Home / I Was A Punk Before You Were A Punk Pt. 1

I Was A Punk Before You Were A Punk Pt. 1

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A long time ago, back before The Ramones could count to 4, before the Black Flag so proudly waved, before The Clash had enough rope, before X marked the spot and before the Sex Pistols backfired punk was knocking at the door. Now in 2005 “Punk” is just another genre in your local music emporium. A product to be bought and sold at the local mall.

Even the most suburbanized suburbanite can now take a trip to their local mall and come out two hours later as an Insta-Punk. Just add beer, a little attitude and voila: Dude yer a punk. Just walk the mall, any mall, anywhere U.S.A from Maine to Mississippi, Alaska to Arizona, Nevada to New York and you too can be Punk Rock and I mean it maaaaan. Stop by Hot Topic pick up some creepers, a pair of Docs or some Chuck Taylors, drop into the local hipster hair emporium “Hair ‘Tis” or whatever, get pierced, tattoed, pick up some black clothes and a handful of CD’s and there ya have it. You are a punk rocker, congratulations.

Well anyway you have the outward trappings of some such a thing. You are an individual, different than everbody else, into something new and hip, not just another jerk in oversized clothes & a backwards baseball cap (speaking of which no one should be allowed to wear but catchers) no, you are walking and talking statement on the vitrues of non-conformity just like the other 7 or 8 million of the non-conformists out there. Punk Rock, shmunk rock. There was a time that I thought it was new, interesting and cutting edge. Well it was new and interesting for a couple of years. But like any other pop culture movement in crashed and burned within a few years of inception in regards to momentum but it did leave behind it an interesting recorded history.

I used to be young once, I think, and loved Punk Rock. I was raised on it, and I was in on what I saw at the time as ground zero. I saw the NY Dolls make their splash, The final death rattle of Raw Power era Stooges, The Stones go from being a parent’s nightmare to a band your parents might listen to and a bunch of limeys from across the pond taunt, tease, terrorize and try the patience of any and all who came into contact with them, fans included. Of course, this didn’t last long and by the early 80’s elements of metal, pop and art rock were coming into the mix diluting Punk in its purest form.

In fact for me personally speaking I declared Punk Rock oficially dead after I’d seen the Dead Kennedys play in Hollywood with T.S.O.L., The Cheifs & I forget who all else ca. 1981 and there probably a couple hundred of San Fernando Valley headbangers holding up their lighters as they shouted encore, while the rest of the crowd was pelting the stage with beer cups,sneakers,flyers and any & all many of flying projectile. They did encore and Jello had a good chuckle at the hair farmers and the lighters. But these are just the long winded reminisces of a event close to 25 years ago. Sheesh I’m getting old.

Well, anyway for a brief point in time, Punk was something that was fun and interesting, different, unique and driven by intelligent,like minded but not too like minded people who were looking for something that you could call your own for the time being, something that would remedy the doldrums of late 1970’s F/M radio. Misfits, artists, musicians, anti-musicians, poets, rejects, drug addicts, gay people. In general, marginalized people, angry people, people looking for kindred spirits in dive bars and anywhere else you could pull of a gig or two before you got booted by the owners.

Or as the case may be literally booted by the cops upside your head or square in the ass. I narrowly escaped arrest after a punk show in East Hollywood at The Polish American Hall at which The Weirdos, Screamers, Mau Maus, Vicious Circle, The Speed Queens and some other bands the names of which escape me at the present played and which L.A.P.D raided for improper permit, so they claimed.

A handful of L.A.’s finest walked into the hall, saw a couple dozen kids doing the alligator and pogoing declared it a riot and charged off into the crowd swinging truncheons & flashlights while people were sent off screaming, running and just scattering to anywhere and everywhere there wasn’t a cop coming from. By a miracle of sorts, my friends and I escaped and spent the next couple of hours hiding behind a dumpster in a completely horrible gang & drug infested Mexican neighborhood praying that the helicopters and /or rollers didn’t see us. We could not go back to get our car and with our leathers, boots and gear we were just asking for it should the police see us. By comparison, the local gang bangers we ran into were mellow.

OK, back on course here. Let see where we were. Bitching, moaning about what a silly commodity Punk Rock has become, a little autobiography, an old man punk rock story and blah blah blah. Anyway even when Punk was “new” it was not new. Just another step up the ladder towards modernity. Just as the bands of today draw upon the 70’s and 80’s for inspirations, the groups of the 70’s drew upon the garage and art damaged psych outs of the 60’s and the high energy sounds of 50’s R & B, Rockabilly, Blues for theirs.

