1-2-3-4… 5 ways The Damned’s ‘New Rose’ changed music

The Damned

The Damned

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Precisely where and when punk rock was born is a matter of opinion - the Sex Pistols’ first gig was in late 1975, and while The Ramones formed the year before, Iggy Pop had been making chaotic, high-energy rock since the late 1960s.

Spit and safety pins didn’t really make it into the public consciousness in the UK until the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 when the country got itself an alternative national anthem in ‘God Save The Queen’.

However, most aficionados of the genre agree that it was on October 22, 1976 that the genre was born, when the first UK punk single was released - ‘New Rose’ by London four-piece The Damned.

And while their counterparts sang of anarchy and rioting, the song - penned by guitarist Brian James - was more of a modern day love song, right from the start with a ‘1-2-3-4’ replaced by a steal of The Shangri-Las “Is she really going out with him?”

Here’s 5 other ways that James, along with Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible and Rat Scabies, changed the (musical) world.

1. As well as having the first punk single, they also released the first album - ‘Damned Damned Damned’, which made the Top 40 - and were the first UK act to tour the USA.

2. The band’s early releases were on Stiff Records - one of the first of a wave of independent labels. The label’s first success, The Damned paved the way for the likes of Madness, Ian Dury, Motorhead and Elvis Costello - although their first release was by Nick Lowe - who also produced ‘New Rose’.

3. Captain Sensible - the band’s original bassist - would later go on to bring Rogers and Hammestein to the masses, having a number 1 hit single in 1982 with a song from the musical South Pacific - a surprisingly ‘straight’ version of ‘Happy Talk’.

4. The single’s B-side - a version of The Beatles ‘Help’ - trailblazed the way for the likes of the UK Subs, Lurkers and Dickies to perform similarly irreverent, 100mph cover versions of more sedate classics.

5. Singer Dave Vanian - a former gravediggger - may have invented the whole goth genre with his trademark ghostly white corpse-like makeup. The band would go on to have their biggest run of hits with the decidedly goth phase in 1985 with the ‘Phantasmagoria’ album and singles ‘Grimly Fiendish’ and ‘Eloise’.

40 years on, The Damned are still playing to packed-out venues to this day.