Styles & Forms | Punk | Early History (1975) | Key Events
The Dictators Go Girl Crazy
The anarchic Dictators spiced up the New York scene with their Go Girl Crazy! album in 1975, a coarse blend of punk and heavy metal with sharp witty lyrics mocking the junk culture they saw all around them, which naturally included punk and heavy metal. Unfortunately the chaos that surrounded the band meant that audiences were often bemused rather than amused by singer ‘Handsome’ Dick Manitoba and his slapstick sense of humour on songs like ‘(I Live For) Cars And Girls’, ‘The Next Big Thing’ and ‘Two Tub Man’. Besides which, punks were not ready for parody and humour; punk was still a serious thing.
Television’s Little Jewel
A volatile mixture of Tom Verlaine’s taut, incisive guitar playing and bassist Richard Hell’s avowedly punk attitude, Television were critically acclaimed from the moment they opened CBGBs as a punk rock venue in 1974. But the two styles proved incompatible and, during the ensuing power struggle in the spring of 1975, Hell found himself replaced by former MC5 bassist Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith. In August of that year they released the seven-minute ‘Little Johnny Jewel’ that was spread across both sides of a single – a tense, sparse, rhythmic song built around a simple riff that occasionally veered towards free-form jazz. Another punk possibility was opening up.
From Dolls To Heartbreakers
As The New York Dolls subsided into a morass of conflicting visions and narcotic delusions in the spring of 1975, guitarist Johnny Thunders and drummer Jerry Nolan sealed the band’s demise by suddenly bailing out to form The Heartbreakers. They ditched the lip-gloss and donned the full punk leather jacket with ripped jeans, and they were joined by Richard Hell who had been drummed out of Television the very same week. With their previous connections they had a ready-made following and they soon built up a repertoire of hardcore songs, including the anthemic, none-too-subtly titled ‘Chinese Rocks’ co-written by Hell and Dee Dee Ramone.
The New York Scene Hots Up
As the New York punk scene expanded, new bands began emerging. CBGBs waitress (and one-time Playboy bunny) Debbie Harry formed The Stilettos with a couple of girlfriends, and then Blondie with her boyfriend Chris Stein. Art school students David Byrne, Chris Frantz and his girlfriend Tina Weymouth put Talking Heads together. Tuff Darts were among the early frontrunners at CBGBs, with The Shirts and The Misfits not far behind. Others found that the punk umbrella suited their own eclectic style, like electronic duo Suicide, Willy Deville with his band Mink Deville, Wayne County & The Electric Chairs and Cherry Vanilla.
British Punk Roots
British teenagers in the mid-1970s had little affinity with the overblown, so-called progressive bands that had come out of the 1960s. Glam rock had looked promising but there was little sense of rebellion beneath the make-up. Disaffected kids began looking for something that would reflect their own energies and frustrations. For a while it seemed as though the pub-rock scene...
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