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The Best Punk Rock Bands Of All Time

Punk rock is a genre of rock music that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s from hard-edged forms of rock (such as heavy metal, punk blues) influenced by “garage” scenes. Punk was an underground movement that revitalized a larger community for people who were bored with mainstream pop culture or society at large. It also gave rise to many subgenres, including new wave, post-punk, hardcore punk, and alternative rock.

First wave punk rock was created by garage bands from the late 60s that made short, fast-paced, energetic music with simple lyrics. The Ramones, who formed in 1974, are often cited as progenitors of first-wave punk rock. They were followed by other groups such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash, who helped spread its influence even more worldwide.

By 1977 there were thousands of punks all over Britain, New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The punk subculture is generally characterized by anti-establishment views and the promotion of individual freedom.

The Ramones

The Ramones are an American punk rock band formed in New York City and active from 1974 until 1991. The group consists of Joey Ramone (1947–2001), Johnny Ramone (1948–2004), Dee Dee Ramone (1959–2002), and Tommy Ramone. They first garnered a devoted cult following through frequent live performances at the CBGB nightclub, developing a stage act that featured confrontational lyrics delivered with energy by Joey, one of the few musicians to wear makeup on stage. A total of eight studio albums were released during their career, with many compilations and live releases since.

The band’s musical style is rooted in American garage rock and early punk rock. They are often credited as one of the first bands to define the template for punk music. The Ramones’ fast-paced music and short songs helped them become icons of the New York City underground music scene in the 1970s, playing a major role in its development into what became known as “punk,” influencing numerous other musicians who played similar styles.

Their influence helped lay the groundwork for alternative rock in later decades; however, they are largely remembered today as pioneers within post-hardcore due to their pioneering use of heavy guitars played at breakneck tempos, lyrics written by Joey that drew from personal experiences and observations, and their live theatrical performances.

The Sex Pistols

The Sex Pistols were one of the most important and influential rock bands in history. They formed at the tail end of the punk movement but were more than just a band that made noisy records and played violent concerts: they had an attitude. Their music was confrontational; their lyrics were offensive to millions of parents, politicians, religious leaders, and police officers throughout Great Britain, and singer John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) was one of the most volatile frontmen ever.

The Sex Pistols’ impact on popular culture is so great that it’s easy to forget what a short-lived band they were — less than three years from formation until dissolution — but they managed to release only four singles during that time: “Anarchy In The U.K.” (1977), “God Save The Queen” (1977), “Pretty Vacant” (1977) and “Holidays In The Sun” (1978). Two of those singles — including the one that started it all — are now considered punk-rock classics.

The Dead Kennedys

The Dead Kennedys were a punk rock band from San Francisco, California, formed in 1978. The band was one of the first American hardcore bands to make a significant impact in the United Kingdom. Their concerts became notorious for attracting a violent audience and stage antics which resulted in the group being banned from playing at many venues across the U.S.

During their initial incarnation, they released three studio albums and one EP on an independent record label (by 1980s standards) before disbanding due to lead singer Jello Biafra’s feud with East Bay area punk promoter Randy “Biscuit” Turner over radio airplay royalties. They briefly reunited in 1993, releasing one more album before disbanding again. Following the band’s dissolution, Biafra continued to collaborate and record with former Dead Kennedys members, most notably guitarist East Bay Ray (who has also played with Biscuit), as well as drummer D.H. Peligro.

Black Flag

Black Flag was a punk band that started in 1979, founded by Greg Ginn on guitar. Their career spanned more than thirty years, with the band releasing six studio albums and one EP during their initial incarnation between 1982 and 1986 before breaking up. Black Flag was formed after Ginn’s previous project, Metal Massacre I is released with Ron Reyes as vocalist. They are also considered to be an early influence of hardcore punk along with bands like Bad Brains, Agnostic Front, and Minor Threat, among others.

After the band temporarily disbanded, Ginn reformed Black Flag with new members in 2003. They released three more albums before they dissolved again in 2013 due to Ginn’s health problems. A final studio album was also planned, but it has yet to be released as of today.

The Misfits

The Misfits were formed in Lodi, New Jersey, United States, in 1977. They released their first single, “Cough/Cool” on Glenn Danzig’s label Plan 9 Records (later reissued by Jerry Only’s self-run label) before signing with the major record company Mercury Records.

The Misfits had a style that mixed punk with horror imagery, covering topics such as violence and drug use. At its formation, the band consisted of vocalist Glenn Danzig, bass guitarist Jerry Only (who also provides lead vocals on some songs), drummer Manny Martínez and guitarist Bobby Steele; Steele later left early in the band’s career due to creative differences with Danzig.

After breaking up in 1983 following various legal disputes involving royalties filed by founding members Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein and Jerry Only, The Misfits disbanded for three years. During this period, Danzig was involved in a short-lived side project called Samhain, which would evolve into the more successful band Danzig later that decade.

In 1987, Glenn left his previous group to focus on his own musical career and reformed the Misfits with new members, including guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein (Doyle II), bassist Eerie Von and drummer Dr. Chud; Chud was replaced by Robo after an injury in 1990. After releasing one album (“American Psycho”) under their own label Plan 9 Records, they signed with Caroline Records for 1995’s “Famous Monsters,” which proved to be their last recording before breaking up once again due to increasing interpersonal tensions between members of the band during its tour.

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