Hippies and Punks

The punk subculture came about around 10 years after the hippy subculture and, by the 1980s, a lot of punks were actually the children of hippies. So, it makes sense that there would be animosity between the two, as punk rockers tried to make their own way, necessarily rebelling against the older generation. Of course, the two youth cultures shared a lot of values and behavior, and had music as their cohesive cores. By the time the US West Coast hardcore scene came into being, the politics of punk rock and hippies overlapped quite a bit.

There were always people who were more into the superficial trappings of punk or hippy culture and would require adherents to wear the groups’ uniforms. For hair, this meant short or spikey for punks, as long as possible for hippies. When I was at a PIL show in England, shouting my usual mock-insults at the band, the guy in front of me turned and said, “You don’t get it man – you have a beard!” This was the mid-eighties, and he was into his role of playing punk. Just today, I received a confused comment from somebody looking at my video of Rock For No Reason, a 3-day punk rock festival from 1987. The viewer said, “These guys are like hippies.” Well, of course s/he was right – they do a lot of the same things and believe the same things as hippies and, especially by the late 80s, a lot of punks were taking to the message of freedom inherent in the movement and wearing beards or sporting clothes that looked hippy.

The ironic tension between hippies and punks was behind a song I wrote called, “Punks and Hippies” for one of my early 80s bands (Visiting Food). It goes:

Punks and hippies

Hippies and punks

Punks and hippies

Druggies and drunks

Punks aren’t allowed to grow beards

Hippies must have long hair

I have to wear what they wear

I have to wear what they wear

…and on like that. I also drew this comic for my 1986-87 ‘zine, Rock For No Reason Bandzine:

Hippies and Punks


This flower leads to other thoughts on culture and perception:


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