Rock Music Genres – Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Fifties.

Rock Music Genres – Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Fifties.

Singer Elvis Presley performing on stage in Hollywood, California. June 22, 1956 Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA

Elvis mNGJ9uzqK8ZUXPtjaCylfKQ Elvis sun-studio

Rock ‘n’ Roll emerged as Rockabilly in the mid fifties. In some ways the advent of Rockabilly was the story of Elvis Presley but in reality he was the catalyst and catapult that sent the style stratospheric. The sound had been bubbling around for a few years just waiting for the right person and the right moment. Elvis hit the spot and brought it together. It probably would have coalesced without him but it wouldn’t have been the same.

Rockabilly was the merging of two quite separate styles – black R&B and white C&W. The imposed segregation of the southern States had created a separation of the musicians and styles. Both had developed in their own way to fulfil a need. Following the Second World War there was a change in mood. The country wanted good-time dance music. They’d had it during the war with the Swing Bands. The dance-halls had resounded to the bid-band style as the young people jitter-bugged and lindy-hopped. The black youth seemed particularly adept and the black GIs had certainly impressed the British girls during the war.

As with so many things there was a convergence from many different directions. Elvis happened to emerge as the focus.

There is much conjecture as to the first authentic Rock ‘n’ Roll recording. The fact is that there probably wasn’t one. The term ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ had been in use since the thirties in black slang where it was a euphuism for sex. It was used in a number of Black R&B records in the forties. Rockin’ was also used to denote something was really jumping.

The musical elements of Rock ‘n’ Roll were also coming together in a number of different styles simultaneously. As early as 1946 Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup had recorded ‘That’s Alright’ and ‘So Glad You’re Mine’ as up-tempo electric Blues and Bill Monroe recorded his bluegrass version of ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’. Louis Jordan was developing his electric Jump Blues band style with dance numbers like ‘Let the Good Times Roll’ in 1946 and the ‘Saturday Night at the Fish Fry’, with its chorus of ‘It was Rockin” in 1949. In 1947 Amos Milburn recorded ‘Down the Road Apiece’ and the following year ‘Chicken Shack Boogie’. Hank Williams, with his Honky-Tonk style, recorded ‘Move it on Over’ as early as 1947. The Jump-Blues experts had really begun to put the components together by 1947 when Roy Brown wrote and recorded ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’. This was covered by Wynonie Harris who also recorded numbers like ‘All She Want To Do is Rock’ in 1949 in the new up-tempo Rock style. This was joined by Goree Carter who released ‘Rock Awhile’ and Jimmy Preston ‘Rock the Joint’. Before the fifties had even begun there was a whole plethora of ‘Rock’ songs coming from Boogie Woogie, Bluegrass, Honky Tonk, Blues and Jump Blues. But the earliest contender of all may well be Sister Rosetta Tharpe, with her electric guitar and the Gospel song ‘Rock me’ incredibly recorded in 1942!

The scene was set for the fifties with segregated audiences, radio stations and ‘Race’ records. It was ripe for a coming together.

Young white audiences were getting hip to the great sounds coming out of the black radio stations. They were digging the Jump Blues, Doo-Wop and Boogie Woogie they were hearing. Black kids and musicians were also tuning in to the white Country stations and liking what they were hearing. It only goes to show that you may segregate the bodies but you can’t segregate the minds.

In the fifties the Blues had electrified and taken on a heavy beat with Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James and co. In Louisiana the R&B sound had come together with Fats Domino and Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry. In 1950 Fats Domino released ‘The Fat Man’. Hank Williams and Bob Wills were producing up-tempo Country Music.

In 1951 Jackie Brenston, with the Ike Turner Band, released what some say is the first Rock ‘n’ Roll record with ‘Rocket 88’. In 1954 Joe Turner released ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’. You could even make the case for Bill Haley being the first white Rock ‘n’ Roller. He released Rock songs like ‘Rocket 88’, ‘Rock the Joint’ and ‘Rockin’ Chair on the Moon’ in 1951 and 52.

The ingredients were all there. The audience was eager. The times were right. The kids were looking for excitement, something different to their parents. Even the films were reflecting the age of rebellion with James Dean and Marlon Brando. The TNT had been put together all that was needed was the match.

That’s where Elvis came in.

In 1953 he walked into Sun studios in Memphis and made a demo. That young Elvis had been exposed to it all and had absorbed it like a sponge. He was full to bursting. In 1954 Sam Philips put him with two trusted musicians in Scotty Moore on guitar and Bill Black on Bass. The result was a series of searing tracks that created Rockabilly. The trio had no drums but created a driving, fast sound that drew on the R&B and C&W songs that Elvis was familiar with. He breathed a life into them that transformed them into something more. ‘That’s Alright, Mama’, ‘So Glad You’re Mine’, ‘You’re a Heartbreaker’, ‘Shake Rattle & Roll’, ‘I forgot to Remember to Forget her’, ‘Let’s Play House’, ‘Hound-dog’, ‘Mystery Train,’ ‘I forgot to Remember to Forget’, ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’, ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’, ‘Milkcow Blues’ and ‘I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone’ formed the basis of his live act and most were recorded for Sun. They were joined with some crooning ballads like ‘I Love You Because’ and the legend was off the ground.

