A Brief History of How Punk Was Born in the UK – MusicMadeUs


– [Narrator] Punk. Viewed by some as the raucous caterwauling of an army of talentless ne’er-do-wells, and by others as an artistic movement that punctured the pomposity
of the establishment with a safety pin and
then gobbed in it’s face. Either way, it happened. It had a huge impact, and here’s how it was born in the UK. It’s the mid 70s and the UK is a place
of industrial action, the three day week and the feeling that the energy of the 60s hasn’t quite translated into the floral, free love utopia it promised. In music, stadium rock and ABBA rule, and disco is starting to send
it’s sequined soaked glamour across the Atlantic. For some young people, the dichotomy of what they see in their streets and what they see on Top of the Pops is too much to handle. It’s time for a change. The 60s tried love, they will try anger. (electric guitar vibrating) On the Old Kent road,
Steve Jones, Glen Matlock and Paul Cook all meet
at the fashion store SEX owned by designer Vivian Westwood and her boyfriend Malcolm McLaren. Searching for a lead singer, a young John Lydon is spotted wearing an “I hate Pink Floyd” t-shirt and recruited to front what
would become the Sex Pistols. The combination of the band’s driving garage rock and roll sound and Lydon’s acerbic and political lyrics would set the tone for what was to follow. Throughout 1976, the touring Sex Pistols
would start to influence many artists around the country. Producing pockets of Punk that would grow in their own directions. Singer with the pub-rock band the 101ers, Joe Strummer, saw the Sex Pistols and
instantly started The Clash. (“London Calling”) Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley, who would later form The Buzzcocks, saw the Pistols and
invited the band to perform in Manchester at the
Lesser Free Trade Hall. – [Man] Some weird noises
coming out of these things. (punk music) – [Narrator] That show was attended by Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner Morrissey and Mark E. Smith who respectively went
on to form Joy Division, The Smiths and The Fall. The Punk sound and aesthetic
was also being influenced by a concurrent scene
coming out of New York led by The Ramones. The Ramones landed in the UK, played a seminal gig
at Camden’s Roundhouse attended by many of those
who had become stalwarts of the UK Punk scene. All that was needed now was for Punk to break into the mainstream, and first out of the
blocks was The Damned, releasing the first Punk single New Rose, the three minute masterpiece
written by Brian James. (Punk music) And then, the moment
that really shoved Punk into the national consciousness, the infamous appearance of the Sex Pistols on Bill Grundy’s Today Show. After being drafted in as
late replacements for Queen, the Pistols turned the air blue after being goaded by the host. – Go on, you’ve got another five seconds say something outrageous. – You dirty bastard.
– Good Lord! – [Narrator] This led to headlines
across the national press and the cancellation of their upcoming Anarchy Tour of the UK. ♪ One, two, three, four! ♪ Heading into 1977, an
army of bands had formed with the new sound and attitude, ready to turn music, art, politics, and culture on its head. So, that’s the story of the
Birth of Punk in the UK, but how exactly did Punk
change the cultural landscape? – So, one of the ways that
Punk really effected culture is you have for the fist time in the UK, low-culture transcending
into higher culture. And what I mean by that, you had examples with
the mods and the rockers, different moral panics
where the mainstream press, and really the framework of society, was terrified that a youth movement would change the values, the ethos, and the way the people lived in Britain. But what happened with Punk is you go from kids using that music, that energy as a way to
express their circumstances, whether it’s being working class, not being able to get a job. And, it going from a small
specific group of people into the wider pantheon, if you would, of the kind of fashion
being on the runway. And now it’s to the
point where at Tiffany’s, the most expensive jeweller
probably in the world, or the most notorious jeweller, you can get a platinum lock like the one that Sid Vicious wore. So, it’s the ultimate going from something that is impactful and meaningful for a specific group to something that’s just
a fashion statement.

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