The frontman for punk survivors Social Distortion, singer/guitarist Mike Ness was born April 3, 1962, in Stoneham, MA. Raised primarily in Orange County, CA, he was kicked out of his parents' house at age 15 and spent the years which followed in and out of jail and experimenting with drugs; after forming Social Distortion in 1979, Ness' struggles with addiction deepened, and after recording the now-classic Mommy's Little Monster in 1983, his self-destructive lifestyle (vividly captured in the 1985 documentary Another State of Mind) nearly broke up the band. After getting clean and sober, Ness reconvened Social Distortion for 1988's rootsy Prison Bound, followed in 1990 by the group's self-titled major-label debut, which launched the hit "Ball and Chain." After 1992's Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell, however, the band went on an extended hiatus, not resurfacing until White Light, White Heat, White Trash four years later.
In 1999, Ness made his solo debut with Cheating at Solitaire. The title slyly hints at the fact that he didn't do this alone, and there are a stunning array of guests on the album, including contributions from Brian Setzer, Bruce Springsteen, and members of the Royal Crown Revue. Even if the record is loaded with cameos, it remains very much the work of Mike Ness, emphasizing his love of American roots music.