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The band was formed in late 1978 by frontman Mike Ness, inspired equally by British punk and older acts such as The Rolling Stones. They played with fellow Orange County, California bands such as the Adolescents, China White, and Shattered Faith as part of the nascent hardcore movement. Their music was fast, angry and energetic. In 1984 the band was featured in the seminal punk rockumentary Another State of Mind which was written, produced and directed by Peter Stuart and Adam Small (co–creator of "Mad TV"). The band came to an end in 1985 due to Ness' drug habit and troubles with the law, which eventually resulted in an extended stint in a rehabilitation center, which would last for at least two years.

Later, Ness would clean up his act so the band would finally return releasing their second album Prison Bound in 1988 with newcomers John Maurer on bass and Christopher Reece on drums. The album was not successful, but the song "Prison Bound" found airplay by the Los Angeles, California radio station KROQ. The band left Time Bomb Recordings and signed to Epic Records in 1989.

In the late 1980s they began to move in a more roots rock oriented direction, continuing in the 90s, and also began to include elements of grunge and cowpunk. Since their inception the band lineup has been a virtual revolving–door of talent, with many members coming and going, however frontman Mike Ness has remained and the band has never broken up.

In 2000 guitarist and long–time member Dennis Danell died, but the band overcame the loss and in 2004 released their latest album Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll.
Adolescents

Adolescents

Danko Jones

Danko Jones

D.I.

D.I.

D.O.A.

D.O.A.

Mike Ness

Mike Ness