J.P. Robinson
39 min readAug 20, 2018


Sources for ‘The Rotten Etymology of Punk’

These are the sources and notes for The Rotten Etymology of Punk.

The full story is here.

As Otto Wise exhaled… The original story about the B’nai B’rith “smoker” appeared in the San Francisco Call, 3rd October 1899. The other information about Otto Wise and Eugene Levy is from the San Francisco Call (10th September 1890, 18th January 1900, 1st November 1900, 8th February 1904), San Francisco Chronicle (16th April 1888, 25th March 1889, 27th July 1889, 21st December 1886, 1st July 1911), Sacramento Record-Union (28th November 1888, 3rd November 1899), and New York World (4th June 1896). The image of Eugene Levy is from San Francisco Call, 10th September 1890. The image of Otto Wise is from San Francisco Chronicle, 1st July 1911. The image of the B’Nai B’rith Hall is from the Jewish News of Northern California (27th April 2012, https://www.jweekly.com/2012/04/27/bnai-brith-plaque-reclaims-history-in-tenderloin).

The word’s etymology is normally told like this… The Burroughs quote comes from Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain’s Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk.

Punk was already mean and ironic by the time Shakespeare used it… For more on Shakespeare and punk, and on ‘Simon The Old Kinge’, see Zoe Wilcox, Andy Linehan and Stephen Cleary’s British Library blog: http://blogs.bl.uk/english-and-drama/2016/08/from-shakespeare-to-rock-music-the-history-of-the-word-punk.html.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, punk was first printed in 1575… For information on ‘Old Simon The King,’ see https://tunearch.org/wiki/Annotation:Old_Sir_Simon_the_King and https://mainlynorfolk.info/steeleye.span/records/hangupsorrowandcare.html#simo. The comments from 1776 are from Sir John Hawkins, A General History of the Science and Practice of Music.

Around this time, on the other side of the Atlantic, a new meaning for punk also grew… The image is from the Pennsylvania Gazette, 2nd July 1747. For Lenape usages, see http://www.talk-lenape.org/detail?id=8970 and http://www.talk-lenape.org/detail?id=8978. “Fight like punk” is from the Pennsylvania Packet (18th February 1777). “Rotten as punk” was used in many newspapers, for example the Vermont Phoenix (24th March 1837) and the Gettysburg Compiler (14th June 1841). For “punk shows”: “another wave of profanity… singed the whiskers of a gentleman who left before the play was over, with the remarks that it ‘was about as punk a show’ as he had ever seen.” (San Francisco Chronicle, 10th February 1889); “a superficial observer might think that a real punk show would drive people to desperation and cause them to rush out between acts and raise their spirits by letting some down.” (San Francisco Chronicle, 20th October 1889).

Newspapers speculated about the word’s origins… For art school slang, see The Decatur Herald, 11th December 1910: “the picture turned out to be what is called, in art school slang, ‘punk.’” For college slang, see New York Times, 19th December 1898, about Columbia University in the 1860s: “the long corridor of the asylum building, with its columned portico, made an admirable lounging place for the students, who termed the building ‘maison de punk.’” For army usage, “punk” is included in ‘Army Dialect — Slang Terms Evolved in the War with Spain,’ in The Evening Times, Washington DC, 17th January 1899, reprinted from the New York Commercial Advertiser: “punk means grub, bread, anything to eat, you know.” For “hoboes,” see The Evening Times, Washington DC, 5th February 1899. For theatre slang, see the Anaconda Standard, Montana, 5th January 1899, referring to Clark Street in Chicago.

Although it was used across America… For Kansas references: “The Lawrence Holmes company gives a good popular price entertainment. The Show is continuous and there is no ‘punk’ orchestra to grate your nerves” (The Emporia Gazette, 18th February 1898); “Boyer & Kiser’s Tom show was not much force. A punky band paraded the street about noon and the rested up for the big show, which was the same old grind.” (Waverly Gazette, 1st September 1899); “The Sterling band went to Lyons and gave a concert in the opera house and the gross receipt were $1. Lyons claims it was a fair deal, one plunk for one punk concert.” (Iola Register, 4th February 1901); “punk band” (The Independent, Hutchinson, 6th December 1902).

The word soon became widespread… “Everyday twentieth century slang.” (St Louis Republic, 26th May 1901). “‘Punk’ Music By Unions — a man who works in a steam laundry leads the burning campaign for punk music by union men. He wants to lead the band, in Vessella’s place, with a paddle from a patent washing machine.” (Los Angeles Times, 12th October 1907). “Punk opera” (The Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln, 21st May 1908). “No sort of a combination, it seems to us, is the combination of a man violinist and his wife accompanist. If it’s in harmony listeners say ‘Huh! How different from their domestic life,’ and if it isn’t in harmony it’s — well, it’s just punk music.” (Buffalo Evening News, 15th August 1910). “The manager hunted high and low, through every pinochle plant in the city, but he couldn’t dig up an orchestra. The only thing he could get was a crosseyed accordion player, and believe me, Dugan, trying to do fancy dancing to the strains of a canal boat organ is the extreme penalty with nothing off for good behaviour. Gee, it’s punk music.” (Salt Lake Herald-Republican, 4th September 1912, copyright New York Evening Telegram). For the critic’s fight: “Mr Creel was called on once to write a criticism of a vaudeville show in Denver. He wrote it, incidentally stating that a certain actor was punk. The actor read the paper containing the criticism and the next day went around saying he’d like to knock the critic’s head off… [Creel heard and] left the Denver Post Building on the run and five minutes later had the actor up against the wall at the Majestic Theatre ordering him to dine on his words. The actor ate copiously.” (The Evening World, New York, 22nd July 1918). The Pedro The Punk Poet advertisement is from Hot Springs New Era, 1st April 1916. The film was written about in many papers, including the Des Moines Tribune, 21st March 1916.

So often was it used, this critical commonplace began to sound like a genre in its own right… “It is little wonder that the managers send us punk music shows or vulgar female exhibits. These draw audiences of great size, while the sane and intelligent exercise of stage art goes unattended.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5th April 1914). “The latest war song, ‘Send Me Away With A Smile,’ is very punk and therefore very popular. A really worthwhile song has about as much chance to get by with the public as the proverbial camel has to go through the eye of a needle. In other words, the popularity of a song depends upon its punkness. The demand of the day is ‘punk songs for punk people.’” (The Tampa Times, 17th August 1917). The ‘Wonder What a Girl in the Chorus Thinks About’ cartoon was syndicated in many newspapers, including the New York Tribune, and Des Moines Register, 21st August 1919.

With a familiar sense of irony… “Just last week a piece of sheet music was sent the station entitled ‘That Empty Pantaloon’ and heralded as ‘A Pathetic Story Told In Song.’ It is the type of bar-room sentiment that makes the old sots shed tears in their homebrew… ‘Gee, it’s tough, and that is no bluff, I hope it will be over soon, when will he forget and no longer think of that empty pantaloon.’… it is so punk, it is refreshing.” (Asheville Citizen-Times, 12th May 1929). “In Italy if an opera singer is lousy — and they often are — the customers will pelt them with hunks of sausage and even knives and chairs. Americans wouldn’t be likely to know whether a singer was good or bad and would prefer him fairly punk, because sour notes are the sound of native music that American like, such as jazz and swing.”(Pittsburgh Press, 1st March 1939, and reprinted in other papers). The “We Like It Punk” heading was used in The Tennessean, 2nd March 1939.