The 1950’s is where Punk in earnest started in my book. Out of the boredom and fading prosperity of post WW2 Stepford America came the juvenile deliquent and the first real youth movement. As with any movement there has to be a soundtrack and Perry Como and Patti Page just were not cutting it. Kids were looking for something to call their own. Hot rods, fashion, slang above all: Music.

The amalgamation of Hillbilly, Blues and R&B which came to be known as Rock N Rool gave birth to the likes of Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard. They were new & unique to the ears and disliked by the older generation.

Part 2 is here.

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  • Eric Olsen

    very nice HW – I too knew the bride when she used to rock ‘n’ roll

  • Bennett

    Totally worth reading. I am impressed.

  • Good insights, but as someone who lived through the same era and continued to listen to music, I have to say that I think a stream of genuine punk did live on beyond 1981. There’s a lot of pseudo-punk and way too much punk-lite and pop punk, but the real thing is still out there too.

    What’s your response to bands like Rancid, Social Distortion, Sublime, Dropkick Murphy and even Green Day? Seems to me they tapped into the genuine punk vein in at lest some way.


  • Bob

    You were spot on with the comment: “In general, marginalized people, angry people, people looking for kindred spirits in dive bars…” That is the early crowd as I remember them (myself included), although in many cases it wasn’t bars, but houses, at least in Portland where I first found a home.

    I never realized I was there the night punk died… it seems the crowd that night had a large number of – shall we say – newcomers who ventured north to the Hollyweird scene.

    There were several shows in a 3-4 month period around that one which I believe heralded a changing of the guard. Don’t get me wrong, OC was like a second home, in fact we are today commonly referred to as being from Huntington Beach, although we were never based anywhere but Hollywood.

    To this day I carry a souviner from the Polish American Hall gig. I was met going down the side stair case by several LA sheriffs running up it who decided that I needed a night-stick to the belly to clear the way for them. Unfortunately I had surgery two days earlier and they landed a direct hit on the stiches in my belly button , leaving me with a one of a kind half inny / half outty. You really needed to know that didn’t you… just thought I’d share.


  • Eric Olsen

    I agree with Dave that there was plenty of good punk in the ’80s and ’90s, but it was music as opposed to any kind of meaningful movement

  • I was into Punk Rock in the seventies when there there about thirty people in my state that understood it. We all knew each other. We had to make our own punk clothing, makeup and hair dyes. I thought it was going to herald a revolution that would change the world.

  • Eric Olsen

    you mean I missed it?

  • I’m not sure who Eric’s comment is directed at, but if you have to ask, you probably did.

  • Eric Olsen

    it was just a little rib-tickler

  • Punk probably died when the first mohawk was spotted in my suburban town around the middle of the 80’s. When it penetrated that far, the end was near. Great post HW.

  • HW Saxton

    Thanks for all the responses guys it’s
    nice to be read once in a while.Bob,we
    got lucky at The Polish American Hall.
    Somehow we didn’t get our asses kicked
    in by the L.A.P.D.or the Sheriffs dept.

    I wasn’t so lucky one night at “The Vex”
    in East L.A. A group of us were at Jack In The Box up the street on Brooklyn Ave
    when several of LA’s finest held us for
    about half an hour before letting us go.
    We had done nothing wrong but looked
    like Punks.

    We were lined against a wall frisked and
    had our feet kicked out from behind us
    causing us to fall into the wall face
    first ending up with what was basically
    road rash down one side of my face and
    a decent shiner to boot. Our only crime
    was looking like punks.Boots, bandanas,
    overcoats you know, the basic Hollywood
    punk look. We did get to see the show
    though which featured all Chicano punk
    bands that night: The Stains,Hey Taxi,
    The Undertakers and I believe Saccharine
    Trust.Great old venue in an insanely bad
    & dangerous neighborhood: Brooklyn Ave &
    Soto St. in the heart of Boyle Heights.
    I would not go there in the day time at
    this point in my life now,much less go &
    wander alleys looking for a place to sit
    & drink beer before the show in the mid
    middle of sat. nite I’m often amazed I’m
    here to post this shit out today.

  • Hmmmm. I’m sorry about that. We didnt’ have violence against us where I lived. For one thing, no one knew what the hell we were. There wasn’t really violence at the clubs either.

