The 70’s were a decade during which popular music may have reached its most irreverent, cynical and angry peak. For all intents and purposes it was when the evolution of the Punk scene reached its pinnacle, and the conservative mindset of a Republican-led America flipped its lid. From the dirty clubs of the Bowery in New York came an onslaught of lurid and humorous tales so good it would be a criminal sin for them not to be told. Here they are, the three wildest stories of the 70s punk scene.
Stiv Bators gets a blowie on stage
The Dead Boys had a reputation as a violent, nihilistic and bratty band that followed them their whole tenure. But their initial release, Young Loud and Snotty, is a masterpiece from the first wave of American punk bands in the late 70’s. They might have enjoyed a longer and more relevant career if not for the endless self-destructive tendencies they became known for. Part (if not most) of their reputation can be attributed to the antics of charismatic lead singer Stiv Bators. Stiv’s repertoire of nonsense included blowing his nose on a piece of Bologna and eating it on stage, slashing his skin, hanging himself from his microphone wire and on one very special night, on-stage fellatio. That’s right: because CBGBs was some sort of trashy and lurid fairytale, and for that night Stiv was its wunderkind – Stiv’s charm was somehow enough to entice a club waitress to get a little too close to the band and for that matter a little too connected to Mr Bators’ DNA. Man, I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that one.
Jayne County has enough of Handsome Dick Manitoba’s Transphobia
In March of 1976, budding transsexual Jayne County thought she would just perform another one of her explosive glam punk shows and just have a good time. As the story goes, The Dictator’s front man and overall greaseball Handsome Dick Manitoba began to pepper County with a barrage of pejorative remarks about her sexuality and gender identity. County eventually reached her boiling point and became, well, incensed. Her next move was to pummel Manitoba with a microphone, resulting in a broken collar bone and a trip to the emergency room. When you get a lady mad enough, she won’t be afraid to knock your handsome dick in the dirt.
The Ramones become, well, The Ramones.
We’re all more than familiar with The Ramones and their long standing legacy as the sort of Godfathers of Punk, the innovators of its format and directness. A lot of this can be attributed to their first series of shows at the legendary CBGBs. They shocked audiences by playing songs so quickly, some lasting less than a minute. They were more spectacle than substance for a while, making audiences laugh with their disorganization and legitimately genuine arguments with each other on stage. Just check out the 2 minute mark on the video I’ve included for a taste of it. One story goes that The Ramones walked on stage, waited for Dee Dee to call out the time for the song, 1-2-3-4! and all proceeded to play a different song. After, they resorted to throwing down their instruments in disgust and walking off the stage, only to come back on minutes later and try again.
In the current landscape, we still continue to make headlines out of pop/rock stars unruly and outlandish behavior. But the concentration of ridiculousness that we saw in that 70’s punk scene remains unmatched. Bieber’s cute little DUI couldn’t hold a candle to the debauchery of what was witnessed in the seediest of clubs during that gruesome and magical time.