London’s best punk bands of the 70s | Sex Pistols, the Clash

As long as there has been a punk scene, its inhabitants argued over which city had invented it – New York or London? Truth be told, it wasn’t because the first real punk band in history was the Stooges of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Which would make the true birthplace of Detroit punk. But if much of the sound and attitude of punk came from the distorted guitar R&B mid-60s bands from The Big Smoke, like the kinks and WHO? So maybe London can make a real claim after all.

Truth be told, London’s 1970s punks owed a lot to some local sources from the early 1970s such as the Stooges or New York dolls. We have established in our previous punk genealogical excavations that glam rock is deeply rooted in its DNA. The Twin Titans of Glam David Bowie and Marc Bolan of T. Rex were both boys from London. Then there are the anarchist rock ‘n’ roll groups – mostly militant, hardened hippies – who all seemed to live in the Ladbroke Grove neighborhood. These high-energy, R&B and guitar-based records from pink fairies Where Third world war are as punk as “God Save the Queen.” Then there is the story of hollywood kids, who appeared to shop at the same women’s thrift stores and guitar and record stores as the Dolls. Truth be told, the two groups formed and came to similar conclusions seemingly within minutes of each other, an ocean apart.

Read more: 10 glam-rock artists from the 1970s who heralded the rise of punk

Then there’s the unrecorded, never out of the garage London SS. They wanted to blatantly be England’s answer to the Dolls, with some Stooges and MC5 The original idea of ​​the pre-Shock Mick jones and the pre-Generation X Tony james, they spent the whole of 1975 writing songs and auditioning a who’s who of the first English punks responding to their classifieds in the music press. We’re talking about half the future Damned and the future Clash both. They unfortunately never found the magical chemistry that rock ‘n’ roll bands need. Thus, a couple of teenage kleptomaniacs, a Saturday saleswoman in Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne WestwoodThe deviant haberdashery of Sex and an angry teenager with green hair and teeth and a handmade “I Hate Pink Floyd” shirt came up with similar ideas. They out of the rehearsal room.

Sex guns

From the time they landed their first concerts at London art schools in late 1975, lying that they were the opening act, until their implosion in San Francisco in 1978 after the most big concert of their career, the Sex Pistols created a break in rock. They played on stolen material, frontman Rotten johnny refused to entertain (“Tell us, how does it feel to have bad taste?”), and they wrote songs about the destruction of social order. They had three major contracts in six months and were banned from the airwaves, the charts and almost every theaters in England. They were the most exciting rock ‘n’ roll band in years.


“And we don’t care! The guns shouted at it “Fairly vacant.” The Clash cared deeply. The Pistols acted like a demolition machine, then walked away, not a single shit. Ex-London guitarist SS Jones, singer Joe strummer, bass player Paul Simonon and drummer Topper Headon walked in behind them, looked around at the wreckage left behind, and planned what to build on top of the ruins. This allowed the Clash to outlast the Pistols, create more than one album, and expand the original slash-and-burn mandate with whips of reggae, rockabilly, hipjump and other styles. Merged with their deep political conscience, it’s easy to see The Clashes as the most important punk band.

the damned

the damned are traditionally regarded as London’s number three punk group. But they beat the Pistols and Clash and EVERYBODY: first punk single (“New Rose”), first punk album (Damned Damned Damned) and first to tour the United States. They were also the first to go their separate ways, the first to reform six months later and still exist to this day. And they were a supernaturally rowdy rock ‘n’ roll band with exceptional songwriting skills. Original beater Rat mange has been one of the most talented drummers in 70s punk, found by the guitarist Brian james at a hearing in London SS. A singer Dave vanian was a cool rock ghoul, while the bassist (and later the guitarist) Sensitive Captain was as likely a madman to be in a tutu or nurse’s uniform as he was not. Over time, the Damned have proven invaluable in pushing the boundaries of punk with psychedelic and progressiveoscillate key, and key in creation Goth.