Elvis was not only a great singer but also a brilliant performer. Elvis had the style that fashioned a revolution with his greased back long hair, long sideburns, duck-tail, contrasting bright jackets, shirts and ties, tight trousers, and smouldering looks – he had animal magic and charisma. He was incredibly good looking and moved his body sensuously in a way that nobody had seen. It was a mixture of dancing, posing, acting and raw sex with the fluidity of a large cat. It drove the girls crazy. He was called ‘Elvis the Pelvis’ because of his sexual gyrations. He also drove the parents and establishment into paroxysms of shock. Elvis was bringing the sexual vulgarity of black R&B into the white sitting room. The effect on their daughters was all too obvious. They were appalled. He was promptly banned.

However, the genie couldn’t be put back in the bottle. There was too much money to be made.

Every record label in the land was hunting for its own Elvis and the doors were even opened for the Black Performers.

From Sun Studios we got Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Billy Lee Riley, Sonny Burgess and Johnny Cash. From Chess in Chicago we had Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. From New Orleans Fats Domino and Little Richard. From Texas Buddy Holly. Then there was Eddie Cochran, Ray Charles, Gene Vincent, The Everly Brothers, Wanda Jackson, and Dale Hawkins. It was like they all emerged ready-made. They exploded into the charts and a new age was born.

Allan Freed coined the term ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll on his ‘Moondog – Rock ‘n’ Roll’ Show. He championed R&B, Doo-Wop and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Was among the first to play it and organised the first Rock ‘n’ Roll concerts.

Elvis moved from Sun to RCA and took Colonel Tom Parker as his manager. For a couple of years we had the new Rock ‘n’ Roll complete with drums. The trio was ditched, the Jordinaires were used as vocal backing and then Elvis was eased over into a series of mediocre films and conscripted into the army. He had his hair and sideburns shaved and Lennon remarked that they cut his balls off with it.

By 1960 Rock ‘n’ Roll was through. The establishment had been horrified and quick to act. They thought it had a bad effect on the morality of youth and created delinquents. The authorities effectively shut it down using the ‘Payola’ scandal as an excuse. Radios were no longer allowed to play it. The TV stations moved over to the new ‘clean-cut’ boy next door, nicely presented in suits with trimmed hair Philadelphia Pop-Rock of Fabian, Bobby Vee, Bobby Darin and Bobby Rydell.

Chuck Berry was in prison. Elvis was in the army. Little Richard had discovered religion. Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran were dead. Gene Vincent was badly injured. Jerry Lee Lewis was banned and ostracised because of his marriage to his thirteen year old cousin. Fats Domino had his records covered on the day of release by the clean-cut Pat Boone.

The energy and revolution petered out. Rock ‘n’ Roll was dead.

I visited Memphis and went to Sun Studios. It hadn’t changed. The ceiling was still up and down. They still had the old microphones. I stood on the very spot where Elvis had recorded ‘That’s Alright Mama’, all those years before. You could sense the energy and history.

It was incredibly nostalgic. My greatest regret is that Elvis didn’t have the self-confidence to reject Colonel Parker and the money, to turn his back on the films, and to stand up as a real angry James Dean rebel and stay with his music and his original trio. He rolled over. He watered his music down, tamed his act and became a parody of himself. He should have stayed true.

I wonder if Rock would have died?


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Irma Thomas in New Orleans!

It was awesome to catch Irma Thomas – the Soul Queen of New Orleans – playing in New Orleans.

She was fabulous – Ruler of my Heart (covered as Pain in My Heart by Otis Redding and the Rolling Stones) and Time is on my Side (Also covered by the Stones) were both in her performance.  A great show.

New Wave Mod Bands – a section from Rock Routes – a book on Rock Music by Opher Goodwin

New Wave Mod Bands

 nb. – I have included the Jam with Punk in an earlier section.

The Mod Scene, which had never really died out, saw a big revival towards the end of the 1970s. Once again scooters could be seen popping along the roads, sparkling with chrome, headlights, aerials and festooned with fur accessories. Seaside resorts, such as Brighton, Clacton and Scarborough, favourite hunting grounds of the 1960s, were once again smothered with hordes of roving Mods decked out in fur-trimmed parkas complete with Who, Jam and Union Jack insignia.

A whole slew of Mod Bands sprang up sporting their traditional Italian Cut suits and smart layered hair and playing their brand of high speed punky music. They were led by the Jam and others included the Lambrettas, Purple Hearts and Secret Affair.


Artist Stand out tracks
Secret Affair Time for action

Let your hearts dance

My world

Sound of confusion

Lambrettas Go steady

Poison ivy


Another day another girl

Purple Hearts Millions like us




British 1970s Punk Music – a section from Rock Routes – a book on Rock Music by Opher Goodwin.

