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The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

Punk Before Punk

Punk Before Punk

Frank Bianco, Copy Editor

When most people think of the icons of punk rock music, names like the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, The Clash, among others from the period between 1975 and 1979, are likely to get brought up. But go back some years prior and one could list a number of other names that were laying the groundwork for what punk rock would become, such as the Stooges, MC5 and Alice Cooper.

With the extensiveness of music history, it’s almost a guarantee that a number of names are likely to be forgotten. But thanks to the internet, social media and old fashioned word-of-mouth, the memories of those names can be given life again years after they’ve been thought to have faded. 

In 2012, a documentary was released called “A Band Called Death.” It told the story of a band called Death—not the heavy metal band formed by Chuck Schuldiner—but instead a power trio from Detroit formed in 1971 by three brothers: Bobby, David and Dannis Hackney. 

Initially a funk trio, the brothers changed their musical direction after seeing The Who and Alice Cooper in concert on separate occasions. While not abandoning their funk roots outright, as evidenced by groovy bass lines on some of their songs, the brothers forged their own brand of edgy, pull-no-punches rock ‘n’ roll. 

By all accounts, the brothers should have been stars overnight. However, the record companies at the time wouldn’t sign a band with a name like ‘Death’ out of the fear of public uproar. 

Because of the brothers’ adamant refusal to change their name, as it was a tribute to their late father, any chance they could have had at stardom were derailed on the spot. The band disbanded in 1977 and languished in virtual anonymity. 

Eventually, the group managed to get a second chance when, along with the previously mentioned documentary, a collection of demos the band recorded in 1975 was released in 2009 under the title “For the Whole World to See.”  They are now considered pioneers of punk rock who were just a few years shy of the punk phenomenon that would rock the UK.

Right around the time the guys in Detroit were struggling to find success, there was another outfit out of Manchester, England, who was busy throwing the music scene for a loop.  Named after a character on Madtv, this group of lively degenerates were known as Stack Waddy. 

One of the reasons why punk rock was created and why it gained so much traction was in response to the lavish over-indulgence that rock acts like Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Yes were putting out toward the end of the 70s. The boys in Stack Waddy were already sick of the lavishness while the progressive rock genre was still in its infancy. 

  Backed by famous British D.J. John Peel, Stack Waddy recorded two albums on Peel’s Dandelion Records: The self-titled “Stack Waddy” in 1971, and 1972’s “Bugger Off!” On the latter record, the band insisted that all the songs be done in one take with no overdubs.

The band consisted of John Knall on vocals and harmonica, Mick Stott on electric guitar, Stuart Banham on bass, and Steve Revell, (latter replaced by John Groom on the second record), on drums.   

While musically they still adhered to a hard-rock and blues foundation, Stack Waddy had the uncompromising attitude of punk rockers. John Knall was so proud of the band that he once got into an altercation with a guy in the crowd who was making out with a girl instead of watching the band. 

It was through their connections with John Peel that Stack Waddy would make a few appearances on BBC Radio. However, this was as close as they would get to national stardom.  Though they would release no new material after 1972, Stack Waddy would reunite from time to time throughout the years, up until 2007. 

While the internet may be an entity often associated with negativity, it can also serve as a place for previously unrecognized groups of individuals to receive the belated praise that they rightfully deserve.

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