Ramones, Sex Pistols, Clash, Patti Smith Group, Lou Reed, photographers, writers, managers were often Jewish punks. I compiled this list in 2005. I have poor Jewdar, kinda weird considering I am Jewish. But I didn’t grow up around a lotta Jews. Call me #clueless.
I was stunned to find out so early punks were Jewish. Now you can find books, blogs, articles and more. But in 2005, my post was radical!
Ramones: Joey [Jeffrey Hyman] RIP, and his brother, Mickey Leigh (who roadied for them). Original drummer Tommy Ramone. Gabba gabba hey, we accept you!
Blondie: Chris Stein
Blondie and The Know: Gary Valentine [Lachman]
Bob Gruen, photographer
Danny Fields: Ramones first manager, history starting with the Doors, Iggy, Dolls and so many more. We OWE Danny so much!!!
Dictators: Handsome Dick Manitoba [Richard Blum], Andy Shernoff, Scott “Top Ten” Kempner [always so kind to me] and Ross “the Boss” Freidman
Lisa Robinson, journalist
Lou Reed, Velvet Underground and soloist
NOT Lydia Lunch [her email: “Sorry hon, the nose is Sicilian, the name is German. can’t be part of every list.” Birth name Lydia Koch. Ha, I originally wrote I didn’t think she was Jewish, and for once, my hunch was right!]
Marty Thau, original manager of the New York Dolls, co-producer of Suicide, owner of Red Star Records, producer of Ramones 1st recordings, record company of Richard Hell’s 2nd album. [Marty was kind enough to write me! What a thrill to hear from him!]
Mumps: drummer Paul Rutner and Joe Katz [bass player who replaced Kevin in the Mumps. He went on to be the bass player in Swinging Madisons, Kristian Hoffman’s post-Mumps band].
New York Dolls: Sylvain Sylvain [Steven Mizrahi], Arthur Kane RIP [ need verification, but obviously before he became a Mormon], and rumor David Johansen is half Jewish [which half? If his mother is Jewish, he’s Jewish. Anyone know??]
Patti Smith Group: heart-throb guitarist and archivist Lenny Kaye
Seymour Stein and Linda Stein, who founded Sire Records and signed/managed the Ramones. Seymour was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
which I will call it until they induct Patti Smith and Iggy Pop, especially Patti.]
Television: Tom Verlaine [Miller]??
Voidoids: Richard Hell [Myers]
Jane Friedman [Patti and John Cale manager]?
Clash: Mick Jones [and Paul Siminon??] and Bernie Rhodes, manager
Clive Langer from Deaf School and record producer of Madness and Elvis Costello
Malcolm McLaren, RIP [wow, ha ha, punk really was started by Jews in NY and England!!]
PIL: Keith Levene
Wayne Barrett, Slaughter and the Dogs singer. [one of the VERY few Jews in UK punk NOT from Greater London, which has approximately 80 percent of UK Jewish population. He quit the band because they wound up attracting a skin audience after “Where Have All The Bootboys Gone.” This was documented in MOJO. This info came to me vial email, thank you Michael.]
Marc Bolan, RIP, Glam rock (just because he was so influential and cute. My list, my rules.)
Greg Hetson: Redd Kross, Circle Jerks [original guitarist], Bad Religion
Backstage Pass: Genny Schorr [Genny Broome], Marina del Rey [Joanne Russo] and Joanna aka Spock
Bad Religion: Greg Gaffin: NOT Jewish. From Tony, lead singer of the Adolescents: “he [Greg] came to los angeles via sierra madre in the mid seventies with his mother and brother from wisconsin. the defining moment in his younger experience (as i see it) was their rejection by his local (presbytarian or methodist i can’t remember) church because his mother was a divorcee. we found that we had a similar life experience in that respect. the bad religion thing seemed to be (again, as i see it) rejecting them back. dr. greg graffin is over at cornell in between tours. his dissertation explored religous beliefs (god) in the scientific community.” Thanks, Tony!
That is EXACTLY how I feel about organized religions. They are judgmental, critical, narrow-minded and why I am the oddest of Jews: can’t stand most Jews cos they look down on me and are so hypocritical.