As he put his harmonica to his mouth… The picture of The Oregon Loggers was printed in many newspapers, though this copy is from The News-Review, Roseburg, 17th September 1932. The information on The Oregon Loggers comes from The Eugene Guard (22nd January 1931, 5th February 1931, 23rd February 1931, 23rd May 1931, 29th July 1931, 5th August 1932, 7th August 1932, 9th August 1932), Medford Mail Tribune, (18th September 1932, 20th September 1932), The News-Review, Roseburg (30th April 1932), Albany Democrat-Herald (3rd April 1935), and the Brewster Herald (18th December 1936).

This was not a punk in the Shakespearean sense… Benny Goodman, The Kingdom of Swing: “When he was 12 his proud father took him to the Central Park Theatre for a tryout on ‘Jazz Night’. Despite the comment, ‘what are you bringing that little punk around here for?’ they let him play.” (The Philadelphia Enquirer, 31st May 1939)

The “poor quality” sense of the word lingered… The Bing Crosby picture is from Star Tribune, Minneapolis, 6th February 1949, referring to an issue of Ballyhoo in the early thirties. “I would not swap one verse of Sewanee River or My Old Kentucky Home or Old Black Joe for all these new fangled, late model, punky songs… The negroes are actually singing the new ‘talks’ in the new way. Most negroes have real harmony attached to their vocal indulgences but if they drift off from the old negro spirituals and take up this new order or songs and singing, they won’t have many listeners in a few years.” (The Index-Journal, Greenwood, South Carolina, 2nd October 1941) This comment was sparked by a visit to the cinema; there is a strong chance that the song that prompted it was the title track from Blues In The Night.

By the fifties, the “delinquent” sense of the word became ubiquitous… “[Most parents] are home and up to their necks in worries about the kids and the best efforts to raise ’em straight, despite grisly whodunits, horror films and cinema and airwave glorification of punks, mobsters, vandals and foul fighters.” (The Daily Times, Salisbury, Maryland, 17th July 1956, and many other papers) “He is cast as a hot-headed punk who takes umbrage when a bum gets fresh with a waitress.” (Daily Independent Journal, San Rafael, California, 29th November 1957), “This punk can’t smile — he has a nasty curled lip, a m ean eye and those sideburns remind me of a hoss-rustler who was hanged a long time ago in Helena, Montgomery.” (Letter from : Roy Halee, of Garden City, NY, Pittsburgh Press, 19th January 1957) “Presley said he whipped out the Hollywood prop pistol Friday night because Nixon tried to pick a fight while the singer was signing autographs for admirers on a midtown street… The Marine, stationed at the Memphis Naval Air Station, said he left after Presley pulled the prop gun and said, ‘I’ll blow your brains out, you punk.’ Presley, 22, said the Marine accused him of bumping into his wife as she walked out of a restaurant about two months ago… ‘You don’t want to start trouble with me, do you?… I was smiling when I took it out of my coat.’ (Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York, 25th March 1957, and many other papers).

By the 1960s, punk was so closely associated with young music fans… “A 17 year old Texas youth was held in protective custody in Phoenix Thursday after four men had beaten him, cut off his hair, shaved off his moustache and carved the word ‘punk’ on his bare back… who said he was a psychedelic painter. [The attackers] used an empty beer can to carve the word ‘punk’ in his back… The youth said he had been in Los Angeles… (Arizona Daily Star, 25th October 1968, and many other papers) “Punks! Punk-ness is in the eye of the beholder.” (The News Journal, Wilmington, Delaware, 14th November 1969)

Call them punks, call them animals… The Hot Rods To Hell advertisement was printed in many papers, for example Los Angeles Times, 2nd February 1967. The ‘A New Movie Hero: The Punk’ article is from Chicago Tribune, 8th January 1968. Hunter S. Thompson quotes a “Florida police official” speaking in an article called ‘Man’s Peril’ in February 1966: “These punk with their cycles and their Nazi trapping have it in for the world — and everyone in it. They’re a menace, a damned serious menace that’s growing bigger every year.” He also writes that “his motorcycle is the one thing in his life he has absolutely mastered … Without it, he is not better than a punk on a street corner,” and quotes a Highway Patrolman: “The last motorcycle punk who tried to run from me got killed. I kept on his tail until he made a mistake, then I ran right over him.” All of these quotes were also included in a long excerpt printed in the Los Angeles Times, 26th February 1967.

Inevitably, musicians were often punks… “There is no feigning as musicians on their part. They know they’re punks. They admit it. They’re only after money. They admit that, too.” (Austin American-Statesman, 19th February 1964). “As for saying Ringo is cute, well of course he would be good looking when he has to stand next to three immature punks that have gun-powdered complexions. (Shot to heck and back.)” (The Evening Standard, Uniontown, Pennsylvania, 21st April 1964). “Compared to them [The Beach Boys], the Beatles are just punks with long hair” (Fresno Bee, California, 4th August 1964). “Lennon was quoted in a magazine article as saying ‘Christianity will go… We are more popular than Jesus now.’ These four little punks’ fad-fed bank accounts have gone to their heads.” (San Bernardino County Sun, 6th August 1966) “Punk millionaires.” (Berkley Barb, November 8 -1, 1968). The “punks’ haircut” image is from The Salina Journal, 11th March 1964.

Other musicians had the same treatment… “Pity the poor young performer of quality. He must compete with punks who can burp into a microphone and produce a hit record.” (UPI report, The News Journal, Wilmington, 19th February 1965). “We’ve got kids out there dying without a sound and we’ve got punks here who dress up like girls and make millions of dollars doing it.” (Printed in many papers, including Hibbs Daily News-Sun, New Mexico, 29th September 1967) “When I recently played ‘The Talk of The Town’ in London, and two of The Rollign Stones had just been arrested for possession of narcotics, people like the Monkees came over and actually wore black arm bands in mourning for these dope-ridden punks.” (Printed in many papers, including Akron Beacon Journal, 12th November 1967) “I come in like a dumb punk with my guitar over my back, no case, and I’m telling people about this and that, and this is the arrangement, find do this on the bridge.” (Mike Butterfield, “as told to Jim Delehant,” Hit Parader, June 1968). The Dick Tracy cartoon was published in many papers, including Great Bend Tribune, 8th March 1965.

