Why the Peruvians Claim They Are the True Inventors of Punk

Photo of Jack Guy
28 October 2017

Any debate over the origins of a particular artistic or musical style are invariably complicated and generally inconclusive, but some are more interesting than others. Here we look at why Peru claims punk as its own.

The mohawk is a popular haircut among punks | © taro taylor / flickr

Who was really responsible for punk music?

The case of the origins of punk music has the added interest of involving an unlikely contender for the title of the birthplace of the riotous musical style. While many people will think of the Sex Pistols and other British bands of the mid-1970s as the fathers of punk, there are a number of Peruvian bands that contest that claim.

In fact, the scene in Lima was so strong that some people, mainly Peruvians it must be said, say that the city is the original birthplace of punk music. One group in particular, Los Saicos, has gained international attention for its role in the proto-punk movement.

Vuelven #LosSaicos y #Demolicion The complete Recordings #SonarVinilos

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Short life, long legacy

Formed in 1964, Los Saicos played for just over a year, but their influence can be felt far and wide. They were one of a number of groups playing similar styles of music in the bars of Lima at the time, but their legacy has outlasted that of the others.

The fascination with this short-lived band is such that Noisey made a short documentary about the group in 2013. It’s far from conclusive, but it gives an interesting look at the band and its legacy.

punk graffiti | © Jonas Bengtsonn / flickr

Peruvian punk scene remains strong to this day

Los Saicos might not be the most emblematic name, but the history of punk in Peru is a long one. Bands such as Narcosis, Lima 13 and Lusemia were performing in the 1980s, and El Terrible y Los Mongoloides and Lemmings are carrying the flag to this day.

No one really knows the right answer to where punk was invented, but it’s clear that rather than only thinking about the Sex Pistols in London or The Ramones in New York, the punk scene in Peru deserves our attention.

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