John Doe

Active - 1988 - 2019  |   Born - Jan 1, 1954   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Comedy Drama, Action, Music

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John Doe is a man who balances two well-respected careers -- as a musician, Doe was the co-founder, songwriter, vocalist, and bassist of one of America's most acclaimed alternative rock bands, X, and while he continues to write and record new material, he has also carved out a reputation as a busy and well-regarded character actor. Born in Decatur, IL, in 1954 as John Duchac, John spent his young adult years in Baltimore, MD, where he began playing and singing in a number of bar bands. Fascinated by beat poetry and eager to hone his skills as a writer, Duchac moved to Venice, CA, in 1976; early the next year, John adopted the stage name John Doe and began dipping his toes into Los Angeles's burgeoning punk rock scene. Doe met guitarist Billy Zoom, who like Doe was eager to form a band, and when Doe met Exene Cervenka at a poetry workshop, they began comparing notes and soon started writing songs. They also began dating, and married a few years later, though they would divorce in 1985. With drummer D.J. Bonebrake, Doe, Zoom, and Cervenka formed the band X, which blended the power and speed of punk rock with the melodies and accents of rockabilly, blues, and roots rock, all coupled with Doe and Cervenka's hard-edged but literate lyrics about California's underclass. X quickly earned a reputation as one of the strongest bands to emerge from the American punk rock scene, and as X's popularity in Los Angeles grew, they began attracting the attention of a variety of filmmakers. Penelope Spheeris featured the band in her documentary about the L.A. punk scene, The Decline. . .of Western Civilization, the band performed their song "Beyond and Back" in Urgh! A Music War, and Jim McBride asked the band to record the title song for his remake of Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless. In 1985, independent filmmakers Allison Anders, Kurt Voss, and Dean Lent began making a movie about musicians living along the edges of Hollywood's music scene called Border Radio, and they cast Doe in his first acting role alongside such fellow L.A. punk scenesters as Chris D. and Dave Alvin. While the film was not released until 1987 and received poor distribution, Doe's rugged good looks and cool charisma registered well on screen, and he soon landed small roles in Oliver Stone's breakthrough film Salvador and Wayne Wang's neo-noir drama Slam Dance. In 1989, Jim McBride cast Doe in a small but substantial role in his Jerry Lee Lewis biopic Great Balls of Fire as J.W. Brown, Lewis' bassist and the father of the rocker's 13-year-old "child bride." By the time Great Balls of Fire was released, X had announced their breakup (though the band would stage several reunions throughout the 1990s), and while Doe began recording and touring as a solo act, he also devoted an increasing amount of his time to his acting career, so much so that by the end of the 1990s Doe's film work had outstripped music as his primary livelihood. Doe has since played a number of memorable supporting roles, often as musicians, in films running the gamut from Pure Country and Wyatt Earp to Georgia and Boogie Nights. In 1999, Doe reunited with Allison Anders and Kurt Voss for another film about the Los Angeles music community, Sugar Town, in which he gave a superb performance as a musician trying to hold his marriage and his career together; that same year, he also landed a recurring role on the TV series Roswell as Geoff Parker, father of teenaged protagonist Liz Parker (Shiri Appleby) and owner of Roswell diner The Crashdown Cafe.

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