The 25 Most Influential Punk Bands

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

The 25 Most Influential Punk Bands
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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

comments policy
    SWiB
    WHERE IS BAD BRAINS???!?!?!?!?!? Dear god this article sucks.
    A monkey
    blocsox90 wrote: powerstroke wrote: No offense to anyone who likes the Sex Pistols, but their music is really bland. I don't see how they left any impact on music or society except for being a bunch of dickheads. They don't deserve to be number 2. The Clash should have at least gotten number 2 i'm glad i'm not the only one who thinks that
    yeah i agree that the sex pistols are overrated. now they view themselves as gods of rock. afi has always and always will suck green day should definately have been on the list. american idiot sucked but dookie has been one of the most influential albums in all rock history. pretty much the entire pop punk scene that you all hate because its currrently more popular was started by dookie and also smash by the offspring the monkey has spoken
    jewbag
    Why the FUCK is Bad Religion number 14, and Dead Kennedys are number 16? How about MDC? Bad Brains? NOFX? Crass? The Germs? X? No, of course not. They have ****ing AFI and The Clash on there.
    jewbag
    Then again, it could be worse. Against Me! and Anti-flag could be on there :/
    matt_fender_3
    radioplay wrote: myheadsempty wrote: omg where's greenday hahaha jk dude this articles been here since 11 AM (its 5 where i am now)...do you really think youre the first to say that? and as much as i hate post-2000 green day they were very influential.Enough to make the list? Idk. But very influential indeed so you like the new green day? eeww
    blinkbass wrote: the clash should be number 1 they were the most talented ive never even heared of the misfits why is everyone saying that greenday should be there? they are the bigest sellouts ever if a pop punk band was in there it would be blink 182
    you haven't heard of the misfits.well ummm. sorry for what you have been missing out on. afi sweet. punk is suppose to be creative and artsy
    p o e
    he left out lots of big bands.. the bad brains.. the circle jerks.. etc etc plus.. AFI?!
    waxhead
    Drop the ramones from first, there's plenty more abusive and punk bands out there. For those having a rant about afi, check out tony hawk 1, Its just punk. Anyway where the hell is radio birdman?? they scream punk, its like ramones on steroids and with the cliche punk attitude.
    recliner33
    Most of these bands mentioned were good. When I read the heading I thought they were going to mention bands like green Day and stuff like that, but I'm glad that they didn't.
    recliner33
    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.
    Leonheart
    "If their early albums were released today, they would make headlines, due to "controversial" and "violent" lyrics." Lol, I highly doubt that.
    Remsen
    for all of you wh dont know chronologically it was first New york dolls then the stooges the ramones and then sex pistols and the clash and so on and so forth. The truth is the ramones got together cuz of the stooges, they were a bunch of rejects and got together because the all like the stooges. Or u can all just watch end of the century which is a documentary on the ramones and youll learn a bunch of good stuff about punk origins
    SlashNX
    AFI???? A FUCKIN I!!!!! Please.... exactly how many bands are influenced by them... And I would like to see this "consistant rise" in their career??? Theyve barely escaped the underground... and its not like their not trying too either!
    HavokStrife
    Good list, bad order, top 5 is pretty decent for what it is, DEFINATELY missing Refused.
    Ibeatonthebrat
    How about NOFX and Less Than Jake? Offspring? I don't know what AFI is doing up there. But Ramones is definetly number one.
    gwitersnamps
    Count Seanula wrote: Now I may be wrong but I could have sworn NEw York Dolls or someone started the whole punk thing not the Ramones? I might be wrong though.
    I think it can be traced back to Richard Hell and the Voidoids.
    RachelRC
    WHY doesn't it mention The Germs or Refused!!!!?, what a lame list, the person who wrote this is definitely an amateur!
    werty22
