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Proto-punk (or "protopunk") is the rock music played by garage bands[4] from the 1960s and early 1970s that presaged the punk rock movement.[5] A retroactive label, the musicians involved were not originally associated with each other, coming from a variety of backgrounds and styles, but together they anticipated many of punk's musical and thematic attributes.[5]


According to the Allmusic guide:

Proto-punk was never a cohesive movement, nor was there a readily identifiable proto-punk sound that made its artists seem related at the time. What ties proto-punk together is a certain provocative sensibility that didn't fit the prevailing counterculture of the time ... It was consciously subversive and fully aware of its outsider status ... In terms of its lasting influence, much proto-punk was primitive and stripped-down, even when it wasn't aggressive, and its production was usually just as unpolished. It also frequently dealt with taboo subject matter, depicting society's grimy underbelly in great detail, and venting alienation that was more intense and personal than ever before.[5]

Most musicians classified as proto-punk are rock performers of the 1960s and early-1970s, with garage rock/art rock bands the Velvet Underground, MC5 and the Stooges considered to be archetypal proto-punk artists,[5][6] along with later glam rock band the New York Dolls.[7]

Origins and etymology[edit]

One of the earliest written uses of the "punk" term was by critic Dave Marsh who used it in 1970 to describe the group Question Mark & the Mysterians, who had scored a major hit with their song "96 Tears" in 1966.[8][9] Many bands were active in the mid-to-late 1960s playing garage rock: a ragged, highly energetic, often amateurish style of rock.[10] While garage bands varied in style, the label of garage punk has been attributed by critic Michael Hann to the "toughest, angriest garage rockers" such as The 13th Floor Elevators and the Sonics.[11] AllMusic states that bands like the Sonics and the Monks "anticipated" punk;[12][13] the latter have likewise been cited as examples of proto-punk[14][15] and the Sonics' 1965 debut album Here Are the Sonics as "an early template for punk rock".[15] The raw sound and outsider attitude of psychedelic garage bands like the Seeds also presaged the style of bands that would become known as the archetypal figures of proto-punk.[16]

In 1969, debut albums by two key proto-punk bands were released; Detroit's MC5 released Kick Out the Jams in January and the Stooges, from Ann Arbor, premiered with their self-titled album in August. The latter album was produced by John Cale, a former member of New York's the Velvet Underground; having earned a "reputation as the first underground rock band", the Velvet Underground inspired, directly or indirectly, many of those involved in the creation of punk rock.[17]

List of artists[edit]


  1. ^ Campbell, Neil (2004). American Youth Cultures. Psychology. p. 213. ISBN 0415971977. Furthermore, the indigenous popular music which functioned this way-and which represented in the same instance a form of localized resistance to the mainstreaming, standardizing drive noted earlier — was the proto-punk more commonly identified as garage rock. 
  2. ^ Pell, Nicholas (January 26, 2012). "Deathmatch: Which Is Better, Pub Rock or Garage Rock?". LA Weekly. Retrieved August 1, 2016. 
  3. ^ Robb 2012, p. 51.
  4. ^ Bangs, Lester (1981). "Protopunk: The Garage Bands". In Anthony De Curtis and James Henke. The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll (Second ed.). Picador Books. pp. 357–361. ISBN 0-679-73728-6. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Proto-Punk". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-25. 
  6. ^ "The Stooges - Biography, Albums, Streaming Links". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-25. 
  7. ^ "New York Dolls - Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-25. 
  8. ^ Taylor 2003, p. 16.
  9. ^ Woods, Scott. "A Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy Interview with Dave Marsh". Archived from the original on 18 August 2007. Retrieved 19 February 2015. 
  10. ^ "Garage Rock Music Genre Overview". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-25. 
  11. ^ Hann, Michael (30 July 2014). "10 of the best: garage punk". The Guardian. 
  12. ^ Mark Deming. "The Sonics | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-04-12. 
  13. ^ Richie Unterberger. "The Monks | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-04-12. 
  14. ^ "The 5: Proto-Punk Bands of the 60's and 70's - The Interrobang". 24 July 2013. 
  15. ^ a b "10 Essential Proto-punk tracks". 2015-11-05. Retrieved 2016-09-24. 
  16. ^ Sabin 2002, p. 159.
  17. ^ Taylor 2003, p. 49.
  18. ^ Bruce Eder. "The Bad Seeds | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-04-12. 
  19. ^ "The Chocolate Watchband - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  20. ^ "Death - Biography, Albums, Streaming Links - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "The Dictators - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ O'Hagan, Sean (March 3, 2014). "John Sinclair: 'We wanted to kick ass – and raise consciousness'". The Guardian. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  27. ^ "The Modern Lovers | Biography, Albums, Streaming Links". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-04-12. 
  28. ^ "Watch the Proto-Punk Band The Monks Sow Chaos on German TV, 1966: A Great Concert Moment on YouTube". Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  29. ^ Fricke, David (September 11, 1986). "The Music Machine: Where Are They Now?". Retrieved October 29, 2016. 
  30. ^ Ward, Ed, Stokes & Geoffrey & Tucker, Ken. ROCK OF AGES: The Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll. New York: Rolling Stone Press/Summit Books. 1986. (Quoted in Waldrep, Shelton (Ed.)The Seventies: The Age of Glitter in Popular Culture. Routledge. 2013. p131)
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ "Prototype Garage Punk Band The Seeds to Have Documentary Screening in Long Beach". Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  34. ^
  35. ^ a b Murray, Noel (May 28, 2015). "60 minutes of music that sum up art-punk pioneers Wire". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 28, 2015. 
  36. ^ Blecha, Peter. Music in Washington: Seattle and Beyond. Arcadia. 2007. p94
  37. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Stooges biography". Allmusic. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  38. ^ The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion. Canongate. 2007. p394
  39. ^
  40. ^ Jason Ankeny. "The Up | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-04-12. 


Further reading[edit]