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Updated by GOAT Series Staff on Apr 17, 2018
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Greatest Punk Band of All Time

What is the greatest punk band of all time?

1

The Stooges

The Stooges

The Stooges, also known as Iggy and the Stooges, helped spawn the career of beloved punk frontman Iggy Pop. They got their start in 1967, long before punk was an idea or a cultural movement. They never strove to be groundbreaking and start a new movement; they just wanted to play groovy, heavy garage rock with psychedelic influences. The Stooges formed in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where there wasn’t much to do, so many young people were starting their own rock bands and getting into the scene at a rapid rate. What made the Stooges different was that they played a little louder and a little faster than other garage rock bands of their time, had lyrics about not caring, giving up, and being lonely, and had Iggy Pop, an outstanding vocalist who cut himself, did acrobatics, and generally acted outrageously on stage. For The Stooges this was simply Iggy expressing his personality and the rest of the band playing as hard as they could, but for the rest of the world, it was punk rock. The fact that these guys were the first band in the genre really shouldn’t be debated, due to the early formation date of the Stooges.

Years Together: 1967–1974, 2003–present | Place of Origin: Ann Arbor, Michigan | Spawned Subgenres: punk, psych rock | Labels: Elektra, Columbia, Virgin | Core Members: Iggy Pop, James Williamson, Steve Mackay, Mike Watt, Toby Dammit

Number of Albums: 5 | Most Popular Albums: The Stooges, Fun House, Raw Power | Major Claim to Fame: started the career of Iggy pop and pioneered punk and psych rock | Fun Fact: Iggy got his nickname from the earlier band he was in, The Iguanas.

2

Misfits

Misfits

One of the most culturally beloved punk bands today, the Misfits have more than made their mark on the scene and the world in general with their music and their overall aesthetic. These guys got their start writing psychobilly or “horror punk” themed songs about horror movies, Halloween, and the macabre with a catchy, almost poppy sound. They are one of the few bands to be both accepted in the metal world as a metal-punk crossover success, and to also have achieved some of the most widespread cultural success with marketing and merchandising. Over the years, the only consistent members of the band have been Jerry Only, the bassist, and Glenn Danzig on vocals. Danzig has since branched out to do his own thing, but Only is still touring with the band today. This group is important because of how unique they sound and all the trends they started, as well as the staying power that their music has.

Years Together: 1977–1983, 1995–present | Place of Origin: Lodi, New Jersey | Spawned Subgenres: horror punk, metal and punk | Labels: Plan 9, Caroline, Roadrunner, Misfits | Core Members: Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only, Dez Cadena, Eric "Chupacabra" Arce

Number of Albums: 8 | Most Popular Albums: Walk Among Us, Earth A.D., Static Age | Major Claim to Fame: formative psychobilly band, wrote memorable songs | Fun Fact: The album is named after Marilyn Monroe's last movie.

3

The Damned

The Damned

The Damned are from the original crop of punk bands, along with The Clash and The Sex Pistols in England, but they never quite made it to the same level of cultural and mainstream success as the other groups. The group formed in 1976, and are still playing together today. Their singer, Dave Vanian, dressed like a vampire when on stage and their bassist, Captain Sensible, dresseds like a drunk sailor wearing colorful Ray Ban style sunglasses. In addition to their freak show-style stage performance, they are important to punk because they were by far the fastest punk band out at the time, paving the way for modern music and even metal and cross-genre blends. They also started all dressing like vampires and playing synthesizers in the 1980s, which paved the way for goth rock and goth culture, as well. For a band that often gets overlooked, they are responsible for starting a lot of trends.

Years Together: 1976-present | Place of Origin: London, England | Spawned Subgenres: original pioneers of punk, also started goth rock | Labels: Stiff, Chiswick, Bronze, Toshiba, Nitro, English Channel, MCA | Core Members: Vanian, Captain Sensible, Brian James, Rat Scabies, Dave

Number of Albums: 10 | Most Popular Albums: Damned, Damned, Machine Gun Etiquette, Music for Pleasure | Major Claim to Fame: starting "goth" culture, crazy outfits | Fun Fact: Lemmy from Motörhead was once in the band.

