Legendary punk photographer Sheila Rock has pulled all her best shots into a book, PUNK+, to be launched this April 25 at Browns. Featuring anecdotes and unique insights into a dawning movement, here’s the pick of photos taken at the frontline. For more information visit firstthirdbooks.com.
Buzzcocks, November 1977. “The Buzzcocks brought some emotion into punk rock,” says film director and then-Roxy DJ Don Letts. The Clash’s Paul Simonon remembers, “We did a couple of shows with the Buzzcocks and we used to go on stage with the Jackson Pollock shirts. One time they did a show with us and they went on with Mondrian shirts. It was great!”
Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees, February 1979. “She was like a dominatrix,” says punk writer Jon Savage.
Subway Sect, Chalk Farm, December 1976. Guitarist Rob Symmons claims Rock turned up to photograph The Clash and took Subway Sect as a consolation prize.
“Punks were quite sneery about The Jam,” says Generation X’s Tony James, but Paul Weller would have the last laugh. “Of all the groups that emerged from the 1977 cultural revolution,” says ex-NME writer Chris Salewicz, “The Jam were the only one to come near to rivaling the success of The Clash. The first month of 1977 they are doing the Roxy, July they are selling out Hammersmith Odeon.”
A customer at punk emporium BOY on Chelsea’s King’s Road, the unlikely epicentre of punk fashion.
The Damned, November 1976. Left to right – Brian James, Rat Scabies, Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible. The first punk band to make the charts. “They rocked the house,” says Letts. “They would rock the Roxy more than any other band and played there more regularly than anyone else.”
The classic punk look soon emerged from the King’s Road shops, pioneered by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s SEX.
According to guitarist Tony James, Generation X were “a star singer, a guitar hero and an explosive rhythm section. In 1977, we felt invincible, that we could achieve anything. Was that just the confidence of youth or a perfect moment in time?” Photographed here in 1977, they featured future global star Billy Idol (second left) and future Sigue Sigue Sputnik guitarist James (second right).