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legs mcneil tin roof
Journalist, author, and punk rock historian Legs McNeil reads from his works at Tin Roof on Monday.

At the age of 18, Roderick Edward “Legs” McNeil and two high school friends, John Holmstrom and Ged Dunn, decided to create “some sort of media thing” for a living. They settled upon publishing a magazine and called it Punk. It was the mid-1970s and the genre of music that would become known as “punk rock” was still in its angsty infancy.

Nicknamed “Resident Punk” in the magazine, McNeil says he and Holmstrom thought that if they published a magazine covering the genre of music and lifestyle surrounding it that people would “think we were cool and hang out with us” as well as “give us free drinks.” The plan worked … eventually. Like the brand of music itself, Punk magazine operated on the fringe and was often the focus of ridicule and disdain from the mainstream music world.

“After four years of doing Punk magazine, and basically getting laughed at, suddenly everything was ‘punk,’” says McNeil. “So I quit the magazine.” But that was far from the end of McNeil’s days as a rock scribe. He went on to become a senior editor at SPIN magazine, and was the founder and editor of Nerve magazine. These days McNeil is a highly respected rock historian and travels the country doing readings and spinning yarns about The Ramones, Iggy Pop, and the glory days punk rock. McNeil will hold a special reading at 6 p.m. on Monday, January 28 at Tin Roof in West Ashley.

Not only was Punk magazine a trailblazer in the world of music journalism, but McNeil claims he and Holmstrom coined the term “punk” to describe a certain type of music, fashion, and attitude that was coming of age in the mid-’70s. McNeil says he came up with the name punk because Telly Savalas used the line “You lousy punk!” on the show Kojak, and it just seemed to just fit the anti-establishment sound and attitude of the music and lifestyle. “It seemed to sum up ... everything ... obnoxious, smart but not pretentious, absurd, ironic, and things that appealed to the darker side,” says McNeil.

Besides his illustrious career as a music journalism, McNeil is also a best-selling author of three books. The most critically acclaimed of them is Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk (along with Gillian McCain). The book is often regarded as the first oral history of punk rock and was a New York Daily News and Time Out Top Ten Book of the Year upon its release in 2006. McNeil also wrote I Slept with Joey Ramone: A Family Memoir (along with Mickey Leigh), and The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry (along with Jennifer Osborne and Peter Pavia).

Legs McNeil will hold a special reading at 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 28 at Tin Roof, located at 1117 Magnolia Road. For more information, call 571-0775.