The Little Known History Of Majorcan Punk

The legend is such that vastly more than the forty or so people who were actually there have claimed to have been at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester on 4 June 1976. The Sex Pistols performed at the gig which apparently changed the music world. Punk had arrived.

In Majorca that summer, local groups were emerging from the constraints imposed by a regime that had died the previous November. While there had been some relaxation, bands were not expected to engage in anything that smacked of subversion. As a consequence, most had concentrated on acceptable pop and on dressing like international stars from California or Liverpool.

Nevertheless and despite the regime, cultural and social change had started in the '60s. One of the more powerful influences was psychedelia, and that coincided with recreational drugs. By 1966, Majorca formed part of a triangle for the trafficking of drugs along with Barcelona and Melilla in north Africa. Smoking pot in public was to become almost brazen. At the same time there was the growing importance of Catalan "New Song", which took a form of protest and was to lead, for example, to the Majorcan singer Maria del Mar Bonet being harassed by the authorities.

By the time of Franco's death and then of the Sex Pistols' famous gig, Majorcan youth, while not wholly assimilated with youth culture elsewhere in Europe, had advanced a long way to being so. Where music was concerned, the regime's attempts in the 1960s to prevent British and American influences taking hold had proved to be futile. Acts came to Majorca, most famously perhaps Jimi Hendrix, and were to spawn the likes of Z-66. Formed in Palma in 1966, they became - until disbanding in 1970 - one of Spain's leading progressive rock groups, and towards the end of the sixties, hard rock bands emerged, such as Iceberg and Los Brujos.

The factors were mostly in place, therefore, to facilitate a mirroring of punk in Majorca. There was perhaps one ingredient missing. The punk of the Sex Pistols reflected a UK at a time of decay. In Majorca and Spain, that wasn't a time of "no future". There was democratic transition to look forward to. This said, protest - which had manifested itself in the New Song and had been mostly political - found a new cause: the environment. Also, transition couldn't come quickly enough for some; hence the appearance of radical organisations and movements.

This Friday at the Mar i Terra Theatre in Palma, there is to be a roundtable followed by a concert that is under the title of "Journey through the history of Majorcan punk and metal". One of those taking part is author Tomeu Canyelles, one of Majorca's leading music historians. He has written a book about the history of punk, and he observes that it wasn't until 1984 that there were groups which were recognisably punk. One of these was Cerebros Exprimidos, who were more influenced by American bands of that time rather than those which had sprung up in the UK in the seventies.

One source - - makes the point that punk took its time in having much impact in Spain. The La Movida counter-cultural movement that started in Madrid at the beginning of the 1980s was what really brought punk to the fore, though La Movida was associated with various music genres. That same source has listed Spanish punk groups and finds space for only three from Majorca: Cerebros Exprimidos and two which didn't come along until the end of the 1990s - Oi! The Arrase, defined as an anarchist band, and No Children.

Majorca, it would seem, did not provide much impetus for punk music, but if the scene on the island wasn't particularly dynamic, there were the groups who came to Majorca to liven it up. Enter into the story, therefore, one of Spain's more controversial bands. They were Las Vulpes, an all-female punk group. In May 1983, these "vixens" came to Palma. They gave a press conference that wasn't so far removed from the Sex Pistols' infamous Bill Grundy appearance. The month before, they had performed on national television and had caused an outrage.

At the press conference, held at the Barbarela club in Palma, one of the four members didn't bother to turn up. The other three, said one report, looked in a bad way. They made clear that "future" was not a word in their vocabulary. Las Vulpes were, for a brief time, a personification of that hardcore British punk scene, even if it was seven years afterwards. They split up that same year and reformed for a while twenty years later, drummer Lupe having died in 1993.

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