cervenka released two solo records, Old

Wives’ Tales and Running Sacred. X came out of hibernation and

Hey Zeus! was released in 1993. Recent X recordings failed to live up to

their early '80s classics. Cervenka has published books and spoken-word albums

on Henry Rollins' label 2.13.61, while John Doe has recorded solo albums and

stared in the superb film Georgia. In 1995 X released Unclogged,

an acoustic retrospective of their work.

Other birthdays: Bob Shane

(Kingston Trio), Ray Sawyer (Dr. Hook), Everly (Everly Brothers), Carl Black

(Mothers Of Invention), Joe Sample (Crusaders), Richard Williams (Kansas), Rick

James-1952, Lisa Marie Presley and Ron Welty (Offspring). -- Beth

Winegarner