The 25 Most Influential Punk Bands

Here's a list of the 25 Most Influential Punk Bands, with both video and music streams included.

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Shoutmouth writer has put together a list of the 25 Most Influential Punk Bands, and included both video and music streams along with an explanation for their placement on the list. Check out excerpts below:

25. Crimpshrine

You probably haven't heard of this band, as they had a very short career and their drummer, Aaron Cometbus, was better known as a writer, due to his zine "Cometbus." That said, they were one of the innovators of the California Bay Area sound, and a staple at the legendary venue, 924 Gilman Street. You may recognize that for many reasons, but most notably because that's where Green Day got their start. Incidentally, Crimpshrine is one of the most direct influences on said band.

23. 7 Seconds

7 Seconds helped bring the straight edge message to a softer crowd than Minor Threat being that they were one of the earlier pioneers of what is now known as pop-punk, but also were one of the earlier punk bands to put environmental messages into their music -- and this was in the early 1980s when it wasn't in vogue like it is today.

22. AFI

AFI is another band that started out playing straightforward, Southern California punk -- a sound emulated by countless bands. Over their career, they have evolved with each album, showing that a punk band can not only change, but stay true to their sound at the same time. This slot, based on this logic, could also have gone to Green Day, but to be honest, Green Day had some rough times and pulled off a comeback. AFI have been on a constant rise through their career, and as such, eeked out the honors.

20. Social Distortion

Somebody had to bridge the gap between rockabilly and punk. Although their earliest work was straight up punk, Social Distortion was one of the first bands to really fuse punk rock with classic, bluesy, rockabilly sounds and the aesthetic that went along with it.

18. The Stooges

The Stooges did more than just make punk rock; Iggy played with blenders and vacuum cleaners to create sounds. He experimented. He was a strange, skinny, terrifying [but kind of sexy]creature, gyrating around the stage, covered in food, blood, and whatever else he could get his hands on. Their live performances make them far more influential than their actual music, though most bands will credit them with influencing them on some level.

16. Dead Kennedys

They were one of the first bands to use deliberately shocking lyrics to draw attention to the real problems they were singing about. While fusing more experimental music styles with the traditional US punk sound, they took punk rock aggression to a new level. They also managed to be so wildly offensive -- despite not reaching a mainstream audience -- they faced criminal charges for "distribution of harmful matter to minors," and even went to trial over the matter.

15. Joy Division

A lot of people think of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" as the definitive Joy Division song, but much like many of the bands that ended up being slapped with the "goth" label, their earliest music was punk. Listen to "They Walked In Line," "Disorder," or "At A Later Date" and you will still hear the influences in modern music. Ian Curtis also deserves a lot of credit for being far more blunt and literal about sadness and depression than a lot of bands of the time were doing.

14. Bad Religion

You almost need a PHD yourself to decipher what this band is going on about, given the educational pursuits of the band's primary members, but they helped challenge the stereotype that punks are all stupid, influenced countless bands, spoke their minds, and of course, Mr. Brett using his experience to found Epitaph Records makes them one of the most important bands in the history of punk.

13. New York Dolls

The New York Dolls merged the gap between glam and punk, and did so seamlessly. I will maintain to my dying day that Johnny Thunders' work with the Heartbreakers was better, as was his solo work, but that is largely because he didn't go on to become "Buster Poindexter" and I really do hold that against David Johansen.

09. Black Flag

You have to wonder how this Henry Rollins is the same Henry Rollins of today, but the brains and the rage were always there -- he just manages to articulate himself a bit differently these days.

08. The Dickies

Without the Dickies, we'd likely never have had The Dead Milkmen, Screeching Weasel, NOFX, or countless other pop-punk bands that utilized higher-pitched nasal vocals and fused comedy into punk rock. I also think they tend to be overlooked, though I'm not sure why, because they solidly deserve to be in the top 10.

05. The Damned

The Damned help further punk rock worldwide -- largely by being the first to break into the US market via tours and releases, but they also helped start the goth sub-genre, which was much more closely tied to punk -- both in music and fashion -- in its early days than it is now.

04. The Clash

The Clash has always sounded more pop than a lot of their contemporaries, and I have a hard time thinking of their music, on the whole, as terribly "punk." That said, they were one of the most boldy political bands of their time and didn't shy away from sharing their views. This made them far more subversive than bands like the Sex Pistols or Misfits, because their music was more accessible to a more mainstream audience.

03. Misfits

This band's influence on punk is undeniable. Glenn Danzig's vocals changed the way people sang punk rock, and they were one of the first bands to really work horror movie type themes into music. If their early albums were released today, they would make headlines, due to "controversial" and "violent" lyrics.

02. Sex Pistols

A lot of people think this band "started it all," but the Ramones came first. Either way, it was really hard to rank the top 3.Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten played their roles as punk icons so well, the public was sucked in. A band with only one studio album usually would not have such a legacy; that's the beauty of the Sex Pistols.