    I'm surprised by the absence of The Descendents and Bad Brains, and I don't think AFI was that influencial. They didn't sound much different from other hardcore bands (when they were still hardcore). I don't think they have that much influence on post-hardcore/darkwave-ish bands now. Anyway, I think Op Ivy should probably be a little higher, and so should The Clash. Overall, not a terrible list. And The Sex Pistols are horribly over-rated, but they probably do deserve 2nd in influence.
    Spydr
    What is up with these kind of articles being in news? They really should be in the junkyard.
    radioplay
    Spirit_Crusher wrote: dear. ****ing. god. they have AFI. but they don't have Minor Threat. thas just ghey.
    ledmetacdc wrote: Um...Wheres ****ing Minor Threat? They were ****ing great!
    Dear ****ing god....neither of you ever learned to read...Minor Threat is #7 and listen to the song Totalimmortal...so what if AFI arent good now...they were amazing in 1995
    Becca138
    rush4life wrote: SG6578 wrote: Where is Rise Against...Anti-Flag? It's influential bands, and they aren't even 10 years old yet.
    lol thats wot i was gonna say
    Becca138
    blues-guitarist wrote: AFI?? lololololololol
    yes, they are actully punk, leased they used to be...
    Melonhead2
    sk8terdude9390 wrote: where's my chemical romance? and where's fall out boy? and where's blink 182? don't worry, i'm joking.
    nice
    Dingoman
    i understand poppunk isnt up there.THAT woulda been flamed(though i disagree).Still... AFI?What the hell,man!?!
    MadGoat
    Making lists is lame. Nice to see Joy Division in there. But rather, they pioneered the post-punk genre, not punk. When they were still called "Warsaw", they were a simple raw little punk band. Like so many bands were during the time. But their sound evolved to something much more emotional and atmospheric. But yeah, they deserve to be on the list. Green Day as well, they were hugely influential to the pop-punk genre (that's a fact, stop your internal dialogue, they were very influential to a large number of musicians - the mark of a good band). Lol @ the guy in one of the comments above who wrote that none of these bands were influential, btw.
    radioplay
    YourMessiah666 wrote: And where is Minor Threat? T.S.O.L.? Dropkick Murphys? The Adicts? and what happened to half of the numbers??
    DKM and Adicts! This is the only person who has said these two...two awesome bands. Idk T.S.O.L. very well and Minor Threat was #7
    korbhag
    Stop talking about bands that kept in the underground scene for years guys! It's all about influence and I don't see how you can be influential if you keep recording independant albums and playing in front of 100 people...
    bdub98899
    Mcut202 wrote: The Clah should definately be number one. And since when is AFI punk?
    Since the start of their career. Go listen to there first 2 or 3 albums. They rip, but the crap they put out now just sucks.
    MetaPlayer22
    although i listen to 5 of the bands mentioned.. i dont feel this review is right, its just a list of the more mainstream punk, not influencial
    Adam_Harrison9
    Dead Kennedys should have been 1st easily. Also, anti-flag adn the unseen have had a massive impact on the punk scene in the last 10 years, I'm not too bothered if people have "beefs" with the new albums, but tehy're still highly influential punk bands in the last decade.
    KenMasters
    F**k, The clash should be number one! i agree with the bdub guy. Pistols was just a McLarenian fluke! The Clash is real music! Hey, where's Offspring? you can play innocent and ignore 'em as losers but if it werent for ;em afi would be playin country. Im not a trendy ***** who gives af**k if its good enough for you! And i would like some Stiff little figers please!
    KenMasters
    Ah, just read about green day. Sooooo funny! THERE CAN BE NO POP INSIDE PUNK!!!! and by the way,IIIII HHHHAAATTTEE THE ONE THOUSAND HIP HOP COVERS OF The Guns Of brixton
    runesymboldeath
    dead kennedys belong way higher. AFI over greenday? lol i hate punk but damn i know that list is stupid
    GuitarUltimate?
    bootyking69 wrote: hey!!! wheres simple plan blink 182 and new found glory?? there pure hardcore punk!!
    teehee.you're just trying to make someone yell at you. well played.
    The Wanton
    lol can't stand the Ramones personally... mind you, USA and English punk is very very different, and this guy has tried to make a list combining the two. Most of them stand for completely different things...