Punk Rock, from proto to pop

The Birth of Punk Rock

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Main bands include The Ramones, The Sex Pistols and The Clash.

The element which Patti Smith, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed were missing was what each of the other two people had. The simple music of Smith, the catchy lyrics of Reed and the stage presence, charisma and ability to start culture of Pop. If a band could combine the three without caucophony, the result would be Punk Rock. One band did this in the summer of '74; The Ramones.
 
In early August of 1974 The Ramones played their first gig at CBGBs. THe club was used to fast music, but the Ramones played through 15 songs in 20 minutes and left the crowd stunned. No one knew what to make of the band; whereas Iggy Pop jumped around and cut himself, Joey Ramone (vocals) simply stood there holding the mic stand and singing with a strong queens accent. Dee Dee and Johnny Ramone (bass and guitar respectivly) dueled with each other and spun around while playing 4 or 5 chords over and over. Tommy Ramone on drums belt out pop ditties with such anger and aggression that it simply added to the motley crew the band already were.
 
Gathering a cult following was easy for the 4 piece and this continued to expand until they were able to save enough money to both tour to America and also Britain and also to record a 12" This LP was to become the self titled album which has been given the title of "finest punk album of all time" by Rolling Stone magazine in 2004. The British tour was seen by John Lydon, who later went on to be known as 'Johnny Rotten' of the Sex Pistols. The Sex Pistols are considered by many to be the most 'punk' band to have existed. This is likely to be because they started Punk as a movement rather than a genre of music.
 
With Johnny Rotten on vocals, Glen Matlock on bass, Steve Jones on guitar and drummer Paul Cook the Pistols (as they were sometimes known) really invented the Punk image as it is known today. Although at the time, they were the only people wearing such attire as ripped T-shirts, torn jeans and safety pinned jackets, Johhny Rotten reflects in his autobiography No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs "The Film [Sid and Nancy] had it all wrong, all those wall to wall leather jackets and mohawks came in much later, we did it before it was a sign of poverty, not popularity"
 
Their first and only album was released late in 1977, "Never mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols" which was released when Sid Vicious was playing bass, although he never recorded anything on the album. Sid was put in the band simply because he fit the image of a punk like a cliche glove. He took drugs, was an outsider, angry, bored and young. Johnny Rotten later said in his autobiography that "Sid was doing everything we didn't want the Pistols to stand for; he had become the typical rock star"
 
The Sex Pistols ended with bitterness on January 14th, San Francisco on their United States tour. The band arrived on stage to play and played for about half an hour before walking off stage as Johnny yelled into the mic "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" How very apt that his band left for South America and left him with no money, no where to stay and no airfare home. Warner Borthers eventually paid his fare home. But while the Sex Pistols showed what could happen to punk rock as far as drugs and fewds went, The Clash showed a more positive side of punk rock.
 
Although starting off as a typical British Punk band with obvious left wing leanings (particuarly vocalist Joe Strummer), the band changed from Punk to Dance so gradually and succesfuly that their fan base not only stayed, but grew. Their first album "The Clash" was released in late 1977 and developed a large fan base in Britain. It wasn't however until third album "London Calling" that 'The Clash' established an international fan base of millions. The album combined Punk with elements of hip hop, jazz, funk, rock, folk and dance, the result was an album which is still popular 25 years later and some songs (London Calling, Revolution Rock, Rudie Can't Fail) still recieve regular play on stations today. The band disbanded in 1985 after the succesful album 'Combat Rock' (featuring extremely popular 'Rock the Casbah' and 'Should I stay or should I go?') and less succesful album 'Cut the Crap' due to fueding and Joe Strummer's groing discontent with the band's direction. Although the band were most popular in the 1980s, their style is hardly a 'fine example' of Punk in the 80s.

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