British 1970s Punk Music


The British Punk Scene started up in 1975 as a reaction to the deterioration in Rock music. By the mid 1970s the revolution had gone out of music. The rebellious and exciting bands of the 1960s generation had either been wiped out or had become increasingly sophisticated or commercial. The raw excitement had dissipated. The ‘stars’ had become millionaires, jet setting around, totally divorced from their roots and the lives of ordinary people. These ‘revolutionary rebels’ were now courted by Princesses, Heads of State and assorted dignitaries. Their concerts were held in massive stadia where for a huge price you could stand in discomfort to watch some distant specks on a stage perform some distorted versions of past hits. They might enliven the experience with fireworks, lasers, lighting and props but much of the music had become so orchestrated and pseudo-complex that it was no longer stimulating or easily accessible. It did not relate to life on the street. You might as well buy the album, put on the headphones and listen to it in comfort. It was no longer Rock Music. Rock had lost the intimacy of live performance, the gut excitement and the ‘stars’ had lost their street credibility and James Dean craziness.

1975 and 1976 were the years of hope and optimism. While the future looked bleak; unemployment was rife and the kids no longer had a voice; they were cut off from the emotional release of Rock Music; there was hope.

For young kids they could not relate to the sophisticated intellectual qualities of TechnoFlash and could not conceive they would ever become good enough to perform it. It left them with no impetus to join in. There was nothing but morbid nostalgia for times that had not been theirs. The only avenue open or performance was the Pub Rock scene with its diet of R&B standards.

This was when the Sex Pistols, rapidly followed by a host of similar bands, burst upon the scene. They were manna from heaven.

The bands were made up of young kids, many of them from working class backgrounds, who had completely broken with past music traditions. They were up to their ears with frustration, anger and rebellion. They were bursting with pent-up energy and looking to vent it. They had a lot to kick against. They were the written off generation. They emerged like an army of James Dean Visigoths.

In defiance of the established Rock Bands they coined the derisory term Punk which had been a derogatory term used to describe young kids who did not know what was going on. The term had been deployed previously when describing the Garage Punk bands of the 1960s. A music that was brash, rough and ready, produced by young American kids in response to the British Beat bands. Punk had become synonymous with rebellion and that was just what the British Punk scene was all about.

Punk music was a break with the past, an attempt to produce something new, basic, exciting and angry. They did not go back to their roots or even learn to play too well. They just got up on stage and played how they felt – angry. The songs were about being lied to, cheated, misled, bored, disillusioned and violent. The emphasis was on speed. The quality of the playing did not matter so much as the power. Though, contrary to popular mythology, many of them were quite proficient. The numbers were short and basic with no drawn out solos.

The bands played in the small clubs and pubs and were crude and vulgar. They did not play the usual Music Biz games. They made up heir own rules. The establishment panicked.  After the Sex Pistols swore on Thames Television on Bill Grundy’s Today show there was outrage. The Tory Bernard Brook-Partidge they’d be vastly improved by sudden death and the Daily Mirror had the headline ‘The Filth & the Fury!’ Punk Rock was up and running.

However there was a brief hiatus. Using the pretext of violence and anarchy councils banned them, promoters backed off and established stars and the music press ridiculed them. They were portrayed as unmusical thugs, a passing phase of no consequence. They were too crude and vulgar.

But then the music press and record labels had vested interests in promoting their ‘stars’. The entire scene was written off before it even got going. Where was the product? These Punk Bands were churning out an antagonistic ‘noise’ on cheap gear in small halls. They were not producing music that was easily assimilatable by the media and was not going to be commercial. It did not appeal to the average punter. Punk was thrusting two fingers up at the whole music establishment. The establishment was based on profit. How were you going to make money out of something that couldn’t get played on the Beeb or Top of the Pops? How was it going to sell and make money?

They hadn’t reckoned with the anarchic marketing skills of McLaren or the fervour of the kids. They were bursting for something new they could call their own.

As with the 1960s hippie generation there was suddenly an ‘Us and Them’. Members of the old guard were ‘Boring old farts’ and there were the instantly successful slogans ‘Never trust a Hippie’ and ‘Anarchy’. Suddenly the old revolutionaries were part of the establishment and were as much a focus for rebellion as any Tory Minister.

The kids had something they could identify with. The bands were theirs. They came from the same streets. They lived the same lives. They could see them, get near them, touch them and be part of the same scene as them. The music was so basic that anyone could pick up a guitar, learn a few chords, plug in and join in. It was Skiffle all over again – this time with anarchy. A whole generation found that they had a new means of expression and could kick out at all the crap they despised.

No matter how original or how much something wants to cut off from its roots nothing comes from nowhere. Punk was no exception. It had been bubbling under with Pub Rock, building up a head of steam waiting for the right stimulus to propel into full blooded flight. That stimulus came from the New York scene and in particular the New York Dolls. The man that initiated it with the adoption of the sound, attitude, style and fashion was, love him or hate him, Malcolm McLaren.

Fresh from his management of the New York Dolls Malcolm was the owner of a Chelsea Road clothes boutique that went under the provocative name of ‘SEX’. It specialised in bondage gear but Malcolm, working with his girlfriend Vivienne Westwood, began pushing the Punk style of slashed clothing, safety pins and spiked hair he had stolen from Richard Hell. He also set about trying to establish a live club scene similar to New York’s and wanted to put together a band that epitomise this Punk philosophy.

