Icons of England
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971 of 1170 nominations



Is this an icon?



There will always be disputes between England and America as to where punk really originated. Time has rather settled the matter, we feel, in our favour, with the release of the Sex Pistols’ debut single, Anarchy In The UK, in November 1976. That fired the starting-gun on the biggest upheaval in pop music since the invention of rock and roll. The punk rockers of those days might have responded with a practised sneer to the news that they would one day be held up as icons of England – the whole point of the movement was iconoclasm – but icons they have certainly become. The torn clothing festooned with safety-pins, dyed hair gelled into spikes, the brutally simple approach to dancing known as pogoing: these were the identifying marks of punk. As was a finely honed desire to shock middle England to the core, with the Sex Pistols setting the example by unleashing a torrent of expletives on live teatime TV. Punk’s musical legacy can be still heard today in bands such as the Kaiser Chiefs and Green Day, while the Hammer Horror sartorial style is celebrated in postcards of mohicaned punks on sale in the London tourist shops.


Your comments

A musical revolution started in England in the late 1970s, which quickly spread around the world. Although the punk phenomenon faded away within a few years, its legacy remains in much of today's rock music, including in the United States. Postcards featuring punks with colourful mohicans are still popular in London tourist shops.

Doug Stratton

Absolutely YES! Anarchy in the UK is probably THE best known (though not necessarily best) punk song. People who voted no either hate punk music or just weren't punks themselves, which is not what this is about! I remember walking down the Kings Road in Chelsea and seeing punks being photographed by tourists who descended upon them in droves. You couldn't walk into a postcard shop without seeing different punk cards in so many different styles and today, they are still being sold in some places. Love it or hate it, punk epitomised the late 70s and early 80s where men swore and spat and women finally came out and spoke (and sang) for themselves. It may have fizzled out but it is on the way back with the new style of young fashion and will never truly die as it made too much noise to lay down quietly. As my pin badge stated in 1984 "Punk's not dead-it just smells funny!"
J Dennis

Today the music which is called punk, eg Green Day is a misnomer. I believe the period 1976-82 produced the greatest music, the most innovative musicians & the most excitement the British music scene will ever experience, although of course the Sixties were fairly good. Yeah, it was partly influenced by events in the US, but that was a different scene & everyone needs an influence to get going. The range of stuff being produced in this period is incredible, especially if u count all the underground/cassette artists that no-one respectable ever talks about as well. When I play music I listen to this era: if it is not, then it is the stuff that influenced it or the bands that have emerged out of it since, in their newer versions. There is good contemporary music about, but, like I said respectable people do not talk about it in the main media. And it is incredible how many of the composers from that era are still producing amazing stuff.
Andrew D Scott

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I nominate the red pillar box.

Donna Spencer