Punk in Germany - How Anarchy in the UK changed my life

The famous german picture sleeve from December 1976

Klick zum deutschen Artikel

Many articles are already written about 40 Years of Punk - taking 1976 as the first time the scene reared it's pretty ugly head in london. On a different hand: here is my text about how i was infected by punk in Germany at the end of 1976 - and how it changed my life.

My Mum's Radio changed my life

I was nearly 14 when i came home from school past 1 pm early december 1976. My mum was listening to the local radio broadcast called "Kurier am Mittag" (roughly "Courier at noon") when the last topic was presented: "Parents beware, nazi-rock is coming from the uk" - was the first line. And then the guitar intro of "Anarchy in the UK" started with Johnny sneering "Riaaght Noooooow!". I was hooked. This was finally something interesting again. I was already fed up with the music scene. Though i was drawn in with glam rock but after "The Groover" Marc Bolan lost his midas touch - and i was too young to appreciate Roxy Music at that time. Then I fancied Status Quo for a while, later discovering Bad Company and the Bands before; Free and Mott the Hoople. But that was just "ok".

New Sounds - new Looks - new Problems

So here i stood in the kitchen with my mum. And that caused a big first problem. We were a left wing family. So "Nazi-Rock" wasn't happening. I knew from the biggest german teeny bopper magazine "Bravo" that the band used shock tactics, so i didn't want to believe that the use of swastikas by Vivienne Westwood worn by Siouxsie and Sid was more than just a symbol. It took a while to explain that this wasn't "Nazi" at all (Skrewdriver weren't on the map then).

The second problem was a personal one. I just tried to break down the opposition of my parents regarding hair length. But what to do now? Wearing longer hair to openly show of my victory against them and look like those fingerpicking guys with locks that the girls adored but being potentially old-fashioned - or - cut it short to be called a mommy's boy but knowing deep in my heart that this means something different? So I combined the worst of both worlds - the so-called "Prince Valiant-Cut". (no photo here, all visual evidence has been bought and destroyed).

I was hooked

Anyway I was hooked. But where could I hear that sound again? Germany at that time was way behind everything that was popular in the UK or US. Records often would be released months after they left the charts abroad - so that the labels could add "Top Hit in England" on the sleeve. And the radio.... well, german public and private radio stations are a mess even today with endless reruns of "Hits from the 70s, 80s, 90s and the best of today". Playing it safe so that nothing disturbed the working process. And in the seventies we had just a few hours a week where pop music was played.

But although the "Bravo" had listed the Anarchy record - even with a catalogue number, it was nearly impossible to order that 45. I tried it at my local radio store. The women wrote down "Sixth Pistols" - and i was too shy to insist on "Sex". Ten months later I finally was able to order the french b/w release of Anarchy by mail order1).

Ticket for the scheduled Sex Pistols Concert in Hamburg in 1978.

My original ticket from the legendary concert that never was: Sex Pistols in Hamburg January 24th, 1978.

Hunting for the new sound

Meanwhile the record shops started to put up "Punk" racks, but only stacked Pub Rock-Bands like Dr. Feelgood, Little Bob Story or even the first AC/DC records there. So my real first "Punk" releases were "New Rose"2) and The Clash Album. My friends and myself tried every shop in Hamburg to grab what was available as a german pressing: "My Generation" (GenX), "Everyone's a Winner" (London), "White Riot", Stiff 45s on Teldec. And when friends went to Britain in summer, we gave them lists and our pocket money.

I stuck with the pistols until their split. I still have my ticket for the first show in hamburg on January 24th, 1978 - this would have been my first real gig on the eve of my 15th birthday - but they lasted six days too short.3)

Punk in Germany?

Punk in Germany really started in 1978 when the first punk fanzines appeared (i was co-founder of "Plastik" - one of the first fanzines in Hamburg and later started the "Orgienpost" - hence the URL of this Blog - with a different approach). And real new bands started to play - after being fed old hard rock combos on major labels that tried to jump on the bandwagon. But even with the later "Neue Deutsche Welle" and popular bands like DAF ("Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft"), Palais Schaumburg or Fehlfarben (the first two even slighty successful in the UK) - Punk and anything that came after wasn't really that big in germany.

Still the whole punk thing did change my life. It opened up my ears, brain and heart for new stuff: Post Punk, The Face, Mod, Fashion, SOUL, Hip Hop, Disco, Jazz, House, Philosophy, Dub Step, Design ... you name it. Comparing my approach at work or in private with the german majority that didn't understand punk then and still don't do now, it seems my mind is working differently, more dialectically - although i am not an musician or artist - just another employee trying to make ends meet. Just like most others.

1) (with the first Only Ones 7" plus the Buzzcocks and Drones EPs)

2) (german pressing - i sold that far too cheap and too early in Ladbroke Grove in the late 80s)

3) I saw them finally in Berlin on July 6th, 1996 at their first revival tour and later was the support act for Vic Goddard and the Subway Sect at the Astra Stube on November 8th & 9th, 2013, where Paul Cook played drums and gave me his autographed drum stick (without me begging!).

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2 Antworten zu Punk in Germany - How Anarchy in the UK changed my life

  1. Pingback:40 Jahre "Nazi-Rock aus England"? - Soul Stew Blog

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