Fortunately for McLaren there were already a bunch of up and coming musicians who were impressed with the New York scene and had begun experimenting with their own aggressive style. When Malcolm started to introduce individuals with a view to putting together the Sex Pistols he was working within a frame that was already beginning to coalesce. He was merely the best at promoting it.

The marketing was essential but it was what Malcolm was good at. He sorted the confrontational name from the name of his shop partly as a means of promoting the shop as much as the band. The clearly identifiable fashion was equally important and had to be identified with a clear philosophy – in this case Anarchy and a clear schism with everything that had gone before.

Spreading out from Malcolm’s SEX boutique, fuelled by the notoriety of the Sex Pistols, a fashion craze strongly associated with the new youth anarchic stance began to sweep the nation. Once again it was easy to recognise your subcultural tribe from the overt signals – Spiky hair, safety pins, leather jackets, chains, razor blades, swastikas, torn clothes, tight jeans, shoes painted silver. The kids loved it. Overnight the long hair, flares and hippie paraphernalia were dumped. It was all associated with grunts of ‘Boring’, a snarling indifference, general vulgarity, and a disdain for anything that moved. It just could not fail.

It was totally uncompromising, rebellious, arrogant and wild and its ethos was summed up in the Pogo dancing and practice of spitting at the bands. They were openly courting outrage.

What started off as a minority appeal festering in the doldrums of Pub Rock, took off in a blaze of publicity surrounding the rise and fall of the Sex Pistols. It took off to undreamed heights as the bands ventured forth from their small number of places like the 100 Club and Roxy.

Even though the Pistols were soon banned from appearing just about anywhere the genie was already out of the bottle.

The movement was fanned by New York bands who came across to London – the New York Dolls, Ramones, Heartbreakers and Patti Smith all made ecstatic appearances. There were also the highly provocative singles released by the Sex Pistols and the title of their first album ‘Never mind the bollocks’. It threw petrol on the fire. The Pistols swore and snarled their way to number one and stormed the country. They ended up with a series of top ten singles and made a film ‘The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle’ exposing all the inner workings of the music business. In the process they created a whole Youth Subculture, got signed by a number of record company’s who got jumpy and dumped them with large compensation, and made a brilliant and highly controversial in ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ in which they could write extremely good and perceptive lyrics. They also unleashed both Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious on to an unsuspecting public. Despite all this they died the death in America.

The American tour brought things to a head and they split up amid chaos and anarchy. The remnants, minus Johnny, going on to record a last swan song with the bank robber Ronnie Biggs. Sid went solo and then got arrested for stabbing his girlfriend Nancy Spungen to death and was then found dead from an overdose of heroin. You can’t get much more Punk than that.

The Sex Pistols might have been the fulcrum for all the other Bands involved in the Punk explosion but they were amply supported by a series of other bands who had evolved along similar lines, at the same time, in a kind of parallel evolution. These were rapidly joined by a host of newcomers who were rapidly formed to crawl out of the woodwork.

One of the first Punk bands was London SS. They were almost mythical having Mick Jones, Tony James and Bryan James who later turned up in the Clash, Generation X and the Damned respectively. They formed in 1975 and based their sound on East Coast bands the MC5, Stooges and New York Dolls. They folded in January 1976 without even playing a proper gig but their influence was extensive and legendary.

There were five major other bands in the beginning – the Stranglers, Damned, Clash, Sham 69 and Stiff Little Fingers.

The Clash were the most poetic and political favouring an aggressive delivery and anarchic working class anger expressed articulately on early numbers such as ‘White riot’ and ‘London’s burning’. Their message was easy to assimilate: they were tired of being on society’s slagheap; they wanted the kids to stop complaining about it, get up off their arses and do something about it. They mixed in a measure of reggae which they recognised as having a similar message. They went out of their way to express complete disdain for like lifestyles of Rock Stars like Mick Jagger saying that they should use their wealth to do something for the kids who had given it to them.

The Stranglers were a different sort of band. They were older to the others and had a history of playing pub R&B. Their music was consequently less thrash and bash and more sophisticated. They used a range of styles and tempos. The main reason they were so closely associated with Punk was because of their menacing image, the aggression and violence. It often spilt out on to the dance floor.

The Damned released the first Punk single on the Stiff label with ‘New Rose’. The Damned used a theatrical approach with Dave Vanian dressed up as Dracula, Rat Scabies cultivated uncouthness and Captain Sensible’s fairy suits.

Sham 69 were created by Jim Pursey in Hersham, Surrey. They were one of the originals at the 100 Club and gained a cult following with their aggressive act and uncompromising stance. They finally broke through in 1978 with ‘Borstal Breakout’ and split in 1980 after having been adopted by racist skinheads and having violent outbursts at their gigs.

