Punk changed my life when I was a teenager in the late 70s. It wasn’t just the music that I loved (especially The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Buzzcocks, The Ramones, and X), it was Punk’s DIY aesthetic. As punk pioneer Don Letts said in the introduction to this fantastic collection of photos from the early days of British Punk, “The thing about Punk that people forget was that it wasn’t just music. The reason it has the legacy that it does is because it inspired people to make clothes, become graphic artists, photographers, writers, and journalists. It was very much a complete subculture. Nothing since has had that complete impact.”
Sheila Rock was taking photos of now legendary Punk bands before they had record contracts, and while the faces in these photos are familiar, all the photos were new to me. You can feel the crackle of the energy of a new movement here – the experimental clothes, hairstyles, makeup, posturing. The Beatles broke up in 1970 – it’s shocking to see the change in youth styles after just six or seven years, and how much these 35-40 year old photos look like the could have been taken today.
Punk+ by Sheila Rock (photos), Sarah Simonon (author)
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