If you were around in the 1970s, you might. Like most genres of music, punk has no definite beginning, but it can be said properly to have been launched on the world at the beginning of December 1976. The Sex Pistols were formed in 1975, but although they were signed by EMI in October 1976, it was the evening of December 1 that sealed their infamy when they appeared live on the Independent Television Today programme, a regional news round up for London.
Presenter Bill Grundy, who was obviously drunk, missed the first expletive, but when Johnny Rotten uttered another one, Grundy asked him to repeat it. There was no way back from that. And no way back for Grundy, either; although he wasn’t sacked, his career had peaked. He died in 1993 aged 69.
The news stories for December 2 were predictably ferocious; the mock outrage was best summed up by the Daily Mirror headline THE FILTH AND THE FURY! The fury was from enraged viewers who were said to have jammed the phone lines. That headline became iconic, being made into a t-shirt, a shopping bag, and even a mug.
The world had of course seen angry teenagers before; there were mods and rockers in the 60s, the post-war Teddy Boys, and even as far back as the Fourth Century BC, the Greek philosopher Socrates made a famous pronouncement on the young in which he said they were the tyrants of their households who tyrannised their teachers.
There was though something unique about punk rock, none more so than the bands which emerged in London and the Home Counties. The music was loud, in your face, and the culture that went with it stuck up two fingers to the entire world. The first Sex Pistols album was not released until October 28, 1977, and in spite of widespread boycotts and bans, it topped the UK chart. It was all downhill from there, while in the United States, punk was if not respectable then nowhere near as outrageous. But punk has secured its place in history.
Another punk band formed in London was The Damned. With the de rigueur line-up changes they are still around. Their alluringly named drummer Rat Scabies quit the band in 1995, and is now if not retired then not very active. A father of three, he released a solo album two years ago, and you can call him Christopher Millar, that’s him above pictured with his daughter. You can also, if you are so inclined, stream his remix of the 1981 Lord Of The Hornets, a song by Robert Calvert of Hawkwind. Calvert died in 1988 at the young age of 43, but the music of space rockers Hawkwind has likewise stood the test of time.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.