I found a fascinating article in a Cambridge University sponsored journal called, "Popular Music." The article is titled "Know History!: John Lydon, Cultural Capital and the Prog/Punk Dialectic" by Sean Albieez, from Vol. 22, No. 3 (October 2003) issue of "Popular Music." In it, see JStor cite here
, the author makes a decent case that a few punk rockers, but using Johnny Lydon aka Rotten, were progressive rock fans and fans of jazz, classical and other more serious music.
I had long known of John Lydon's fanboy crush on Peter Hammill and we know that punk rockers would eventually admit they loved Robert Fripp and Steve Howe, for example. I even recall the second keyboardist (Ian Parker) for The Tom Robinson Band
liking the Canterbury sound
and particularly the band National Health
But I liked this article for putting a lot under one roof, so to speak. The people who polarized or separated punk rock from progressive rock were the idiot music critics who wrote for Rolling Stone, Village Voice and culturally vacuous magazines (The political writing in those two magazines is much more thoughtful, of course, but the music writers have been morons like classic Darwin Award winner, Lester Bangs
, or yutzim like Robert Christgau
). It is a shame that the current cultural historians are relying on these critics to describe the era and that has made things worse. Articles like this from Albiez are excellent correctors.
ADDENDUM: I found on the Internet my article
the LA Times published in 1995, before the full start of the Internet, on progressive rock. It was in response to a typically ludicrous attack on progressive rock from the odious Los Angeles Times rock critic, Robert Hilburn
. Hilburn at least would admit publicly his ignorance of music theory and music appreciation, and admit he was essentially a misplaced journalism major more interested in lyrics than music. But he was still part of the anti-intellectual Sarah Palinesque attack on progressive rock ("You think you're so smart!" or otherwise dismissing progressive rock music as "pretentious."). Oh, and the law firm at which I was affiliated at the time no longer exists nor does that phone number apply any longer. Again, this was pre-Internet when email was not a known alternative for most people. I do recall my firm's phone ringing from callers around the world--literally!--that upset my then partner as people were very happy with what I wrote. I was also invited to a ProgRock festival in Los Angeles later that year and treated very kindly by Greg Walker
and others as there was, again pre-Internet, no outlet in major corporate owned media for anyone to defend progressive rock. What I had not known and was pleased to learn from Walker and the others I met was that there had been a full on second act in the 1980s and 1990s for progressive rock, including bands like Spock's Beard, Flower Kings and others. I did not know about certain other international prog bands even in my experience or era of the 1970s, bands such as Mezquita
from Spain, for example. The Internet, of course, allowed for the international community of progressive rock fans to join together and continually enrich each other.
I should say the reason the Los Angeles Times published the article at all was because an editor, who admitted to me he did not know progressive rock, or much about any music, thought my letter to the editor needed a respectful treatment as an article because it showed there was a deep unfairness in the way his paper (and he saw apparently other papers) were treating the topic of progressive rock. Hilburn never responded to the article, of course but my memory is he never took on reviewing a progressive oriented rocker again. I have to admit I sometimes emotionally feel like I want to live long enough to dance on the graves of Hilburn, Christgau and John Palmer of the NY Times. As my Italian mother would say, Son, that is your "Italian" coming out in you. She also says, You know what Italian Alzheimer's is: It's where you forget everything but the grudges. Yes, better to be positive and just enjoy the best of progressive rock.