By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
"If anybody should write a book, Duane should," says former U.S. Bombs manager Vince Pileggi. "And the stories he could tell wouldn't even be exaggerations. He was in my office the other day answering e-mails from fans, and there was all this blood running down his face because he just tattooed his head. Somehow, he's managed to make a living doing this, and I have a lot of respect for that. He's genuinely just a sweet person."
"I've seen him at the beach with his kids, this punk rock dad, with his lawn chair and his cooler and his tats blazing," says local club promoter Scott Tucker. "He's definitely not a poseur."
"He has a heart of gold," Trisha says. "An amazing guy all around. He never bores me. He's the best boyfriend."
But how did Duane Peters—at least this softer, cuddlier, family-oriented version—get here? Duane Peters was born in Anaheim and raised in Ontario. Most decent punkers—the talented ones, anyway—can trace the roots of their rage to divorce, and Duane is no exception. After his parents split, he moved to Newport Beach with his used-car-salesman father, and started getting kicked out of school for assorted youthful indiscretions, mostly ditching. How to deal with an angry young man? Send him off to live with relatives on a Michigan farm, of course. "It was the fucking country," remembers Duane, taking a long drag off a cigarette. "I went to school every day that year because there was nothing else to do. And if you fucked up, they'd take a switch to you. They were total inbreds—a very small town."
Duane spent a year on the farm and moved back with his dad, but the experience hadn't disciplined him much. At 14, he'd had enough of school and dropped out. By this time—the mid-'70s—skateboarding was still underground. Duane got into it heavily, but, not having the dough to buy a board himself, he improvised by sawing off a piece of wood, nailing on a pair of roller skates and sidewalk-surfing all around Newport and Balboa. "I just wanted to skate all the time and didn't want to have to go to work," he says. "I didn't want to grow up."
Duane started making up tricks, and he got good—very, very good. Then skating empty swimming pools became the rage, which further stoked Duane's youth-gone-wild streak. "We were breaking into people's back yards to skate their pools—even into their houses to make sandwiches—all around [Costa Mesa]. We'd stay until the police helicopters chased us out. Wherever there was an empty pool—all through 1975, '76, '77—that's all we were doing."
When the first wave of commercial skate parks opened, Duane's partners in skating crime lost interest in other people's property. But not Duane. He kept inventing new moves (and breaking about as many bones as his idol, Evel Knievel; Duane's skate nickname was the Master of Disaster). When he was 16, he pulled off what some had thought impossible: a complete, upside-down, 360-degree loop on a 14-foot pipe set up behind storied Costa Mesa punk club the Cuckoo's Nest. "I felt like Evel when I finally did it, but I ate shit every fucking way possible for about two weeks trying." The stunt earned Duane a mention in Skateboarder magazine, which led to offers for paid performances in skate shows. Soon, Duane was doing trick skating in huge rooms like the Forum and the Long Beach Arena. He even turned a loop on the cheesy old TV show That's Incredible! When the show circuits gradually folded, Duane entered contests and won handily.
Then he discovered something else he was good at: punk rock. "I only had one record, Alice Cooper's Welcome to My Nightmare," says Duane (still smoking), "and I really didn't play it that much. Everyone in skateboarding at the time was playing Ted Nugent, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac—all that shit. But then one day, I was in a car on the way to a skate show with some guys, and someone put in a Ramones tape. I just went, 'What the fuck?!!' I got into it right away; this was music I could skate to. Then me and about four of us got our hair cut and started getting the shit kicked out of us every day."
Punk rock became the subculture within the skating subculture, and Duane, as well as skater buds like Tony Alva and Steve Olsen, joined punk bands, skating to earn money during the day, and slamming, pogoing and getting gobbed on at night. Duane became a regular at the Cuckoo's Nest and remains a proud veteran of the Cuckoo's Nest/Zubie's wars of the era, when the cowboys who hung out at the restaurant next door to the Nest used to pick fights with those goll-durn, freaky-lookin' punker kids.
Soon, Duane adopted another idol: Sid Vicious. This was a baaaad thing. "It was like I heard Sid was a junkie, so I wanted to be a junkie, too," Duane recalls. "A couple of my friends OD'd from the stuff, but for some reason, that didn't scare me. Nothing scares a junkie, though. Once you start falling in, you think it's cool, and I thought it was cool. Then, all of a sudden, you're strung out, and it's fucking not cool. It's a horrible thing. You're sick all the time, you're always wanting to get well, but you never get well. I just turned into that full, gloomy, pathetic heroin addict."