Dave Laing Research Seminar ‘Punks Not Dead!’ Or is it?


The Tuesday Series of Music Research Seminars

Second Semester 2015/16

 Large Music Room, 80-82, Bedford Street South

4pm, Tuesday 12th April

‘Punks Not Dead!’ Or is it? 

Dave Laing (University of Liverpool)

Various institutions such as the London Mayor’s office, Historic England, the English tourist authority and the British Library have proclaimed 2016 as the 40th anniversary of British punk. Additionally, during those four decades, numerous musicians and other creative artists have been defined as punk or punk inspired. References to punk as a genre have become almost ubiquitous, if only as an hyphenated one, or merely as an adjective.  All of this seems to justify the widely used slogan ‘Punks Not Dead’. But is it accurate? The alternative view is expounded in my recently republished One Chord Wonders: Power and Meaning in Punk Rock. It asserts that punk thrived only at a particular historical moment, as an event that was precipitated by a combination of aesthetic, technological, economic and political factors. And that punk in Britain collapsed around 1978, under the weight of its own contradictions and as a result of external pressures, splitting into two weaker strands: ‘real’ punk and post-punk.

Dave Laing is Honorary Research Fellow (Institute of Popular Music) at the University of Liverpool and has been active in the field of Popular Music Studies for over 40 years. He published his first book, ‘The Sound Of Our Time’, in 1969 and was co-editor of the first scholarly reference books, the ‘Encyclopedia of Rock’, in the mid-1970s. His other monographs include two studies of the work of Buddy Holly (1971 and 2010) and a pioneering account of punk, ‘One Chord Wonders’ (1985). As an editor, he has contributed to the magazines ‘Let It Rock’, ‘Music Week’ and ‘Music & Copyright’, the academic journals ‘Popular Music’ and ‘Popular Music History’ and the reference works ‘The Faber Companion to 20th Century Popular Music’ (1990) and the ‘Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World’ (2005).