The word was also used by specialist music journalists… “A young artist, a gentle, un-harmful soul with hair down to his shoulder blades, is painting the sign for the Monterey Pop Festival outside my window, and a lorry-driver has just given him the finger-sign and bellowed ‘Get a haircut punk,’ which makes me sad and sick… (Derek Taylor, Disc and Music Echo, 8 April 1967). “Richard Goldstein, pop-music columnist for the Village Voice… is twenty-four but looks eighteen and has long, straggly hair,a mustache, and muttonchops, was wearing a white jacket trimmed with embroidered flowers. A festival official Charles Bourgeios (sic) stopped him at the door; when he showed his press pass and stood his ground, Bourgeois called him ‘just another of those young punks’ and confiscated the pass because, he said later, he assumed it was stolen.” (Ellen Willis, Newport: You Can’t Go Down Home Again, The New Yorker, August 1968). “’The Motown sound, which has been such a power for good music in four years, seems to be dying the death — chart wise… the magic seems to be wearing out. They will have to cast off the four years old formula that is wearing decidedly thin. Some things you DO get used to.’ Perhaps these strong words were bounced by satellite across the Atlantic to Detroit City, wherein worried executives held immediate conferences. One can imagine opulent finger-poppers meeting in a sumptuous board room, beneath huge portraits of Berry Gordy and Diana Ross. ‘Okay you guys. See what this Limey punk is mouthing about our products? Let’s see some action. We’ll show that Banzai Dog Bebop Band what finger poppin’s all about. Get Tamla back in the chart — or else.’” (Chris Welch, Tamla Motown: Munch, Munch, Munch, Melody Maker, 15 February 1969).

The old “poor quality” meaning was still occasionally used about music…“There was a middling popular and middling punk song some decades ago called ‘I Surrender, Dear.’”, (The Daily News, New York, 30th April 1966). “There appears to be a tendency to believe that a well-publicized name is more likely to put on a good show than is an artist whose name has not been so well publicized… The popular music area also tends to have a number of the big names who are by any standards of real musical judgement pretty punk performers. Yet these fairly punk performers sell hundreds of thousands of record and get high-priced night club engagements.” (Indiana Gazette, 13th June 1967). “A song so hilariously punk it sounds like Zappa biting the five on their freaky Mamas-and-Papas buns.” (The Spectator, 15th July 1969). The ‘Out Our Way’ cartoon appeared in many papers, including The Bee, Danville, Virginia, 26th August 1961.

Gradually at first, punk became part of a wider, critical argument… “Dichter, who, from the enclosed pictures looks like a cross between a punk and a poet, flavors the concerto with brooding melancholy and a clownish quality.” (The Indianapolis News, 2nd March 1967) Zappa “is angry at the world which threw that teenage punk into that environment.” (Los Angeles Free Press, 21st June 1968) [Remembering the 1965 Newport Festival] “ear-splitting cacophony… two highly-amplified electric guitars and a very fierce set of drums… It was a terrible day all right, and it looked at that time as though the only person who would ever forgive Dylan his perfidy was his manager — who correctly foresaw Dylan’s switch to rock not as a selling-out but as the beginning of a new golden era when the punks and the scruffies and the weirdos would take over Tin Pan Alley. It is now three years later and that vision has certainly come to pass. Any rebel trying to get his message through to 15,000 ticket-holders at Forrest Hills Stadium today would have to use at least two highly amplified guitars and some good ear-splitting cacophony — or else be booed off stage for being old-fashioned… the Irving Berlin of protest and youthquake and paisley coloured psychedelic visions… They laughed when he first sang his songs in 1962 and they booed when he went electric. But he got on the jukeboxes and the acetates and right inside the minds or people who like Lawrence Welk and Dean Martin and Lester Lanin. What other rebel can claim to have done that?” (Sydney Morning Herald, 7th December 1968). “By today’s violent standards in pop music and pop politics, there is something unalterably square about Joan Boez. She prefers Ghandi to Che, tells the rebels at San Francisco State theu are making fools of themselves, and continues to perform as it the raucous sounds of Dada rock had never been invented. It is strange that she ever got together with Bob Dylan — half-punk, half guru, probably American’s best young songwriter, possibly its best young poet. Still, they were the best of friends for a couple of years in the pastoral, neo-Wobbly past.” (St Louis Post-Dispatch, 31st January 1969).

Probably the most widely read reference to “punk” and music in the sixties… The Rickey Ivie story was in the Los Angeles Times, 14th March 1969. The “Striking Negro Senior calls Bach ‘dead punk’” headline was in Arizona Republic, 15th March 1969.

The Ivie story spread like wildfire… The William F. Buckley column appeared in Los Angeles Times, 28th March 1969. The headlines mentioned appeared in many papers, including The La Crosse Tribune, Wisconsin, 27th March 1969, and The Bismarck Tribune, North Dakota, 28th March 1969. The image of the headline is from The Billings Gazette, Montana, 31st March 1969.

Three weeks after the Rickey Ivie story… The Lester Bangs MC5 review was in Rolling Stone, April 1969 (reprinted in Mainlines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste).

Bangs’ description was undoubtedly important… The Nick Kent quote is from his The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music, preface to the U.S. edition. His Apathy For The Devil: A 1970s Memoir also details his relationship with Bangs. The Bangs quote is from Epistle to a Young Critic: A Letter from Lester Bangs, February 1975, published at Rock’s Back Pages.

The word also seemed to conjure up Bangs’ own life… The information about Bangs’ early life comes from Jim De Rogatis’ Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs. The quote about Mezz Mezzrow is from Creem, March 1971, where Bangs says Captain Beefheart “seems to harken to the jive talk stanzas of some early 50s R&B and farther back into Mezz Mezzrow’s ‘Really The Blues’ Harlem streetcorner jargon and the Joycean word-stew of Black folklore.” The Robert Houghton information is from Houghton’s My High School Days With Lester Bangs: A Memoir.

Through 1970, punk became popular… “There are two types of kids: good kids and punks. Ten years ago the good kids looked like Pat Boone. The punks all looked like Elvis Presley. Today everybody looks alike. The good kids and the punk kids all have long hair, particularly in the cities.” (Detroit Free Press, 2nd January 1970). ‘The Punk Muse,’ was in Fusion, 10th July 1970. “The unmistakeable Doors sound is there: Jim Morrison’s street punk-choir boy voice is, as always, dominant” (Cincinnati Enquirer, 1st March 1970). “The Stones have been the very toughest essence of a rock ’n’ roll band. No mean thing to be, but a precise amalgam of diverse elements: a punk craftiness and sneering narcissism, a group comradeship unspoken and total, a cynical materialism that could never be bought, and a passionate love for a music that goes back to blues and boogie-woogie through rhythm and blues and all its white modifications.” (Ramparts, March 1970) The Fort Lauderdale News story was from 15th May 1970.

At the end of the year, Bangs wrote a long essay… The ‘Of Pop and Pies and Fun’ essay was in Creem, November and December 1970 (reprinted in Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung). “Had I not had the unpleasant experience of hearing the MC5’s “Kick Out the James” [sic] several months ago, I could say that ‘The Stooges’ was the worst rock album of the year. It’s unquestionably the second worst, featuring as it does seven whiny adolescently repulsive and barely distinguishable street-punk anthems and hypnotically boring 10-minute chant, ‘We Will Fall’.” (The Los Angeles Times, 7th December 1969). “The most noticeable thing is the singer. He sticks his ass in your face, struts, wiggles, spits, cocks his body, preens, writhes. He looks like he want to look mean and tough and nasty. ‘Sometimes I call some punk who’s been making remarks out onto the stage. But they never come.’” (Fusion, 17th October 1969, quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology’.)

