Music HistoryRecommended Reading

Excerpt from a New Book called New York Rock: How Punk Was Born

If you haven’t read Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Leggs McNeil and Gillian McGain, put it on your reading list immediately. Then add New York Punk: From the Rise of the Velvet Underground to the Fall of CBGB, which has just been published by Steve Blush. It’s similar to Please Kill Me but with more memories from an often different cast of characters.


Cuepoint published this excerpt.

TOMMY WYNBRANDT (The Miamis): New York was in bad shape. No one had money. Streets were dirty, subway cars were covered in graffiti, and one going-out-of-business sign after another plastered storefronts. Muggings were everyday occurrences. People sold ratty belongings on the street. It was like an endless loop of Kojak. (2011)

SONNY VINCENT (The Testors): The city was rough: gangs roaming, junkies everywhere. Forty-Second Street was worse than movies portray. The city was in default, the middle class had moved out. Graffiti everywhere, garbage, violence, drug deals on the street. You name it. But it was ours. There was a flourishing music and art scene and cheap rents. (2011)

“Punk” was a negative term picked up from prison slang (for homosexuals), and before that from Shakespeare (describing a trollop as a “taffety punk” in All’s Well That Ends Well). In the 50s, “punk” defined a belligerent twerp. Rock critic Lester Bangs used “punk” to describe Iggy Pop’s Stooges, and Alan Vega adopted the tag to promote his band Suicide. Punk Magazine plastered posters downtown in 1975 proclaiming, “Punk is Coming!” And people began calling the new acts punk rock.

Keep reading. I’ve already ordered the book.

On a related note, here’s an article on the 10 most legendary gigs held at CBGB.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38519 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.