The son of an alcoholic prizefighter and an abused mother, John was removed from his family at the age of five, spent years in one of New York State’s worst foster homes – which was eventually shut down – and ended up at various violent boys homes and institutions.
In 1977, when New York City was bankrupt, corrupt and the murder capital of the America, John escaped the abusive homes and took to the street. He was 14 years old, homeless, living through the Son of Sam killings, the infamous Blackout of 1977, and rampant out-of-control New York City violence.
He survived those tumultuous days and nights alone, sleeping in burnt-out buildings, acting as a heroin drug-mule, a street dealer, and a hustler. He was shot, stabbed, and beaten (and returned the favor on many occasions.) In late 1978 his life crashed down as he was incarcerated for 21 months in New York State’s worst juvenile facility, Spofford Correctional. But what’s most compelling about John’s story is how he overcame the obstacles and adversity; his loss of family, his serious addictions to crack cocaine and alcohol. He did it by making a switch to a spiritual lifestyle, finding punk rock music, adopting a plant-based diet, and training seriously in the martial arts.
Besides his music being highly influential to all rock genres John has been a major influence in getting the worldwide punk-rock scene to eat healthy and exercise. But his influence hasn’t stopped there. The list of famous people that site John as an example of overcoming adversity is a who’s-who of pop culture; UFC fighters Mac Danzig, Jake Shields and Kenny Florion; Actors Steve Buscemi, Vin Diesel, Michael Rappaport, Alicia Silverstone, Emily Deschanel, the active duty Navy SEAL who starred in the film, “Act of Valor”; Academy Award winning Writer/ Director of “Monster” Patty Jenkins, “Super-Size Me” Director Morgan Spurlock, and Writer/Director of “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” & “Fighting” Dito Montiel. Countless musicians have added their names to the list as well; the late Adam Yauch of Beastie Boys, Chrissy Hynde from The Pretenders, Moby, Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye, Dave Grohl, Lemme from Motorhead, James Hetfield, and the list goes on.
John has written two books. The first, his memoir, “The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon” and his second, “Meat is For Pussies” an in-your-face look at guys’ health which has become an underground success and has helped thousands of men change their bad eating habits and lifestyles. He’s replaced the Iron Bars of the prison system with the Ironman Triathlon as a way to constantly challenge himself physically, mentally and spiritually. John still tours as the lead singer with the world-famous Cro-Mags, the group which everyone from Metallica to Black Flag to Green Day credit as one of the most influential punk rock bands of all time. And to top it all off, John spends time mentoring at-risk and incarcerated youths & adults, has adapted his memoir for the big screen, and has many other projects in the works including books, films and TV projects.
For John Joseph, life truly has been an evolution… Stay tuned.