However, Bangs’ “Stooge punk” was a little different… The “Punko Bangs” review was in Creem, December 1970. The “self-important punk” was in Creem, March 1971. The “pube punk fantasies” was in his ‘James Taylor Marked for Death’ essay. The “pompous punk” was in Creem, 1971 (quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology’).

By the end of 1970, in New York, Suicide were advertising their early gigs as “punk music”… For early Suicide references, see http:/ /www.fromthearchives.org/av_mr/chronology.html. The Alan Vega quote is from this interview with Simon Reynolds: https://pitchfork.com/features/interview/9917-infinity-punk-a-career-spanning-interview-with-suicides-alan-vega/.

By the spring of 1971, punk had become a “style of music”… Bangs’ James Taylor essay was included in Psychotic Reaction and Carburetor Dung.

This kind of nostalgic usage was already common… “Elvis, the very definition of rock and roll for its vociferous defenders and detractors, became the first rock-and-roller to switch to ballads for the whole family, and a pioneer… of the unalienated youth movie. You couldn’t blame Elvis. In those days, everyone kept speculating about what was could happen to punks like him when the rock-and-roll fad was over.” (Ellen Willis, Elvis In Las Vegas, August 1969, reprinted in Out of The Vinyl Deeps). Of The Everly Brothers: “Their insistent driving speed (each song is under 2 ½ minutes) contradicts the lyrics’ sentimentality. The effect, encouraged by their 1950s appearance, in greased pompadours, was of young punks, cousins to James Dean, who knew the score better than they pretended. (The Guardian, 11th September 1970). Of Gene Vincent: “Where Elvis was the teenage hood who got lots of girlfriends, Vincent was symbolic of the punk who leant against walls at the High School dance and cleaned his nails with a switch blade.” (Mike Farren, International Time, 21st October 1971); “Gene Vincent: Po’ White Punk from the Pool Hall” (Mick Farren, NME, 15th February 1975). Of Jerry Lee Lewis: “the ambience is just punk enough.” (Dave Marsh, Creem, July 1972). Of Eddie Cochran: “Cochran had to wait over a year before he got another chance at stardom when ‘Summertime Blues’ made the charts. The lower -middle-class, put-upon punk formula was adopted — and the series of singles that included ‘C’ Mon Everybody’, ‘Something Else’, and ‘Weekend’ poured forth at a rapid rate.” (Mick Farren, NME, 20 April 1974). “You might be a punk, but you could be a tough one and people would take notice of you. And violence became, in a way, almost romantic…. The Rolling Stones also made a return to the hard rock days with Beggars Banquet ― preaching “violent revolution” and “fighting in the streets.” This time round the revolt is against governments ― not just parental control. That battle’s been won. “Up against the wall, motherf***ers!” shout the MC5. And in the midsts of it all, Meredith Hunter, an 18-year-old negro gets stabbed to death at the Rolling Stones Altamont concert. Some say Jagger was mid-way through ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ when it happened…” (Rob Partridge, Is Pop Music Putting The Boot In For Bovver?, Record Mirror, 9 May 1970).

However, as Bangs had hinted towards, it was the punks of the 1960s who first coalesced into a genre… See Greg Shaw in Creem, March 1971, and Rolling Stone, April 1971. The “what I have chosen to call punk rock” is from Who Put The Bomp? in 1971, and is quoted in Bernard Gendron’s Between Montmartre and The Mudd Club: Popular Music and The Avant-Garde. The Daily News quote is from 19th September 1976. See Jim De Rogatis’ Let It Blurt, as an example of Dave Marsh being cited as the originator of punk rock, and for the explanation Marsh gave. The “happier every year” quote is from an interview with Scott Richards at https://rockcritics.com/2013/03/12/from-the-archives-dave-marsh-2001.

However, despite their influence, neither Shaw nor Marsh was the first to use the phrase… The Ed Sanders interview was in Chicago Tribune, 22nd March 1970: “Self-honesty entails an admission of one’s heritage even if that heritage has been rejected. Sanders does this particularly well in his first solo album for Reprise Records, ‘Sanders’ Truckstop,’ which he describes as ‘punk rock — redneck sentimentality — my own past updated to present day reality.” …an iconoclast of everything the middle class Establishment holds sacred and respectable… ‘Truckstop’ is born of that heritage…”. See Sanders’ Fug You: An Informal History of the Peace Eye Bookstore, the Fuck You Press, the Fugs, and Counterculture in the Lower East Side.

Wherever it originated, this “quaint fanzine term”… “Punk rock in those days was a quaint fanzine term for a transient form of mid-60s music considered so bad (by the standards of the time) that it was a joke to the ‘critics’ who made their living analysing the neuroses of Joni Mitchell.” (Who Put The Bomp?, 17th November 1977, quoted in Dave Laing, One Chord Wonders: Powers and Meaning in Punk Rock). Bangs’ ‘Psychotic Reaction and Carburetor Dung’ was reprinted in the book of the same name. “I can hardly wait for Lester Bangs’ ‘Psychotic Reactions and Carburator Dung,’ which will probably be the definitive book on punk rock” (John Weisman, Detroit Free Press, 6th October 1972). “Even now, however, there are cliques that support various rock and roll’s historical periods (rhythm and blues, mid-’60s punk) and put out mimeographed journals like a bunch of Trotskyites.” (Robert Christgau, Village Voice, 14th October 1971, available at https://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/cg/cg20.php).

Both the word and the music spread further still when Lenny Kaye used the phrase… “the New Nostalgia is here. Yes, the ’50s may stay in vogue, but now there’s another era of resuscitated rock to contend with… Those hazy, far-off, good old days of the late ‘60s… with an emphasis on a single genre: punk-rock.” (Chicago Tribune, 8th October 1972). See Greg Shaw, Rolling Stone, December: “I never thought I’d see the say when anybody’d take this music seriously. Not that “Serious” is the word for Lenny Kaye’s approach to the project… I missed out on id-Sixties punk culture myself — I had many chances to see groups like the Seeds, Standells, and Count Five, but there was always some Grateful Dead concert or trip festival or something I deemed more important… ephemeral local bands… a whole culture… Punk-rock is a fascinating genre: getting into it requires endless hours at flea markets and junk stores… Punk-rock at its best is the closest we came in the Sixties to the original rockabilly spirit of rock and roll… it was too primitively undisciplined for most PDs and a lot of kids too… punk-rock — defined rather strictly by fuzztone, Fender or Standell amps, Vox organs, the limits of a year’s worth of guitar lessons, and that certain tone of aggro in the vocal — had one the way of the dinosaur.” “‘Nuggets… proves that psychedelia and punk zap are just as much a real cool time now as they were when we might have invested some emotional space-born significance in them.” (Lester Bangs, Rolling Stone, 4th January 4 1973).

