Press Article: Punk In 1977 – Punk Rock in the Making.
Above Photo: King’s Road Punk fashions, albeit later than 1977 (Pinterest).
I came across an interesting article in the UK Guardian newspaper’s archives, which was one of the earliest mainstream ‘quality’ press articles about Punk, seeking to explain it to its readers, rather than doing a ‘Tabloid’ on it.
Written by John Cunningham in July 1977, at the height of Punk in the UK, the article provides a fascinating insight into how Punk was being interpreted, processed and repackaged for a mainstream audience of the newspaper’s culturally left-leaning readers. Most of them wouldn’t have any real idea about what Punk was, as it exploded across the headlines back in 1977.
I’ve edited the article below, added photos for illustration and put a link to the full article at the end.
By John Cunningham
“Billy Idol cups his hands over his headphones as though he can’t hear the sound he’s making. Face death pale, his cherry red hair tones purple in the studio lights.
“They had James Dean! They had the Stones! We had nobody! Now we got our own New Orders.” The lead guitarist does a scissors leap between chords and the take ends with a burp from Billy which the late night listeners to John Peel’s record programme won’t hear.
This is Punk Rock in the making, the latest pulp music which, the myth already has it, the kids on the street have themselves contrived. Anyone can play it, sing it, write it, wear it. You don’t need Mr Artful Agent and Global Records Inc to show you the big-time at your own expense, say 20 per cent, as you stand up before the fans in your freaky finery, protected by strong-arms, limousined away after performances and have your blemishes lied away by press agents.
If you’re a punk rock performer, star even, you can piss next to the fans in the loo and not get mobbed. Elvis couldn’t have done that; nor the Beatles, nor the Stones nor anyone who has ever tenanted rock and roll’s hall of fame. Maybe they wouldn’t have wanted to. But punk rockers want to stay near their roots, near the fans. To play in small halls, to run the show themselves, not to wear fancy gear and to call it a day when it’s a day.
At the moment the group have a name, Generation X, but not a label. The lot on offer is four young men ages from 18 to 24; white sweatshirts; narrow jeans threadbare at the knee; a small sheaf of songs; a bank of equipment and a sprouting confidence that hasn’t been dented because so far it has had to groove along only with the fans.
There are other lots: The Clash; The Dammed, Stranglers and, most shocking to the straight ear and eye, The Sex Pistols, who obligingly swore on Bill Grundy’s Thames Television show; got themselves temporarily banned by the BBC and several recording companies on account of a punk celebration jubilee disc, God Save the Queen.
There isn’t a punk manifesto, or a straight person’s guide to punk or, properly, a punk’s guide to what is happening and happening to them, other than the fan sheets which appear sporadically.
There are an unknown number of young people, some in semi-focus even to themselves who have got something very tentative through which to identify themselves.
It’s something to do with striking an attitude, but not a pose, and the music, whether you wrote it, play it, or are listening to it, seems destined straight for you. Even if it’s the Pistols singing “I got no feelings for anybody but myself,” then it’s your song as much as theirs because there is no distance between them and you.
And you can lap up the enfolding truth of Generation X beating out, “Youth youth youth / Never wanna be an adult/ Youth youth youth / Always wanna be in revolt.”
The revolt, at the moment, is a very small wave which seems likely to join the tidal drift of the record industry. The sharks are waiting. And punk rock is forever warning itself about them, for it knows they are there. It just remains for the bands to decide at what point they will be swallowed up by Global Records Inc.”
Buy a signed copy of Bombed Out! here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/buybook.php
See full article here: http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2012/jul/16/archive-1977-punk-music-sex-pistols