VANS TO THE RESCUE! by Chris Reece (The Lewd, Social Distortion)

(Header photo and design of Chris’ Social Distortion playing card by Paul Holland-Nell.)

If not for these utilitarian vehicles, Punk Rock might have never happened.

Full-sized American vans were plentiful in the 1980s. Japanese imports took over the market, and used Dodge vans were $500. Most punk bands had one. Social D did not. We drove much cooler vehicles like 56′ Chevys, Citreons, Cadillacs, etc., which were also $500 cars.

Gas was a buck a gallon, motel rooms were $35.

An average gig paid $200, so you could buy a tank of gas, 2 motel rooms, and a case of beer to get you to the next town, and do it all over again.

I was down from San Francisco, and joined Social Distortion in 1984. We toured California and Arizona at the time. That’s the farthest our vans could travel.

We hired roadies that were usually friends of the band to drive the gear to the gig, then pack it up, and haul it back to the rehearsal hall.

Mike Ness, somewhere in Texas, 1989. Photo by Chris Reece.

When we put out the Prison Bound album, we hit the road in a rental van. The one shown here is a Dodge Ram 87′ 15 passenger. We took out the last rows of seats, and stored amps, guitars, and drums.

View from the office, 1988. Photo by Chris Reece.

We had a tight schedule, and we needed something dependable, so we rented from an agency in Hollywood.

Outside of the 4808 Club Charlotte, NC . 1988. Photo by Chris Reece.

I now own a 1999 Ford E-350 Cargo Van, and could not imagine life without one. Right now it’s being used to haul outdoor seating to my restaurant The Pike Restaurant and Bar in Long Beach, California.    


“Nasty Nester”. Mike Ness, photo by Chris Reece.

Stay connected with Chris at Pike Restaurant and Bar on Instagram and Facebook.

Also, check out Chris’ Cars of the Punk Rock Stars and Chris Reece Drummer.

The Social Distortion playing cards are available at Paul Holland-Nell’s Etsy Shop.

The Lewd – Mobile Home

Social Distortion – Telling Them, and No Pain, No Gain – Live at the RITZ, February 22, 1986, NEW YORK CITY

Social Distortion playing So Far Away at Cal. State. 1990

Social Distortion – Ghost Town Blues – Live at a party in Lake Perris, July 2, 1988

Social Distortion – Alone And Forsaken (Original Version)

Social Distortion – Mainliner/On My Nerves – Live at the Ritz, New York, Feb 1986

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s