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Kid bands covering The Ramones’ ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’
07.05.2013
04:00 pm
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Illustration: John Pound
 
From the Dangerous Minds archives.

Hearing The Ramones’ debut album for the first time ranks right up their with getting my cherry popped, my first acid trip and watching my daughter’s birth. There are certain touchstones in one’s life that mark the point at which something switches on in your body chemistry that alters you forever. For me, these changes are generally induced by sex, drugs and/or rock and roll.

In the mid-70s I was living in the heart of John Denver country. The rock and roll scene in the Boulder/Denver area was dire. Hippie shit still ruled the airwaves and Deadheads in tye-dyed t-shirts and Jesus spats shuffled through the streets and parks on a perpetual Rocky Mountain high. I read Bukowski, listened to Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets compilation and leered through my window at the freaks contentedly loping along like those dumb multi-colored bears you see on Grateful Dead beer cozies. What were they so fucking happy about? Rock and roll was dead and I wasn’t feeling so good myself. Something had to change.

The change came with the arrival of The Ramones. The boys from Queens returned rock to its roots: short catchy tunes played fast with maximum energy. In 35 minutes they distilled the music I loved to its essence. I pulled out my dust-covered Telecaster with its rusting strings and started writing songs again. I was inspired and reminded that two or three chords is all it took to change the world or to at least make it a bit more inhabitable.

Close to four decades later and the band that many considered a joke when they came on the scene are finally recognized as rock and roll legends. Their music has only gotten better with age. The first three Ramones’ albums are indisputable classics and those of us who defended them and supported them have gotten the last laugh.

In 1976 had you told me that in 2011 The Ramones would be heroes to kids all across America, I would have loved the notion but thought it improbable. But that’s exactly where things are at. The Ramones rule America’s suburbs now more than ever. And it’s a beautiful thing.

One evening while doing Youtube research on The Ramones I came across several videos of kid bands covering “Blitzkrieg Bop.” As I continued to scroll through Youtube, the several became dozens and it was then I realized that the kid band/‘Blitzkrieg Bop” thing was a bona-fide phenomenon. In the time it takes to listen to a Ramones’ album, I discovered more than a hundred videos of teenybopper combos covering “Blitzkrieg.” The song is an anthem for children who are no bigger than the instruments they’re playing. And some of these pre-teen punks are as good as many of the bands I saw at CBGB on audition night.

I gathered some of the videos together for your listening pleasure. The only stipulations I made regarding which bands qualified for this little overview of Blitzkrieg mania are the groups had to appear to be under 16 years of age and had to actually be playing instruments. There are a couple of videos where the bands are augmented by a backing track or, in one case, an adult (Sami Yaffa from Hanoi Rocks). I made an exception for those because the kids performing are so damned good or so damned charming.

So here they are: the future Ramones of America. And some of the brothers are sisters! “Hey, ho, let’s go!”

It’s been over two years since I originally posted this piece on Dangerous Minds. Since then, there have been dozens (perhaps hundreds) of more videos of kids playing “Blitzkrieg Bop” uploaded to YouTube. It’s unstoppable!

 

 

 
More teeny Blitzkrieg boppers after the jump…

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Posted by Marc Campbell
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07.05.2013
04:00 pm
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Sham Rock: Protex’s earnest Northern Irish power pop punk
07.03.2013
11:25 am
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Protex formed in 1977 after the future band-members witnessed The Clash’s first show in Belfast. They originally called themselves “Protex Blue,” after The Clash song title. Perhaps to avoid comparisons with the very different band (or perhaps because they realized that song was about condoms?), they shortened it to “Protex” a little later.

Protex were one of those bands that just sort of hovered between obscurity and real commercial success, possibly because labels had no idea what to do with them.  Dirtier, sexier punk like The Undertones had already emerged in Northern Ireland, and while Protex’s live shows were as had shambolic as any punk band’s, there was a pop sensibility to their songs that was much closer to The Nerves than to The Clash.

After a few successful singles on the Good Vibrations label (which also boasted The Undertones), they were reissued on Rough Trade Records to meet demand, and eventually signed to Polydor in 1979. From there Protex recorded an album, “Strange Obsessions,” that was shelved until a 2010 pressing on Sing Sing Records, well after they disbanded in 1981. Protex was among the front-runners of the Northern Irish punk sound, and I strongly suggest you give “Strange Obsessions” a listen. They were a really great, unique band, and their album was almost lost to history!

Recently the group reformed (with some new members). Last month, they played two gigs in Japan.

