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Punk broke rock's rules

In 1977, a new form of underground music emerged from Canadian basements and garages. Journalists called it punk rock. It was kids with boot polish in their hair, playing out-of-tune guitars and questioning anything established — parents, government, The Beatles. Decades later, critics praised the once-criticized scene for starting a tradition of do-it-yourself indie rebel music.

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In the late 1970s, kids realized the happy flower child world their parents raised them in was a sham. Plagued with unemployment and disappointment, they turned to musical nihilism. Hippie-hating youths picked up instruments and just started playing noisy songs that annoyed their parents. Looking back, American rock critic Greil Marcus says punk bands were out to break the rules of rock 'n' roll. They began a new underground scene free from record company demands.

In this respect, punk proved it was possible to rise against rock's conventions. The Clash's Joe Strummer proves the movement still has resonance - he lives off album royalties from records like London Calling, which even in its heyday never sold more than 300,000 copies.
. In 2001 critics celebrated punk rock with articles recognizing its 25th anniversary. The retrospectives identified the Ramones and the Sex Pistols - who both started playing gigs in 1975 and signed record deals a year later - as the forefathers of underground punk rock.
. Also that year, John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten) won the Inspiration Award at Britain's Q Awards.

. In 2002 the Ramones became Rock + Roll Hall of Fame inductees.
. Spinner.com, a Web site that plays songs grouped by genre, features a "Classic Punk" section.
Medium: Radio
Program: Prime Time
Broadcast Date: Jan. 13, 1992
Guest(s): Greil Marcus
Host: Geoff Pevere
Duration: 5:59

Last updated: January 16, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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