4

The Dwarves

The Dwarves

By far one of the most outrageous punk bands of all time, The Dwarves formed in the mid 80s in Chicago, and made a name of themselves playing fast and aggressive hardcore garage punk that incorporated elements of surf and psychedelic music into their sound. In addition to their unique music, they are known for their out-of-control stage presence; often, there shows are cut short early because they or someone in the audience sustains an injury, or they insult someone. Additionally, they have had their music featured in the movie Me, Myself & Irene and achieved some measure of commercial success, despite their sound and image. The Dwarves are noteworthy for their skill, their offensiveness factor, and the respect they have achieved.

Years Together: mid 80s-present | Place of Origin: Chicago, Illinois | Spawned Subgenres: punk, hardcore, garage punk | Labels: Sympathy for the Record Industry, Sub Pop, Epitaph | Core Members: Blag Dahlia, HeWhoCannotBeNamed, Rex Everything, Whölley Smökkes, Greg Saenz

Number of Albums: 17 | Most Popular Albums: Blood Guts and Pussie, Free Cocaine | Major Claim to Fame: started garage punk | Fun Fact: Known for onstage sex and violence, crazy stage show.

5

The Ramones

The Ramones

The Ramones take the cake for most commercially loved punk band of all time. Everyone is a fan of these guys, no matter what genre of music they profess to be their favorite. They are beloved, by everyone, and for good reason. Their blend of “bubblegum heavy metal,” as they described their own music, is somehow both catchy and brutal, fast and aggressive yet almost danceable and completely lighthearted.While some die-hard punks might claim The Ramones are overrated – and they surely are in some ways, as the legend is now bigger than the band – there is no denying that they’ve had a huge influence on punk sound over the years. They are also still playing shows and touring today, and are still recognized as having a great live show.

Years Together: 1946-96 | Place of Origin: New York City, United States (Queens) | Spawned Subgenres: pop punk, modern styles of punk | Labels: Sire, Philips, Beggars Banquet, Radioactive, Chrysalis | Core Members: Johnny Ramone, Joey Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, Tommy Ramone, Marky Ramone

Number of Albums: 14 | Most Popular Albums: Ramones, Rocket to Russia | Major Claim to Fame: started "bubble gum heavy metal" and the poppy but heavy punk sound | Fun Fact: The Ramones named themselves after Paul McCartney.

6

The Exploited

The Exploited

After the initial wave of punk died out, a couple guys from Scotland hit the scene with Punks Not Dead and proved that, in fact, it wasn’t. The Exploited and the other bands coming out around the same time brought a new energy to the scene; they had giant mohawks, they were rowdy and angry, and they were committed to not only preserving the sound of punk, but also moving it forward and in new and exciting directions. The Exploited are also big in the Oi! scene, a subgenre of punk characterized by skinhead culture, European football, and hooliganism.

Years Together: 1978–present | Place of Origin: Edinburgh, Scotland | Spawned Subgenres: hardcore punk, street punk, Oi! | Labels: Nuclear Blast, Secret, Rough Justice, Captain Oi! | Core Members: Wattie Buchan, Wullie Buchan, Irish Rob, Matt Justice

Number of Albums: 8 | Most Popular Albums: Punks Not Dead, Troops of Tomorrow, Fuck the System | Major Claim to Fame: started heavier punk sound | Fun Fact: in their early days, they spray-painted their names everywhere and stole people's newspapers to return later with notes attached.

7

The Cramps

The Cramps

In 1975, an odd couple who went by the names of Lux Interior and Poison Ivy moved to New York City from California to be artists and musicians. They started a band that mixed psychedelic elements with proto-punk sounds, kitschy underground theater, and rockabilly music. The result was the birth of psychobilly, basically rockabilly Southern rock n’ roll culture on acid. The Cramps played together tirelessly until 2009, when Lux Interior sadly and suddenly passed away from a heart attack. They had a tremendous impact on the punk community and the way women in the punk scene were perceived, and had a very unique sound that set them apart from the other New York punk bands that were coming out.

