Nearly four decades after the creation of punk rock, many of the genre’s iconic stars are still going strong. Some continue rocking with the bands that first made them famous, while others are soldiering on with new groups or venturing into non-musical creative pursuits. How have your favorite punk rockers fared over the years? As you stroll (or scroll) through our Punk Icons Then and Now gallery, salute the worthy and gob on the has-beens — then holler in the comments section if we forgot any key figures.
Then: Johnny Rotten was the anarchy-inducing frontman of the Sex Pistols.
Now: John Lydon has grabbed his share of filthy lucre on the reunion circuit, shilled for butter and appeared on reality TV. Cultural commando or total sellout? You decide!
Then: Iggy Pop was the lean, mean singing machine fronting Motor City proto-punks the Stooges.
These days, Iggy is sinewy as ever and once again leading the Stooges, who just released a new album, ‘Ready to Die.’
Then: Shaggy-haired and shirtless Henry Rollins was the ornery frontman of Black Flag.
Now: The punk legends are on the comeback trail, but not with Rollins. Maybe the shirt-rocking spoken-word maven’s too busy with his National Geographic show, ‘Snake Underworld With Henry Rollins.’
Then: Jello Biafra fronted anti-corporate crusaders the Dead Kennedys.
Despite no longer leading the Kennedys, Jello continues to make records and rake muck. In 2000, he ran for president, but his ‘Let’s Lynch the Landlord’ platform didn’t play in the heartland.
Then: Punk priestess Patti Smith ruled downtown New York with the Patti Smith Group.
Now: Patti is a National Book Award-winning author — check out her heartbreaking memoir ‘Just Kids’ — who still knows how to rock. Her 11th album, ‘Banga,’ dropped in 2012.
Then: Debbie Harry was the blonde bombshell fronting New Wave greats Blondie.
After splitting in 1982, Blondie reunited in 1996. A decade later, they sashayed into the Rock Hall of fame, and in 2011, they reaffirmed their relevance with ‘Panic of Girls.’
Then: As lead guitarist for the Clash, Mick Jones helped lead the rock revolution with The Only Band That Matters.
With the Clash long gone and stints Big Audio Dynamite and Gorillaz behind him, Jonesy is free to jam with the Wallflowers, whose 2012 album ‘Glad All Over’ he helped to Clashify.
Then: Television founder Richard Hell quit that band to rock with the Heartbreakers and help define the ‘Blank Generation’ with the Voivods before leaving music for good.
Now focused solely on the written word, Hell recently published the excellent memoir ‘I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp.’
Then: The other H.R. — not the muscle-bound Black Flag frontman but the singer for Bad Brains — helped invent hardcore as we know it.
Bad Brains returned in 2012 with ‘Into the Future.’ Despite the forward-looking title, they’re still mixing punk and dub like they did back in the day.
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