Stiff Little Fingers were championed by John Peel who was quick to latch on to Punk music and push it through his shows. They came over from Ireland with a series of furious songs reflecting the Irish ‘Troubles’. The experience of living in such a torn society resonated perfectly with the Punk scene and they launched into it with passion and fury. Their songs reflected the frustration of what it was like to be caught up in the midst of such conflict.

They were joined by a host of other excellent bands – Siouxsie & the Banshees, the Skids, Ruts, Angelic Upstarts, Adverts, X-Ray Specs, Boomtown Rats, 999, Buzzcocks, Only ones, Lurkers, Varukers, Vibrators, Skids, Adam & the Ants, Jam, Boys, Patrick Fitzgerald, John Doctors of Madness, Generation X, Rezillos, Undertones and Slits. Some of these like the Boomtown Rats, who took their name from a gang in Woody Guthrie’s ‘Bound for Glory’, and were formed by Bob Geldhof in Ireland, the Buzzcocks from Bolton with Pete Shelley’s great lyrics, and the Jam, Paul Weller’s Mod band, went on to achieve considerable chart success. The others settled for cult status but they were all contributors to a phenomenon that shook the world. The Doctors of Madness were a proto-punk band put together by Richard Strange AKA Kid Strange with Urban Blitz on electric violin, Stoner on bass and Peter DiLemma on drums. They created a sound that was redolent of the Velvet Underground and used a lot of theatre, make-up and costumes. They were supported by the likes of the Sex Pistols and should have been a lot bigger. They were ahead of the time.

The success of the Punk scene drew a lot of energy back into the scene and set up a rich field of Independent labels. This took the power away from the major labels whose policy of going for the lowest common denominator had the effect of always playing safe and watering down the music to cater for a mass market. The independents were passionate and raw. They were content with a niche market. They were idealistic and extreme.

As soon as it was apparent hat this was more than a passing phase the Major labels were all over it looking to sign up the new talent. It revitalised the music business and provided fertile soil for the emergence of British New Wave bands.

The result of Punk was fourfold:

  1. A number of US New Wave bands received a new lease of life and gained an audience in Britain – Ramones, Patti Smith, Iggy & the Stooges, MC5, Heartbreakers, New York Dolls, Blondie, Talking Heads and Runaways.
  2. There were a number of British New Wave bands who were inspired by the energy of Punk – Ian Dury & the Blockheads, Elvis Costello & Attractions, Nick Lowe, Wreckless Eric, Pretenders, Pogues, Billy Bragg, Kirsty McColl, Jonah Lewie, etc.
  3. The music industry received a much needed kick up the backside.
  4. The US Punk and New Wave bands got off the ground – Devo, Dead Kennedy’s, Black Flag, Geza X, Bad Brains, Flipper and D.O.A.


Punk went forward into a second generation of Punk bands in the 1980s, none of whom achieved the success of the first wave. It got more extreme – people cutting themselves with glass or razors, biting heads off lizards, urinating and defecating, Nazi slogans, OI and skinhead racism, and anything that tried to outdo the Sex Pistols, shock or was in extreme bad taste.


Artist Stand out tracks
Sex Pistols Pretty vacant

God save the queen

Holidays in the sun


No feelings





Anarchy in the UK

Stepping stone

Lazy sod

No fun

I wane be me

Clash London’s burning

I’m so bored with the USA

White riot

Career opportunities


Police and thieves

Hate and war

Tommy gun

Julie’s in the drug squad

(White man) in Hammersmith Palais

Stay free

London calling

Rudie can’t fail

Spanish bombs

Guns of Brixton

Brand new Cadillac

Lost in the supermarket

Jimmie Jazz

The magnificent seven

Police on my back

Know your rights

Straight to hell

Rock the Casbah

Should I stay or should I go

This is radio clash

Damned Neat neat neat

New rose

Stiff Little Fingers Alternative Ulster

Suspect device

Barbed wire love

State of emergency

Wasted life

White noise

Johnny was

No more of that

Doesn’t make it alright

Nobody’s hero

I don’t like you

Fly the flag

Gotta get away

Wait and see

Bits of kids

Is that what you fought the war for?

You can’t say crap on the radio

Bloody Sunday

Buzzcocks Oh Shit!

Ever fallen in love with someone

Fast cars

Orgasm addict

What do I get?

Noise annoys

I don’t mind

Sham 69 Borstal breakout

If the kids are united

Hurry up Harry

Hersham boys

Tell us the truth

Who’s generation!

