When did "hippie" end and "punk" begin?
May 11, 2019 11:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm 61 and work with a 63-year-old colleague whom I'll call J. We had a recent argument about culture and I wonder how I can prove to him I am right, since this is not a simple matter of looking up facts. (This really is not just chatfilter, as I'm seeking movies, video or even still photos that might back up my position.)

I was in high school between 1970 and 1974, he was probably a year or two before me. Different schools, but both of us in Montreal. This era was post school uniforms, at least in my case: we wore our own clothes to school.

I mentioned to J. in passing that at my school the dominant style was sort of hippie. Scruffy bell-bottoms, long hair on girls and shaggy hair on most boys, Indian print shirts, some miniskirts, some drifty long skirts. Most folks were not really hippies (we were too young and vague about the whole thing, except some of the music) but the style was prevalent.

J. was adamant that "hippie was 1960s and was over by the 1970s! Punk came in in the 1970s!" I said that it takes time for a trend to work through the popular consciousness. In my memory, the hippie thing sort of slowly fizzled throughout the 1970s, but although punk may have begun in 1976 in London and New York, the style didn't reach other places till the early 1980s. J. said dismissively that by the 1980s it was "new wave" and not punk, which he claims was over by then, which didn't sufficiently explain to me why I saw punks around for years after that (and still see the occasional young person experimenting with the style even now).

J. told me firmly his memory was clear and I'm all wrong, but how can I show him I'm not wrong? I feel certain that young people in the early to mid-1970s were not yet dressing punk. I know the hippie thing is said to have faded after Altamont, but the aftershocks of the style surely did last into the mid-1970s, maybe even a bit later?

Cultural styles don't necessarily begin and end tidily with the ends of decades. There's a lag. I want to prove this somehow: I'm looking for visuals, I think: movies, video, photos from the 1960s to the 1990s, or any articles or essays that might support my position.
posted by zadcat to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (34 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
High school yearbooks!
Long hair and bell bottoms or boot cut jeans-
Angel sleeve dresses and shirts certainly show up in some mid to late 1970’s yearbooks my family inherited.
posted by calgirl at 11:38 AM on May 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

Joseph Szabo took pictures of his students when he was a high school teacher on Long Island in the '70s. They seem to confirm your perspective. I was a small child at the end of the '70s, but my sense is that, at least in the US, punk was always pretty subcultural. It didn't hit until the late '70s, and most kids weren't influenced by it much at all. There was *a* punk kid in my neighborhood, one solitary kid, and my mom can tell you who he was. I think most teenagers in the late 70s were more into metal and associated styles than punk.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:41 AM on May 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

There's a sociolinguistic study of a high school in suburban Detroit that was conducted in the early 80s that looked at Jocks (who wore their jeans pegged) and Burnouts (who were still wearing bell bottoms). One thing the researcher (Penny Eckert) looked at was where the different groups hung out, and actually did a mini study of pant leg width which ended up showing a nice diagram showing a gradual change as you moved from the cafeteria (jocks) to the courtyard (burnouts).

(See here for the relevant chapter from the book, "Linguistic Variation as Social Practice", which also discusses how styles are adapted slowly throughout a culture: Link; the diagram is on page 66)
posted by damayanti at 11:42 AM on May 11, 2019 [11 favorites]

Where did each of you live? It seems like this could have varied hugely by locale and maybe even by high school.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:44 AM on May 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

chesty_a_arthur, we're both in Montreal, and have always lived here. We both went to public English-language high schools in a nominally Catholic school board that no longer exists. (The religious aspect was negligible around this time, although he had one subject taught by a brother, and I had one taught by a nun.)

Our schools were in different neighbourhoods but we grew up in basically the same place at the same time, which is one reason his disagreement seems so odd to me.
posted by zadcat at 11:57 AM on May 11, 2019

I was born in 1970 and wasn't too aware of different music/fashion subcultures until the late '70s - which at least for me as a kid in the suburban midwest, seemed dominated by disco.

But you and your colleague may both be right, depending on where you lived, who else you hung out with, and even your age difference of just a few years. In 1976 in New York and other East Coast cities there were certainly high school students into the Ramones, while in other areas, most were likely still into hippie-era-influenced rock, but maybe trading out their bellbottoms for thinner pants. Plus a few adventurous types would have been into David Bowie, the Stooges, Lou Reed, and glam.

