L.A. Punk History
L.A. Punk 1977
L.A. Punk 1978
L.A. Punk 1979
L.A. Punk 1980
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"Willy is a true Rock'n'Roll maniac!"
- Loren Molinare, The Dogs
The Early Years
I grew up with the British Invasion of the 60's. Bands that influenced the Ramones, Generation X, and others. My record collecting days started back in 1964 when I got the first Beatles album. Rock'n'Roll was in my blood from then on. The early to mid-70's found influences from bands like Mott the Hoople, Slade, T Rex and the Sweet. These were bands that also influenced the early punk movement.
1976 - 1980
Then there was this one day in July 1976 when I picked up an album called "Ramones". I had heard a song called I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend on KROQ. I picked up the album, took it home, listened to it and called my friend Steve. This was the day before him and I and a third friend were scheduled to travel California for a week on a little road trip. I told him he had to hear this new album I just bought. He said "This better be good because I haven't packed yet". He came over and after it was finished he looked at me with this stunned expression and said "That has got to be the best album I have ever heard". I agreed. Two weeks later we saw the Ramones at the Starwood in Hollywood. We were able to see two sets that lasted about 20 minutes each and the only break between songs was Dee Dee shouting out 1-2-3-4!!! Wow!!
One day I saw that the Dogs were going to be playing at a place called the Cabaret and I really loved the song, John Rock that local radio station KROQ was playing regularly. The 1976 scene in Hollywood was dominated by bands that collectively referred to themselves as Radio Free Hollywood. Some of the better bands that were included under this title were the Dogs, the Pop and the Berlin Brats. That was the L.A. music scene
from July of '76 through April of '77.
In mid-April of 1977 I had advance tickets to go and see the Damned at the Whiskey in Hollywood. The headliners were Television. We also happened to notice that a block down the street at the Orpheum Theater, the Weirdos were going to be playing. My friend Steve had stumbled across one of their shows the previous week and had raved about them. As it
turns out, the Damned had been replaced by some other band because Television was afraid of being blown off the stage by the Damned and we ended up selling our Television tickets to somebody else. The show was sold out so they were grateful and little did I know how grateful I was going to be.
We met these 2 guys and 2 girls outside the Orpheum. They said that they had only been playing for about a week but had landed this gig. They were all excited. We get into the show and these people we had seen outside earlier set up and start playing the most god awful noise you had ever heard. Then the lead singer, Bobby Pyn, pulled out the peanut butter and started smearing it all over himself. He also started flicking lit matches all over the place. The owner became infuriated and had his bouncer kick them out the place
and not very gently either. That was the first Germs gig.
The next band was playing their first L.A. gig. They were from San Diego and called themselves the Zeros. Somewhere along the way, Rodney Bingenheimer showed
up with some of the members of the Damned in tow. The Zeros were incredible.
The last band was the Weirdos and I was in love from the first gruntings of "Do the Dance, Do the Dance, Do the Dance, yeah!".
More and more shows started to pop up as a scene started to develop. A new venue called the Masque started towards the end of that year. Bands that played in L.A. pretty regularly were the Dils, X, Dickies and Shock. Bands like the Avengers, Nuns and Crime came down from San Francisco on a regular basis. I lost half the hearing in my right ear during a Shock show at the Masque in November of 1977. Unfortunately, the Masque was only open for about 6 months. It was in the basement of a porno theater and had no fire exit. It was closed down by the fire marshall. There were benfit shows staged to try and get money to bring it up to code but that never
It is now 1978 and the scene is thriving. Two fanzines, Slash and Flipside are being produced on a regular basis. Steve and I are starting to make friends with some band members and some of the regulars. Bands like the Controllers, Black Flag, the Bags and others are now sprouting up. Another big benefit of all the new bands forming is that singles and albums are starting to be produced on a more regular basis. The Bomp! store in North Hollywood and PooBah in Pasadena are a couple of sources. Closer to home, in Long Beach, a store called Zed is opened. Half my paycheck went to Zed every week to buy whatever I could find that looked good. Unfortunately I heard Zed closed it's doors for good a couple of years ago.
New venues opened. The Other Masque was opened, Baces Hall and the Starwood had gigs and the Whiskey still had shows for some of the larger acts. Non-traditional places like the Elks Lodge rented out space for shows. That was until the Elks Lodge Riot, which was totally started by the police. They marched in there with their riot gear and started bashing heads of anybody that looked at them funny. Every time Black Flag played there always seemed to be a riot too.
It is now 1979. The best place to see music was at the Hong Kong Café in Chinatown. I am now friends with Kid Spike and Mad Dog of the Controllers and Gears, Kat and Brian of the Silencers, Greg Ginn of Black Flag, George of the Cheifs, Mike Patton of Middle Class and others. I felt like it was my scene and I was an integral part of it.
The early 1980's in L.A. were characterized by violence between the beach punks and the Hollywood punks and it wasn't safe to be on each other's turf.
The music was changing too. Hardcore and Oi! were coming into their own. Melody was being forsaken for speed aggression. Many people were lured to the scene solely for the violence. My album purchases were keeping steady, mainly Oi! stuff. I only ventured out to gigs once or twice a year to see the Ramones and maybe Social Distortion or the Adolescents.
