Does “punk rock” require an introduction? As one of the most famous music and fashion movements in the 20th century, punk was arguably thesubculture for social misfits around the world. In truth, however, there was never one way to be punk. From the political punks to the punks who were just in it for the fashion, it seems like every scenester danced to their own beat. Here are 42 rocking facts about the history of punk music.
42. The War at Home
The term punk rock itself comes straight out of your mom’s garage. In the 1960s, homemade bands with limited formal background began to emerge—hence the term “garage” band. What acts such as the Sonics and the Stooges lacked in fancy training, they made up for in “raw power”—excuse the pun—and rowdy concerts.
41. Blame the Artist
Led by the late Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground was a band to whom punk rock owes a lot of its aesthetic. Managed by legendary artist Andy Warhol, they almost had no choice but to be so glamorously unglamorous.
40. A Poor Time With Free Time
A crummy English economy in the 1970s gave birth to punk rock across the pond. A generation of jobless youth transformed their endless supply of free time (and anger at the system) into the rebellious scene we associate today with English punk.
39. Doesn’t Sell What You Think
Punk fashion as we know it was spearheaded by a scandalous London boutique that fittingly called itself “SEX.” Once upon a time, the shop also went by the name “Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die.” Kind of a mouthful, so we understand why they went short and sweet.
38. Guiding Force
Does any band fit more into “punk rock” stereotypes than England’s the Sex Pistols? It’s no surprise; the band’s first manager was Malcolm McLaren himself, one half of the SEX boutique owners, who styled the first punk rock fashions.
37. Poke the Bear
Although Malcolm McLaren is most associated with pioneering the punk rock “look,” he did not do it alone. His business partner was Vivienne Westwood, a fashion designer who is still around today. In the 70s, Westwood set out to see if her punk clothes would “put a spoke in the system.”
36. Follow His Follicles
Punk is collaborative, even in the closet. For one, the British punk designer Malcolm McLaren only spearheaded the classic punk rock spiky-haired look by directly lifting it from American punk artist Richard Hell.
35. Splitting Hairs About It
How did punk rockers achieve those spiky-haired ‘dos which embodied the movement? Well, if you were Television band frontman Richard Hell, you used lots of Vaseline and talcum powder. Hey, looking this bad is truly dirty work.
34. Bad Boys
Going way back into history, the word “punk” has its roots in Shakespeare. In the common tongue, it had been used as a slang term for “sex worker,” which was its meaning in plays such as The Merry Wives of Windsor and Measure for Measure. After the 18th century, it took on a decidedly masculine meaning in reference to “a young male hustler, a gangster, a hoodlum, or a ruffian.”
33. Time to Get a Job
Bands like the Talking Heads, Television, and The Ramones took the lead when it came to “professionalizing” punk in the US through the 1970s. One critic described this wave of punk as embodying “the ultimate garage band with pretensions.”
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