Below, the studio version of “Don’t Ring Me Up.” More sweetheart than snot, it could be an Everly Brothers tune:
 

 
A live performance of “Don’t Ring Me Up” in New York’s Hurrah nightclub in 1980:
 

Posted by Amber Frost
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07.03.2013
11:25 am
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Morrissey hates The Sex Pistols
07.02.2013
11:39 am
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It has been said that everyone who bought a copy of The Velvet Underground & Nico went on to start a band. The same has been said about the attendees of the legendary Sex Pistols gig at the Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall on June 4, 1976, which included future members of Joy Division/New Order, The Fall, A Certain Ratio, Simply Red, Buzzcocks/Magazine, Tony Wilson and producer Martin Hannett.

One punter who was not impressed, a then 17-year-old Steve Morrissey, who let his feelings be known in a letter to the editor of the NME. What an insufferable, supercilious brat he must’ve been! Turning his nose up at The Sex Pistols???

There’s an entire book about this concert and the seismic cultural repercussions it caused in it its wake, I Swear I Was There: The Gig That Changed The World by David Nolan and a TV doc with eyewitness accounts of this infamous gig:
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Ramones are Rubbish’: Morrissey’s thoughts on the Ramones, 1976

Morrissey’s snide record reviews: Moz dumps on Cyndi Lauper, The Psychedelic Furs and XTC, 1984

Via Boing Boing /Letters of Note

Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.02.2013
11:39 am
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From ‘The Courtship of Eddie’s Father’ to Dead Kennedys: Child actor Brandon Cruz’s strange path
06.30.2013
06:00 pm
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American child actors aren’t expected to turn out well as adults. Tabloids, reality television, and Twitter keep us informed of the latest shenanigans of grown-up former child stars. One member of their ranks has taken a stranger path than most. 

Brandon Cruz played the character of Eddie Corbett in the television show The Courtship of Eddie’s Father opposite Bill Bixby from 1969 to 1972. The show had a long run in syndication in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Cruz appeared in other television shows (The Incredible Hulk, Love, American Style, Gunsmoke) and the 1976 movie The Bad News Bears before leaving acting behind. Cruz took up skateboarding and surfing and became involved in the hardcore punk scene in Ventura County, California around 1980.

Cruz was a part of the scene in the Silver Strand Beach area near Oxnard. He was the vocalist for the band Dr. Know from 1981 to 1983 (later reforming with bassist Ismael Hernandez from 1998 to 2010). The original line-up was vocalist and guitarist Kyle Toucher, bassist Ismael Hernandez, and drummer Robin Cartwright. Dr. Know was one of many hardcore bands around Oxnard that made up the local subgenre of “nardcore,” along with Agression, Ill Repute, Rich Kids on LSD, and Stäläg 13. Cruz later recalled that the Ventura County scene was a diverse one in the early 1980’s, with a mixture of white, Filipino, Mexican, Japanese, and African-American musicians and fans.

Cruz explained the origin of the name “Nardcore” to Ginger Coyote of Punk Globe

Agression, Ill Repute, and a bunch of other people were all there at a party one night when Ismael heard the D.O.A. Record, Hardcore ‘81. Ismael remarked that if they were Hardcore, then we were Nardcore. Simple as that. Tony From Ill Repute took that joke and ran with it. It turned up in graffiti all over town, on surfboards and skateboards, and pretty soon, we had a scene.

After leaving Dr. Know, Cruz performed with Flipper, Harmful If Swallowed, Twister Naked, SVDB, The Ugly Truth, MDCN+MN, and the reunited Dead Kennedys, replacing vocalist Jello Biafra from 2001 to 2003. Cruz’s reunited line-up of Dr. Know disbanded in 2010 because of difficulty finding a suitable new guitarist. Founding member Kyle Toucher immediately reformed the band under the name The Real Dr. Know. 

Cruz appeared in Paul Rachman and Steven Blush’s 2006 documentary American Hardcore:The History of American Punk Rock 1980-1986. After achieving sobriety, he began working on a professional level in the drug and alcohol rehabilitation community in southern California, utilizing surfing as a mode of therapy for recovering addicts. Last year he appeared in the Rob Zombie horror film The Lords of Salem.
 

Dr. Know (with Brandon Cruz) performing at the Whisky A Go-Go in Hollywood in 1997

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright
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06.30.2013
06:00 pm
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Dancing with a two-headed dog: Historic videos of Roky Erickson
06.28.2013
02:00 pm
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Here’s something quite special from the Dangerous Mind’s archives.   Roky Erickson’s life has been an American nightmare. That he somehow managed to dig deep within himself (with the help of therapy, his brother Sumner and stabilizing meds) to emerge, more or less intact, from a past in which he literally lost control of his life, endured imprisonment in a mental institute and electro-shock therapy, is a tale of torture turned to bittersweet triumph. The fact that he survived, is alive, and making stunningly good music today is astonishing and inspiring.

