Punkin it up in the 80’s while Dad’s not Watching
One of my favorite photos now is a photo that I really hated years ago. I ripped the picture into a hundred pieces and threw it in the trash I hated it that much.
I was in college at the time and my friend Aaron laughed, took all the pieces out of the trash and reassembled it for me years later thanks to Photoshop. The picture had a second life.
These days I laugh at the photo when I see it and my mind often wanders back to the time when it was taken. It was 1982. I was 16. I had my classic Gibson guitar. I was sitting on my bed painstakingly trying to learn each chord of every song on the The Clash Combat Rock cassette which I played and replayed thousands of times. I had figured out a way to string my guitar directly into the stereo system and I was able to play along chord for chord with the Clash.
Mary, my sister walked in and said, “Oh my God you look just like BONO FROM U2”. She ran and grabbed the camera and took the picture I would later despise, and then learn to love years later. Now telling the ultimate geeky kid that they looked like Bono (the ultimate hunk of a hunk teen-beat at the time) was a real confidence booster.
Mary was prone to extremely over the top compliments and exaggerations so I didn’t really believe I actually looked like Bono. But I do think she was almost correct if she meant Bozo.
Me with my Gibson guitar (looking exactly like Bono according to Mary)
Bono or Bozo. You be the judge.
To be young in the 80’s
When you turn 14 or 15 you start to look at the world through different glasses. You get a glimpse of independence, start to form your own likes and dislikes and start to gravitate towards things that interest you. I really believe if you were a teenager in the mid 80’s you were the luckiest generation to have ever walked the planet.
The 1980’s were probably one of the most exciting, creative and musically innovative times ever. If you were a kid at the time you were right in the thick of the whole thing living every rebellious and exciting minute of it. Not only were you experiencing everything new but the world was delivering to you one of the newest and most exciting music scenes of all time.
So many choices -Punk, New Romantic, Rockabilly, New Wave, Mod
The thing about the 80’s is that it played right into youth at the time. There wasn’t just one type of music emerging there was a whole generation of styles all rising up at the same time. Punk bands like Fear, Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks, Minor Threat; New Romantic Bands like The Cure, Depeche Mode; Rockabilly Bands like The Blasters and Stray Cats, New Wave Bands like The Thompson Twins and Flock of Seagulls and Mod Bands like the Specials all emerged on the scene at the same time.
It was like going to Sir Georges Smorgesbord in Chula Vista and having infinite choices and just gorging yourself with music. The 80’s were a very good time if you liked to gorge on all types of music.
A collection of awesomeness from the 80’s.
We didn’t have the Internet, Mobile Phones, Texting or Digital Cameras – We Just Had Checkered Shoes and Walkmans
I think it would have been really hard for the same music innovation and scene to be created in today’s world. We didn’t have any sort of modern technology that youth have today. We didn’t spend any of our time on “Computers”.
This was our computer.
And this was our Iphone
The only thing emerging at the time that changed everything was Music Television. MTV was starting to broadcast music videos and it was fueling the demand for music and music fashion. If you were a musician, artist, fashion designer at the time everything was about the music and fashion. In todays world everything is about the technology and social networking.
Patrick my brother moon walked in these little bad boys until the soles wore out. He was the first self-proclaimed Michael Jackson loving Punk Rock kid.
Well we did have some cool technology. Bridget listens to music on her watch.
The 80’s was all about the Hair
It’s always been about the hair, but the 80’s were really about the hair. Your hair defined you. Hair got very big, very fast in the 80’s. Since my hair didn’t really seem to get spiky I had to gravitate more towards the Stray Cats Rockabilly look.
Using the “Stray Cats Look” had another benefit – I could hide the haircut from my dad by scrunching it up and making it smaller when I wasn’t out Rockabillying around the neighborhood. I also managed to hide a pretty long tail (which I dyed blond) for many year. At school I would break it out “party style” than at night I would tuck it back in “business style”
Everything is “A-OK” dad. This innocent looking haircut could be quickly blow-dryed out into an insane Rockabilly curl or occasionally that Flock of Seagulls look
Mary also opted in for the Stray Cats look as well as all my clothes. You would look for your jacket and it would be no where to be found then you would go to school and there she was wearing your best jacket.
Hidden Punky Memories: How to be Punk when your Dads not watching
My dad was pretty strict, and needless to say Punk and “That Hard Metal Music” as he called it was strictly off limits. If he heard you playing hard punk music you would be royally busted. I guess that made it all the more intriguing.
Dad liked onions. He was not a fan of “Hard Metal Music” however.
I went to a record store down the street called Licorice Pizza and picked up a cassette called “Combat Rock” by the Clash. I brought the cassette home and threw away the cassette cover in the trash. I thought it would be easier to hide it plus I didn’t want my dad to think I was declaring some sort of war with music like “Combat Rock”. I hid that cassette underneath my mattress when I wasn’t playing it was was pretty much only when I wasn’t in school or sleeping.
When dad wasn’t home I would crank that music to 10. When he was home I would turn the volume down to 1 and sit and listen with my ears right on the speaker. I was the worlds most un-rebellious punker. I just loved the music. I was punkin it up when Dad wasn’t watching.
Cool Stuff and Epic Battles
I remember hearing about epic battles between mods and rockers at Hilltop High School up the street from our house. I never saw one but I remember vividly hundreds of scooters passing my house and all the guys wearing their parkas and driving their cool scooters. I remember wishing I had a scooter and was on my way to the fight with them. Well not really but in my head I imagined it. I eventually ended up owning about 6 different scooters and Vespa’s throughout the years but never engaged in any epic Mod gang battles.
Mods hanging out on Scooters in San Diego (From sqoot.wordpress.com)
It was 1982. Billy Idol was emerging as a pretty big star and he was coming to San Diego. He had just released White Wedding and I was a big fan. I headed over the Del Mar arena without permission one night as he was having a big show there.
Since his hit hadn’t really caught on I was pretty much front and center for the whole show. It was 10 the show was wrapping up and everything was going smoothly according to plan. I would be back home by 11pm and could explain to my dad how I had been studying at the Library all night.
Well that was until the keyboard player for Billy Idol (Bonnie Hayes) decided to throw her half empty cup of undrunk whiskey out into the crowd. I just happened to be right in front of the tidal wave of Whiskey which poured all over my shirt. This was going to be hard to explain to my dad. Its hard to be a hidden 16 year old punk when you smell like an old Whiskey hobo.
What made the 80’s Special?
Whether you were a mod, a rocker, a nuro, a stoner, a rockabilly a punker or a jock the 80’s were probably the best time to be a teen. Everything was exciting a new, not necessarily because you were a teen but because it actually WAS new and exciting. Everyone had an identity and everything was cool. Looking back it was cool because everyone participated in the era in whatever way they could. It was truly a renaissance of music and I don’t think its been replicated ever since. I am not sure if there ever will be another 80’s because it seems like every last thing was tried in the 80’s. We basically hoarded everything new and exciting.
Danny and Patrick enjoying Ferrreri’s, music and punk skating.
Things were just happening all around us with the music scene and it just shaped our lives as it happened. If you were lucky enough to be born in 80’s you were one lucky kid.