Did the Circle Jerks and the Gun Club really trade names?
Almost. Circa 1980, two pivotal figures in Los Angeles underground music were roommates: Jeffrey Lee Pierce had a band called Creeping Ritual; sharing a bathroom with him was Keith Morris, lead singer for the legendary hardcore band Black Flag. Alongside acts such as the Cramps and X, Pierce was helping define the roots-punk sound of the L.A. scene, performing gigs mostly at Chinese restaurants. But after one show, Pierce was worried that he had pissed off the club’s management sufficiently for the band to get blacklisted there. The easiest move: changing his group’s name. (This also had the advantage of shedding the Goth connotations of Creeping Ritual.) The Gun Club, the new name, was indeed suggested by his roommate Morris. But although Morris was leaving Black Flag and starting a new band of his own, Pierce didn’t suggest its name (the Circle Jerks). His half of the trade: the lyrics to the song “Group Sex,” which became the title track for the Circle Jerks’ debut album.
(Excerpted from the 2006 book Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?: Music’s Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed, published by Three Rivers Press, written by Gavin Edwards.)