Erickson’s life is well-documented in books and film. A victim of small-town justice, Erickson was given the choice of jail time or a stint in an institute for the criminally insane. His crime: being different, being a rock ‘n’ roller and possessing marijuana.

Like most kids in the Sixties, I first encountered Roky’s music with the 13th Floor Elevators. Later, my punk band covered one of his solo classics “Two-headed Dog,” which has one of the coolest choruses in the history of rock:

Two-headed dog, two-headed dog
I’ve been working in the Kremlin
With a two-headed dog

If Erickson was insane, so are most artists that go out on a limb for their art. Rimbaud, Antonin Artaud, Sylvia Plath, Syd Barret…the list is so long I could spend the entire day compiling it. Some of these geniuses probably shouldn’t have taken mind-altering drugs, but whose business is it for me or anyone to pass judgment? Without the drugs, there are those on my theoretical list who may have burned out early but whose greatest creations were the result of a “derangement of the senses,” a term Rimbaud used to describe his efforts to enter a psychedelic state. All I know, is the work lives on and ultimately that’s all that matters in the here and now.

Erickson is a visionary and visionaries see things we don’t. Words are generally inadequate to the task of communicating the specifics of these visions, so the visionary turns to art and finds a method to articulate the indescribable in metaphor, myth and symbol. In describing his contact with aliens and demons, Roky may have used the only analogies he knew in order to describe his Muse (the voices in his head). He grew up with comic books and horror movies and they became his vernacular. As the poet Jack Spicer said in attempting to define the Muse (and I’m paraphrasing): “it’s the Martian that comes down and re-arranges the furniture in your head.” In Roky’s case the furniture was comprised of EC Comics, Mario Bava movies, The Outer Limits and whatever rustled through the woods on moonless Texas nights. Add a steady diet of LSD to the mix and that extraterrestrial Muse is moving furniture on several floors at the same time. No question that acid re-arranged Erickson’s senses for awhile, but what was it that made him fall over the edge into complete helplessness? My opinion: it was the cure that did it - a shock to the system that only a machine in co-operation with electrically-charged particles can induce. Take a man whose consciousness is malleable, zap his brain full of fire, and not only do the demons get burned, the angels do to.

In 1975, Erickson signed a notarized document in order to protect himself from continued attacks from Earthlings.
 

 
Fortunately, Roky Erickson never lost his connection to the meaningful voices in his head. He continues to walk with the zombies, sing with the spirits and dance with a two-headed dog. It could be surmised that the aliens weren’t the problem. It was the human beings that fucked Roky up.

Although he still sings about them, these days Erickson doesn’t talk about the aliens. Sharing such thoughts will bring you a shitload of problems. It’s best to keep quiet about where the songs come from. Better to be happy that they keep on coming.

The following video is two hours of clips compiled from Austin cable television and footage shot for Swedish TV. It includes some mesmerizing footage of Roky and musician/producer Mike Alvarez performing by an underground creek beneath the Congress Street bridge on Halloween night.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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06.28.2013
02:00 pm
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Revenge, Poetry & Gangsters: An interview with ‘2Graves’ star Jonathan Moore
06.28.2013
12:51 am
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Jonathan Moore didn’t find starring in his latest film 2Graves an enjoyable experience.

“There’s a lot of it where I’m hung from a chain,” Moore tells Dangerous Minds. “A hook, like a meat hook. This went on for like twelve hours on the first day because we were so short of time. I stayed in my harness even during lunch break. I wore one these flying harness things. It’s like the worst kind of corset you can imagine—it digs into your ribs, it chafes—so, I was in a lot of physical pain. But I was using it—I was using the pain.

“The bloke who did the flying said to me, ‘We don’t normally have people in one of these harnesses for more than 20-minutes.’

“He said, ‘Are you all right? You don’t have to do this.’ I just felt so much pressure to do it that I did it for a whole day. I thought, well at least that’s done. Then I came in the next day and the director said, ‘You’ve got to do it again.”

Jonathan Moore is an actor, writer and director. He may describe himself as “not a marquee name,” but over a 30-year career, he has proven himself, time-and-again, to be one of the most powerful, original, and talented creative artists of his generation.

In 2Graves Moore plays Jack Topps, a man set on revenging the murder of his father.

“It’s got this kind of Greek revenge quality to it. It’s an odyssey really, about this guy who is an ordinary kid, whose dad is killed by gangsters over some gambling debts. His dad was a professional darts player and he didn’t throw the match to keep the local crime family happy. So, they killed him. His son finds out about this and he decides he’s going to embark on this spree of quite bloody revenge. It destroys his soul.

