Styles & Forms | Punk | The Aftermath (1979) | Key Events


Ian Dury’s Rhythm Stick Hits No.1

An unlikely punk, Ian Dury was 35 when his first solo single, the anthemic ‘Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll’, was released. A childhood polio victim, Dury had previously led pub rockers Kilburn & The High Roads. The album New Boots And Panties made him an equally unlikely star, taking up a lengthy residency in the chart. Recruiting The Blockheads allowed Dury to expand his musical palette to jazz and funk as a backdrop to his distinctive, often bawdy wordplay. ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’ ascended to the top of the charts in January 1979 and represents the peak of his popularity.


Sid Vicious Found Dead

Sid Vicious was in New York trying to get a solo career together. He played three solo shows in the city in September, but his efforts were undermined by heroin addiction. Sid and girlfriend Nancy Spungen were staying at the notorious Chelsea Hotel when Spungen’s body was found in a pool of blood on the morning of 12 October 1978. Emerging from a drugged stupor, Sid could not recall what happened. He was arrested for murder and sent to Rikers Island prison. After being bailed then re-arrested after a fight, a cleaned-up Sid was again released. He attended a celebratory party on the evening of 1 February 1979 where a fatal heroin overdose was administered, allegedly by his mother.

Stiff Little Fingers Ignite Inflammable Material

English punks had long been moaning about boredom and disaffection, but their Northern Irish counterparts really did have grounds to complain. The presence of the British army and the ongoing Troubles created an environment that was dangerous and heavily restricted. Belfast’s Stiff Little Fingers were a rock covers band until they discovered punk. At the suggestion of journalist (and later co-writer) Gordon Ogilvie, they began to write about the situation in Northern Ireland. John Peel’s championing of their debut single ‘Suspect Device’ led to independent label Rough Trade signing the band. Debut album Inflammable Material, released on 2 February 1979, was a landmark, the first independent LP to chart in the UK.

The Clash Invade America

The Clash had a complex relationship with America. ‘I’m So Bored With The USA’ was seen as an important part of their early manifesto. Their debut album was not deemed fit for American release until July 1979, and then in substantially altered form. The band’s first assault on the States, the provocatively named Pearl Harbour tour, went ahead in February 1979 with less than enthusiastic record company backing. Nevertheless, The Clash performed a series of sold-out gigs. Highlights were a barnstorming show in Santa Monica and a triumphant night at the New York Palladium attended by the city’s cognoscenti, including Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan.

McLaren’s Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle

Malcolm McLaren’s fictionalized film version of The Sex Pistols’ story was finally released in May 1980, more than a year after the soundtrack album. The double set was a...

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