Before long, punk was used to describe contemporary music… “We’re supposed to get back to the mythic crudity and crassness reputed to be at the heart of rock and roll… Punk-rock has become the favoured term of endearment. I have mixed feelings about all this. For one thing, the blood-‘n’-raunch-forever approach to rock tends to degenerate into a virility cult…. Still, I do have a weakness for dedicated crudity and crassness, and so I’ve been digging these two backlash bands, Five Dollar Shoes and the Hoodoo Rhythm Devils… I saw Five Dollar Shoes at the Mercer Arts Center…and was impressed. The group combines an unmistakably neopunk sensibility and what-am-I-doing-here humor with a sound that comes out of sixties-mainstream-hip-rock.” (Ellen Willis, Into the Seventies, for Real, December 1972, reprinted in Out of The Vinyl Deeps). “A follower of Todd Rundgren and one-time member of The Flying Machine (along with James ‘Superstar” Taylor), Moogy describes what the quartet produces on two keyboards, drums, and bass as ‘neo-quasi-rock-r’n’b-jazz,’ but ‘New York punk rock’ would get it said quicker and conciser.” (Lynn Van Matre, Chicago Tribune, 7th June 1972). For Roxon’s references to Street Punk, see “this week’s new group — Street Punk” (The Daily News, 1st July 1973), “Here’s who I saw in one night at Max’s — … half of Street Punk…” (The Daily News, 15th July 1973), “The New York Dolls are the best, and their album ‘The New York Dols,’ is the definitively New York sound album. It gets you up and dancing and feeling 14 again. It’s what being young and in New York is all about. After the Dolls come a variety of other groups, ranging from Street Punk, who are young and brash and pushy…” (The Daily News, 5th August 1973).

Although it was often used for artists that are now thought of as punk’s forebears… Lou Reed: “Bowie is now working in new areas, having been studying the art of punk rock poetry from Lou Reed, while effectively developing his own talents in the realm of his lyrical fascination for science fiction.” (Nick Kent, Oz, July 1972, quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology’); “Lou Reed, the veteran master of seedy ‘punk rock,’ provided the crowd with a well-conceived, well executed dose of his unique brand of musical depravity.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, 14th October 1974). The New York Dolls: “‘New York Dolls’ is outrageous, loud and punk.” (The Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Illinois, 17th August 1973); “The Stones can be seen in every punk band from the Shadows of Knight in the sixties to the New York Dolls in the seventies.” (The Tampa Tribune, 10th November 1973); genuine urban popular rock-and-rollers, like the Dolls — who combine the street-punk myth and the equally anti-aristocratic gay-low-life myth without fudging the distinction between the roles they play and who they are” (Ellen Willis, Springsteen: The Wild, The Innocent, and the Street Kid Myth, November 1974, reprinted in Out of The Vinyl Deeps). Flamin’ Groovies: “my girlfriend had seen them about a half-year before that, and said they were a mediocre punk band with a singer who thought he was Mick Jagger, but wasn’t’” (The Rag, April 1971). Black Oak Arkansas: “the magnificent punk raunchiness of Black Oak Arkansas” (The Los Angeles Times, 2nd April 1971); “Black Oak Arkansas have the distinction of being possibly the last punk psychedelic rock group in existence, exhibiting characteristics ranging from early Quicksilver to the legendary 13th Floor Elevators.” (Rolling Stone, 25th May 1972, quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology’). Fleetwood Mac: [about Mystery To Me] “now that all three of the original guitarists are gone, the group sounds like a highly capable punk rock group just starting out. Even so, the songs like ‘Emerald Eyes’ and ‘Miles Away’ are strong.” (Arcadia Tribune, 17th January 1974). Bob Seger: “‘the powerful vocal was charged with echo and energy not unlike a punk’s idea of what Phil Spector should’ve sounded like.” (Dave Marsh, Creem, May 1972). Grand Funk Railroad: ‘the spirit of American punk rock certainly lives on in GFRR.”(Rolling Stone, 6th January 1972, quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology’); “I hate to dismiss this punk-rock album as a punk-rock album, but garbage as pretentious as this is nothing but punk-rock. This LP reeks of commercialism so bad… If you need a laugh — buy it!” (The Post-Crescent, Appleton, Wisconsin, 17th December 1972). Edgar Winter: “a fine exponent of that punk-rock stance… could learn a lot about rock’n’roll interpretation from those veteran punks the MC5” (Charles Shaar Murray, Cream, July 1972). Status Quo: “Status Quo manages to butcher the Doors’ ‘Road House Blues’, which comes off sounding like a boozed-up punk band thrashing away in someone’s garage” (Press and Sun-Bulletin, Binghampton, New York, 17th February 1973); “There are basically two breeds of rock and roll musicians. Some are working class and have exploited their inarticulate but expressive origins to the full with an uncompromising punk-image and sound, like Family, Status Quo and Ian Hunter. (Caroline Coon, Melody Maker 12 July 1975). Black Sabbath and heavy metal: “faceless punkoids like Black Sabbath” (A Brief Survey Of The State Of Metal Music Today, Metal Mike Saunders, Phonograph Record, April 1973). Blue Oyster Cult: “Blue Oyster Cult is an older, more aloof group than the Dolls, and its music is much more late ’60s American than the British-influenced flash that the Dolls like to play. The Cult members do solos; their songs are heavy metal and long; their dress is grubby motorcycle punk; their lyrics are a cross between beat poetry and a Skylab press release.” (Dave Marsh, Various: New York New Wave, Melody Maker, 6 October 1973). AC/DC: “introducing one of the few bands in Australia that deserves the tag of a real street punk band… putcha fists together in ominous slow handclap fashion for AC/DC!” (RAM, 19th April 1975). Family: “There are basically two breeds of rock and roll musicians. Some are working class and have exploited their inarticulate but expressive origins to the full with an uncompromising punk-image and sound, like Family, Status Quo and Ian Hunter.” (Caroline Coon, Melody Maker 12 July 1975). Peter Gabriel: see Ron Ross, Circus, March 1975. Pavlov’s Dog: “best described as orchestrated punk-rock” (Asbury Park Press, 8th July 1975). Aerosmith: “If you just want to boogie, you might try this album by an unadorned new East Coast punk-rock group.” (St Louis Post-Dispatch, 21st March 1973). Springsteen: “Springsteen does it all. He’s a rock ’n’ roll punk, a Latin street poet, a ballet dancer, an actor, a poet joker, a bar band leader, hot-shit rhythm guitar player, extraordinary singer and a truly great rock ’n’ roll composer. He leads a band like he’s been doing it forever.” (Zigzag, August 1974, quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Eytmology’); “nouveau punkism generated its own brand of pretension and dishonesty. At its worst, it became an excuse for blatant male chauvinism and nihilistic trashing of every value and aspiration beyond (male) orgasms and (male) violence. But is has also produced genuine urban popular rock-and-rollers, like the Dolls — who combine the street-punk myth and the equally antiaristocratic gay-low-life myth without fudging the distinction between the roles they play and who they are — and Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen’s rock and roll is rooted equally in lower-middle-class suburbia (he comes from Asbury Park, New Jersey) and in post-sixties youth culture.” (Ellen Willis, Springsteen: The Wild, The Innocent, and the Street Kid Myth, November 1974, reprinted in Out of The Vinyl Deeps); “Bruce Springsteen, on first examination, is a much more plausible candidate for new wave punkhood” (Mick Farren, The Kids Are Not Necessarily Alright, NME, 1 March 1975, quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology). Dr Feelgood: “The origins of Feelgood have been more than well documented, both here and elsewhere. The chat ranges for a while over Wilco’s history of punk guitar freak, poet, schoolteacher, his Hesse-type ramble to India and Nepal and his rediscovery of Brilleaux in an adjacent jug band.” (Mick Farren, New Musical Express, 25 October 1975). Jefferson Starship: [Of The Tubes’ ‘White Punks on Dope’] The title came from reading an interview with a musician who’d worked with Jefferson Starship and, alluding to their druggy habits, had described them as ‘a bunch of white punks on dope’. (Simon Reynolds, Shock and Awe Glam Rock And Its Legacy). Ashton, Gardner and Dyke: Ashton, Gardner and Dyke’s first album might have been the best English punk-rock album of 1970. (Creem, July 1972, quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology’). Frijid Pink: “combine the punk raunch of Detroit with the exquisitely stiff acne bliss of a great teen band like The Shadows of Knight.” (Lester Bangs, Rolling Stone, 25th June 1970, quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology’). Mott The Hoople: [Ian Hunter] “I never asked Bowie why he took such an interest in us, but I was told by numerous sources that his image of us was that of Mott being the only true punk band ever in England” (Nick Kent, Mott The Hoople: Memoirs of a Street Punk, NME, 19th January 1974). Hall and Oates: “With ‘War Babies,’ Daryl Hall and John Oates have diversified… Dominant, though, is their experimentation in heavy metal, paranoid punk rock.” ((Philadelphia Daily News, 11th October 1974). David Essex: “’Rock On’… is big on the charts. And getting bigger… Then he’s into basic English street punk rock, Teddy Boy stuff, on items like ‘Streetfight’ and ‘Lamplight.’… there’s just some plain old nasty, modern rock and roll. Most notable in this category is ‘We’re All Insane,’ definitely one of the album’s high points.” (Cincinnati Enquirer, 19th January 1974). Big Star: “Chilton’s raspy, punk voice” (Rolling Stone, 1st February 1973, quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology’). Yoko Ono: “Getting into the music, ‘I Felt Like Smashing My Face In A Clear Glass Window’ may be the punk rock song of the month. Great music, some great lyrics on the level of the Stooges; a genuine punker.”(Phonograph Record, April 1973, quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology’). Suzi Quattro: “Let me leave you with this as you’re turning the page: Suzi Quatro is, to my knowledge, the world’s only female punk rocker. Meditate on that mantra.” (Charles Shaar Murray, NME, 13 October 1973). 10cc: [Of Lol, from 10cc] “The Punk and I or Two Jews Blues” (Charles Shaar Murray, NME, 15th March 1975). Showaddywaddy, Mud, The Rubettes: “So what of the new crop of punks? There really don’t seem to be too many. Is it possible to look to Showaddywaddy, Mud or the Rubettes for a picture of the new generation? There seems to be little going on there except a revamping of stylistic quirks of the ’50s, which, if these people’s press releases are to be believed, most of them are too young to remember first hand.” (Mick Farren, New Musical Express, 1 March 1975). Manhattan Transfer: “The rock revivalish ‘Guided Missiles’… Paul, the essence of the traditional wethead for most of the show, combed his hair in a ducktail, traded his tuxedo hacket for an undershort and went through a lively series of ‘punk rock’ movement for one of the evening’s visual highlights.” (Los Angeles Times, 22nd March 1975); “inane rhymes of punk rock” (Courtier-Post, Camden, New Jersey, 30th April 1975). The Monkees: “Is there a market these days for a warmed-over collection of early hits by The Monkees? The answer, evidently is yes… The only reason for its existence is the recent surge known as ‘punk-rock’. Simply put, punk-rock consists of those songs of the 1960s most serious rock fans would rather forget… It’s another type of nostalgia.” (Hartford Courant, 3rd February 1973). Dion: “Dion was the original punk. Stand him up next to his contemporary male teen idols — Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Bobby Vee, Brian Hyland, Bobby Rydell, Adam Wade, Paul Anka, Neil Sedaka, Mark Valentino, etc — and the difference is obvious.” (Greg Shaw, Rolling Stone, 29th March 1973, available at https://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/greatest-hits-19730329). Connie Francis: “the song that epitomized the adolescent worst of punk rock in the 1960s, ‘Lipstick on My Collar’.” (Philadelphia Daily News, 16th July 1973).