01. Ramones

The Ramones are pretty much the definitive US punk band. Through the years, the band -- even with lineup changes -- always stayed true to their sound, their style, and what they set out to do -- make punk rock music. You have to respect that. As a side note, I actually came to know Dee Dee Ramone towards the end of his life, when I worked at a bookstore in NYC. He was one of the nicest people I have ever met, and I will always remember him with nothing but fondness.

Be sure to read the entire article with video and audio material at this location.

241 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    SWiB
    WHERE IS BAD BRAINS???!?!?!?!?!? Dear god this article sucks.
    oyvind
    Sex pistols suck... ONLY because of Johnny Rotten, he is the only reason I don't like it. The instruments are really good, but Rotten ruins everything with his horrid singing.
    RSOB Bass
    arson182 wrote: this list is screwed up afi? seriously? greenday and blink 182 had more of an influence than damn afi? and wheres the butthole surfers or rancid at?
    FINALLY. Someone else says the Butthole Surfers! Rancid and The Offspring should be on there.
    chillie pepper
    how the hell are Misfits 3? they're a great bands, but definately not 3rd most influential. the stooges should be number 1
    ValoRhoads
    new_decade wrote: if we're doing proper punk influences the velvet underground should be in there too tbh.
    finally some posted that knows something about rock and roll, thank you! This article is dead nuts acurate except for the omission of velvet underground. And by the way, someone said the instruments in the sex pistols were good..... you do realize half of the band couldn't even play when the band was created by a stylist. Hell Syd Viscious never played a bass before the sex pistols were formed in much of the same fashion as boy bands are today. And I'm not knocking them at all, I love the sex pistols, I'm just making sure you have your facts straight.
    Iliemyfaceoff
    Sleepyjanitor wrote: afi? seriously?
    I hate how people are like OMGZ afI!?!?!? Half of your have never even heard anything other than DO or STS. Afi have had a great impact on the 90 east bay movement on top of still influencing kids today. So once you study a bit about them actually listen to them and give them a chance dont talk shit.
    floomdesk
    no matter how long refused were there... they ****in influenced so many artists out there today. well, punk completly died with refused.
    Nhex
    i.am.akim wrote: how about my band? LoL
    lool ... sum 41 have some influence too
    Greenfinger182
    Terrible list. Operation Ivy should have been much higher. Energy was the headlining album for the entire 90s 3rd Wave Ska/Punk revival. Even if they had only one record.
    TheCrowing2113
    a mixed bag of a list tbh Ramones and Pistols were more musically influencial whereas the clash was more lyrically influencial. There are some bands that should be mentioned. The Cockney Rejects, Sham 69, The Exploited, GBH, Rancid and Stiff Little Fingers. I know many bands who they have influenced and still continue to influence and a majority of the bands I've just listed are still together
    SuperBlob
    Jesus f*cking christ. These comments make me want to slam my head into my f*cking monitor. You're all saying that Green Day are influential, how about THE UNDERTONES OR THE BUZZCOCKS ? Hmm? You know, the PROPER punk pop bands. There are a few sensible commentators however. MC5 and VELVET UNDERGROUND definitely deserve to be on here. I hope that people actually read this comment, not just skip over and go "OMG, WHERE ARE *insert pop-ROCK band here*" (Yes, Blink 182 and the like aren't pop-punk)
    LeftoverCrizack
    are you kidding me? no Crass? Crass was one of the most influential anarcho bands there ever was. btw the sex pistols are completely overrated imo. oh and greenday, the exploited, rancid, the casualties do NOT deserve to be on this list. im not saying these bands arent good (cept greenday, i am saying greenday isnt good) its just that these bands are so generic. what next people saying that anti-flag deserves to be on this list? There are so many bands that should have been on the list: The Adicts Aus-Rotten Rudimentary Peni Bad Brains Minor Threat UK Subs DOA DRI The Germs Subhumans Conflict The Screamers the list goes on and on.....
    arson182
    Iliemyfaceoff wrote: Sleepyjanitor wrote: afi? seriously? I hate how people are like OMGZ afI!?!?!? Half of your have never even heard anything other than DO or STS. Afi have had a great impact on the 90 east bay movement on top of still influencing kids today. So once you study a bit about them actually listen to them and give them a chance dont talk shit.
    ive listened to them alot i enjoy afi alot but they do not deserve to be on a top 25 list
    arson182
    SuperBlob wrote: Jesus f*cking christ. These comments make me want to slam my head into my f*cking monitor. You're all saying that Green Day are influential, how about THE UNDERTONES OR THE BUZZCOCKS? Hmm? You know, the PROPER punk pop bands. There are a few sensible commentators however. MC5 and VELVET UNDERGROUND definitely deserve to be on here. I hope that people actually read this comment, not just skip over and go "OMG, WHERE ARE *insert pop-ROCK band here*" (Yes, Blink 182 and the like aren't pop-punk)
    your a damn idiot
    arson182
    i mean greenday should have at least been on this list i dont care what anyone says THEY have influenced countless numerous bands over a decade and a half and where is pennywise? nofx? the sex pistols are overated they only had one studio album and didnt even know how to play thier instruments. this list is gay.
    offspring_punk
    AngelOfHatred wrote: ozzy102691 wrote: offspring?? You serious?