Years Together: 1967-2009 | Place of Origin: New York City | Spawned Subgenres: psychobilly | Labels: I.R.S. Records, Sun Records, The Medicine Label, Epitaph, Illegal, Big Beat, Enigma, Vengeance | Core Members: Lux Interior, Poison Ivy

Number of Albums: 8 | Most Popular Albums: Songs the Lord Taught Us, Psychedelic Jungle | Major Claim to Fame: outrageous names and outfits, female member, psychobilly | Fun Fact: Lex and Ivy were actually from California; they moved to Ohio, then New York.

8

Discharge

Discharge

In 1977, at the tail end of punk’s early glory years, a group of guys from a small town in England started playing ’77 style punk in the vein of predecessors like The Damned and The Sex Pistols. However, their sound soon progressed as they matured and got more serious about their art, and the result was Discharge, the pioneer “d-beat” band. D-beat is a fusion of hardcore punk and metal, and it is characterized by the downbeat style of drumming used in most of the songs. Discharge have been touring and writing together for a long time, and completely changed the way that punk is written and received.Not only did these guys bring the worlds of metal and punk closer together and spawn a new form of music, they also pioneered a whole new aesthetic. Many bands today follow in Discharge’s footsteps by adopting a name that starts with “dis” “Disrupt, Distrust, Destroy, Disfear” etc., and including black and white imagery in their visuals and a bleak, dystopian theme in their lyrics.

Years Together: 1977–1987, 1991–1999, 2001–present | Place of Origin: Stoke-on-Trent, England | Spawned Subgenres: hardcore punk, crossover, D-beat | Labels: Broken Bones, Varukers, HellsBelles | Core Members: Terence "Tezz" Roberts, Royston "Rainy" Wainwright, Anthony "Bones" Roberts, Kelvin "Cal" Morris

Number of Albums: 7 | Most Popular Albums: Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing, Grave New World | Major Claim to Fame: started D-beat and bands who start their names with "dis" | Fun Fact: Initially played more traditional punk in the vein of the Sex Pistols, but changed their sound when their lineup changed.

9

Sex Pistols

Sex Pistols

These guys were some of the pioneers of punk, forming in England in 1975. They were a gimmick from the beginning, put together by Malcolm McLaren and Vivian Westwood, the couple that owned “Sex,” a local store that sold bondage-style clothing to punks. Johnny Rotten, the vocalist, was chosen for his brash and abrasive style and his spikey green hair and crooked teeth, and bassist Sid Vicious was chosen for his equally commanding stage presence rather than his bass playing skills. While they are hyped as one of the most influential punk bands ever, The Sex Pistols were actually only together for four years, and only released one album. Still, Nevermind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols is timeless, and each song on the album is an absolute gem.

Years Together: 1975-1978 | Place of Origin: London, England | Spawned Subgenres: punk, pop punk, 77 style punk | Labels: EMI, A&M, Virgin, Warner Bros., Universal Music Group | Core Members: Steve Jones, Paul Cook, Glen Matlock, Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious

Number of Albums: 1 | Most Popular Albums: Nevermind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols | Major Claim to Fame: breaking up rebelliously after only one album, the fame of Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious | Fun Fact: Johnny Rotten auditioned for the band by singing along with Alice Cooper's "18" on the juke box.

10

Minor Threat

Minor Threat

Minor Threat came from the Washington D.C. hardcore scene, and are one of the originating bands of this scene. They are responsible for starting the trend of being “straight edge” – they didn’t drink, smoke, have casual sex, or use drugs. While for them this was just a lifestyle and set of ideals they embraced, later bands and fans took it as gospel, beating up those who chose to drink or use do drugs. Minor Threat were also very influential with their sound, defining modern hardcore punk.

Years Together: 1980-1983 | Place of Origin: Washington, D.C. | Spawned Subgenres: hardcore punk | Labels: Dischord | Core Members: Ian MacKaye, Jeff Nelson, Brian Baker, Lyle Preslar, Steve Hansgen

Number of Albums: 1 | Most Popular Albums: Out of Step | Major Claim to Fame: helped start hardcore | Fun Fact: Minor Threat advocated the straight-edge life style but never wanted it taken that seriously; the bands that followed and were influenced by them have been accused of violence against those drinking or doing drugs.