Siouxsie and the Banshees

They started out as a joke, created from original Pistols followers the Bromley contingent when McLaren needed groups to complete the two nights 100 Club Punk Festival in September 1976. But the singer Siouxsie Sioux and bassist Steve Severin loved so much improvising soundscapes with the future Adam and the ants guitarist Marco pirroni and a pre-gun Vicious sid on drums, they formed a more permanent group Siouxsie and the Banshees line up. Their dark, sinister Velor floor-ish vibe, combined with Kenny morris‘drum without cymbal, immediately set them apart. As they grew more and more pop, they joined the Damned to help usher in Gothic culture, primarily due to Siouxsie’s funeral charisma.

Generation X

Member of the Bromley contingent Billy Idol met James of London SS when they both served in the original Chelsea lineup. Both tired of the singer October genebossy, they broke up with the drummer John Towe, moving Idol from guitar to vocals when they found Bob “Derwood” Andrews in a heavy metal band. Once Keith Moon-esque Marc Laff replaced Towe and they signed with Chrysalis Records, Generation X relive the basics of glam to Ramones-oid specifications. They received chuckles for the members’ teenage pinup looks, especially Idol’s, as they racked up UK hits such as “On your marks, ready? Go” and “Your generation.” Idol, of course, became a solo world superstar in the ’80s, while James moved on to synth-punk hero Sigue Sigue Sputnik.


Much of the first generation of London punk bands, including the Pistols Glen matlock and Clash’s Simonon, enrolled in various art schools. Wire was perhaps the first art school group to ring as if they had been to art school. They were playing at Ramones-ian velocity on cheap equipment, but their hardware, such as “12XU” and “Sir. Combination,” featured these Dad-ist lyrics. And when the words ran out, the song ended – cold. This resulted in those songs of a minute or less that became very influential in the development of hardcore, in particular on more experimental groups such as Minutemen. Wire eventually got more electronic, creating catchy tunes so unsettling such as “I am the fly.”

the slits

Meet the first in history riot grrrls. The initial hype about punk rock was that no talent or skill was required to play it. The four teenage girls who make up the slits took it at face value, basically learning their instruments and how to write songs on the job. They were irreverent in every aspect of their life, whether it was towards the conventions of society or the structure of the song. The result was this deliciously dilapidated tribal rock, mostly punk by dint of attitude and the sheer enthusiasm with which the singer Ari at the top, drummer Palmolive, guitarist Viv Albertine and bassist Tessa pollitt attacked him. As they developed real chops they became a cutting edge reggae outfit, best featured on the debut album. To cut.

X-Ray Spex

Polystyrene had been Mari Elliott, a mixed race teenager with braces who had followed the hippie track with a failed pop-reggae single called “Billy Billy” to his name. A chance exposure to the Sex Pistols on a pier changed her life. X-Ray Spex formed of respondents to its small ad on music paper looking for “young punx who want to stick together”. The group put Styrene’s mocking criticism of an artificial society on a rough, post-pistol sound, differentiated by Logic Lorathe piercing saxophone solos. Person who heard the first extraordinary single “Oh bondage! To you ! “ quickly forgot it.

sham 69

sham 69, led by the hyper-serious Jimmy pursey, announced the arrival of the second wave of punk. They reduced the basic sound to the roaring guitar chords of the Sex Pistols tuned to the rhythms of the Ramones freight train and a street singer barking the worries of the working class. They have unfortunately won the dedication of the new generation of racists skinheads, who began to harass the band and violently disrupt their concerts when Pursey vehemently disowned them. Sham 69 nevertheless managed to create some of the most passionate youthful hymns in 70s punk before they were completed, including stompers like “Borstal Breakout” and “If the children are united.”

British submarines

Led through various queues by an irrepressible lead producer Charlie harper, British submarines survived the Sex Pistols, the Clash, and pretty much every London punk outfit from the first wave except the Damned and 999. They kept a basic sound of meat and potatoes that could be the punk equivalent of AC DC: big guitars, a slamming rhythm section and the roar of Harper’s Cockney celebrating life on the streets among the most deprived. The first four of 26 alphabetically titled albums they released yielded UK hits that drew the Subs to Top of the pop – crunchy ravers such as “Strangulation”, “Teenager” and “Party in Paris.” UK Subs is a wonderfully cohesive example in the world of the power of punk rock.

See also: 999, vibrators, the boys, Chelsea, Eater, Adam and the ants, Cockney rejects