The Spirit of ’77

By 1977, punk rock acts started to make a valiant attempt to go on the road to evangelize about their new way of thinking about rock music. On July 3, 1977, Youngstown got its first taste of a genuine punk show when the Dictators and Dead Boys teamed up for a gig at the Tomorrow Club. The ad in the Vindicator treats the event like some sort of sideshow (prizes for best costume and use of the dreaded ‘new wave’ tag are present). None of this was seen as legitimate yet or perhaps never would be by those invested in the traditional rock music which usually played Youngstown during that era.

New York City’s The Dictators were a natural choice for a headliner. Having released an incredible debut album in 1975, the Bronx band was well ahead of its Bowery peers in getting to the front of the line with its comedic and hard driven brand of rock ‘n’ roll. Despite having a decent NYC following, no one really got the joke and the first release was a commercial dud (that led them to being dropped from Epic Records). The band sort of went into outcast status in NYC in March of 1976 because of “Handsome” Dick Manitoba’s brawl with drag-queen rocker Wayne County. By 1977, the band was on the road supporting much inferior Manifest Destiny album.

Formed just a year prior, the Dead Boys – featuring Youngstown’s Stiv Bators on vocals, Cheetah Chrome on lead guitar, Jimmy Zero on the other guitar, Jeff Magnum on bass and Johnny Blitz on drums – were four months away from releasing the debut album Young, Loud and Snotty on Sire Records. The band was not exactly rookies on the scene however. Molded out of the ashes of Cleveland’s Rocket from the Tombs, most of the band’s members had significant experience gigging, writing songs and recording. Even Bators was up to his neck in punk rock mischief as early as 1970 when he famously handed Iggy Pop a tub of peanut butter at a Stooges show in Cincinnati.

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