    And I say...Are YOU serious? The Offspring definitely should've been on there. They're a big part of what kept punk alive in the early 90's and they still own today. I know some of their later stuff became a little less than what it used to be. But their self titled CD and Ignition were pure punk man. Some of the greatest stuff ever written. What can you expect though? Usually these lists are put together with some sort of bias. No list will ever satisfy anyone because there will always be something there you don't want, or something not there you do want. So stop arguing about all of it.
    baki
    Their live performances make them far more influential than their actual music stupid article...iggy and the stooges should be number 1!
    jake stone
    who the **** taught this guy how to count? is missing like 6 numbers lol wtf dude.
    gopherthegreat
    arson182 wrote: i mean greenday should have at least been on this list i dont care what anyone says THEY have influenced countless numerous bands over a decade and a half and where is pennywise? nofx? the sex pistols are overated they only had one studio album and didnt even know how to play thier instruments. this list is gay.
    i hate the sex pistols, but they are just as influential (if not more) than green day. this is influential bands, not your favorite bands
    gopherthegreat
    jake stone wrote: who the **** taught this guy how to count? is missing like 6 numbers lol wtf dude.
    look at the very bottom for the whole article
    recliner33
    Just to let people know, circle jerks and minor threat are on the list, they just skipped their numbers on UG. Just click the link for the list. I even thought they missed those bands at first too. But they are still missing bad brains.
    TFK_62
    Don't worry man I like Green Day, yes, including their newer stuff. Hell, let me be the first to say I prefer their newer stuff. I'm just glad AFI got their much needed mention. I wish Anti-Flag was on the list, though I don't know if they're influential. By the way, if the next person who posts says Anti-Flag is not punk or something like that. Here's a warning: NO ONE CARES.
    itry_itry
    mattman95 wrote: rancid should definately be there, and although i love the ramones, i dont think they should be top, lots of the bands on the list have been more influential, primarily the stooges and the clash no way rancid isnt that cool, especially now that they are currently playing with the FIRST DRUMMER FROM THE USED. what kind of bullshit is that? i saw rancid 2 weeks before brent left and shortly afterwards, the first used drummer joined up
    well he's leaving the used to play for rancid. maybe he was too punk him self for the used? haha plus he is a very very talented drummer
    GuitarUltimate?
    recliner33 wrote: p o e wrote: he left out lots of big bands.. the bad brains.. the circle jerks.. etc etc plus.. AFI?! Yeah hardcore punk bands like bad brains and the circle jerks need to bew mentioned. And minor threat and maybe agent orange would have been nice too.
    It's a she, and if you read the full article, some bands (the circle jerks in particular) are included.
    Pittman
    Why isnt NOFX on the list? I guess they might be,but not from what we are showed.
    chookyman
    worst article ever? and theres no 24? or 19? or 17? or 12, 11, 10.. what the hell who wrote this
    Randompzycho
    mooseboy wrote: wheres nirvana? they were kinda alternative but they were punk on bleach and in utero
    though nirvana is an excellent band (not my favorite but in my opinion the greatest) they were considered grunge not punk i didnt really like this list it seems like they took a bunch of random "punk" bands and threw them into a list then basically took the most popular and put them as the best so not as many people would bitch about it
    axeslinger0u812
    chookyman wrote: worst article ever? and theres no 24? or 19? or 17? or 12, 11, 10.. what the hell who wrote this
    I"M PUTTING THIS IN CAPS IN THE HOPE PEOPLE WILL LOOK AT IT AND THINK I"M BEING OBNOXIOUS... GO TO THE FUCKING LINK AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE. Jesus christ. Operation Ivy, Minor Threat and the Circle Jerks are all there. if you are going to bitch about who isn't on the list, at least READ the whole damn list. from the guy who made the list: Sure, I mean, bands I had originally pared down from included some of them: X The Germs Exploited Descendents Agnostic Front Bad Brains [but I just really have to be honest: I hate them] And then there were things like, "well, Fugazi, but with Minor Threat and Rites of Spring both on there, Fugazi is kind of covered...." or "I could include NOFX, but their sound feels "covered" by The Dickies, who clearly influenced them in the first place.... and well, Rancid, but Operation Ivy is represented... things like that. And when you only have 25 slots [and uh, accidentially only use 24], you start making some cuts/judgment calls and in all honesty, personal taste comes in. I really love the Descendents, but I just... swapped them out for some other people.
    pinheadslts75
    This list is pretty good. And people, stop bitching. Like the guy who said Refused. They not only suck, but they can't have been around for more then 7 years.
    rockoutwithyour
    i dont even really like punk...(anymore) but i always thought it was MC5 and the dolls who started the whole punk scene?
    Tomthedangerous
    rockoutwithyour wrote: i dont even really like punk...(anymore) but i always thought it was MC5 and the dolls who started the whole punk scene?
    That's just what I was thinking, where the hell is MC5?
    arson182
    this list is screwed up afi? seriously? greenday and blink 182 had more of an influence than damn afi? and wheres the butthole surfers or rancid at?