Anniversary of The Damned Introducing CBGB to UK Punk

On this day in 1977, The Damned became the first British punk group to appear at New York's CBGB. This wasn't the first time that they were the trailblazers of punk rock. Gibson takes a look back: They were the first U.K. punk band to release (and chart) a single and the first to release an album. They were also the first to cross the Atlantic and lay waste to the U.S. Nope, we're not talking about the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Jam or even The Buzzcocks. U.K. punk's ultimate trailblazers were, in fact, a colorful London outfit known simply as The Damned.

The group was formed out of the ashes of the wonderfully named Masters of the Backside, which featured future Pretender Chrissie Hynde on guitar. Masters of the Backside was the creation of impresario Malcolm McLaren, but failed to gel as McLaren had hoped and split before they could ever record or even play a gig. (McLaren got it right with his other group, a little combo called the Sex Pistols.)

The rest of the band, minus Hynde, decided to have a go on their own. And they had every reason to think they had something cooking. First off, they comprised an amazing collection of bigger-than-life characters. Singer Dave Vanian (formerly David Letts, with a name change to evoke "Transylvanian") was a goth before goths existed. He looked like a crypt keeperů which, in fact, he was before going into music full-time. The drummer was a prototypical leather-and-safety-pins punker with the slightly terrifying name Rat Scabies (neÚ Chris Millar). And the bassist, well, he was from a planet all his own, sporting brightly dyed hair and preposterous costumes always punctuated with a red beret. He was, quite simply, Captain Sensible. more on this story

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