Styles & Forms | Punk | Early History (1969–75) | An Overview
Punk rock is about attitude more than music. It’s not about how well you can play, it’s about how well you can communicate. Its roots go back to the beginning of rock’n’roll in the 1950s. The rebellious spirit of MC5 and The Stooges in the 1960s helped to define the punk attitude, while Velvet Underground singer Lou Reed and the sleazy glam of The New York Dolls put flesh on punk’s bones in the early 1970s.
The American punk scene developed around New York clubs like Max’s Kansas City and CBGBs in the mid-1970s, where The Heartbreakers, Television and The Ramones all played, bands who would become the iconic sight and sound of punk rock.
In Britain it was the defiant stance of 1960s bands like The Who and The Small Faces that inspired a new generation of hard-edged R&B bands in the 1970s, such as Dr Feelgood and Eddie & The Hot Rods. But it was Malcolm McLaren who made the connection between the punk scene that had excited him in New York and the bunch of disaffected kids who were hanging around his fashion boutique in London’s Kings Road. Once he’d found them a singer who was re-named Johnny Rotten, The Sex Pistols were born.
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