Angels with dirty faces

Ruts In a rut

Babylon’s burning

Jah wars

Staring at the rude boys

Boomtown Rats I don’t like Mondays

Looking after No. 1

Mary of the 4th form

She’s so modern

Rat trap

Someone’s looking at you

Jam In the city

Modern world

David Watts

Down in the tube station at midnight

The Eton rifles

Going underground

That’s entertainment

All round the world

A Bomb in Wardour Street

News of the world

When you’re young

All Mod Cons


Little boy soldiers


Town called Malice

Undertones Jimmy Jimmy

Teenage kicks

My perfect cousin

It’s going to happen

Adverts One chord wonders

Bored teenagers

Gary Gilmour’s eyes

Skids Sweet suburbia

Into the valley

X-Ray Specs I am a cliché

Bondage up yours

The day the world turned day-glo

Germ-free adolescents

999 Emergency


Stranglers Down in the sewer

No more heroes


Go Buddy Go

Goodbye Toulouse

Hanging around

(Get a) Grip (On yourself)

Choosie Susie

Peasant in the big shitty

I feel like a wog

Something better change

Bring on the nubiles

Nice ‘n’ Sleazy

Nuclear device (Wizard of Aus)

(Don’t bring) Harry

Just like nothing on Earth

Golden Brown

La Follie

Siouxsie & Banshees Hong Kong Garden

Helter skelter


Poppy day



Rezillos Flying saucer attack

Somebody’s gonna get their head kicked in tonight

Top of the pops

Slits Typical girls

Instant hit

Vibrators We vibrate

Baby baby

Stiff little fingers

Automatic lover

Boys Sick on you

I don’t care

First time

Adam & the Ants Antmusic

Dog eats dog

King of the wild frontier

Doctors of Madness Doctors of madness

Sons of survival

Billy watch out


Saints (Australian) I’m Stranded
Tom Robinson Band 2-4-6-8 Motorway

(Sing if you’re) Glad to be gay

Don’t take no for an answer

Right on sister

Ain’t gonna take it

I’m alright Jack


Up against the wall

Too good to be true

Better decide which side you’re on

Power in the darkness

Bully for you

Winter of ‘79

Everything you ever wanted to know about Rock Music!

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Opher Goodwin

The 1970s New York New Wave Scene – An extract from Rock Routes – a book on Rock Music by Opher Goodwin

The 1970s New York New Wave Scene


The term New Wave is given to a whole range of different music styles that started up in New York in the early 1970s. They had a new energy and a new slant.

New Wave began in the throbbing clubs of New York and had its roots in the East Coast bands of the late 1960s such as Iggy & the Stooges, the MC5, Velvet Underground and the Fugs.

Right from its early Greenwich Village days New York has been a centre of Bohemian life and has always attracted a large number of artists, poets and musicians. It was from the remnants of the Beatnik culture that the Folk scene took off in the early 1960 and this Greenwich Village culture was a strong indication of the underground counter-culture that already existed in the city. On the street level is was a tough place to live. It was segregated into ethnic areas that were almost ghettos. There was a high level of poverty coupled with gang violence, hard drugs and general juvenile crime. Growing up in New York made a kid worldly beyond his years. The lifestyle carried a mandatory anti-establishment attitude coupled with a hedonistic outlook. Drugs were easily available; there was extensive prostitution and a transvestite and gay scene. There were few legitimate ways out. It led to a strong street culture which manifest itself in terms of hard drugs and an attitude of living for the moment and to Hell with the consequences. The kids wanted a good time, an escape from boredom, a tribal identity and a chance to do something that they could succeed at. It was all about respect from their pee group. At least they could become outrageous and shock straight society. They poked their nose at everything that boring straight culture held to be worthwhile.

These kids patronised the Folk cafes and small clubs that had been adapted from the Jazz dives of the Beat Generation. In the 1960s they would congregate to discuss poetry, talk crazy, or argue politics and art. The Avant Garde and theatrical elements of the underground rose to the fore in the Fugs and Velvet Underground who played clubs like Max’s Kansas City and Andy Warhol’s Plastic Exploding Inevitable. The Fugs music was crude and full of explicit sexuality and politics. It had its roots in Beat poetry and was to give rise to later artists like Patti Smith. The Velvet Underground produced a harsh sound with songs concerned with the realities of street life transvesticism, heroin and hustle.

After the collapse of the 1960s culture in the early 1970s and the disbandment of the major groups New York was left with a rich artistic community, a counter-culture nucleus, a harsh urban street life and a large number of underground clubs catering for those street-wise kids; but no major bands. This legacy, along with the influence of other East Coast 1960s bands with a more strident, uncompromising sound such as the MC5 and Iggy Pop & the Stooges, gave rise to an aggressive club scene and the spawning of a lot of high energy bands – New York Dolls, Ramones, T.V., Patti Smith, Heartbreakers, Richard Hell, Cherry Vanilla, Wayne County, Philip Rambow, Blondie, Talking Heads and the Runaways.

Many of these had roots back in the old US Rock ‘n’ Roll. You can see this from some of the tracks they covered – Bo Diddley’s ‘Pills’ and the Four Freshmen’s ‘Surfin’ Bird’, the Supreme’s ‘Baby I love you’. They wanted to recreate some of the energy and vitality that was present in those three minute singles.

Patti Smith followed closely in the footsteps of the Fugs by bringing poetry into her music and having 1960s heroes such as Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison. She wrote Rock ‘n’ Roll poetry inspired by Rimbaud and Allen Ginsberg. Her audience could identify with the words and the high energy performance.

Other bands sought a simpler style, chunky, raunchy and played at speed with all the punch of the most strident East Coast sound. It was a long way apart from the long drawn out improvisation of the West Coast Acid Rock Bands and a million miles from Prog Rock. The numbers were short, repetitive, riff driven, harsh and full of energy. They were meant to be exciting and have a hard impact. It was a reaction to the way aggression had gone out of Rock.

