American Punk & British Punk: How The Sex Pistols & Iggy Pop Transformed The Genre

Share on

sex pistols

It’s been 40 years since the beginnings of “Anarchy In The UK” and ground zero for the modern punk evolution. Fast forward one more year to the release of Never Mind The Bollocks, the one and only official Sex Pistols album.

The short lived Pistols were hugely influential in shaping music moving forward from 1977 and their influence can still be felt today.

Its effect on music and graphic design has been immeasurable as has the Pistols’ wider impact on the music industry, fashion, politics, art, image film and much more.

Never before have a dozen rock songs on two sides of vinyl caused such a seismic eruption around the world… and never has the same effect been replicated.

Propelled by John Lydon’s fierce intelligence and intuitive gift for causing maximum offence, the Pistols dared to dream of new England in the dark days of the mid-‘70s, but their rebellion would have meant nothing unless they had the remarkable songs on Bollocks to back them up.

Originally released on Friday October 28th, 1977 in the UK, Boots, Woolworth’s and WH Smith banned the album–but it didn’t matter, the pre-release orders are so big it immediately charted at #1.

By the time Bollocks released, The Clash’s debut is over six months old and The Jam, The Damned and Stranglers are already recording their second albums.

The ‘do it yourself’ ethic spawned hundreds if not thousands of bands. But beyond social unrest, high unemployment and a ‘no future’ attitude, the music had to come from somewhere.

Drop back to 1969, The Stooges from Detroit, Michigan, featuring vocalist Iggy Stooge, signed to Elektra and hooked up with John Cale (ex of the Velvet Underground) to produce their self-titled debut.

The Stooges were actually an afterthought, but for all the right reasons, they became pioneers in the history of punk. The A&R man at Elektra went to the Motor City to sign the MC5 but was so impressed with the Stooges live performance that he took a chance and signed them too.

With only three songs to record originally, they holed up in a hotel room with an ultimatum to write an albums worth in two days.. unheard of by today’s standards!

We were introduced to what became future iconic standards such as ‘1969’:

“It’s 1969 ok / All across the U.S.A. / Well it’s another year for me and you / Another year with nuthin’ to do”

‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ and ‘No Fun’ later to be recorded by The Pistols as the b-side to ‘Pretty Vacant’ released in July of 1977. They made it even tougher than the original version. The self titled Stooges released in 1969 album helped lay the groundwork for the future punk movement.

Fast forward eight years to 1977, and Iggy had transformed from Stooge to Pop and had dropped out of sight in a big way: burned bridges and dealt with some major personal issues but was itching to get back in the spotlight and when no one else wanted to take a chance, David Bowie came to the rescue.

Bowie had worked with Pop on ‘Raw Power’ in 1974 and pulled a new band together for Iggy. He also brought him to Berlin where they recorded arguably two of the best albums of his career, ‘The Idiot’ and ‘Lust For Life’, released in the same year. Gone were the raunchy guitars and in came a more melodic feel that still felt close to his punk roots.

Pop toured that year and a humble David Bowie played keyboards in his band! The punks loved Iggy for what he started but in ’77 he took it up a notch.

In 2016, Iggy made one of his best albums in many years with the release of ‘Post Pop Depression’ and now a live document CD/DVD from the Post Pop Depression: Live at The Royal Albert Hall which also covers some of the essentials from that 1977 era.

“When I Made Lust For Life, I really thought America was gonna rock to this motherfucker” – Iggy Pop, 1999

Shop Iggy Pop essentials in the Musicvaultz store:

More for you

Want 15% OFF everything
in the MusicVaultz shop?

Join our mailing list for exclusive
deals, contests, and more!