Last week I posted on facebook: “If Patti Smith is the godmother of punk, who is the mother?” This truly stumped me because I always see Patti Smith referred to as the “godmother of punk” but I can’t think of anyone who came before her that is more inspiring to the punk world.
My post on facebook was serious but in return I got a mix of responses both serious and shitty. The strangest thing was that all but one response were from men. Where were the girls in this conversation? Don’t they want to know who their punk mother is??
Below are the responses I recieved and my personal commentary on them:
Phyllis Dillers- a successful comedian and actress. I’m sure being a comedian at her time was not easy but she’s definitely not punk.
Joan Jett- One of my icons but to me, she is the mother of rock n’ roll… or maybe the queen.
Lydia Lunch- Definitely solid, but she’s too young to be the mother.
Nancy Spungen- died too young and too much of a junkie to be anyone’s mother.
“No girls allowed.”-The comment from my old bandmate. True, why were there no girl responses???
Glen Danzig- not valid, not funny.
Avril Lavigne- also not funny.
After these responses I went to google and searched “the mother of punk.” Vivienne Westwood and Nina Hagen were the two names listed in the first page of results.
Vivienne Westwood, in my book, wins. Even though she is not a musician, she helped shape so much of the punk culture and she is older than both Patti Smith and Nina Hagen. Here’s some brief history on Vivienne.
Vivienne Westwood studied at the Harrow School of Art as a silver smith but later attended school to be a primary teacher. She lived a somewhat normal life until she met Malcolm McLaren, which ended her first marraige. She continued to teach until Malcolm McLaren opened a boutique originally called “Let it Rock,” later to become “SEX.” Together they streamlined the punk style using BDSM, bondage gear, safety pins, chains, spike collars and plaid in their fashions. When McLaren began managing the Sex Pistols, Westwood’s styles clearly defined the punk world. She still is an edgy and iconic designed today. Her store, “Worlds Ends” is still in the original “SEX” location.
Nina Hagen is the only Mother of Punk. No other person can share that throne.