Punk rock is a genre of music that first appeared at the end of the sixties; and isessentially rock and roll stripped down to its barest, most elemental form. Punkexperienced most of it s recognition in the seventies; but has since evolved, and continuesto have a strong influence on music of today. Although it entails a different genre thanrock and roll, punk shares many similarities with its predecessor, both in music andideology. The progression of punk music over the decades can be seen as an evolution ofthe rock and roll genre. Musically, punk rock has always followed a fairly predictable, simple formula. Thepunk formula involves a fast tempo, with loud guitars, involving distortion and feedback. Punk is rather reminiscent of fifties rock and roll, [with it s] straight, continuous sound,and four-beat drumming (Brown 171). Lyrically, punk artists have never been overlyconcerned with rhyming, symbolism, or imagery; rather the purpose of lyrics in punkmusic has been to convey an attitude in the simplest, most honest way possible. Thusmelody has never been prominent in punk music; as it is usually sacrificed in favor ofvolume. Early punk music was in some respects an evolved form of rock, but was not astyle that required much musical talent to play. Given the relatively low amount of talent required to produce punk music, onemight wonder why it ever survived as a genre. The main factor that made punk so popularis the same factor that spawned punk as a form of rock and roll: attitude. Rock & Rollis an attitude, and if you ve got the attitude you can do it, no matter what anybodysays (Heylin xv). Punk rock is the real world application of this statement. The punkrock attitude is one of anger and disdain towards society. The music is simply an avenuewith which punk musicians could make their statement about society. Suchanti-establishment statements could be seen in rock music long before punk; Jimi Hendrixexemplified this every time he smashed or burned one of his guitars. The differencebetween an artist, such as Hendrix smashing his instrument, and punk, is that such astatement was only one aspect of Hendrix s diverse style (as well as the fact that he wasinfinitely more talented than punk musicians) where it was the sole aspect of punk. Beforethe emergence of punk rock as a genre, attitude was often present in rock, but neverprevalent. While the essence of punk rock to express an attitude, it s purpose is to shock and
scare people while doing so. Few were more successful at shocking people than the SexPistols; who formed in Britain in late 1975 (DeCurtis and Henke 595). Merely thenames of the Pistols two frontmen: Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious, were enough toachieve their goal of shock value. In shocking and scaring people, punk rock became thebutt of much hatred from the people that it strove to shock. Like it s predecessor of rockand roll, in it s early days, punk drew the scorn of society (Brown 171); which was thereason it was so successful. Punk became the rebellious art form it sought to be; and indoing so drew a following of similar minded people. Among younger audiences, teenswould advocate punk music, simply because their parents loathed it. By shocking andscaring people, punk like rock before it, earned success as a form of rebellion. With it s shock mentality and its rebellious attitude, punk rock has since evolved,and spawned new sub-genres of music. The genre of grunge music that emerged in theearly nineties, owes much of its success to punk music of the seventies (DeCurtis andHenke 673). Many of the musical elements and attitudes found in grunge are merereincarnations of those featured by their punk predecessor. Modern day artists such asMadonna, and Marilyn Manson have made careers using the shock value tactics that wereoriginated by the likes of Iggy Pop, and David Bowie. Bands that are considered punkbands today, such as Bad Religion, and Social Distortion, have retained musical elementsof punk; but more importantly are listened to mostly by skaters, as part of a counterculture movement. Since it s heyday in the seventies, the influence of the punk genre hasbeen prevalent throughout the evolution of rock music. With its attitude, and certain musical elements, punk rock is an evolution of rockand roll music. It is difficult to put a label on what exactly rock and roll is; but it can beviewed as a culmination of many similar styles over the years, dating back to its origin ofthe blues. Punk is simply another chapter in the evolution of the rock genre, which in turnhas influenced other musical genres. It remains to be seen how the rock and roll genre willfurther evolve; but punk rock is certain to figure somewhere in that evolution.
DeCurtis, Anthony and Henke, James, The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock andRoll. Random House Publishing Inc., 1980 New York. Brown, Charles T., The Rock and Roll Story. Prentice Hall, Inc., 1983 New Jersey Heylin, Clinton, The Penguin Book of Rock and Roll Writing. Penguin Books Ltd.,1992New York