Bands were soon adopting the term… Don McLean: “There’s not a heck of a lot of music around now that I’m really thrilled over. Patrician rock is going down now. I like punk rock.” (The Morning Herald, 14th February 1973). Brownsville Station: “the group has been together since 1969, and their sound has been described as ‘punk rock,’ which would seem to be derogatory, except that the band has accepted and adopted the label.” (Express and News, San Antonio, 2nd December 1973). Little Feat: “To be blunt, George off-handedly considers Little Feat as ‘just another punk band from L.A.’… George can cite as credentials a heart-stopping two month stint with the Standells, one of the quintessential L.A. punk bands by virtue of ‘Dirty Water’ and ‘Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White’.” (Little Feat: The Valley of The Punks, John Morthland, Creem, September 1975).

For much of the seventies, punk was often interchangeable with glam rock… “Since the first rock musician dabbed the first sequin on his cheekbone and got more attention with it than with his playing, a category had been spawned called glitter-rock and sometimes drag-rock with a subdivision of its own called punk-rock or sometimes raunch-rock.” (Daily News, New York, 7th June 1973). Marc Bolan: “he’s a dainty punk.” (Creem, November 1972, quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology’). David Bowie: “Bowie is now working in new areas, having been studying the art of punk rock poetry from Lou Reed, while effectively developing his own talents in the realm of his lyrical fascination for science fiction.”(Nick Kent, Oz, July 1972, quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology’); [About Bowie’s Pinups] “this set of early 60’s rockers should wake you up. And rock they do. With contagious enthusiasm they whack away at some of the better rock — especially punk rock — of those days, including the Who’s ‘I Can’t Explain’ and ‘Anyway Anyhow Anywhere,’ the Yardbirds’ ‘I Wish I would’ and ‘Shapes of Thing,’ Them’s ‘Here Comes The Night’ and every the Easybeat’s poor-man classic, ‘Friday On My Mind.’” (Press and Sun-Bulletin, Binghampton, New York, 10th November 1973). Slade: “a hype campaign that touted them as the greatest band of the decade… After the build up they had received, one would expect the group to be just a little exciting, even if they were loud and nasty. But the essence of today’s so-called ‘punk-rock’ — a style that began and should have ended with Alice Cooper — is a Dadaistic dare to the listener to accept the decibel as the standard unit of musical quality, with minor-league perversity the only distinguishing feature among bands.” (Tampa Bay Times, 15th October 1973). The Sweet: “The Sweet’s new ‘Desolation Boulevard’ album is as feisty and infectious as anything I’ve heard this year in the punk-rock vein.” (Los Angeles Times, 15th June 1975); “A Spunky Punk-Rock Album From The Sweet” (Los Angeles Times, 17th June 1975). Roxy Music: “Punk rock in space.” (Shakin’ Street Gazette, May 1974). Chinn-Chapman: “Despite their less-than-beloved status in England, Chinn-Chapman have come up with some simply astonishing records that reflect the noisy, punk, teen-age consciousness of early rock as well as anything in the 1970s… The Sweet’s new ‘Desolation Boulevard’ album is as feisty and infectious as anything I’ve heard this year in the punk-rock vein… [Chinn-Chapman] are “tired of the punk-rock wave that they rode to success in England…” (Los Angeles Times, 15th June 1975); “the masters of the English punk-rock sound” (Los Angeles Times, 17th June 1975). The Sensational Alex Harvey Band: “Thous Shalt Have No Other Punk Before Me… ‘Let’s get it straight. All this stuff about televisions, and all this stuff about bein’ a street punk is a load of shit. I don’t see any punks about — and that’s even including Ian Hunter. I don’t see anybody. It’s all dead and buried, and I’m probably the last of ’em. I know what I’m talkin’ about because I’m a street punk. It’s been forced on me, because I never really thought about it before.’” (Charles Shaar Murray, interviewing Alex Harvey, NME, 3rd May 1975).

