Roots of punk rock start early with The Stooges, meaning 1967!

Ramones best songs are models for the future

Using the phrase punk rock around some people is a dangerous thing to do. Most of us associate punk with Mohawk haircuts and green hair, piercings and tattoos, safety pins and ripped up clothing. As for the music, few outside the world of rock critics and real aficionados have an appreciation for and knowledge of the history and variety of what is called punk rock. The main thing to remember about punk is that it was a reaction to what mainstream rock had become in the early 70s.



The growth of youth culture and the counter culture in the 60s gradually made way for a new kind of music in the 70s. Actually, psychedelic, garage rock, and acid rock bands of the latter part of the decade had much in common with the future punk movement – a sense of adventure, a belief that anyone could make music, and a healthy lack of respect for authority and the establishment. But these kinds of attitudes were not the norm, and rock grew bloated and unwieldy. Bands such as Led Zeppelin and Foghat, singers like Elton John and Neil Diamond, and pop rock bands like Fleetwood Mac became the mainstream, and were of course very popular, along with the whole disco dance music craze.


Beginning with The Stooges in the early 70s, another approach began to emerge. Musicians picked up instruments and learned to play them just to be in a band, and they wrote songs that were faster, louder, more aggressive, more anti-establishment, and sometimes more political than anything that had been done before. These musicians did not want to be a part of what they saw as a conservative, old-guard movement, and they created something completely new.


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By the time the Ramones became the first band to be called punk in the middle of the decade, the seeds had been sown for a new genre of rock. The Ramones best songs perfectly exemplify the punk attitude, but they were not political in any overt way like bands to come would be. Soon the Sex Pistols, the Clash, and the Damned would make classic punk rock in England, while in the states bands like the Minutemen and Husker Du kept moving ahead and making new sounds. Punk became an accepted part of rock music history, and the success of bands such as Green Day and Rage Against the Machine is based on a sturdy historical foundation.