The first of these bands was the New York Dolls closely followed by Television. They both formed in 1973. The Dolls cross dressed in a transvestite image that the Velvets had flirted with. The band wore wigs, used heavy make-up to create a butch drag image. They were fairly successful but failed to establish themselves outside of New York. The importance of the New York Dolls lies not so much in their own limited output as the huge influence they had on what came afterwards. They spawned a huge number of bands which set the New York scene alight. They were managed by Malcolm McLaren for a short while and he went back to England to try to duplicate the New York Club Scene in London. He wanted to create a high energy band to manage and direct on the lines of the New York Dolls. That band became the Sex Pistols.

The New York Dolls were the model band for many British Punk Bands. They can be thought of as the Fathers of British Punk.

Television was another important element in this inauguration of Punk. They started off as the Neon Boys and contained the energetic Richard Hell who later went on to form Richard Hell & the Voidoids. He was the archetypal Punk and developed the Punk image with spiked hair, ripped clothes and safety pins. It was the image that Malcolm McLaren ripped off and was to become famous when he used it to promote the Sex Pistols.

Television and the New York Dolls set the pace but by 1975 they had been displaced by the emergence of a series of even more extreme bands led by Patti Smith and the Ramones.

The Ramones had an almost Hippie image with their long hair, Levis, T-shirts and leather jackets. They tried to create the energy of early Rock ‘n’ Roll by doing short numbers which were simple using primitive chords and lyrics that reflected street life.

Patti Smith had started by simply reciting her poetry to audiences in small clubs. It was a small step to getting herself a backing group and singing the lyrics. Her straightforward imagery and explicitness endeared her to her young audiences.

The Heartbreakers were a splinter group formed by Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan from the New York Dolls along with Richard Hell from Television. They tried to break into the London scene in 1976 but were deported because of Visa problems after a short residency. Even so they had some influence over that nascent Punk scene. They split up in 1977 with Richard Hell going on to form Richard Hell & the Voidoids and Johnny Thunders forming various incarnations of the Johnny Thunders Band.

By this time the whole New York scene was alive with energetic New Wave bands. Wayne County & the Electric Chairs (Wayne later became Jayne following a sex change) whose forte was heavy riffs with sexually explicit lyrics such as ‘Fuck off’, ‘Fucked by the Devil’ and ‘Bad in bed’. Cherry Vanilla & the Staten Island Band were equally as Raunchy. Cherry started as a waitress for Andy Warhol’s club and then became a publicist for David Bowie. She supposedly offered to give a blow job to any DJ who played a Bowie record. Her first album ‘Bad Girl’ summed it up. Blondie were not always a Pop unit. They started in the New York clubs and were regulars at CGGBs and Max’s Kansas City played raunchy New Wave. Talking Heads was another highly successful band who started as a New Wave favourite in the New Wave scene in New York. They were a quirky unit whose music had a punch but also had elements of Funk and world music and David Byrne’s unique voice and delivery. The Runaways were an all-female unit from Los Angeles who featured Joan Jett and gatecrashed the New Wave scene. Mink Deville, another import this time from San Francisco, became the house band at CBGBs. The Dead Boys relocated from Cleveland.

These bands had a huge effect on the development of British Punk especially in the early days. Visits by bands such as the Ramones were met with rabid enthusiasm and provided fresh energy.


Artist Stand out tracks
New York Dolls Personality crisis

Vietnamese baby

Lonely planet boy



Jet boy

Stranded in the jungle

Who are the mystery girls

Human being

Television Marquee Moon

Prove it

Patti Smith Piss factory


My generation

Redondo beach


Free money

Pissing in a river

Because the night

Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger

Space Monkey

25th Floor

High on Rebellion

Ghost dance


Dancing barefoot

So you want to be a rock ‘n’ Roll star

People have the power

Richard Hell & the Voidoids Blank generation

Love comes in spurts

Ramones Beat on the brat

Judy is a punk

I wanna be your boyfriend

Now I wanna sniff some glue

Blitzkrieg bop

Gimme gimme shock treatment

Sheena is a punk rocker

Suzy is a headbanger

Rockaway beach

Cretin hop

Teenage lobotomy

Needles & Pins

I wanna be sedated

Do you wanna dance

Carbona not glue


Wayne County & Electric Chairs Fuck off

Fucked by the devil

Bad in bed

You make me cream in my jeans

Cherry Vanilla & Staten Island Band Bad in bed

Hard as a rock

I know how to hook

Runaways Cherry Bomb
Talking Heads Psycho Killer

Once in a lifetime

Don’t worry about the government

Take me to the river

Burning down the house

Road to nowhere

Life during wartime

And she was

Dead Boys Sonic Reducer
Blondie X Offender

Rip her to shreds


In the flesh

I’m always touched by your presence dear

Hanging on the telephone

Picture this

One way or another

The tide is high

Heart of glass

Sunday girl


Union city blue

Eat to the beat

Sunday girl


Heartbreakers Chinese rocks

Born to lose

Everything you ever wanted to know about Rock Music!
If you would like to purchase this book in either digital or paperback it is available on Amazon.
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In the USA :

Opher Goodwin

The Detroit late 60s Proto-Punk Scene – extract from Rock routes – A book on Rock Music by Opher Goodwin

Everything you need to know about Rock Music.