  • Shark

    Great post, Saxman! And it’s really refreshing to read your stuff with no weird line breaks!


    And just for the record, I WAS A PUNK BEFORE YOU WERE!

    (I sported a safety pin when I was in diapers! So there!)


  • great post.

    i loved the chaotic (if forced) nature of early punk.

    i usedta drive my friends crazy on friday nights listening to the punk show on the campus radio station (this was, i think…1980). it was called ‘Decline of the West’ and was just friggin’ brutal.

    i loved every nasty second of it.

    there are bits of NuSuburbanPunk that i like, but don’t really bother making the comparison to the old stuff.

  • Shark

    BTW: Just a historical note for the cultural illiterates who’ve never seen a black and white movie — and think that a 78rpm is really a large, heavy coaster.

    It could be argued that Punks owe a bit of debt to some brilliant, subversive old guys such as Charles Ives, Tristan Tzara, Marinetti, Pratella, and the late-great Russolo — and later, Spike Jones, Raymond Scott, and *John Cage.

    *Who can’t forget the melody and lyrics to his infamous musical composition “4’33”?!

  • gonzo marx

    just my 2 guilders worth here..

    first “punk” …Buddy Holly..

    last Moment of true “Punk” was 1981..Elvis Costello was on Saturday Night Live..he was told by NBC to play “Less than Zero” which is quite subversive in it’s own way..but they did NOT want him to play another of his songs, since they owned quite a few radio stations at the time…

    the Band came out, and played 2 bars of the song requested…Costello then stopped the band and said into the camera “i’m sorry folks, but that song isn’t really relevant” and then broke into “Radio,Radio”…

    they played it with balls to the walls abandon…the show went to commercial..and there was NO second song later in the program

    Elvis was banned from American Radio for years

    to your humble Narrator…that Moment ended Punk and began “New Wave”

    your mileage may vary..

    (PS..i have a bad copy of that video on my computer)


  • HW Saxton

    Gonzo,This post was posted prematurely.
    It was only about maybe 1/2 way done.In
    Pt 2 I’ll feature who I think was really
    the first rocker to stylistically and to
    ideologically hit upon what I feel are
    the roots of Punk Rock. Hint: It wasn’t
    Bobby Fuller,though he is on my list of
    proto-punks. It’s not Little Richard,I’m
    saving him for a history of the roots
    of Bling Bling.It’s not Buddy either but
    I’m a huge fan of his and Bobby Fuller
    was also and was as greatly influenced
    by Buddy Holly as The Stones were by Mr.
    Chuck Berry.Also,Thanx fer reading this
    by the way.Much appreciated.

  • I think that new wave like Elvis Costello is just as subversive, innovative and important as punk. Where I live the same clubs played Punk, New Wave, and Ska. Elvis Costello is a genius.

  • HW Saxton

    Shark,Thanks for giving this the once
    over. You couldn’t be more right about
    the connection to Dada and Surrealism.

    The Cleveland punk band Pere Ubu were
    directly inspired to start a band after
    reading Alfred Jarry’s “Ubu Roi” and a
    Northern California punk rock band went
    and named themselves after my favorite
    B & W film of all time by Luis Bunuel:
    “Los Olvidados”.Which is easily the best
    of the films he made during his stay in
    Mexico.I think that it’s one of the best
    films ever anywhere.Period.Wouldn’t you
    agree? Nothing like a film with a happy
    ending. And that’s nothing like a happy
    ending. LOL!

    PS:Some of the greatest 60’s punk bands
    were all from TX. Elevators,Mouse & The
    Traps,Moving Sidewalks,Josephus,Scotty
    MacKay,Red Krayola and on and on. So I
    won’t argue your point on you being a
    ‘punk” before I was. I couldn’t imagine
    having long hair in Tejas in the 60’s.
    It must have been very similar to be a
    person of color in the Jim Crow South.

  • Mat

    When I recently quizzed a 19 year old female friend I was intrigued to hear her admit that she liked punk music.

    You like the dead kennedys?


    the stooges?


    henry rollins?


    Who then?

    Avril Lavigne. I knew it was time to change the subject.

  • But don’t you think, HW, that at the point where you’re reading Brunel, you’ve already ceased to be punk?

    There’s a lot of art rock like the Talking Heads or Devo or Pere Ubu or even the Dead Kennedys which piggytailed on the back of Punk in that period right around 1980, but lacked the urban working class ethos that really drove bands like the Buzzcocks and the Clash and the Ramones.