Back in about 1993 or so I took a chance on buying an album that looked interesting called "Love Songs for the Retarded" by a group called the Queers. As luck would have it, they were coming to L.A. and were back up band to the Parasites who had apparently been around for a few years based on the quantity of different singles they had to sell. The opening band was Scratch Bongowax who have also gone on to create some excellent albums in more of a 70's punk vein.
I bought this magazine at the Queers show because it had an article about the Queers in it. It was called Panic Button. There were other articles in the magazine about another band called Screeching Weasel. Next time I was at Vinyl Solution in Huntington Beach I looked for any Screeching Weasel albums.
I ended up getting "Anthem For A New Tomorrow". The next day I was back buying Wiggle and My Brain Hurts
and Boogada Boogada Boogada. I still consider My Brain Hurts and Love Songs as two of my favorite albums of all time. Here were bands that were out-Ramonesing the Ramones. Bands in the pop punk vein made popular by these artists still exist but the mid to late 90s were definitely the heyday.
At least for myself, the 1990's have seen a renewal of 7" purchases which had virtually come to a standstill in the 80's. There are some great mail order services out there and there
are some great record stores all over the country. Check out the categories on this web site for information on many of them.
The 90's have also seen a the birth of the Killed By Death and Bloodstains series which attempt to document independent releases from the 1976-1982 time period. This has resulted in a large collector market that has driven the price of some of these items to incredible heights.
2000 and Beyond
So here I am. I've determined long ago that I can't play guitar and I can't sing. So, to
share my passion for this music, I launched this web site in January of 2000 to try to be your one stop shopping center for all information relating to punk. An ambitious effort that is almost certain to fail unless you help me. Send me any information you
have that you would like to see on this site, record stores in your community, mail order services that you use, bands that have not yet been listed and any information you have to share about them. Two and half years as of this update and I have many years of information still to be added. Mario Solis has joined as a contributor and is providing outstanding reviews and picks on a regular basis.
I discovered early in 2000 that there is a thriving glam and punk rock'n'roll scene in Phoenix and I have sought bands in that vein ever since to add to my collection. Jeff Dahl lives in the area and has a musical showcase each year called the Desert Trash Blast. Notable bands are the Peeps, Slash City Daggers, Sonic Thrills and the Kranks (formerly the Vox Poppers).
Seven months after starting this site, I determined that I could indeed afford to put out my own music so I have started Wankin' Stiphs Records. The first release is the release of the Black Jax self titled CD. Nearly every review has been positive. There have been no new releases since October of 2000 but I plan to rectify that in 2003. Let's enjoy this ride together and make this the best punk site on the web. Thanks!!
Below you will find an alphabetical listing of punk bands I have seen over the years and when I saw them.
Bands I've Seen Live
Adolescents (80s, 00s), ADZ (00s), Agent Orange (70s, 00s), All (80s), Alley Cats (70s), Ann Beretta (90s), Arthur J and the Gold Cups (70s), Ataris (90s), Avengers (70s), Bad Religion (80s, 00s), Badtown Boys (90s), Bags (70s), BellRays (00s), Beat Angels (00s), Beatnik Termites (90s), Beltones (00s), Berlin Brats (70s), Black Jax (80s), Black Randy (70s), Bobbyteens (00s), Brainiacs (70s), Buck (90s), Buzzcocks (80s), Cartwrights (70s), Cheifs (70s), Chixdiggit (90s), Circle Jerks (80s), Clash (80s), Controllers (70s, 00s), Crime (70s), Crowd (70s, 00s), Cub (90s), D Generation (90s), D.I.'s (90s), D.O.A. (70s), Jeff Dahl (80s, 00s), Damned (70s), Dead Boys (70s), Dead Kennedys (70s), Deadbeats (70s), Dickies (70s, 80s), Dils (70s), Dogs (70s, 00s), Fabulous Tuscaderos (00s), Flyboys (70s), Germs (70s), Green Day (90s), Groovie Ghoulies (90s, 00s), Hangmen (80s), Hard-Ons (80s), Hi-Fives (90s), High School Hellcats (00s), Hollywood Squares (70s), Humpers (90s), Jam (70s), Killer Dolls (00s), Kranks (00s), Lazy Cowgirls (00s), Loose Lips (00s), Mau Maus (70s), Mean Street (70s), Minutemen (00s), Motors (70s), Muffs (90s), 999 (70s), Parasites (90s), Peeps (00s), Phuzz (00s), Plugz (70s), Pop (70s), Queers (90s, 00s), Quick (70s), Ramones (70s, 80s, 90s), Randoms (70s), Real Kids (70s, 00s), Red Army (70s), Rells (70s), Retarded (00s), Rhino 39 (70s), Rubber City Rebels (70s), Saints (70s), Scratch Bongowax (90s), Screamers (70s, 00s), Sex Pistols (70s, 90s), Sham 69 (70s), Shock (70s), Silencers (70s), Skrews (70s), Skulls (70s, 00s), Slash City Daggers (00s), Slaughter and the Dogs (00s), Social Distortion (80s, 90s), Stiff Little Fingers (70s, 80s), Stitches (00s), Sonic Thrills (00s), Suicide Commandos (70s), Texas Terri and the Stiff Ones (00s), 3 Chord Monkey (00s), Tubeway Army (70s), 20/20 (70s), 22 Jacks (90s), Undertones (80s), UXA (70s), Vox Poppers (00s), Weirdos (70s, 80s), X (70s), Zeros (70s)
This is far from complete. I will continue to add as I remember other bands I've seen.