The Detroit late 60s Proto-Punk Scene

The surge of Underground activity that swept through the East Coast in the late 60s engulfed Detroit City and gave rise to a branch of music that was to have a big effect on the later development of Rock Music. The brash Garage Punk of the mid 1960s was further adapted to form an extremely violent, weird and political genre of music. The two bands responsible for this were the MC5 and Iggy Pop and the Stooges.

Neither of them surged to the forefront of popularity or break any commercial records but both of them achieved cult followings that were to prove very important to the development of the New York New Wave in the 1970s and the British Punk movement.

The MC5 started as a heavy band who were tied in to John Sinclair’s White Panther Party and thus extremely political from the outset. Their first album was called ‘Kick out the Jams’. It was a live album which caused a great deal of controversy because of the line ‘Kick out the Jams Motherfuckers’ shouted out at the beginning of the song. Many record shops refused to stock it. These shops soon found themselves the victim of a window sticker’s campaign. The stickers read ‘Fuck You’ and contained the MC5 logo. The music was loud, fast and explosive. It set the trend for future developments.

Iggy Pop & the Stooges were formed by Iggy after he left a local Garage Band called the Iguanas (Hence Iggy). He formed the band out of a bunch of friends who could barely play. Iggy focussed on developing his image of total depravity and the band set about building its reputation as being the most demented act in Rock. Iggy would slash hi body with broken glass, smash glasses and perform oral sex with the bottle while the bands produced a loud heavy chorded backing that set them up as a major cult band.


Artist Stand out tracks
Iggy Pop & the Stooges Search & destroy

The passenger

No fun

I wanna be your dog

Fun house

Gimme danger

Raw power

MC5 Kick out the Jams

Come together

The American Ruse

The human being lawnmower

Skunk (sonically speaking)

Everything you ever wanted to know about Rock Music!
If you would like to purchase this book in either digital or paperback it is available on Amazon.
In the UK:

In the USA :

Opher Goodwin

Tim O’Connor at the Welly!!

Tim O’Connor has been part of Hull’s music scene for a long time with his Cowfish and Antfarm bands and all of his solo work.

As a songwriter he is remarkable and so incredibly prolific. All his albums are worth a listen and there’s a lot of them. The range of styles from Rock to Folk is immense!

It was great to see him with a great set of new songs and able support on mandolin. It sounded really good!

Here’s a few photos from the Focus gig at the Welly:

Rock Routes – The definitive book on Rock Music by Opher Goodwin – the Cover.

The cover for the book was a shot I took of a light show at a Grateful Dead (Furthur) concert in San Francisco 2012.

I thought it looked bright and cheerful and captured the excitement of Rock.

If you’re not right at the front rockin’ you’re nowhere!

Everything you ever wanted to know about Rock Music!

If you would like to purchase this book in either digital or paperback it is available on Amazon.

In the UK:


In the USA :

Opher Goodwin

About the book ‘Rock Routes’ – a definitive overview of Rock Music up until 1982.

This is a book with quite a bit of history. In the early eighties I had this great idea on how to make a little more money to support my family by doing something I would love to do. I had a largish collection of vinyl albums so I thought I’d run an adult education class on Rock Music. Rock had been a big part of my life. I’d lived through, seen a lot of the acts and met a few.

The course took off and was the only one at college to increase in numbers as it went on.

For two hours each week I’d take my records in play some great stuff and tell everyone all about it. I produced handouts and we traced the whole gamut of Rock Music from its roots to the present day. It took two years to complete!

Of course, it wasn’t, despite its popularity, successful as a money maker. I discovered numerous gaps in my collection that required filling. My collection actually tripled in size! So it actually cost me money!

However, emboldened by my experience, and possessing a wealth of materials, I ran that course twice more.

Then I had the idea of knocking my notes into shape to produce the definitive book on Rock Music. It came out as 1500 pages and 4 volumes.

I immediately managed to get a literary agent interested and then a publisher. He told me that he’d publish it if I could reduce its size. Four big volumes was not a commercial prospect. I asked him what size he was thinking and he told me 200 pages. I explained that was really a different book. He shrugged.

I spent the summer rewriting the book and managed to get it down to 250 pages. He agreed to do it.

I went down to Plymouth to seal the deal and sorted artwork.

The cheque was in the post. We bought the kids Christmas presents with it. But the cheque never arrived. The story of my life!

I threw the book in my bottom drawer in a fit of pique and put it down to experience.

In hindsight I should have gone back to my Literary Agent and hawked it round again. I was too dispirited.

This is essentially that book.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Rock Music!

If you would like to purchase this book in either digital or paperback it is available on Amazon.

In the UK:


In the USA :

Opher Goodwin