The Punk Rock World mourns the passing of Monk Rock
May 6, 2020 by John Gilhooley
He was born Mark Wilson. He was known in the Orange County Music scene in the early 1980’s as Monk Rock and early manager for Social Distortion.
Monk was beloved by his family, friends and anyone in the punk community that got to meet him. The stories of good times with Monk are many and usually involve some crazy antics.
Monk back in the day with Dennis Danell
The early days of Social Distortion
I reached out to his friends to hear from them in their own words their memories of their life and crazy times with Monk Rock.
Gordon Cox | Singer from The Detours
“There will be many Monk stories themed with hilarious escapades , of which I have my share,but the moments that stand out are ones that are in contrast to the craziness of those early days. We often compared notes on the common auto maintenance issues we experienced with our 1960’s Volvo 544’s. When the Detours began an exceptionally long hiatus, Monk offered encouragement saying “you’ve got unfinished business there. It’ll come back”
When asked to manage the Adolescents, Gordon said “I turned to Monk for advice and perspective as to what I was in for. A little older and wiser, the generosity of his time and experience will be what I’ll always be grateful for.“
Derek O’Brien | Drummer Social Distortion (early 80’s )
One of the many Monk stories out of the very few I can repeat sums up Monk’s “tell it like it is “personality pretty well. For the “Another State Of Mind” Tour, Monk had pimped a school bus into a Punk Rock Tour vehicle to include 2 bands and 4 crew members along with 2 bands worth of equipment. The first of many times the bus broke down was before we made it to San Francisco. We were out on the Golden Gate Bridge along side the traffic pushing the bus across the bridge much to the horror of passers by and the security at the toll booth. We pushed up to the toll booth, jumped in the bus and watched the security guard shaking and with mouth agape just staring at us. Monk (in the driver’s seat) saw the sign with toll fees for cars and buses. He simply looked back at the security guard, pointed to the sign and said “Buss“.
Roger Ramjet | Social Distortion Crew
“If anything was going on in the 80’s shows parties anything for a lot of us it started and ended at Monks house. He was always down for anything. I was very sorry to hear of his passing. Great memories with all the Social Distortion crew and all the Fullerton bands that matter. Rest easy Monk.”
Monk with one of his other loves, his Bikes
John O’Donovan | Former Adolescents Guitarist
“I met Monk in the early Fullerton punk rock days through Mike Ness and Dennis Danell. We all hung out since about junior year of high school before stadium punk shows and Hot Topic, when blue hair and a leather jacket would cause a car full of long hairs to whip a U-turn and chase you. One day, this character Monk (“Monk, Monk the oldest punk” we used to say) showed up working with Social D. Over the next several years, as SD progressed from backyard parties to bigger and bigger shows, SD began opening for the likes of the Ramones and the Damned at places like the Palladium, before headlining those same venues. Monk let us (the few punks that were around) run wild backstage. Monk and I became friends and partners in crime, if you will. There are as many Monk stories that I can’t tell, as stories that I can tell, but this is my favorite. I think you’ll understand why.”
“It was 2013 and Monk had moved to Vegas. My girlfriend (now wife) and I were going there on a quick pre-Christmas getaway and, as usual, planned to meet up with Monk. I called from the hotel and we decided on dinner at P.F. Chang’s. As we were still getting ready, Monk called back. “Change of plans! We’re getting married! “
He went on to say… “can you be the best man?” I agreed and were were off to the chapel for a crazy, fun, memorable night and, eventually, that dinner at P.F. Chang’s. Had it been anyone else, the jump from dinner to getting married within about ten minutes, would have sounded like crazy talk, but it was Monk. I just said, “Let’s do it”. I’m glad to say that they were a great match, the love of each others lives. I’m very happy that Monk and Marla found each other. As Monk would say, “Love all you can.” You will be missed, Monk Rocker.”
Monk and wife, Marla Wilson
“There are no accidental meetings between souls”
Gary Hirstius | Former Circle Jerks Manager
“I had just spoken to Monk maybe a month ago. We were talking about old times and I couldn’t wait until I got back to the west coast and we would get together. Now I’m shocked to find out that he’s gone.”
Gary went on “I remember when finished recording the Circle Jerks “Wild In The Streets” at A&M Records. We were in studio D, Herb Alpert’s private studio. He had an SSL digital console; my first time on one was with the Jerks about a week before. Monk asked if I could get Social Distortion in there to cut a demo. I wanted to give it to A&M, so I went to the right people and they gave me the studio for the day. You have to remember this was the old Charlie Chaplin studios, all kinds of artists running in and out, gold and platinum records up and down the hallways. The boys had never been there and were pretty blown away. While I was busy in the studio, the band, Monk, and everybody else was out in the hallways going in and out of studios. They found their way into somebody’s green room and made themselves at home. It was all good; it was rock and roll. We set up the gear and started recording. I told them to play whatever they wanted and we started tracking and mixed it down the same night. I forget how many songs, but it was incredible. Many years later it showed up on one of their records. I understood that they ended up having to master off of the cassette copy that I had mixed for them that day. Incredible stuff. I remember every time I ran into Monk, he would have the biggest smil . It never failed. He was fun to be at a gig with, if you could hang. And that coon skin hat! You knew you were in for an adventure.”
Andrew “Simo” Simonsen | Social Distortion Crew
“It was Thanksgiving 1982, I think. My brother RJ just got hired at a cable company and was issued a new van. Social Distortion had a couple gigs in San Francisco that weekend, so we stole the van to take the band up. Monk insisted we have a great place to stay. We got there and it was a garage with 20 cats living in it with no access to the outside, so it smelled. There was a guy in a bed, his eye dripping from getting poked out the night before in a slam pit. We told Monk that was his bunk; he thought it was great, so we left him and got a room. A lot of very memorable stuff happened that weekend. We came back to OC without Monk. Two weeks later he showed up on a Vespa he borrowed from a girl. He left SF in early December with only a T-shirt, stopped at a thrift store to steal socks to make a jacket, rode the Vespa all the way home, and froze his ass off.“
Chris Reece | Former Social Distortion Drummer
“One night in the 80’s when Monk was managing SD, he rolled his 1961 Volvo P544 coming off the 5, on the way to a gig. He drove it to his sister’s house in East LA with four flat tires and all the windows busted out. When he rolled into the hood, all the cholos were cheering and laughing!”
“Monk and I crossed paths many times over the years, crushing on each other at the Fullerton Confederate House, sharing a first kiss at Cathay, and finally marrying 7-1/2 years ago. These have been the best years of my life. Most people don’t know the special bond “Uncle Monkles” shared with my nephew, Cameron. Cameron is autistic; he has a hard time reading and writing. Monk noticed that he would often point to “lights” that only he could see. Monk asked, “What do you see.” Cameron replied with letters that would spell out words. They eventually figured out their own communication. Monk was able to use children’s books to begin teaching Cam to read and write. When Cameron’s brother Reese was bullied for having an autistic brother, Monk taught him how to find an inner peace and how to talk to adults for help, if need be. I plan to have a memorial for our family and friends but, as everything else with this virus situation, I will let everyone know after the lockdown. In the meantime, as Monk would say, “Love all you can.”