One video that's pretty interesting to me is this 1978 episode of Tom Snyder's "Tomorrow" TV show, where (starting at 24:00) you've got Paul Weller and Joan Jett – both 19 years old and from different underground scenes – talking about how "punk" is a corporate term and new wave is what they call themselves. It's a good artifact of how fashion and terminology can be perceived differently not only by those of us a few decades later, but even by those at the time.
posted by lisa g at 11:57 AM on May 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

The seventies are a transitional period, with glam, hard rock and skinhead looks bridging hippie and punk. So your friend may be remembering some early hard rock or glam stuff and thinking of it as punk because there's some overlap. (Also, think of the Velvet Underground or Lou Reed's solo seventies stuff in this regard.)

Any youth fashion book that covers the period will show this clearly. Without getting out of bed to look, I can most readily think of a book from the UK, The Bag I'm In, which has tons and tons of photos of fashionable young people from the end of WWII through the early nineties and explains the segue of scenes very well. Obviously because it's the UK it doesn't map perfectly onto US [Canada, oops] trends, but it shows the move from hippie to punk through hard rock and glam very clearly and in a way that does match what happened in the US AND CANADA.
posted by Frowner at 12:00 PM on May 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

Here's a photo album from 1978: Les 10 ans du Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui, événement souligné à l'émission "Les Coqueluches" diffusée sur les ondes de la télévision de Radio-Canada.

I think punk dress was always subcultural, but if you take a look a this Oral History of Punk In Montreal, it seems that it caught on in 1977.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 12:17 PM on May 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

I went to high school in the early 80's - in suburban Atlanta - there were only one or two punk students as such (mohawks, spiky jackets), and they were seen as pretty extreme and novel. At the same time, there were some students somewhat awkwardly dressing "New Wave" - skinny ties, bleached hair, that kind of thing. Your friend's notion that these trends came in discrete phases is not really true, in my experience.
posted by thelonius at 12:38 PM on May 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Imperfect, but Google's Ngram Viewer of English usage shows "hippie" skyrocketing in the late 60s and peaking in the early 70s before a sharp collapse by 1975. "Punk" is probably construed a little broadly ("punk kids," "you little punk," etc.), since it rises steadily even into the 2000s, but even then it didn't overtake "hippie" until the early 80s. Also consider that it's based on published text, so there may be a bit of lag time versus what you would have seen on the ground at the time.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:43 PM on May 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

You're right, zadcat. J's perceptions have been coloured by revisionist later-day media. My perspective is East Coast/Mid-Atlantic (although I was actually a tourist in Montreal in 1970). At my high school (graduating class 1972) I'd say the Flower Power-Hippie Ideal had faded completely by early1971, although scruffy leather-fringed, bell-bottomed fashions and long hair on men persisted into the mid 1970s and beyond. The mainstream, non-disco soundtrack of that time (Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, Jackson Browne, etc) is verifiably not psychedelic (even though some of us were in fact grooving to the likes of Pink Floyd, we were outliers, then). And punk rock didn't appear until the end of the decade -- 1977 if you were paying attention, but most weren't until a couple years later.
posted by Rash at 1:08 PM on May 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

1977 The Grateful Dead’s Greatest Year

Also 1977 The Clash Tear Up ‘Garageland’

So...seems like your hs years were firmly in hippie times.
posted by j_curiouser at 1:09 PM on May 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I grew up in London, and 1976 was the turning point, where you could see the big transition coming, and the glam hippy thing started fading. Then punk really ignited in 1977. By 1980 punk was passé in London, and there was this blossoming and fragmentation into lots of new genres like new wave, new metal, electronic, emergence of early hip hop. I know punk had waves of interest long after this is other parts of the world, but that’s how it was in London.
posted by w0mbat at 1:11 PM on May 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

In the US the hippie era began to fade with the end of the Vietnam War and the exit of Richard Nixon in 1975. With the arrival of Ronald Reagan in 1980-1981, punk was well established.

