New York punks in the mid 70’s were clearly inspired by their environment. Manhattan was a lost city, bombed out and over run with rats and dirty syringes. Gotham had an unprecedented fiscal crisis in 1975, and two years later chaos ensued after the power went out for 25 hours. While poverty stricken New Yorkers looked over their shoulders to avoid pick pockets, British teens were avoiding the police.
The anti-police riots of 1976 spawned the “sus” law which allowed the cops to search anyone, leading to the violent harassment of punks and immigrants. The economy wasn’t doing well in London– a million jobs were lost in manufacturing plants alone between 1970-1977– at the time the Queen started her silver jubilee tour in ’77 and the country celebrated with street parties, ignoring the sad state of the surroundings. This seriously pissed off the youth, leading to “God Save The Queen,” and t-shirts designed with images of a safety pin through her royal nostril.
The New York Dolls trampy fashions echoed the looks of the ladies of the night that walked the streets of the Bowery. Thrift stores were frequented and more creative types made their own outrageous garb. Shirts were ripped, and safety pins were attached to clothing on both sides of the pond. Malcolm McLaren’sKing’s Road shop provided punks with plaid skirts, leather pants and bondage bracelets. Many of the clothes were designed by his wife Vivenne Westwood.
Malcolm McLaren and Vivenne Westwood.
Ari Up – The Slits
NEW YORK PUNKS
Alan Vega of Suicide
Rodney Bingenheimer (L.A.) and Stiv Bators (NYC)
New York Dolls
The Ramones and Danny Fields – Photo by: Bob Gruen
Legs McNeil at CBGB’s – Photo: Godlis
Patti Smith Group
Hilly Kristal outside CBGB’s – Legs McNeil standing in front of the barricade.