    Oh, and Mat – Henry Rollins isn’t punk. He may be _a_ punk, but his music isn’t punk.


  • Black Flag isn’t punk? hardcore? is there a big difference?

  • Yes, enormous.


  • Shark

    DaveKnowItAllNalle: “…But don’t you think, HW, that at the point where you’re reading Brunel, you’ve already ceased to be punk?”

    It’s BUNUEL, son. And no, anyone who opened a film with a closeup of a razor blade cutting an eyeball automatically gets inducted into the Punk Hall of Fame.

  • Punk and hardcore are at least close cousins of one another. Thus the term “hardcore punk.”

    A friend of mine used to mildly scoff at the “light punk” I listened to at the time (NOFX, The Damned, Suicide Machines) as compared to his scene, which was more on the Downset, Sevendust, and a whole bunch of metal stylings. I like the comparison of light punk and hardcore punk anyway.

    I also really love Downset’s first album, as an aside.

  • HW Saxton

    A quick word of explanation to all here
    this may concern. This post wasn’t/isn’t
    about me being into punk before you or
    anyone else.I likely was but that is a
    whole different story for a another day.
    I started going to punk shows in 1976 &
    saw The Ramones on the”Leave Home Tour”.

    This was to be a lead in to who I feel
    are the first rockers from back in the
    1950’s to hit upon the punk ethos.I do
    not think it’s that new of a genre in as
    far as attitude or ideology.

    This was posted pre-maturely on accident
    by Eric. So what you are reading here
    is only half of a post.After I finish it
    & post the conclusion this weekend I’ll
    gladly field any & all questions and all
    love/hate mail.

    PS: Dave, Who’s Brunel? I was speaking
    of the surrealist/artist/film maker Luis
    Bunuel. But what does one’s choice of
    reading material have to do with your
    credibility as a Punk Rocker? I read
    across the board from Dr Seuss to Howard
    Zinn,from the Bible to Bukowski.I don’t
    see what this has to do with my musical
    taste though. I’d also be kind of hard
    pressed to call the DK’s an “Art” band.
    They definitely tried incorporating some
    different sounds into their music and by
    all means Jello could be pretentious as
    all hell(but funny & insightful too)but
    I couldn’t call them an art band in the
    same way I’d call Devo an “Art” band.

    Anyway thanks for reading and stay
    tuned for Pt 2 of this piece Okey Dokey?
    Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel…

  • Who was a punk first? I dunno, I hear stories of my dead grandpa who was an alcholic who would stand on the seat of his Indian motorcycle (say in the 40s)and be obnoxious.

    Punk goes on way before rock n roll. Attilla the Hun for that matter. Caliglia? OK, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis-the punk you could bring home to mother…

    This is really a subjective question….

  • Right. Were Fitzgerald and Hemingway the punks of their day? It’s all relative within the culture and morality and thinking of an era.

    Was Shakespeare punk? It’s an interesting question.

  • Eric Olsen

    HW, pt 2 looks like it isn’t finished yet – is this right?

  • HW Saxton

    Cerulean, you are lucky that you did not
    have the L.A. police to deal with.It was
    hard enough just looking the way we did
    and getting hassled by jocks, metalheads
    surfer types & basically anyone that was
    not a punk.For some reason the cops in
    LA declared war on Punk Rock for awhile.

    There were several major riots, serious
    beatings meted out to punkers male and
    female! Closing shows for no reason at
    all which of course provoked more melees
    that the cops were all too happy to
    oblige you in. Scary stuff for a while.

    There were not that many people into at
    the onset in the late 70’s but by the
    time I got out of it in the early 80’s
    there were thousands of kids into and it
    (punk clothes etc)could be bought at
    the mall.Usually we would go to a thrift
    store or army surplus place as they were
    very cheap and the whole D.I.Y ethic was
    half the fun.

    Eric, Pt 2 is done. I sent you a e-mail
    late this afternoon so you can post it
    whenever you feel like it.

  • Snark: “It’s BUNUEL, son. And no, anyone who opened a film with a closeup of a razor blade cutting an eyeball automatically gets inducted into the Punk Hall of Fame.”

    Ooh, sorry. I made a typo. And what you’re describing is avant garde, not punk.


  • godoggo

    What on god’s green earth is wrong with you, Nalle?

