UK Punk Rock 40 : 1976-2016
Would Punk have happened without McClaren & Lydon?
2016 marks forty years since Punk Rock began in the UK.
Happy Aniversary punk rockers!
Louder Than War is built on Punk foundations. John Robb compiled the Oral History of UK Punk which sits on the shelves next to Englands Dreaming -Jon Savage’s London-centric ‘of course it was all-over by the end of ’77’ definitive work.
The mysterious PunkdotLondon have planned Boris -approved festivities for 2016 whilst punks-for-life like Rebellion, Undercover and Another Winter of Discontent have their regular punk-gatherings planned throughout the year.
Louder Than War similarly (John Robb, myself and others) will be casting our eyes and ears back over Punk’s History (and Her-story) on this site, with the help of as many of the people who were a part of it as are willing to talk to us. Are there any stories that haven’t been told or angles that haven’t been explored before? ( Let us know)
To start with though…. a hypothetical question…
‘Would Punk Rock in the UK have happened at all if Malcolm MacClaren and John Lydon/Johnny Rotten not been around?
( For the sake of this hypothosis Malcy met his end in 1974, so never opened Let It Rock/SEX and Johnny never recovered from his childhood menigitis ) So No ‘Sex’ No Vivienne Westwood, (consumed with grief she joined a nunnery) No Pistols.
If there was no Pistols then of course there would have been No Clash or at least Strummers Road To Damascus moment as a 101-er wouldn’t have happened.
… and no Free Trade Hall gig(s) – No Buzzcocks, No Madchester !
It’s a simple proposition but complex as there were literally hundreds of bands who would not have been sparked into existence were it not for the Pistols. BUT – if you dig deeper….. Take 2 people out of the equation but LEAVE all of the others….. so in the Imaginary 1976 we have :
In the USA ; the Ramones, the Void-oids, Blondie, Television etc
In Australia; Radio Birdman, the Saints
In Scotland – the Rezillos.
In Manchester – Slaughter and the Dogs
In London – Eddie & the Hot Rods, the Vibrators, Bastard / the Damned, Johnny Moped, Eater, the London SS ( Tony James / Mick Jones / the Boys ) the 101-ers, Bazooka Joe not to mention people like Twink, Lemmy, the Count Bishops, Kilburn and the High Roads, the Motors, the Only Ones….. and importantly the Stranglers and the Jam.
(all of these acts existed before, or in-isolation-from the Pistols I believe…)
So – Would Punk Rock or a Different Kind Of Punk Rock still happened ? Would it have been very small-scale, pub-rock and longer-haired? It wouldn’t’ve EXPLODED thanks to prime time TV exposure courtesy of Bill Grundy but may have been a slower, more gradual rise of street-level rock’n’roll.
It wouldn’t have McClarens magic word ‘Anarchy’… so subsequently Crass and the whole ‘anarcho’ ilk wouldnt’ve formed.
But look at what you are left with – In the City, Grip, New Rose, Can’t Stand My Baby, Whips & Furs and Stranded for starters.
And we still have Peel in this hypothetical re-imagined 1976 so would bands like Doctors of Madness and Dead Fingers Talk had more success without the Pistols getting all the coverage.
I’m certain in my mind that without the Pistols the world would have been a far duller place but they weren’t the be-all and end-all of punk surely?
Punk without the Pistols – Could It have Happened? A Longer-haired, worse-dressed, non-Anarchic Rock’n’Roll ?
Maybe its a stupid question. A ridiculous unanswerable proposition – but I wonder……..
All words Ged Babey.