What happens when you take some Orange County refugees, let them flee to San Francisco to study art and live out their rock n roll dreams? You get The Avengers. They weren't San Francisco's first punk band, but they were, to me, the most Punk of the early San Francisco bands playing punk rock. There was Crime, and there were The Nuns, but there was no band like the Avengers.
The 70s was a crazy mix of things, morphing from hippies, to glam/glitter to punk all pretty fast (in cultural terms) while the general populous was infected by the disease du decade...narcissism. I think everyone everywhere concedes that the 70s were the "Me Generation" and every faction of culture reflected it. It was the 70s thing... me me me (and George Harrison saw it coming in the late 60s... excuse me while I wax Jean-Francois Lyotard / postmodern on you...but I do believe that "I Me Mine" opened the floodgates for the torrent of musical micronarratives that followed.) So, if you're following along with the School of Punk Rock Postmodern Philosophy right now... a song like "We Are the One" satisfies so much, on so many levels.
"We Are the One" is simply a great, energetic, convincing rock n roll song. Steeped in the politics of the 70s Me Generation and the fervent anti-hippie, anti-authority, anti-fascist somewhat socialist leanings of the San Francisco punk crowd, "We are the One" is an anthem if ever there was one. click here for the lyrics, and see what I mean! they're correct because they're from Penelope's website.
The Avengers seminal "We Are the One" was released by Dangerhouse Records of Los Angeles, further cementing the record's place in punk rock's history as an important and crucial artifact. But looking back, back in the day, even though having Dangerhouse offer to put out your record was a Good Thing to be happy about and proud of, it was part of your stride. That this all endures, and our peers are lionized in the media and memory (no matter how niche), is pretty damn amazing.
One of the images on this blog that people come back to time and again is one of Penelope Houston at the KROQ studios with Rodney Binghenheimer, who was an early supporter of the band.
There was a period of time in their lifespan as a band where the Avengers were indeed golden. They were one of the opening bands for the Sex Pistols at Winterland on the final night of the Sex Pistols brief and only tour of America with the Sid Vicious line-up. Even though they've done tours of the States on a more comprehensive level with the original members, including ace songwriter Glen Matlock, I will always think of the brief 1978 tour as The Sex Pistols Tour. A reunion doesn't pack the same excitement level as seeing the notorious, infamous Sex Pistols for the first time.
It seemed that almost immediately after the Sex Pistols show, the Avengers could do no wrong. They were local heroes for having performed so valiantly in the face of a situation weighted so heavily against them; one in which so many other bands would have lost their cool. Like so many others, I made the trek to San Francisco from LA on a rainy day to see the Sex Pistols. There were so many people in Winterland, who knew there were so many punk rock fans? Truth is, the place could hold so many people that not only were there die-hard Pistols fans and bonafide punk rockers, but Winterland and the reasonable ticket price could accommodate the simply curious as well.
There was definitely that element of the trouble-maker in the audience who is neither a fan or a neophyte, but a heckler. I've never seen more people in an audience flipping the bird and yelling "Fuck you" to a band like at that Pistols show.
Rory Johnston, who was working with the Sex Pistols and Malcolm McLaren on this tour noticed the Avengers too. He started working with them. That's him in the foreground/front and center of the photo above.
Just yesterday, as I was looking around on the good old www-interweb, I stumbled upon a lengthy interview of Danny Furious the Avengers drummer. Click this for a good read! He's quite the raconteur and reading his memories of it all brought 1978 back to life for me. I think you will appreciate all he has to say, and then some of these photos will really come to life for you, too.