Punk rock, or simply punk, emerged in the mid-1970 as a youth rebellion versus politics and establishment. This is fast and loud music with lyrics full of rage against the regime, combined with a specific clothing style such as offensive T-shirts, safety pins, and timeless leather jackets. Because of that, in the beginning, punk bands were banned. No record company wanted to produce their albums, so they often had to do it by themselves. Later, at the end of 1970, punk spread worldwide and became popular among rebellious youth, and their powerful words got a new meaning. So without further ado, let's start with our top ten list of best punk rock bands.
10. Minor Threat
Minor Threat is a Washington DC hardcore band from 1980, formed by Ian MacKaye (vocals), Jeff Nelson (drums), Brian Baker (bass and later second guitar), Lyle Preslar (guitar), and Steve Hansgen (bass) who joined the band in 1982. Although active only till 1983, the band had a major influence on the punk scene of 1980 and 1990.
During the active years, they released three albums and one after they split up. Their song "Straight Edge" was an inspiration for the anti-hippie movement and straight-edge punk subculture, so basically no drugs, no alcohol, and no nicotine.
Buzzcocks was formed in Bolton, the UK, by songwriter, singer, and guitarist Pete Shelley and singer and songwriter Howard Devoto back in 1976. Although they had a short falling out from 1981 till 1989, and a few band members changes, Buzzcocks are still on the scene. Unfortunately, multitalented Pete Shelly died in 2018.
According to many critics and fans, Buzzcocks' greatest hit is "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)" from 1978. Their music influenced punk rock, pop-punk, and power pop and inspired many bands to come.
8. New York Dolls
Obviously, this band formed in New York City, and they were a hard rock band playing punk before the punk. They played for five years, from 1971 till 1976, and then again from 2004 till 2011. The original members were David Johansen (vocal), Johnny Thunders (guitar), Arthur Kane (bass), Sylvain Sylvain (guitar and piano), and Jerry Nolan (drums). Still, over the years, the lineup changed a lot.
Although the band recorded only two albums back in the 1970s, they greatly influenced several music movements. In the beginning, the band performed wearing spandex and platform boots, while makeup was a regular routine for them. The best from New York Dolls are the hits such as "Personality Crisis," "End of Summer," "Trash," "Gimme Love and Turn On the Light," and many more.
7. Black Flag
Black Flag is recognized as the first hardcore punk band and was formed in 1976 in California by Greg Ginn, guitarist, and songwriter. They played from 1976 till 1986, and after that, they reunited more than a couple of times.
Their music was fast, loud, and full of rebellion, with sharp lyrics against the regime. This brought them the attention of the police, as their shows were always closely monitored. Their greatest hits include "Rise Above," "My War," "Nothing Left Inside," "Slip it In," and many more.
6. Iggy and the Stooges
Well, this is a bit controversial because Iggy Pop and the Stooges were a rock band whose performances categorize them as a punk rock band way before the genre existed! This band from Ann Arbor, Michigan, formed in 1967, had a loud and aggressive performance.
That's mostly thanks to the outrageous stage behavior by Iggy Pop caused by his drug abuse. Basically, they were a chaotic band who originally played from 1967 till 1971, before reuniting a couple of times. Their best hits surely are "I Wanna Be Your Dog," "1969," "No Fun," and many more.
5. Sex Pistols
The band was formed back in 1975 in London, the UK, but they existed for only two and a half years before reuniting much later. During that time, they left a legacy that influenced many excellent bands to come. The Sex Pistols members were Johnny Rotten (lead singer), Steve Jones (guitar), Paul Cook (drums), and Glen Matlock (bass guitar), who was replaced by Sid Vicious.
They were a controversial band, banned by BBC at one moment, due to their open revolt toward the Queen and the monarchy. Some critics even commented that the main goal of their loud music and performances was to create chaos. However, they remain one of the greatest punk rock bands in history, as their hits such as "God Save The Queen," "Anarchy in the UK," "Pretty Vacant," and many more, are still among the greatest songs ever.
Misfits is an American punk rock band formed in 1977 in New Jersey by Jerry Only, Manny Martinez, and Glen Danzig, later joined by Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein (Jerry Only's young brother). Misfits changed band members over the years, leaving Jerry Only as the only (no pun intended) constant band member. The Misfits disbanded in 1983, only to be reunited in 1995.
Their performances and songs have influenced many, and their style has been called horror punk. That's not a surprise, as they've found inspiration in horror and science fiction movies. Many of their songs, such as "Die, Die My Darling," "Green Hell," and "Attitude," remain popular today. Still, these might be more familiar to you when performed by Metallica and Guns n' Roses.
3. Dead Kennedys
Controversial as their name, Dead Kennedys are San Francisco's punk rock band formed in 1978. During the first eight years of existence (before a reunion in 2001), they have gained the fans' respect with excellent performances and provocative lyrics against politics and regime. The band has been formed by East Bay Ray (guitar), Jello Biafra (vocal), Klaus Flouride (bass), 6025 (rhythm guitar), and Ted (drums).
However, their lineup changed over the years, leaving East Bay Ray and Klaus Flouride as the only permanent members. Their greatest hits are "California Uber Alles," "Too Drunk to Fuck," and "Pull My Strings," among others.
The Ramones influenced many to come with their straightforward loud, and fast music. Formed back in 1974 in Queens, New York, they are often called the first punk rock band. They have existed for 22 years nonstop and played at more than 2000 concerts, as we can all agree that's a lot. Their name was inspired by Beatles' Paul McCartney pseudonym Paul Ramon, so all the members used Ramones as their last name.
The band originally had four members - Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, and Tommy Ramone. Although all of them have deceased, their greatest hits such as "I Wanna Be Sedated," "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker," "Beat on the Brat," "Pet Sematary," and many more are the basis of all young punk rebels out there.
1. The Clash
This influential punk rock band was formed in London, the UK, in 1976. The Clash makes most of their records with Joe Strummer (vocal and rhythm guitar), Mick Jones (vocal and guitar), Paul Simonon (bass guitar), and Nicky "Topper" Headon (drums). During the time, the members changed until disbanding in 1986, leaving the legacy of influencing many great bands such as Rage Against, Public Enemy, Bad Religion, Green Day, and many more.
The Clash's album "London Calling" from 1979 has been often called one of the most influential albums ever. Their greatest hits such as "London Calling," "I Fought the Law," "White Riot," "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" and many more are still relevant.
In the end, all we can say is if you are not into punk music, maybe you should give it a chance after checking out our top ten! Oh yeah, one more thing to remember, as the Exploited song says, "Punk's Not Dead"!
Do you like punk music? What is your favorite punk rock band? Please write to us in the comment section, as we would like to hear your opinion.
Cover photo: josunshine /pixabay.com
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