Buzzcocks guitarist Steve Diggle has discussed the origins of punk in a new interview, claiming that the genre was born in Manchester.
Diggle’s comments come following the launch of the Punk London series of events, marking the 40th anniversary of what some deem as the birth of punk in the capital.
Recently speaking to SideStory, Diggle instead insisted that the birthplace of punk was at the Sex Pistols famed gig at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall in June 1976.
“We brought The Pistols to Manchester, and we put the provinces on the map,” Diggle stated. “A lot of people think that punk and The Sex Pistols started in London, but it wasn’t until they got to Manchester that they realised there was a scene going on. You know, they say Jesus was born in Bethlehem – well punk was born in Manchester. Those early gigs crystallised it all.”
Speaking about the Pistols’ 1976 Manchester gig, Diggle said: “There weren’t many people at that gig, it’s true – there were more at the second one, three weeks later. But members of Joy Division were there, and members of The Smiths. I’m not sure about (Simply Red singer) Mick Hucknall… he may have been.”
“The first time we came to London, I think, was to the [Oxford Street venue] 100 Club. It wasn’t long after that first gig supporting The Pistols in Manchester. It was supposed to be two sets, which we didn’t really like – we didn’t really do two sets. But after the first, they asked us to do another. They were so shocked and horrified by it!”
Diggle went on to claim that these early gigs inspired a flurry of punk bands that followed: “Months after that, punk bands were everywhere. We wrote the play, and all the others found it in our dustbin! Look at Green Day. They’re just acting out a pantomime.”
US band Deerhunter recently covered ‘Why Can’t I Touch It?’ by the Buzzcocks on BBC Radio 6 Music. Frontman Bradford Cox said he chose to play the song because “there’s always a lull at a party when a longer song on a record is playing and people stare into their beers and stop talking for a minute – I always feel like this is that song.”