Indeed, the word was used frequently in the British press… — Bangs reference: “Despite coming on, in Lester Bangs’ words, like ’16 year old punks on a meth power trip’, the MC5’s music, and its attendant ideology, are far more subtle than is first apparent… Lead guitarist Wayne Kramer is wearing a striped Lurex drape jacket that would bring tears to the eyes of any self-respecting Ted, and he looks the total epitome of the nasty little rockanroll punk, hoodlum, revelling in the applause.” (Charles Shaar Murray, Cream March 1972). For Mick Farren uses, see those mentioned for 1950s rock’n’rollers, above. [Of Brenda Lee] “She talks of the ‘kids today’ as if she were several generations removed and acknowledges having lost track of rock ’n’ roll’s punk-junk revolution.” (NME, 6 October 1973). “A parallel could easily be drawn between London’s pub rock and these brash new Manhattan bands and their shameless punk rock, overtones of bisexuality and happy untogetherness.” (Melody Maker, 6 July 1974).

More than anyone else, Alice Cooper… “Alice (the name of the lead singer as well as the group) plays archetypal punk rock–the pimply music the fifties rock and rollers so excelled in, which the Stones brought to fruition in the sixties.” (Grace Lichtenstein, The New York Times, September 24 1972). “Love it to death they and you may not, but at least like Love It to Death a lot will, especially those with an ear for nicely wrought mainstream punk raunch and snidely clever lyrics.” (John Mendelssohn, Rolling Stone, 15 April 1971). “But the essence of today’s so-called ‘punk-rock’ — a style that began and should have ended with Alice Cooper — is a Dadaistic dare to the listener to accept the decibel as the standard unit of musical quality, with minor-league perversity the only distinguishing feature among bands.” (Tampa Bay Times, 15th October 1973). The Reader’s Poll results are quoted in Bernard Gendron’s Between Montmartre and The Mudd Club. “Quite simply, Billion Dollar Babies is the Sgt. Pepper of punkdom.” (Ben Edmonds, Creem, May 1973, quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology’). “Punk rock is dead! Break out the cellos. Oil the flutes. Long live Little Jimmy Osmond. Outisde that mealy-mouthed simp, what’s left? The Guess Who are has-beens, Gary Glitter never was and Slade never will be. As for Alice Cooper, great pretender to the punk rock throne, he snuffed it Saturday night, another victim of gross self-indlugence.” (The Ottawa Journal, Ontario, Canada, 5th March 1973).

Despite its popularity, punk still often betrayed the attitudes of those who used it… For the Huey P. Newton letter, see, for example, The Great Speckled Bird, 31st August 1970. The quote from The Sonics liner notes were from Wayne Davis, quoted by Mark Shipper, included in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology’. Ellen Willis: “nouveau punkism generated its own brand of pretension and dishonesty. At its worst, it became an excuse for blatant male chauvinism and nihilistic trashing of every value and aspiration beyond (male) orgasms and (male) violence.” (Ellen Willis, Springsteen: The Wild, The Innocent, and the Street Kid Myth, The New Yorker, November 1974, included in Out of The Vinyl Deeps). “The term punk is bandied about an awful lot these days. It seems to describe any rock performer who camps it up to any degree, on or off stage, or who displays and arrogance and contempt for his audience.” (Let It Rock, December 1975).

Lester Bangs became sceptical about the term… “I have also influenced a certain miniscule subculture of teenage misfits with rock’n’roll fanaticism and sometimes literary aspirations, who like to think of themselves as “punks”, and from whom I try to completely dissociate myself, because I don’t want to be the king of the punks of the king of the rock critics or any other such thing.” (Epistle to a Young Critic: A Letter from Lester Bangs, February 1975, published at Rock’s Back Pages). The CBGBs story is included in Jim De Rogatis’ Let It Blurt.

In January 1978, on the day of The Sex Pistols’ final concert… The Sex Pistols interview is widely available, for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTzGNIYeowk.

The word had dogged The Sex Pistols… “A quartet of spiky teenage misfits from the wrong end of various London roads, playing 60’s styled white punk rock as unselfconsciously as it’s possible to play it these days i.e. self-consciously. Punks? Springsteen Bruce and the rest of ’em would get shredded if they went up against these boys… I’m told the Pistols repertoire includes lesser known Dave Berry and Small Faces numbers (check out early Kinks’ b sides leads), besides an Iggy and the Stooges item and several self-penned numbers like the moronic ‘I’m Pretty Vacant’…” (NME, 21st February 1976). “The material a mixture of Anglo-American teen/punk classics” (Time Out, 7th May 1976, quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology’). “A youthful contemporary quartet play the street avant-garde music of the Sixties in its properly repressed Seventies setting. The Sex Pistols. Plenty of ripe s’s in the name, the surging s rock very much inbred into the Pistols’ controlled chaotic punk muzak.” (Paul Morley, Out There, summer 1976, quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology’). “Rotten has Tom Verlaine’s charismatic intensity, though without the avant-garde pretentions that put me off in so much of the New York scene. Their sound is a straight blast of tortured punk rock.” (Greg Shaw, Phonograph Record, June 1976).

In America, the word had been attached to something recognisable… Trixie A. Balm’s review was included in Nicholas Rombes’ A Cultural Dictionary of Punk. The Caroline Coon article was in Melody Maker on 7th August 1976, and can be read here: http://1001-songs.blogspot.com/2016/08/40-year-itch-fourth-generation-of.html. “The punk is one of the oldest and most honoured figures in rock’n roll. He dates from the mid ‘Fifties, when Elvis Presley and James Dean first popularized the image of the sullen but vulnerable leather-jacket tough guy, and had been part of the rock scene ever since.”(“The Time-Honoured Punk Syndrome”, The Washington Post, 9th May 1976, quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology’). “Time was when punk was a rotten word. Being a punk stunk. It still is no high-class label but the idea of the punk has entered the world of faddism, and adopted look and attitude whose major artistic outlet is in what had been nicknamed punk-rock.” The Greg Shaw quote is from the same article. (The Daily News, 19th September 1976). “What is punk rock and why is everybody talking about it? Recently, nearly every young band that doesn’t perform in a 3,000-seat hall or hasn’t made a multi-thousand-dollar record deal with a major company has been lumped into this category, and the record needs straightening. If there is such a thing as punk rock — and most insiders consider it a term invented by the press — it’s basic rock and roll music.” (Lisa Robinson’s Rock Talk, in many newspapers, including Lebanon Daily News, 3rd November 1976). The Trixie A. Balm picture is from https://laurenagnelli.blogspot.com/2012/01/1-25-12-survival-jobs-for-writer.html.

