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Punk: Proto Punk

A guide to materials related to punk music and related genres

Proto Punk

The Stooges

Gimme danger, little stranger
and I'll give you a piece
gimme danger, little stranger
and I'll feel your disease

there's nothing in my dreams
Just some ugly memories
kiss me like the ocean breeze

Now if you will be my lover
I will shiver insane
but if you can be my master
I will do anything

there's nothing left to life
but a pair glassy eyes
raze my feelings one more time

from  “Gimme Danger

A Few Notes on The Stooges

The Stooges are considered to be a major influence on the nascent punk movement. They consisted of Ron and Scott Asheton on guitar and drums, blank on bass and Iggy Stooge (later Iggy Pop) as their iconic front man.

The Stooges music was raw and concerned with issues which had meaning to disaffected youth. Fewer than a half dozen years had passed between “I Want To Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles and “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by the Stooges yet their sound was completely different from nearly everything else on the radio. The Stooges are a prime example of how rock and roll tries to resist growing up by returning to its roots.

Another Detroit band which influenced early punk was the MC5. The “Motor City 5” was a deeply political band who also tapped into the primordial anger of youth to produce anthemic songs such as “Kick Out the Jams.”

Both the Stooges and the MC5 had problems with drugs and the law which, along with uncomplicated, youth centered music, would set an enduring precedent for punk rock.

One other band which should be mentioned in reference to creating the punk mentality is The Kinks. In the mid-1960s, The Kinks were making music which had an aggressive sound which appealed to youth in general and the Mod subculture specifically.

The Stooges' albums didn’t sell very well and they were loathed by critics. However, two teenagers from New York loved their music, Joey and Dee Dee Ramone. They went to school together and developed a friendship around the fact that they were the only guys in their school who liked the Stooges.

The Ramones had a simple formula: never use more than three chords in a song and play each song so fast that people won’t have time to realize they don’t like it.


Tommy Ramone:  “What happened, though, was that because we were playing so fast, the three-minute songs became one-and-a-half-minute songs.”


They began by playing at CBGB’s on New York’s Bowery at Max's Kansas City. CBGB’s had formerly been a Country, Blue Grass and Blues bar (hence the bars’ abbreviated name), but the owner Hilly…was desperate enough to let just about anyone play during the early 1970s.



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