  • godoggo

    My “old punk” friends used to talk about “the Old Vex,” as opposed to the the “New Vex,” both of which were before my time, although I did go to the former once when it was briefly reoppened. I didn’t actually go in, though, but rather tried to sneak in with my friends. We tried twice, failed twice. The bouncer who stopped us was Carlos Guitarlos. He was nice the first time, pissed the second time. I also went there a few years later for a super 8 movie class in college, to film my friend Glen posing naked in the parking lot. Ah, education.

  • gonzo marx

    HW makes some great points here..

    “punk” and “hardcore” are really Attitudes and approaches to everything in life…not just music

    once music is “defined” into some stylized “scene” it has already become a Pose and a commodity

    just my one sixth billionths of the world’s Opinion..

    your mileage may vary..


  • HW Saxton

    godoggo, The original Vex at Brooklyn &
    Gage over on the East Side (anything
    east of 6th St was a strictly chicano
    neighborhood) was closed after a Black
    Flag show that a bunch of Huntington
    Beach assholes had a riot at and broke
    out windows, threw chairs out of windows
    etc. It was the home to many great gigs
    from a lot of chicano punk bands Plugz,
    Stains,Los Illegals,Undertakers etc.

    They kept The Vex going in a new place
    in the Paramount Ballroom on Brooklyn
    also. The Paramount was home to huge
    dance parties concerts from the East LA
    60’s scenes. Cannibal & The Headhunters
    Premiers,Blendells etc. It didn’t last
    long either though. The punks behaved
    like assholes for the most part & some
    one got shot there one night while
    spray painting punk grafitti over some
    gang grafitti.A big no no in East LA.
    Very rough neighbrhood but they did pull
    off some great shows at both venues.
    Man that was like a long long long time
    ago. PS: Carlos put out a phenomenally
    good solo record about 2 or 3 years ago
    that is worth picking up.

  • godoggo

    I remember there was briefly a punk club in Watts, of all places, whose name escapes me – it was a man’s name. I saw the Misfits there. The locals were nice enough to patrol the area in order to protect these crazy white kids.

    I must say, though, that I’ve never particularly felt unsafe anywhere in LA during the daytime.

    “Punk” was originally coined, god knows by whom, to describe a lot of disparate stuff, including much that would be considered “new wave” nowadays. Its meaning has changed over time. This is typical of genre names.

  • Great post. It is definitely funny the way “punk” means so many things now. When I was 15 or 16, I got really into bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Superchunk, who I thought were very “punk” or “indie rock” – much cooler than the “Home of Classic Rock” station I had grown up listening to every day.

    And then I realized that Dinosaur Jr. sounded almost exactly like mid-70’s Neil Young, and Superchunk started trying to sound like Television, the late-70’s punk band that had obviously listened to the Byrds as much as they listened to the Stooges.

    Now I just listen to “rock,” having long ago given up on prefixes.

  • Punk: the DKs, Sex Pistols, Stooges … and, out of the pre-punk old rockers, Jerry Lee Lewis! Punk was working class and DIY, and in England, pretty much a rebellion against overblown, pretentious art rock. But also very heady surrealist, so DADA is part of it. Not giving a shit AT ALL. Pretty vacant. It’s interesting the ways American Punk and British Punk are different. Maybe you can take that on after your much-anticipated Post 2, Saxton? Magfucknificent post.

  • Punk started out spontaneously in a lot of places across America as a reaction to the prevailing musics of the day: 70’s singer-songwriter, stoner California rock; English, blues-based cock rock; prog rock. These bands bubbled along mostly unknowing of each other, even in the same city sometimes. I remember Trouser Press magazine being one of the few places you could read about it early on.

    I think you can make a good argument that punk rock died in the wake of the Ramones tour of England in 1976. The British band explosion quickly got codified and commidified, picked up by their music press and then resold back to America.

    Most American punk rockers from 1974 to 1976 were kids from dying industrial cities and decaying big cities. Their music either reflected (Pere Ubu) or reacted against that. It was the Sex Pistols hype that brought punk to the attention of middle America and launched all the spiked hair, ripped jeans, leather, etc.

    Look at the incredible variety of music in 1974 -1976 American punk and then compare it to the post-Pistol’s punk music. The “sound” was commidified.

  • Oooh! That’s not to leave out the seminal influence of Iggy Pop and the Stooges. In the same way that a lot of kids picked up guitars and started bands in the Sixties trying to be the Beatles and the Stones, a few kids in the Seventies wanted to be the Stooges. Remember: Cleveland’s Rocket From the Tombs begat two bands: Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys.