Circle Jerks/Black Flag: Keith Morris
Dickies: Stan Lee
Dream Syndicate: Steve Wynn
Extremes: Michol Sinatra [Schwartz], RIP
Mumps: drummer Paul Rutner and Joe Katz [bass player who replaced Kevin in the Mumps. He went on to be the bass player in Swinging Madisons, Krisitian’s post-Mumps band]
NOFX: Fat Mike and Eric Melvin
Quick: Danny Benair
Van Halen: David Lee Roth, dressed as a punk and hung out with us
Weirdos: Nickey Beat, drummer
LOS ANGELES PUNKS of NOTE
Jenny Lens, photographer [“she had to leave Los Angeles . . . she hated all the niggers and jews” — who do you think she was singing about?? This jew fer sure and Exene heard Farrah spitting nasty anti-Semitic remarks to me all the time when I was Jenny Stern].
Anna Statman, photographer, A & R Slash, Geffen and Interscope Records.
Brad Elterman, photographer
Brendan Mullen, RIP, Masque founder. Told me his grandmother was Jewish
Hal Negro aka Marty Goldberg, attorney
Harvey Kubernik, journalist/publicist
Jay Statman, attorney (Anna’s brother)
Justin Pierce, journalist/publicist
Marvin Etzioni, musician
Dick Rude, film-maker: “Let’s Rock Again,” documentary with/of the late Joe Strummer
Mitch Schneider, journalist/publicist
NOT Pat Smear from the Germs. Pat told me his father was German, NOT Jewish
Pleasant Gehman [Plez says she’s half Jewish, but her mother Betsy is Jewish, which makes her Jewish because it’s passed from mother to child. Who knew?? Did Farrah pick on her? NO WAY]
Randy Kaye, fan, participant, former A & R, Slash Records and Warner Brothers
Richard Creamer, RIP, photographer
Richard Meltzer, critic and VOM singer
Shredder aka Danny Weizmann, Flipside writer
SAN FRANCISCO and other USA Cities
Mickey (CREEP) Sampson: “I did CREEP magazine from ’78-80 in SF. I was /am Jewish, though also was and am anti-religious. Still a punk though.”
The Nuns: Jeff Olener and ?
VKTMS (SF) guitarist John Edward [John Binkov]
Jonathan Richman is in love with the modern world [from Boston, I think]
RECORD COMPANY FOUNDERS
BYO Records: The Stern brothers: Shawn, Mark, and Adam of the Extremes and Youth Brigade
Epitaph: Brett Gurewitz
Fat Wreck: Fat Mike [Mike Burkett]
Rhino Records: Harold Bronson, Gary Stewart, Richard Foos
Sire Records: Seymour and Linda Stein
Offer suggestions in comments or Write me. IF:
- Punk era: 1974 – 1980. First gen.
- Performers, managers, songwriters, critics, historians, publicists, record company personnel, writers, artists, photographers, major scenesters etc involved in PUNK. Other music fine, but must be first gen punk fans too.
- Thank you!
Jews are the original punks. Scrappy outcasts, relying on our inner lives, imaginations, music, art and intellect to survive slavery and various attempts at eliminating us (the Final Solution aka the Holocaust). Most of us were not traditionally religious — many were raised on the fringes of Judaism, which can be as restrictive as Catholicism, but our heritage influenced us to take risks. When people have tried to kill you for thousands of years, what have we got to lose?
My research indicates a larger percentage of Jews were involved in the early days of punk, especially in LA and New York. This should not be surprising, given the involvement of Jews in music and art. Jews helped create modern American musical and film entertainment.
Jews began arriving in large numbers at the end of the 19th century (most escaping the Russian and Central European purges — “Fiddler on the Roof” anyone? My maternal grandparents). Jews transformed and interpreted traditional European and Yiddish theatre with music from African-Americans. Very quickly, Jews were vital contributors to and creators of American entertainment. Creative Jews began and continue to reflect and inform modern American life.
Jews (some immigrant, some first gen American) created “Tin Pan Alley,” musical theatre and Broadway. A few immediate names are the Gershwin brothers, Berlin, Hammerstein, Kern, Fields and countless other popular and enduring songwriters (and producers). Al Jolson, the Frank Sinatra/Elvis of his day, revolutionized entertainment on many levels. “You ain’t heard nothing’ yet!”
Hard to recognize many Jews due to changed names to be accepted outside the Jewish community. Hollywood itself owes its beginnings to penniless European Jewish refugees.
Calling all Jewish punks: tell us who you are. If anyone knows real names or who should be omitted or included in this list, please Write Me. Thank you.
Tell you the truth: I was hesitant to put this page together. I thought I’d get hate mail in these extremely conservative times. Au contraire, wonderful people have written me! Proves you have to follow your heart (and curiosity!).
SHANA TOVA! Happy New Year’s, October 3, 2005. May G-d grant us peace, health, prosperity, continued love and friendship, and fulfillment of our dreams. But we each have to work at it!!
Updated June 2015.