By the time suit-and-tie Jerry Rubin went on tour to debate Abbie Hoffman in the early-80s, the last vestige of the hippie era was truly dead and gone.
posted by JackFlash at 1:22 PM on May 11, 2019

I graduated from high school in 1975 in a small city in Illinois. There was absolutely nothing that could be called punk in my high school or early college years. I wore lots of flowing Indian shirts back then and had a large collection of peace sign necklaces. It was totally a hippie vibe, though admittedly a lot of it was hippie as interpreted by corporate America at that point.

I’m actually really impressed by how accurately the clothes of the American girl doll Julie reflect that time period, though I’m not sure how their research works. Her year is given as 1974.
posted by FencingGal at 1:54 PM on May 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm a few years older and lived in both centers of it all -NYC and SF- for various periods between the mid-sixties and mid-seventies. CBGB, the epicenter of punk music, opened in 1973.
posted by mareli at 2:06 PM on May 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Doesn't mean punk bands were actually playing there, then.

I disagree about that Julie doll, FencingGal. Her relationship with the reality of 1974 is about as accurate as Kirsten Dunst's wardrobe in Dick -- an example of what I meant in my earlier comment about revisionism by the media.
posted by Rash at 2:14 PM on May 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Just to clarify, I’m only referring to Julie’s clothes. They’re very much like mine were. I still have a lot of them and was just looking at them the other day. Maybe your 1974 was different from mine.
posted by FencingGal at 2:23 PM on May 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Cultural styles don't necessarily begin and end tidily with the ends of decades. There's a lag. I want to prove this somehow: I'm looking for visuals, I think: movies, video, photos from the 1960s to the 1990s, or any articles or essays that might support my position.

MC5 might be a good example of what you're talking about. To a certain extent, they represent a collision between hippie/punk and the not-tidy thing you're referring to.

Ramblin Rose/Kick Out The Jams/Looking At You - July 1970

Kick Out The Jams [NSFW intro]
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:40 PM on May 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Punks and hippies are totally different groups, there's not a timeline break between the two and you could have both in the same cities simultaneously.
posted by bile and syntax at 2:44 PM on May 11, 2019 [8 favorites]

Of course you're right about styles fading into one another -- it's not like on January 1, 1970, the entire population of Montreal threw out their entire wardrobe and bought new clothes. If you want to show him how trends filter through levels of society over years, play him that clip from The Devil Wears Prada

But a person who assumes that teens in a mid-sized, non-fashion-oriented city, are on point with the latest fashion trends in an era before instant Internet-level connectivity (or worse, tries to tell you that you're wrong about your own memories of your own high school experience), is unlikely to be convinced with any amount of personal or historical documentary evidence.
posted by basalganglia at 3:00 PM on May 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

A teenager wearing bell-bottoms in the 1970s is not going to cause a rift in the space-time continuum.

I agree 100% with you zadcat. Fashion trends and music genre popularity don't follow the laws of science. There's also variation in the rate of adoption between various cities over the latest trends. London and New York are probably going to be faster to adopt the latest trends while a smaller city in the Midwest is going to be slower to move past bell-bottoms. Especially in the years before the internet, social media, and ubiquitous air travel.

To be honest this guy sounds like a bit of a jerk to tell you you're all wrong over something like bell-bottoms and shaggy hair. I wouldn't be surprised if he's hard to work with.
posted by mundo at 3:08 PM on May 11, 2019

I grew up in the Midwest, near St. Louis and was growing up in the 70s/80s. We tended to be slower to see trends there, I don't think I had even a whiff of punk until 1980, but we still had hippies or people slowly aging out of being hippies and some kids were still hippy-ish until the early 80s.

However, you asked for photo evidence - so I submit a few pieces. Fans waiting for Superjam in St. Louis in the late 70s. Hawaii's hippie treehouse community from 1969-1977 (NSFW). Ibiza hippie market 1977. (Finding photo evidence online from the 70s is harder than it should be, y'all.)
posted by jzb at 3:23 PM on May 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

You can search US high school yearbooks at Classmates if you are willing to register. That might give you the visual clues you crave for American high schoolers. A local library may have copies of year books from your high school if you don't have any. You also get a bunch of interesting results if you search for images using "high school students 1974 fashion" and then change the year and see when punk images start appearing. It's not an exact thing but it's fun to do. Finally, the CBC published something in 2016 about high school fashion by the decades. It's too general and short to prove your point, but it does offer some support for your position. My experience in a US high school is roughly the same as yours, OP. Good luck winning your argument!
posted by Bella Donna at 5:19 PM on May 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Stooges, which I consider to be the first American punk band, released their seminal self-titled album, which included "Now I Wanna Be Your Dog" and "No Fun," in 1969.