“The title comes from Confucius, ‘The man who achieves revenge, let him first dig two graves—one for himself.’”
 
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More from Jonathan Moore, plus trailer for ‘2Graves,’ after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.28.2013
12:51 am
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An exclusive peek at some of GG Allin’s prison drawings: NSFW
06.26.2013
02:50 pm
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Posted by Marc Campbell
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06.26.2013
02:50 pm
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Devo drummer Alan Myers R.I.P.
06.26.2013
08:49 am
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Alan Myers, Devo’s drummer from 1976 to 1985, has died of cancer.

Devo’s Gerald Casale praised Myers on Twitter:

... the most incredible drummer I had the privilege to play with for 10 years. Losing him was like losing an arm. RIP!! I begged him not to quit Devo. He could not tolerate being replaced by the Fairlight and autocratic machine music. I agreed. Alan, you were the best – a human metronome and then some. A once in a lifetime find thanks to Bob Mothersbaugh. U were born to drum Devo!”

Myers laying down his indelible and deeply quirky groove:
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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06.26.2013
08:49 am
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‘Ahead of punk, ahead of their time’: The resurrection of a band called Death
06.25.2013
03:10 pm
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(Resurrecting this post from the DM archives. A Band Called Death is released tomorrow by Drafthouse Films)  
 
Imagine it’s 1975 and you’re a young Black man obsessed with the music of The Who, Alice Cooper, David Bowie and The Beatles. You form a band that plays loud, fast, rock ‘n’ roll in a city where grooving to the Motown sound of Smokey Robinson, The Temptations and Gladys Knight is more than a past time, it’s a religion. What was Detroit to make of a kid with an Afro and a jones for Frank Zappa and T. Rex?

To the distress of your bewildered friends and Christian family, imagine calling your band Death and recording songs like “Rock and Roll Victim” and “Freaking Out.” Imagine that when the opportunity for success comes knocking at your door you sweetly tell it to “fuck off,” unwilling to pay the price of changing who are in order to make money being who you are not. Imagine all of that and you’ve put yourself into the world of David Hackney and his brothers Dannis and Bobby, three young cats who together formed one of rock’s most visionary and unique rock groups.

The idea for Death leaped from David Hackney’s imagination like a wild living thing that couldn’t be suppressed. It was a beast in search of its roar. This eruption had been a long time coming. Ever since he was a kid watching The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, David knew that there was something inside him that was restless and pressing its way toward the light of day. In time, he found the tools needed to excavate and give expression to this force, this beast - they’d been there all along: guitars and drums. The Beatles had pointed the way. The Who and Hendrix provided the maps. Ziggy Stardust drove the bus.


 
David’s brothers were quick to pick up on his calling. They shared his passion for rock ‘n’ roll and had faith in their brother’s vision of a Black trio that smashed musical stereotypes and re-invented itself in the style of trailblazers like Jimi Hendrix, Arthur Lee and Sly Stone. Death’s hard-edged, politically-charged rock ‘n’ roll had more in common with Detroit rockers like Iggy Pop, The MC5 and Bob Seger than the commercial soul coming out on Berry Gordy’s multi-million dollar record label. The cost that Death paid for being provocative and original was high. A record deal from Clive Davis was offered with the stipulation that the band change its name. David was unyielding. The name meant something too deep to fuck with. Where others saw darkness, he saw light. For the young songwriter and guitarist, Death symbolized transition and re-birth. It was more than just a name, it was a point of view. And it was precious to him. No, the name would never change.

Death stuck to their guns, recorded their music and eventually disbanded. David died of lung cancer in 2000. Dannis and Bobby formed reggae bands. It appeared that Death had died. But David’s longview in which death is just a process of passing through different dimensions became prophetic when The New York Times’ Mike Rubin wrote a piece on the long lost band in 2010. What had been an underground secret was now exposed to millions of people, with an enthusiastic endorsement from Detroit brethren Jack White:

“The first time the stereo played ‘Politicians in My Eyes,’ I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. When I was told the history of the band and what year they recorded this music, it just didn’t make sense. Ahead of punk, and ahead of their time.”

There was an immediate demand for the music of Death. Bobby and Dannis started considering what they once thought might be impossible: Death’s resurrection. David would like that. With the help of their spiritual brother, Bobbie Duncan, the brothers made David’s vision come to life again. Death was reborn.


