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Monday, September 24, 2007

Giving West Coast Punk Its Due

wilsey at KROQ web

I've been telling everyone for years now - and for the last THREE YEARS in public that, hey - PUNK ROCK IS 30!

Thanks to the Sex Pistols, who are up to their old tricks leveraging everything appropriate at hand...the 30th anniversary of the release of Never Mind the Bollocks has the mass media taking notice. Suddenly the phrase punk turns 30 is EVERYWHERE!!! I couldn't have paid for better publicity.

My friend from punk rock days, Jimmy Wilsey then of The Avengers, later a member of Chris Isaak & Silvertone, (Jimmy's was that guitar sound that defined the song "Wicked Game") and now a solo artist with an album coming out at the dawn of the new year took part recently in Spin Magazine's editorial nod of the head to 30 years of punk, and he's summed it all up in his blog on myspace.

The 30th anniversary of the Sex Pistols only album release and of West Coast punk being featured finally in the mainstream is a sweet and long-awaited victory for those of us who lived the life back in the day. Jimmy's blog is a great read, and it brought back so many memories of watching as the Avengers kept metaphorically pulling rabbits out of their hats back in January 1978.

avengers live

On the final date of the Sex Pistols 1978 tour - their only tour of the USA as the line-up that included the late Sid Vicious, local bands opened the Winterland show. The Nuns and Avengers opened. The two local bands did a phenomenal job on their home turf despite all the pandemonium that accompanied the presence of the Sex Pistols. In my opinion, The Avengers' pride and convicted performance stole the show. That's not saying the Sex Pistols were overshadowed...not at all. You had to be there to understand just how great the Avengers were. Thanks to the advent of YouTube, people who weren't there (and who weren't born yet!) can witness the Pistols' performance:

In fact, the Avengers performed so well in the melee, they caught the attention of The Sex Pistols management's Man in America, Rory Johnston, who helped their career for a while. That's him pictured with them below.

plz avengers rory WEB96

Over the years, London and New York have always been acknowledged (and rightly so) as THE punk rock cities. Of course, they spawned the Sex Pistols and the Ramones - two bands against which all punk rock is measured. But over those same years, the West Coast's contribution to punk rock culture has been largely ignored. We make plenty of noise about it, and also rightly so! We spawned, in no particular order: The Avengers, Dils, Nuns, Dead Kennedys, Flipper, Germs, Bags, Alley Cats, Weirdos, Minutemen, Pandoras, Screamers, Gun Club, X, Blasters, Mutants, Red Kross, The Last, Go Gos, Fear, F Word, Circle Jerks, Black Randy, 45 Grave, Plugz, Zeroes.... the list is too voluminous to mention everyone, and I'm sure I'm leaving out crucial bands.

avengers BW

I've yet to pick up that issue of Spin - its on the stands right now... its chock full of then and now pictures. I can't vouch for any mainstream media, but I am thankful that they have given the youth of today a starting point to discover punk rock's forgotten but essential outpost here on the West Coast.

If anyone is really interested in West Coast punk rock, I have two words that will take you on your best journey: Target Video.

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