Some of this “revival” was due to Punk magazine… See the article by John Holmstrom here: http://punkmagazine.com/stuff/morestuff/listening_party7.html, and his quotes in Clinton Heylin’s From The Velvets To The Voidoids, and Jon Savage’s England’s Dreaming.

For his part, McNeil saw the choice of word as important… See McNeil and McCain’s Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, Savage’s England’s Dreaming and the interview with McNeil at http://gloriousnoise.com/2002/please_kill_me_interview_with.

It still wasn’t a word that many were comfortable with… Ingham: “I was hoping to avoid the bloody word at all, but since Sounds has so adamantly advertised this shebang as Punk Rock Special, I guess there’s no avoiding it… For a start it’s (rock) historically inaccurate. Punk rock as a genre in the mid-sixties… has no relation with the viciously original music of The Sex Pistols or The Clash or The Damned… John Rotten half-seriously favours ‘anarchy rock’. Paul Morley in his Out There fanzine wants “s” rock. That’s “s” as in “surge”. … Siouxie from the Banshees reckoned it should have been “(?) rock”. (‘Welcome to the ? Rock Special’, 9th October 1976, quoted in Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology’). The Mick Jones quote was in De Rogatis’ Let It Blurt. “The Ramones, for instance, are held up by Punk magazine and other authorities as the leading punk-rock band of today, but the group is reluctant to o along with it. ‘We never called ourselves punk-rock,’ said Tommy, the smallest of the lot and the most voluble spokesperson… the Dictators are punk-rock for sure, but the Dictators aren’t ready to agree. Leader Richard (Handsome Dick) Manitoba said, ‘sometimes I say to myself, “what is punk rock?” I don’t know what it is.’” (Daily News, New York, 19th September 1976).

In jail, Wayne Kramer of The MC5… The Wayne Kramer story was included in McNeill and McCain’s Please Kill Me. The New York Rocker quotes were included in Gendron’s Between Montmartre and The Mudd Club. The Leogrande quotes are from The Daily News, New York, 19th September 1976.

The Punks — Rotten and Proud of It!… The Evening Standard story was from 2nd December 1976.

Punk was freshly ubiquitous… The Shaw quote was included in Gendron’s Between Montmartre and The Mudd Club. The Savage quote was in Sounds, 26th November 1977, reprinted in Savage’s Time Travel. ““Punk is sweeping the country… ‘punk rock’ it is called — or snarled… First, to etymology, slanguist Eric Partridge speculates that punk is hobo lingo to describe very stale bread, perhaps from the French pain. Punk, applied to a person, began as a slang term for a catamite, or boy kept by a pederast, and later was extended to cover young hoodlums. In both substance and person, the word ‘punk’ has always been used perjoratively and usually carried the dual connotations of youth and degeneracy… the brief and meteoric emergence of punk is rooted in a satiric reminder of the potential for brutality that lurks in every one of us.” (William Safire, New York Times, republished in other papers, for example, Star Tribune, Minneapolis, 1st July 1977). The Marsh quote about “American folklore” comes from Rolling Stone, and can be read here: http://www.nosuchthingaswas.com/2017/07/dave-marsh-on-punk.html. [Punk] “no longer describes style, much less music. It has become a marketing device, an excuse for decadence, often with a macho bent.” (Marsh, quoted in Gendron’s Between Montmartre and The Mudd Club.) Ellen Willis: “I was sceptical about punk, in both its British and American versions….a certain déjà vu quality; wasn’t all that happening five years ago? When I first heard ‘God Save The Queen’ on the radio, my main reaction had been, ‘They sound like Mott the Hoople — what’s the big deal?’… I was also put off by the heavy overlay of misogyny in the punk stance.” (Beginning To See The Light, Village Voice, 1977, included in Out of The Vinyl Deeps). The Bags quote is from his story on The Clash, NME, 10th December 1977.

Otto Wise was long dead then… For Otto Wise’s death: Oregon Family Journal, 23rd January 1919; New York Herald, 3rd February 1919; San Francisco Chronicle, 26th January 1919.

Ernest “Whistle Punk” Nelson had moved to San Francisco… For Eugene Nelson: Capital Journal, Salem, 5th January 1940; Ukiah Daily Journal, 23rd July 1942.His obituary was in the Union-Democrat, Sonora, California, 28th May 2003 (available at https://www.uniondemocrat.com/csp/mediapool/sites/UnionDemocrat/Obituaries/story.csp?cid=3704165&sid=763&fid=151).

Recommended reading: the best history of the word “punk” that I have read is Jon Savage’s ‘Punk Etymology,’ published in Cabut and Gallix’s Punk Is Dead: Modernity Killed Every Night, a long list of references to punk, where I first came across some of those from the 1970s music press that I mention. Nicholas Rombes’ A Cultural Dictionary of Punk and Bernard Gendron’s Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club: Popular Music and the Avant-Garde also had 1970s references that were new to me. The archives at Independent Voices, Rock’s Back Pages and Newspapers.com were invaluable. I also relied on the anthologies of some of the writers I mention: the two collections of Bangs’ journalism, Psychotic Reaction and Carburetor Dung (edited by Greil Marcus) and Mainlines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste (edited by John Morthland), Ellen Willis’ Out of The Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music (edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz), Robert Milliken’s Lillian Roxon: Mother of Rock, which includes a collection of some of Roxon’s writing, Jon Savage’s Time Travel, and Nick Kent’s The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music. More broadly: Jon Savage’s England’s Dreaming: The Sex Pistols and Punk Rock, Clinton Heylin’s From The Velvets and The Voidoids: The Birth of American Punk Rock, Greil Marcus’ Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century, John Robb’s Punk: An Oral History, Legs McNeill and Gillian Mccain’s Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, Matthew Worley’s No Future: Punk, Politics and British Youth Culture 1976–1984, Mick Farren’s Give The Anarchist A Cigarette, John Lydon’s Anger Is An Energy: My Life Uncensored, Viv Albertine’s Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys, Simon Reynolds’ Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, Bob Stanley’s Yeah, Yeah, Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop, Jim De Rogatis’ Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, Robert Houghton’s My High School Days With Lester Bangs: A Memoir, Ed Sanders’ Fug You: An Informal History of the Peace Eye Bookstore, the Fuck You Press, the Fugs, and Counterculture in the Lower East Side, Dave Laing’s One Chord Wonders: Powers and Meaning in Punk Rock, and Nick Kent’s Apathy For The Devil: A 1970s Memoir.



J.P. Robinson

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