There’s a pretty good chance you are at least familiar with the name D. Boon. You might even be aware that he fronted San Pedro’s Minutemen, the punk band that was too weird for even most punks, until his tragic death in a car accident in 1985. But what else do you really know about him? Time has been kind to the Minutemen legacy, particularly to their 1984 double album, Double Nickels on the Dime, but it has been less kind when it comes to the people in the band. That’s where we come in.
Grab your pens and notebooks, and be prepared to take notes, because we’re going to give you a little history lesson on the late guitarist below.
1. D. Boon’s full name was Dennes Dale Boon. His shortened name came from three things: 1. “D” was his own, personal slang for marijuana, 2. It recalled American frontiersman Daniel Boone, and 3. It sounded similar to the name of Blue Oyster Cult’s E. Bloom.
2. Boon was a major history and politics buff. His obsession with the subjects can be heard in the lyrics to almost all of his songs. His love for history was even reflected in the names of his bands, The Reactionaries and Minutemen.
3. Boon met his best friend and future bandmate, Mike Watt, in high school when Boon jumped out of a tree, landed in front of Watt and stated “You’re not Eskimo”. Watt responded by saying “No, I’m not Eskimo”.
4. Before Watt introduced him to the world of rock and roll through bands like Cream and The Who, Boon primarily listened to country and George Carlin records. (Although he did own albums by Creedence Clearwater Revival, a band that Watt also loved.)
5. Unlike many other punk guitarists, Boon rarely used distortion, and would often turn off the bass and midrange frequencies on his amplifier so that only the treble could be heard.
6. All three members of the Minutemen acted as their own roadies on every tour they went on. This would sometimes lead to confusion at venues in which security would try to pull Boon off stage because they didn’t realize he was a member of the band.
7. Boon and Watt started their own record label, New Alliance Records, in 1980 with former Reactionaries vocalist Martin Tamburovich. New Alliance Records would go on to put out albums by Minutemen, Husker Du, and Descendents. After Boon’s death, Watt and Tamburovich sold New Alliance to Greg Ginn, who absorbed it into his own label, SST.
8. Boon once had an encounter at work in which his boss refused to let him listen to the local jazz/soul radio station because it would play songs by Black musicians. Boon wanted to quit his job but needed the income so he wrote the song “This Ain’t No Picnic” (which appears on Double Nickels on the Dime) in response to his employer’s racist attitude.
9. Boon was a prolific artist, studying art in college before dropping out. Some of his drawings and paintings were used for the covers of several Minutemen releases, including the EPs Joy and Project: Mersh and the albums The Punch Line, The Politics of Time, and 3-Way Tie (For Last).
10. Boon was 27 years old at the time of his death, making him a member of the 27 Club.