Coincidentally, the concert at Altamont, which was in December 1969, is considered by many to be the beginning of the end of the "peace and love" hippie era. A mere four months after Woodstock.
posted by Brittanie at 6:00 PM on May 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

I don’t think seminal punk is the same as what we'd call punk culture/fashion. The Stooges were pretty contiguous with Alice Cooper and the other rock/glam stuff going on that the time. By the mid 70s, really wide bell bottoms, beads and flowered shirts were definitely out but even into the late, late 70s long hair, the "Canadian tuxedo" and baseball T concert shirts were going strong.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:20 PM on May 11, 2019

I graduated from high school in the East Bay Area of California. It was hippie in 1975, but the rise of the Human Rights Movement (Gay Rights) was associated with disco, so hippie music and dress switched to Donna Summer and mirror balls. At college at the University of California, I distinctly remember "Anarchy in the UK/Squeeze, " as a bombshell that hit all the record stores on the Northside. Many of the punk identified students cut their hair super short and did mean things like smash our recycling on the pavement since they knew hippies frequently went barefoot. It was 1976-77---attacks from Disco and Punk at the same time. Punk as it manifested itself left behind a lot of the class conscious issues from the UK as it hit colleges in the US. As Elvis Costello would remark, "Compassion went out of fashion"
posted by effluvia at 10:36 PM on May 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm younger than you but grew up in Toronto. Hippies were definitely around in the 70s but I saw my first punk in 1978. Mohawk. Safety pin in his nose. He was 10 or 11, as was I.

In my head, punk was a reaction to disco, not a reaction to hippies. However, both hippie and punk fashion and music affected youth as well as young adults. In my experience, disco fashion did not affect youth even slightly.

Though I disco danced with olds at parties and such and the music was everywhere, as a child, I did not dress in disco fashion nor did any of my classmates. Teachers were both hippie and disco influenced in their styles.
posted by dobbs at 3:31 AM on May 12, 2019

My highschool has a closed FB page where they put up the old yearbook photos as they find them. Maybe you can find something similar for your area. Looking at my school's photos, hippie style was full on all through the 70's. I know exactly who was the first real punk at school (and one of the first in the entire city), because I was madly in love with him, in 1978. He'd gone to London to study the the scene there and came back and started a band. I wore hippie style clothes, but was mostly into reggae and ska, as well as jazz.
Disco was seen as suburban and ridiculous (though I had a couple of really glam pieces, which could be interpreted as disco if one was negative, but no-one was. Bowie, man).
posted by mumimor at 6:18 AM on May 12, 2019

I realize back in the day that there were 'hippies' and that there were hippies living the life style. I remember both very clearly. But where I grew up, both were gone by 1979. At that time my mom and one of her best friends still had an arrangement where they would trade a bunch of their kid's hand-me-downs each year. My mom's friend lived 40 minutes west of where we lived in Chicago, but this made a difference, I think, fashion-wise (and possibly punk-wise). I remember the daughter's clothes from the fall of 1979, mainly because the pants were all flared at the bottom which seemed strange to me at the time.

In 1979 I was twelve and my friends and classmates were all in pursuit of wearing the tightest at-the-calf pants and jeans that could be found. Some of us jerry-rigged existing pants to get the effect. I remember actually blanket stitching my pants on back in the day - but more often I pinned them tight. Some girls used rubber bands. But these were never flared pants to begin with, just straight legged pants which people already been wearing for years (this is why the flares were so weird to me).

My mother wore flared pants until the mid 1970s - at the latest. But my mother was never a hippy. The actual hippies in my neighborhood (not for fashion's sake, but people living the hippy lifestyle) were gone around the same time my mom's flares were gone. I don't remember any hippies, fashion or otherwise, in the late 1970's. I was young but my leanings were definitely punk or new wave. In my mind, in 1979, hippies were now young parents, themselves - not kids in high school or even in college. I realize now this wasn't necessarily the case.
posted by marimeko at 6:50 AM on May 12, 2019

J. was adamant that "hippie was 1960s and was over by the 1970s! Punk came in in the 1970s!" I said that it takes time for a trend to work through the popular consciousness."

