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A Musical Kingdom: The Rule of Teen Punks in the Late ‘70s

By: Jason Sha

New York has been globally recognized as the hub of plenty – whether it be economics, culture, or politics. However, New York was also the birthplace of punk rock in the 1970s, which led to the creation of new sub-genres of music such as hip-hop or drill music. Despite its cultural significance today, for the many teenagers and young adults within the Big Apple punk rock was more than that: it was a lifestyle.

Many of these teenagers came from high schools neighboring New York City, including but not limited to Stuyvesant High School, Friends Seminary, and Brooklyn Friends. Most were under 18, and performed intense, witty pop and punk in popular hubs such as Hurrah, TR3, and CBGB. Among these included Arthur Brennan, a 16-year-old who regularly hitchhiked 20 miles to newstands; Eric Hoffert, an avid studier and even more avid guitarist; and Kate Schellenbach, a ninth grader who would eventually play for the Beastie Boys and Luscious Jackson.

Many, including Schellenbach found out about such pop bands from their friends. “I remember going into the girls’ bathroom, and this girl, Nancy Hall, who was the coolest, was sitting on the sink.” Hall was the one who suggested that Schellenbach attend a concert hosted by the “Student Teachers”, the band that brought Schellenbach into the punk rock life. Along with the Student Teachers, other prominent bands included the overachieving Speedies, the brightly colored and fashionable Blessed, and the bright bubbly Colors.

Although this brightly assorted lineup of bands never gained a national or international profile, several members of these bands have achieved success. Allen Hurkin-Torres of the Speedies became the New York Supreme Court justice, while bandmate Eric Hoffert became the senior vice president at Xandr. This movement also helped to continue the hype of hip-hop, with classics such as Ice Cube and 50 Cent being followed by artists such as Joey Bada$$, Pop Smoke, and A$AP Rocky, many of which have broken into the international scene.

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