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The Story Of 'Punk' Magazine

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The cover of Punk magazine's first issue. (John Holmstrom / courtesy of the publisher)

In the 1970s, punk rock first exploded in New York, centered around clubs like the legendary CBGBs. Along with all the bands, a magazine was born that shared the same raw energy and gritty feel. For four years, beginning in 1976, that magazine -- called Punk -- chronicled many of the legendary names and faces of the time, including Lou Reed, The Ramones, and Blondie.

Then, just as the genre was about to take off, Punk folded, and was forced to close its doors. Now, a new book called Punk: The Best of Punk Magazine collects many of the stories, photos and interviews that made the publication such a cultural touchstone.

John Holmstrom, Punk’s co-founder, joins us to share the story of the magazine, which, even from the beginning, was never strictly a music mag. Art and humor were just as important: "We wanted to be the Mad Magazine of rock 'n roll" says Holmstrom.

In fact, it was the lighter side of punk that originally drew Holmstrom’s interest to the music, beginning with The Dictators, a band he says "rewired" his mind. "[Punk] was funny," he recalls, “And rock n roll had stopped being funny.” 

The magazine also had real implications for its cover artists, many of whom secured their first record deals after appearing in publication's pages.

While the magazine folded in 1979 after a mere 17 issues, this new collection is full of gems for completists, including pieces from the never-printed 18th issue, which would have included stories on The Ramones and Rock N Roll High School


John Holmstrom

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