 
Mark Christopher Covino and Jeff Howlett’s film A Band Called Death brings us close into the lives of the Hackney brothers, their family and friends. It takes us to Detroit, where Death found its sound in the grind and clang of industry. And it takes us into the spirituality of the band. The offspring of a Christian minister, the brothers found in rock ‘n’ roll a way to amplify their sense of the cosmic. With the coming of the hippie scene and psychedelics, they went further into the mysteries of being and found in their music a means to celebrate the dawning of the Aquarian Age. But into the mix of flower child trippiness, Death brought a blast of apocalyptic Motor City badassness that kept the psychedelic spaceship from tipping too far into the paisley zone. Their heads may have been drifting through the music of the spheres, but their feet were firmly planted on the cracked concrete of their Detroit garage.

A Band Called Death inspires as it illuminates the path the brothers took while riding out their dream with only their passion and positive vibes to carry them through. It’s a lovely film and deservedly won the Audience Award at this year’s SXSW.

Back in March, I spent a couple of hours with Death, shooting the shit and sharing war stories. I filmed the following video after seeing the band the night before. I was pumped up. The band were absolutely phenomenal live, my concerns about David’s absence were supplanted by the belief that his brothers more than ably channeled his energy.

Death lives. Feel the vibe.
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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06.25.2013
03:10 pm
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Sharpies: The mulleted rocker kids of 70s Australia
06.24.2013
10:04 am
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sharpie kid
 
Just when I think I’ve carefully cataloged all the rock ‘n’ roll subcultures in my nerdy little brain, I hear about a group of kids that did something totally recognizable, yet completely regional, and realize I’m just a provincial American. The “sharpies” of Australia (not to be confused with anti-racist skinheads called “sharps”) were a bit like English skinheads. They were regional groups of generally working class kids, dressing up to signify their solidarity with the movement or even membership in a specific sharpie gang. The similarities mostly stop right there.
 
sharpies
 
First of all, the fashion, while reminiscent of traditional skins, has a few notes out of left field. For one, they usually had mullets. (As some one who comes from a mulleted people, you cannot imagine my delight when the hairstyle is embraced abroad.) It was sort of skinhead in the front, glam rocker in the back, often with big, traditional-style tattoos as accent. The girls (called “brush”) favored the sorts of pleated skirts or mini-skirts associated with skinhead girls, sometimes with cartoonishly high wedged heels, but the boys didn’t always go for tight jeans, often choosing to combine their bright cardigans with sailor pants and Cuban heels.

I actually stumbled on sharpies by way of the band, Coloured Balls, and their awesome album, Ball Power, (reissued on Sing Sing Records). Considered the ultimate sharpie band, at first glance I thought they were skins, and one or two tracks actually sound very Oi! Fascinatingly, they formed in 1972, before Cock Sparrer, Sham 69 or The Business were known entities. Although sharpies often co-existed with skinheads (and probably shared barbers), musically, they were further apart.
 

 
In lieu of ska, rocksteady, reggae, or soul, these kids created an esoteric pastiche of rock ‘n’ roll. Coloured Balls, for example, is really hard to pin down. Sometimes it’s a bit acid rock, sometimes very white-boy blues, sometimes it almost feels like Oi!, or glam, or power pop. The band certainly didn’t feel constrained by genre, something I’m sure was a testament to diverse sharpie tastes. Singer Lobby Loyde remembers very vividly playing to sharpie kids well before Coloured Balls existed, and well before he had adopted a sharpie aesthetic.

“When the Purple Hearts first came down to Melbourne in 1967, we were a long-haired blues band. We started playing at the circle ballroom in Preston and I started noticing these strange people. I’d never seen anything like them and their distinct style! They had short hair and wore baggy trousers and cardigans; the girls wore knee-length pleated skirts, twin sets and pearls.”

And then there’s the distinctive dancing, which I have to admit, has an elegance that skanking doesn’t quite achieve.
 

 
Like skinheads, sharpies were largely disaffected youth, and gang violence was heavily associated with the lifestyle, much to the chagrin of Lobby Loyde, who said in retrospect.

“Coloured Balls were the greatest bunch of hippies that ever crawled. They were really gentle guys, but on stage we let it go and spat out all the venom we had… that was our release.”

While it’s unclear exactly how much fighting actually went on (as opposed to just plain moral panic), there was tension between sharpies and Australian mods (Since many early sharpies were actually British transplants, and former skinheads themselves, it makes sense that the beef would travel). The violence and the emergence of disco are largely credited with the fade of the sharpies, but they remain a fascinating moment of youth culture history. Below you can see an amalgam of sharpies at an outdoor music festival in 1974. Coloured Balls is playing one of their more acid rock numbers.
 

Posted by Amber Frost
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06.24.2013
10:04 am
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