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Jason Gross:The Real Godfathers of Punk
When jaded music-nuts, chin-strokers and hipster whipper-snappers mull about things like 'where did punk rock come from,' very rarely do you hear anything about jazz. Some poor souls are under the misconception that "jazz" only means Chuck Mangione or George Benson, forgetting such pioneers as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Sun Ra and Albert Ayler, all of whom are the real grand-daddies of punk. To see the connection, you have to go back to the original performers who influenced punk. Usually you hear about the MC5, the Stooges, the Velvet Underground and Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band. One thing all of these amazing groups had in common (other than not burning up the charts) is the raw grit and noise they splashed across their records, something that had been lacking in rock for a while. One other important common denominator is that they were all jazz fans, using their guitars to imiate their favorite players or actually using horns themselves. Look at those Detroit greasers, the MC5. Ray Charles and Screamin' Jay Hawkins were part of their sets but so was Pharoah Sanders and Sun Ra- this is most obvious on Kick Out The Jams and semi-legitimate releases of their early material. [...] Then there's their Motor City homeboys the Stooges. Iggy was lecturing at a college (!) a few years back, talking about the Stooges. He played a Stooges record then he played a jazz album (I think it might been have Coltrane). His whole point was to show what the band was trying to do, successfully or not. Most of all, you heard this with Steve Mackay's sax wailing on Funhouse, especially on the free-form "L.A. Blues." Maybe they were trying to simulate how their live shows ended or maybe they didn't have enough material (like on their first album) but there was no doubt that this wasn't Chuck Berry material (I ought to stop picking on Berry though since he is a pioneer and a God in his own right).
When I started out I was inspired by people like Ornette Coleman. He has always been a great influence - Lou Reed
Even though John Cale's influence and the work he did with minimalist composers John Cage and LaMonte Young heavily influenced the early work of the Velvet Underground, there was another strong influence at work with the band. Lou Reed said that "European Son" was his way of trying to imitate Ornette Coleman with guitars- I don't think it was successful but it was still a mind-melting blast. [...] Most of all, there's that lovable crank Captain Beefheart. If the spastic rhythms that his band blurted out weren't clue enough, then his saxophone playing should have left no doubt about his influences. Especially on Trout Mask Replica, his playing is a tribute to Coleman and Ayler, even more so than the Stooges, Velvets or MC5. [...] Years later, when punk started up, some of the players were also jazz fans, especially the incestuous New York scene. Patti Smith's second album, Radio Ethiopia, contained a frenzied title-track that rivals "L.A. Blues." (Supposedly, Ornette himself was slated to play on it). Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd of Television certainly had Coltrane and Ayler in mind when they took off on their solos. Voidoids guitarist Robert Quine sounded like this was where his head was at also. In all, they had the same thing in mind as Lou Reed when he was trying to get his guitar to imitate the jazz he loved. [...]