With his spiky blonde hair and trademark sneer, Billy Idol is one of the most recognizable pop stars of the 1980’s. But was his punk rock style authentic, or artful deception? With a rebel yell, Billy Idol wanted more, more, more. And he got it – becoming a bona-fide pop rock superstar in the 1980’s. […]
Were They Punk? A Deep-Dive into Supposed "Fake Punks" and "Poseurs"
When the punk rock phenomenon emerged in the late 1970's, many artists whose style was similar made a conscious effort to disassociate themselves from the burgeoning and highly-controversial music scene. But in late 1970's London, punk rock was so dominant in the music club scene that some artists had trouble finding gigs because they weren't "punk" enough.
This gave rise to accusations that the artists in question were somehow "fake punks" (or "poseurs", if you prefer): artists who posed as punk rockers to get gigs and ride the explosive popularity of punk rock to gain fame and further their careers. For some of these artists, adding some punk elements to their music was a pretty natural move, while others changed little more than their image to appear more punk. And some these artists were authentic punks, but for a variety of reasons were slagged by the music press, fans, or other punks for posing and opportunism.
In most cases, these artists also didn't try very hard (or at all) to deny being punks or clarify their stance on punk rock until well after their mainstream success had been safely secured.
Regardless of their motives and intentions at the time, fake punk or not, all of these artists have released some great music, some of which should rightly be categorized as punk rock, even if it looks like posing in retrospect (or looked like it at the time).
Are spiky hair and guitars necessary or sufficient conditions to qualify as “punk rock”? While it may be hard to imagine that a group that has over 1 billion plays on Spotify was ever considered a “punk” band, the sentiment that The Police were a punk band that somehow had all of the “right stuff” […]
We listened to U2’s early demos and were floored by what we heard. In 1980, U2 seemed to emerge as a fully-formed musical entity with their debut album, Boy. This is not to say that they reached mega-stardom and started filling stadiums right away (Boy reached No. 63 in the U.S. and No. 52 in […]
Next up in our series of “Were They Punk“, we look at the illustrious career of Joe Jackson. A classically-trained musician who’d already spent years playing in jazz clubs and the cabaret circuit, Joe Jackson was inspired by the rawness and simplicity of the punk music that emerged in late 1970’s London. Jackson started playing […]
First up in our series, “Were They Punk?“, we examine the punk rock bona fides of Elvis Costello. Elvis Costello was a well-established musician in London’s pub rock scene by time punk rock reached mainstream attention in 1976. Already seasoned from his stint in folk-duo Rusty and later fronting the country/R&B act Flip City, Costello […]