Punk rockPunk rock (from 'punk', meaning rotten, worthless, or a prison slang term for a person who is sexualy submissive) was originally used to describe the primitive guitar based rock and roll of 1960s bands such as The Seeds, and later Detroit bands The Stooges and MC5. "Punk rock" now largely tends to mean the anti-establishment musical movement of the period 1976-80, exemplified by the Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Clash, The Ramones and their descendants.!
The influence of the situationist movement is apparent in much of the behaviour and artwork surrounding what could be considered as the vanguard of the British punk movement, e.g., the Sex Pistols, and those orbital to the group such as Jordan, the Bromley Contingent, Sex boutique, etc. This was a conscious direction taken by Pistols prime movers Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, and is especially apparent in the artwork of pro-situ Jamie Reid, who had previously been involved with Suburban Press and King Mob.
The cover song, in the hands of a punk band, can often be an instrument for irony and commentary on popular culture. Patti Smith's Horses album contains two examples of reclaimed mainstream songs. Other examples include the Dead Kennedys' cover of "Take this Job and Shove It", (David Allan Coe) Siouxsie & the Banshees' "Helter Skelter" (The Beatles) or Black Flag's lyrically-altered "Louie Louie" (Richard Berry, popularized by The Kingsmen).
Punk devotees created a thriving underground press. In the UK Mark Perry produced Sniffin' Glue. In the United States magazines such as Maximum Rock 'n Roll, Profane Existence and Flipside were leading a movement of fanzines. Every local "scene" had at least one primitively published magazine with news, gossip, and interviews with local or touring bands. The magazine Factsheet Five chronicled the thousands of underground publications in the 1980s and '90s.
In the 1980s the anti-establishment and "DIY" truly came into its own in the United States and the UK with bands like MDC, Crass, Hüsker Dü, Bad Brains, Vice Squad, Minor Threat, JFA, The Dicks and more that never showed up on the industry charts, but none-the-less had a huge effect on popular culture. Not having to deal with the paradox of claiming anti-establishment values while at the same time being just another part of the music industry, which so many 1970s punk bands struggled with, many of the punk fans, bands, fanzines and magazines (Maximum Rock 'n Roll magazine and Cometbus for instance) were able to focus on the music, philosophy and politics, rather than the fashion. These years, approximately 1980 to 1986, is considered the peak of hardcore punk.
Punk has had a lasting influence on all popular music and a thriving subculture can still be found almost anywhere in the United States. Punk rock underwent a brief commercial renaissance in the late 1990s with bands like Rancid, Green Day, The Offspring, NOFX and others.
More extensive lists of relevant bands and so on can be found at the following sub-pages;
- List of forerunners of punk music (ca. 1968-1976)
- List of musicians in the first wave of punk music (ca. 1976-1980)
- List of musicians in the second wave of punk music (ca. 1980-present)
- List of punk movies
- List of punk cities
- Related genres: