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Bad Religion's Greg Graffin: Teacher's little monster

March 15, 2010 |  1:49 pm

Greg Graffin 2008

Are punk rockers born or made?

That’s the kind of question Bad Religion singer Greg Graffin probably would love to tackle in his alter-ego as Dr. Greg Graffin, PhD lecturer in biology at UCLA and author of the forthcoming book “Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science and Bad Religion in a World Without God.”

The book is one of several tie-ins with Bad Religion’s 30th anniversary tour, which I spoke about recently with Graffin and his fellow founding members of the group, Brett Gurewitz and Jay Bentley, as they were gearing up for 17 area performances over the next three weeks.

You get the sense Graffin came into the world with an iconoclast’s personality fully formed, especially given this anecdote he shared with one of the staff members of his book’s publisher, for their HarperStudio blog.

“I’ve always had a problem with authority,” Graffin recalled. “When I was in the third grade at Lake Bluff Elementary School just outside Milwaukee, my teacher, Wanda Rood, knew that I hated to be called by my full name, Gregory. I have always been Greg to my family and friends, and whenever Miss Rood called me Gregory to humiliate or intimidate me, I shook with fury.

“Finally, one day when I was talking too much to my friends, Miss Rood said, ‘Gregory, do you have something to say to us all?’ I replied, ‘Don’t call me Gregory, Wanda.’”

He doesn’t say what her response was. But here’s a wild guess it wasn’t his first standing ovation.

--Randy Lewis

Photo of Greg Graffin during Bad Religion's 2007 performance at the KROQ Weenie Roast in Irvine. Credit: Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times