You are 110% correct.

I mean, right off the bat, the Wikipedia article on punk rock (which has plenty of cites and sources) points out that while a tiny handful of music critics began using the descriptive "punk" in various ways to describe a handful of late-60's/early-70's bands - earliest use in 1970 by Ed Sanders and Lester Bangs - the "punk" music/fashion scene wasn't even a thing until 1974, when Television, Patti Smith, The Ramones, The Dictators, and a handful of other bands began playing at CBGB in New York City. Which was then imported to London (more or less) by Malcom McLaren, with the first Sex Pistols shows happening in 1975.

Maybe you guys might have had a tiny handful of super-hip kids who (somehow) picked up on the nascent proto-punk scene in the early 70's, but there's no way "hippie" got replaced with "punk" earlier than 1974, because "punk" didn't even exist yet.

Furthermore, really the primary way "punk" would have spread to any sort of general population would have been through the release and promotion of records by these bands, and (arguably) the earliest one with any widespread publicity would have been the New York Dolls' debut in 1973, followed by Patti Smith's "Horses" in '75, "Ramones" in '76, and Television's Marquee Moon and The Sex Pistols' "Never Mind the Bollocks" in '77. (Along with some early singles by these acts in the '75-'77 era.) More evidence that "punk" wasn't really a thing until at least '75, with a major "second wave" happening from '76-'80.

J. is "right" that punk happened in the 70's, but his remembrance of the popularity of the fashion and music is off by at least half a decade.

(Personal anecdata; I know/have met/have worked with quite a few of the folks involved in the early punk scene and to a person they all point out that regardless of the media attention they may have gotten at the time or the accolades they've received in the years since, in the real world "punk" was the scene of a relatively tiny handful of weirdos, even in the major cities, until at least 1980.)
posted by soundguy99 at 7:42 AM on May 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

My dad is a bit older than you but lived in Montreal (technically Lachine) in the early 70s to mid 70's while apprenticing for CN. While there he knew Jacques Rose somewhat. Other than describing him as a "weirdo" he would also describe him as a "hippie". This would have been prior to the FLQ crisis. My dad wasn't what you'd call hip by any stretch but in Montreal he really only knew people who were still hanging on to the vestiges of the hippie movement. The movie C.R.A.Z.Y. which takes place in Quebec seems to show the nascent punk movie developing more in the late 70's & Early 80's. Another data point, Foufounes opened in 83. My slightly younger friend who was in University in the late 70s felt he was pretty all alone when he was a hippie activist at that point in time.
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:16 AM on May 13, 2019

Ashwagandha, thanks for reminding me of the opening date of Foufounes. That's the sort of hard fact that might get some traction with J.

Also, the Jacques Rose data reminds me that counterculture stuff has always had its own flavour in Quebec. Since we weren't protesting the Vietnam war, other things were on people's minds. Thanks for your thoughts on this.
posted by zadcat at 5:00 PM on May 13, 2019

For a Canada-specific look at punk, it might be worth shelling out for the Kindle edition of Perfect Youth: The Birth of Canadian Punk. Just a skim of the introduction and blurb indicates that this book also places the beginnings of punk towards the latter half of the 1970s. It seems to cite The 222s (bonus '77 Montreal bio), The Chromosomes, and The Normals as the first punk bands originating in Montreal, all bands formed in 1977.

Even more specifically, there appears to be a documentary called MTL Punk: The First Wave available on Vimeo. It's not available in the US where I am but may be available wherever you are. Here's a Montreal Gazette article that says that the doc covers the years 1977-78.

Also, here is a flyer from the '77 Montreal archive proclaiming "Montreal's First Punk Rock Festival"... in 1979.

I mean, if your friend is so adamant that punk happened at the stroke of midnight on Jan 1, 1970, what bands and/or records from, say, 1970 to 1975 would he qualify as punk? soundguy99's synopsis of the early punk bands seems pretty convincing to me.
posted by mhum at 5:32 PM on May 13, 2019 [3 favorites]

« Older why is it so hard to find a good wool cardigan?   |   Choosing degree program w/ good chances of US... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.