(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.
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.
We had a tight schedule, and we needed something dependable, so we rented from an agency in Hollywood.
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.
VANS TO THE RESCUE!