By the end of the 1970s Punk Rock was already starting to disappear. It had given the music scene a much-needed shot in the arm and in reality, its job had been done. Certain individuals in the bands were outgrowing their groups and they wanted to break free in order to attain their musical aspirations. The catalyst for the demise of the punk movement was the breakup of the Sex Pistols. They had arrived on the music scene in dramatic fashion, and certainly did not disappoint the headline writers with the nature of their departure.
Sid Vicious was the bass player and he was famed as being the most controversial character of the group. In October 1978 Vicious’s girlfriend Nancy Spungen was found dead in the couple’s hotel bathroom following a stabbing incident. Vicious was charged with her murder but died in February 1979 from a heroin overdose, while he was out on bail. From this point on Punk struggled to maintain the momentum of the previous years. Yet their music could still be identified in the bands that had survived and a number of spin off bands. They were almost punk but not quite. Some were known as “new wave” bands and some played under the banner of “mod revival” music. There were times when some bands weren’t sure which banner they were playing under, and this led to in-house fighting, with some bands splitting up.
The most famous of the “mod revival” bands were the Jam. The group members all hailed from Woking in Surrey and formed in 1977. They were liked and followed by mods and punks alike, and in their 5 years together they produced 18 top 40 hits. They managed to combine the fast tempo of punk music with rhythm and blues that had influenced the 1960s Motown music. Eventually Paul Weller who became known as “the mod-father” left the band to form the Style Council and would later pursue a successful solo career.
The Police were one of the biggest “new wave” bands and came from London. They formed in 1977 at the start of the punk rock era and soon hits such as “Roxanne” and “message in a bottle” made them huge hits with punk audiences. They were not comfortable with this relationship as their image was more glam rock than punk. Their sounds also incorporated jazz and reggae, and soon the band drew themselves away from the punk movement. They did not last long as a band and they split up in 1983 as a result of the relationships between certain band members.
Another “new wave” band that achieved great success were Squeeze. Their music was catchy, fast and attracted the younger audiences. The band members were proper musicians with the songwriters Chris Diffors and Glen Tillbrook being compared to the Beatles duo Lennon and McCartney. Hit after hit was produced with Jools Holland playing on the key boards. He was later to go on and pursue a successful television career presenting various music programs such as his own “Later…… with Jools Holland” show.
Other bands such as the Boomtown Rats , Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Blondie, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, and Adam and the Ants were all producing music that was popular among punk audiences. These were not mainstream punk bands and all of them out lived punk music in their successful careers.