Punk History


With punk as the theme of this year’s Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute benefit, Nitsuh Abebe asks “If a movement known for rage, rebellion, and adolescent id becomes the focus of a high-fashion…


During the 1970s, if you were bored you could ring your local cable variety show to speak to “the punk of your choice” about authenticity and other problems. Via Open Culture:

Late-seventies broadcast from The Efrom Allen Show on New York cable television finds the shirtless Vicious sitting on a panel with his girlfriend Nancy Spungen, Stiv Bators of the Dead Boys, and Cynthia Ross of the B Girls. “THAT’S SID VICIOUS ON YOUR SCREENS, FOLKS,” scrolling text tells the viewers. “IS SID VICIOUS? WHO CARES? CALL 473-5386 TO SPEAK TO THE PUNK OF YOUR CHOICE.”


The bad news via Global Grind:

Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys has passed away at the age of 47. GlobalGrind has confirmed this very sad news.

One of our heroes, Adam Yauch aka MCA of the Beastie Boys, passed away this morning after a long bout with cancer.

Yauch was a member of the groundbreaking, incredibly innovative and creative group, The Beastie Boys, with his two friends, Mike D and Ad-Roc, which changed our culture forever…

[continues at Global Grind]

For those who’d like to remember MCA in his prime, here’s Fight For Your Right (Revisited):


Feminist punk innovator Poly Styrene, former frontwoman for the British band X-Ray Spex, has succumbed to cancer at age 53, Pitchfork reports. Born Marian Joan Elliott-Said, Styrene broke boundaries in the macho realm of punk rock, influenced future generations (i.e. the riot grrl movement) and made a batch of extremely catchy music. In her words, “I said that I wasn’t a sex symbol and that if anybody tried to make me one I’d shave my head tomorrow.”

Below, from the documentary Punk in London, performing circa 1977.



Simon Reynold’s acclaimed first volume of post-punk memory sifting — Rip it Up and Start Again — went a long way toward exploring and explaining the various flowerings that bloomed from the bruised and bloodied blossom that was ’70s punk rock. If you thought one volume of exhaustive, evocative reconstructing of the period would suffice, you would be wrong, and Reynolds proves this point with Totally Wired: Postpunk Interviews and Overviews. The project is a bookend to the first volume and it completes an impressive cartography of that time and that music.

Totally Wired is largely an oral biography; the story of a place, a time and a music told by the people who listened to it, created it and lived through it. Serving up 32 interviews with everyone from David Byrne to Jah Wobble to James Chance, Totally’ (Along with Rip’) must certainly qualify Reynolds as the definitive chronicler of the period. The later chapters of the book practically constitute a project unto themselves, allowing Totally’ to deliver an even clearer, deeper explanation of just what came after punk.

The interviews begin with Ari Up, the lead singer of The Slits. The delightful miss Up is a fantastic storyteller and her remembrances of being the only dread-headed white girl step-dancing at Reggae parties are spellbinding — as are her recollections of a time when Punks, Rastas, Sticksmen, John-Travolta-disco-sadists and neo-Teddy Boys all collided on the street and on the stage as a new music attempted to rise from the ashes of punk.


From Nick Pell at Red Star Times:

Since it dovetails nicely with the book I am working on and I like writing about it, I have decided to start a new regular feature [at the Red Star Times] called “Unsung Heroes of Hardcore.” It’s similar to Soundtrack of My Life, but will focus specifically on relative unknowns of hardcore. I say relative unknowns because if you’re into hardcore you’ve probably heard of a lot of this stuff. I’m trying to keep it on the obscure end of things. Today’s Unsung Heroes of Hardcore are a lesser known band from the late-80s NYHC scene called Life’s Blood.


From BBC News:

Malcolm McLaren, the former manager of punk group the Sex Pistols, has died in New York, aged 64, his agent has said.

McLaren, the ex-partner of designer Vivienne Westwood, was believed to have been diagnosed with cancer a while ago.

He set up a clothes shop and label with Westwood on London’s King’s Road in the 1970s and was later a businessman and performer in his own right.

The couple had a son, Joseph Corre, the co-founder of lingerie shop Agent Provocateur. His agent told the BBC McLaren passed away on Thursday morning. Spokesman Les Malloy said he expected McLaren’s body to be returned to the UK before it is buried in Highgate Cemetery.