  • Shark

    Just to add to the historical (reaction) theory:

    punk was also a result of testosterone-crazed boys with no future who wanted to play in a rock band — yet lacked the ability to play more than 3 chords.

    Wait! That should probably be the dictionary definition of Punk! Wow!

    “PUNK: 1) testosterone crazed boys with no future who want to play in a rock band yet lack the ability to play more than 3 chords.”

  • Shark

    re: DaveNalle and Bunuel –

    Dave, yer such a dick.


  • Thanks Snark. I love you too. Pity you have the intellect of a gnat and the morals of a Nigerian spammer.


  • marty thau

    HW, you sound like the guy who is locked in time to the music he made out to in the back seat of his father’s car.
    Punk is very much alive today. Styles change, issues change –take a closer look HW and you might conclude that punk lives and is, in fact, quite healthy. In fact, one might say it’s the only healthy corner of rock ‘n’ roll. In Europe it’s hotter than anything else. Today’s punk music is simply different than yesterday’s version. You gotta roll with the times.

  • HW Saxton

    Mr.Marty Thau,How nice to hear from you.
    How about releasing a Suicide:Best Of…
    set with the harder to find tracks off
    of the later records like:”Be Bop Kid”,
    “Harlem”, “Rock N Roll Rebel”,etc?

    I always wanted to ask you that question
    so with that out if the way… You just
    really couldn’t have me more wrong about
    “Punk”. I actually do like some of the
    new stuff and some of it is rather awful
    and embarassing.This is applicable to
    older punk stuff too.Some of it holds up
    & some is so dated and awful.Just plain
    embarssingly bad.

    I saw The Dictators two years ago and
    they were phenomenal,I mean just fucking
    incredibly good!On par energy wise with
    The Who,Ramones,early Van Halen,Stones,
    just plain intense what a great show !!!
    I saw Blondie a couple years back and
    was very embarassed for Debbie & band on
    the other hand.

    I know it’s (PUNK) still very much alive
    and that is my main complaint about it.
    As a genre it seemed so limited in so
    many ways & there’s only so many things
    you can play before you are repeating
    older bands and /or yourself. Electric
    Frankenstein may be a fine band but if
    you have The Dead Boys records what’s
    the point in listening to E.F ? Rancid:
    Ditto,You can play Clash/Stiff Little
    Fingers etc.It all boils down to your
    own personal taste and how much you like
    the genre in the first place.I grew out
    of,got bored with and moved on past punk
    music in the early part of the 80’s.

    I guess I just don’t feel the need for
    it anymore, musically speaking. I like
    the energy of it and the D.I.Y ethic of
    it. But with it being such a commercial
    commodity it has lost that sense of the
    urgency and rawness that appealed to me
    as much as the music it self ever did.
    Anyway, I just don’t hear much in “New”
    (’85 to the present) Punk Rock that does
    much of anything for me. I was lucky to
    grow up on The Dolls,Stooges,Lou Reed &
    Rock Scene,Crawdaddy,Creem ,etc before
    The Ramones,Sex Pistols,Heartbreakers,

    West Coast Hardcore,etc came around.

    Most of the new bands I hear are just
    rehashing to varying degrees, stuff that
    has already been done before. I see Pop
    music in general as temporary music and
    nothing to get nostalgic over.It was a
    soundtrack for a point in time that was
    relevant when it was happening but that
    does not have much staying power or any
    kind of timeless quality about it.

    The energy of the music was alawys a
    big draw for me but these days I draw
    upon my Fela, JB’s, John Lee Hooker and
    other assorted Funk,Blues,Afrobeat,R & B
    etc records and CD’s for my energy fix.
    It feels like getting swept up in a wave
    of enthusiasm as opposed to getting cold
    cocked with a sledgehammer which is how
    I feel after hearing The Ramones or The
    Damned or something similar.

    Also, in closing this post wasn’t about
    what I don’t like about Punk per se. It
    was about where I feel some the musical
    roots of punk lay.It was accidentally
    published before I had finished it,so it
    actually reads different than how it was
    meant to read. Well thanks for writing
    and I’m serious about the Suicide set.It
    would be nice to have all that stuff on
    one disc.Personally I have all the LP’s,
    ’12 of “Dream Baby Dream”, Alan Vega’s
    “Juebox Baby” EP etc. But most people
    don’t and it would introduce them to one
    of the least known & highly influential
    bands to change the face of music in the
    late 70’s/early 80’s. I’ve got friends
    who are Hip Hop DJ’s that I turned on to
    Suicide. They now use Suicide samples in
    their club sets.It works so good that ya
    wouldn’t believe it!


