Punk rock, or simply punk, is a genre of rock music that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the US, the UK and Australia. Influenced by garage rock and other forms of protopunk music, punk bands had eschewed the perceived excesses of mainstream rock in the 1970s. Typically, punk bands use short and fast-paced songs with hard-edged singing styles and melodies, often political and anti-establishment lyrics and stripped- down instrumentation. Embracing a DIY ethic, many punk bands self-produced their recordings and distributed them through informal channels.
The term “punk” was first used to refer to rock music by some critics in the early 1970s and describe garage bands and their devotees. By late 1976, bands, such as the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, Television, Patti Smith and The Ramones, were recognized as the vanguard of a new musical movement. The following year, punk spread across the world, becoming a major cultural phenomenon in the UK.
At the start of the 1980s, more aggressive and faster styles, such as hardcore and Oi!, had become the predominant mode of punk rock. Musicians identified by punk also pursued a broad range of other variations, which gave rise to the post-punk and alternative rock movement. At the end of the 20th century, punk rock had been adopted by the mainstream, as pop punk bands, such as The Offspring, Green Day and Blink-182, brought the genre widespread popularity.
Between the late 16th and the 18th centuries, punk was a common and coarse synonym for prostitute. In fact, William Shakespeare used it with that meaning in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and “Measure for Measure”. Eventually, the term came to describe a gangster, young male hustler, a ruffian or a hoodlum. As Legs McNeil explains, “On TV, if you watched cop shows, Kojak, Baretta, when the cops finally catch the mass murderer, they’d say, ‘you dirty Punk.’ It was what your teachers would call you. It meant that you were the lowest.” The first known use of the phrase “punk rock” appeared in the “Chicago Tribune” on March 22, 1970, which was attributed to Ed Sanders, who was the co-founder of the anarcho-prankster band, The Fugs, in New York, where Sanders was then quoted describing his solo album, “punk rock—redneck sentimentality”. In the December 1970 issue of “Creem”, Lester Bangs—mocking more mainstream rock musicians—ironically referred to Iggy Pop as “that Stooge punk”, while Alan Vega of Suicide credited this usage to inspire his gigs as “punk mass” for the following years. The first music critic to employ the term “punk rock” was Dave Marsh in the May 1971 issue of “Creem” and the Mysterians, which were among the most popular garage rock acts in the 1960s, giving a landmark exposition of punk.
Top and Most Influential Punk Bands:
Sex Pistols – Known as “pure rebels”, they got everything punk is all about. Their songs that became classics to the punk scene are “Holiday in the Sun” and “Anarchy for the UK”.
The Ramones – Most probably, they are the greatest punk rock band ever, mixing pop with punk, which turned out to be classic. They influenced many great punk bands and changed the minds of many.
The Clash – Also probably the best pop punk band ever, with songs reaching the top of some hit lists.
Sonic Youth – Sonic Youth is classic band, with long songs that made good records, which made the group a favorite of many.
Dead Kennedys – Vulgar, hateful and crazy, these traits made the band as addicting and as punk as you can get.
The Who – This group is one of the greatest influences to every true punk band. They may not sound punk, but they are heroes to every punk band that followed because of their attitude and stage presence.
Generation X – This band was fronted by the legend rocker, Billy Idol. With their hits “Ready Steady Go” and “Your Generation”, they will always be remembered as the “band before Idol”.
The Vandals – You could say that the Vandals are the craziest of all the punk bands. If you ask someone who is the most famous punk band in the 1980s, he would say their name.
Misfits – Though there is not much to say about this band, it is a fact that they are original and unusual.
The Stooges – Like The Who, this band does not sound like the average punk band, but were definitely punk. They were led by Iggy Pop, who is a genius the led the best solo career of a punk artist.
Minor Threat – This group is insane and awesome, and can surely kick ass! They were the ones who influenced the sounds of newer groups, such as Pennywise and NOFX. Having created sweet, short and in-your-face songs, they gave the 1980s music era a good name.
Pennywise – These group of punks hates their government. They are even not like your average punk band and managed to become pretty damn popular, under the wings of the almighty Epitaph Recording Label.
Black Flag – For many punk fanatics, this music group was one of the forefathers of the many great punk bands in Southern California. Greg Ginn is the uncle of Alex Flynn, who is the frontman of 1208, an epitaph punk band that is worth checking out.
Dropkick Murphys – This is probably the largest punk band ever, with members being original by playing a mandolin and bagpipe, as well as shouting vocals, led by the raspy and low-sounding Al Barr.
Hüsker Dü – A great band in the world of punk, Hüsker Dü are freaking loons, a quality that makes them awesome. On the track “Pride”, you would barely understand the frontman, but entirely, these guys are punk and fucking good, so they deserve to be on this list.
U.K. Subs – This is one original punk band that you can describe as powerful and heavy, with powerful bass lines and hard vocals that make the whole group great.
These musical groups, not to mention The Offspring and Green Day , are very influential on the next generations of punk bands.