Welcome to The Punk Chronology. My name is Thomas Nadelhoffer. I am a professor of philosophy and an amateur music historian (see here and here for chronologies of doom metal and thrash metal that I put together). When I started this punk project during the early days of the pandemic, I wanted to create an extensive (but inevitably incomplete and biased) chronology of pre-punk, proto-punk post-punk, and punk singles, EPs, and LPs. Less than a year later, the chronology has more than 8,000+ entries! I had three goals when I decided to undertake this daunting project: First, I wanted to create a searchable database that covered the pre-punk bands from the 1930s-1960s, the proto-punk and post-punk bands from the 1960s and 1970s, the first, second, and third wave punk bands from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, and the bands from the more recent punk renaissance that began at the turn of twenty-first century. Second, I wanted to provide compelling evidence that punk is far from dead (as the explosion of punk during the past twenty years makes clear)! Third, I wanted to organize the chronology in a way that would enable readers to find new punk bands that they might like from decade to decade. Given these goals, I construed punk very broadly (see below for details).
There are bands from every continent except Antarctica and while most albums are in English, there are also albums in Bahasa Indonesian, Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Nepali, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Shona, Slovak Slovenčina, Spanish, Swedish, and Yiddish. I am publishing The Punk Chronology as a blog because I want readers to be able to make suggestions for albums I ought to include moving forward. As I said, while I tried to make the database as extensive as possible, there will invariably be important gaps that need to be filled in. So, the chronology is organized as a series of blog posts. For instance, if you have some suggestions for albums that should be included from 1985, just find the appropriate post (1985-1989) and add your suggestion as a comment. I will regularly update the chronology. In this way, I intend for this to be a community-based and crowd-sourced enterprise. While I am not interested in defending my choices concerning which bands count as pre-punk, proto-punk, and punk, I welcome your feedback when it comes to bands/albums I should include. So, please join me in making this the most comprehensive “living” chronology of punk on the internet.
That said, there is more about my methodology, etc. below the fold!
First, I focused primarily on EPs and LPs. While I included a limited number of singles, live albums, and splits, these were not my focus. With over 8,000 entries, I had to limit the scope of the project or I knew I would never finish! I assumed that by including EPs and LPs, readers could find the other recordings put out by bands.
Second, I alphabetized based on the first letter of the first primary noun or verb. So, for instance, Black Flag, BL’AST, and Bob Dylan are under B. However, I did not use articles for the purposes of alphabetizing (whether in English or other languages). So, The Adverts are under A, Die Mimmis are under M, Los Fastidos are under F, etc.
Third, I used Wikipedia and Discogs to determine the dates that singles, EPs, and LPs were released. Where there were conflicts, I deferred to the latter. For archival releases, I used the dates when the original albums or songs were recorded to determine their place in the chronology so that they are located in their proper historical context (although I included their more recent release date as well).
Fourth, for the pre-punk and proto-punk bands from the 1930s through 1970s, I included musicians and bands that either set the stage for rock music more generally (Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lewis, etc.) or musicians and bands that I think had a more direct influence on punk: e.g., the protest music of Lead Belly, Woodie Guthrie, and Bod Dylan; the surf rock of Ritchie Valens, the Beach Boys, and The Trashmen; the reggae musicians and bands like The Skatalites, The Heptones, The Upsetters, and Bod Marley that influenced The Clash, ska, etc.; the heavier bands like Black Sabbath, Electric Funeral, and Mötorhead that influenced hardcore; the garage bands like The Kingsmen, ? & The Mysterians, Paul Revere & The Raiders, and The Sonics that were the first to be labeled as “punk”; and the other proto-punk bands that directly paved the way for the sound of punk that was to come like Los Saicos, The Kinks, MC5, The Stooges, and The Velvet Underground. To make the project manageable, I tried to limit myself to three or less singles, EPs, and LPs from most of these earlier bands. That said, my inclusion criteria for this period are admittedly more subjective and idiosyncratic. Here, as elsewhere, I tried to err on the side of inclusivity.
Fifth, given my goal of being as inclusive as possible, I simply took the various subgenres of punk as given (even when I happen not to care much for particular subgenres). As a result, the chronology includes bands from the following subgenres:
Afro-punk, Anarcho-punk, Art Punk, Blackened Crust, Blackened Hardcore, Black Liberation Punk, Celtic Punk, Christian Hardcore, Cow Punk, Crossover Thrash, Crust Punk, D-beat, Electropunk, Emo, Emoviolence, Folk Punk, Garage Punk, Gazecore, Glam Punk, Grime-punk, Grindcore, Gypsy Punk, Hardcore, Horror Punk, J-ska, Mathcore, Mbira-punk, Melodic Hardcore, Metalcore, Nardcore, Noisecore, Noise Punk, Oi!, Peace Punk, Pop Punk, Post-Hardcore, Post-punk, Powerviolence, Psychobilly, Punk blues, Punk Pathetique, Queercore, Riot-Folk, Riot Grrrl, Screamo, Ska Punk, Skate Punk, Sludgecore, Stenchcore, Street Punk, Sugar Oi!, Surf Punk, Swing Punk, Thrashcore, 2 Tone Ska Revival, Yidcore.
Sixth, I would be foolish to pretend that my own tastes and preferences didn’t influence what was included (and not included). I love doom metal (so a number of sludge metal bands that are punk adjacent are included). I love crossover thrash (so a number of thrash metal bands that are punk adjacent are included). Finally, I also love crust punk (so some crusty black metal bands that are punk adjacent are included). On the other hand, while I included a number of pop punk bands—some of which I like, many of which I don’t like—I couldn’t bring myself to include bands like Sum 41, My Chemical Romance, Good Charlotte, Jimmy Eat World, Angels & Airwaves, Simple Creatures, Panic! at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, Alien Ant Farm, etc. I am fine conceding that these are punk bands, properly understood, but I sufficiently dislike their sound that I didn’t lose any sleep not including them in the chronology!
Finally, I was torn when it comes to what to do with Neo-Nazi and white supremacist punk bands. Unfortunately, these bands had an outsized influence on how punk was portrayed in popular culture in the 1980s and 1990s. While I didn’t want to give these bands more attention than they deserve, I thought it was also problematic to (ironically) white wash them altogether. So, I included some of the more popular bands from this subgenre. I used a ** to flag them as such.