No I don’t like where you come from, it’s just a satellite of London: High Wycombe, the Sex Pistols and the Punk Transformation

Martin James

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    The journey from proto-punk to punk occurred at high speed in many of London’s satellite towns. Among these, the town High Wycombe in the home counties offers a narrative that can trace an involvement from the earliest stages as a result of performances by leading British punk group the Sex Pistols. This paper explores three Sex Pistols-related events that are used to map three clear phases of the proto-punk to punk transformation. The first wave notes the blurred lines in the fluid symbiotic relationships between proto-punk in London its satellite towns. Drawing on Crossley, I note that London’s networked punk ‘music world’ (Crossley 2015: 98-122) was reliant on both cultural commuters and activities in the provinces. I propose that a further, fluid notion of transivity that shows the relationship between local and ‘commuter’ punks is needed. The second wave shows the damaging aspect to High Wycombe’s punk identity as, due to its close proximity to London, many if its key actors would move to the capital as soon as they were able to. They escaped from the ‘boredom’ of High Wycombe – the commuter town – to go to the ‘excitement’ of cosmopolitan London to live their dreams. As Rotten claimed: ‘As bad as it was in London for young people, they had nothing at all in the satellite towns. No social scene, nothing’ (Haslam 2015: 233). The third wave reveals a moment of class and regional cohesion, through which a High Wycombe Punk identity emerges during the summer of 1977. This occurs among the first and second wave participants who remained and the newer school-aged punks. Finally, the paper introduces the local punk terrain beyond the timeline under investigation. Here, regional and class difference became played out through violent interactions between Wycombe punks and skins, and punk scenes from other towns. Here we see the assertion of Wycombe Punk as a type.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number2
    Pages (from-to)341-362
    Number of pages21
    JournalPunk & Post-Punk
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2018


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