Punk Politics

Anarcho-punks Organize First Rock Against Racism Concert at UH (1979)

Led by a sociology student named Henry Weissborn, the three-member strong Direct Action Committee (DAC) at the University of Houston began organizing “Be-In” events in the spirit of the previous decade’s counterculture. Also know by the Youth International Party’s moniker “Yippies,” Weissborn, brothers Jeff and Dave Stewart and their fellow activist party banded together with some of Houston’s earliest punk bands to produce these underground music gigs.

There is cut-and-paste evidence that legendary Houston punk progenitors Really Red and Legionaire’s Disease performed at Yippie-organized Be-Ins, including an outdoor event held November 18, 1978, at Lynn Eusan Park, which drew a massive crowd of around 500 supporters, according to a report in Weissborn’s first DIY publication, ULTRA magazine.

Houston’s student Yippie chapter planned to launch the city’s first Rock Against Racism event on campus as documented on this flyer promoting ULTRA, but the “free rock and reggae” campus event was called off. The show took place instead at Paradise Island on April 1, 1979. Among some of the classic punk bands performing for the first time were AK-47 and Vast Majority, two of Houston’s most radical.

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(ORIGINAL FLYER COURTESY OF Wild Dog Archives.)

Ultra and Wild Dog Zine Original Artwork: Untitled Faces (1978-79)

Henry Wild Dog founded ULTRA, an underground DIY zine focused on the Direct Action Committee and other countercultural movements, in 1978. The fourth and last issue was published in January 1979, after which the long-haired, radical Yippie (Youth International Party member) was transformed into a Houston Punk.

WILD DOG #1 was launched in April 1979 as the first zine covering the emerging punk scene in Houston following the inaugural Rock Against Racism show at Paradise Island. A poet and social activist, Henry Wild Dog included poetry and ink drawn artworks contributed by a number of underground writers and artists in both ULTRA and WILD DOG.
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(Original Artwork/Galleys courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

 

Legionaire’s Disease Open for The Clash at Cullen Auditorium (1979)

“What we had going for us was that we put on wild ass shows. Anything could happen at our shows, and it usually did.” – Jerry Anomie, Legionaire’s Disease Band

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(Original flyer courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Austin’s The Dicks on New Wavoid Rejection, Radical Messages (1981)

“I think The Dicks were one of the earliest poster bands…When I returned from San Francisco, several friends said, ‘It’s too bad all of us want to be singers and none of us can play anything.’ I said, ‘Why don’t we just lie? Let’s make up a band, and call it The Dicks.'” – Gary Floyd (Vocals)

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(Original galley courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Wild Dog Records: Teenage Punks Vast Majority Talk Anarchist Sounds (1979)

Houston’s youngest band at the start of the scene, Vast Majority recorded its lone studio effort I Wanna Be a Number in  March 1980 on Wild Dog Records. Henry Wild Dog, who helped produce the 7″ single, had a brief stint with the band as part of its second lineup. His contribution to gigs at Paradise Island earned him the DIY-inspired handle Henry “Bad Guitar.” Original member Scott Telles (vocals and trumpet) recounts the band’s history with WDA’s namesake on the Hyped 2 Death Archive Series #201.

As verified in an interview with the original members in WILD DOG, the politically motivated teenage punk band performed for the first time alongside AK-47 at Houston’s inaugural Rock Against Racism show held on April Fool’s Day 1979 at the Island.
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(Original galley courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Punk Politics, British New Wave, and Really Red at the Island (1979)

In a 1979 review of British new wavers the Tom Robinson Band at the Texas Opry House, WILD DOG zine chronicled a post-show piece of Island performance history when vocalist and bassist Tom Robinson joined original Texas punk legends Really Red on stage for a surprise guest performance.

Robinson, described with TRB as a slick, polished, and mainstream act, plugging Texas hardcore punk at his own performance is a testament to the impact and influence of Really Red, who are considered to be “the backbone” of Houston’s underground music scene. The Red/Robinson ensemble, Wild Dog recalled from the audience, “did a surprisingly tight impromptu set of such rock-root numbers as ‘Louie, Louie,’ ‘Waitin’ for My Man,’ and Jumpin’ Jack Flash’.

“Such grassroots support of our scene by such a celeb is not to go unnoticed,” Wild Dog underscored. “Robinson is definitely not in it just for the bucks. His guest appearance at Paradise was an encore above and beyond the call.”

The political bent of Wild Dog Zine is evident in this review, with a nod to Robinson’s activism and support of the Rock Against Racism (RAR) campaign in the UK. In an earlier post, WDA recalled Henry Wild Dog’s efforts to organize a Houston RAR concert at the University of Houston, which was cancelled.  On April 1, 1979, the original lineup featuring Really Red, Legionaire’s Disease, and Christian Oppression performed at the Island, where Vast Majority and AK-47 debuted as part of the effort.

UPDATE

After querying the Island collective, Vince Layton informed WDA that he rode over to the Really Red gig with Robinson following the TRB show, which was, by his and others’ account, “great but woefully under attended.” A friend of Layton’s who worked at Cactus Records, then on S. Post Oak, talked Robinson into going to the Main Street dive. If you attended this show, please consider archiving your experience in the comments section.

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(Original galley courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Houston Yippies Present the Disease, Plastic Idols at Paradise Island (1979)

By early 1979, the Island had become a mainstay for Houston’s first wave punk scene with bands such as Legionaire’s Disease gigging there regularly. The Disease made even earlier appearances at local Yippie events, including a “Be-In” organized by Henry Weissborn and the UH Direct Action Committee held November 18, 1978, at Lynn Eusan Park on the University of Houston campus; the outdoor event, which included Texas punk legends Really Red, drew a crowd of around 500 supporters.

Not long after, Houston’s first Rock Against Racism (RAR) event was planned for April 1, 1979. An original flyer promoting a Legionaire’s Disease show with Plastic Idols on the bill lists a date (March 25, 1979) a week prior to this seminal event, indicating that “punk & the Direct Action Committee” were affiliated or had at least banded together for a time.

Within weeks of the RAR show, Weissborn reworked the final copy for ULTRA (what would have been a fifth installment), instead launching his first music fanzine, WILD DOG #1, in late April 1979.

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(Original flyer courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)