    Cranky Old Man’s Lament “Most of the new bands I hear are just
    rehashing to varying degrees, stuff that
    has already been done before.”
    My sentiments exactly, there is little new in music to me, because I have been listening to music for 30 years. That isn’t to say that there aren’t some great new bands out there in any genre, I just don’t get as excited about them as someone half my age might. To them the music IS new, of course.

  • HW Saxton

    SFC Ski, That is an excellent point. If
    I didn’t have the reference points of
    The Ramones,Buzzcocks,Clash,D.O.A,Stiff
    Little Fingers, then I might just enjoy
    a lot more “new” punk rock stuff because
    it would sound “New” to me. But I do and
    It don’t.

    I wanted to ask you this:I have been to
    strange places in the world and I found
    people who were into Rock N Roll. Haiti,
    Indian reservations in the middle of the
    Sonoran desert in Mexico,small towns in
    the Phillipines,etc.Is there any kind of
    Underground market for American Rock and
    Roll in Iraq & the Middle East? Curious.


    To my knowledge there is no Arab garage band figuring out “Louie Louie” but we can always hope.

    The western part of the Arab world, the Maghred, has a lot more western-style mixed with Arabic, but it is still a bit more dance or dub style music. The style of Arabic music and singing lends itself more to that style than staccato punk does.

    I have heard of an underground rock/punk scene in Morocco, but haven’t found any recordings yet.

    Rock is definitely not mainstream, and in places like Qatar or Bahrain, the music I heard coming out of kids cars was more rap/drum n’ bass.

    Wonder of wonders, I was able to buy Led Zep and Guns and Roses cassettes years ago in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in places that were not tourist shoips, so someone else must be buying the stuff.


    I forgot to mention that Lebanon has a pretty big music scene, but it is more pop oriented in the worst sense of the word (though the women who sing it are damn pretty, and that can cover a multitude of sins).

  • gonzo marx

    as i stated earlier..

    it’s the difference between pioneers , and those that claim a style/genre as an Influence..

    once it becomes a Pose, or a format…rather than Originalist energy..any “format” loses me in translation

    hence my “love” for Motorhead rather than later “speed” stuff..

    i had always liked Rush better than Led Zeppelin…in the latter i could hear T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters etc…from Rush it was all new…

    i do like some of Green Day’s stuff, but would rathe rlisten to the Stooges or Ramones…

    Pantera owns the “heavy category” for me…with Tool scratching my current “itch”

    but you get my point, eh?


  • HW Saxton

    SFC Ski, I have heard some heavy funky
    dub influenced dance music from the Mid
    East such as DJ Shoe. I figured it was
    the West African Afro-beat influence &
    influences brought back from W. Europe
    possibly by students studying abroad.

    Also Ethiopia has a big music scene that
    is heavily funk and HipHop influenced.
    I know it’s an area heavily Christian
    influenced but I guessed with it’s very
    close proximity that the influence might
    spread to nearby Arabic countries. Rock
    is so ubiquitous that I guessed it has
    to be around the Moslem world in some
    form. Thanks for responding.

  • HW Saxton

    I’m totally flattered. Thanks much Eric
    and Temple! I really appreciate it. And
    I’d also like to thank all of the little
    people that I had to grind under my boot
    heel on the way to the top.Thanks again!
    TS and Eric, I’m stoked!

  • What a card LOL. And we seem to be a pretty picky lot of editors, so it is meant to acknowledge something way above the rest, in impact or writing or most likely both.

  • HW Saxton

    In all seriousness,I totally acknowledge
    that. Which makes it all the more of a
    compliment to me,TS. Again Thanx much.

  • I haven’t read ALL the comments here, there’s far too many for that, but I would like to point out that, beyond HW’s excellent post, it is also necessary to point out that Punk Rock USA stle was, and still is, a pale shadow of the British punk movement.

    Whether you want to talk about the seriously Anarchic groups like Crass and the Poison Girls or any number of bands who were a little less political and a little more arty like The Slits or Buzzcocks, the British punk scene was the real heart of the entire punk movement.

    Sadly, Punk got washed away in the early 80s and nothing significant remains today. But for a while there it was the greatest flowering of art, rebellion, politics, wild sex and drugs there has ever been. Rock music has never been the same again, and probably never will be as it’s creativity seems to continue plumbing new depths…

  • uao

    Great article, HW. I agree that punk as an attitude goes back to the 50’s; it’s almost tempting to call Link Wray and Jerry Lee Lewis “punk”

    I was entering adolescence during the punk era, so I wasn’t looking for kindred angry spirits in bars. But the kindred spirits in my school, misfits and outsiders all, found each other. I remember the punk years spent in dusty basement record shops in Greenwich Village while cutting school, while the portly, bearded owner played the Stranglers loud.

    Or listening to Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables really late at night, and feeling very diassociated from the mainstream culture and climate at large; punk for me represented not just angst and delinquency, but also community and political activism. In New York, it was a very tolerant community, by and large; all manner of misfits and outsiders were accepted.

    So it was a universe of kindred spirits. Good point.

  • uao, you bring up a point I found about the punk movement. I went thru it here in Seattle and I really liked the sense of community and tolerance.

    Example. The punk movement was great for people who were, say, fat or had birthmarks on their face or something. By going punk they found acceptance of theirselves and acceptance by others.

    Well, tolerance for Reagan (Raygun) and other social injustices, there was none of that…


  • godoggo

    “punk was also a result of testosterone-crazed boys with no future who wanted to play in a rock band — yet lacked the ability to play more than 3 chords”

    Billy Zoom

  • You suck! You assume that anyone under the age of 30 has no clue what punk is. I cant help it if i was born in the 80’s. There are a lot of kids still very much into the DIY hardcore punk scene today that never step a foot into a mall to buy their clothes.

    This is ageism at its best.

  • HW Saxton

    I SUCK!!!???? Aw c’mon,be nice toots. If you can
    find where I said anyone under age 30 has no clue
    about what punk is then please step forward ‘kay?

    My point was that basically “PUNK” is really not
    all that new and has undeniably became another
    saleable commodity at the local mall. Undeniable
    and factual. It is just another genre of music
    as is Reggae,Jazz,Black Metal,Afrobeat,Swing etc,
    etc,etc and so on & so on.

    Glad ya like fast loud sounds and all and you buy
    your “Punk” clothes at somewhere besides a mall.
    But please learn to read and comprehend a little
    bit more carefully in the future. Kids,sheesh…

  • Frank

    Anybody have pictures for purchase of the New vex shows, venues, and any historical stuff for posting on a history of the paramount ballroom? [Personal contact info deleted]

  • We Have some pictures of the new Vex shows on our site. Joe and I have some more amazing events lined up. Check out the site.


  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    (A little late,but) Nice Article!

    I felt your passion and I have also felt this way about Metal. BUT, I can say,for me, I was bitten by the Punk bug in the 90’s. Boston ,in the 90’s, had an absolutely amazing supportive scene and we had some killer bands:

    Dropkick Murphys (Still rockin)
    The Showcase Showdown
    The Ducky Boys
    The Bruisers(N.H.)
    The Unseen

    Plus some really cool out of state bands:
    U.S. Bombs
    Choking Victim
    Voodoo Glow Skulls

    And, you’re right, it was all about a movement which I thought was impossible because of all the people who had to look “PunK”. Though, I had a friend that looked about as Punk as John Madden but he was a die hard fan of the music. He knew bands and their perspective histories, he also was a editor for a fanzine and he interviewed all these bands. This was the guy that got me hooked because he listened to so much Punk!!

  • Betty S

    Looking online for the name of this Tubes album with a certain song on it, buying it for a swabbie I know, and this 6yo blog made my scope. Weighing in a day late:

    Punk is uncontrived. Nuances can be debated for pi to the scientific notation of infinity. If there is an ear to hear in you, you know it when it is there. It takes you to a dogpile of idiotic teenagers without the hierarchal dramas that snare many humans, never to leave the pyramid scam.

    Whenever that manna is in my earholes, I remember I am rockabilly from rockabillies who were trouble for the establishment before any of this Punk stuff. For those who had to find it out at hall shows or in basements, good on ya.

    Good if you get it that is… If not, somebody has to pay for mp3s that keep the wheels of industry rolling so my clan can go to the dirt track and watch dirt boxes being kicked. We drink pepsi with our pulled pork sandwiches and the 50/50 tickets are usually $5 will get you ten.